Copyright 2015 by Michael O’Gara
First Release 2018
All Rights Reserved.
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher Heartland Indie Publishing LLC. This e-book is licensed only for the personal enjoyment of visitors to this site.
It’s a Freebie 4 u.
Kleb had been gone two weeks when he returned to the general. He had chosen not to stay with Mir’s people. It had been a long march back to the camp. Upon his arrival, he was immediately brought to the general’s tent. Kleb was led in and he knelt before the general.
General Azar asked, “Where is Captain Azarit?”
“He decided not to return.”
The general almost spat it, “Traitor. His men will pay for his treason.”
It was not lost on Kleb that he was one of Azarit’s men.
General Azar asked, “Were you successful?”
“Yes, general. I have a proposed treaty.” Kleb handed over the scroll.
Azar took the scroll and handed it to one of his advisors and said, “You will address me as lord.”
Kleb said, “Yes, Lord.” Kleb knew then that Azar was already planning to be king here. He would not honor the treaty.
The general asked, “How do you assess this queen?”
Kleb said, “She is formidable.”
The general’s voice rose as he said, “Don’t tell me what I already know! What is she like as a person?”
Kleb said, “She kept us at arm’s length. I think she may be devious.”
Azar said, “That is to be expected. All women have devious ways and are not to be trusted.”
Kleb said, “As you say, Lord Azar.”
The general said, “What have you learned about the enemy?”
Kleb said, “The queen is no fool. She kept us in a small community. I learned nothing of strategic value except that she had some women warriors in her inner circle.”
Azar said, “Leave me.”
Kleb bowed and left. He was no fool and knew he had little time. He went to his company and told the other sergeants what had happened and of Azar’s comments as he packed up his few belongings. Fifteen minutes later Kleb was running across the plain in the semi-darkness of a full moon. Most of what had been Captain Azarit’s company was following. The company was in the best shape of any of the soldiers with the general. They would not be caught.
The next morning, those of Azarit’s company who stayed behind were executed. There were thirty nine in all who were put to the sword. Azar thought it would serve to keep the other troops in line. He was wrong. That night, over a hundred and eighty soldiers deserted.
Kleb and most of Azarit’s former company arrived at the edge of the woods. Kleb found the spot where he and Azarit had entered the forest. He took off his weapons and started walking leaving the company just inside the edge of the woods. Kleb had gone only a short distance when he was met by five women warriors.
The one in charge said, “Why are you here?”
Kleb remembered seeing her at the queen’s banquet. He said, “I am Kleb and I have come to ask the queen for refuge for me and my men.”
“Why have you changed your mind?”
“Azar was going to execute all those who served under Captain Azarit so we fled.”
The “You may stay where you are and you will not be harmed. I will send word to the queen.”
Kleb said, “We will wait and hunt close to camp.”
The women warriors seemed to just disappear into the forest. Kleb headed back to meet with his men. When he arrived, he told his men about the encounter. His men made camp. Some men went to set snares and others to hunt. During the next three days the size of the company with Kleb almost doubled.
On the fourth day, the woman warrior stepped from the forest and approached Kleb. She said, “Kleb, the queen has agreed to give you refuge. You must leave your weapons and they will be collected. You will be brought to a place where you will make a home. You will be provided with tools and women for wives. Do you agree?”
Kleb gathered the men and told them the offer. There was a long discussion. In the end, seven left the forest with their weapons. The others left their weapons in a pile and gathered their belongings. They set off following the female warrior to their new home.
The female warrior stopped as the sun was setting. She turned to Kleb and said, “We will camp here.”
Kleb nodded and told his companions. As they were making camp, Kleb asked the woman warrior, “How do they call you?”
“I am called Kimber.”
Kleb said, “What will happen when we arrive?”
Kimber said, “There will be all the tools you need to build a village. When you have shelters built and food stored, the women who volunteer to consider becoming your wives will start to come.”
The journey to the new site took three days and the men were completely lost by the time they arrived. Kleb immediately recognized that the place was an ideal location for a village. There was a crystal clear stream running into a valley lake, grasslands, virgin timber, and plenty of game.
Kleb turned to Kimber and said, “We can make a good home here.”
Kimber nodded. She said, “There are two draft horses to move logs and the tools you will need, there,” and she pointed.
Kleb said, “Thank you.”
Kimber nodded and left. Kleb watched her leave.
The first thing the men did was to build temporary shelter and make camp. There were men in the group who knew how to make fish traps and others who knew how to make snares. Others worked on making bows and spears to hunt larger game. Tasks were divided and some men went fishing and hunting while others did other work to prepare a village site, including clearing land to plant crops. Small game was plentiful and the men built a smoke house to smoke fish and meat. Men were assigned to cut logs and build dwellings.
The men had been at work for ten days when they saw a group coming from the woods. The men recognized Azarit and Kimber who were accompanied by others who had left General Azar. They were all men from Azarit’s company. Kleb had been notching logs and so was in the village. He ran to greet Azar and they embraced.
Kleb said, “You are looking good, friend.”
Azar said, “As do you.”
Kimber said, “You have made bows.”
Kleb said, “And spears. We are good hunters.”
It was almost three months after the men had come to the woodland valley that the first group of women came to appraise the men. Of each ten who came, nine stayed. The war had taken a toll on the male population. The women who did not find men they liked, left after three days in the village.