"Burr hurr, oi never berlieved thurr wurr so many vermint in th' whole wurld!"

Billus the mole stood upon the south ramparts, flanked on either paw by Cyril and Cyrus. He and the mouse brothers were equally captivated by the sight of Urthblood's army, spread out on the meadow beyond the south wall.

"They're all mixed up together, all kinds of creatures," Cyrus exclaimed, pointing from place to place among the resting troops. "Look over there, there's a whole squad of otters, more'n we have in all of Redwall. An' they're talking and laughing with a bunch o' weasels like they're old friends. And down there are scores of shrews, all mixed in with scores more o' rats. An' I see ferrets, an' hedgehogs - "

Young Droge pushed his spiny head between them. "Hogs? Where? Where?"

" - and even some mice, just like us, Cyr!"

"Yurr hurr, an' thurr be sum molers, just loik oi!" Billus said excitedly.

Cyril was as excited as any of them, but his amazement held him silent for the moment. Vermin and goodbeasts, all tossed together like the makings of an otters' hotroot stew! It was like the world had suddenly been turned topsy-turvy, with all the old, accepted ways stood on their head. If he weren't seeing it with his own eyes, Cyril wouldn't have believed it. Even now, with the sight laid out below him on the sun-drenched pasture, he wasn't sure he believed it.

There was one group in Urthblood's army that didn't mingle with the rest, holding itself apart most conspicuously. Cyril's eye was drawn to their neat black uniforms and the large swords that hung at their sides. "Those foxes don't seem too friendly with the others," he observed.

Balla the cellarkeeper was one of the many adult Redwallers up on the battlements along with the youngsters, pacing back and forth as they warily monitored the armed beasts outside. "No surprise there, Cyril lad. Nobeast likes bein' round them scoundrels, not even their fellow vermin. Rat's 'n' weasels're bad 'nuff, but foxes 're the worst o' the lot!"

Cyril felt he had to agree. Every Redwaller knew of the treachery of Slagar during the time of Matthias the Second Warrior. And then there was the trouble caused by the Marlfoxes a few generations later. And, of course, their very own Friar Hugh had been enslaved by foxes in his youth. It would be hard to find an Abbeydweller who would argue Balla's point. Foxes were definitely the worst. And now there were a score of them here at Redwall.

"Their leader went down to Cavern Hole to meet with the Mother Abbess," Cyrus said. "Alexander took his sword first ... they say it's just like Martin's!"

"Aye, that's true," Balla nodded, "I was there an' saw it my own self. An exact copy, or close 'nuff to fool these eyes. How a dirty fox got t' have his stinkin' paws on a weapon that fine I'll never fathom. But it ain't right!"

Elmwood the squirrel leaned against the walltop close by. "Prob'ly got it the same way he got his high rank: Urthblood gave it to him. What that badger's all about is beyond me." He glanced out over the meadow below. "Something strange ... not a single squirrel in all that horde, 'cept for the one who's down in Cavern Hole right now. Wonder why that is?"

The young otter Brydon lounged next to Elmwood. "No mystery there. That band o' foxes has enough bushy tails for this whole army!"

Brydon was dividing his attention between the meadow outside and the Abbey grounds. He and his fellow otters were in charge of guarding the wall gates, to make sure nobeast tried to open them from within or without. He suddenly stiffened to attention when he saw Machus, alone and unsupervised, emerge onto the lawns from within the Abbey.

"Hey, lookout there!" he called to the others around him. "Wot's that fox doin' down there all by himself?"

Everybeast turned to look. Brydon's grip tightened on his javelin, while Elmwood automatically notched an arrow to his bowstring.

"That's not good," the squirrel said ominously. "The elders would never have let him leave Cavern Hole without an escort - "

Even as Elmwood spoke, Maura followed Machus out onto the grounds. The Abbeydwellers atop the wall all heaved a collective sigh of relief.

"Well, that's more like it," Brydon said. "Maura can handle any grief that fox dishes out. Still, suppose we'd better keep an eagle eye on 'em, just in case."

While the young otter kept up his vigil, the others returned their attention to the mighty horde outside the wall.


Maura almost ran into Machus in her haste to catch up with the fox. Machus had his back to her, so she was able to slow to a normal walk before he turned at the sound of her approach. But her run up the stairs and through Great Hall left her panting in the summer heat, betraying the fact that she'd been chasing after him. Like Abbess Vanessa, Maura didn't want to appear too obvious that this particular guest of Redwall was not trusted enough to be left on his own.

Machus turned to greet her with a scowl on his features. But he quickly chased it away with a look of chagrin and embarrassment.

"Sorry. As a captain of the guard, I'm not used to being guarded myself."

"Oh ... er, it's not that," Maura stammered untruthfully. "It's just that it's not our custom to allow guests to wander about without a guide their first day here." She didn't know why all of a sudden she should care what this creature though about her ... but she did.

"You are too courteous. I'm going back out to rejoin my troops. I would like my sword back, please."

"Oh, the Abbess had it put up in her private study so that nobeast would toy with it. I couldn't go in there alone without permission."

"I was given to understand I would only have to surrender my weapon while I was inside Redwall. I can't appear before my beasts stripped of my sword. It is my symbol of rank and honor."

"Well, then, don't go outside." Maura gestured toward the orchard. "Let's go sit where it's cool. If you still feel like leaving the Abbey when lunch is over down in Cavern Hole, Vanessa can get your sword for you then."

Machus studied the badger before him. "After what I said down there, I wouldn't have thought any of you would want to be around me if you didn't have to."

Maura chose her words before speaking. "I don't know you, Machus. But I've had enough time to get to know Lord Urthblood to be sure of one thing: you would not be a captain in his army if you were a truly evil beast."

"Yes, but sometimes even goodbeasts can commit evil deeds."

Maura nodded. "If they are truly goodbeasts, they can put their past misdeeds behind them and get on with living decent lives."

The fox gave her an assessing look. "Most creatures would not be so understanding about what I did."

"Most creatures are not Redwallers," Maura shot back. "Lord Urthblood said your father probably deserved his fate. I was not there, so I will not judge you, however tempted I might be. I can only tell you that you are not acting like an evil beast, who would feel no remorse over such a thing and might even go so far as to brag about it. You obviously do not feel that way. You seem ashamed of your deed, as any good-hearted creature would."

Machus shrugged and glanced away. "Perhaps my father did deserve such a fate. But I take no pride that it was I who made him meet it." He looked toward the orchard. "Now that you mention it, the shade under those trees does look inviting. I can rejoin my troops later. Would you care to join me?"

"Of course." Maura escorted Machus over to the fruit grove, where the pawful of Abbeydwellers lunching there would surely be surprised to find a fox suddenly in their midst. "Perhaps your appetite has returned enough to sample some more of our tasty fare. There's always plenty for everybeast."

Maura studied Machus out of the corner of her eye as she walked alongside him. An honorable fox? Maybe.

Or maybe, Maura thought to herself, you are merely a very good actor, my friend. She would not let this one out of her sight, not while he dwelt within Redwall's peaceful grounds.


Friar Hugh and Brother Joel stood upon the ramparts along with most of the other Abbeydwellers, regarding the massed force of mixed creatures arrayed out in the south meadow. Even a few of the Sparra had joined the onlookers, hopping sure-clawed along the crenellated walltop. Bird and beast alike continued to engage in speculation over what it all meant.

The two mice most responsible for feeding the Abbey had more than just idle speculation on their minds, however.

Joel turned to the Friar, whiskers wrinkled in worry. "You don't suppose they'll all be staying, do you? Inside Redwall, I mean?"

"Inside or out, they'll be our guests if the Abbess says they are," Hugh replied gruffly. "And from what I caught of the conversation down in Cavern Hole, my guess is they'll be around for awhile." The Friar was clearly none too pleased by this prospect.

"But ... the storm!" the horticulturalist mouse fretted, wringing the frayed ends of his habit cord. "We lost so much of the harvest! We'd have enough hardship feeding so many hungry mouths even in the best of times. But now, I don't see how there will possibly be enough food to go around!"

"Nor do I," Friar Hugh agreed. "Not without putting our stocks so low that we'd starve over the winter." He glanced toward the orchard, where Machus had been seen to go with Maura a short time before. "Well, I'm not about to see a single Redwaller go hungry, just so we can feed the likes of that."

"You are one hundred percent right, so far as those villainous vermin go. But what about Urthblood's other troops? He's got otters, shrews, moles, hedgehogs, even other mice ... we can't turn them down if they ask to be fed. And how can we give food to some without giving it to all?"

"Very easily," Hugh answered. "Allow only the decent creatures inside, and keep the rabble out. They can fend for themselves in the woods, and that way we'll know that none of our precious food is being wasted on beasts who don't deserve it!"

Brother Joel shook his head. "You've got it all figured out. But if the Abbess says otherwise, we will still have to abide by her wishes. If that means feeding everybeast in that army, then we will."

"Why would she do something that would endanger the health of decent woodlanders? She can't, and that's all there is to it. You and I will simply have to make it clear to her that there's not enough food to go around, and help her come to the right decision. After all, we're the ones who have to keep Redwall fed, not her."

There was something mutinous in the Friar's tone, and Joel wasn't sure he cared for it. "But she's the Abbess ... "

"Yes, she is," said Hugh. "Which means she must always do what is best for Redwall. For that, she must heed the advice of everybeast who helps to run this Abbey. If she should happen to forget that this is her place, it's up to us to remind her, and advise her what is best ... for Redwall, not for some gang of unruly vermin camped outside our walls."

Joel cast an eye down to the meadow. Urthblood's army was neither unruly nor, as he'd pointed out, all vermin. "Yes," he agreed hesitantly, "certainly we must advise her. But I'm not sure I like your tone ... "

The Friar gave an indignant snort. "You've never been a slave, have you? Well, I have ... and it was the likes of those down there who put me in chains and kept me there for two seasons of my youth. Boils my blood, just knowing that fox weaseled his way into a lunch down in Cavern Hole with our leaders."

Brother Joel scratched at his snout, reluctant to enter a full-blown argument with Hugh. "Well, the Abbess could have chosen to make the fox stay outside, but she didn't. Maybe we're forgetting what Redwall is all about."

"It's not about us going hungry because we had to feed some army we never invited here."

Joel glanced toward the main Abbey. "Oh, look, the meeting seems to have let out. Here comes Montybank, and Alexander, and Urthblood with that squirrel Lady. Don't see the others, though. They must still be inside."

Monty headed out to the orchard, but Alex made straight for the wallsteps, bounding up them to the high walkway. He dodged past the two mice and a dozen other Redwallers until he got to Elmwood. The onlookers pressed close to hear what their squirrel arms master had to say.

"Hey, stand back a bit, give us some room!" he called out, then turned to his second-in-command. "Elmwood, pass the word to all the Mossflower Patrol, and to all the otters too. The Abbess has called a private meeting of just the main Abbey leaders, up in her study. We'll need Maura there too, so it's up to you to keep a sharp eye on that fox as long as he's inside our walls. Oh, and keep this kinda mum ... we're doing this on the sly from Lord Urthblood. The Abbess told him we'll be meeting about routine Abbey business."

"Ur, don't you think he'll be able to figure out on his own what you're up to?"

"Probably. But Vanessa doesn't want to be too blatant about it."

"Okay. You can count on us," Elmwood assured Alex, with a half-salute.

Alexander turned to head back down the stairs, but Friar Hugh caught his sleeve as he passed. "I'd like to be there too. If this is about that army staying at Redwall, I've got some things to say about that."

"Sorry, Friar, but it's going to be pretty crowded up in that study. There'll be time later for you to bend Vanessa's ear about anything you want."

Hugh started to insist, but Alex was already gone, flashing down the wallsteps to rejoin the other Abbey leaders.

"Well, I never," the Friar huffed. "No more acorn crunch surprise for that squirrel this season! Speaking of which, I'd better go and get a start on the evening meal, now that lunch is more or less finished." He started down the stone stairway, following in Alexander's wake at a far more sedate and dignified pace. "Though it sure would help," he grumbled to himself, "if I knew how many beasts I'll be cooking for!"


Alexander was right: the study of Abbess Vanessa was quite crowded, and the situation wasn't helped any by Maura's return.

"Sorry for the holdup," she apologized, squeezing into the room between Montybank and Foremole and securing the door behind her. "I gave Machus his sword back, and escorted him outside. Lord Urthblood and Lady Mina went with him. Urthblood's going to give his troops a formal review. He was strongly hinting that he wanted some of us to join him."

"And so we will," said Vanessa, "as soon as we're finished here."

"Glad he didn't press the point; we would've had a hard time explaining what matters are more important than what's to be done about his army."

"Well, that's what we're here to discuss. Amongst ourselves, not with Lord Urthblood." Vanessa ran her gaze around the chamber; in addition to herself, Maura, Monty and Foremole, also present were Arlyn, Alexander, Geoff and Highwing. Only Arlyn, in deference to his age, was allowed the privilege of a soft highbacked chair, while the Sparra leader perched above him. Everybeast else stood.

The badger matriarch leaned her bulk against the door; like most of the doors in Redwall, this one could not be locked without a key, and the Abbess didn't want this meeting disturbed by anybeast who hadn't been invited.

"I can see these quarters are rather close for so many of us, and since Lord Urthblood is waiting for us, I'll keep this as brief as I can," the Abbess began. "An army has come to our home, an army composed largely of creatures who have traditionally been our enemies. Urthblood says that they are honest and trustworthy. And maybe they are. But I cannot take his word for this. I am Abbess, and if even one Redwaller loses its life to this army, that death will be on my head. I will not let that horde inside this Abbey. Not yet, anyway."

She studied the faces of her friends, and did not see a single look of disagreement among them. "Urthblood says he wants us to get to know his beasts and judge them for ourselves. We shall certainly take him up on his offer ... starting with that fox Machus. Maura, you've already spent some time alone with him. Well, you're going to spend a lot more. You and Machus are about to become inseparable friends ... or at the least, inseparable. I want you by his side his every waking moment that he's within our walls, not just to guard him, but to study him. If there's something rotten about him, he'll slip and let it show sooner or later."

Maura grimaced. Even though she'd found her visit with Machus in the orchard not at all unpleasant, she did not relish the thought of being glued to him like an oarslave aboard a pirate ship.

"You can count on me, Vanessa. I won't let him out of my sight."

"Very good." She turned to her squirrel friend. "Alex, I'm sure you will find your assignment more agreeable than Maura's. Urthblood only has one squirrel in his present army, but she seems an important part of his force. It was, um, rather obvious all through lunch that you've taken quite a shine to Lady Mina, and I'm sure you're hoping to spend a lot of time with her. Well, you will. I don't know if you can capture her fancy as much as she's captured yours, but you'll have plenty of opportunity to find out. Talk to her, Alex, for as many hours as she can stand. Get her to open up to you. Find out everything you can about the Gawtrybe and their real relationship with Lord Urthblood, what conditions are like these days in the Northlands, and her experiences during her service with him. Try your best to stay impartial, however smitten you become, so you can gauge whether she's being truthful. I doubt a squirrel is as likely to lie as a fox, but we must take nothing for granted. Pay close attention to all that she tells you, and be on guard for discrepencies and contradictions in her tales. Also be alert to things she might try to hide or answers that are evasive. Urthblood was less than forthcoming to us about having vermin in his army, and having such a large force so close to Redwall. Perhaps his captains practice such deception as well."

Alexander nodded, although honestly it was difficult for him to believe that any creature as strong and proud - yes, and beautiful - as Lady Mina could be playing them false. "I'll try my best ... and I'm sure I'll have a lot of volunteer help from the other squirrels of the Mossflower Patrol. The males, anyway. But, what about that story she told of the other Alexander and Lady Amber? Do you really think the whole thing could have been made up?"

"I don't know." Vanessa looked to the historian in their midst. "Geoff, you say you don't recall any mention of Amber's son in the early records at all?"

Geoff still clutched at the notes he'd hurriedly made down in Cavern Hole from Mina's tale. "No, it was all new to me. I suppose I could do a more careful search for such details, now that all the early chronicles are out and easily at paw anyway ... "

"If you could, please. Although, if those events really did happen as she told us, she's probably right about nobeast at Redwall making note of it. Your present search for clues to Urthblood's prophecy is your most important task at the moment ... and today's events may even help you. I cannot believe that such a horde as that which has come to us today was not foreseen by one of our ancestors. Look for references to great numbers of beasts coming here, especially vermin and woodlanders together."

"I've been through all the early records most carefully, and I don't recall any such thing." Geoff shrugged. "But, I'll look again. Maybe I missed it, or maybe there will be something about it in one of the later histories I haven't gotten to yet. But you're right: it does give us more to go on than we had."

Vanessa looked to Montybank. "Back to the matters at paw. There are a lot of otters in Urthblood's army outside. Monty, I want you and all of your otters to mingle with your brethren from the north. Nobeasts are more outgoing than otters, and I'm sure an entire squad of them could never hold a secret or keep up a lie for very long ... especially from other otters. Be friendly, and just let them talk as they will. But pay very close attention, just as I told Alex to do with Lady Mina.

"Of course, there is one otter among them in particular who might be able to tell us the most. Cozy up to Warnokur. He's a Redwaller, or at least his son is, and he's only been with Urthblood for a season. His first allegiance will be to us. I doubt he could have been kept in the dark for an entire season with Urthblood's otters; I'm relying on him to tell us if there's anything afoot we should know about. He'll be spending a lot of time with Winokur, Monty, so that will give you a good reason to hang about with both of them, since you've been like a second father to Wink. Find out everything you can, and report to me, Maura or Alex at once if something out of sorts does pop up."

The otter Skipper saluted his Abbess. "Aye, Nessa! Me an' me lads 'n' lasses'll politely twist some flippers 'mongst Urthblood's otters. Won't any secret keep from us while I'm at th' helm! An' I'll knock heads with Warnokur personally. Never been favorites with each other, mind, but I'll make good 'n' shore we get along smooth as hazel brandy this time."

"I'm sure you'll do a fine job." Vanessa nodded toward Foremole. "I guess I hardly have to tell you what your assignment is, Foremole. Urthblood has an entire corps of moles out there. While Monty and his otters are making fast friends with Urthblood's otters, you'll be doing the same with his moles. Just ask them about moleish things - what their place is in Urthblood's army, how their skills are used, the experiences they've had under his command. Make it look like you're simply comparing your own tunneling and building pastimes to theirs, and let come out in their stories whatever may. Show their Foremole around Redwall if you wish; this Abbey was largely built by mole skills, and the mere sight of what we have here should be enough to impress any Northlander who's never seen such a place."

"Yurr hurr, et's roight 'nuff thurr, marm. Oi'll do moi bestest."

Vanessa drew a deep breath. "Which leaves all the scores of rats, stoats, weasels and ferrets. We don't have any of those of our own. But Maura thinks we've been invited to review Urthblood's troops, and I think that's a fine idea. So before any of you set about the tasks I've just given you, let's have a closer look at this army as a whole. Monty, Alex, you'll join me in this. You too, Maura. This will be our rule from now on: nobeast allowed outside the wall unless you're armed and in groups. Lord Urthblood has made a point of showing us several times how he feels our vigilance should be improved. We'll be very vigilant now."

"Do I understand," Geoff asked the Abbess, "that you plan on going out there yourself to meet that army? I don't think that's a very good idea, Nessa."

"I agree," seconded old Abbot Arlyn. "It's too risky."

"How else are we going to find out what we need to know?" Vanessa challenged.

"You're too valuable to risk," Arlyn said. "Let me go in your stead. I was Abbot once, after all, so Urthblood should accept my authority nearly as much as yours. And if anything untoward does occur, well, I can be spared. You cannot."

Vanessa was about to protest, then relented. "Are you sure this is something you're willing to do, Arlyn?"

"I'll have Monty, Maura and Alex to guard me. That should be safeguard enough."

"Aye," the otter nodded, "an' I'll bring Wink along too. He's young, but he can handle a javelin better'n most beasts twice 'is age. Warnokur might lend a paw too, if trouble breaks out."

"And my squirrels will be watching closely from the ramparts," Alex added. "They're very good shots."

"And I'd like to join them too," Highwing chimed in. "I'll be in no danger, since I can fly away at the first sign of trouble. To rally my Sparra, of course," he hastily added, not wanting to look like he was thinking only of his own welfare.

"All right," Vanessa nodded her acceptance. "See if you can seek out the vermin captains first. Between the five of you, you should be able to tell whether they are dangerous and if it would be safe for me to meet them myself. Just be careful, all of you. Keep on your toes. Keep your eyes and ears open. If there is danger at our door, I'd like to know it before any Redwallers come to harm. At the very first sign that those 'honorable vermin' are not what Urthblood says they are, he and his horde will find themselves locked outside our walls and told to move on."

"Easier said than done," Geoff remarked. "I get the feeling that Urthblood doesn't take orders from anybeast, not even the Abbess of Redwall."

"Unless he wants his name to be reviled by every goodbeast in Mossflower, he will honor our wishes," Vanessa said firmly.

"And if he doesn't care whether his name is reviled?" asked Geoff.

"Then let's go find out what kind of badger this is who's come to us. You all know what to do. Let's get to it. And be careful, my friends."


Everybeast filed out of the study, until Vanessa was left alone with Arlyn. Abbess and former Abbot looked at each other across Vanessa's desk.

"I was listening to myself just now," she sighed, "and I can't believe I'm saying such things about a Badger Lord of Salamandastron. A guest of our Abbey, who's come to warn us of a crisis and offer us his help ... "

"Who, as you pointed out yourself, has kept things hidden from us," Arlyn responded. "And who has brought this army here without warning, even after we'd asked him to give us notice so we would have time to prepare. He was talking to a kite of his last night; he must have known how close his force was to Redwall. In fact I'd wager my whiskers that was when he gave the order for them to march on us today. Rather underpawed behavior, if you ask me, and not at all what I'd expect from a Badger Lord."

"He'd just say he was trying to prove a point - that a large army could approach Redwall without us being aware of it. And now he'll want to cut down those trees. Alex will have a fit!"

Arlyn smiled. "I do believe our Alexander is so distracted by Lady Mina that Urthblood could cut down half the trees in Mossflower and that squirrel wouldn't notice! But, Urthblood has given us no choice. His own deeds demand that we treat him with suspicion, at least as long as he has so many armed rats and weasels and foxes outside our gates."

Vanessa sighed deeply. "Whenever Redwall faced an enemy in the past, we knew we were dealing with creatures of pure evil. What are we facing now? I cannot believe a Badger Lord would be our foe, and yet he is not acting fully like a friend either. It is a quandary."

"Perhaps he is neither one," Arlyn said slowly. "Friend or foe, I mean. It's that dire prophecy of his. He's got his own agenda, and he's going to do whatever he will, regardless of what we or anybeast else thinks about him."

"You may be right," Vanessa agreed. "Any creature touched by the powers of fate so strongly as he has been must perhaps follow a path apart from all others. If that is true, I cannot imagine what a lonely and grim existence it must be for him."

"There is that," admitted Arlyn. "It's certain that nobeast has ever done anything at all like he's done ... no creature but a Badger Lord could possibly have pulled it off. Maybe nobeast with evil intent could keep that force together."

"But just because it can be done, doesn't make doing it a good idea. I'm not ready to give Urthblood my sympathies just yet, no matter how cheerless a life he'd led. That's his affair; those vermin and foxes outside are ours, and he's got no right to let them loose in Mossflower if they're bound to do harm." Vanessa gazed searchingly at her mentor. "I'm beginning to have second thoughts about letting all of you go out there. What if something does go wrong? Most of the Abbey leadership would be wiped out."

Arlyn shrugged. "I still think it's better to find out this way than to remain in the dark. You and Geoff will be staying inside, and I couldn't think of better paws in which to leave Redwall. Elmwood is an admirable lieutenant of the Forest Patrol, and would make a formidable commander in Alexander's absence. And don't forget Foremole. Not to mention Friar Hugh, and Sister Aurelia, and Brother Joel ... "

"And young Cyril," Vanessa added with a grin, "our newest Abbey champion!"

"Oh, yes, we mustn't leave him out! So you see, Vanessa, even if the worst should happen out there today, Redwall will still be left with strong leadership. But I'm betting that nothing will happen. If Urthblood had wanted to take this Abbey, he could have done it before now. And if he doesn't, then he'd have no reason to let us come to harm. I do think he sincerely wants to remain in our good graces, whatever his motives might be."

"Even if that's true," said Vanessa, "what of all those vermin? You and the others will be walking right into an army of them. Can they be trusted not to cause you any harm?"

"Urthblood would seem to think so. And if he's really trying to make a good impression with us, I'd guess that it will be woe to anybeast in his forces who so much as musses our fur."

"I hope you're right, Arlyn, my dear old mouse."

"So do I, Vanessa. So do I." The retired Abbot rose gingerly from his chair. "But I won't find out just sitting here, gathering dust. Let's have a close look at these vermin for ourselves. And then we shall see what we shall see."

(To be continued in The Crimson Badger, Book II: Armies)