This post is in response to the Occupy Daily Post challenge: Bookends. I randomly selected an author and book by closing my eyes and randomly pushing the screen of my Kindle multiple times.  My selection led me to Mortals by Ted Dekker.  I am starting the post with the first sentence of Chapter 23 and ending with the last sentence of Chapter 24. 

 The sun was high, bright even through a scrim of shifting clouds, when Saric led his twelve disciples into the Seyala Valley.  As they navigated the Pass, the valley unfolded before them, a rolling sea of yellow and green grasses surrounded by high jungle peaks.  There was the briefest stirring of the wind moving through the grass, but Saric and his disciples seemed to be the only life in the valley.

“We are the first to arrive, Master,” Jeph pulled up to Saric on his horse.

“So it would seem,” Saric replied in a calm tone, but his eyes squinted in concentration as he surveyed the seemingly fluid landscape and the tree line far in the distance.  Jeph frowned.

“You are expecting some treachery, Master?”

“I do not know what I expect, except to know it will be unexpected.” Saric continued his intent watch on the horizon as his horse paced back and forth.  “I believe we will set up camp near that secrora tree.  It seems to be the highest elevation, best vantage point to wait and watch.” 

Saric spun his horse around to address all of his disciples and pointed back toward the tree.  

“That is where we make camp and wait.  Make sure you have a weapon on you at all times.  We will not swing the first punch, but we will defend ourselves if need be.  We stay in groups of two at all times and never stray out of calling range of another group. Jeph and Micah, you will have the first and most difficult watch.  You will keep watch on the camp and stay within range of the gatherers, should they run into trouble.  Pell and Meera, you to will set up camp.  Freya  and Benn, you will hunt and gather food.  Arcie and San, you are responsible for water.  Erick and Wren, you will have second watch, so help Pell and Meera with your tent, then get some rest.  Vael and Rhegria, please help by gathering fire wood now, then you will take third watch. Any questions?”

“And you Master?”  Jeph said softly.  “What is it you shall be doing?”  Saric turned to Jeph and looked him directly in the eye.

“I shall be praying.”

High above in the jungle ridgeline, Garnett surveyed the scene unfolding below in the valley.

“Amman-loving idiots,” he muttered.  “Your god won’t be helping you today. Rashiin!” He raised his voice  at the captain, who scurried over.

“Yes, General, sir!” Captain Rashiin’s soldiers would never know, but General Garnett scared the crap out of him.

“Captain, send scouts to find the easiest way down as close as we can get to the Ammanians’ camp with out being seen.  I want to ambush them and get this mission done with.”

“Yes, General, sir!” Rashiin’s was happy to be ahead of the General for once.  “The scouts mapped out a trail last night that will take us down the to the valley approximately 400 laggs from where they appear to be making camp.  If we time it correctly, we should be able to use the fog banking off of the mountain to our advantage.”

“Do it!” Garnett barked.  “I expect to be home before my grandson’s Recognition Ceremony!”

Fours hours later, Captain Rashiin and a contingent of fifty men on horseback were almost on the valley floor, hovering just inside the protective line of jungle.  The mist had followed them down the mountain, growing thicker as time passed.  Rashiin could barely make out the Ammanians now, the smell of the smoke of their fire being the main indicator of their location.  The soldiers were readied, just waiting for their commanders word.

Rashiin was trying to balance that delicate timing between it being as difficult to see as possible and the fog receding. He waffled for a minute debating if the timing was right, when the sky opened up and the rains came down.

“Right, then. It won’t get better than this.” He turned to the soldier to his right and left, giving orders to pass down the line. “Not a sound until we are upon them. Then show no mercy. The General has a function to keep. Ready? Move out!”

 And then they were riding in a full gallop through the veil of a heavy downpour.

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