They arrived at the area where the battles would occur several hours before the war was to begin. When Jocy landed, Hi-lee ate a few kotu-berries and went to sleep, but her two friends weren't so lucky. They had to endure the worst part of the battle (to them, anyway)--the waiting. Elk-lore flew off to a hiding place, and Jocy perched on a tree branch. Zobo had decided to have the birds fly as lookouts in shifts, so there could always be someone in the air. Jocy thought that this was a wise idea, but she hated being bored. Fortunately, once Hi-lee finally woke up again, she joined the eagle on her perch.
By the time Jocy got to be a lookout, the war had nearly begun. The previous birds had seen that Kly planned an overall straight-forward approach, with a few more troops in the part headed toward fairyland than in the rest of the lines. Most of the knights were also headed toward the country of the fairies. Zobo arranged his battle lines accordingly.
When Kly's men (Kly was in a safe position, far back, past his men) neared the border, a man who seemed to be in charge halted the troops and shouted something to them. They were too far away for Hi-lee, who was perched at the top of a tree, to hear clearly, but she had a pretty good guess of what he had commanded when the archers (who seemed to be in the back of the unit) started shooting furiously at the birds circling almost directly over their heads. One bird was shot, and the rest of the smaller birds scattered. Jocy and a few of the larger birds, however, merely flew up higher in the air, just about completely out of the archers' range. After a few shots that didn't even come close to the remaining birds, the commander halted the archers. From Hi-lee's view, it looked like the commander was talking to himself, but she suddenly realized that he was having a conversation with three fairies. As Hi-lee watched, they flew in the air, and got within shooting range of the birds. Before they had even drawn their strings back, though, two of the fairies dropped their bows and plummeted to the ground. Hi-lee could just make out tiny arrows that pierced their no-longer glowing chests. Soon, a third fairy dropped near them. He flickered for a while, like a dying fire, and then burned out.
Hi-lee knew that she shouldn't have felt too sad for the dead fairies, since, if they hadn't been killed, they probably would have shot the relatively defenseless birds (and even Jocy!). Still, the fairies looked so pitiful and innocent, probably because of their size. Out of the corner of her eye, Hi-lee saw the light of fairyland flicker, only for a second, and then return back to normal. However, something else caught her eye. A fairy, presumably a fighter, used a flaming stick to set the dead bodies on fire. From the fairy's attitude and tone of voice, Hi-lee could guess that it wasn't a gesture of respect. She couldn't understand the words that the fairy said, though she could clearly hear them.
"Allay!" he shouted. "Allay, bah ney yamay--are noyian samu!" He repeated the phrase over and over. Hi-lee wrote the words down on a piece of bark with one of her claws like they sounded: ah-lay, bah knee yah-may--are noy-aye-an sah-moo. She'd have to ask Elk-lore about that.
The true battle was about to begin. In that world, it was a tradition for the commanders of each side to shake hands before the war. Even Tas-et-lal observed this custom, and the leader that had ordered his archers to shoot the birds came forward. Zobo, looking somewhat like a circus animal, sat up and extended his paw. The commander of Tas-et-lal's army grasped Zobo's paw for a second, looking quite embarrassed. After the handshake (or pawshake), both leaders retreated back to safer areas.
Almost simultaneously, Zobo shouted, "Melen!" (meaning 'victory') and Tas-et-lal's commander cried, "Cawdolee!" ('kill the enemy'). These were the words used to formally start a battle--for some reason, archers weren't considered to be part of the formal battle, and could shoot before a battle was declared--but in seconds, the real war was underway.
Hundreds or thousands of arrows flew from both sides. Many of Kly's troops were struck down by the fairies' arrows, and some were hit, but continued to fight, anyway. Some of the birds who weren't on lookout duty flew at Kly's men, clawing at them and distracting them. Jet-a-Miray's human archers were also working quickly and accurately.
Unfortunately, so were Tas-et-lal's archers. They shot at the attacking birds, forcing them to retreat. Though some of Kly's men greatly feared the talking animals, some merely hated them, and killed as many as they could. It wasn't quite fair, since only a very few of the animals wore any armor at all, and none wore helmets.
In a few minutes, most of the archers stopped shooting, except for the fairies, because it was hard to see who was on whose side. Many of the fighters still continued to shoot, merely getting in near Kly's men and killing them, at the risk of their own lives.
Though Hi-lee didn't like to see blood, she still wanted to get closer to the action. After all, her own country was at stake, and she couldn't help but be interested. She climbed down from the tree she had been occupying and climbed up into another one, closer to the battlefield. She was about 500 hir* from the nearest soldier. However, Tas-et-lal drove the Dumix back and, in a short time, there were people fighting right under Hi-lee's paws. She climbed farther out on the branch, trying to get a better view.
Jet-a-Miray's troops seemed to be losing the battle. Most of Kly's troops that had been scared of the animals were either dead, taken prisoner, or over their fear. The remainder of Kly's troops (which was a very large number) were fighting furiously.
Of course, there were some bright spots for Jet-a-Miray. Hi-lee saw that Zobo let at least one of his velociraptor cadets take part in the battle, and it was doing very well, as were the big cats. Kly's army was still scared of those animals, and for good reason. The fairies were also very efficient, though Hi-lee wondered why Kly hadn't killed them already.
Hi-lee saw a glowing figure that resembled Elk-lore fighting about 300 feet away. She didn't have perfect vision, and it was hard enough to tell fairies apart at a close distance, so Hi-lee didn't know if it was really him. She crawled farther out on the branch, and it suddenly gave way. Hi-lee fell, and landed with a thump on a soldier's helmet.
The impact jarred the Dumix soldier slightly, and caused him to be hit in the left soldier by an enemy's sword. However, he recovered quickly and fought hard, for his own life and his country.
The man was now fighting directly against a man from Tas-et-lal. It was a fair match, since both men were almost the same height and equally strong. The same couldn't be said for most of the other small battles going on. To Hi-lee's left was a fairly short woman fighting against a tall, muscular knight on horseback, and to her right were two lionesses attacking a nearly dead man who had dropped his sword in surprise and was now futilely trying to postpone his inevitable death.
Just when it looked like the man that Hi-lee had landed on was going to be killed, he took a last swing and hit the enemy in his chest. The man's chain mail broke, and the sword pierced his heart. However, the Dumix soldier didn't even have a second to catch his breath or clean his bloody sword before another one of Kly's soldiers came up to attack him. Hi-lee held on as the Dumix soldier took several hits but, when the soldier lunged forward to try to kill the enemy, Hi-lee fell off of the helmet, and landed on her feet. After a few seconds passed, one of the men fell, nearly landing on top of her. Hi-lee couldn't tell which of the soldiers it was.
Hi-lee was afraid that she would get stepped on, or crushed by a falling body, or perhaps cut in half by a sword that was knocked out of someone's grasp. She tried to make her way quickly through the battlefield, watching out especially for feet. She had to stop short every few hir or so, to keep from being stepped on. She dodged so much that in a short period of time, she was in an entirely different area of the battle. Tas-et-lal dominated this section, and the troops were steadily pushing the Dumix back. Hi-lee completely panicked and ran away as fast as she could, no longer worrying about being squashed. She was almost safe when she felt something cold and heavy drop on her. A second of intense pain went by, and then she drifted into a sea of numb darkness.
When she regained consciousness, all that Hi-lee was aware of was a throbbing pain in her back. She decided that she wasn't dead, since everything she had heard about the afterlife had emphasized freedom from pain.
With a bit of effort, Hi-lee opened her eyes. She saw Jocy, perched on a low tree branch a couple of hir away. The eagle's keen eyes noticed Hi-lee's slight movement and, in a matter of seconds, Jocy was next to her friend.
"Hi-lee! We were afraid you wouldn't wake up. Again." Sounding concerned, she asked, "Are you all right?" All that Hi-lee was able to respond with was a groan. "I guess not. Well, don't worry. You'll get better," said Jocy, hoping that she sounded more convincing than she felt. "They called a cease fire for 24 hours so both sides could rest. Elk-lore left to find a doctor, though I think they're all busy caring for the wounded soldiers." Jocy saw that, though Hi-lee's eyes were still open, they looked blank, like they no longer noticed anything, not even the cloudy sky. After a few seconds, the mouse's eyelids slowly closed. She was still breathing, but Jocy still hoped that Elk-lore would come back with a doctor soon.
Suddenly, Hi-lee opened her eyes again, just as the sun came out from behind the clouds. "Hey, Jocy! I'm better!"
"Sure you are," said Jocy in a tone that sounded much less doubtful than the eagle actually was. She didn't want to upset Hi-lee. However, Jocy was glad to see the mouse talking again. The eagle never thought she'd find herself thinking that.
"No, really, I am!" Hi-lee sprang up enthusiastically. "See? I'm fine!"
Jocy was now intrigued; she examined Hi-lee for a moment before stepping back. "You are better, aren't you? But how?"
"I don't know. I just woke up, and my back didn't hurt any more."
"I wonder if Elk-lore had anything to do with it," mused Jocy.
Less than 10 minutes after Elk-lore and Jocy discovered Hi-lee lying unconscious under a dead soldier's shield, Elk-lore left to find a doctor. Unfortunately, there were few doctors in Jet-a-Miray. This gave their country an edge over Tas-et-lal, since that country had no doctors at all, but the few doctors in Jet-a-Miray were too busy tending wounded soldiers, both human and animal, to go out of their way to help a little mouse. The fairy healers, too, were all busy caring for their own kind. The only creature he could find that would even offer to look at Hi-lee was a married woman who had children fighting in the battle and who knew a few home remedies that she used on the soldiers. However, this woman demanded that Hi-lee was brought to her, and Elk-lore feared that the journey would just worsen the mouse's condition for nothing. He was about to fly back to Jocy and tell her when he saw someone else.
He saw a man, dressed in a white robe with some reddish piece of clothing worn over it. He had a tanned body, and appeared to be talking to the men, women, animals and fairies gathered around in a grand manner, despite the fact that his audience was surely less than 30 souls. If Elk-lore had really looked, he would have noticed that a few men from Tas-et-lal were among the group, but his eyes were on the man in the white robe, and for good reason.
The man seemed to radiate a presence of joy, happiness, and peace, though he himself didn't look especially happy or peaceful. If anything, he looked slightly concerned, like he had to take a final exam the next day but was keeping his mind off of it. But one hardly noticed that. He also had a wonderful speaking voice, and was careful to address all the creatures around him. However, he appeared to be talking mostly to a woman. Elk-lore suddenly realized who the man was. He had heard many stories about him, but had never dreamed that he would ever see the man. (Elk-lore was one of the few fairies who had believed the stories were true at all.) The man was called Mayda--Savior--and Elk-lore knew that, if he was willing to, he could help Hi-lee. For that reason, though he was in awe of the man and even afraid of him, Elk-lore cautiously approached the man, not even daring to fly more than a foot or two above the ground. As he approached, he could hear Mayda's words. He was now talking with three fairies who looked very angry. They spoke to him in their own native tongue, though all fairies also knew the humans' language and the name language as well. Elk-lore wondered if they were testing Mayda.
"Mayda, yon tekay ran Tas-et-lal pam oh ada?" one asked.
"Why do I let Tas-et-lal take your magic?" asked Mayda, repeating the question in first-person form. The inquisitive fairies looked shocked. Obviously, they hadn't expected Mayda to know what they had asked him. "Well, first, magic is anything that can't be explained, correct?" A few creatures nodded, for that was the accepted definition of magic in the world. "And you fairies call your powers magic, for the humans called them that first. But that which you call magic is really just gifts that the Father has given, just like you have the ability to write and move your fingers. If your powers are magic, so is breathing. However, some of you used your gifts for evil purposes, and none of you truly appreciated them."
"So we must all pay for that, and probably be killed?" interrupted a fairy.
"Some humans are unable to walk, but not as a punishment. There are other reasons that you are losing your gifts, but all things will be made right in the end," replied Mayda. "Pusas sum lial het ada etu!" These words greatly comforted Elk-lore, for he believed that Mayda had the power to do anything, and he had said, "Fairies will get their magic back."
Elk-lore had flown all the way to the group surrounding Mayda by now, but was suddenly afraid to approach. Then Mayda looked straight at him and said, "Starlight." Elk-lore immediately came forward, for the man had called him by the name he had used before he was called sharp-shooter.
"You are troubled," said Mayda.
"Yes, sir, I... My friend..."
"Your friend is sick. She was hit in her back with a heavy shield. But you believe that I can heal her, and, by your faith, I have." The sun suddenly emerged from its cover of clouds.
"Thank you," whispered Elk-lore reverently.
"Wait, my brother," said Mayda. Elk-lore was puzzled by the man's use of words but stayed anyway. "You are troubled by something else, too. It is good that you have heard the stories, studied them, and believed them. It is as you have read, the good and the sad parts, but you don't know the ending. Have faith! You believe that I have healed your friend, but not what I told all the fairies?" He repeated, "Salu low sum caw fan kal nalen chris. All things will be made right in the end. Now go see your friend. We shall meet again, soon, and with more of our friends present." Elk-lore immediately obeyed Mayda's command and, in less than five minutes, was back with Jocy and Hi-lee.
"Look, Elk-lore, Hi-lee's all better!" exclaimed Jocy, flying to meet him.
"Yeah, I know," said Elk-lore.
"How'd you know?" asked the eagle, curiously. Hi-lee also listened.
"I went to a man--kind of a healer, I guess--and he said that he had cured her, just as the sun came out from behind the clouds."
Jocy looked surprised. "But that's--that's just when she got better! I thought that only fairies had magic! How could a human help her?"
"This man had more power than every fairy in the world put together," said Elk-lore. "If he wanted to, I think he could make trees talk."
"Really? Who was he?" asked Hi-lee, not doubting Elk-lore's testimony.
"He's known as Mayda."
"How could a human have more magic than all the fairies?" wondered Jocy.
"Well..." Elk-lore seemed reluctant.
"Well, what?" Jocy sounded impatient.
"According to the stories I've read about him... They took place about 2000 years ago, in another world, but... Well, they say that Mayda is the son of Tay-Free."
"Really?" asked Hi-lee. "Well, if he made me better, I'd believe it."
"I'd like to see this Mayda, and make my own conclusions," said Jocy.
"All right. If I see him around, I'll tell you. But it's too late to see him today. The sun's almost down." Even as Elk-lore said this, the sun sank lower in the sky.
"Well, if you guys don't mind, I'm going to go to sleep. The war starts again when the sun rises, and I need the rest," said Jocy.
"It's weird--I'm not tired," said Hi-lee.
"Well, you were unconscious when we found you, and we didn't find you until this morning. You've been out for a long time," replied Jocy. "You ought to be more careful; you almost died."
"Yeah, I know," said Hi-lee. "Are you tired, Elk-lore?"
"No," he answered, glad to be telling the truth.
"Then could you tell me more about Mayda?"
"Sure," said Elk-lore. They were awake all night, Elk-lore telling Hi-lee all the stories he had heard and read about the man who had healed her.
Go on to Chapter 18
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