Chapter Five: Men of the East

Orlan had been able to jog Jonrah's memory with the symbol. The symbol which he now recognised as the Eastern Emblem.

Litana was fairly central in Crensun, but to the west lay equally civilised kingdoms, who fought amongst themselves for more land and riches. Litana didn't waste time with such foolish fights. If more land was required, the King would build to the east of Litana, and that would never pose a problem.

In all their days, few had come across the men who lived in the East, and even fewer had ventured there themselves. It was not that they feared what lay there, it was just that there had never been any need to do so.

But it seemed the men of the East did not share their opinion - they were evidently marking the kingdom, maybe for an attack or something similar.

This made Jonrah uneasy; although he had never met a man of the East, and therefore could not know if they were more or less trained in combat, he was worried that they would be merciless warriors with powerful weapons, maybe the likes of which the West had never come across before.

Afraid, but eager to solve the riddle, Jonrah snatched up the small piece of leather and pocketed it, leaving through the door, ignoring Orlan's shouts.

Convenience was on his side tonight, as the castle lay only a short walk away - the most central building in the kingdom.

Eager not to disturb the king at night, Jonrah made his way to the Guard's barracks, where he hoped to be able to warn somebody of the imposing threat that the men of the East were putting upon them.

Banging hard on the wooden door at the base of a large tower, there was an almost instant answer; either somebody had been just about to exit, or they all just had really quick reflexes. For their sake, Jonrah hoped it was the latter.

He recognised the face that stood in the doorway. His friend from his days as a warrior, Faldu, smiled too, but not as broadly.

'Jonrah,' he said. 'What brings you here at such a late hour?'

'I wish to warn you of something which threatens us all.'

Sighing, Faldu did not look too happy any more. He opened the door and walked back to where he had been sitting, leaving Jonrah to enter and shut it behind him.

This time he did not sit. The Guard intimidated him, despite his closeness with many of the members. He feared what they could do, and as much as he respected them for not abandoning the cause like he did, Jonrah couldn't help but feel a little unnerved by their weapons.

Addressing Faldu, Jonrah spoke.

'You have to make large-scale preparations for an attack that could befall us at any time.'

'And who, may I ask, poses this threat?' Faldu sounded sceptical about Jonrah's warning.

In order to convince him, Jonrah pulled the leather from his pocket. Holding it up to the light so that Faldu could see, he informed him of its origin.

'My son found it in the forest, hidden in a tree. It's the mark of the East. It could be a sign that they mean to invade us. A marker for their own people. If my boy hadn't found it then-'

A snore interrupted his prepared monologue. Jonrah jumped a little, then looked over his shoulder to see another of his old Guard comrades sitting in a corner, fast asleep. Lorda was a much better friend that Faldu, and although both were old friends, Jonrah couldn't help but think that this would all be easier if it had been Lorda that had answered the door.

'Look,' Faldu said, 'I know that you were a respected member of the Guard, and the king himself was proud of your efforts in battle, but don't you think this sounds a bit ridiculous? We have not made contact with the East in the history of Litana! In Over one hundred years! Why would they choose to attack us now?'

'I don't know, I don't know! But what I do know is that if we don't in some way prepare, we could all be taken by surprise and slaughtered like animals!' Jonrah was beginning to realise the futility of his words.

'Jonrah, look. I know it's hard to accept that you might be wrong, but-'

'I know, I know.' He had given up. Faldu was not going to believe him now, no matter how much evidence he provided. Jonrah could not waste his breath convincing a non-believer. But he would not give up. He wanted to find out what this all meant.

The End

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