“Thanks be to God for sparing us from the Guardian!” said Chevy, making the sign of the Cross. “We’ll probably never see her again. The Guardians will take care of her now.”

“You believe that crap about the Guardians!” spouted Bryan, standing and patting the dust off his clothing. “Did you see those teeth? My God Chevy, she turned into a monster right in front of you and yet you stand here telling me this is from God?!”

“That’s right Bryan. I do! My brother is a Guardian as well. What we were privileged to witness was the birth of a new Guardian. That doesn’t happen to very many!” Chevy said, “Let’s get out of Hell’s Gate before we’re noticed and away to the Council tent. Let’s not forget we have reports to give at the meeting tonight.”

“Or maybe you should say, not many live to tell of the birth of a new Guardian!” came Bryan’s retort!  “We almost lost our lives! I’ve never seen anything like this and I figure I’ve seen more than most. If you hadn’t known what to do, we’d all probably be dead!”

“Maybe we could have lost our lives, but only because she hasn’t yet learned Guardian discipline. Just as we were taught in our camp how to be good soldiers, the Guardians must learn what their purpose is from other Guardians.” said Mochni.

“Haven’t you noticed how they restrain themselves from hurting others?” Chevy said, starting to walk toward the Council tent.

Bryan thought for a moment - “Yes, I guess they do train their soldiers just as we train ours. I’ll give you that much.”

Chevy continued …“They don’t kill us Bryan. They protect this tribe and our camp. Have you not noticed that we have not been attacked by anything or anyone in the two years since the Guardians began to appear? How do you account for that if they are not sent by God to protect our people?”

“Oh there have been attacks and death. Don’t you remember the reports at the Council of finding those two corpses in the forest of Oak Park? They couldn’t tell how exactly they’d died, but one of the causes might have been that they were attacked. Remember that?” Bryan said. 

“You don’t know they were attacked at all Bryan.” said Mochni, weighing in on the discussion.

“And you don’t know they weren’t attacked Mochni”, countered Bryan, giving Mochni a quick stare as if to say “Come on, I can do this all night long, even if you’re a Guardian.”

We’re not going to solve this tonight. Let’s get to Council. We were ordered here to give reports remember. If we’re late there will be hell to pay and we don’t belong in Hell’s gate after nightfall!” said Chevy.

All three of them began to jog through the streets, passing smells and shops inside tents. They were hungry, but dare not stop now or risk being late to Council. If that happened they’d all be in trouble and that meant pulling guard duty on the outer-most portion of the camp. This was very hazardous duty at one time; but lately not as bad and mostly attributed to the Guardians; depending on who you listen to.

Coming into range of the Council tent, they were challenged at gunpoint and stopped to chat and give their identities and pass codes. They were expected in the Council this night and so were allowed into the great Council tent.

The Council tent was huge, holding several thousand tribes people with a single tree sized center pole, upon which was carved the history of the Council. Around the center pole was the speaker’s area. On every side there were the banners, uniformed soldiers and clerics of the eight main tribes. The united tribes of Detroit, Windsor, Briggs, Brush Park, Cork Town, Lafayette and East Market were all represented as well as the newest tribe; added last year - The Guardians.

The symbol for the Detroit tribe was a large scroll-type D, which adorned their banners, flags and uniforms. The other tribes had similar adornments with Briggs being the head of a Raccoon, Brush Park being a large (B), Cork Town being a Celtic cross, Lafayette being a Frog, East Market being a circle with a large EAST spelled vertically from top to bottom and the word MARKET across the bottom, and finally the Guardians which was two swords crossed.

The Council tent was so large that owls were encouraged to live in its rafters as a sign of, and to bring forth the Council’s wisdom. These same owls watched over each meeting; scanning the crowds intently from their perches; their eyes glowing yellow in the lanterns that hung in rows from the same rafters.

Council business usually consisted of such mundane topics as Salvage and Manufacturing reports, Farming and Harvest reports, water supply and condition, hunting reports, tribal census, fence and barrier reports, guard post reports and such as are common to governmental bodies. However a portion of this Council was to focus on three areas:

(1)   Preparations for the annual migration. This year the migration was being organized and led by the Hamtramcks. This was a great honor, and foretold the next tribe to be added to the main united tribes Council. The migration of the people of the united tribes was an eight-hundred and thirty-one mile journey to the De Soto Forest near Hattiesburg. It took the people of the tribes three to four weeks to travel that distance.

(2)   Reports from the outlying camps of Hamtramck to the North, Dearborn to the West, LaSalle to the South and Tecumseh to the East. These were the farthest the tribes had settled and these tribes were not yet a part of the main united tribes Council. These areas were so far out that they were barely protected or sustained by the main tribe and the Council wanted to stay abreast of activities in these remote camps. The camps contributing most toward sustaining the main tribes would be in line for addition to the united tribes Council. That meant protection and many other benefits.

(3)   The Annual Guardians report. Given by the Chief of the Guardians himself and those he selected to assist by providing additional details.  

Bryan, Chevy and Mochni found their places among their tribes; Bryan of Windsor, Chevy of the Hamtramck Volunteers, and Mochni of the Guardians. The Council was already in session. The Chief of the Hamtramck volunteers was providing the Council with the annual migration report.

Know all ye by your presence here that the people speak!” he said loudly. Preparations are almost complete with enough food and water collected to sustain the tribes for the migration. The Hamtramck Volunteers will be the vanguard of the migration and will travel alone to Hattiesburg to ready the Council chambers and tents for the people’s arrival. My own son, Chevy will lead this team. They’ll of course be accompanied by a Guardian to watch over them. Chevy, please come forward and give your report.

With that Chevy rose from his seat and addressed the Council. “This is a great honor the Council has bestowed upon my tribe. My team of twenty volunteers will leave at first light a fortnight from now. We will travel with Mochni, the Guardian to the place known as De Soto. There we will ensure the area is secure, the Council tent made ready and will then send a messenger (Bryan of Windsor); back to inform the Council of the readiness of the winter quarters. My team is ready great Council to undertake this mission on behalf of the tribes!”  Chevy glanced over at Mochni who gave him a thumbs-up sign showing his eagerness.

‘The Council thanks the tribe of Hamtramck and is pleased by the progress being made. Are there any here who have questions for the Hamtramck?”

There was silence among the tribes; everyone being well satisfied.

“Without questions great Hamtramck Chief, we thank you and look forward to our migration south to warmer and richer grounds!”

“And now, the reports from the outlying tribes of Hamtramck, Dearborn, LaSalle, and Tecumseh! Stand and deliver your reports to the tribes starting with Tecumseh”

One by one, the Chief of the outlying tribes called by the Council gave their reports. Each gave stirring examples of farming, the number of attacks from savages, hunting and gathering amounts, how weather there impacted their survival, salvage of infrastructure left after the destruction, and the quantity of sickness among the people of that region - a sickness well known and caused by the sins and destruction of old ways. Leo of Tecumseh, Chevy of Hamtramck (on behalf of his father), Syllia of Dearborn, and Richie of LaSalle each gave their reports into the night.

The Council was generally very pleased with most of the reports, however, the report from LaSalle contained information that bolstered the belief that there were many savages still in this area that either had to be incorporated into the tribe or killed. The Council asked for two additional Guardians to travel back to LaSalle with the Council of that tribe to bring these savages under control of the united tribes Council by any means necessary. “We must have peace in this place if LaSalle is to prosper further.” was the dictate of the Council.

The Great Chief of the united tribes again came into the speaker’s area and called for quiet. Once discussion died down to a level that the Council could continue, the order was given for the Chief of the Guardians (Chennai) to give his annual report; and once given, a slight and balding man arose from his seat and came to the center.

“Great Council, it is no accident that there has not been an attack upon the city center in some time. The Guardians continue to protect and serve the united tribes as is our charter, exemplified by the two swords of our tribal mark. Our numbers have increased slightly since I gave my last report to this Council. We are seeing at least two new Guardians created by God each week. As was stated in the report from Richie, Chief of the LaSalle; we continue to experience losses of our brothers and sisters in the South. I’m happy to report to the Council that just as there is strength in the unity of the tribes, so too is there more strength in the unity of the tribes with the Guardians as our sword!”  Chennai bowed as he concluded.

‘The Council thanks the great Chief Chennai of our Guardians. We wish to know if you’ve yet discovered what causes there could be for Guardian creation. We know that everything is from the hand of God and yet, we would like to know if there is a specific and underlying cause? There are some among the tribes who believe the Guardians to be mutations caused by the sins of old. There are others who believe the Guardians may be evil and that we would do well to prevent too much of an increase in their numbers. You yourself will have to admit that Guardians are quite different from the rest of the tribes. How do you answer these worrisome ideas Great Chief?”

“Mutations or not, great Council, Guardians serve the united tribes in all we do. We do not seek to destroy or to rule the tribes though if we wanted to we certainly could.” said Chennai. Murmuring broke out among the crowd at this statement and Chennai motioned for calm and quiet…  “But, but, dear friends, be not afraid. We are your Guardians and believe there is no “scientific” explanation for our being – only the hand of God creates Guardians and we are created to serve and protect the tribes. This is what we teach our own and this is what we steadfastly believe!  To all those who would think otherwise, we wish you only the best in your quest to explain our existence further, but no one has and we believe, no one will!”

The crowd burst into discussion at the conclusion of Chennai’s report. The Great Council Chief rose and joined Chennai in the speaker’s area, motioning to the crowd and bringing the Council meeting to an end.   

Making his way through the crowd, Mochni exited the Council tent. Even though he was tired, it was his turn at guard duty this night; and more specifically to guard Chennai. It took a few minutes to find a dark and quiet place behind the Council tent. Looking up at the stars, Mochni held his living staff skyward above his head, then thrust it down into the dirt of that place. He held on with all his might and began his turn…..

The End

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