Everything happened really fast, their one day where they could do anything went by fast as they went around the clearing attempting to talk to people and just observing the tribal life.
The tribal people were open and interactive, as they made efforts to interact with the three. The other tribes would be arriving today, and Eris hoped they had good soldiers.
Eris had practiced his swordplay already, and couldn’t wait to test his skills in battle. He just hoped he was good enough to defeat the king. As Eris sat down and talked to the chieftain about how to attack Ashanti, he heard a horn blow in the distance.
“A tribe has arrived.” the chieftain said rising.
“Finally” Eris said. Eris stared at the warriors who were marching in order. They were disciplined and all of them had spears.
“These are the spear men from across the forest. They have responded to my call for help, and so they will be handsomely rewarded if we are victorious.” the chieftain told Eris as he strode towards the tribe approaching them.
“Thank you for helping us. We march towards Ashanti tomorrow when all the tribes have assembled.” the chieftain said and then asked one of his men to show to soldiers where they could put up tents.
After the tribe was settled, Rogue and Aerys walked up to Eris. “Two tribes in total.” he said to them triumphantly. “Even more to come.”
“Wow, atleast we will give the king a fight for his life.” Rogue said.
“Let’s hope this is enough as Ashanti has a huge and diverse population, and the king’s army will have the strength as well as numbers so we have to use our heads and work out a good strategy to defeat him.” Aerys said.
“You’re right, let all the tribes come in and we’ll sit and discuss the strategies with them.” Eris said.
After the tribe was shown where to put up tents, he too joined Eris, Rogue, Aerys and the chieftain as they sat around a map of the kingdom of Ashanti.
The map was a large and detailed one, and the chieftain brought out a few figurines. Eris wondered from where a tribal had figurines but then remembered that the chieftain had been exiled from Ashanti, and so he left the question unanswered.
The chieftain placed a few blue figures on one side of the kingdom. Eris looked at the king’s palace which was around the centre.
Suddenly, Rogue piped up “We can use one of the tunnels and get into the archive of the city. Or else a small team can get undercover into Ashanti. The armies can then wait for their signal to march forward.”
“That’s an idea” the chieftain said, “Or else we could attack from both sides of Ashanti so that the king’s army has to split into two?” he asked.
At last, the other tribal spoke in a deep voice, “The other end of Ashanti is too long to get to, and we will have to go the whole way around. The king will notice us and be prepared at both sides. So, if we attack, we attack from both sides.”
“Yes, that’s better.” Aerys said, and so the chieftain placed a couple of figurines ahead of Ashanti.
“I think we should restrict the fighting to outside the kingdom as many innocent villagers will be hurt. The king will not know the difference, and he will ruthlessly kill anyone and everyone in the way, and so it is up to us to save the citizens of Ashanti.” Rogue said suddenly.
Eris was amazed, even now where a human would be taken over by thoughts of vengeance and revenge, Rogue was thinking about other human beings. Whatever Rogue had been before; she had outgrown the skin. She had totally changed, and Eris respected her for that. She never ceased to surprise him, and Eris could see why Aerys loved her and would do anything for her. Eris looked at Aerys who had a similar expression on his face except his eyes were softer as he stared in amazement at Rogue.
She amazed them all the time.
“You’re right” the chieftain said thoughtfully, oblivious of the looks Eris and Aerys were giving Rogue. Rogue too was concentrating on the map and didn’t notice them looking at her.
Finally, Eris looked away. In the distance he heard the sound of conchs blowing. The other tribes were here at last.
In the end there were around ten thousand tribals were assembled and Eris wondered where they had come from.
“These tribals have come from the valley, from the mountains, from the desert and from the desert as fast as they could, answering my call. Tonight we will have a grand feast for the chiefs while the other men will get their food.” the chief said answering Eris’ thought.
The people looked quite fearsome as there were archers, swordsman and men with spears. A lot of them had many paintings and symbols etched on their skins, and they had their faces painted. They wore animal skin clothes, and no wonder the animals of the forest were dying out fast. Leaving things aside, Eris had to go find Rogue and Aerys and get them to the banquet. Eris was curious as to how tribal banquets worked and had wanted to attend one ever since they had come here. The one thing he was apprehensive about was the food. Would it be edible to them? Eris wondered.
“Banquet in the evening.” he said to Rogue and Aerys when he saw them outside the hut they were assigned.
That night was just perfect. The tribals sure knew how to cook, as platters of meat and vegetables were being served on the circular table around which around fifty people were assembled. There was talk all around and a few tribals even conversed in other languages that Eris couldn’t understand. A single drink was being served all around and when Eris tried it, it sent him into a happy state of mind. He felt his worries go away. When he drank the liquid, it burnt his truth but the euphoria of drinking it was addictive and Eris had to try it again.
“This is great” he said to Rogue and Aerys who had had the same drink but weren’t as much affected by it.
“I think you’ve had too much Eris” Rogue said as Aerys grabbed him by the hands. “No, no I want more.” Eris said in a childish way. Something really was wrong with him, he thought but then the lights went out. Not before he heard shouts from the other end of the clearing. Something had happened, but Eris was out cold now and it was up to Rogue and Aerys to find out what was wrong.