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The Sons of Efrafa


Campion, first son of Ruth who is called Rautha, sat astride his nild-hraynos (ostrich). His short bow, sword and lance were by his side, ready to be drawn at a moment's notice. His general, Ephraim of the line of Ephraim who is called Stihrath-rah, or 'General Woundwort' sat astride his own mount next to him and looked down onto the encampment in the Plain of Issus. From far below they could faintly hear a booming sound, as of a vast host of lions.

The scarred brown hare leaned forward in his saddle. "Listen to that Campion." Both of their ears cocked slightly. "Easily 10,000 of those monster southern nild-hraynosil. With the incompetence shown by King Darius' various appointed governors, I wouldn't be surprised if those are from Governor Yehezqiyah's own garrison in Yehud Medinata."

Campion desperately wanted to chastise his general for speaking that way about their King, but the current Nemean Lion king was a pale shadow of his predecessors. There was unrest and rebellion throughout the empire, largely due to Darius breaking many of the ancient covenants. Even the Hrair-lion and nild-hraynos cavalry under General Woundwart's command were forbidden from practicing the ancient Hain and Methrah, on pain of being cast into the soup pot. Still, he had to try to bring Ephraim to reason.

"It matters not, my general; they are Charioteers, so we still equal them in effective units on the field. Add to that our Hrair-lions (light infantry legions) alone nearly matches the Macedonian's total force. Combined with the Ionian Peltasts and the Immortals, the outcome of this battle is assured. We just have our cavalry sweep down this slope at speed, so we can avoid the worst of the Macedonian archers. Our Hrair-lions and Peltasts can press the center while cavalry prevents their Phalanx's from anchoring their flanks. By then, Darius' 'Immortals' and heavy infantry should be moved into position across the entire plain."

The general huffed. "We are of one mind about that Campion. Unfortunately, our King does not share that mind. His cousin in command of the Immortals has, impressed our King with another plan. We are to march east and south at dawn, so the Macedonians may see the full glory of Darius' army. They are but sheep and goats and will surly run." Ephraim saw the poleaxed look in his compatriot's eyes. "I have already tried to reason with him, but 'surely if sheep will be turned by our host, what can a hare know,'?" Ephraim spat and looked back at the opposing force. "If those really are nild-hraynos driven charioteers from Medinata or Kemet, they'll run circles around us." He pointed to the ravine leading into the plain. "It'll be like the Gates of Inle-Hlao with Xerxes a Hrair-hrudao ago. The Spartans of Macedonia bled us dry then, too."

He side-stepped his mount towards Campion's. "The night my son passed, I had a dream. A thorn bush stood between two great beasts; on one side, a Lion rested, casting a long shadow. On the other, an Auroch grew ever stronger, ever larger. The thorn bush, which had long separated the two, was now stunted from too long being in the Lion's shadow, soon to be trampled under hoof. Now we face an Aegean host, marching under the Auroch banner of Alexander of Macedon, while an indolent tyrant fritters away the empire we have helped to build."

Ephraim turned to look at Campion, his one good eye seeming to pierce directly into the younger hare's soul. "Campion, I have no daughters to carry my name, and no sons to bear my sword. Were it only me, I would gladly charge this enemy and meet Inle-rah with my head held high." Ephraim continued to turn, now facing the Achaemenid army camp. "But it isn't just me."

Campion was silent for a time. "Alexander has already swept through Phrygia and Cappadocia. If, if, we were to aid him in the coming battle, he might grant us a polis of our own." He looked sidelong at his general. "Maybe Uchisar; a natural fortress mount, with wide plains surrounding it for grazing nild-hraynos and émarflay (agriculture)." He chuckled. "Maybe the hrair-lot can be émarflayai (farmers), instead of farmed."

Ephraim didn't laugh. "Maybe our daughters' daughters will grow old in a land of their own, and the ancient Hain and Methrah will echo through the Wonderlands for ages to come." He wheeled his mount around towards their camp.

"Owsla-ethile Campion I give it you strictly in charge," the younger hare sat up in his saddle, while the general drew his polished bronze sickle sword; the symbol of his office. "…I have already secreted as many of our people amongst the hrair-lot as I could before we left. Take my blade, so your Hrair-lion will know that you speak with my voice. Assign one of your Owsla to take a Hrayfa of our cavalry, and one Hrair-lion and escort our kin as far towards Cappadocia as they can in one night, then wait there for word until the night of Ni-Inle. By then we will either have won our freedom or joined with Frith-rah and U Hrair."

Campion reverently cradled the blade. "M'saia, General. And what of us?"

The scarred hare gave a wicked grin. "We are going to prepare to disappoint Darius! That is one lion who deserves no rest!"

An elderly brown hare sat in a plush seat while two rambunctious leveretts, a brown jill and a solid black jack, fidgeted at his feet.

"And then what, Con-Ni-Fa?" The jack all but vibrated in anticipation.

"Don't be dumb, Inle-roo!" The jill teased her brother. "Ephraim and the Hrair-lion swept across the Ellil like Keharr! Semashka!" With that, she tackled him, and they began wrestling.

"Jacob, Amelia." The old hare's voice was stern, but without reproach. "Enough of that; your mother is resting."

Their father came into the room with a sour look on his face.

"What are you two fighting about now?"

The jill responded without stopping her assault on her brother.

"Con-Ni-Fa was telling us about the founding of Efrafa!"

The working jack turned crossly to his father-in-law. "Again, with these, nonsense stories? How are tall tales about 'mighty warriors' and magical visions going help them get by in their future? Unless Jacob is going to punch his way through life, or Amelia plans a career as a psychic hotline operator, it's all useless!"

The elder crossed his arms and looked pointedly at the bronze sickle-sword on the wall. "They need to know their heritage, that its light may show them the way westward."

Nathan Raibert knew it was a losing proposition trying to argue with his father-in-law; Nathan's wife Katarin would always back her father.

"Well, keep it down you two. I have an early day tomorrow; they're making some big announcement at the factory first thing." With that, he turned and headed back to the bedroom, and to his pregnant wife.

Amelia patted her grandfather on the leg. "Con-Ni-Fa, what happened to Campion and Ephraim?"

"Now who's being dumb, Fu-Embleer?" The jack shouldered his sister out of the way.

The jill shouldered him back. "I'm not dumb, you're dumb!"

The fight was nearly back on until the old hare clapped his paws. "I will answer both your questions." He then stood and took down the ancient blade. "This is the first Methrah Mon (Our Story) of your line, the Kilic Hain (Sword Dance) of Campion." With that, he began the ancient song and dance that told the history of the Sons of Efrafa.