A human and A neeldo sat on the paved ground of their house.The Neeldo,whose name was Dar,was sweeping feverently.He had brown fur and floppy ears,like most Neeldos.he raised A Three fingered hand patted the human,A black haired boy,on the shoulder."Well,young master,it is your big day.excited?"The human,whos name was Kastor,grinned."Yes,but I told you,don't call me young master."Dar bowed."As you wish,but,may I ask why you do not wish to be called that?"Kastor shrugged."Well,to be honest,I'd rather my father not keep slaves."Dar shrugged."You could just free us all when you inherit us."Besides Dar,there were two other slaves serving the house.Tusk,One of the strange many-toothed Biktufs from the eastern mountains,and Marl,A hoglike borshwine from the southern grasslands.Both Kastors father had gotten by trading prisoners of war with enemies the humans were constantly fighting with.Dar was the only slave in the house who had been born in slavery.Each of the servants had their own job around the house.Dar kept things clean and repaired broken furniture,Tusk protected the house and trained Kastor how to fight,and Marl cooked and tasted all of the food to make sure it was not poisoned.Kastors father,Arkantos,walked in.He was A tall man,with A spear in one hand and black hair."Ah,son.I see you are preparing for today.Excited about becoming A soldier?"Kastor nodded."Yes."Tusk,who acted almost like his fathers second-in-command in the house,walked after him,carrying food.He was tall and dark-skinned,like most Biktufs,with many inch-thick fangs,almost too many to fit in his mouth.Indeed,like all of his kind,he could not speak,so he used hand signals to communicate."Good to see you well,young master."he signaled.Arkantos patted his sons head as he began to reply."Now,now,don't be too hard on him.He's just saying what his old masters drummed into him before he was ours.We'll leave Marl here to watch over things,and the rest of us will get ready for the ceremony."Tusk nodded and walked upstairs to tell Marl.He poked his head up,then walked back down the stairs,shaking and sputtering in his strange,fanged laugh."The Borshwine is asleep with his face in his soup."He signaled.
The city was in panic when Kastor walked outside.People were running around,turning over carts with supplies,screaming in fear,running in and out of different houses.The group waded through the crowd to the palace,A magnificent,shining building in the center of the city.Arkantos led them through the twisting hallways to find the council room.It was filled with generals and the generals slaves,mostly Neeldos.Tusk grabbed one by the arm."Whats going on?"asked Arkantos.The general tusk had grabbed looked afraid."There are Koiselt,millions of them,gathering in an army.they have our weapons and our horses.We're doomed!"Dar shuddered."Koiselt,eh?Never trusted them myself."Kastor looked at him."Why?"He shrugged."My mother told me an old story.A Koiselt and A Neeldo shook hands on A deal they made,and the Koiselt took two of the neeldos fingers."He held up A three fingered hand."In short,when you deal with them,count your fingers afterwards."Kastor grinned."I'll keep that in mind."One man,A massive general,banged A hammer on the table."Settle down everyone."He set 100 sticks on the table."Each of these represents 50,000 Koiselt.That is 5,000,000 koiselt that are angry we took their city.We have about 400,000 soldiers to defend ourselves,possibly 300,000 more if we get weapons to the non-soldiers.either way,we have evenly matched weapons,but they have intense hatred and many more men.In short,it will end badly for us.We may be able to win,but it will cost many lives."The king,grim faced and guant,looking ill,almost,looked around grimly."Any suggestions?"The generals looked around,but no one had A suggestion.Tusk finally raised his hand."Ah,finally."Said the king."Please,come up and announce your plan."The king had thought it had been one of the generals,so he was suprised when the huge Biktuf walked to the front.Tusk signaled with his hands.most of the generals stared at him blankly.Kastor walked to the front and bowed."Forgive him,but he can not speak.He suggested that we go to his people in the mountains.They are strong,and there are quite A few of them.If he and A few others went to them,they would be sure to help."Tusk nodded.The king stroked his beard thoughtfully."I suppose it is possible.It certainly could not get much worse for us."Arkantos walked forward."If you are worried about him and other servants just running off,don't be.Tusk is A loyal person.I would trust him with my life."The king considered it for A moment,coughed for a few minutes,then nodded."Very well."He looked around."Alright,so we send your son,maybe your two servants here,and two other volunteers."Another slave,one of the bull-headed Minotaurs from the island of Minoa,raised his hand."I will join them."He said.The general who had announced the koiselts numbers,looked at him dissaprovingly."Are you sure,Jax?There are plenty of others,and you still have your injury."The minotaur limped forward."I am sure."The big general shrugged."Very well,now,we just need one more."The door creaked open and several of the generals began murmering.A Koiselt walked in.It had brown fur,and it had A tatoo on its face.it walked forward and bowed."I would be pleased to help you."It said dutifully."The king flinched."We are fighting Koiselt.why are you helping us?"The koiselt shrugged and flicked its catlike ears."Why not?"The general looked uneasy,but nodded."Very well.what is your name?"The koiselt looked uncomfortable,then decided to take advantage of how little the humans knew of the koiselt.It wouldn't do for them to know his name now.He pointed to his tatoo."This is my name.to you,it would sound like A snarl."He allowed himself A small grin.perfect.he almost half believed it himself.The general nodded."Very well.Prepare yourselves.you will all leave tommorow.