Late into the night many stayed up celebrating that this threat of premature conflict was averted. I however slept early and soundly, in the valley. There was some tension over the Canyoner fire, as the Towalk feared their fire might draw down birds of slay upon them, though it was recounted to me that at moon rise it was extinguished and the Canyoners, Towalk, the Volunteers, and the Guards caroused in the moon light.
In the morning I arose to find few awake, excepting some Canyoners who had foregone sleep altogether the night before, as their people do more commonly than our own. It was a late start before the new confederation began to make head way toward the high mountains we sought to cross. Yet even with the bonds of friendship germinating between the diverse crew new tensions emerged, the Canyoners are very different in habit of how they move through these lands, and traveling more lightly than those from Sky Prairie or the Towalk pushing the provisions we had gifted them they tended to get ahead of the group and spread our lines thin. Elida was tormented by this new element of chaos in the group, and by Trul who argued with him as the walked about routes. That evening, Trul gathered his bands to give a speech and the rest of our coalition gathered to hear him,I recorded it as such:
"Between us and Star's Reach is long journey, some of you might live to see sands upon sands for days and days if we make it that far, but another issue is between us and there. The Nemi Rangers, the highlanders of all highlanders, even Sky Prairie they would look down upon were they neighbors. A long long line is the ridge of these mountains, between us and Star's Reach, and it is the spine of the Nemi Rangers. They guard jealously the orchards feed by that ridges streams, and a long trail connects their range along the long length. The trail is the cord of their spine, and not something that any people is welcome to walk on. Now we march toward the greatest Southern pass of that trail, Loven. But I say we march North, to the Nemi Capital of Moft. They are weak in Loven, and our great band may frighten them to fight us; in their ca. But even where they are weak it would take nearly a siege to force the battlements of their passes, a siege we could ill afford. Even if we forced them in short order their reinforcement would swarm down their cord trail, and dog us into the sands.
"Today I have dried my throat, can you hear is crack? trying to convince Elida the stubborn and Dald the silent of the Northern route, but they will not commit to it. So do I speak out of turn now? We have three days until the forked road forces an outcome. I have now said the Northern pass is the better pass, and told you who know less of our path why it is. I invite Elida or Dald to speak now if they have another view."
The Canyoners whooped, needing little encouragement to tease, and adoring Trul as their leader. Uncomfortable and seemingly very comfortable was the respective quiets of the Sky Prairie and Towalk peoples. All eyes gathered on Elida as he made his way to stand beside Trul, he paused, waiting paitently for the Canyoners to still before giving his speech.
"Yesterday we meet each other and you Canyoners gave our expedition a test, if we were war like or quick to quarrel, today we march as allies, as new friends. Maybe something like that is fated with the Nemi, or maybe something new to us. They rule their mountain ridge and are jealous, and in their capital their nobility is most jealous, listen to a man raised in courts himself, I should know! But consider the ribbing and the teasing I received for being stunned to silence by the amazing commitment of our common people, of the Volunteers of Sky Prairie. It is not the nobility who warm to such missions, there are too many nobles and too many plots for that. No it is the commoner who is moved to a mission like ours. Thirty guards were sent by to Nobles of Sky Prairie, and only a few of us from the nobility, but there were fifty sent by the passions of the land.
"This is my argument for us taking the southern route, the rural route. Our group is of rural people and has received the best aid from among the rural peoples. Better to meet the Nemi there, than to meet them in their castles where they feel secure against any threat, even the evils of the Sky Lords, of the Greys, of a second rise of the Federalists. They feel safe, I can attest to the safety felt by those raised in castles, Sky Prairies need to be woken by the Towalk proves it, and in their safely even 'death from above' and 'birds of slay' are but dim myths to them, and they don't feel the danger, feel the treat, that forces us to take this dangerous mission. We should stay way from their Capital and its people that are only like the part in me that you all tease, and not at all like the part of me that learned from our journey and fist warmed to the friendship between the long crossed Canyoners and my people, our people, the Sky Prairie."
This speech brought great cheers from many, but most especially among the Guards. Trul was ashen faced and grim, and though invited to speak quietly declined to comment from his place among his compatriots. Trul stood as large as he could and retorted with a great annoyance in his voice.
"You are a good entertainer, Elida! So you speak to our vanity, and it is good to hear you tease yourself, today I was starting to think such a thing was impossible. But, if you tease yourself you should first learn humility! Much you may know about your noble ways and maybe you know how to kiss up to we savages, for kissing up is the best skill of a noble. But you are ignorant, I am sorry to speak thus to you friend. The nobility of the Nemi is not in a castle, a hard skull of rulers! No they are swifter than that, more war like, the whole cord and spine is their nobility, and there is no going around it. Better to face their Capital strength to its face like to Towalk did before your gates, and
only my people know the dangers of both the Sky Prairie and the Nemi
gates, truly camping under YOUR gates takes more courage!
"Nemi nobles mix and move through their orcharders and their cistern diggers, and their whole people. The rural, you call it as only one who does not travel might, south is as noble as their capital, or maybe more so. But your kind who rule from on high, do not like my kind who sneak around, and where their armor and their guard is weak in the south is also where their hot blood is, it is foolish to drive an army of hundreds against their most insecure point, it is a declaration of war."
Elida turned toward Trul, with hate filled gase, and looked as though he might be about to undo the peace of the previous day, when in a great bound Dald landed between the quarreling leaders, resting his big hands or each mans shoulders. "Don't waste yourselves on each other! Not until the job is through." then addressing the gathered crowd which itself had many people considering deeds which would themselves undo the peace "My people are just trying to make our way to Star's Reach, and we cannot tell if so many followers are a curse! But we do not know the way through these mountains, and must trust our guides, and all who would join, even those who would fight each other, are our guides. You both may be guides and less ignorant than I am, but you are following my quest, joining my mission. Don't tell me of this Nemi enemy, because I am not here to fight the Nemi, won't someone tell me a better path than destroying ourselves before I even meet a Nemi, or destroy Star's Reach?"
And Kindee stood up in the crowd yelling back to Dald "I have a way through our first danger, each other! Let some of my people and some of the Canyoners join in small bands, to scout ahead. That we may learn more what truly is on our paths, rather than walking blind. That we may cultivate more friendships, to stitch together these rifts. That the Towalk may have fewer CHILDREN to tend with the core of our host, and be able to keep the peace that way. Spread and streteched are our nerves, like our lines today. Maybe they must break? Let us choose the breaks, and make with them scouts and heralds!"
At this point I saw in Elida's face a look of horror, more distorted than his rage at Trul, but he was speechless while Dald said this. "It's good to hear someone speak some sense, after listening to these two bickering all day. I would like it if you could put together some few folks to do this scouting."
Little else of import was said at that gathering, though in the next morning I crossed Kindee's path, and was nearly shoved over by her gaze, but when I asked her of her fury she did not speak. Later I learned that Elida had cast her from the Guards, though of course her esteem was still great with many, who cared not.