Chapter Eight
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Chapter Eight

The Pecan Wars

Princess Zipporah took a sip of her wine and gazed angrily at the velvet chair her sister was sitting in.

"What low priorities you have," Zipporah scoffed. "Sitting there dreaming about your husband instead of realizing that we're in the middle of a war!"

"But Zippy, I do not care about the war. It is not a thing for women to be meddling upon."

"Meddling in, not upon."

"Another think I am not caring about, dear sister. Learning. Education is for the men folk to handle, and womenfolk to stay out of."

Zipporah sighed exasperatedly and tossed back her mane of black hair and sat down on a chair opposite her sister Xandria.

"You are a the biggest loony whore I have ever had the displeasure of meeting in my life," she told Xandria in a low, measured voice. "You have no hope in the real world. You will always be a giggly, mellow little girl with the mental capacity of a five-year-old."

Xandria smiled dumbly.

"I, unlike you, will get off my ass and go do something about the world," continued Zipporah I the same tone. "I, unlike you, will make a difference. I, unlike you, will get an education, no matter what it costs. I, unlike you, will beat ass out in the world. I, unlike you, will be known in every country in the world for all the things I'll do. I, unlike you, will do great things. Terrible things, but great things. I will do so much for this country's advancement, I will go out and kick everyone so hard they'll lose their breath and fall over gasping. I'll leave them stranded and winded out in the middle of nowhere. I'll take their homes, possessions, and power. I will crush Granty Mountains in every way, shape and form. I will help our county overcome them, and win them over after losing all these years." Zipporah got up out of her seat, and her voice grew stronger. "I will rub the memory of our terrible defeat in the 1178 rampage out of everybody's minds and replace it with our terrible victory. I will fight in this war, or start my own. No matter what, I'm going to fight for what I believe."

"Oh, Princess, I don't think you will," said a voice. Zipporah turned. It was Arnold, her advisor, who had just come in her and her sister's bedroom door.

"What do you mean?" she asked, her icy blue eyes blazing.

"I mean, you are a girl, and you have no place in this world to think or do anything of real importance. Princesses simply don't fight in wars. No princess in their right mind would want to come within ten feet of blood and corpses and death. Women, especially royal women, are meant to stay home in the bed for the men to play with when they come home from their days of learning and fighting."

Zipporah seethed. She threw her wine glass at the stone wall of the castle. It broke into thousands of tiny shards and the red wine dripped down the wall. "I can do anything that I want, and no one, not anybody, not you, is going to stop me." Her voice was so full of anger that it shuddered and cracked.

Arnold, short and bald and slightly overweight, licked his lips and started to back away from Zipporah, who was leering in towards him. He trembled slightly as Zipporah reached into her tights and pulled out a knife. She pulled it back behind her shoulder, whispering through gritted teeth, "I love this country and all that it stands for. I would rather fight and die than "stay home in the bed for the men to play with" and die a peaceful and boring death with the thought that I never served to my true desire."

Xandria whimpered as Zipporah raised her fist with the knife even higher. "Oh no, dear Zippy, you can't kill a man, oh dearie me, men are what we lean on, Arnold tells us what to do and wear, men provide us with life and happiness, what a bad reputation for our family you will be making if you kill a man... Oh dearie me. Zippy, do stop!"

Zipporah ignored her and drove the knife right into poor, simpering Arnold's little heart.

SIX MONTHS LATER

ANTHONY STOOD alone in the alley. Alone and frightened. Suddenly men in uniform jumped into the alley and ran towards him. Anthony put his arms over his head and ran as far away as fast as he could. He closed his eyes and ran. He ran right into he arms of a woman.

Are the soldiers chasing you? she asked him.

Yes, he replied.

Come with me, my son, and we will run. The woman was beautiful. She had long black hair and light blue eyes. She looked about 16 years old. She had large hips and creamy legs that shone through her tattered lace dress. She had ankle bracelets, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, and a large gold armband with a mysterious design on it.

She led Anthony through the outskirts of town, and directly to a dense woods. Here they stopped for breath. After a moment, however, they resumed their journey to trek through the trees and underbrush.

SIR WYS of Rockford entered the vicinity proudly, carrying with him his royal cane. On the handle, the cane had an emblem of a huge vulture carved out of solid gold.

I salute to you, Sir Wys of Rockford! shrieked a prospector. I salute to you with both my mind and soul, your honor!

Several others clapped appreciatively.

Sir Westley began an archery contest. The Sheriff of Camp Farmer, however, refused to go again (for some extremely odd reason) when Sir Wys said that he could when he missed the target completely. He threw his bow and arrow to the ground and walked away dejectedly.

RETRY! bellowed Sir Wys.

Never! screamed the Sheriff.

UNDER ARREST! boomed Sir Wys in return.

Sir Wys of Rockford had him brought to court, though no judge could find any fault with the Sheriff except for royal disobedience. He was let off with just a warning.

However, Wys was not happy with this arrangement, and flew into a rage.

WHO KNOWETH where the town of Terinka is? questioned the burly horseman.

I hear it is near Camp Farmer, replied the fungusy salesperson at the grocery market where the horseman was getting supplies.

The horse trainer finally found Terinka, though his directions were real lousy. The royal expeditionary troop was about to set off on their great journey to Redwood. Hurriedly, the horse trainer joined the procession.

First, we must travel north a ways, said the expedition leader. Then we will veer west and continue slightly to the east. The expedition set off towards the wild, dense woods that was called Redwood, naught but a speck on the horizon.

EXPEDITION, FORTH! shouted the expedition leader. The long train of carriages, wagons, men, horses and dogs set off.

Here we go again, said a settler dismally as suspenseful trumpet music started somewhere.

Many miles and hours later, the men arrived at Redwood. The town was burnt, wrecked, and smoldering slightly. Nowhere was there a single soul.

On the door of the general store there was a note taped on. It said, Indians rampaged. The few survivors gone to West Du--- But there was no more. It looked like the writer had been cut off mid sentence by attackers. But there was the question; the Indians in these parts were peaceful! What reason would they have for attacking Redwood? And where had the survivors gone? Did they make it?

We must find out, said the leader. He saluted the expeditionary troops Ellieville flag and his assistant leader did the same.

Expedition, forth! called the leader. The expedition set off yet again.

The men traveled south towards a new type of land as they had never seen before. The area was scarce of trees, though the weeds were so tall and bushy that they would suffice as trees. They finally came to a huge pine tree where the branches hung down low and the grass was considerably shorter. There was a chair fashioned of logs next to the tree trunk, as well as--

A hangmans noose! gasped the leader. And a hieroglyphic symbol!

There was indeed. It was a design of a wild Indian spearing a white man.

THE EXPEDITION continued, this time east, down the side of a large mountain to the valley beneath, where a lake rested. They reached the lake just at sunset, which was just as well, as it would provide good camping grounds. However, they saw it was mostly dried up and very murky, and therefore not drinkable.

Sgt. Harrison led an exploration troop down a small peninsula that went most the way across the lake. The trees were burned here and there wasnt a living thing, not even a mosquito or frog. The ground was extremely muddy.

The men had to climb over charred stumps and fungous logs. A few men tripped and fell ankle deep into the murky, sticky water.

There was one large tree that overhung the water. It looked like the perfect spot to watch, unseen, as the branches of the tree overhung so that they nearly touched the water. One of the men climbed up the tree to look over the lake. But all of a sudden, an arrow flew and hit him in the heart. The rest of the men ran as far away as they could as fast as they could. They passed a huge, rotten log with the same cartouche as they had seen before on the tree trunk.

Several of the men, seeing this, panicked as more arrows flew through the sky. The men quickly ran to their horses and galloped away.

WHEN WILL the terror stop? Where does it end? First the idiot brother or the King killed the prince, took over, and now this big war, rampage thing-a-ma-bob, thought Maleko Quincy, one of the men of the royal expeditionary troop. He missed his girlfriend, Varvara, who was still at home. He hadnt wanted her to come on the expedition, because it could have put her life in danger.

Now Maleko knew that he was right in that decision, because he had been taken prisoner by the insane Indians. Surely Varvara would have tried to give her life for Malekos, and that would not have been nice.

SIR WYS of Rockford giggled, in an immensely disturbing way. His brother, the recent King of Ellieville, had recently died of a terrible case of pneumonia that past winter. His son, Gage the Second, naturally should have become king, but Wys killed him. Since Gage had no siblings and Queen Fernanda had died years before, Wys was next in line.

He had been a mere duke at the time, however, so he was still as Sir until his crowning next month. However, he was officially king already, by Ellieville law, so he had already started changing the former King Gages laws and creating his own laws under his, so far, 2 week reign. And already the country was freaking out, because of he bizarre and unfair laws that Wys thought up.

ANTHONY AND the woman stumbled through the forest, which had become so dense that hardly any light shone through the trees branches. And since the sun was about to set, this wasnt exactly the nicest thing. Finally they came to a clearing. There was a bench, a deserted, run down shop, and some train tracks, all illuminated by several large streetlights, which lit the place with an eerily white light.

Where are we? Anthony asked in wonderment.

At a train station, said the woman.

In the middle of nowhere?

Not so. We are quite in the middle of somewhere, waiting for our train with calm dispositions, said the woman, looking pointedly at Anthony. He rolled his eyes. Yes, he was glad he had been rescued, but why couldnt it have been someone a little bit less strange?

PRINCE GAGE was not quite as dead as he seemed. He lay in his coffin, breathing through the red velvet. Sir Wys had no idea how to kill anyone, Gage thought. He was as alive as anything, with a mere upper stomach and lung wound. Of course, he wasnt like some kind of hero, so of course it hurt like hell, but he wasnt dead. He had asthma, so the wound near his lung had caused him to faint, and the Sir Wys presumed him dead. At first, he claimed that Prince Gage had killed himself, but people doubted this, because 14 year old Gage was about to be crowned King and due to be married in little less than a week, and was very happy about it, so there would be literally no reason for him to kill himself. Eventually everyone knew that Sir Wys had killed him, but there was no actual proof to go on. There were no witnesses, nothing. The servants had been dismissed for the night, going to a birthday party in the town.

Gage was kind but not too generous. He wouldnt let anyone off. Chances were, if he got out of that coffin, he was going to get Sir Wys back.

ANTHONY AND THE STRANGE WOMAN were sitting on the bench in the deserted clearing waiting-- for what, Anthony hadnt the slightest idea.

Well, if you cant tell me what were waiting for, can you tell me, at least, who you are? he asked.

Silence.

Anthony pulled at his hair in frustration.

The lady sighed and turned toward him. Were waiting for my father. she said.

And you are? Anthony pressed.

She sighed again. I am Queen Zipporah of Ylgofobgien.

Anthony gasped and started to get up off the bench. Youre who were in war with! he said, shocked. You horrible---

The Queen laughed at the word he said. I sure am. Now, if youre so interested in leaving, youll have to face me first. I originally meant you no harm, but now... her words trailed away.

And I will, said Anthony. Proudly.

The Queen laughed again.

PRINCE GAGE reached into his pocket, wincing as his torso muscles tightened. He pulled out his small pocketknife his father had given to him when he turned 13. My little boys growing up, hed said. Gage tried to not think of his father right then. He needed to focus.

He slowly slid the knife up to the velvet and easily sliced a piece down. Velvet sure isnt sturdy, he thought. Ill never wear it again. I should know. Though he had vowed to focus, he found his mind drifting away to the night that Sir Wys had killed him. It had been about 2 o clock in the morning, and Gage had been settling down to sleep after writing a letter to the girl he was going to marry soon. If it hadnt been for writing that letter, chances are he would have been asleep and not able to put up a struggle and would be very dead in that velvet lined coffin. And the only reason he was writing the letter was because his father had told him he had to always write to her... And he was dead now, so he felt like he had to. It had been an arranged marriage to attempt to stop conflict between countries, and the couple hadnt even met each other before.

Gage felt along the wood for a crack. When he found one, be carefully slid the knife through it and popped a board out, which hit him right where his stomach knife wound was, and he blacked out again.

MALEKO WAS THINKING about Varvara as he stood, tied to a post, in the middle of an Indian campground. He had just sent her a letter, managing to do so by impressing an Indian man with his perfect Indian tongue. He guessed the man would have done anything for him, he was in such awe. But it was also bad to know their tongue so perfectly, because he could tell exactly what the Indians were going to do to him and his friends, Henry, Louis, and Dekene, and couldnt trick himself into thinking hed misheard, since he knew the language so well. They were going to be burned at stake, all of them.

PRINCE GAGE awoke with a start. He continued slicing out boards, but caught the boards before they fell on him again. Finally there was a big hole in the top part of the coffin. He scrunched himself up painfully and shoved a foot through the dirt above him. A lot of dirt fell by his feet but he could see daylight above him. He carefully scooted down to the other side of the coffin and sat up. Then he pushed up and carefully, painfully, scooted out of the hole.

The daylight was blinding after being cooped up for so long. He got out and stumbled a bit, but then kept on walking. He went over to the expedition office in Terinka and asked if the expedition had left or not. Gage was unrecognizable because of the plain clothes he had been buried in and his unclean hair. His wounds had by now stopped bleeding and the only noticeable thing about him was his limp.

The expeditions already left and we havent heard from them since, the man replied.

Gage was stumped for a minute. Then he regained his composure and again reached into his pocket. He pulled out 8 smallares (equal to 32 dollars) and asked the man, May I please rent a horse?

Of course you can, said the man, looking at Gage oddly, as if he guessed who we was but didnt quite believe his eyes.

Gage rented out a pretty horse that was a creamy, off-white color with brown spots. Like a chocolate chip cookie, Gage thought smilingly. He called her Chocolate.

He set off down the clear path the expedition train had left behind.

THE WOMAN PASSED Anthony a knife.

Here goes, he said. I know this is a really dumb thing to do, but I really want to leave here.

Zipporah smiled slightly. It sure is dumb. So dumb I am afraid I might lose because I will be laughing too hard and Ill fall over and give you a clear shot to my back. she said, mocking horror.

Anthony rolled his eyes nervously. If its your way to try and scare me into losing, its not going to work.

Zipporah laughed. No, thats not really my way. Usually men are too busy looking at me instead of what they are supposed to be doing and thats how I win.

Anthony frowned. Well I dont see why Id be looking at you, he said. You look all ripped up to me.

Zipporah growled and charged at him.

Well, he thought, here goes.

GAGE BROUGHT his horse up to a trot. He could see something ahead and he wanted to get to whatever it was before sunset at least. Hurry, he told himself, hurry.

It turned out to be Redwood. It was all burned up and ugly looking. Gage found the note on the ground. West Dunntown, he said to his horse. Obviously. Chocolate pawed the ground and neighed, as if in agreement. Gage smiled and he and the horse took off into the sunset.

MALEKO WAS FEELING pretty doomed. There was no way to get out of his ropes that he was tied to the stake with, and of course those darn smart Indians had placed all the stakes far enough away from each other so that none of the men could reach each other.

Hey, he called to Louis, What do you think we should do?

No idea, Louis yelled back. What about you, Henry?

I dont know, he said. We are doomed, doomed, doomed, hear me? Louis and Maleko chortled. What about you, Dekene? called Henry.

Uh... Well we could just sit here and let them burn us, he said.

Louis pretended to be considering this idea. Now, thats an idea! he exclaimed. Not.

Henry laughed. Cool it, you guys. Arguing isnt going to get us anywhere. We have to think.

Suddenly an Indian came up to Maleko.

Nintree von dos vencrept, he said, then walked away.

Whatd he say? Dekene shouted from afar.

Maleko replied, He said that we are going to be burned tonight.

GAGE PAUSED AT the lake where the expedition party had been stopped. Looks like there was some kind of trouble or fight or something, he said to Chocolate, picking up an arrow out of the muck. He stared at the footprints leading to a cluster of trees and dismounted from Chocolate. He tied her securely to a tree and whispered, Its okay, just stay here and Ill be right back.

He followed the footprints to a clearing in them, and gasped at what he saw. It was an Indian village and there were several men he knew were in the expedition troop- tied to posts about to be burned. Indians were dancing around with torches, which clearly lit the fear in the mens faces. He hooted from the side of a building, so he blended in with the Indians, but coming from a different direction. The man farthest towards him turned.

I must already be dead and gone to hell, he moaned. But why would you be in hell? he added as an afterthought.

No, said Gage. Youre Dekene, right? I wasnt dead, listen and stop your blubbering, I was only fainted, now do you want to get out or not?

Yes, of course I do, said Dekene.

Then listen and cut it out, said Gage impatiently.

Okay, whatever, said Dekene.

Whered they put your stuff? Gage asked, growing more edgy by the minute.

In that big tepee right there next to you, answered Dekene.

Good, said Gage. I can get in that one real easy. He tiptoed over to the front of the tepee, where the door was, hoping no one would see him. They did.

ANTHONY DUCKED Zipporah's charge and lifted his knife, ready to strike. He threw himself at her, but she dipped out of the way with a laugh. Anthony had to admit, she was pretty good.

He barely stopped himself from falling over, he had thrown with such force. Zipporah laughed harder. Poor wee little lad cant help himself, she said. Hes fallen head over heels for me. Literally. She cracked up again.

Anthony refused to let her get to him. He calmly took advantage of her preoccupation with laughter to lunge at her. Zipporah was taken aback and jumped unceremoniously out of Anthonys path. Now it was Anthonys turn to laugh as she barely regained her composure as he lunged again. But suddenly she was on her feet, and jumping towards Anthony.

Wait, she said suddenly stopping herself. Listen.

Anthony heard it too. Sounded like someone was coming.

What do you think it is?

I dont know, Zipporah whispered.

After a pause, she went for Anthony. Probably a squirrel, she said through gritted teeth, shoving her knife repeatedly towards his lower stomach. Full of fear, Anthony tried to escape her strong grip, but couldnt get away. He scrambled frantically, afraid that at any minute he would be stabbed.

Unexpectedly, the squirrel emerged from the forest.

Anthony couldnt believe his eyes.

I must have died already and gone to hell, he thought to himself. But what would Prince Gage be doing in hell? he wondered as an afterthought.

Prince Gage stood frozen to the spot.

Zipporah paused her attacking long enough to turn around and ask, Who the- then she stopped and locked eyes with Gage.

Are you Zipporah? he asked rather bluntly.

Yeah, she said with equal roughness.

Uh, said Gage. uh, were, uh, engaged.

Youre, uh, supposed to be dead, said Zipporah.

I know, sighed Gage, Ill, uh, explain it, uh, later.

And Im, uh, about to die here! gasped out Anthony.

Oh, Ill take care of that, said Zipporah.

No, dont! said Gage, taking a few halting steps forward.

Zipporah paused again. Why should I stop? I dont have to listen to you.

No, but... Gage searched for words. He swallowed and looked right into Zipporahs eyes. Dont, please. he pleaded, his eyes looking convincingly sad.

Zipporah was obviously in quite a fix. She obviously really liked Gage, but wanted to get Anthony back for insulting her and almost getting the better of her. If Anthony werent being pinned down with a knife digging painfully into his side, it would have been the most perfect time to get Zipporah.

Finally she dropped Anthony. And jumped for Gage, holding the knife high above her head.

WHERE IS HE? Dekene thought desperately. Did they get him? Whats going on? He was stumped. It shouldnt have taken this long for him to get the stuff, whatever he needed and whatever it was for, but if they would have caught him he would undoubtedly have been tied up there too. Deken was completely lost.

Suddenly he saw a large, overweight Indian who resembled a hairy ogre waving at the Indians and pointing viciously at something out of Dekenes sight. Some Indians dropped their instruments, stopped dancing, grabbed arrows and ran after whatever it was.

Then Dekene saw what it was- Gage running as fast as he could, away from Dekene and his friends. He has good intentions, Dekene thought, but no guts.

GAGE WAS completely unprepared for Zipporahs sudden attack. He flung his arms over his face and whispered, Please no, please Zipporah, no.

Anthony, however, was apparently completely prepared, as he lurched at Zipporah, stabbing her squarely in the side.

She gasped and fell to the ground.

Gage carefully lowered his arms.

Anthony shook his head. Man, you have no guts.

Gage glared at him.

Or do you just like her? Anthony asked, smiling slightly. Gage frowned.

Shut up, he told Anthony.

Anthony sniggered. Real grownup phrase, that is. he said.

Gage said, I have to go save someone else. Bye. He turned around and left the clearing.

Hey, said Anthony, trotting after him. You didnt manage to really do any saving here. How about I come help you out? he asked sweetly.

Yeah, whatever, said Gage without even looking at Anthony.

Anthony sidled up to Gages side. Now, mister hot shot, Ill make you a deal. You stop acting like king of everything, because technically youre only prince of everything as of right now, and Ill stop teasing and being a jerk. Deal?

I guess, said Gage. Suddenly his face broke into an extremely handsome smile. Ill try.

Abruptly he stopped and turned around.

Whats up? asked Anthony.

Gages face was determined. We cant just leave Zipporah there like that.

Man, shell kill us, said Anthony. Literally.

Gage paused.

Not if shes half dead, he said reasonably, resuming his walk back towards the clearing.

Okay, whatever, Anthony said, going ahead with whatever Gage had in mind to do.

Gage walked back to Zipporah, who was lying in a lump, moaning and writhing. She knows how to fight, said Anthony. Just not how to lose.

Yeah, said Gage. Whatever.

Anthony frowned a little, thinking to himself.

Gage knelt down by Zipporah and put his arm around her behind her back, telling her it was okay. She seemed at first to simply struggle more, but in the end she let Gage hold her. Her arms snaked around him. Anthony stood in the background, feeling awkward and out of place.

MALEKO WAS GETTING really worried by now. There was nothing that could be done about him and his friends fate, it was just too late. They would be burned to death at stake in an Indian encampment, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Oh well, I wasted my life, thought Maleko. Big deal.

Out of the blue, there was a yell from Henry. Look! Theres someone over to the right! The Indians didnt know English and hadnt any idea what Henry was saying. The rest of the men looked and there was two boys holding a body, which the taller one laid down behind the tepee. He pulled out a bow and arrow and carefully aimed at Deken s ropes. He had beautiful aim and Deken fell to the ground and ran away from the boys into the other part of the woods.

Then the same boy aimed again, this time even more carefully, at Henrys ropes. He shot those down also. Henry ran after Deken . Then he passed the bow and arrow to the other shorter boy and whispered something to him. The other boy nodded and quickly, seemingly carelessly aimed at Louiss ropes. But, to everyones amazement, he shot those down too.

The shorter boy tried to pass the bow back to the taller boy but he shook his head, obviously in awe at his great aim, and pointed to Maleko.

The second boy aimed, a bit more cautiously, at Malekos ropes, and incredible though it sounds, shot them down to and Maleko ran after the rest of the men.

GAGE PICKED Zipporah back up and he and Anthony carefully crept around the tepees and towards the woods where the other men had gone. After running a good long way, they found the men huddling behind a bush and walked over to them.

I have a question, asked one of the men, one with black hair and dark eyes, who was also very handsome, Are we dead?

Anthony sniggered.

Gage gently hit him with his free hand. Then he carefully laid down Zipporah.

Aah, said another man, with sandy hair and lots of freckles, ooh, who is she?

Gage frowned. My fiance, he said.

The sandy haired man oohed and aahed and the black haired man laughed and held both hands together in an extremely rude gesture.

You guys are gross, said another man, with black hair also but blue eyes, who was not particularly attractive, but had an aura of kindness around him.

Aw, come on, Maleko, we were just having some fun after being cooped up for so long, pleaded the black haired one.

Gage looked skeptical. I was stuck in a coffin for a week and I didnt act perverted when I got out, he said. And no one helped me either.

The one named Maleko looked at the black haired one. See, Dekene? he said. Theres no excuse, youre being dumb, thats all there is to it.

The man named Deken looked disturbed. Sorry already, he said. didnt know I broke some kind of law.

The sandy haired one sniggered slightly.

What, Louis? asked Dekene.

Nothing, you just made a real funny face is all... Louis snickered.

The one named Deken made the face again. All of a sudden him and Louis cracked up again.

The last remaining man, who hadnt said anything so far, had very light, almost white blond hair and dark green eyes entered the conversation with: Well, if were ever going to get this show on the road we might as well stop being spitwads and listen to what hes got to say.

Dekene applauded. Way to go, Henry, he said.

Yeah, get it old pal, said Louis.

Everybody SHUT UP, said Gage.

Yes sir, said Louis.

Dekene and Louis sniggered for a minute more but eventually hushed up and listened.

Okay... I wasnt really dead just knocked out. My uncle is really super stupid. Anyway, our plan is to get some more people and then go make my Uncle Wys cry in the loo, he said, smiling.

Alright! said Dekene, laughing. Louis joined him. Lets go make some fat kings cry in the loo!

VARVARA JOSHTON leaned against the wall and sighed, rereading Malekos letter for the hundredth time that day. She couldnt believe it. Hed been captured en route on his expedition by Indians and was going to be burned at stake and had literally no hope. She couldnt believe it. This couldnt happen. And she couldnt believe how sad Deken s and Henrys girlfriends would be about it (Louis didnt have a girlfriend, which was pretty weird to think about if you knew him, because he was really funny and smart and good looking).

Anyway, it was Varvaras dirty job to go tell Mariaquenta and Cloudy that their boyfriends were dead. Pleasant.

Dekene AND Prince Gage did not get along. Part of this, Maleko thought, was probably because Deken liked Zipporah.

As they lay there, camping for the night after Anthony used his great shot to get them a deer, everyone was asleep except Maleko, Dekene, and Gage. Not a good combination. Maleko thought Dekene was being kind of gross, but that Gage was going a bit overboard and overprotective. It was like a three sided war.

Dekene sighed softly.

What now? asked Gage wearily.

Shes hot, breathed Dekene.

Shut up, said Gage.

Dekene laughed softly. Come on, you know she is.

You do need to shut up, really, said Maleko, annoyed.

Bite me, smiled Deken .

Im going to sleep, said Gage resignedly.

Me too, breathed Deken .

Yeah, to dream your dirty dreams, said Gage.

Yeah, whispered Dekene languorously.

Maleko sighed and rolled over. Zipporah was on his opposite side, and he found that she had been awake and listening the whole time, her eyes reflecting the stars above, her chest moving lightly with breath.

SIR WYS was having a hard time. He was debating whether to sign a new law or not. It seemed like a reasonable law, really, but he didnt see a need to sign a reasonable law.

He chortled in an immensely disturbing way.

With the prince out of the way, he was free to mess up the country, and make it easy for Ylgofobgien to take over.

He was slightly disappointed, however, that hed had to kill Gage, because it would have been so funny to marry him to Zipporah. Either way it would have worked, him killing of Gage to become King, or making Gage marry Zipporah, but the King of Ylgofobgien told him it was probably better to just kill Gage. So he did.

ZIPPORAH DIDNT KNOW what to do. She liked Gage, sure, but they were engaged, and that was too normal. She kind of like that Dekene guy, too, and since her job was to goof things up, he thought it would be really funny to start messing with Dekene and see Gages reaction. For now, though, she would suck up to Gage to make Dekene mad. She laughed quietly to herself. This was what she called fun.

GAGE LAID AND stared up at the stars forlornly. That Dekene guy made him so mad. He didnt really know why, but him talking about Zipporah like that just made him feel sick.

Suddenly there was a sound behind the nearest bush. Gage froze. It reminded him of the time when his uncle attacked him in his bed. He slowly closed his eyes and breathed quietly. Unexpectedly, someone was on him. He carefully opened his eyes, and looked straight into Zipporahs face.

Gage jumped. What the--

Zipporah cut him off by putting a finger to his lips. Quiet, Gage, quiet, she whispered.

THE NEXT MORNING, Dekene was the first to wake up. He looked around at the assorted sleepers: Henry, on his side, his long icy hair spread over his eyes; Louis, on his stomach, his face facing away from Deken ; Maleko, his eyelids fluttering slightly as he began to wake up; and Gage and Zipporah, side by side.

Deken went cold from his face down. He nudged Louis. Check it out, he breathed.

Louis moved slightly and turned over. What? he asked.

Dekene pointed. That, he said,

Louis looked. Weird, he said. How could she like him? He shook his head. Insane.

Dekene agreed. Oh well, the nuthead will be sorry soon, he growled. Count on it, Louie. Sorry.

VARVARA WOKE UP the next morning feeling quite doomed.

She got out of bed and went to the kitchen to fix herself some oatmeal. She looked at her big wooden clock and thought, after I eat, Ill go over to Cloudys and tell her the news. Then Ill go to Mariaquentas. But she still felt pretty doomed.

MALEKO WOKE UP with a jolt. He realized that last thing hed told Varvara was that he was about to die.

Oh, God dang it, he said.

What? asked Louis.

I told Varvara I was dead,

Smart, yawned Dekene.

No, now shes going to tell Cloudy and Mariaquenta that you are dead too, chances are, Maleko pointed out.

Oh, crap, said Deken , Oh well. Why dont we go to their village first to get people for this dumb ass army Prince is always talking about?

Okay, said Louis, sniggering. We gotta ask him first.

Deken sniggered too. Look, he snickered, pointing at Gage and Zipporah.

Maleko looked and couldnt hold back his laughter either.

Henry yawned and rolled over.

Whats so funny?

Deken pointed. Thats whats so funny, he sniggered.

Henry stared. No its not, he finally said. Its tragic.

SIR WYSS CORONATION was to be in just a few days. He couldnt wait for his plan to finally be on the road. As soon as he was completely, officially king, he would make lots of outrageous laws, leading Ellieville right into a revolution. Then Ylgofobgien would come in to help Ellieville.

Sir Wys giggled again in that extremely disturbing way of his.

GAGE WAS HAVING a hard time getting anyone to listen to him. Everyone, including Anthony, was laughing amongst themselves and were not paying attention to Gage.

Please listen, he said edgily. Im only trying to--

Trying to what? asked Louis. Then he whispered something to Deken that Gage couldnt hear. Deken sniggered. So did Henry.

Maleko looked undecided, like he thought it was funny too but also wanted to stick up for Gage, who was leaning forlornly against a tree, his arms crossed over his chest.

Finally he decided to just laugh with Henry, Deken and Louis.

Gage stood all the way up and turned around and ran as far and as fast as he could from the men and the Indian village. He almost wished he had really died.

VARVARA regained her composure, took a deep breath, and knocked on Cloudys door.

Who is it? yelled Cloudy.

Varvara, replied Varvara.

Come on in, said Cloudy.

Varvara opened the door and walked in. She shut the door behind her and went over to the couch where Cloudy was sitting and sat beside her.

I have some bad news for you, she told Cloudy.

What? asked Cloudy, sitting up.

Varvara took a deep breath and closed her eyes. This was harder than shed thought it would be.

Your boyfriends dead, she finally wheezed out.

GAGE HEARD NOISES up ahead. It was getting dark now, and he had been wandering all day in the direction he thought Dunntown was. Finally he emerged from the forest and stopped himself just in time. He was right next to a cliff overlooking Dunntown.

He walked to the side and down the cliff where it gently sloped downwards. He walked towards the city but then stopped. It seemed oddly silent and Gage had a feeling like he was being watched.

He slowly turned around and looked for what was watching him. Suddenly someone ran up behind him and grabbed him.

STONE, THE KING OF YLGOFOBGIEN, laughed softly to himself. He had been the one whose army attacked Redwood and planted the notes and symbols. He had gotten the Indians on his side by bribery and manipulation. Then he invaded West Dunntown. All with the aid of Sir Wys. And now he had captured Prince Gage, who was supposed to be dead, but he seemed subdued, Stone didnt think of him as much of a threat even if he was still alive.

There was one thing he was worried about, however.

He stared down at the wad of ropes that was Gage. Wheres my daughter? he asked him.

Gage stared at him. I dont know, he said softly. Chances are theyre not where I left them anymore.

Well I dont care. Take me there, well follow their trail until we find them. said King Stone irritably. He called a man to untie Gage. He got two horses and off they went, back to Zipporah and Henry and Dekenes camp.

SIR WYS WAS DEVASTATED when he got the letter from King Stone.

Holy crud, he said. Gage is still alive!

The letter read:

Dear Wys,

I regret to inform you that your nephew Gage is not in fact dead, as you presumed, but living as well as anything, and I suggest in the future you double and triple check your murder victims. He is taking me to my daughter and the survivors of the expedition troop we thought we destroyed. He seems very compliant and I am not all that angry at you, just skeptical at how in the world could you not tell that he was not dead.

Sincerely,

Stone

Wys frowned slightly and quickly got out paper and pen to reply. His reply read:

Dear Stone,

Are you sure its the real Gage and not some insane imposter? And whats this about the survivors of the expedition troop? Thats impossible. I'll come up as soon as I can. Give me more news as soon as you have it.

Wys

GAGE AND STONE proceeded down the path. It was very quiet. There wasn't even a breeze. Gage heard a noise from behind a bush. All of a sudden, someone leaped out of the trees and jumped onto Stone. Stone, taken completely by surprise, had no defense and had soon been stabbed repeatedly by the knife in the boy's hand. Whether he was dead was yet to be determined, but he was definitely done for awhile.

Anthony stood back to admire his handiwork. After a pause, he took the knife to Gage's bindings. Soon Gage was out and he and Anthony began running down the path.

"What'd you save me for?" he asked Anthony. "I thought you all hated me."

"Me too," said Anthony shortly.

LOUIS, DEKENE, HENRY, MALEKO AND ZIPPORAH walked along the road. The road was getting more and more pronounced, as if they were nearing a village.

Which they were. As they rounded a curve, they saw a village spread out before them.

"Hey, look, isn't that Varvara, Cloudy, and Mariaquenta's village?" asked Henry.

Louis opened his mouth to answer, but was cut off by an arrow in his back. He fell over, dead.

GAGE AND ANTHONY thought that they were safe for awhile now. Of course, they were in the wrong.

About 15 minutes later, just as they were getting out of breath, there was a distant sound of hoof beats. Suddenly, looming before them was Sir Wys, riding horseback in armor. His horse reared and neighed. Gage gulped. Sir Wys pulled off his helmet and threw back his head, clearing his long, luscious blond bangs from his face. His blue eyes blazed.

"I killed you once," he said through gritted teeth. "I'll do it again."

DEKENE, MALEKO, HENRY AND ZIPPORAH STARED.

"Well, yeah, it is their village," whispered Dekene.

Overcoming their shock, they turned around to see what had caused the disturbance. Limping slightly, a bedraggled King Stone smiled wryly at them.

ANTHONY HANDED GAGE A KNIFE. "This is your battle to fight," he whispered to him.

Wys dismounted and told his horse to stay. It neighed in response. He walked over towards Gage. Gage now fully realized how tall Wys was. His towering six-foot-three-inches painfully towered over Gage's pitiful five-foot-four-inches. Wys drew a knife and lifted it high over his head, ready to gouge Gage into pieces.

What a shame, thought Gage wryly. Wys is extremely attractive, but it all goes to bad use. Indeed, Wys was fairly handsome. He had a carefully chiseled face and icy blue eyes a lot like Zipporah's. he had long, soft blond hair that had long bangs but the back was carefully trimmed. He had thick, rich lips.

Gage shook his head slightly. You're not gay, and besides, he's your uncle by marriage. Ew. Just kill him, you ass.

The full force of how his height was an enormous advantage hit Gage abruptly. He looked at his knife and back at Wys. He knew what he had to do.

He grinned slightly. Wys faltered and frowned. Gage drove his knife deep into Wys's stomach. Wys gasped and keeled over, dead as a rock (by the way, how dead are rocks, really? Someone needs to find that out and let me out. I'm not sure that was the right figure of speech to use there).

"GOOD THROW," Anthony told Gage. "Come on, we got to go." They hurried on their way. Soon they came to a village.

"Well, that was pure luck," said Anthony happily.

"Say, isn't that Dekene, Henry, Maleko and Zipporah?" asked Gage, pointing.

"Sure is. C'mon, let's go. It looks like something's up over there."

"Okay," replied Gage, following Anthony. "Look, it's King Stone!" said Gage as they drew closer. He and Anthony broke into a run. But it was a bit late, because Dekene had just killed Stone.

WELL, WITH ALL OF THE bad guys dead, Gage was appointed king by the people. Zipporah went back to Yl'gofobgien to live with her mom, Queen Erin, and mostly it ended peacefully. Everyone was reunited (except Louis, obviously) and several couples were married. Everyone lived happily ever after... Basically.

The whole cause of this war: Yl'gofobgien had always had very few natural resources; therefore it had always been jealous of Ellieville's. In mid-spring, Yl'gofobgien attacked Ellieville, not being able to, well, take the pressure any longer. Mainly it wanted the many pecan orchards that Granty Mountains possessed. However, Yl'gofobgien apparently wasn't exactly prepared for war at the time, so the war soon ran out of fuel, and Granty Mountains easily won the series of small and short "Pecan Wars".

Yl'gofobgien's army was fairly small this time, as the people were sick of fighting Ellieville (it and Yl'gofobgien were constantly at loggerheads, kind of like two young schoolchildren who argue over bubblegum over break); as a result, they weren't all that enthusiastic. Part of the reason that they wanted Ellieville's pecan orchards was because one of their largest and most prominent was in sight of their castle, it was, of course, tempting for any Yl'gofobgien to awake to the sight of a cheerful pecan orchard directly outside their window. It was, however, destroyed during the war, which may be part of the reason that Yl'gofobgien backed off early. Chances are that they felt satisfied enough to awake to a destroyed pecan orchard to lose a war.

The war was also called The War of Princess Zipporah, the teenage princess of Yl'gofobgien during the time. She pushed the troops onward with her vigorous punishment routine and harsh words. She is well known for her extremely attractive-- might I say plain sexy-- figure and appearance. She had long, straight black hair and light, icy blue eyes and a sneaky, dark smile. She dressed as a man in order to legally fight in her own war. Not being an experienced fighter, she was killed by Huate Lysaa, an Ellievillian officer.

Here is a poem by Zipporah, called "The Tune I Sing".:

The Tune I Sing

The song I sing is endless
The tune I sing is sad
Rhythm dressed in gold
Words going mad
Clichs getting old
The tune I sing is sad

I don't know what to say
My song is too glad---
No words can convey
A feeling so sad

Tears icy cold
Bespeak the pain in my heart
The feelings cannot be controlled
The song is woeful art
Because the tune I sing is sad

The lovers here are evil
Those whose love is returned
Lucky, happy, laughing
They have murdered you
With their joy

Nothing is to be taken for granted
As many have nothing
Nothing to display
In joyful play
I may have something someday
But for now
The tune I sing is sad

You can forget the joy of love
But not the pain
You wish to feel all emotions
Except for the strain
But the tune I sing is sad
The love I lead is bad
And my emotions have gone mad

My heart will never warm
It will forever be a storm

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