Yesterday Saserna, the village chieftain, collapsed from exhaustion. She has been travelling for weeks. When she is here, she spends much of the day and night taking care of all of Endaga's problems. Boltho tries to help her, but all he can think of is more things that need to be done! Saserna is resting in her house, fiercely guarded by Honya, the elderly Halana healer.
Last night we were raided. The dogs inside the walls started barking, and the boys on watch spotted someone climbing back over the wall. I readied a sling stone and called several times for them to stop, but they kept fleeing. Reluctantly, I brought one down with a stone. Another made it over the wall, so Yaril and the village dogs set off in pursuit. I ran to capture the intruder. I was sick when I saw that it was a woman, and I'd hurt her pretty badly. She had only been running off with some flour.
Volaria took the wounded woman in to care for her. Ettiko rounded up another in the store room. Khorvash, torn away from consoling one of the woman he wouldn't get to marry, showed up with armor and weapons, quite dissappointed that there wasn't going to be a fight. It is a sorry measure of the times that I am glad to count such a violent man among my companions. Yaril returned with two more women and a smoked lamb. Several of the captured women had kin in Endaga, and there were many tearful reunions. The women said they had gone asking for food from other villages, and been driven away with rocks and arrows. They were afraid to ask even their kin here for food! We are truly at the world's end.
This terrible mistrust is undermining us all, I was willing to hurt innocent women! It is telling especially on Boltho, who is a man of impeccable justice but who can no longer see the need for even greater compassion in these horrible times. Where would we be if Lagavar had not been willing to sacrifice all to restore the world?
But the people of this village wanted the others to come here, and eat up all our food. They yelled at Lord Boltho, and he showed much weakness, and argued back with women and farmers! Even Applecrusher was angry at Boltho. I think he wanted the Nerundi to come here so they wouldn't starve. (Though why that cheesebreather wanted more women we are forbidden marry is beyond me.) The situation was dangerous. I stood very close to Lord Boltho with my heavy armor and weapons. I told him how to wait out Hunger: to kindly smother the babies and wait for a better year; to send the others away, to kill the troublemakers before a riot. But Lord Boltho would not listen to sense. He said to wait until Saserna got better, and then ask her. So Lord Boltho backed down, and Ettiko and I are now taking turns guarding the store rooms.
Ettiko says that when the food runs out, he will ride off. He says I can come with him because I am his friend. But what is the point of wandering away alone? We have people here; we have food for now and land for next year. We can survive. Even though they live in cold huts and wear animal skins, these barbarians are a soft people. They do not know how to starve.
Orlanth provided! Ettiko came racing into camp, shouting something about a giant hairy beast. He wanted to organize a great hunt. We went along because it was something to do besides exchange hostile glares with the village elders. We tracked and found the beast. And what a beast it was! Huge and hairy, with a long arm where its nose should be. Two giant tusks, like on a boar, stuck out from its face. It was bigger than ten bulls! When the beast saw us, it waved its ears and screamed -- what a noise! Some of us thought it might be Chaos. Lesser men would have fled. Lesser men would have sought to lure it into a pit. But a thane of the Orgorvaltes does not flee from a beast!
We tried to circle around it, but the crafty beast would not be encircled, and fled. Ettiko sunk an arrow deep into its hide as it ran. When we found it again, the impaled arrow had thrown the beast into a foul temper. It screamed at us in defiance! As we circled it, brave Yaril ran up to hamstring the beast, but it wheeled incredibly fast! Poor Yaril ran for his life, but the beast dealt him a terrific blow with a tusk. We all ran in to attack it before it could trample Yaril. I landed a blow to its hairy shoulder, blessed by the might of Orlanth. Then the beast plucked Ettiko off his horse and threw him several horse lengths! I think Khorvash and Mirkhel were attacking on the other side, but the beast was so huge I could not see them.
There was nothing but the beast and me. I looked into its tiny eyes, and knew it would kill me with its next blow. I could have fled, but Orlanth did not send me this beast so that I could flee from it. With a mighty blow, guided by the hand of Orlanth himself, I delt the monster the killing blow, severing its nose-arm. The Great Hairy Long-nosed Beast of Saird took a long time to die. The tusks, each weighing more than a man, now form an archway over our village gate.
Yaril and Ettiko are healing up well. Now we have meat for a whole season. The Narundi have joined us, and there is food for all. Even the Elders have to admit that we provided. Soon it will be time to plant the winter wheat, and start the year anew.
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