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[The Tribes] [Reader View]
Word arrived by messenger pigeon that the Maine tribe was under attack by an unknown force. Apparently their raiding parties had been disappearing commonly for months. Assuming desertion, some scouts had been sent out to report on their whereabouts to ensure our existence remained a secret. They found almost every missing acolyte executed in the woods. Bound, gagged, and dragged into the bushes just off the main trail, the bodies were not hidden very well. Reynolds was sending large groups out to try to collect the body of every missing person before a ranger happened across them and started an investigation. The last line of his letter was the most alarming. “Reinforcements requested, something big is coming.” Reynolds was a hard man. He didn’t rise to the top of the most remote chapter by taking prisoners. He had raped, murdered, and pillaged his way to the top without a single report opened against the chapter. Some believed he had connections within the state, which was absolutely prohibited by the oldest statutes of the organization, but everyone who met him insisted that his reputation was just and he was a truly frightening man. For him to ask for, or need, any type of help was unheard of.

The next day a pigeon was sent but the elders would not relay their message to the lowly acolytes. So the rumors continued. Mostly centered around a war with the lost Canadian tribes that had abandoned in Northern Maine were the most prominent, but talk of law enforcement or the plague could be heard echoing off of the cave walls late at night when everyone was supposed to be sleeping. How the plague bound and executed our trained scouts was beyond me, but I tried to not become involved.

Finally, after two weeks of rumors and mild panic, the response came. Every day that went by the rumors had worsened. The reason for the delayed response had been guessed at and argued over daily and when the pigeon arrived the whole community rushed to the great cavern expecting some big news. In an effort to finally calm down his charges and regain control of his branch, elder Adams brought the pigeon to the great cavern to read the message to the people. He began by explaining the situation.

“As you have all heard,” his voice echoed off the walls, silencing the community. “Reynolds has requested reinforcements against an unknown threat. Two weeks ago we sent him a response. We asked him for proof of his plight before we parted with men that we absolutely needed. We wrote that we meant no insult to him or his clan but that his request was far too difficult for us to cooperate without solid information.” The crowd froze, realizing how dangerous an insult to Reynolds could be. The clans had been at peace for 85 years but they were still separate cells with separate leaders and ideals. “The fact that he took so long to respond has worried us just as much as it has worried all of you so I will read his response to you now to set everyone at ease so that we may deal with this issue with level heads. I have not yet read this response and will experience it at the same time as all of you.”

The cavern was absolutely quiet, everyone seemed to be holding their breath. Adams unrolled the thin slip of paper that had come strapped to the bird’s leg. He opened his mouth to read but nothing came out. The blood drained from his face as he stood in front of everyone, open-mouthed and pale as a ghost. He shoved the paper harshly into the hands of one of his advisors and roughly grabbed the two others by the shoulders, forcing them out of the cavern and apparently cursing at them as he did it. The remaining advisor read the slip then stared at the silent crowd and began to tremble.

“It…I…It…says…” he stammered, trembling harder. “It says…I’m coming.” The advisor squeaked out the message then turned and ran from the room as if he were being chased by wolves.