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Book III Part II

Rise of the Amazoi

The rain dripped from the warriors' helmets as they waited for the leaders to finish organising the troops. Rafel sat uncomfortably on his horse next to Ulforta as he looked back at the almost two hundred men and women in full armour at his command.
"Terrifying..." he said quietly.
What's that?" Ulforta asked without taking her eyes off the road before her.
"I said it's terrifying."
Ulforta's only response was to purse her lips and give a subtle nod. Rafel hadn't really expected an answer so early in the morning anyway.
At least his troops looked fresh.
To give those heading to battle a better rest, Rafel had stationed the elders and the children to stand sentry duty the night before. Piershta and Vloa were their usual giggly selves, and their laughter helped ease the noticeable nervousness of the group.
In all honesty, Rafel was now seeing the benefits of this large army. If the Dolsha (or whatever the name of Peshka's tribe was) resisted, then the Amazoi would have the means to push them out of the valley entrance. That would give the Amazoi back their old home. Which, this time, would place their backs safely to a steep valley and their fronts to the Great Water on a major trading route.
It was all sounding pretty good to him now.
"I'll bet you~ " Ulforta suddenly whispered to Rafel, "that forty men pass out from the run to the next village."
"Hmmm..." Rafel gauged the wager with a quick look out over the foot soldiers of the other tribes, "Pass out, pass out? Or just bent over and gasping for life?"
Ulforta thought a moment.
"Both. Let's say; not in a condition to fight."
"Okay, I say 29. Closest wins."
"What's your wager?" she asked.
"I want your golden sheep skin." he replied.
The dirty white sheep skin that glittered of gold dust was presented to her as war-spoils by the new Bakat council. It was quiet a useless gift as far as Ulforta was concerned.
"Is that all? You could have just asked for that."
"Hey. You're not making very good sport of this."
"Ah, sorry. Yes. My precious golden fleece. Deal."
"Wait a moment. What do you want?"
"Hmm..." she looked at him with a naughty look and a flick of her eyebrows, "I'll tell you if I win."

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