The Rise of an Emperor

Chapter One
I am Emperor Uruti, and this is the story of how I became Emperor, and defeated the desert nomads. I crouched in the bushes, slowly bringing a rock up for my sling, careful not to alert the antelope grazing nearby. With the rock set in the sling, I stood up and began to swing. Wom, Wom, Wom! The rock gave off a faint whish as it flew through the air. Hitting the antelope square in the head, the antelope crumpled into a heap. I walked out of the bushes, and drew my bone knife. I stepping down in front of the antelope, and slit its throat. It shuddered, and a spurt of red blood stained the grass below. 1

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When it was dead, I picked it up and brought it over to the sled attached to my naro. Naros are half antelope and half horse. The plains nomads had no mounts, because antelopes bucked too much, so some of the tribes began stealing the empires horses. Soon they mated with antelope, and the naro were born. I mounted my naro, and galloped off to the village, the antelope on the sled behind me. I rode into our village and trotted over to our family tent. It was the largest, because my father was the tribal leader. My sister was putting clothes on an antelope gut rope outside our tent when I rode up. “Hello Uruti!” she said, putting a pair of pants on the line. 2

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“Hello Nestril!” I jumped off my naro, and walked over to her, giving a small hug, “I brought an antelope back this time.” “Good, better than the stringy thing you brought back last time,” she grinned slyly. “That I brought back? You were the one that cooked the meat.” Nestril punched me in the arm. “Where is father?” I asked, wanting to tell him of my prey. “At the war tent,” “Thank you Nes, and don’t make this one stringy.” I walked away smiling and walked towards the dome shaped war tent. I 3

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pushed the leather door open, and walked inside. My father was hunched over the table. He was tan, like me and had my shaggy brown hair. He turned around when I walked in. “Uruti!” he said. “How are you?” “Good, I killed an antelope!” “Great! I have something for you.” My father picked something up from the table and tossed it to me. It was a curved iron saber; I pulled it out of its sheath. I swung it around a few times to get a feel of the weight. I slid it back into the sheath and strapped it onto my back. “I know you’re wondering why I got this and it’s because today is a raid.” I stared in disbelief at my father. 4

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“A raid and I am coming?” “If you want to.” “Of course I do!” “Then go to our tent and grab your naro.” “Yes sir!” I ran out of the tent and sprinted toward our tent. I jumped onto my naro and trotted toward the outskirts of the camp. My father was waiting with about fifteen other men. We started to gallop toward the other village, about 5 kilometers away.

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The Rise of an Emperor

Chapter 2.
It took about an hour to get to the village. Luckily the other villagers did not know we were coming, so they were completely unprepared when we charged into them. By the time the first cries of “raiders!” were shouted, my sword was out. I galloped up to the first defender and swung down, cutting a gash in his life. I had been training with a wooden sword most of my life, but this was the first time I had killed a man with one. I had defended my village with my bone knife, but this was different. Knowing that these people were defending their home, gave me a different feeling than the one I had when I killed an attacker. 6

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Riding up to the antelope pens, I used a spear I had pulled out of a fallen man, and herded the antelopes toward another raider. I then cut the gate of the sheep pen open and galloped them away. “We have enough!” my father yelled, “leave this place!” He galloped out of the village and a defender cocked his arm back, ready to throw an ax, right at my father. “NO!” I grabbed my bone knife and hurled it, right toward the defender. The knife struck him in the throat, sending a wave of pain through his body, before he crumpled and died. I did not have time to go back for my knife, but I still had my 12th birthday present, a small flip knife, only 18cm 7

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long. My father nodded to me in thanks, the only thing he could do on a galloping naro. Plains nomads did not have much affection, unless you deserved it. Deep affection was a loving parent. I had a caring parent, but a caring parent could have you do things most people thought insane. Like what my father sent me on, the reason I became emperor. My father had us stop in a few kilometers, so we could count losses, and gains. “What did we get?” my father asked. “We got some water!” said a large man, water was very important to everyone, even though we had the great Kuntalarfun river only 15

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kilometers from out village and tributaries all over the place. “I got about 10 antelope!” said another “I have about 20 sheep!” I said, looking over the small herd I had gathered. This continued on; all together we had 25 antelope, 30 sheep, and 15 gallons of water, 4 pounds of meat and a few bags of flour. Flour was important, for being nomads, only a few tribes had flour in great abundance. All in all, a good haul for a raid. We continued back towards the village, reaching there about dusk. When we arrived, all was in disarray. Everyone was packing up the tents, and gathering supplies. 9

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“What’s going on?” I asked. “I don’t know.” My father looked around for my mother. “Urua! Uruti!” my mother came running up; Urua was my father’s name. “What’s happening” Urau asked. “The empire!” my mother panted, “they have begun invading the plains and all of the other tribes have begun moving south!” Urua looked darkly toward the northwest. “What will we do?” I asked “We will move south.” My father looked at me, “Come to the war tent, I wish to speak to you in private.” 10

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I followed him through the hectic village, and into the large war tent. “Yes father?” I asked, standing next to the table. A map of the plains was spread over it. “I want you to go to the emperor and ask him what he wants from the plains.” He looked over the map. “Look.” He pointed to the mountains. “This is where the villages are going; they will be trapped and helpless there. Only if you go, will we be saved.” I looked at him, thinking of the task he had given me. “You wish me to go alone?” I asked. “No, I will send your friend Naruch, as well as the twins, Soro, and Suru, and my friend Uraun.” 11

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I nodded and thought of what I would need on this journey. “Don’t worry, your mother will know what to pack for you and I will let the others know what to bring.” He looked at me, “I trust you with this Uruti, and I know you will do this well and correctly.” Man, how wrong was he. I walked out of the tent and sprinted to the family tent. My mother and sister were packing everything for the move south. “Uruti! What is going on?” My mother got up from packing and walked over. “Father is sending me to the empire, to talk to Emperor Sutufat.”

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My mother looked intense, “I don’t like it, but I will get you ready to go.” She went over the things in her head and quickly packed two days worth of dried meat, flat bread, water, a bedroll, fire rocks, leather, string, rope and gave a pack naro to me from the herd. At last she gave me a new bone knife. “One of the raiders told me how you saved your father’s life, so I had a new knife made for you.” “Thank you mother.” She gave me the pack, and loaded it onto the pack naro. She gave me a hug. “Be safe.”

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The Rise of an Emperor

Chapter 3
I mounted my naro, and took the rope leash that led the pack naro. The rest of the group was waiting outside the village. My father nodded to me. “Good luck, Uruti. Be safe.” I nodded back, and we rode off, toward the desert, toward the empire. It took us most of the day to get to the bridge. There were two guards standing on the bridge. “Oi!” one of the guards said, “Wha’ do you want?” “We wish to cross the bridge.” I said. “You want to cross the bridge into the desert?” the second guard snickered. “You don’t stand a chance.” 14

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“I think that is our problem, not yours.” I signaled to the twins, who flipped off their naros and drew weapons, completely synchronized. The guards stepped back in surprised. I grinned at them. “Still think we can’t handle ourselves?” The guards stepped aside. “Thank you.” I trotted over the bridge as the twins remounted their naros. As we cleared the bridge, Naruch gasped in surprised. “It’s so big!” he looked in shock at the gigantic desert. “How can it be that big?” “I don’t know.” I was in as much shock as Naruch. 15

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“The plains are about as big, but because of the hills we can’t see as far,” Uruan said, in a deep voice. “Oh!” Naruch still looked amazed by the size. “Let’s keep going.” I spurred my naro, and galloped off. The desert was the most boring place ever, nothing but wavy dunes and vultures. By nightfall, I thought I had seen the entire desert, but I was wrong. We ate jerky and slept until sunrise. After sunrise, we mounted and galloped off. Around noon, Suru piped up. “Do you guys see that?” He pointed at a small hut, made of mud. 16

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“What is it?” I asked “I don’t know.” Uruan looked, “Let’s get closer.” We rode toward the hut, but found it was a small village. When we approached it, a yell sprung out. “What was that?” I asked, then the arrows struck. “Incoming!” Soro yelled, arrows falling around us. Our naros galloped into the village so we had no choice but to fight. I pulled my sword out and my friends took out their weapons. The desert nomads charged at us, spears and axes shinning in the bright sunlight. “Keal them all!” One of the nomads yelled, a thick accent dampening his 17

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word. We began hacking at everyone that came near us, blood staining the sand around us. “There are too many!” I yelled, “Let’s get out of here!” “I agree!” Uruan yelled back. “Look what we found!” the twins came galloping up, holding a scroll in the air. “Battle plans!” “We’ll talk about it later!” yelled Uruan, “Get out!” We charged out of the village, our retreat ruined by a startled cry of pain from behind me. I looked around to find Uruan, a look of agony on his face, and blood trickling out of the corner of his mouth.

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“Uruan!” I shouted. We stopped a few kilometers from the village, and took Uruan from the naro. “Uruti,” he gasped, “Go to the imperial fort and tell them of the battle plans. I am dying. An arrow struck my back. Goodbye.” He closed his eyes, and let out a shuddering breath and was still. “NO, Uruan, NO!” I sobbed, “You can’t leave.” Naruch patted my shoulder, “It’s ok. Don’t worry, we will continue on.”

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The Rise of an Emperor

Chapter 4
We camped there and gave Uruan a nomadic funeral by digging a large grave and dropping a burning stick into it. We rode toward the fort. It took a few days but we made it. We had to make absolutely sure that we did not run into any more nomads. But we did not. The fort was made of stone with a large gate protecting it. A sentry called out, “What do you want?” “We have information for the governor of the fort!” I called back. “We wish to see him immediately!” “Alright then! But you must surrender you weapons at the gate.”

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“Alright but not our knives! We aren’t giving them up.” “Fine, LOWER THE GATE!!” The large gate was slowly lowered, and we trotted in. I pulled my sword belt off and gave it to the guard, while Naruch and Soro gave their swords, and Suru gave his axe. We all still had our knives when we walked into the large keep. We were lead to a large room and there was a burly man hunched over a round wooden table, muttering to himself. “Sir!” the guard said. “There are visitors for you!” “Huh?” the man looked up. He had a large bushy mustache, and a long 21

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curved goatee. “Ah, visitors.” He stood up. “What do you want?” “We have information about the desert nomads. They are planning to invade your territory.” “That’s impossible! They are always calm and peaceful, to a point.” “To a point? They killed one of our men!” I walked up to him and grabbed his tunic, “You will listen!” “Get off of me!” He shoved me to the ground. Suru, Soro and Naruch pulled knives out of their belts and tunics. I jumped up and pulled my knife out as well. “If you won’t listen, we will just go to the Emperor and tell him of this.” I

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looked him right in the eye. “So don’t defend yourself and die!” I walked out and took my sword back from the guard. Naruch and the twins followed me picking up their weapons as well. We mounted our naros and rode out of the fort. “Wow!” Suru said, “Is that a forest?” “Yes, and it’s large,” I said. “And, we have to go through it.“I looked over it again. “Let’s ride!”

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The Rise of an Emperor

Chapter 5
There were trees in the plains but not this many. We were amazed by the size of the forest. Although our biggest shock were the animals. They were everywhere. Hunting them was so easy; we just loaded our slings with jagged rocks and threw them into the underbrush. We knew the names because traders from the empire came to our village sometimes. No matter where we threw our rocks, we always ended up with a few squirrels or rabbits and sometimes a deer. “Does this place ever end?” Naruch asked, hacking at branches and vines with his sword. 24

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“It has to end sometime.” I panted, hacking my own path through the underbrush. “There should be a town or city up ahead,” said Soro looking at a map, “about 4 kilometers away.” “Good!” I said, sheathing my sword and wiping my forehead. We quickly found that 8 kilometers in a forest is about 4 kilometers on the plains. It took us about 5 days to get through the forest and when we got out, we were greeted by an even bigger surprise. “Is that the city?” I asked. “I guess,” Soro said, staring at the 50m tall walled city.

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We trotted up to the gate and entered with all the other merchants, mercenaries, and peasants going to buy food, supplies and transport. The city was so big! And we had no idea that the capital was bigger. “Ok,” I said. “What are we looking for?” “We need transportation through Untufrara Lake, food, clothing, leather, and more rope and sharpening stones,” Suru said, checking things off a list. “I heard they have metal knives here,” Naruch said. “What about those? They are stronger than our bone ones.”

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“Sure,” I said. “I can get some while I’m getting some sharpening stones and clothing.” “I’ll come too,” said Soro. “I’ll get the food,” Naruch piped up. “So I’ll get the transportation,” Suru finished. We split up and decided to meet at the dock; naros are not hard to miss in an imperial city. Soro and I walked toward the metal district. “I’ll get the knives, and maybe some axes, and anything else we could use,” I said. Soro nodded and walked toward the stall selling sharpening stones.

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There was a man selling knives near the corner and I walked up to him. “Hello!” he said sweeping his arms over the knives spread along the table. “What are you looking for?” “Four knives, one long, one medium, one small, and I’ll take a 30cm balanced knife.” The man picked four knives out. “Ok, that will be 10 gold pieces, or 5 gold pieces, and something to trade.” “Here are 5,” I said, and pulled out my bone knife. “Will this do?” The man took it and looked it over. “Yes, this will work fine.” He handed me the knives. I put my knife in the sheath I had for my bone 28

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knife, but the sheath was too small. Sighing, I put the knife in my belt and carried the other 3. Soon I came to a stall with something I had never seen before. “What are these?” I asked, gesturing to the wooden contraptions. “They are crossbows, the shoot little arrows and they are easy to use.” “How much?” “How many do you need?” “Four, plus some of the ammo.” “25 gold for four, and 150 bolts.” “Done.” I gave the man the 25 pieces, and walked back towards the stall where Soro was collecting the stone.

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“What did you get?” he asked, looking up. “Four knives,” I said, handing him the medium one. “And these,” I showed him the crossbows. “Oh! Cool.” “Let’s get to the docks,” I said. Soro nodded and we walked toward the docks, our naros following behind us. We met Naruch on the dock. “Where is Suru?” I asked “Talking to the captain of the ship.” He gestured to the cargo ship behind him. I nodded and we waited for Suru. I gave Naruch his knife and showed 30

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Soro and Naruch what the crossbow was. They all had straps and quivers that attached to our sword belts. “Hey!” Suru called. He was at the top of the ship. “Come on up! This ship will take us to that capital.” “Alright!” I called, and led my naro up the aft plank, onto the ship. Soro and Naruch followed me. I gave Suru his knife, and the crossbow. The captain walked up to me. “I hear you’re in charge?” he asked, a large beard muffling his voice slightly. “Yes.” I pulled myself to my full height. “I’m sorry, but we can’t go through Untafrara Lake.” “Why?” 31

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“There are too many pirates; we can’t risk the lives of the crew.” “I understand, is there another way?” “Yes, but I can’t get you all the way to the capital.” He pulled a map out of his jacket, and put it on the deck. “You see, the river leads up to this coastal city, Muntelten. We can drop you half way there, and you can ride to the capital on your, uh, mounts.” “They’re called naros.” “Ah.” He looked at the naros. “Cunfal!” he called to a sailor, “put the naros in the stables!” The sailor led our naros to the stables in the cargo hold.

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“Come, I’ll show you to your quarters.” A younger sailor had walked up. “Alright.” I signaled to my friends, and we walked with the sailor. “I’m sorry, but because this is a cargo ship, we don’t have any passenger space, so you have to sleep with the crew.” “It’s fine.” “My name is Guntil, by the way.” “I’m Uruti; this is Naruch, and the twins, Suru and Soro.” Guntil led us down a set of stairs, into a large room, filled with hammocks and chairs. Sailors were spread out all over the room, playing dice, sleeping or lounging. One pair of sailors was 33

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throwing a knife. One of them threw it at a wall, and the other one threw it back. “The trip will take a few days to get to where we will let you off.” “Alright, that’s fine with us.” Guntil walked off to his hammock, and we went to our hammocks.

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Chapter 6
The journey was very uneventful, other than the sea legs thing. It was funny to watch Naruch stagger around the deck, moaning and groaning. Soon it was time to leave the ship. I said goodbye to Guntil, and shook the captain’s hand. “Good luck.” He said. “Thank you.” We disembarked, and galloped into the farmland of the inner empire. This was so far the most boring part we had seen, nothing but rolling green. We saw a few peasants here and there, but not much that was eventful.

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The only real thing was when Naruch left. We were riding past a smaller farm, and we heard a scream from the house. We dismounted and approached the house. I peered inside, and saw a young girl, about 15, the same age as we were, being pushed around by two large dirty men, and a smaller man watching. “Where is the money!” the small man said. “I do-don’t know.” The girl sobbed, “Tell them to stop.” I signaled to my friends, and we pulled our crossbows out. I stepped in front of the door, and shouted.

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“Let her go!” and loosed the bolt. It struck one of the large men in the chest. As he fell, the girl fell as well, hoping to avoid more fire. Suru and Soro both shot at the same man, at the same time. The bolts went through his neck. “Leave!” yelled the smaller man, holding a knife to the girl’s throat. “Stand down.” I told the twins. We put our crossbows down, and watched as the man dragged the girl out of the door, into the ferocious reach of Naruch. He jumped on the man, pulling the girl out of the man’s reach, and ripping the man’s throat open with his knife.

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Chapter 7
After the man stopped shuddering, and finally died. Naruch went over to the girl, and helped her to her feet. “What is your name?” he asked. “Gen-Gen-Gentril.” “Hello Gentril, I am Naruch.” He pointed to me and the twins, “and this is Uruti, and the twins, Suru and Soro.” She looked at each of us, and burst into tears. “What’s wrong?” Naruch asked, taking Gentril into his arms. She would not answer, only cry.

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“Don’t worry,” Naruch said. “The men are dead, and won’t bother you anymore. “I-I know,” the girl sobbed, “But more will come back, they want my farm, and my father die-die-died for it.” “Why do they want the land?” I asked, walking towards her. She looked at me, her eyes red and wet, tears streaming down her cheeks. “They are thugs!” she spat, pointing to the smaller man, “They work for a group of cutthroats, and the empire won’t do anything about them.” “What do you mean?” Naruch asked. “They come around waving swords around, demanding payment for 39

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letting you life, and if you don’t pay.” She pointed at the dead men in the house, “They send men after you. They killed my father and left me to pay, and when I didn’t the cutthroats sent them,” again she gestured at the dead men. “To take me away.” “You mean kill you?” Suru asked. Gentril looked at him, a look of annoyance on her face. “Oh.” Suru looked embarrassed. “I guess they would take you to be, well, never mind.” He ended, completely flustered. “Gentril I’ll be right back, ok?” Naruch got up, and walked toward me, motioning over to the side.

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“Uruti, I know I am supposed to go to the capital with you, but I can’t leave her, and we can’t take her with us, I mean we can, but she won’t go without force.” “I understand.” I said, “I would do the same if it was not my mission to go to the capital, and she seems to have taken a liking to you. So stay, we will continue, and maybe we can ask the emperor to send some troops to take care of these cutthroats.” I gave Naruch a friendly hug. “Be safe.” “You too.” He walked over to Gentril and said something to her. After a few seconds she flung herself onto him in an enormous hug, knocking him off his feet. Laughing to myself I walked over 41

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and mounted my naro. The twins came over. “What is going on?” Suru asked. “Is Naruch staying behind?” asked Soro. “Yes, he wants to protect her from any more harm.” They nodded, and mounted their naros. We waved goodbye to Naruch and Gentril, and rode east, toward the capital.

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Chapter 8
The ride to the capital was uneventful after Naruch left, so it did not take us longer than 3 days to reach it. When we did, we were in shock. “How can it be that big?” Suru asked. “I have no idea.” I answered. The walls were about 200 meters high, and the 50 meter gates were open, merchants and soldiers coming in and out. We joined the crowd, and rode through the gates. I went to a guard. “Excuse me,” I asked, “can you show me where the palace is?” “How can you not find it?” he asked. “I am new to the capital.” 43

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“Still!” laughing he pointed to a large building in the center of the city. “Thank you.” I said, and turned toward the palace. I led the twins through the crowded streets of the capital, and we were amazed by all the kinds of people. Rich people, poor people, medium people, and bad people. Twice I saw thin dirty kids, around 9 or 10 years old, stealing a loaf of bread or an apple, but I did not intervene until I saw a blade. We were riding past a stall selling meat, when a group of kids, surrounded a smaller kid, carrying a basket of groceries. “Give us the food!” one of the bigger kids said.

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“N-N-No.” the smaller kid said, “its food for the week.” “We don’t care!” the big kid yelled, and pulled a small, but wicked knife out of his clothes. I swung off my naro, and put my sword on the big kid’s throat. His eyes widened, and Suru and Soro stepped behind the small kid as protection. “If you ever pull that out again, or threaten this boy, I will find you, and run you through.” I said, my voice streaming venom. The big kid nodded, gulping as I pressed my sword a little harder against his throat. “Give me the knife.” I said.

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The kid handed it to me, his hands shaking like it was 20 degrees out. “Leave!” I said, putting my sword down and shoving the kid away. He sprinted off, his friends scrambling behind him. I turned to the small kid, “What is your name?” I asked my voice more caring and kind then it had been with the larger kid. “Funter.” “Here,” I gave Funter the knife, “Use this to protect yourself.” “Thank you!” the kid ran towards the apartment complex of the city.

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Chapter 9
We continued on through the city, smiling about how we had helped Funter. The city was not that big, but because of all the crisscrossing and curving streets, it felt like the palace was twice as far as it had seemed. Soon enough we made it to the enormous palace. There was a boy there, around 6 or 7, who took our naros to a small set of stables. We approached the guards who stood by the door. “What do you want?” asked one of the guards in a crisp clear voice. “We wish to see the emperor.”

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“They wish to see the emperor?” the other guard laughed, “who doesn’t want to see him.” He looked at me, “Which choice? Complaint? Attempted assassination? Or you just want to see your amazing leader?” “None!” I said, stepping into his face. “We have information that the emperor would like to hear, about the desert nomads.” “Alright.” The first guard said, “But we need your weapons.” “All but our knives, we aren’t going into a foreign palace, surrounded by armed guards, without any defense.” The guards put their heads together and whispered. Finally one said, “Fine, you can keep your knives.” 48

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I handed my sword, and Suru and Soro handed their weapons over. One of the guards escorted us into the palace. The walls were made of white marble, with sculptures and paintings lining the walls. We walked down a long hallway, into a larger anteroom. “Wait here,” the guard said. He went through a large door. I sat in a small wooden chair, and the twins did the same. We looked at the various displays of artwork hanging around, until the door was opened, and the guard stepped out. “Come in,” he said, “but the emperor has another visitor.” “That’s alright,” I said. We followed the guard through the door, into the 49

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throne room. The throne room was almost 100 meters tall, and about that wide. Emperor Sutufat was sitting in his large golden throne, talking to a medium sized figure, who stood in front of a larger figure. “Princess, I am sure we can make a compromise about this.” “Only if you make your troops stop the invasion of the plains, if not we are finished here.” The figure turned around, and I saw her face. I literally felt my jaw hit the ground. The face I saw was the most beautiful face I had ever seen. Her long black hair fell over her shoulders, and her black eyes glistened in the lamp light.

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“Hello.” I said, after Suru elbowed me in the ribs. “Hello.” The princess said, “You are from the plains as well?” “Yes, I am Uruti, son of Urua, chieftain of the Shuntefer tribe.” “Princess Nutariti, daughter of Tunfert, king of the alliance of the plains nomads.” “An alliance?” I asked, “When did this happen?” “After the tribes met at the base of the mountain.” Nutariti said, “You left before this?” “Yes, we went through the desert, and up the river to the capital.” “Ah, well then, goodbye.” 51

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She walked toward the door. “WAIT!” Sutufat boomed, “This negotiation it not over.” He looked at his advisor, who nodded. “There can be peace in our lands, if you agree to marry me.” There was dead silence in the room. Nutariti looked at me. I was completely stunned; there was nothing I could do. “Fine,” Nutariti said, “I’ll marry you, but not for love, but for the survival of the plains nation.” “NO!” I shouted. I ran up to Sutufat, and in my anger did the dumbest, but most important thing in my life.

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“Emperor Sutufat! I challenge you to a duel! For the hand of Nutariti, and the place of Emperor!” Sutufat looked amused. “Fine,” he said, “tomorrow, at the arena.” He looked in my eyes, “Prepare to die.”

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Chapter 10
The guards escorted us to a guest room, in the north part of the palace, next to the arena. “You are crazy Uruti!” Suru said, laying his stuff on one of the beds. “Insane,” Agreed Soro, plopping on his bed. “I don’t know why I said it!” I told them, sitting on my bed. “Because you’re in love?” Suru muttered. “Maybe!” I said, “But I have to follow through with this.” “Uruti,” Suru sat up, facing me, “Sutufat has fought in wars! He has 54

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decades of experience! What will you do?” I pulled the small flip knife my father had bought, me, all those years ago. “I’ll think of something,” I said, sliding the knife into its sheath, in the cuff of my leather armor. I flicked my arm, sending the knife into my hand, and with another flick, it was open, sharp point glistening in the sunlight coming from the window. “Is that cheating?” Soro asked. “Did he say I could not use knives?” I asked. “He just said no ranged weapons.” Suru answered.

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I threw the knife; it thumped into the wall, right next to the Statue of Emperor Sutufat. “I wouldn’t count that as a ranged weapon.” I said. “Well…” started Suru “What are they going to do?” I asked, “Stop the duel?” Suru was silent, and I lay down on my bed. I quickly fell asleep, and awoke, perfectly alert. “Hey!” I called, and Suru and Soro jerked awake, knives up. They looked at me with a hint of a question. “Help me get ready please.” I asked, they nodded and got up. We quickly began sharpening my weapons. There

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was a knock at the door. I grabbed my knife and walked toward the door. I opened it, and was surprised to see Funter standing there, holding a large bundle. “Hey!” Funter said, “I heard you were in a duel, so I had my father, he is a blacksmith, make you this.” He handed me a bundle. I opened the bundle, and saw a suit of chain mail armor. “I-I-I can’t thank you enough.” I stammered. “No need.” Funter smiled, and pulled out the knife I had gotten from the bully, “You saved my life, that’s all the thanks I need.”

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“How did you hear about the duel?” Suru asked. “My Uncle is one of the servants here, and when he had dinner last night, he told my father, when I said you where the person who helped me, he made this.” I took the armor, and pulled it over my shirt. It was heavy, and uncomfortable, and I took the mail pants out of it. “You put it over your leather.” Funter said. “Oh-h-h!” Soro tossed my worn leather and I put it on. Then I took the mail back, and slid it on. It was still a little heavy, but less uncomfortable. 58

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I patted Funter on the shoulder, “Don’t come to the duel, I don’t want you to see any killing.” “That’s what my father said.” Funter looked sad. “You don’t want to see people dying unless you have to.” Funter nodded and stepped out of the room, then turned back. “I just wanted to tell you, I heard that the Emperor uses the bones of a Cornwel to predict the outcomes of different things, and when it is a good prediction, he normally thinks that the universe always makes it go his way.” “Wait, a what?” I asked, “What is a Cornwel?”

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“Oh, you aren’t from the Empire, a Cornwel is a large flying serpent from the land across the mountains.” “Oh, well thank you for the information Funter. “Not a problem.” Funter turned around and walked away. “I guess it’s time to get ready.” I said, and grabbed my sword belt. I went over to the bed and pulled my small flip knife, slipping it into my wrist sheath. “What if they check you for ranged weapons?” Soro asked. “He won’t see it until it is in his chest. He won’t expect how I fight, no matter how many different kinds of bones he uses.” 60

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Chapter 11
I practiced swinging my sword with this new armor, until two armed guards came to get me. I followed them toward the arena, and the twins went to the stands. I walked out into the bright sunlight of the roofless arena. I looked straight ahead, and faced the Emperor, his robes flapping in the light wind. S “You’re fighting in that?” I asked, looking at the long robe. “No, I’m fighting in this!” the Emperor threw the robe off, showing a leather breastplate, studded with brass, a long sword hanging on his hip, and a small dagger on his thigh.

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“Oh.” I looked up toward the seats, and saw the twins seated on either side of Nutariti. “Let’s get this going!” Sutufat yelled, yanking his sword out of his sheath. The guards leaped out of the way, as Sutufat charged, his sword coming down in an arc right where I was standing. “Wo!” I somersaulted away, pulling my sword out as I rolled. I twisted, and landed on my feet, just in time to parry the next strike. I kicked out, hitting Sutufat square in the ribs. He fell backwards with a gasp. And I had time to get away and regain my breath. Emperor Sutufat drew his dagger and hurled it at me. I flipped out of the way, the dagger sailing 62

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under me. I pulled my own dagger out, and threw that. “ARGH!” my knife hit the Emperor in the shoulder, jerking him back. In pain and rage he charged, sword swinging circles around his head. I brought my sword up to block him and the impact sent my sword flying out of reach. I ducked and pulled the knife out of Sutufat’s shoulder. Blood gushed from the wound as I jumped back again. Throwing my knife once again, it struck the Emperor in the thigh as his sword hit my arm. I felt warm blood spilling from the long cut and I tackled the Emperor, pulling my flip knife out. I stabbed down, my knife entering the neck of Sutufat. 63

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He gurgled as blood leaked from his mouth. I fell to the ground as the Emperor stopped moving. I don’t remember much, only falling sideways on the ground.

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Chapter 12
When I woke next, Nutariti was standing over me. She noticed my eyes had opened. “Good morning, husband.” She said. “What?” I muttered. “You won; you are the Emperor, and my Husband.” “Oh, well that’s good.” She put her hand on my cheek, and I felt the warmth of her skin. The twins walked in and shouted with joy that I was awake. “Hey!” Soro yelled “Greetings Emperor.” Suru said with a bow and a smile. 65

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“How are you guys?” I asked. “Not bad, we are in royal guest rooms now.” “Great!” I tried to get up, but Nutariti pushes me down. “You’re in no condition to get up, your arm is healing and you are weak from the fight.” “Alright, but is there a coronation? Or something else I have to do?” “No, there is nothing to worry about.” Nutariti sat on the bed next to me. “The twins have been telling everyone you need time to rest.” “You will be able to get up soon!” Suru said cheerfully, he sat down in a chair, 66

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“So take some time to enjoy your new room!” I looked around, for the first time; I noticed that I was in a large bed, in an enormous room. The walls had paintings and old weapons on it, the floor was covered with purple velvet and a desk was in one corner of the room, Suru was sitting in the desk chair, and Soro was leaning against the wall. “Nice room.” I said. “Hello?” a guard came in. “Emperor!” he went into a deep bow. “Yes?” I asked. “The royal doctor said you can leave your bed and move around, as long as you don’t do any fighting.” 67

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“Thank you.” I said, dismissing him with a nod. He bowed and walked out, only to open the door again. “Sire, there is a young man here to see you.” The guard moved aside, and Funter peaked around the door. “Hey!” he ran into the room up to the bed side. “How are you doing? Emperor!” he said, putting a strain on the word Emperor. “Alright, the next person to call me Emperor like that will feel the Emperor’s fury!” I tried to sit up, but again Nutariti pushed me down. “I have to thank you,” I said to Funter, “Your father’s armor saved my life.” “I’ll tell him!” Funter turned. 68

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“Wait!” Funter turned around, “Tell him to move to the royal palace, he can work here from now on.” Funter looked at me in shock. “Really?” “Yes.” “I’ll tell him!” Funter charged out of the room. “That was nice.” Nutariti said, stroking my hair. “He saved my life; I wish I could do more.” “Look,” Soro said, “I hate to break up the romantic moment, but does anyone remember the reason we came here? We can stop the invasion of the plains, but the battle plans? 69

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The ones we got from the Desert Nomads.” “Right!” Suru said. “Where do we go with the plans?” I asked. “The war generals!” Nutariti said. “Can you show me where they are?” “Yes.” Nutariti helped me out of bed, and the twins flanked me as I walked into the hall.

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Chapter 13
Four guards nodded to me as we walked through the hall. “That many guards?” I said, questionably. “Some people remain loyal to Sutufat, and may want revenge.” Suru explained. I nodded and followed Nutariti as we continued toward the war generals. We had to traverse half of the palace to get to the war room. Soro opened the door, and we walked in. A cluster of large bearded men stood around a circular table. Suru cleared his throat. One of the men turned. “Emperor Uruti!” he said. 71

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The other generals quickly spun around. “Do you need any assistance Emperor?” said another one of the generals. “Yes.” I nodded to Suru, how threw the plans to one of the generals. “What is this?” he asked, opening the scroll. “Battle plans,” I said. “The Desert Nomads are planning to attack the Empire, and by the look of it, they are enlisting the help of the Mountain Tribes.” “Good God!” said one of the generals, “They must have at least twentythousand troops.”

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“How many can we get in a short notice?” I asked. “We can get about 10,000 in a few weeks, but over 25,000 in about a month.” “Then I’ll go and help with recruitment, when we get over 12,000 we will start the march, but have officers here to bring men to the army as they come in.” The generals nodded, and introduced themselves. There was Kunfara, the commander of the infantry, my favorite, Jukut, the siege commander and Luntekt the commander of the cavalry, I did not like him, he was too arrogant. I turned to Suru and Nutariti.

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“I need you to stay here and rule while I’m gone.” Suru nodded and Nutariti began to speak, but decided not to. I turned back to the generals. “Luntekt, I need you to get 25 light cavalry and make them ready to ride.” Luntekt nodded, and walked out. “Kunfara, I need you to get as many soldiers as you can get and supply them.” Kunfara nodded, and followed Luntekt. “Jukut, I’m not sure what you should do, so please prepare for war.”

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Jukut nodded, and followed the other two generals out of the room. Suru turned to me, “Why do you want me to stay?” “Because I think you’re a good ruler, and will do the right things while I’m gone. Also if I die, you should take over.” Nutariti gave me a hug and a quick kiss. “Be safe.” She whispered, and walked out of the room. The twins were smiling at me. “Are you sure you want to leave her behind?” Suru asked. “I am sure, and I want you to look after her.” 75

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“And me?” Soro asked. “You’re coming with me.” I said, “To go recruiting, let’s get our naros.” Chapter 14 He nodded, and the three of us walked out of the room. Soro went to get our mounts, and I went with Suru to get my weapons. It took us a while to get back to my room, but we found it eventually. “Alright,” Suru said. “Time to organize the guards; do you want any to help you in the army?” “Yes, send 15 of them to join the cavalry, they can help escort me in war, and recruit.” Suru shook my hand, and walked away. I felt sad, having to leave a 76

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good friend, I had lost too many on this mission. I opened the door to my room, and walked to the table with my armor and weapons. My sword was in its sheath and my knife was as well, my small flip blade was not there though. THUD! My knife was sticking out of the wall next to me. I whipped around, to find Nutariti sitting on my bed. “Hello!” she said. “Did you throw that?” I asked in astonishment. “Yup!” she said, “All nomad women are trained to.” “Really? I did not know that.”

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“It’s not a common fact.” “Well, I will see you when the war is over.” She nodded, and I picked my flip knife out of the wall. I strapped my sword on my back, and slipped my knife on my belt. My flip knife went into my arm sheath, and I walked out of my room. “Uruti!” I turned, and Nutariti gave me a large hug. “Be safe.” “I will.” I turned back around, and walked toward the palace entrance. Soro was

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waiting on his naro, and holding my naro’s reigns. “Emperor!” Funter came running up holding something. “My father made this for you.” He handed me a silver helmet. “Thank you again Funter! Tell Suru that you are a messenger for me, just a little thank you gift.” Funter almost fell over in joy. He charged off, and I jumped on my naro. I trotted toward the royal guards and the cavalry, and we galloped out of the capitol.

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Chapter 15
I was happy to be on my naro again, and the country side was nice to look at. “Naruch?” I asked Soro. “Best person to recruit.” We galloped toward the house that Naruch and Gentril shared. I hopped off my naro, and walked up to the house. There was a door, so I knocked loudly. “Leave us alone! I will kill you if I have to!” “Kill your own friend?” I asked. The door flew open, and Naruch stood there. 80

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“Uruti! You’re here!” “That’s Emperor Uruti to you!” said one of the Royal Guard captains. “Emperor?” Naruch asked. “Long story,” I said, “Want to hear it?” I walked into Naruch’s house, and waved to Gentril. “Hello Gentril!” I called. She smiled at me at went back to cleaning the table. “So, why did you think I was trying to hurt you?” I asked. “Because the thugs that we saved Gentril from, had some friends, and they aren’t all human.”

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“What do you mean?” asked Soro, who had followed me in. “The last group that came, had a kind of green man, who was smaller, but very handy with the knife he had.” He pulled his sleeve up, and showed me a long strip of cloth, across a red line. “Goblin.” The Royal Guard captain put in from the door. “They always harass the farmers and the patrols that scout the forests.” “I will make you a deal.” I said to Naruch, “We need men for the army in the war against the Desert Nomads, and you want the thugs gone. So if we help get rid of the thugs, will you enlist?”

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“Well, I want to help you, but Gentril.” “We will completely wipe the thugs out.” promised Soro. “Alright then, I’ll enlist.” “Thank you Naruch.” I said, “We will wait for you outside.”

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Chapter 16
I walked out of the house, and mounted my naro. Naruch came out, sword hanging from his belt. “I’m leaving my knife with Gentril.” He explained, and mounted his naro. “Lead on!” I said. Naruch nodded and galloped off, in the direction of the forest that surrounded the farm land. “We have to cross a bridge, and it is controlled by the thugs.” “Is there a name for these thugs?” I asked. “They are called the Runfurt.” Answered the Royal Guard captain. 84

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“What is your name?” I asked him. “Stunfert.” He answered. I nodded, and we kept on riding. Soon Naruch came to a halt. “We are nearing the bridge.” He said. I nodded and gave a signal to Stunfert. I then turned to Soro, who handed me my crossbow, taking his out as well. There were three guards on the bridge, and on a signal, Naruch, Soro and I all shot our crossbows. They each hit a different man in the chest, and each man fell to the ground. We rode across the bridge, and into the Runfurt’s territory. The signs of bandits and brigades made themselves apparent very 85

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quickly. From the burnt houses to the stabbed and decapitated bodies upon the ground. Our mounts made little noise on the soft grasses. When we reached the forest, Stunfert held up a hand. “We charge in now, I can see the light of their fires.” He turned to the cavalry and guards. “Some of us will die tonight! But it will be for a good cause! Never before has the Emperor allowed us to attack these beasts! So let us fight! And die for our Empire! For our Emperor! And for the satisfaction of killing these animals!” He turned to me, and smiled. “All yours.” “ATTAAACK!!!” I yelled, and plunged into the woods. 86

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My sword was out of its sheath quickly, and I heard the rest of my troops behind me. As I leapt into the camp, I got my first look at the goblins, ugly little beasts with small horns, but wicked weapons. “Kill them!” one of them screeched in a high scratch of a voice. The Runfurts quickly sprang up with their weapons drawn.

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Chapter 17
I slashed down with my sword, but a goblin blocked my blade with a small shield. Soro rode up behind the goblin, and stabbed him in the neck. A human Runfurt charged me on a horse. “Die imperial scum!” he roared, swinging a large axe. I pulled my knife out, and as I parried his axe with my sword, I did an undercut with my knife. The man fell with a gash in his upper chest, the horse galloping off. Naruch was hacking Runfurts down, left and right. I rode up to him. “These are all the Runfurts? I asked.

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“I hope so!” Stunfert answered, “But I don’t think so.” “Great!” I said sarcastically, “More killing.” It did not take long for the Runfurts to rout and run and we only had a few losses. “I don’t think that was all of them, I think we should follow.” Stunfert said to me. “I agree.” I turned to the troops. “We are going to follow them! And kill every last one of them!” I turned and galloped into the forest, hacking at branches and vines with an axe I had picked up. I heard the rest of my men follow, hacking their own path through the forest. 89

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Stunfert trotted up to me and asked, “How much farther into the forest do we have to go?” “You’re asking me? I thought you knew about the Runfurt.” “Well I do, enough to know that they don’t run often.” “Warn the men, have them be prepared for ambushes.” “Yes sir.” Stunfert trotted back, whispering to the soldiers. Soro and Naruch came up. “Ambush?” they asked. “Ambush.” I agreed, the Runfurt did not seem like the people who run away because they are scared.

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We kept riding, swords hacking, but eyes open, waiting for the oncoming Runfurt attack. The first cries of ‘Attack’ sounded and hundreds of warriors charged out of the woods. “Incoming!” Stunfert yelled, as Runfurt warriors attacked us.

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Chapter 18
I slashed down, chopping the head off of one of the goblins. Soro, Naruch and I were surrounded by warriors, until Stunfert hacked his way toward us, and we fought side by side, covered in blood and gore. “We can’t go on with this much longer!” Stunfert called. “I know!” I replied, “But we can’t retreat.” The Runfurt kept coming, over half of our horses were dead, and about a fourth of out fighting force was dead or wounded. We had formed a circle, and dismounted so we could fight on the ground.

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It was hard gruesome work, and it was getting tiring. No matter how many men we cut down, more seemed to come. Finally, when all hope seemed lost, a voice called out. “Archers! Fire!” A stream of arrows hissed through the woods, cutting into many of the Runfurt’s men. “Charge! The voice called again. Kunfara charged through the woods, riding a large black horse, wielding a large double sided, double ended battleaxe, which sliced through about 10 Runfurts on his way toward us. “How did you find us?” I asked. “A young lady named Gentril came to us on our way to find you, recruiters 93

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have raised about 12,500 troops, and they are all fitted and ready for battle!” Naruch sighed in relief, “I really owe her now!” “Damn straight you do!” With Kunfara and the men he brought, we were able to completely destroy the Runfurt. We rode back to Naruch’s home, to thank Gentril and to ride to the rest of the army. Naruch said a quick goodbye and we were off. It took us two days to catch up with the army and when we did, I was really surprised to see the vast largeness of the army. Over 12,000 men were camped out in a large open plane.

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Kunfara pointed the different sections of the army. There were about 9,500 infantry, 1,500 cavalry, and 1,000 scouts and archers. I rode up to the command center with Kunfara, Soro and Naruch. Jukut and Luntekt were sitting in chairs when we entered. “Emperor Uruti!” they said as they stood and bowed. I nodded to each of them to sit back down, and took my own seat in the largest chair. “Now to business,” Kunfara said. “Yes.” I turned to Jukut, who was a general of scouts as well as sieges, “How many men have they assembled?” 95

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“In the fort? Almost 15,000 but we have no idea how many they altogether.” “15,000 nomads?” Soro asked. “Well, about 8,000 nomads, and about 7,000 mountain tribesmen.” “That is still a lot of troops. “Naruch put in, “and we only have about 12,500 men at the moment.” “True,” Kunfara said, “but our recruiters say we have another couple thousand men coming in, from the campaign of the plains” “At least we got that to be canceled.” Naruch put in. I nodded my agreement, and pondered how to best attack the fort.

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“Jukut, what is the best way to besiege a fort with more troops than we have?” “I am already working on it!” he said, “I have men cutting down trees to make catapults. And I have a new invention.” He looked over his shoulder. “Bring it in!” Five soldiers brought a large metal cylinder in, and a barrel. “This is what I call, a Fire launcher.” Jukut said. “You put this powder in, and a metal ball, and you light this piece of string, and when the fire goes inside, it explodes, sending the ball shooting as fast as an arrow into whatever you’re shooting at, as well as a jet of flame shooting out.. We are also working on 97

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making them smaller, so you can carry one with you as you march or ride, but they work differently.” “When will they be done with it?” I asked. “In a few days we will have about 15 of them.” “Good, give one to me, Soro and Naruch, as well as the royal guard.” “Yes Emperor.” I dismissed the generals and thought about the oncoming battle. Naruch and Soro stood up, “What units do you want us in?” Soro asked.

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“I think you would do best as a commander in the cavalry, I’ll let Luntekt know.” “And me?” Naruch asked. “You should fight with me in the royal guard, with the infantry.” “Alright, thank you.” They left, to find their quarters with their units. I sent a messenger to tell Stunfert and Luntekt about Naruch and Soro. The next few days went with a blur, except for the Fire Launchers. When Jukut gave one to me, I was surprised by the size. “It’s like a meter and a half!” I said. “Yes, but I can fire up to 100 meters. “ 99

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Jukut showed me how to take a cartridge, with the fire powder and a smaller metal ball, into the side compartment by opening a small door in the side, and pulling the match back, so when you pulled the trigger, the match struck, and ignited the powder. BOOM! The fire launcher shot the metal ball into a tree about 80 meters away, as well as a jet of flame about 15 meters in front of me.. “Wow! That does work!” I rubbed my shoulder, “But it can hurt.” Jukut nodded and went to give the others their fire launchers.

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Chapter 19
By the time we had 16,000 troops, we were in position to assault the fort. I went in front of the troops to give a pep talk before the assault. I was atop my naro, and looked over our troops splayed out before me. “Men!” I called out, “Today is not a day for cowardice, but a day for bravery! And for valor! We cannot lose today! Or we doom the Empire to extinction! I will fight with you, and we drive the nomads back!” There was a roar from the troops as they shook their weapons and stomped around. “LET US FIGHT!” I screamed, and the first of the large fire launchers fired. 101

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We used large portable shields to block oncoming arrows and charged toward the fort. The fire launchers shot metal balls into the fort walls, and began to crack the walls. “The walls are breaking!” Kunfara called. There was a great shake, and the walls fell. “Charge!” I called. I charged into the hole, my guards behind me. We began firing our fire launchers, and nomads fell to the ground, holes appearing on their chests. I slid the launcher into the sheath Jukut had put on my naro, and pulled my sword out.

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Glancing behind me, I saw that Soro and Naruch had also pulled their swords out, as had a few of the guards, including Stunfert. The nomads charged at us, screaming and yelling, their mail armor covering their sandy clothes. “Die!” I screamed, thinking of Uruan. I sliced and stabbed into the nomads. “Who are they?” Naruch asked over the noise, and hundreds of men in fur charged into us. “The Mountain Tribesmen!” Stunfert called. “Let me at ‘em!” Kunfara called, charging in, axe swinging. I spurred my naro toward him, firing my fire launcher at a tribesman.

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“Time to fight!” I yelled at Kunfara. “Time to kill!” he answered. By this time, the rest of the cavalry had entered the fort, and the beginning of the infantry charged in. “To the keep!” I screamed, and galloped toward the large stone building, that we had entered peacefully much, much earlier. My army surged forward, and followed me, killing thousands of nomads as they went. The nomads retreated to the keep, and one nomad stood out to meet us. “I vish to talk to the Emperor!” he called. I stepped forward, cocking my fire launcher as I went. 104

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“What do you want?” I asked. “To leave peacefully, and without further bloodshed!” he answered. “Peace? You want peace? If you wanted peace, then your people should not have killed my friend!” The nomad looked at the naros. “You were the bastards that stole our battle plans? I thought I shot the one in charge.” “Well you failed!” I screamed, and pulled the trigger. The fire launcher exploded, and the metal ball hit the nomad square in the chest. He fell backwards, and I turned to my army.

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“We will have them leave their weapons, but they can leave peacefully!” It took a couple of hours to get the last thousand or so nomads and the two thousand Mountain Tribesmen out of the fort. Soon the fort was cleaned of all bodies, and the army sat to rest.

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Chapter 20
I met with the generals in the keep, and I discussed the defenses. “We know they will try to retake the keep.” I said, “But what do we do?” “I have made enough fire launchers to equip most of the army, so if we have the archers use bows, about 85% of the army will be able to fight from the ramparts.” “Maybe we can send someone to ask the nomads for help.” Soro said. “That could work!” Kunfara agreed. “Alright, Soro, take 10 members of the royal guard to ask the nomads for help, ask for Nutariti’s father and my father.” 107

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“Yes sir.” “Good, dismissed!” The generals walked, out and Soro and Naruch followed. I slumped in my seat. I was tired, and hurt, the doctors had stitched up a gash on my arm, and a smaller one on my ribs. “Emperor!” Jukut peeked around, “I almost forgot! I made a smaller fire launcher, and we renamed then, to Firearms, or Muskets.” He handed me a pistol, and walked out. Soro left the next day. He planned to go around and follow the river to the plains, instead of going through the desert. I waved goodbye to him with Naruch and Stunfert from the ramparts and we began to prepare for the attack of the plains nomads. 108

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Jukut spent most of his time training men with the muskets. He had them equipped with a short sword, so they could do hand-to-hand combat as well as ranged attacks. He also gave all of the Royal Guard, and the more highly ranked cavalry the smaller pistols. All over the fort, soldiers prepared, for the end of the war, the last fight with the nomads, the final battle. The day of the battle, I was playing cards with Kunfara and Naruch, when scouts ran into the keep screaming. “The nomads are coming! Get to positions!!” We dropped our cards and ran to the ramparts. My guards stood around me, muskets cocked. I leveled my musket on the ramparts, and looked 109

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over the thousands of troops lined up outside the fort. “PREPARE TO DIE!!!” screamed the Nomad general. “Fire!” I yelled, as thousands of nomads charged toward the fort, carrying scaling ladders and grappling hooks. All across the fort wall, fire spat out of muskets, shooting bullets at the nomads. The entire front line of nomads fell to the ground. Nomadic archers began firing volley after volley at us. To guards on either side of me put shields up above me. I looked from side to side and saw soldiers falling off the ramparts. “AHHH!”

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Chapter 21
I heard the scream, and looked to see one of my guards falling off the wall, a nomad’s dagger in his stomach. Replacing him stood a nomad, who yelled and jumped onto the wall, swinging an axe wildly. I pulled out my pistol, and shot him in the breast. “They’re climbing the walls!” I yelled, leaning my musket on the wall, and reloading my pistol. My Royal Guard surged forward, to repel the oncoming nomads. I ran forward, pulling my sword out as I went. I leaned over the edge of the wall, and shot my pistol. The burst of flame engulfed a nomad, lighting him on fire, as well as putting a bullet 111

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through his chest. His flaming corpse fell, causing more nomads to scream and fall. “Emperor! We must get you off the walls!” Stunfert slashed a nomad and came toward me. I followed him and the other guards toward the tower where the stairs were. We rushed down them, and I jumped on my naro. The main cavalry unit, as well as the Royal Guard stood ready. “Let us charge into them and drive them back!” I called. I signaled the gate to be open, and lead our forces into the oncoming horde. I fired my pistol, and heard about a hundred more being fired behind me. I slid my pistol into its thigh sheath, and drew my sword. 112

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There were nomads everywhere. No matter how many I struck down, more came. Spearmen, axe men, swordsmen they were everywhere. A nomad with an axe came hurtling out of nowhere. I was able to dodge his axe, but I fell off my naro, hitting my head. In a daze I saw a blurry figure leap off his horse and begin attack the nomads that had surged forward, seeing me fall. He slashed and stabbed, killing many nomads. Then a swordsman came up behind him, pulling his sword up. “NO!” I yelled, and hurled my knife at the nomad. The knife struck him in the armpit, and he crumpled, falling sideways into the dirt. Stunfert looked at me in 113

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thanks, and I jumped up, and climbed onto my naro. Seeing that I was up, Stunfert jumped onto his horse, and we fought side by side, hacking and slashing at the nomads. “We have to retreat!” he called. “There are too many of them.” “I agree!” I yelled back. He blew a horn, and we galloped back into the fort. Soon dusk fell, and the nomads retreated into their camp, as we regrouped and repaired our defenses. I sat in the keep with my generals, Naruch and Stunfert and we discussed our plans. “We can’t risk a defensive attack again.” Stunfert said. 114

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“We lost over 2,000 men on the walls.” Kunfara added. “But our muskets did seem to have an effect, when we fire them at close range, they light the nomads on fire.” “And the pistols were very useful.” I put in. “But what can we do?” Naruch asked. “Can we win a full on head-to-head battle with them?” I asked. “With our muskets, and our numbers, it will be a close victory.” Kunfara said. “And if Soro returns with the plains nomads, we can definitely win.” “We can’t wait.” I said. “We won’t be able to hold off another assault.”

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Chapter 22
We were decided, a messenger would be sent to inform the Nomadic general that the winner of the battle would win the war. The messenger returned soon after, with the answer of yes. We prepared the army for an attack, and left Naruch in charge, with the scouts and siege engineers for a defensive line. The next day, we marched out, meeting on a large flat area of land, we hauled 3 large fire launchers to help us in the battle. The nomadic army was lined up and waiting for us. We set up with our cavalry on either side, with our musket men in the front, and melee 116

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units in the back. Our large fire launchers were in the back of the army, along with the generals, who were trying to convince me to not fight. “I will fight with the army!” I said, and grabbing my musket, I walked to the main army, followed by my guards. Both armies looked at each other, until the generals gave the command to begin the fight. Unfortunately for the nomads, the attackers always begin. The large booms of the fire launchers echoed as the metal balls careened into the nomadic army. The nomads charged at us, and the musket men began firing. Nomads fell and twisted as they ran. I aimed and fired, one shot after another, and 117

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nomad after nomad fell. Before they charged into the army, we dropped our guns and pulled out swords and axes. I pulled my pistol out, and killed another nomad, putting a bullet in his chest. I pulled my sword out, and charged into the nomads. My guards came behind me, and the battle raged on. I had never been in a full scale battle like this before, thousands of men dying every minute. We had the advantage of weapons, but nomads were used to fighting in the sand. Our men slipped and fell, but the nomads just stabbed them on the ground and walked over them. “We are being pushed back!” I told Stunfert, who was beside me. 118

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“I know!” he replied. Then a great yell came up.

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Chapter 23
“FOR URUTI!” and “FIGHT THEM BACK!” I looked past the slashing weapons, to see the plains nomads, led by Soro, come crashing into the flank of the nomads. After that the battle was pretty much over. About one thousand cavalry hit the nomads in the back, killing their general, and sending a wave of panic threw the nomads. The Desert Nomads quickly ran, fleeing toward the mountains, and the Mountain Tribe allies. There was a meeting on the battle field, Me, Kunfara, Jukut, Luntekt, Nutariti’s father Tunfert, my father Urua and Soro’s body. 120

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Soro had died after the charge, surrounded by nomads he had leapt off his naro, and killed ten of the nomads. We mourned Soro, and decided to bring his body back to Suru. My father came up to me. “I sent you to plead with the Emperor to stop the invasion, and instead you become emperor.” “But I still stopped the invasion.” I said. “I am not angry or disappointed with you, but proud, you fought this war, and won it, you used what you had to win.” He looked me in the eyes. “I am proud of you Uruti.”

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We rode back to the army together, and then to the fort. Naruch rode out to greet us, and saw Soro’s body. “What happened?” he asked. “Soro saved us all, but died.” I could not keep the tears from my eyes. “Those bastard nomads killed two of my friends, they have one more chance, one more thing they do, until I kill every last one of them.” Naruch patted my shoulder. “Don’t worry, we beat them, they won’t come back.” I left Kunfara in charge, while the Royal guard came with our group. The plains nomads went back to the

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plains, and said they would join the empire, but still be nomads.

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Chapter 24
It only took us a few days to reach the capital. Naruch left when we came to Gentril’s house. When she heard us coming, she rushed out, and tackled Naruch to the ground. Laughing, I led my father and Nutariti’s father to the capital. When we reached it, Funter galloped up on a messenger horse. “Uruti! Uruti! Come quick!” We followed him to the palace, where Suru stood, arm in a sling. When he saw Soro, his face went from sad, to heart-broken. “Soro’s dead.” Was all he could say. “Suru, what happened?” I asked. 124

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“I don’t know who, but someone kidnapped Nutariti. I know where they are from, from beyond the mountains, the Desert Nomads did not attack of their own accord, someone asked them to.” “Who?!?” I asked. “A king, named Artustel. He had tribesmen kid-nap Nutariti, to get you to give of the empire.” He looked at me with a hopeless face. “What can we do?” I am finishing this Journal today, I may right in it if I come back from saving Nutariti, but if I don’t you know this story. I have chosen Suru as my heir, and I know end this. Goodbye 125

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Emperor Uruti. Uruti got up from the table, and walked out of his room. He walked along a hallway, until he came to the war room. He walked inside and looked at the Royal Guard, and other members of the rescue team. “Let’s rescue my wife.” He said and the team cheered.

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