Tthey walked for two lunar cycles, stopping at every village and township along the way. Everywhere they went, they were welcomed with open arms by the villagers, who loved the blind old man. Though Saw’ah did not speak a word of their language initially, through listening to Sam’uel’s stories around the campfire and being tutored by the man during the day as they walked, Saw’ah soon learned to speak it well. In fact, his knowledge of his new language and his ability to express himself in it was soon much better than in his native tongue, which he had only learned to speak in the guttural form, having grown up around the roughest sorts and not expected to answer his mistress with anything but, “yes, mistress”.

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The once-slave and now-champion swore his fealty to Duke Usifan. He is one of the Grand Flock. And this is the highlight of his life.

Tthe whip cracked through the air, startling all those in its vicinity, though the one it was intended for did not so much as pause in his flight. “Stop, slave,” a harsh and brittle voice yelled, alerting all those in the market to the fact that a scrawny, malnourished boy was committing the worst crime imaginable, that of attempting to flee his master and righteous punishment.

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6 years later…..

Sso who is Usifan if you don’t mean the present heir to the duchy?” Asked the orphan quizzically, his voice crackling in a sign he had eventually embarked on the path to manhood. His lips were lined with soft fuzz, though of course he couldn’t see it. The teacher answered patiently: “Tales say the original Usifan was one of the sons of the banished Qin “Mann”.”

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My loyal reader, I have described to you the recruitment, training and equipping of the forces that you command, now I shall show you the optimal way to organise and deploy your forces to the field. The military establishment consists of three parts, the cavalry, infantry and marine, I am not an admiral so the following chapter shall focus solely on the first two.

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To My Reader

It has been custom in the past that when writing an educational works to address such things to their kings and dukes, from a persuasion that no work can be published with propriety but under the auspices of the King, and that the knowledge of a duke should be more general, and of the most important kind, as its influence is felt so keenly by all his subjects.

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Tthough my responsibilities for the kingdom take up most of my time, I am still able to travel the lands from time to time, and one of the things that always shocks me is the misunderstanding about Nirath religious beliefs. I will try to shed some light about the matter, because I realized the issue might lie deeper into the knowledge of the Qin.

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 Tthe flock of children crowded around the blind storyteller, peppering him with one question after another. Their parents stood behind them, indulgent smiles on their faces as they watched their sons and daughters’ faces light up with joy and wonder as old Sam’uel regaled them with tales of the high and mighty, the low and infamous, and the wicked yet alluring. They had listened to the same tales as youngsters at the feet of Sam’uel, when his hair was as black as coal and he still had most of his teeth.

His mane was now more salt than pepper and he had but five of his teeth left, yet he could still spin a tale that would entrance the hearts of young and old. No one could sit in his presence and not be beguiled by the words that fell from his lips in a soft, deep timbre. That he had returned to the village after six years was a cause for celebration. The villagers had not had many visitors since the war began, being too close to the border, and they had feared that Sam’uel had died. But now that he was here, the headman had called for a celebration and the entire village had set out a feast, with their finest casks of ale cracked open and relished by all.

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Hhis Grace the Duke of the Zabi Demesne regrets to announce the death of Lord Sasro Zabi, called the Unifier, previous Duke of the Zabi Demesne. Lord Sasro with his dying words commended the souls of his enemies to Daemon’s light, asked forgiveness for his sins and praised the just rule and good governance of King Dragor.

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Those assembled stood at attention in the grand hall, awaiting the arrival of Duke Usifan, who had called his loyal subjects to him before he traveled to advise King Dragor on matter of national interest. 

A sudden rustle at the side of the room attracted the attention of all within. Duke Usifan, accompanied by his personal guard, appeared, clad in his official armor and on his shoulder was fastened the pin of his CoA.

Mmy dearest people, loyal subjects and friends,

We, Al-Qaum, value our land, the fertility of the soil and the bounty of the seas and river. We are blessed by the Light and are loyal to Daemon and have been blessed accordingly.

I am summoned to the capital of our liege lord, King Dragor of Nirath, whose bounty has been shared by all Dilmunia. We have benefitted from his gifts of bread and water when we swore allegiance, and by the peace and prosperity that followed. Who amongst us here has not seen his or her fortune increase these past years?”

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