“Are we that important as a target?” I asked no one in particular.
Sam chuckled. “I should say you are. This town is richer than most. Even some three or five the size of Royal Valley. That makes you a very lucrative target.”
“These people are after gold,” Yannick said. “I don't know why the native tribes. They live one with nature. They don't live for possessions. Maybe they're making a statement.”
We walked down to the first floor.
“We've treated them well,” Seth said trying to understand. “We never chased them out of town ever. They rarely come into town.”
“That's why the gold part of this loses credibly,” Yannick said.
“So, why a band with the outlaw settlements?” Sam asked.
Yannick held a finger and said warned. “This a theory, I'd say they promised the gold to the outlaws to help them.”
“Why not tell us instead of beating their war drums?” Sam asked.
“You thought we were savage and barbaric...the Apache and Comanches. The Sioux!? They fight dirty. Scalping, impaling, and fighting like animals, biting off noses. That is that the other tribes.” He laughed shortly with no humor. “They could give the Creid lessons on being savage.”
“The Navajo and Hopi are friendly,” I said.
“Yes, they are.” Yannick nodded. “A theory, remember?”
“Okay, some tribes see some injustice has been done. Something has them in war mode, why not just tell us?” Sam asked.
“They are attacking Christian, too." Seth said. “They seem to be waging a war on us as a people. Why? We've been here over a thousand years!”
“Why now?” Sam asked.
“You'll have to ask one of them.” Yannick shrugged. “That hasn't been determined.”
I nodded. “Well, this is both of your last night,” I said with a bounce. “Let's enjoy it.”
Toby took Tommy, Dennis, and Mike to the Book Lender. I insisted on two guards go with them. I was feeling a little like Christian did when we didn't know who was trying to kill him before Len Na's attack. Tasters? Increased security. They had been safe here because they were watched by the whole town. The danger was they could be taken. The idea that strangers in town spying on us was unsettling. Those spies would see we were well guarded. The guards were necessary. Toby knew but wouldn't worry his brother. Dennis was not stupid and would see the increased security He will ask. We would tell him.
Grace had starting to move in. The men were bringing trunks in. Grace chose the last room on the first floor. She said it had the best light. She was much happier.
Toby returned with his cousins and the big book.
Toby told his friends he'd be up in a minute. He put the book down and showed us the written words and illustrations.
It was sort of a “how to” book for leaders to develop a defense.
“This great!” Seth said happily hugging Toby. He pointed a the book. “You read this?” Seth asked. “For fun?”
Toby shrugged. “I wanted to know. Now I do.” He pointed to the book. “There's one section about guerrilla warfare.” He pronounced a word incorrectly but who practices saying guerrilla? We understood him.
“He really does take after you,” Seth said to me grinning.
I grinned back. “We'll use the homing pigeon message system to send you both copies.”
We enjoyed the day together and didn't talk about what was going in there in the world. It did bother me as I thought what we have to offend them. We followed the Vikings after we heard what they found. The ships they used were small, the English made bigger ones to bring people and supplies. The others in Europe saw an opportunity and came as well. It was I little hard back then, but we did it. The bigger ships kept bringing them over. There were tribes here, but we didn't drive them away. They just faded away. Many of us married a few of them. Hell, there were two Cherokees in Christian's and my ancestry. Our mother was one-quarter Cherokee. Her grandfather was Cherokee.
“I know what's bothering you. It bothers me, too,” Seth said. “But Sam and Yannick will be going home soon.”
He was right. My attention went back to the family and enjoyed the visit.
They left early to get farther down the road and closer to home. We were saying goodbye. Allister was awake and looking everything. Beth curtsied and said thank you. Then Tommy came up said “an ou.” It was thank you. So he missed the T and Y and he ran it all together, but he spoke. Yannick's eyes grew and Delta almost dropped Allister. Almost. Yannick hugged Tommy and Delta did, too.
“It will take time,” Toby said.
“He will need to feel you speak,” Dennis stated. “Over-enunciate. He needs to feel the air coming out of your mouths. Things like cha, ta, and when to stop between words, It will take practice.”
“I wrote that down and other exercises.” Toby handed them a folded piece of parchment. “It will take time.”
Delta hugged Dennis and Toby. “Thank you both.”
“We'll send the copies of the defense instructions to you,” I said hugging them. “It should be in a week.”
“And we'll plan to come to you next time,” Seth said.
Yannick nodded. “I look forward to it.”
Sam and Terry were next. “We'll talk soon.”
“Count on a visit so we can see our new niece or nephew,” Seth said hugging Sam.
We watched both carriages leave, one heading south and one north.
Seth grinned as we walked into the house. “That was an exciting week.”
“I enjoyed it,” I said. “It will be quieter.” I hesitated. “We have to let the others in Royal Valley know what's going on.” I sighed. “We need to protect them.”
“We could have protected areas for them.” Seth nodded. “The guards could protect them at that location. The watchtowers could signal and the people go there. Blethos' Capitol and A'Dore's Capitol will have more warning.”
“Which we won't get.” I nodded.
At the appointed hour Seth, Toby and I stepped through to A'Dore. Christian and Thomas were waiting.
“Hi, Guys.” Christian greeted and hugged.
“Hi, Uncles and smart cousin.” Thomas greeted smiling and hugged us.
“Hi.” Toby grinned back. He put the hook down and opened to the pages. “Here are the plans and illustrations for this gauntlet.” Christian looked and his eyes widened.
“The things he reads for fun.” Seth shook his head but grinned.
“I even practiced saying gauntlet and guerrilla.” Toby smiled. “There was a section where they explain guerrilla warfare.”
“Have there been more raids?” I asked.
“Yes,” Christian answered. “The increased troops will help.”
“Getting to the Treasury is what they want,” Seth said.
“You're what they want,” I added. “That means an attack on the palace.”
“They would do a more surgical strike when they attack, thinking our troops would be stretchered out.” Christian nodded. “They will be.”
“And in Blethos,” Seth added.
“My concern is Royal Valley,” I said. “We won't have that long of a time. Our watchtowers can signal in advance. The treasury is now in the house. They could attack quickly.”
“We should concentrate the defense to protect the winery and house,” Seth said. “If they're after gold, it's heavy and needs to be loaded. That will take time. The house would be the target.”
“If they see what we're doing they may strike sooner,” I said.
“We'll have a meeting with the whole town and ask every able-bodied man or woman to help us.” Seth said. “They are defending their home and lives.”
“This week?” I asked.
“Two days. It won't be posted or notes sent,” Seth said. “They will be told to every house and citizen of Royal Valley.”
“We'll get the enforcement personnel and maybe Zeke and Gabe.” I said. “We'll have to send people out to Garth, and, Bent, and the other families that live on farms.”
Seth looked at Christian. “Can we get three copies of this?” He pointed at the book. “About the gauntlet.”
“You'll get five,” Christian said.
Back in Royal Valley, Seth and I went to the Mayor...and two security guards with us. Keith smiled when we came in but frowned at our faces. “This isn't a friendly visit, is it?”
“It isn't,” I said.
“In two days we need to have a mandatory meeting with everyone in Royal Valley,” Seth said. “Men and women need to contact every one and tell them about the meeting.”
“They will want to know why,” Keith said.
“It will be a lengthy explanation,” I said. “It will be explained then.”
“We'll tell you,” Seth said. “We have a large number of this enemy. There have been raids of the outer cities and towns in the northern and western parts of Blethos. A'Dore, too. They are after gold.”
“They aren't robbers?” Keith asked.
“No.” I said. “Some are, but not all.”
“They're waging a war on us,” Seth said sadly.
Keith swallowed audibly. “I'll get right on it. Day after tomorrow.” He confirmed.
“And someone from every home has to be there,” I said. Then I smiled at Keith. “It's always good to see you. Sorry, this wasn't under such dire consequences.”
“It will be done,” Keith promised.
Seth and I shared our nightly bath. Our mood was kind of subdued.
“It's the unknown that's really scary,” Seth said quietly.
“There will be many that will panic because of the unknown.” I reminded him. “A lot of tension.”
“But we'll make it.” Seth positively. “We're together.” He pulled me closer. “Do you know I love you?”
“Prove it.” I grinned kissing him. “Do you know I love you?”
Seth chuckled. “Prove it.” He kissed me deeper.
The next morning was the chaotic beginning of a hectic day. We thought about what supplies we would need and placement of the gauntlets. The roads where the wagons brought the grapes into the winery was smooth. There were woods were behind that. The smoothest road was from the south and Royal Valley. To the east was a road that had a rise and a hill to go over. It was a good bit away. We weren't a castle! It was a big house, but not a castle. The boys went to school with two guards who would there until they came home. Grace again was putting things together in her mind. She returned from the market and came straight to my office where Seth and I were working.
“Do I ask what's going on?” She asked. “You've increased security. I was escorted to the market by a guard. I never had that,” She looked at Seth. “I knew you wouldn't go in the vineyard because of your foot. People at the market said there was a mandatory meeting tomorrow. Doris asked what I knew because I was here all the time. I know nothing. Is it bad?”
“Yes,” Seth stated.
“Not another plague, I hope,” Grace said and held up her hand. “I know you handled that. I know you'll tell us what tomorrow. I've worked here for many years and I know you'll tell us the truth. I'll just tell them to wait until tomorrow and see.”
“Thanks, Mom.” Seth grinned.
The next day was the same. I kept Toby and Dennis home because of what happened to Grace. They couldn't be let outside for the same reason. At one o'clock we went to the town square. There were thousands of people. We had grown so much there was no way we could fit them all in there. If there were people spying on us, they'd find out anyway. Keith handed us both two cone-shaped things. Very light with handed on them. He showed me to put the two to my mouth so everyone can hear. The three streets that splintered out from the square was also crowded.
We arrived with ten guards to keep the people back. Seth began using the cones. “We'll speak loud in order to be heard.”
“The reason for this meeting is...it is likely we will be attacked.” I said causing them all to gasp. “Please,” I said as the number on conversations the erupted in the crowd. “It's hard enough to be heard with these things. We can't talk over all of you.”
“We have a plan,” Seth said. “The attacks have been in Blethos' outer villages and towns. A'dore has suffered the same thing. There is quite a number of them. The lawless people in the outer settlements and a few of the native tribes.”
“We don't know which ones,” I stressed. “Many did settle in Blethos. They may not be involved. Don't assume they are.”
“There are more guards coming from King Samuel and King Yannick of Creid,” Seth said. “Their coming to help is.”
“You can help us by getting lumber and wood together to build watchtowers. We will need a lot of wood.” I said.
“They've declared war on us. We'll have to prepare for that,” Seth said.
“This is all of Blethos,” I said. “Leaving Royal Valley won't help. If you do, go to Blethos' Capitol.