A War of Two

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Chapter 2

Miles beyond the city, on the kingdom’s frontier that evening, two men were putting sheep into a fold. They were desert dwellers, members of a fierce tribe that had been conquered by the late King.One was so by birth and the other by adoption. One of them addressed the other.“Azziah, what will you do now that The Old Teacher is dead.”He followed the desert tradition of never referring to the dead by name.That might attract their spirits and they would then haunt you.

“I do not know now, Tarka,” Azziah said. The name meant white skinned.A close look at him would tell you that it was true.He was tall and blonde with blue eyes.He was in fact, an exact duplicate of Prince Alemark, being his brother Willheardt. “My teacher told me that when contemplating a change such at this has brought about one should consider it until the moon changes.Giving yourself that much time is the only way to know if you are doing the right thing.”

The stars were beginning to appear as the young men made their way back to the tents. They stepped inside the flap of the largest one.It was the family residence of the chief of this particular group or tribe of Bedouins.In that area the family gods were kept on a small altar.Out of force of habit the young men turned together and sketched them a bow.Through another flap and they were in the main eating area, where older members of the family were having a meal and discussing the family business.

“I think in the morning we must send out scouts,” Mocmar, the father said. “We must check the availability of water and food for our flocks.”He noticed the approach of younger members of his family.“Ah, Azziah, Tarka, come.Let your sisters serve you food.”Again according to desert tradition the women did not eat with the men.Rather they prepared the food and served it to the men first.Then they took their share from among the leftovers.

Azziah and Tarka took their places with the younger sons. Azziah was served by a pretty, bright eyed young girl.Danziah, he remembered was her name.It meant ‘soft skinned’.She was the youngest of Mocmar’s daughters.She smiled shyly at him.She seemed to think that he was the husband that she would soon be given to, not realizing the unluckiness of this happening.Azziah could not forget that as Prince Willheardt he might not be considered a suitable husband for her.Again it was the desert tradition for chieftains to give their daughters only to blood relatives for wives.He smiled at her any way and accepted the bowl of food that she proffered.

Aboive, ‘the willing servant’, the oldest of Mocmar’s sons was volunteering to do the service for his father. “I will take a horse and begin to check the water holes and pastures tomorrow,” he said.His father grunted and nodded his acceptance of that.

“And Azziah,” he turned to his adopted son. “What will you do now that The Old Teacher is dead?”

“I do not know, my father,” Azziah answered him. “Tarka and I were speaking of this.I told him that my teacher taught me that when one has a decision such as this to make one should wait for the New Moon.Contemplate all sides of the problem until then.Gather information too.Waiting until the moon is new should give you enough time to do that.”

“The moon will rise in an hour,” Mocmar said. “And I believe that it is just beginning to wane.So that should give you at least fourteen days to make your decision.The Old Teacher was very valuable to us.His advice was much appreciated.Someone to take his place would also be much appreciated.”He handed his food bowl to the wife that was attending him now.He indicated that he was still hungry and she put some more food in it and handed it back to him.She also offered him some water in a vessel to drink.

They were lucky here. The water was fresh and came from a natural spring.It was good to drink.But there was only so much grass for the animals to eat.That was why the discussion of earlier in the evening.If they found an area like that in the next few weeks they would move the tents and if Azziah had not made his decision before then, he would go with them.If he had made that decision, then he would act in accordance with that.

That night Azziah walked alone in the desert for a while. Everyone thought that he’d gone out to relieve himself so they left him alone.He spent the time thinking again about how he’d come to these people nearly 20 years before.It started out with the family going on a hunting vacation to the land of a border lord and their uncle, Lord Aleheardt.On the first day of the hunt he heard his uncle speaking with his brother that evening.“Wear this tomorrow,” the man told the boy, Alemark.When Alemark saw it, it was a hunting jacket of an unusual design.It had their uncle’s coat of arms picked out in gold.It also had a slightly different cut to the sleeves and cuffs.“Look what my Uncle gave me for a present,” Alemark said to his brother.In hindsight Willheardt now knew what his brother had meant by that statement.He did not consider that his twin should have been there.He was a sly one even then.

As Azziah walked in the moon light The Old Teacher came to him. He was the one who had giver Azziah his name and he always called him by that.“Azziah,” a voice spoke were there was no body.“Master,” Azziah answered, recognizing his master’s voice.“I am in the land of the dead now.I see both future and past.Your own people need you now.I see, it was you who was first born to your mother.You the Great Deity meant to be the king after your father.Your father was a wise man, a wise leader.Your brother does not have the wisdom necessary to be a leader to these people or to the desert people you have come to love.You must go to the city when the word comes that the king is dead.You must contend with your brother for Kingship.Call upon your friends, both among the living and the dead.They will help you all they can.I will help you all I can.Farewell.”The voice fell silent.“Master, master,” Azziah called.But the voice remained silent.

When he returned to the tent he went to sleep and dreamt of a female of his people. She was small and had red hair.He had never met her, but had a feeling that he would soon.

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