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Story 1

Jeremy Miller

Jeremy Miller was once a computer scientist and is now a doctor. He wrote a short story some twelve years ago and decided it was not time. At the urging of his brother, he decided to re-enter the fray with Horace and Juju. These two characters were inspired by a sketch in an ancient board games exhibit at the Smithsonian long ago. Two demons sat next to each other playing mandolins.

These characters stayed with Jeremy all through medical school and eventually took advantage of him during a Christmas break to come to life. The resulting characters bear little resemblance to their inspiration.

Jeremy lives in the Southwest. This is his first published story, but hopefully not his last.

Two itinerant musicians get the gig of a lifetime, or did they...?

If you missed the beginning, enjoy Part 1 of this story in the Spring issue of 4 Star Stories.

And now the conclusion of Juju and Horace Tip the Scales.





Horace and Juju Tip the Scales


by Jeremy Miller


Horace had watched the swarming mound of red, pulsing tentacles come through the black hole when it first opened. The adults could not see them, even as each tentacle chose a follower, arched up like a cobra preparing to attack, and plunged into their chest. The children could see them though. They had watched with Horace, and they were frozen with him -- Juju was frozen too.

Once before, a long time ago, Horace had been hit in the head with a rock. He lay there, staring up at the sky. He felt like that now, except his voice still worked. Juju kept playing the same waves over and over. It annoyed him. Horace stopped singing and watched the tentacles; they looked like a creature that he had once seen in the water. ”Beautiful and dangerous,” his mama had told him as he watched it dance in the ocean waves.

The tentacle connected to the fat man was thickest of all. Kinked and tortuous, it shifted constantly while the fat man moved, trying to relieve the tension. Horace studied one tentacle grow out from the black hole, thin as a string, and run up to a little girl sitting still in one of the pools. It paused for a moment then passed into her chest. Her eyes started to glow red, and she started to move. Raising her hand, she swiped at the tentacle, but the hand passed right through. She giggled. Horace watched another tentacle as it connected to a boy and allowed him to move.

There was something there. Horace closed his eyes and listened. He followed it, reaching out with his mind, outward, then downward into the darkness of the hole. A presence resided down there, powerful and inviting. It was asking permission to join him. “Yes, I accept you,” Horace said with his mind.

He opened his eyes as a tentacle pushed into his chest; there was no pain. He felt power surge through him and, instead of keeping it in, he guided that power through his chest, up his neck, and out with his voice. As he opened his mouth, a fine, red mist shot out, particles floating and vibrating to the waves of his song. He followed the particles up, until they passed through the rows of bristling spikes blanketing the ceiling and disappeared. Horace pursed his lips and hummed. Instead of a fine mist, the barest of tendrils emerged from his mouth. Horace watched the fat man approaching Juju and sensed danger. Controlling the tendril’s growth and path with the strength of his song and the movement of his head, Horace turned his gaze back to the ceiling, guiding the tendril upward.


            The warm stream of urine ran down Juju’s leg. He sobbed noiselessly. Gideon completed the half circle, standing between the void and the stage, just in front of Juju. He stopped chanting and all was silent. “We offer this sacrifice,” Gideon said, raising and shaking his flabby arms, “to show our devotion to our most loving god, Kaza.” Again, the townspeople spoke and repeated as a single voice: “Our most loving god, Kaza.”

Gideon stepped up on the stage, his massive belly inches away from Juju’s face. Juju closed his eyes and tried to block out Gideon and the chanting, focusing instead on the feeling of his fingers gliding across the strings. He drifted down into Horace’s range; but in place of bass tones, he found rapidly alternating notes. As Juju wondered what in the world Horace was doing, a sound rang out in the air, punching through the simple, repeating melody of the mandolin and the townspeople’s chant, like someone wrenching a string violently from its instrument. The cracking of rock echoed through the cave, and Juju opened his eyes as a large stalactite fell from the ceiling and impaled Gideon through the stomach. The chanting stopped. Juju’s hand faltered on the strings.

Gideon considered the stump of the stalactite sticking up from the top of his belly. Blood and entrails gushed from the wound, running down his ample, naked flesh, and pooled onto the stage. He shifted his gaze to Juju, bringing the knife around purposefully, but it fell from his limp grasp and rattled to stillness on the stage floor. The burning red eyes were gone now. Gideon extended his arms out, trying to catch his balance, but it wasn’t enough. He tipped backwards, off the stage, and plunged into the void.


In the southern hemisphere, deep in the Navani desert, at the nexus of three sand dunes, Kaza’s long, cylindrical body remained still. Its gaping maw sat flush with the ground underneath the raging vortex. Kaza was still pumping energy into the hole but was worried. Someone -- more than a child and less than an adult -- had tapped into its power flow. Kaza had barely gotten a sense of the being before it redirected power, actively using instead of absorbing.

The connection with Kaza’s most devout follower was severed with a jolt, and Kaza, who had been waiting nearly a millennium for the delicious pure blood of a blue man, shivered in disgust as a pâté (three parts Gideon and one part calcium bicarbonate) sprayed out of the hole and onto its taste buds. Kaza cut the power, causing the vortex to blink out of existence, then plummeted back into the sands, made a sharp turn in the earth, and accelerated northward.


Juju picked up the knife and stuffed it into his belt. His legs were shaking, but his voice remained in control. “Get up,” he said to Horace. They lifted the lid and reclaimed their bags, then turned to face the audience. Silence. Horace followed Juju as he stepped down from the stage and walked across the open space. The townspeople didn’t try to stop them. They sat in their pools, staring at the point where the vortex had been moments before. Horace and Juju climbed the stairs and disappeared into the shadows of the cave.

They stepped into the moonlight with Juju’s shins scratched and bleeding from stumbling in the dark. He walked as quickly as he could up the switchbacks, leading Horace by the hand. When he got to the top, he listened, trying to locate the river. He heard a strange clicking sound from somewhere in the cave and looked at the entrance nervously. A dart came streaking out of the night and struck him in the left calf. Juju hopped up on his other leg, howling in pain, and yanked the dart out, tossing it away. Screams came up from below and several figures raced out of the cave entrance. There was no time to think. Juju picked a direction and ran. Horace loped ahead of him, spurred on by the noise of their pursuers.

It didn’t take long for Juju to realize he had been poisoned. His strength started to fail him immediately, his pack feeling like an anchor, and his legs struggling to bear his weight. He considered dropping the pack all together, but he had earned that gold and would be damned if he was going to surrender it now.

He lost sense of direction, and Horace was nowhere to be seen. He heard the yells of the hunt closing in and made his decision. He took off his pack, pulled out his knife, and turned around. Crouching low in the grass, Juju sang “Come Gently Reaper” and watched the line of torches draw near. The words of the song slurred in his mouth as the approaching lights turned fuzzy, then blurry, then stretched into squiggly lines and danced with the surrounding darkness. “Shit,” Juju said, falling face forward into the soft grass. He heard shouts and curses then felt a pull at his mid-section and the rush of cool air on his face. It was the second time that night he prepared for death.


Juju slowly opened his eyes. The flood of light sent a dull ache cascading across the back of his head. “Ahhh,” he groaned. He tried to put his hand on his head, but the jostling made it difficult. Juju was slung over Horace’s shoulder, bumping up and down as Horace’s feet hit the ground in a full run. He tried to crane his neck to one side, then the other. His head felt like it was going to burst. “Stop,” he said weakly. When Horace didn’t respond, Juju yelled, “Stop!”

Horace skidded to a halt, and Juju slapped him on the back, indicating that he wanted off. Horace obliged by bending down and setting Juju firmly on the ground.

Juju had never felt so weak. He steadied himself against Horace, waiting for his vision to sharpen, then studied his surroundings. They were on flat, arid land, a far cry from the grassy valley Juju had collapsed in, with the sun beating down on them from directly overhead. He scanned the horizon behind Horace and didn’t see anyone chasing them. “Where the hell are we?”

            Horace moaned. He held Juju’s knife by the blade in his bloodied left hand, their packs in the right, and the mandolin slung over his other shoulder. Dried snot covered his mouth, and white crystals covered his body. Juju took his hand off Horace and put his finger to his tongue. “You’re covered in salt,” he said, tasting the crystals. Horace had been the one to pick him up off the ground. Judging from the position of the sun, Juju estimated that Horace had been running for several hours.

“Drop,” Juju said. Horace obliged, collapsing to the ground and releasing their worldly possessions in a cloud of dust. Juju coughed and waved at the dirt, then he bent down and examined Horace’s hand. The knife had bitten into the flesh, leaving it crusted over with dried blood. Juju pulled his handkerchief and water bag from his pack and cleaned the wound, then wiped Horace’s pale face. As Horace panted, his swollen, cracked tongue protruded slightly from his mouth. Juju gave the water bag to Horace, who swallowed the contents in one gulp, then he went into Horace’s pack and brought out the big water bag. It swung flaccidly in the desert breeze, empty. He cursed himself for not refilling the bag when he had had a chance.

“Well, the good news is we’re rich,” Juju said, pulling the bag of gold out from his pack and flopping onto the ground. He untied the drawstring and poured the gold coins into his lap, then picked one up and rotated it in the sunlight. “The bad news is we probably won’t live to spend it.” He counted the coins as he replaced them one by one in the bag, hoping that the monotony of the action would hold back the tears. It didn’t. Juju wept with Horace at his side, and the bag of gold in his lap. When he had wiped the final tears from his face, he picked up his mandolin and began to play.

He examined his calf before they left. It was red and swollen, with a ring of black skin circumscribing the wound. Juju didn’t know what to do, so he left it alone. They continued in the same direction with the sun at their backs. Juju limped along, supported by Horace. When they made camp, Juju decided that a fire was too risky. They laid out their bedrolls on the cold ground and shivered under blankets. Horace fell asleep quickly while Juju tried to find solace in the vastness of the stars. But the sky turned into roiling blackness filled with red eyes, all watching him, so he turned to his side, closed his eyes, and sang himself to sleep.

Early in the morning, before the sun could make its grand entrance, Juju struggled against unseen demons under his blankets, feverish and sweaty, while Horace remained in deep sleep, spurred on by exhaustion. They didn’t notice the cautious approach of a scout, nor his retreat into the lifting darkness to report to his Dreadlord.


Kaelan sighed and looked into the basin mirror with one hand running through her long, brown hair. She was trying to shake the disappointment welling up within. They had been able to restock on supplies in Tanju, but little else was accomplished. It had been almost fifty years since her grandfather had recruited nigh on four thousand Tanjuvian men before battling his brother for Ascension. She had recruited less than two-hundred Tanjuvians; most of whom were either incompetent fighters or barely old enough to pick up a weapon. Worse yet, her scouts reported that Jareth was still getting new recruits.

Pushing the flap aside, Kaelan walked out of her tent and headed over to morning rounds with her physician, Asten. When he saw her, he squinted at the papers in his hands, and pushed his glasses up. “Three patients today, Dreadlord,” he said. They entered the tent, and he rattled off information she already knew -- a junior sergeant had been stabbed in a Tanju casino. Soldiers were not allowed to gamble, and Kaelan had yet to decide his fate.

The second and third patients were new. “These two were found on the plains yesterday morning just southeast of our position. The first one,” the doctor looked down at his notes, “Juju, is a thin male, blue in color -- possibly a blood malady -- with an infection secondary to a puncture wound in the left calf. I opened it midday yesterday, quite purulent, and drained it. He does not look strong, my Dreadlord, but with rest and the proper medications, I believe he could join the battle.”

“What about him?” Kaelan asked, pointing to the large one. Even on the largest bed, his feet were hanging over the edge.

“An impressive specimen to look at. He was found with this other gentleman, in a state of moderate to severe dehydration. We are replenishing his liquids now. Unfortunately, he is simple of mind. He will never make a competent soldier, but he could make quite the first impression.”

“Is the blue one oriented to time and place? Can he talk?” Kaelan asked.

The doctor nodded.

Kaelan walked to the side of the bed and tapped him lightly on the arm. “His name again?”

“Juju,” replied the doctor.

“Juju,” she stated.

He stirred slightly. She repeated his name while rubbing his sternum. He opened his eyes, staring up at the ceiling.

“Do you know where you are?”

“Where is Horace?” He asked, looking at her, then at Asten standing at the foot of the bed.

“He is sleeping next to you,” Kaelan replied. “I rescued you from the desert.”

Juju shook his head. “We don’t need your help. We’re doing just fine. Where are our belongings?”

“Doctor?” Kaelan looked over at Asten.

“If the Dreadlord had not intervened, you would most assuredly be dead from that infection in your leg. Your friend would either be dead or on the brink from dehydration.”

Kaelan decided to take a less confrontational approach. She sat down next to Juju and put her hands together, touching the tip of her index fingers to her bottom lip, “I read your completed contract and saw the money in your pack.”

Juju’s eyes grew big.

“Don’t worry. Your supplies are safe.” She paused and crossed her legs. “Let me make a proposition. I am Dreadlord Kaelan and believe my scribe tried to recruit you before your...misadventure. First, I saved your lives. The doctor said it. I know it. You know it. Second, you and your friend have shown yourselves capable of escaping dire circumstances, and I need capable men. Third, I am to fight a battle in a week. The doctor assures me that you will both be healthy by then. You have the opportunity to gain glory and wealth in the name of Sho’Gul, the almighty god, free from whatever troubles you were running from.”

“And if we decide to leave camp? Take our own chances?”

“We will return your belongings to you, minus fees incurred. But you will be carrying a a considerable sum of money, and I cannot guarantee your safety. Not even my men are immune to that kind of temptation.”

The blue man did not respond so quickly this time. He looked over at his companion, then back at Kaelan.

“What contract would I have to sign?”

“The standard one-year contract. Since you will be under my care, the moment you both sign, the medical attention you receive will be free of charge.”

“And what of our belongings?” Juju asked.

“You will be allowed to keep your weapons. Everything else will be kept under the protection of my caravan. Should you die in battle, all debts will be settled and everything in the caravan will go to a third party of your choosing. If we should lose, you only forfeit what is on your persons; the opposing army will respect the caravan laws.” She leaned in closer. “I need both of you for this agreement to work.”

“The Guild magic will not hold under such conditions. Horace will not understand the situation, and I would be signing under duress.”

“Then you will have to sign on behalf of your friend. If he fails, then YOU will pay the price. As for duress, it is certainly not from me. Word of your fortune spread quickly. I was powerless to stop that. I have no interest in your money or your problems, only your loyalty.”

Juju looked over at Horace and tears welled up in his eyes.

“Fine,” he said, avoiding eye contact.

Kaelan rose from the bed. “Doctor, please call on the scribe and strategist.” Asten nodded and left. “My scribe will step through the contract and answer any questions you might have. The strategist will discuss your roles in the upcoming battle. Rest and recover as best you can.”

When her men came in, Kaelan signed the contracts and left, returning to her tent to reflect on her most recent acquisition. She had finally found the man to take point on the infantry charge. He would be dressed in full armor, towering over all the troops, like the heroes of old, formidable and intimidating. If he was an imbecile who needed an emaciated, blue man to pull his strings, so be it. Victory was the only thing that mattered.


            Juju did not talk to the Dreadlord after that first day. He spent a week convalescing with Horace by his side. At one point, a lieutenant Garron marched in and tried to get Horace to drill, but Horace just glowered at him, refusing to budge. The Dreadlord’s intent for Horace was clear, and Garron did not push the situation; instead, he stomped out of the tent and never returned. Now the lieutenant was mounted on horseback, crossing in front of them, giving words of encouragement.

Juju stood directly behind Horace, who was clad in full armor. The army was deployed in a symmetric wedge, with Horace acting as the converging point. Directly across the field stood Dreadlord Jareth’s massive army in a similar configuration. The field was flat and sparsely vegetated. Kaelan and Jareth were mounted and conversing with a delegation in the middle of the field.

The doctor had explained that the delegation made sure certain rules and regulations were followed. He told Juju that Kaelan and Jareth were cousins, and that the victor would ascend to the real battlefield out in the Tulisia highlands, where their family was engaged in a long blood feud. When the doctor offered to teach Juju about the royal family lineage and their great god, Sho’Gul, Juju declined.

The group broke off suddenly, and the Dreadlords returned to their respective armies. The delegation receded west to gain an ideal vantage point.

Horace held a poleaxe by the shaft in his right arm. It had taken Juju several hours to get him to hold the weapon correctly. He had this image of Horace charging with his weapon held upside down, the opposing army snickering as they prepared to run him through with a spear.

The horns sounded and they began to march. Juju had accepted only a belt and scabbard for his knife, preferring to stay light, so he could keep up with the charge. He rubbed his palm against the handle of the knife and looked up at Horace

“Here we go,” Juju said. “Yell, Horace!”

Horace took a deep breath and let out a low pitch roar that reverberated up and down the valley. Their army gave out a shout. Juju felt the resolve of the troops tighten around him. They sped up.

A few seconds later, he said, “Raise your stick, Horace.”

Horace obliged, raising and pumping his poleaxe in the air. The butt of the shaft swung back and clanged into the man marching next to Juju. No one seemed to notice. The men around them pumped their fists and weapons in the air in response.

Juju used the space between Horace and the surrounding men to peer out at the opposing army. The gap was closing quickly. His left calf started to burn, and he winced as the pace quickened.

“Yell, Horace,” Juju said again, this time breathing heavily.

Horace let out another mighty roar, and the army broke into a run. Juju’s leg threatening to give out. He looked down at the ground, concentrating on his feet hitting the dirt, and suddenly collided into Horace. He hadn’t accelerated. Was Horace slowing down? He could hear it now, a deep hum. Horace was slowing down to sing.

“Keep going, Horace,” Juju said, trying to spur him on. “Stop singing.”

Horace decelerated rapidly, increasing the volume of his song. Juju scanned their surroundings, searching for some musical instrument, something giving off a vibration. But his field of vision was limited by the surrounding troops. Horace was walking now; the formation buckled at the center and the sides surged forward.

“No,” Juju said, helplessly. He peeked out around Horace’s side, and looked at the face of an enemy soldier coming straight at him. It was an older gentleman with grey hair sticking out from underneath his helmet. Juju realized he was looking at Berzog, the village innkeeper. His surprise was short-lived; the ground rose beneath him, spewing dirt in all directions. A pillar of flesh rose from the depths of the earth, sending Juju spinning up and up until gravity gained the advantage. Juju smashed into the earth with pain erupting from his left shoulder.


All was lost. Kaelan’s plan for the giant had turned into a disaster. Then she watched the giant worm erupt from the center of battle and plow its way through the opposing army, swallowing men as if they were specks of dirt. Training took over and she sounded the final charge. Her army poured around the worm’s body, and metal clashed against metal and flesh.

“Sho’Gul! Sho’Gul! Sho’Gul!” She heard the chant rise up from her army.


            Juju awoke in a tangle of bodies. His left shoulder burned anew with pain as he tried to move. He pushed a body aside with his right hand and stood up. “Horace!” he yelled. A large, gaping hole was directly in front of him, with bodies piled all around it. Juju bumped one of the bodies. It slipped over the edge of the hole and disappeared. “Horace!” Juju yelled again. No response. Juju stumbled forward then caught himself. Tears of frustration rolled down his cheeks now. He looked around for something, someone to help him. He spotted the caravan back where their army had first set formation. The guards were watching the battle. Juju felt for his knife; it had never left the scabbard.

Four soldiers stood in front of the wagon of supplies, eyeing Juju’s approach. The sergeant spoke first, “Looking to desert are we?”

Juju did not answer his question. He asked one instead, “Do you have my mandolin?”

The soldier scowled. “Yes, but you won’t be getting that back for a long while. Go back to the battle, to your idiot giant. Any other direction and we will kill you.” The soldier spat on the ground. Juju continued walking towards the sergeant. His clothes hung in tatters, and he dragged the left side of his body behind his right. The sergeant was heavily armored and stood his ground. The other soldiers watched the mismatched confrontation unfold, mild amusement flickering across their faces. Juju’s lips peeled back in a snarl. He pulled the knife out of the scabbard and lunged at the sergeant’s breastplate. A brilliant white flash erupted, followed by a wave of heat. Juju felt no resistance as the handle of his knife clanged against the man’s armor, the blade buried deep into his chest. He saw the life dim and wink out in the man’s eyes, a look of surprise etched across his face. It was like he was looking into Gideon’s eyes again, but this time he felt no fear, no horror. Juju pulled the knife out and turned, facing the other soldiers. “Is there anyone else who wants to insult my brother before I go find out if he is dead?” The soldiers backed away, looking at his knife dripping with blood. He turned, cut the ropes, and pulled back the tarp. Their packs and mandolin were lying on top, one of the last things added to the heap. Juju put his knife back in its scabbard and grabbed the mandolin. He pulled the mandolin strap over his torso and strummed the instrument with his right hand, checking the sound. Then he limped back towards the battle while the soldiers stared after him.


            The delegation had decided during the course of the battle that whatever Kaelan had done to garner such attention was legitimate: she had won the right to join her grandfather in the Tulisia highlands. Jareth, her cousin, had knelt before her, ruined. He just looked up at her blankly while she cut his head off. She patted it now, sitting in a sack, attached to her saddle. She had faced superior numbers, but Sho’Gul had ruled in her favor; her name would be synonymous with divine approbation.

She bowed to the delegation in respect and appreciation, then mounted her horse, and rode back across the field to examine the huge hole left by her god. As she approached, she heard a familiar sound and was surprised to find the blue man strumming his mandolin. He stopped and cocked his head to one side, listening intently, then limped over to a pile of bodies and began pulling them off one by one. He screamed, “Horace! Horace!”

The giant’s head popped up through a hole, his helmet gone and his face a mash of bruises. Kaelan’s anger flared. She dismounted and walked towards them. Juju was hugging Horace’s head to his chest, weeping, while the giant sat there smiling.

“You almost cost me the battle,” she said, unsheathing her sword.

 Juju let go of Horace and took a step forward when she spoke, his hand going to his blade. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. We won the battle for you.”

Kaelan pulled up short. She had not been expecting an argument.

“That was the giant worm, Kaza,” Juju continued. “Horace heard him. That’s why he slowed down. Kaza would’ve popped up in the middle of our ranks and decimated both armies.”

Kaelan was confused. “Who? What are you talking about? That was Sho’Gul. MY god answering MY prayers.”

Juju laughed. “My pursuers worshipped the giant worm, Kaza. They tried to sacrifice us to their god and they failed. Then, unfortunately for your cousin, they joined his army. Kaza came to punish them.”

“How do you know that?” She asked.

“Because I saw one of my pursuers in Jareth’s army during the charge,” Juju replied.

Kaelan stood frozen, sifting through the story. She remembered getting word from her scouts that a group of villagers had joined Jareth from the west. She had also not heard of Sho’Gul taking the form of a worm. It was said that Sho’Gul was a fire-breathing reptile of some sort, wreaking havoc from above.

“Maybe,” she said. The weight of the concession stung. She looked back at her army. They were still sifting through the dead, searching for valuables. She could see her scribe and accountants walking amongst the troops, tabbing who owned what. It had to be Sho’Gul working through her. What would the delegation say?

She walked back to her saddle, sheathing her sword.

“What happens now?” Juju asked.

“At ease,” she said and took out her horn, blowing it twice. “I will permit you to buy out your contract.”

One of her soldiers stirred in the pile of bodies. Kaelan took her crossbow from her saddle, aimed it, and pulled the trigger. The bolt made a soft thumping sound in the man’s chest. She paused to look for any other signs of movement. “You will pay for that soldier.”

Juju opened his mouth to protest.

“This is not a negotiation,” Kaelan said, interrupting him. “Sho’Gul did this. If I hear even a whisper of Kaza, I will hunt you down.”

Her scribe rode up behind her, dismounting quickly. “Yes, my Dreadlord,” he said.

“I am allowing these two to buy out their outstanding debt, their contract, and the full contract of one soldier.”

“Two,” Juju corrected.

Kaelan turned and arched an eyebrow in his direction.

“I killed the caravan sergeant,” Juju said.


“He wouldn’t let me have my mandolin.”

She did not have time for explanations. She nodded and looked back at her scribe. “Two soldiers. One of them senior rank, enlisted.”

The scribe moved his lips noiselessly as he did the calculation. “Forty-four gold, eight silver, and 3 copper,” he said.

“Order the caravan here and bring me the blue man’s contract,” she said.

When the scribe returned, Kaelan signed the contract and her initials on a slip of paper that the scribe had filled out. The scribe handed the papers and quill to Juju. He signed it. Kaelan felt the tingle of the contract releasing.

“Give that slip of paper to the caravan, and they will settle your account. You leave as free men. Don’t make me come looking for you.”

“Where do we go?” Juju asked.

“Tanju is your best bet. My army will be too busy with victory to care. Purchase what you need from the caravan on your way out.” Juju bent down and started removing the giant’s armor. Kaelan mounted her horse and rode back to the battlefield.

Later, when she was examining the deep trough left by the worm, Kaelan looked up and spotted two specks on the horizon.

Her scribe approached her side and whispered in her ear, “Should we send someone?”

Kaelan bent down and scooped up some of the dark soil.  She held her hand out and tilted it slightly, letting the gentle breeze take the soil from her. “No,” she said, shaking her head. “I have my victory, let them have theirs.”



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