STARKLITERARIA 

                                                                        By Marilynn Stark          

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

                                   

                                                                                                
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Giant Little

Giant Little Part Two

Catster's War Poem

Political Commentary

On T.S Eliot      

On Shakespeare

On Goethe

On Latin Inspiration  

Miscellany  

On Skiing  

 

     Giant Little: An Adventure

                           By Marilynn Stark (Aunt Marilynn) 

                

 

                  Part One


     This adventure story is  written in the spirit of the traditional fairy tale.  It should be considered to be an adaptation of the fairy tale or a metaphysical fairy tale.   Giant Little: An Adventure is hereby dedicated to my great nephews, Max and JohnStark, and is given with equal love and affection to all of the youths of my family for their enjoyment and edification.  Go to: Table of Contents

 

                                               

                                                            Portrait of Giant Little 

                                                 Click here for full size

                                                 Artist: Marilynn Stark Copyright © 2009

                          P rologue

 

     Not long ago which was before a long time had ever been, there was the person known as Giant Little.  He was neither small nor large, nor was he tall nor not tall.  He certainly was not known for his size as no one really could tell for real just how he fit into things from his own presence nor from how that presence was represented in sheer size.  Now before you skip to conclusions about this little boy as regards his attributes most visible, as if you could yourself ever see him, you must understand that he appeared as was necessary in image proper to the need about him -- about him for sure as you never really knew anything about him, yet you would suppose you knew everything about him whenever he was truly needed in a situation.  His size could be large or tall, little or small, apparent or indispensable.  Indeed, this little Giant Little was always where he was needed and never where he was not.  He should have been named 'Hydroflow' or something similar to that since he was like water.  He was anywhere he was needed so that he seemed to be everywhere even if he was not needed.  If you think you can understand, then you yourself must be that one known as Giant Little, that you must be.  If ever you were to see him in action, then you would know how truly remarkable this boy.  It would be as if only he could understand himself, yet it is said that upon meeting him you could see that he was capable of making you understand him as perfectly as he should understand himself. As concerns his true name beyond the nickname through which the many tales of his adventures resound throughout the land, it is said that he was given the name of Philip.  Now the name Philip comes from the Greek word for horse which of course is known hereunto you as hippos.  If you think that his name Philip is only from that one word, then you are forgetting that Giant Little is your friend in deed, in heroic deed.  In fact so true, the other part of his name is derived from philos, the Greek word for friend.  If ever there were a friend for one who likes to wander as does Giant Little, then the friend for practical purposes should be a horse.  With a horse one can travel all over the countryside and still be home on time.

     One day Giant Little, whose other nickname was Gai, pronounced like it would rhyme with sky, was roaming about the fields and forests in the area where the River Strong resides.  Here among Gai's favorite haunts does the majestic River Strong spread its sounds and even pure visage like a ribbon on the land at certain nethermost places yet seen from the vantage points of knolls and hills which roll and gather the eyes for grace and greenery.  As he was tired, Gai was looking for a place to take a nap.  He found a nice maple tree whose bounteous branches with their gentle rustlings in the wind were lulling the flowers and wheat grass.  The wind had no remarkable sound except as the leaves could detect it, and so he felt that there was plenty of peace and tranquility to further lull him to sleep just under the tree.  There was also plenty of sun left in the day; he dismounted his horse and put it to graze in the grass, seeing how happy and glad was his mighty steed to be out of a day and to stop now for some rest and food with his master.  He patted his horse with affection for the good use and companionship he so liked in him and said softly, "You had better keep your eyes and ears open for me while I go to sleep here.  It is time for my nap.  Thanks be to you, Victory."  Victory just looked at him a little restlessly at first.  Then the stately horse seemed to settle into his next task without much further ado.  As Gai put his head down on his little nap sack to go to sleep under the spacious maple tree, he looked over at Victory.  His fine horse gently neighed and stomped his foot in one little concert of recognition of the nap for Gai. 

     While Gai was going to sleep, he felt a gentle nudge, and he looked out from his eyes so drowsy to see Victory also nudging at his knapsack.  He remembered he had taken along an apple for Victory to eat on their daily journey, and so he sat up and procured the piece of fruit; then the boy hero lovingly gave it to his mighty horse saying,  "There you go, Victory, you of the most fleet of feet among all horses.  You must need this for more energy."  Victory carefully took the apple from the palm of Gai's hand, nodded respectfully, and then backed out from under the maple as if to give his sanction to Gai for escaping now to the world of built-in peace and dreams -- sleep, as it is traditionally called.  He snuggled into the soft grass and laid his head once again on the canvas knapsack for his sleep, wondering if Victory can also dream. 

     Before long the beautiful and clear, sunny day gave way to a sudden wind dominated by a now stormy, gray sky in a fashion also sudden and unbeknownst to the sleeping child under the tree; however, was he a child, you might ask, to take on such momentous tasks as he is said to have performed all throughout the place where he lived by the kingdom known as Pristinia?  Whichever way you wish to regard the wondrous Giant Little of the land nearby Pristinia, whether as child or boy, as young man or ageless hero that he was, would have been, or might still ever be -- whether child hero or of good cause regardless of age -- whichever way you rest your mind, may that be in truth the way he was and will be to you.  When the wind came that day and was soon to turn to storm, that one just named for you in his several attributes and possible range of behavior uncommon to children was sound asleep and oblivious to the wider world about him.  That wider world was turning out to be not so friendly.  Victory adeptly nudged the one he guarded as any faithful horse would so do; Victory's loyalty was obvious since Gai never staked him out to pasture or tied him unless as social tradition might govern in a town, for example.  Victory nudged Gai once again, awakening him and then snorting a warning that there was a rain cloud abroad.  Gai, you might think, was slow to alertness, but there you would in disfavor err towards any laxity in mission.  Gai might sleep on the way; nevertheless, Gai was always ready.  When danger or even the challenge of a storm might bother the tranquil setting which should be likely to prevail as he would wend his way throughout the area to be explored of any given day, Gai was always ready.  Of course there was something most unusual about the wanderings of Gai since he never seemed to miss school, yet he was always talking or thinking about the beatific life of living in 'what is'.  In fact, one of Gai's school friends one day in the library went to an encyclopedia and looked up the country 'what is' only to find that it was not listed.  When he confronted Gai with this fact, Gai stiffened his being a little and sounded out the letters one by one for his friend, " 'W-h-a-t-i-s?'  Did you capitalize the W and the I or just the W and not the I?  Tell me, for it is only the truth through the 'I' in you I in truth do descry."

     Gai's schoolmate was rather taken aback at this, for he thought secretly that Gai might be the son of the head of state of whatever 'what is' is, and he genuinely thought he would be helping him to report a missing country.  He thought over the riddle-like answer from Gai which resembled a question; then, he said nothing.  

     Gai saw this and then remarked, "Nouns are persons, places or things.  'What is' cannot be succinctly described with adjectives, adverbs or nouns.  So how can you make a country out of that?"

     Gai's conversation had its usual lull as his listener became enthralled with the concepts just heard, and then that listener broke the silence with an answer: "Through the presence of people amany who also know 'what is'." 

     Gai beamed and said nobly, "One day I will see the people who know as you know but did not know that you know until I answered your query; forsooth, they will be my charge."  

     His friend, named Secret, said then, "Gai, you will see them?"  

     "Yes, I will see them," Gai answered simply or not so simply.  

     Secret asked, "How will you see them?"  

     Gai quipped, "For who they are as according to 'what is'."  

     Secret asked further, "What will that do?"  

     Gai answered, "It will keep them free.  They will remain free.  To wit, I do aver that they will remain as free as the fortunate ones of whom I know who live in the Liberty Love Forest."

     Secret pondered Gai's overall message that time.  Then, looking down at the floor in deep thought, he lifted his head to remark with a deep understanding of his school friend, "Ah, the people of the Liberty Love Forest.  That is a small state over by the River Strong.  You have mentioned that to me before.  It is a high democracy which you call a beautiful place . . . ."  

     "I call it home in my fondest dreams.  Some day I want to marry and settle there when I get big," Gai interrupted his finest friend Secret.  

     His friend then said in answer to this confession, "I want to go with you when we grow up."

  "Then you must be my friend, my truest friend, and I will lead you there when we grow up," Gai said lovingly.  

     Secret broke down at this show of friendship and answered, "Gai, when you see the people, you mean you lead them, don't you?"  Gai kind of twinkled his eyes in the affirmative and then swung about on his heel, giving the books in his hand a flourish in the new direction and departed for the next hour of the school day without saying anything in answer to Secret.   

 

    

              

            Bo Creek          

           

   Table of Contents : Part One

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

        Table of Contents : Part Two

Chapter 10

Bottom of Page

        Chapter 1      

 

     Now when the gray sky with its own hour of the day dimmed by the loss of light spoke ominously to Gai and to Victory through the voice of its wind that time, it so happened that they were about fifty miles from Liberty Love Forest.  Immediately and much like a soldier, Gai shot up from his soft, earthen, grass-covered bed to attend to the signal of Victory.  They were in action in moments.  Gai knew that this rain was likely to be a short, torrential downpour typical to the current season.  He looked out from under the hood of the quickly donned poncho which he had presciently placed in his saddle pack to see if the weather-telling western sky was at all clear for them on the horizon.  It was clear.  As they galloped deftly across the field, Gai knew that the real urgency was to be ahead -- something he had sensed just as he was mounting his horse.  The wind, the sky, the imminent rain were only signs now, yet they gave motive force to some unfolding mission of which he had had a premonition.  His keen eyes searched the open space for his mentor and teacher, Grandmaster Drona.  Drona taught him warrior arts, martial arts, from an impersonal distance, for that was Gai's level of acuity in the study of truth, in the study of what is real.  This master would always guide Gai, would never fail him, and he showed him the way through the perils and the pitfalls of any mission, mishap or situation whatsoever.  Nowhere was Drona to be seen as Gai moved deftly across the large fields which were bordered by a narrow grove of trees.  Gai in blind faith kept moving; he was called forth through the sense of what he knew was danger.  Many times there were robbers about who were likely to try to steal his horse, for it was a fine black stallion just like a purebred.  Gai's horse was a gift from the wilds to him which Drona had helped him to claim and to tame.  Many had felt an envy of Gai for this horse.  Victory was indispensable to Gai for just this type of mission, and he knew the speed of Victory to be remarkable at times.  So did most know of the speed capabilities of Victory; the good people would study the exploits of Gai accordingly, and they were openly happy that he had been given such a fine consort and transport for his various battles.  Still, as Gai adeptly coursed across the landscape nearby the River Strong, there was no Drona in sight.  Gai thought to himself that once the rain began his range of sight would be limited, so he bravely let go of the idea that he would receive exact direction from his good and wise grandmaster from the physical plane.  Gai then felt the first drops of rain starting, and he goaded Victory to the race.  What race against what remained to be seen, yet it was beyond the rain for certain.  Gai thought to himself as the large but sparse drops began to gain momentum, "I have a feeling that Catster might be there.  I know there is trouble at the River Strong where Bo Creek feeds in.  I will get there on time; otherwise, I would not be going at all."

     Catster is a large cat, a cheetah who is reputed to be able to change form -- usually into a dragon.  Many times Catster will partake in frays with bands of evil men who like to rob  travelers on the roads and who smuggle stolen goods from the neighboring states to one of their many hideouts in the mountains.  Of late Gai has noticed that there is more smuggling going on than robberies, so he suspects that gold and rare gems are the contraband typically to be expected.  The consorts of Gai are not usually people; this is precisely how Giant Little accomplishes the weighty victories he is likely to strike against the thieves and against the badmen.  Catster will outsmart even the most treacherous of the treacherous, those who practice black magic and possess occult powers of remarkable dimension and dark capability.  Gai is humble in a way not often understood by others who observe his prowess in these struggles.  Gai finds his humility in his surrender in an egoless way to the power of the goodness and omniscience of his supernatural mentors and guides.   

     The appointed rain pelted his poncho and challenged his horse's footing but for the muddiness it made as they coursed the green vale.  Before too long Gai saw the turn to make which would lead straight to the River Strong.  The turn was a break in the woods, a break which was about a half mile wide.  The noble boy and his fleet-footed steed, barely even slowed by the rain and its mud, went resolutely towards the opening in the woods.  As they were turning to make entry into the wide passage thus afforded them by the clearing, they saw the sun and coursed straight ahead.  The rain abated almost as quickly as it had arrived, giving ominous presence to the party arriving now upon an obvious breach of civility somewhere near the river; in fact, Gai heard a couple of yelps and knew that a fight of some sort was underway.  He hoped to catch any smuggler he might encounter, confiscate the contraband, and take the smuggler alive to the appropriate authorities in his town.  Then he dismissed that as unlikely since these are some of the most wanted and dangerous samples of bad ilk that anyone could ever imagine could exist.  They terrorize and spread crime and hurt on a fairly regular basis.  They love the area nearby the River Strong where its tributary Bo Creek intersects; that land has been under political contestation for years now.  Thus, what authorities would there ever be to whom Gai could report this trouble once uncovered?  That is exactly why Gai and his noble consorts are even likely to be there at any given time -- it is constantly being anarchized by the unsavory few from various other provincialities in the larger region. Nobody actually knows under which jurisdiction this land should be placed in the regional governing districts.  Therefore, it is difficult to prosecute any bad man who commits a crime there and gets caught; this is as recent history tells.  

     Now the River Strong came into sight.  Gai heard a scream from a girl which made his hair stand on end.  He stiffened his resolve to get there on time and face her plight forthwith.  What if they were doing her harm?  Did they have her captive and in transport to one of their evil enclaves never to be returned to civil life with her parents again?  No, this could not be happening; he said to himself, "I will save her.  I once long ago had a dream about this."  As usual and as he is wont to be, Giant Little was where he was needed, and he was there on time for any task, large or small, which should be his rightful calling.  This would be Giant Little to the rescue. 

     Suddenly, he saw a scene which did not truly surprise him.  Giant Little had expected a battle to save someone taken hostage even before he left his house; he had steeled himself accordingly.  Such prescience had come to him the night before in a vague vision of the battle, a vision which had been calling him forth.  He had only partially recognized it as even believable.  Now the more immediate calling he had felt since the ride in the rain was becoming most real and was right before him.  There was a girl just about his physical age who was in the hostile charge of two bandits.  She was tied at the hands and feet and was held thus captive in the back of a wagon sitting on the trailside.  Apparently, even in the brazen event of the abduction of their fair captive were the kidnappers stopped alongside the river at least to water the horses and have a meal.  Gai saw this all from a certain distance; however, he saw the particulars in his mind's eye more graphically than he could make out an exact image of the hostage, for example.  Such was the awareness of the boy hero of the battle in front of him; this awareness was to give him a working advantage in the now active, indeed, growing confrontation.  

     Gai did not have any intention of breaking his speed as he approached more closely the site.  The two bandits read this and bolted towards their wagon when they heard him galloping towards them and closing the distance; most definitely could the outlaws feel the ferocity of the boy warrior.  They were scrambling for a plan.  All of a sudden, one of them ran to the campsite and grabbed his bow and arrows; needless to say, he was ready to fight any encroacher.  However, do not think for a second that Gai was working alone as he posed his courageous entry into the area where the young maiden was being held against her will.  If you thought Gai was to be alone in this, you would not give notice to the level of intervention necessary to save the girl's life if not Gai's, as well.  These were cutthroat, deadly bandits.

     Gai invited open battle with a detached yet determined, stentorian war cry, "Y-a-a-a-tz!"  Battle was now a given.  Gai himself was amazed at the sound which had emanated from his own throat; never before had he heard such an echoic effect as he had just heard in any of his invitations to battle.  It was as if he had made the outcry from some large cave with the capacity to make sound resonate as well as echo.  This the great Giant Little interpreted to mean that he had a given advantage over the enemy before him, and that he would strike victory.  Such peculiar sound  the boy warrior could only perceive as a direct representation of ultimate truth in battle.  Moreover, Giant Little perceived through this supernormal vocalization that the battle in which he was now engaged would indeed be a pivotal one; he had with prescience been expecting something of this magnitude.  The open invitation to fight which had just issued from his vocal cords gave indication of his much more expansive grasp of the critical nature of the confrontation which was summarily unfolding after long germination. 

      How would he fight?  He would charge -- that was his instantaneously derived strategy because that was his level in fight.  So charge he intended, and the wicked kidnappers sensed this.  They felt it, as well, subsequent to the war cry of Gai whose sheer threat sent transient, weakening thrills through their very muscles.  As Gai's martial arts war cry echoed ominously across the River Strong, it amplified the timely announcement of the boy hero's dire resistance to those mean kidnappers for all of the creatures to hear.  

     Before Gai could reach the exact locus of the crime against freedom in front of him which he was skillfully divining as he went along and just as the bowman was taking up his arrow for aim and target, Catster would come out from his hiding place located in a wooded vantage point right next to the campsite.  After all, hope looked dim for the noble young lad and the young lady in acute distress; Catster was needed and would join in battle.  He was to arrive by an aerial leap  upon the developing scene from his vertical perch in a tree.  Gai was but one person against two, and he carried no weapon; the one bound up in rope had no way to escape if an opening were even made in terms of sheer timing in battle and in the array resultant to its offensive giving.  While Catster remained still as a hidden stalker in the tree branches, Giant Little was charging relentlessly -- that badman sensed that Giant Little was seeking a way to leap upon him from his moving horse.  Catster instead startled the badman just as he was lifting his bow and arrow to take aim at the approaching warrior Giant Little.  Catster made a loud thump-a-jump right onto the back of the archer, felling him summarily to the ground.  After Gai saw this, he finished his entry briefly, he called his horse to a stop, and he leaped to the ground to find physical issue with the other badman who was making tracks to grab his charge and hold her very life hostage at gun point -- as Gai read it.  That sense of his opponent's plan girded Gai to the hilt of defense; thus, he was to strike an open challenge to the timing of such a would-be capture by intercepting it before it could ever happen.  The frightened girl read this in Gai, seeing in Gai's mind that he did not want her to go through that kind of ordeal.  This made her pray for her life itself.  Physically the girl felt so filled with fear that her throat was constricted, her heart was racing, and she was breathing abnormally fast and shallow breaths now.  As she tried heroically to summon more strength for the fray even yet developing around her, she fell back into the horror of not being able to free herself somehow from the ties placed upon her.  The most severely compromised, heretofore helpless hostage finally with the advent of this strange boy on horseback who came out of nowhere found a belief from some mythical plane; with Giant Little's arrival her distraught mind reached upwards for some concept at a level of mythical possibility in her desire to be saved.  It was said in the folklore which grew up around Giant Little that those who were ever saved by him would perceive some intangible thing about him while he was saving them.  This air about Giant Little could only be described as if he should be regarded as otherworldly when in a saving act, or even when in dire action on an overall mission.  Now the unfortunate hostage in life-threatening straits nearby the River Strong perceived even through her state of fear the meaning of what mythical stature Giant Little had occupied in the stories she had heard about him.  Verily, her perception of this small-sized hero gave her courage.  

     She said to herself in desperation, "He will save me.  This is a miracle.  It -- it must be Giant Little.  It is Giant Little.  I know it is Giant Little.  It has to be Giant Little.  They know it is Giant Little.  There is nobody else like him.  He will save me!  Giant Little!  Oh, you great one!  Save me!"  With this prayer for his rescue her breathing steadily calmed down.  She started to recruit her mind now to being brave, yet she could feel the horrible machinations of the remaining criminal as he was madly approaching her; he was bent on her as if his own life depended on it now.  Once again, she began to tremble as he was running towards her to take her into a physically locked target disposition at gun point in the battle.  He fired a shot into the air over his head and then was madly waving his pistol in the air as he ran to get her; he was so much crazed it was terrorizing.  This made her glimpse her own death.  She in a miraculous leap of abstract faith pulled her focus out of that possibility of her death on the strength of seeing Giant Little whom she watched now; she willfully trained her eyes away from the badman so as to call back what courage she had mustered as she watched and believed somehow that Giant Little would win this insane fight.  She had no idea of how some strange cat had intervened and felled one of her captors as it did; instead, she had thought that the boy hero would be the one to save her.  However, her observation of Giant Little was that he had launched this miraculous initiative to somehow rescue her.  She saved her faint faith and hope for freedom through this great intervention on the fact that one of her kidnappers was out cold; indeed, he lay motionless on the ground totally incapacitated.  She now had some chance, at least.  She looked over at the felled criminal motionless on the ground; she registered her eyes upon Giant Little immediately afterwards.  As she was pleading with him in her heart to take action to defend her, she saw what had been the small body of Giant Little subtly loom, or so it appeared to her, into a larger, man-sized form for a fleeting instant.  It was at that moment in battle when Radhita truly glimpsed at the greater power of Giant Little.

     Giant Little in a mere glance had read the desperate pleas and the entire mindset of the fair young maiden.  He sensed to what degree her mind was frozen in fear and how totally threatened was her body in the straits in which he found her.  Giant Little extended the laws of physics just a little bit more than a little as he performed a long-reach flying side kick in the targetting of the evil one who was running over to the wagon to take the young lady into direct and face-to-face hostageship against him in battle.  That brazenfaced villain, armed with both a pistol and a deep enmity for Giant Little, was crazy enough to just use it on the girl; however, Gai's sudden arrival from an unexpected distance of aerial accomplishment is what stopped that rude rouster from ever even touching the young girl at all again.  Gai's flight rivalled the cat's arrival, for certain.  Indeed, a vertical drop is easier in some ways than a running leap for dint of offense.  Furthermore, as the badman was disarmed when thus caught unawares by such a superhuman feat as Gai's surprise flying sidekick, Giant Little watched to see if he would  re-collect himself, grab the pistol back, and rebound from the ground to make further fight now against him.  This boylike master who might be regarded as yet a boy in body alone had made victory in a single blow; thus should Giant Little's battle to free the hostage be told.  Forsooth, he had effectively stripped of gun that awful enemy, yet he had stunned him twice through the strike: once by the target belonging to his flying foot at the extent of the baffling, mighty flying kick and once by the force with which the enemy hit the ground.  There was no time for that kidnapper now, for he had subsequent to hitting the ground lost his consciousness.  

     The element of time in taking the young maiden's freedom by claiming her to captivity's hold had visibly expired for the armed torturers -- such was the abstract observation of Drona who was only a couple of miles further down the intended line of battle.  Drona and two of his masters were engaged in fending off the terrible Durydon, the leader of the two gangsters now being felled.  That terrible Durydon was present in the area and had been steadily encroaching upon the battle scene.  Drona had the divine power to envision a battle in the offing without being physically present at the battle; moreover, he had the divine power to see the constellation of those contending in battle with one another on the field, and he could figure out its very outcome -- presciently, if necessary.  Such was the rare power of Drona.  

     Gai quickly gathered up the maiden in his heart when he mentally secured the opponent as having been knocked unconscious; indeed, he verified that Catster's opponent was still unconscious.  Then he ran over to the distressed young lady and freed her from the ties which constrained her body.  Brave as she was, she let out no tears although her face was livid with all-consuming fear and mild shock.  She did accomplish an immediate surrender to the next phase of escape, however, as she physically and mentally latched onto Gai once he had untied her.  She grabbed his arm when he freed hers, closing her eyes tightly as she fought back her intense emotions.  When she opened her eyes again, she was seemingly disconnected from direct recognition of anything around her or of the situation.  Gai was anxious to make certain that she would be consciously aware enough to make an escape with him on horseback.  Fearing that she might slip into unconsciousness, Gai gently held her face by the chin in his right hand and searched with his own eyes and with all his heart for the light in her eyes to show her cognitive awareness of him somehow.  The young girl was touched most deeply by these efforts of Giant Little; she came around into full and conscious awareness.  She looked at him in partial desperation now and gave a slight nod in recognition of his might;  he saw that.  He beamed in answer a remarkable love at her as he gently patted her shoulder repeatedly to soothe her.  However, that recognition in her of his might told him what to do next.    

     The victorious boy hero simply said to her most evenly, "I will get you out of here.  I will get you out of this.  You will be free.  Ride with me.  Be my princess for now and forever more!"   

     Free now, she summoned up her strength and ran with Giant Little as he took her hand over to Victory.  Catster led the way as they departed the first stage of what was to become an immense battle to save the freedom if not life of a beautiful princess from the neighboring nation-state of Liberty Love Forest.  The evil hordes from the underworld of all of the states around so hated the beatific nation-state of Liberty Love that it was protected by both visible and invisible warriors of weapons and warriors of truth.  Gai was determined to return his princess to her rightful home in due time and that no matter what it might take.   

     Catster is another creature in his own right.  Seeing all of this at that very moment of harried, yea, desperate departure -- the young man on his steed with his immature princess holding tight behind him on the saddle -- Catster let out his resounding barklike calls to be heard for miles around and over the wide waters of the River Strong where the sounds carried and carried.  It was as if Catster were compelled to announce the urgent departure of the callow youths in order to summon forth support for their success in the momentous event now underway.  Every existing creature in the region knew the meaning of this cavernous, catlike voice announcing the bitter battle which had enveloped the spirit about the place; this was not the first battle Catster and Giant Little had conducted in the area.  When Catster let out a second, high-pitched sound more like a squeal, it was taken by all who heard it as a sign that battle had broken but that all in the area should be aware that they should be on the alert for further trouble.  Silence then fell like its own waiting army over all the vicinity and its surround.  It was as if all the creatures in the most far-reaching radius of distance would hide their knowledge in case the battle were to spread and cause others to enter the region in search of further contention.  Silence also can confront as mightily as can the most awesome army itself.  Silence unnerves the enemy to good; it is the haven of inner peace of the self for the noble and the good who are warriors of truth.  Woe unto an enemy to good who faces that wellspring of peace of the self in the noble heart wherein resides all the shroud of self-defense; when passive stance of a respecting noble heart is broken, indeed, determined and dire action may in some instances take over.  This can be most terrible in its power to vanquish the destructive intent of evil.   

     Thus were many creatures drawn into the fight as Giant Little and Catster made way out of and beyond the now transient encampment of the villains at the Bo Creek inlet and River Strong intersection; the heroic Giant Little was now miraculously extricating the captive from the horrible villains.  Those creatures: the birds, the frogs, the squirrels, the deer and the many vociferous crickets and other insects made expectant the very air about the place with their respectful silence.  Villains are wont to work in bands together; it would not be long before further and more challenging objection would be made as against this heroic deliverance to safety of the young and hitherto helpless princess.  Of this you can be certain: that dire and further objection to the bold flight of that fast-fleeing foursome would be made before too long.

     There was no time for talk between Gai and his beautiful princess Radhita.  He and his now physical guide Catster had to make time in order to retain their unexpected vantage over the enemy to Radhita's freedom and life.  As Gai gained a sense for the current success and progress in the battle before him, he began to imagine even speaking with her -- to actually talk with her conversationally so as to become acquainted with her.  He had heard of her and considered her to be a princess although he had never before met her.  She was the daughter of the head of state of Liberty Love Forest.  He turned his mind back to the escape; he realized that there would be just so much time before his first victory in rescuing her would be discovered by the fellow badmen of those whom he had just vanquished with Catster.  His mighty steed Victory never had traveled faster.  As Victory galloped and sped ever onwards tirelessly, Gai directed him to avoid the beaten roads, taking certain narrower pathways of which he knew; Gai was bent on such sudden mission -- to find and to divine the safest way back to Radhita's parents in Liberty Love Forest.  This was to be a distance of several miles; Gai estimated that distance to be about fifty miles.  It might have to be approached in a highly indirect route in order to give improbable place to any encroachments by the enemy to their journey.  This was to be their dynamic and desperate escape with Catster in the lead.  Catster comes from the fastest animal species on land, the cheetah.  The fact that Gai's stallion could keep up with Catster was Gai's measuring rod in any battle he entered where he used his horse; indeed, that horse's speed gave Gai greater courage in any situation of urgency.  Gai was always meeting situations of an urgent nature; as if he were born to do so, Giant Little thrived on defending good against evil.  In order for his horse to travel at the speed of the cheetah, however, the cheetah was most likely to be present in all such situations.  Of this you can be assured.  Furthermore, there was no other horse ever heard of or known about who could run as fast as Gai's horse Victory and keep up with a cheetah. 

     Radhita was not visibly injured; that Gai knew.  She held fast and seemed much calmer now to Gai.  As they slowed down to gain a turn at a small intersection on the back trails of the land further on past Bo Creek, Gai took the moment to turn towards Radhita.  He caught  glimpse of her out of the corner of his eye.  She was almost in shock as he observed, but she was melting into the recognition that deliverance had finally arrived for her.  She started to smile, but she then expressed more fear of what would lie ahead for them.  Then all at once she cried out, "Take me home to my mother and father!" much as if she were asking for some impossible thing which was something far beyond reach.  

     Radhita's tangentially given plea sent shivers through the skin of Gai's arms and legs and made the hairs stand on end; he saw how hopelessly lost and mercilessly taken over she had felt as hostage to such a wicked ilk.  Gai did not answer Radhita's cry for help immediately as he continued maneuvering on the trail and goading on his noble-looking steed; instead, he was integrating more deeply into his mind and heart the sound of her soulful plea for safety and freedom as she issued it in the midst of the feat he was performing in this immediate rescue of her.  Gai's entire body sent its power and blessing to this most innocent victim of a horrible kidnapping who was now in his own command as one liberated from her captors.  

     Gai and his prize Radhita began now to course quickly and adeptly across a straightaway which came up before them.  This section of their route was virtually roofed by the most luxurious overhanging boughs of majestic trees which lined the well-worn pathway; these protective trees gave the freedom-bent flight of the two youths the aura of vital shelter and visual cover from all sides.  Gai's head lifted slightly to the stiffening of his neck as he bore on ever more bravely.  "Victory and I will get you there," he then shouted over his right shoulder with a slight turn of his head.  "Victory is fast," he encouraged her, nodding briefly upon his word to her.  Radhita thought for a second and realized that the horse which was delivering them must be called Victory.  She hugged Gai but a little tenuously at this promise.  Gai then steeled his nerves all the more for his heroic quest and its success to save the life and freedom of Radhita; in fact, he knew her to be the daughter of a very important wise man from the beatifically democratic state of Liberty Love Forest.  Gai had always loved his neighboring country.  He shifted the reins of the horse to his left hand while he turned his right shoulder back to her slightly, making a powerful fist and holding it while clenching it ever more resolutely in the air throughout a couple of Victory's gallops so that she could see.  Radhita distantly recognized at this show of defense by Giant Little that he would be the one and the only one who would understand how to save her and save her forever more.  Her eyes issued forth two tears; indeed, she bravely fought them back as she had just now at least vaguely glimpsed at Gai's recognition of her dire situation.  She started to dry her tears with her hand once she had succeeded at not giving in to more of them; then, she instead started to dry them against Gai's back so that she would not have to let go of him as they roughed down the lane together on Victory's back.  Gai still was wearing his waterproof poncho since there had been no time to remove it once the portentous rain had stopped.  When he sensed Radhita's dilemma over the drying of her tears on his back, Gai reached into his pocket, procured a white handkerchief for her, and handed it back to her.  At this show of all-knowing care for her, the young maiden was most astonished and even more deeply consoled.  She used the handkerchief to dry her two tears with a newly realized gratitude for the unfolding event of the great rescue she was experiencing and accepting ever more in her frightened state and in her beleaguered young heart; then, she tucked the handkerchief back into Gai's right poncho pocket for safekeeping, feeling somehow closer to her hero than she had ever felt before.  Radhita reached within herself now for more courage in her changing plight.  She looked all about her so as to adjust to the terrain of their journey as much as to its event.  Radhita looked upward and could see small patches of the blue sky through the multivariate, shining facets of the rich green leaves of the forest trees twittering in the breezes as if twinkling good omen to the fleers.  She thought of home.  For the first time now she had hope.  Indeed, hope that she could ever be with her parents and people after all had just dawned in her mind past its deep, unexpected embattlement.

                

  

         Chapter 2   

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     Gai and Catster were approaching a major intersection of the trails in the thick woods standing all about them through which they barreled in haste.  The immediate life-death reaction felt by both Giant Little and Radhita had calmed down now; however, there was maintained a certain sense of urgency in the unfolding escape which motivated great speed.  Indeed, Catster was in the lead and was streaming heroically through the forest in tandem with Victory.  Gai knew these trails well since one of them connected over to a pond close by the River Strong where he liked to swim.  He skillfully guided Victory along knowing where Catster was most likely to be leading them.  

     After they were far enough from the battle scene, Catster gave a brief survey up and down the trails and then slowed to a near stop.  As he was also slowing to a stop, Gai sensed a change; he sensed a major change in the prospects before them for security.   Catster did an about-face and walked over towards Gai and Radhita on the trail.  Catster tended to Radhita momentarily, and what Radhita saw astonished her.  She looked into the cat's large eyes.  There in the eyes of this remarkable cat she found a wellspring of knowingness and a kind of love suffused with compassion.  Observing this, Gai felt warmed and glad of the exchange between the two since he realized that Radhita's faith and courage would be vital to the mission underway.  Catster was Gai's consort --  his unfailing guide in all urgencies of mission.  

     Victory had been galloping now for almost an hour.  The unsteady terrain and many turns in the trails made the going even more demanding than the sheer speed or even length of journey.  There was a brook by the side of the trail whose gurgling sounds seemed to be inviting the well-taxed horse over to its bank.  The mighty horse looked over at the brook momentarily, but he nodded his head in the negative to signal Gai and Catster that he did not want to take up valuable time for a drink of water at the brook.

 

     Gai now looked to Catster for ideas; finally, he broke the silence and spoke with a sense of urgency yet elevated trust to the wondrous creature: "Catster, I sense that it is time for us to take shelter from the night.  It is early sunset, and I think that the princess whom we have saved thus far should have some rest and food after her ordeal.  Victory knows.  My horse also knows that we might not have much time here; trouble could once again strike at us."       &n Photo by M. Stark © 2006 All Rights Reserved

   

  "Hmmh," Catster deliberated with a considerate mind.  He searched the area for any sign of an encroaching enemy perfunctorily yet carefully as he seemed to know that the immediate area was actually clear for the time being. 

     "Tell me," Giant Little continued,  "should we press on and take the night by distance, or would we be safe in this area until the rising of the sun?  Tell me -- the journey ahead to Liberty Love Forest is certain to be long and convoluted.  She needs rest.  Our embattled princess needs rest."

     Catster glanced briefly down the trail they were about to follow and then turned his head gently to one side and said, "Let us give the gentle princess some rest nearby here."  He righted his head, looked over at Radhita with compassionate regard, and then nodded his head slightly.  Radhita read a certain nobility in this marvelous cat; indeed, she almost wished in passing that he could have been a human being instead.  

     Catster saw this in her and then continued with an even more understanding mind saying,  "We can set up a useful campsite over by the nice pond.  We will keep her there as safe as can be for the night.  When the sun returns on the morrow, its golden promise will assuredly be given us.  May the smiling sun of the new morrow bless again our great journey back to her parents and to her just freedom, so that she will know no more of sorrow and steep travail."  Catster spoke with the softest heart and warmest concepts he could muster so as to let the young girl find herself in her new status with her new-found heroes.  He watched her face for her reaction to his compassionate concepts; they were indeed concepts well chosen to calm her and to console her if even by poetry.

     Radhita heard the honey-sweet love of the divine creature before her in every word he uttered and was astonished to know the power and presence of this messenger of freedom, this hero in fight and flight.  Her eyes were blinking repeatedly after what she had just heard regarding her need for rest and security.  She remembered fleetingly now the amazing battle cries with which Catster had signaled their desperate departure from the kidnappers just after Gai had  rescued her from bondage.  His speaking voice she was now hearing was of great contrast to his animal-calling voice.  How greatly calmed she was by this, and she kept silent in wonderment at what was unfolding before her as Catster revealed his soft inner nature to her.  This all to her was a profound message of hope, insooth.  Keeping her eyes steadily upon the unusual feline creature before her, the young princess switched her seat in the saddle slightly; as she placed her hands on her knees, she lifted up both shoulders and awaited the next words of the great Catster.  This gesture completed itself as an inadvertent shrug when Catster remained quiet.  He in turn seemed to be assessing the entire situation the foursome faced.    

     Gai was now twisting his body and head as they sat in the saddle so that he could see her out of the corner of his eye.  "You have no fear, my lovely princess," he said nobly.  "Catster and I will not fail you.  The worst is over.  Let us make camp and give you food and rest.  We will build a campfire.  The pond is just minutes away.  You are safe now for the time being.  You know you are safe with us.  We will guard you and keep you beyond --  you will be beyond all danger and harm.  No one will be able to harm you when you are safe within our hold.  Now you are safe and within our hold.  Know that, my dear one, my dear, beautiful princess."  

     As these words seemingly delivered her to a new hope, a brand new beginning, a total reversal of the terror and endless struggle she had known while in the sordid charge of the two dangerous, armed kidnappers, Radhita was beginning to see the light; still, she started to choke up briefly.  Then she caught herself.  Her fears and her regard for the power of the unknown were vanishing from her mind as she understood now the actual deliverance she was experiencing.  She stiffened in her seat a little and started to want to express her inmost sentiments.  However, she quickly thought better of that idea; instead of praising her bold and courageous rescuers, she claimed her own courage to them as if she wanted to more fully join them and know them.  "Catster -- and are you Philip Latel -- Giant Little?" Radhita respectfully queried.

     Giant Little answered with dispatch, for the lovely maiden had spoken at last.  He was barely mindful that she knew his name.  "Yes, and you must be Radhita?"   

     "That is I.  Oh, did you hear the yelps through the forest as you were approaching the place where we were briefly encamped this afternoon?"

     Catster looked knowingly at Gai and bowed his head to Gai politely in deference to his awaited answer of her question.  Gai saw this and turned now a quarter of a seat in the saddle towards Radhita.  His mind seemed to look beyond the exact question while at the same he was considerate of that question with the utmost concern.  "Yes," Gai said.

     "Well, those yelps are because I attacked one of those horrible scoundrels from whom you rescued me with a kick in self-defense.  They were going to deny me a meal.  I struck in a non-vital place to cause pain, but it worked," the noble young lady proclaimed with sincerity.  In addition, a certain sense of success was communicated to the more advanced warriors in whose presence she now clearly was beginning to thrive.

     "You would have been justified to have done away with them," Gai said with a deep conviction of mind as if he wanted to advise Radhita so as to console her past the facts of the battle she had just known.  "Then you are a student also of the martial arts?" he asked politely.

     "Oh, yes.  Father says I must learn the art of self-defense since we live close to danger at times," Radhita said.  As she spoke this truth now to Gai, she reflected upon how useful had been her father's advisory.  "However, I never, never saw such an awesome, great feat as your single sidekick with which you flew at that criminal who was coming to get me worse than ever," Radhita said in a tone which communicated her wonderment at what Giant Little had accomplished in her defense.

     Catster broke in here to urge the party on to make camp for the night.  They set forth in the quietude of the bucolic surround, not hurried now as before, and within a little while they reached the pond.   Radhita was introduced to the most beautiful pond she could have imagined, yet her brave heroes knew the place well.  She marveled at the peaceful repose shining before her eyes with the red setting sun just yet visible over the trees, the fragrant blossoms of early summer lending a sweetness to the air, and the majestic pine boughs gracing the edge of the side of the pond further to their countenance.  In a sudden breath of awe, the young lady remarked, "Oh, my brave and good deliverers, this is truly a magnificent sight to behold.  How perfectly calm the water, and how charming to me the cradle of wonder it makes for my battle-stricken eyes.  What is the name of this lovely pond, pray tell?"   

     Catster answered softly, "This is known as Strong Pond since it feeds from the springs not far from the River Strong.  You will take your comfort here for the night.  We will let no harm befall you.  We will guard you."

     Gai and Radhita were dismounted from the well-exercised horse who was busily drinking from Strong Pond.  Gai looked at Victory and declared to Catster, "I want to see about procuring a chariot from the temple which neighbors this area, so that Radhita can ride in greater comfort, Catster."

     "I think that is a great idea.  We can take a slight detour out of here in the morning and see about that for her.  The trails should be able to accommodate a small chariot.  If need be, we could always abandon it in case we had to choose a more remarkable and more clandestine route," Catster observed with no hesitancy.

     "Do you see that path over by large rock, which disappears into the thicket, Radhita?  Not far in there is a small building which is used for the swimmers who visit here from the surrounding towns and villages.  I will give you my bedroll, and you can take rest in the shelter of that facility.  There is a place for you this night even despite all the troubles you have seen.  For how long had you been confiscated?"

     "It seems like it has been forever.  Now I am given courage and relief in sight through the miraculous prowess of you and Catster and your beautiful horse.  I am so grateful to you, Philip.  I feel like I have always known you -- oh, your question," Radhita answered in earnest.

     As she began to review the event of the kidnapping briefly in her mind, her desire was to carry out her duty and answer Gai, yet she did not want to remember it too much.  She looked around the heavenly place so newly introduced to her battered senses, and she decided to respectfully answer her hero despite the pain from the crime which dwelled in her heart; bravely then, Radhita focused on the question which had been put to her: " I had been confiscated in the early morning of three days ago, I think, so that I had been two nights with the kidnappers en route, largely, to where you found me.  I do not know this area the way you and Catster do, so I cannot really say precisely where we had been.  Sometimes we steadily traveled; sometimes we would then hide.  They hid me not far from home for the morning of the first day; then when scouts said that the way should be clear, that father had not sent out any sentinels looking for me, they set out to take me deeper into captivity."

     "I never thought I would see freedom again at times," Radhita continued.  "I would pray fervently for a miracle since I knew it would be only a miracle which could intervene and save me.  Philip, I owe my life to you!  I am afraid that they might have killed me in the fray if you and Catster had been less brilliant.  They might have killed me anyway.  I am eternally indebted to you for your heroic power, to both of you.  You seem so well-trained and experienced in this matter, this further escape.  I had heard stories about you.  Now I know you are for real," the shy maiden spoke at length.

     "Do not concern yourself further with what has just happened to you, my Radhita.  For I will rescue you now and for always," Giant Little said as he fell by her feet on his knees, clasping his hands tightly together and looking up in totally inspired love for his beleaguered charge.  He watched her lovingly as she avoided eye contact at first; then softly did she put out her hand to him as she searched his eyes for the reality with which he had just presented her.

     "I am so sorry this terrible thing ever happened to you," Giant Little said so compassionately as he took her hand and held it with reverence and spoke his full heart to her.  "Those wicked men have no other perspective in life than to commit crimes and bring their evil upon others.  I am a genius at fighting them.  But now I know that all of my strife for the side of good was for this mission alone, to save you, Radhita.  I do not want anything like this ever to happen to you again.  I will make sure it does not.  Marry me when time allows.  I will be your devoted husband and provide you with my love and with my protection.  Please do not fret.  We will successfully escape those bandits, those reprehensible reprobates who just tried to commandeer your freedom.  Commandeer your freedom they will not."

     Radhita was seemingly spellbound by this show of devotion and assurance of security for now and forever more.  She went into a stare into the distance briefly as if remembering her recent despair and then came back to Giant Little's eyes where she searched for belonging and further rescue.  She quietly said, "Save me."

     Giant Little stood up at this behest, took both her hands into his, and quietly said with all his heart, "I will."

                  

    Radhita smiled, a new light came over her face, and she said, "I never knew there would be a young man like you who would come into my life and become my hero like this.  How can this be?  I could barely sleep I was so afraid, Gai.  I thought my father would never get to me ever, ever again since he is the Prime Minister, and these parts are filled with rebels and outlaws, extremely uncivil people who answer to no governing state, it seems.  I knew that this is where they would take me.  Gai, I thought my life was over.  God has given me you to counterbalance what ordeal I have just come through.  I feel I cannot live without you.  You are everything to me."

     Gai took in what she said; then he caught hold of the larger moment before them and circled back to it.  In a mighty show of courage and firm resolve, he gently let go of her hands and moved quickly across the ground to a vantage point a few feet from the edge of Strong Pond.  He eyed the corner of the pond which was slightly curved, but quite square.  Then he let out a war cry, took off on his feet so fleet for a few brief running steps and became aerial.  He soared as if magically through the air and over the water in full and glorious sidekick form with both fists drawn and a peaceful look on his face.  Radhita's eyes were widened to see the wondrous lad incited so remarkably and with no warning to such a show of intended fight for her.  Giant Little went with great force into the side of a pine tree whose girth seemed in Radhita's mind to have been designed by the Creator to receive his heroic blow, his miraculous left-footed sidekick. 

     No sooner than Giant Little had signaled his virtuous maiden in intended battle for her freedom did the great Catster answer with his own feat, as well.  Suddenly Radhita felt a whirlwind move past her feet from behind her where Catster for his part had been quietly witnessing the formation of a very young couple towards marriage.  With the greatest alacrity imaginable, as if he had special knowledge of the inner secrets of speed unknown to any other creature anywhere, he was so fast, that magical cheetah took off across the ground in a scurry beyond a scurry.  He ran up the side of the tree which had just been inaugurated in battle by his consort Giant Little.  Radhita drew in her breath in utter amazement, for he was not a human being like the other remarkable being whom she was getting to know in conditions dire to safety and normalcy of venue, conditions otherwise known as battle.  Catster did not stop there.  He first scaled the side of the generously branched tree, and then he coursed its lowest limb until it began to bounce with his footsteps; he began to test the camber of the wood of the branch as he kept building up force in the bouncing so as to put more and more of his body weight into the springing.  All of a sudden, Catster proclaimed a howl, a growl and a hiss followed by several chirps before he bounced but three last times on the branch.  With these three last bounces the noble cat effected what was to become a take off as he skillfully made a crescendo in momentum with each bounce.  He then was ejected as if magically, and that Catster just flew majestically from the branch of the tree across the velvety water of the beatific pond where Gai had once accomplished his flying sidekick.  He landed precisely where Gai had begun his maneuver and proceeded to course around the entire  perimeter of Strong Pond at a speed unimaginable to anyone except one who could be there to witness it.  After completing one full circle of the pond, Catster reeled to a stop, skidding almost into the feet of Victory.  Victory neighed a little in response; then, he tossed his head back and snorted loudly.  His eyes became spirited.  He gently walked over to Radhita who stood in amazement at the steady show of battle-readiness she was about to witness also at this time through Victory.  She knew not  what to expect from Victory.  Dusk brushed the air now and ushered in a cool breeze across the still water of Strong Pond causing little ripples which had momentarily caught Radhita's notice; she saw peace in the midst of conflict through the quiet message of those ripples in the pond.  Now Victory stood before Radhita, and he proceeded to display the most regal respect for her as he first bowed his head and then knelt down on his front legs.  His head bobbed a couple of times as he whinnied a knowing whinny; following this, he regained his feet only to then rear up on his back legs.  His whinny as he reared and flung his hoofs in the air was loud and foreboding, for it was his own battle cry.  

     Radhita read this horse as he thus gave her his pledge.  She felt assured and deeply consoled.  She knew that her journey was to be secure and well-blessed through the dedication of this remarkable horse of whom she had heard tell through the reports about Giant Little's exploits her father and his ministers would receive at times.  

     Once Victory was recovered to his usual stance, Radhita felt a sudden wind of high-spirited inspiration go through her; indeed, there arose within Radhita an answer to all that she had seen as an offering to her in what promised to become an immense battle for her freedom.  She could no longer stand by as an observer.  Suddenly, Radhita reeled around in a full about-face and bowed to her noble, courageous cohorts a full bow with two made fists clenching tightly -- more tightly than she had ever known them to be.  As she righted herself again from the bow, she did another about-face which left her facing the pond.  She assumed a back stance with her two fists held before her to symbolize the readiness to fight; indeed, this dawning feminine warrior seemed bound to the ground in a powerfully appointed fighting stance.  Radhita concentrated avidly on what was in front of her.  Then, fully centered, she openly mobilized; after five or six graceful running steps, she executed a perfectly focused flying front kick high into the air.  She landed with just enough room at the pond's edge to alight briefly and then spring into a dive into the pond; Radhita swam at full speed a powerful and fast front crawl the entire length of Strong Pond.  What a beautiful swimmer had now graced this popular swimming place.  Radhita executed a perfected stroke relentlessly as the party of heroes with her at Strong Pond stood spellbound watching  her.  Never had she known such a feeling of perfection as she felt her body rotating from side-to-center through the water along a precise bodily axis into which all of her energy had burst in maximum power and efficiency.  Her arms were grabbing for each next entry into the water to catch it with her chambered hands, cupped and angled maximally throughout each pull of the water while her powerful flutter kicks worked vigorously beneath the surface as she swam.  Her breathing empowered such a divinely inspired crawl that this world could never tell even upon direct witness.  

     This was the as of yet untapped talent of the brave Radhita Roundhouse of Liberty Love answering the call to self-defense.  It was a totally inspired feat of athletic prowess, and when she finished, she had time to think, "This must be what battle really is."  

    Giant Little began to clap his hands as she climbed out of the pond through the rocks on the other side, and Victory, hoofing the ground where he stood, was neighing and snorting.  Radhita bowed once again a full bow though at a distance across the still pond to her noble cohorts; she was herself astonished at what she had just done.  She was clamoring for air, so winded by her sudden feat and so filled with ecstasy she was.  She had found her own, and she knew it.  With energy from what little food her kidnappers had meted out to her during battle had Radhita just summoned all of her strength and abilities in answering the stupendous cohorts who were now valiantly calling the battle; having seen at this beatific pond-side the hearts of her heroes fully prepared to defend her and to save her further, Radhita had just willfully joined them.  This she knew.  As she ran back to her band of rescuers, she felt exorcised of the evil with which her life had been suddenly enveloped by those mean ones.  With her body and blonde hair dripping wet, she stood close by the small party of her heroes and reveled in how she had just equaled them in like spirit by greeting Strong Pond with her might as swimmer.  At this aquatic feat, this show of Radhita's great spirit, Catster beamed with satisfaction.  Before disappearing into the woods, he looked thoughtfully towards Radhita who was wrapped comfortably in Gai's towel .  So began the next phase of battle for the life and freedom of the noble princess.  It was almost dark. 

   

 

      Chapter3

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    Gai was huddled beneath a bush and asleep during the wee hours of the morning when he awoke and felt the silence in the surround.  He immediately checked mentally on his maiden in the small building close by his guard position, the public changing station for swimmers and picnickers at Strong Pond.  She seemed to be at total rest, and there was no activity in the adjacent woods.  Then he heard the switching of a twig a few feet from his place, and immediately he knew this to be his commander, Drona.  He stayed still and waited for instructions and possible strategies for the full extrication of Radhita from the pull now of those remaining outlaws; certainly, those miscreants were bound to pursue their short-lived victory in kidnapping her until she was safe once again in her own country and with her parents.  Both Gai and Drona were keenly aware that the daughter of the Prime Minister of Liberty Love Forest would be the prize of any underworld regime.  Drona began to instruct his student as to the fuller implications of this battle to return her safely to her home and to freedom once again.  

     Drona briefed Gai through their communion on the status of the battle.  It seems that about two miles from where the scuffle had been near the inlet of Bo Creek there had been further battle with the kidnappers.  They had regained consciousness and had tried to stage a pursuit of Gai and Radhita; instead, they had met Drona and one of his masters in further active battle.  Drona assured Gai that these kidnappers would no longer be able to contend ever again.  This deeply relieved and consoled the noble boy.  Drona further impressed upon Gai the vital need for Radhita's safe deliverance back to her home state of Liberty Love Forest since, if she were not fully rescued soon, there would likely be even greater civic unrest in the state of Bohemia.  As it was now analyzed widely, Bohemia retained a certain semblance of its former stature; due to marked corruption and gangsterism in the official government ranks, anarchy and uprisings among the people were widespread.  Gai knew Bohemia well since his home was located on the outskirts of a town in Bohemia which was vying to become part of Pristinia, a neighboring state.  Gai's family was leading in the politics over this strife, so that he was well aware of the prominence of the battle for the hand in marriage he now sought. 

     After hearing of the report thus far on their journey to restore Radhita to her father and mother, Gai was instructed by Drona to sleep some more for the next day's work.  He felt at once deeply relieved and concerned for what would be ahead in saving Radhita fully, yet he was well-steeled by the guidance and omniscience, as well as prescience, of his revered grandmaster.  Tomorrow would bring to him the fruition of his current understanding of the situation in which he contended from a firm seat of discriminatory vision.  He was bound to be challenged by those whose minds were convicted of evil.  He remembered the way Radhita had given him her hand when he offered to marry her, and how softly she had said, "Save me."  He left the world of intense conscious endeavor thinking of her and of the joy of his recent marriage proposal to her; his mind smiling, he fell asleep as one happy young lad. 

     Dawn came slowly at Strong Pond.  As the lovely pond reflected the light of the sun with its own added artistic message, the two youths were suspended in the restful repose offered them by the work of Mother Nature's wondrous hand of harmony and bounteous beauty   They were suspended as if enshrouded in a beautiful place where quietude prevailed; it was a place where devotees of nature traditionally gathered for food and sport.  Strong Pond seemed to be in a timeless glade separate from all the concerns of the wider world.  Such a sense of separateness of this little gem in the woods had always held true for Gai in his several visits here to swim.  As the birds began their sonorous greetings at the first light of day, Gai was up and awaiting his companions by the water's edge.  Grateful that his prescience had caused him to pack a generous amount of food supplies, he had built a fire and was cooking for Radhita.  Gai was anxious to see his new friend and to share with her his recent perspective for their travail together.  He was most grateful for what was about to unfold for them.  Gently he reflected to himself, "The battle is the gift."  

     He heard a soft footstep not far, and, thinking it was Radhita, he turned to greet her.  Much to his surprise there was no one there.  He searched for the cause of the noise.  He saw light, divine light, it seemed, much like a mist reach over the pond from the shore like a giant, looming shaft.  With this light came a sense of warmth and lovingness, a deep compassion which he took to be God.  Before long the almost transparent image of a fairy appeared to him and steadily took more solid appearance and form as she moved back over and then onto the land not many feet from Gai.  Call this being a fairy, call it an angel, it was the most appeasing messenger to Gai for all he had seen and heard in the past several hours of battle.  Just by her presence, she gently offered love and wisdom to the one she visited that day.  Gai understood the message that she intended -- that he would succeed in delivering his noble princess to her home -- and he was greatly steeled by this messenger from on-high.  As the light of this supernatural being began to twinkle into nothingness once again, Gai was peacefully watching and still reveling in the visit.  When he realized that the visitor was departing, he saw that she had left behind a shining white packet of food supplies.  This was at once surprising and puzzling to Gai as he had just been reflecting on the fact that he felt he had packed enough food for the journey ahead, certainly until they reached the temple where he would try to borrow a cart or chariot for the journey.  Before he went over to inspect the food, he began to take a deeper message in the divine visitation.  For it seemed to him that a longer period of time would transpire than that which he had estimated would be required for the journey to Liberty Love Forest, or else the fairy godmother would not have delivered him more provisions.  He quietly prayed for the journey and felt gladdened by the miraculous food he had just received.  It gave him courage and deeper insight into the battle, therefore.  As he picked up the package and examined it, he saw that it was rice and cereal.  There was also condensed milk and some cheese.  This gift of food from ethereal source was gilded in Gai's mind; so embraved was he for the tasks ahead by it.  Deciding not to mention to Radhita how they had arrived, he quietly took the new supplies over to the fireside.  He would let time take care of that, for he did not wish to involve her in explanation or undue conversations regarding the nature of reality and of what is.  Gai did not want to unsettle Radhita's mind with the story of a miracle at this point in the battle.  He began to plan the second meal of the day in his mind from the newly delivered provisions, and this idea made him smile and revel in the moment at hand.  He might offer her both cereal and rice with some of the dried beans he had packed for his original outing.

     The light of dawn was steadily waxing, and Gai began to think over a change in plans for the time ahead with Radhita.  He was deeply moved by the delivery of food from on high and began to suspect that it  might be a divine sign that it would behoove them to remain longer at Strong Pond.  He searched momentarily for an answer to this possibility.  As he mulled over the advantages to a delay in the journey, so as to give Radhita time to recover from her strange ordeal in the kidnapping event, he remembered her statement at first seeing the bucolic wonder of the pond.  How Strong Pond had immediately and deeply consoled her affected Giant Little's decision-making process.  As he was about to defer his decision until consulting Radhita, Drona appeared briefly to him as a passing figure at a point not far in the forest where he was jogging by.  He looked over at Giant Little and sent him the message telepathically to stay for two days before departing.  Gai registered the instruction with no effort and then asked why in terms of the external array, possibly, of any enemy encroachers.  Drona answered that in the true spirit of battle it was best to use the journey in order to draw some of the primary underworld figures forth into fight.  This would cause there to be a more complete victory towards the side of good and might serve to uplift the anarchized state of Bohemia in the more general sense.  Drona said that timing in battle is everything and that there is no match for knowledge of when to pose mobilizing.  Gai then asked if Drona was setting up a false strategy based upon two days' duration until departure, so that the enemy would read it; this ruse would allow an element then of surprise with a one-day or three-day departure instead.  Drona replied that this was not a false plan he was presenting to Gai in order to create a decoy in the timing.  Gai, saying that the ethereal source of food was at once beneficent and baffling to him, worked further to bleed the mind of battle through Drona.  This all seemed to indicate a longer time until final victory would be at hand.  Drona assured Gai that nothing could go wrong, that security only was the ultimate measure, and that time and timing in battle could only serve security in perfect measure as long as the knowing mind of readiness for battle prevailed.  The callow mind of Giant Little as a contender now for marriage was endearing to the ancient grandmaster, and he summed up all doubts and questions with the simple observation that his marriage proposal to Radhita would save her from the dangerous precedent which had just been set by the kidnapping she had undergone.  Drona pledged to Gai his ultimate success in marrying her and remarked further that all three nation-states would be greatly uplifted by such a hand in marriage.  Gai sighed his impatience to mobilize at that deeper call to battle in the abstract sense of vying to marry now; nonetheless, he also thought of consoling Radhita with a short stay at the bucolic scene before him.  How profoundly moved this young worker of wonders to begin with, and further, he now was actually seeing the path to manhood and marriage as forming in real actions and deeds in the world about him.  Giant Little bolted up onto his two feet and began his physical training exercises with Drona directing.  

      "This is it," he thought to himself; this is all that he ever lived or fought for in one nugget of almost unbelievable truth and meaning in life.  He must seize the day.  He awaited his beloved princess as he practiced.  

     Gai looked across the pond soon after his workout was completed to see Catster.  The great cat was stretching his body in a nearly prone position from his front feet and legs; he was fully outstretched and in a crouching posture.  Giant Little was glad to see him.  "Catster, where have you been?"

     Catster looked around briefly, blinked his eyes at Giant Little, and then the great cat answered, "Finding rest and repose where rest and repose are meant to be.  Right here at Strong Pond, of course.  What a great place for you to heal your lady, your love, after all her travail and trial."

     "My instructions are to stay here for two days.  A goddess blessed us with a packet of food provisions: some rice, cereal, dried milk and cheese.  This is a miracle this morning," Gai said with a sense of devout respect for the moment before him.

     "I see," the noble cat quipped.  "I see," he said roundly.

     "I am proficient at most things as you may have noticed, Catster, my friend.  But here we are in battle, and I must await Radhita's arrival this morning as if there is no danger abroad.  Any danger may be distant.  Yet I have things to say to her so as to allay her fears.  Do you feel that we will have some peace for a day or two, Catster?  I need to prepare her for what is ahead.  It seems I have much to accomplish in very little time whereas before the events of this morning, I could not wait to move on.  I do not want to disturb her as she said she had barely slept for those two nights while she was in captivity."  Giant Little was giving forth a rare emotional outpouring to his close consort, his constant companion when he was in the wilds.

     Catster yawned cautiously and then went into another full stretch; after finishing his stretch, he walked as if in deep reflection around the pond to Giant Little, watching his reflection in the water as he moved.  He gently asked, "This is such a beautiful day dawning in this surround, indeed, in the beautiful gem that is Strong Pond.  I wonder when she will have rested fully enough to join you?"

     Giant Little said in a tone reflecting his duty to her, "I have been cooking breakfast for her.  I started making the fire just before dawn."  He then went to the fireside, picked up the stick with which he had poked the burning wood so as to stoke it maximally when the fire was building its momentum, and probed the glowing logs and the few embers present to see how much substance for further burning remained in them.  From that determination he then added more firewood which he procured from the neat stacks which were a couple of feet from the fireplace.

     "Relax, oh fine one, for you are so fine and true.  Relax, and let the sun, the trees, the water, the air, and the pleasant creatures all around soften your mind and prepare your heart.  Nothing by definition can go wrong.  Yours is only to find yourself in this as in everything else.  Soon your young lass will be here with you, and you can get to know her in conditions more staid and civil.  Now, tell me, is that a gift?" Catster demanded to know.

     "Indeed, I am aware that this is a gift.  I am bent to the battle, Catster, which I see as the overall gift," Giant Little said definitively.  "I am concerned for the sense of this moment, that she will be anxious to move on and to return home to her parents so as to quell their fears and hurt over what has happened to her . . ."

      "This is a beautiful gift of time and place to get to know your new consort, the one with whom you may spend the rest of your life,"  Catster gently intervened.  "Nurture here your love for her, for she is sure to forget herself and the threat abroad as she gets to know you more, and as she comes to love you more.  What more can you ask for, Philip?  You know, you are her hero now.  You are her great hero and rescuer.  She cannot but love you."

     Philip paused briefly; then he quietly said, "Catster, my friend, sometimes I need to hear things said in the way you say them at the time you say them."  He paused again and reflected further.  Then the little miracle worker just welled up into open praises to the battle they had just known: "Oh, trusty victor!  Trusty victor, to whose first strike I owe my own strike in the vital defense of my lady, the love now of my heart.  How you do speak truth!  We rescued her from those two reprobates, did we not?  Did we extricate Radhita from those filthy hands with force and with finality, or did we not?"

     Catster smiled and noted the resolve which had been integrated in the mind of his consort after the first real battle with the enemy to Radhita if not the enemy of all of her father's state, Liberty Love Forest.  The great cheetah looked across the pond into the trees on the other side and seemed to be in deeper reflection briefly as Giant Little awaited his reply.  Then Catster smoothly said, "True it is, 'tis true, 'tis true, indeed . . . 

Be in truth as you greet this day, let truth be yours in everyway. 

From enemy great to the one you love, be here in truth as from above;

No matter what fight may see its pounce, there only is truth for weigh's true ounce. 

Measure what is there by truth, whose perspective formed will thou behoove.

Truth is way, by dint of deed, enshroud in truth's eternal seed. 

Be thee large, or tall or small, young or not, thy truth is all. 

May truth's cadence bless thy word, only speak like winged bird;

Upon wings of word from heart thy truth, save you from curse of those uncouth. 

From here from there, from hither and where all will know that truth is here, in each mission you will not fear. 

See truth in all, the way and deed, for love of truth is truth's own heed. 

See and save and save further by truth, let no one pass without forsooth. 

In each and all who come thy way, let truth form for you truth's day. 

See and see, find truth in mission, for all the world is truth's rendition.

Look out across the fine, calm water, whose purity reflects honesty's own true father.

Look up to see the clouds of Heaven, may He rain upon any arid, so to them leaven.

In purity, in innocence, in trial and test, there is truth in and through the elements so blessed.

When mission calls, so e'en across rough water, see truth alone: rescue thou wisdom's daughter.

For one so rescued will save the all, lest we not serve our best: let mankind not fall.

This, great Philip, shall be thy word, shall head off this day, mind's trusty gird.

     Giant Little was deep in cognition for a long while after Catster's accolade.  He observed coolly the beatific water of Strong Pond taking in the shape, the beauty, the peace and the home of nature itself.  So dear to him was that pond; and now was it ever more dear for all that was unfolding for him.  Then Giant Little looked over at Catster and recovered his voice from the silence of his great little self.  He said with a certain dispassion, "Catster, I am here.  I am here, indeed."  

     Catster was now sitting by the edge of Strong Pond, and he decided to take a sunbath in some early morning sun rays which eked through a break in the tree cover.  He slowly lay down, keeping his head upright so as to remain vigilant nonetheless over Giant Little.  He splayed out the claws of both front paws deliberatively, enjoying the stretch.  Then he held up his left paw; he splayed it out again and skillfully blew into the spaces between the five toes while moving in a little arc from the inside toe to the outside toe.  When finished with one paw, he accomplished the other in like fashion and then placed it in a crossed position over the other.  He almost shrugged his shoulders a slight bit, but his steady mind belied any unknowingness a shrug of the shoulders should normally imply.  The beckoning call of a loon from the distance now caught Catster's ear, and he could tell that Giant Little was deep in communion with all of nature's surround.  Gai was tossing pebbles into the pond and watching the ripples each one made, and he stopped doing so when he heard the familiar call of the loon.  As he resumed tossing pebbles once he had reflected on the sound of the loon, he glanced over at Catster.  "Catster," he said, "Have you ever seen that loon?  I always hear it when I visit here in the early morning, yet I have never seen it."

     "Have I ever seen the loon?  We-el-l, you might say I have," Catster replied politely.

     "Do you mean that you have seen the loon in vision alone -- that you have imagined having seen it because you have never seen it?" Gai asked further.

     "No, that is your experience, and I can certainly understand that, my little charge," the great cat said with compassion.

     "I have seen pictures of loons.  Catster, some day I want to stay here as long as it takes to see that loon," Giant Little declared.

     "We-el-l, that might be some time," Catster supplied.

     "Not now but some time when the times are less demanding, I mean . . . " said the brave boy pausing over his own concept.

     "That might be the longest wait of all, Gai. Hmmh, it might be the longest wait of all . . . it  see-eems we have a visitor here, today.  Our honored guest is arriving for breakfast," Catster stated; Catster could hear her footsteps at a greater distance than could Gai.

     "Oh!  Thank you for telling me, Cats," Gai exclaimed.  "I cannot wait to see her, my dear Cats!"

     Gai was brimming over with mirth and bubbling with emotion over the arrival now of Radhita, the love of his heart.  "Catster, I have had dreams about this love of mine.  This had been foretold.  I am living my vision, my very hope.  I love this young lady with all my heart. I love her.  This was all meant to be." 

     "Get her coffee ready.  I will be your glad chaperone, and remember, I can represent you to such as is her father, for he is known as a wise man," Catster assured Gai.

     "You only speak to the wise, is that right, Catster?" Gai inquired as if anxious to make one last point of truth. "The rest of the time you are just a cheetah though unusually fast and fleet of feet.  Am I correct, Cats?"

     "Absolutely, with the exception of the one who seeks knowledge of the absolute and is ready to hear me, to hear truth," Catster replied.

     "I noticed that you spoke to Radhita, but that was in the face of direct danger, was it not?" Gai asked respectfully while waiting with his eyes placed to see her appear on the path.

     "Radhita is of her wise father's tutelage and also poses the inquiry after truth. Need I tell you," Catster then stated in a lowered voice so that she might not overhear.  Radhita now appeared and began to enter the area by the pond side.  As he saw her face in greeting, Gai immediately noticed that she was filled with calm and happiness.   

     Gai quickly waved to his friend, and as she waved back, he walked over to greet her formally.  He bowed his head politely, and she acknowledged him saying happily to Gai, "Is this a beautiful place to be on a beautiful morning?  My friend, Gai, I am so happy to be here and to see you.  I slept soundly; I was so tired.  Thank you for this.  This is almost like a dream to me at times."

     "Please, Radhita," Gai said respectfully showing his great care for her.  "The worst is over now.  I have prepared some breakfast for you.  Have some corn cakes, cheese and coffee with me.  Let us enjoy this wonderful morning here together."  Gai walked with her to the campsite which was several feet from the pond side.  "Have a seat here, and we can eat together," Gai said as he motioned to a makeshift table with two pieces of log as chairs for them.  The table was actually a very large rock which had had a slab of oak wood placed over it and cemented into it.  Gai had eaten at this campsite on previous visits to Strong Pond.  The wood slab was wider than the rock, so that one could sit at the table and have ample foot room.  Radhita's expression upon seeing the eating arrangement and the mellow campfire was a consolation to Gai, for he could see that she was appreciating the roughhewn furniture.  Radhita demurred and said, "Do you mind if I visit the campfire, first?  I have always loved to watch the fire at family outings.  We are also nature lovers."

     "Please, be my guest.  Or actually, you should be the guest of Mother Nature this morning," Giant Little said caringly.  "For you are contained here in this glade and by the shores of Strong Pond where no harm will ever come to you."  Gai's voice sang his heart for her safety in the last few words.  Implying that things would be forever different for her now, he watched her carefully for her understanding of his desire to protect her.  

     Radhita read all this.  Looking over at him with an appreciative wonderment on her face,  she said shyly, "I cannot imagine that anyone would harm me now, Gai.  I simply am not afraid any longer.  You are my hero.  You are what I had heard you are.  I am eternally indebted to you and to our friend Catster -- where is Catster?"

     Radhita was standing in front of the fire, and Catster was lying down by the side of Strong Pond.  When he heard his name, he perked up and answered forthwith, "Good morning, you brave young lady.  How was the rest you took?  I see you are over it."

     Radhita and Gai burst out into laughter at Catster's comment.  Then Radhita retorted, "Oh, that.  Well, I am in another world now.  This is much like the land of magic, so why worry?  Yet, those like yourself who practice magic do so as a matter of course, speak of life as it is for everyone, and offer me then a destiny of provision in marriage to a noble lad.  I think I am quite over it, dear Catster.  I should think there would be something wrong with me were I not!" she joked back.

     At that Giant Little slapped his knee and then laughed all the more heartily while Catster put on the most joyous performance for them both.  He stood up and declared, "Watch this!"  Catster began to chase his tail madly, around and round in circles, first in one direction; then he stopped and said, "I must be going in the wrong direction or something!"  So he chased it in the other direction equally skillfully.  As they caught sight of one another's perception of an impossibly funny Catster, Gai and Radhita laughed to their hearts' mutual content.  

     When Catster had them in the full momentum of laughter, he figured it was time to expand the humor and captivate them even further.  So he stopped momentarily, cocked his head to one side, and asked them both rather formally and most seriously, "Did you see my tail?  It might sneak up from behind me!  I had better watch out for it!"  

     At this point, the funny cat just started to walk ridiculously backwards waiting to see his tail in front of him, and he was declaring in hilarious confusion, 

     "If what had been behind me was not to be caught hold of, then what is in front of me must be what I had been told of!  It might be here and was here all along since, though it was there, it was also wrong.  

     I saw it and sought it, and almost caught it.  Is it me, or is it it?  I cannot correct it nor perfect it!  If it wasn't truly behind, then it must be here in front of my eyes and not to the rear!  

     So if I stalk it and stage it, the correct confrontation, then I will know myself through this truth's contagion.  Yes, this must be the solution to my direction's problem: what is hither is there, and what is thither is not yon, 'tis here.  When hither and thither meet somewhere in the air, I will be the true witness and will have my catch; no matter what you think of that!  And that is the tail end of this, my, we-el-l -- story -- or tale."

     Giant Little had been consumed in uproarious laughter.  When he heard Catster's last statement, he burst into another riff of laughter briefly; afterwards, he stopped long enough to say helplessly to Catster and to Radhita, "Story tale!"  

     At this joke, Radhita and Gai were rolling in laughter; tears actually began to fall from Radhita's eyes since she was laughing so hard.  When Gai saw her tears of laughter, he said to her testingly, "Don't ever you cry . . . a cure instead you should try !  It will keep your tears harbored somewhere up in your head instead so they will not fall and tell it all!"  After jestingly declaring his point, Gai stood up and said, "Demonstration of cure . . . watch this!" 

     Gai then stood on his head.  Radhita became highly amused; however, as to whether or not Gai would match the tenor and spirit of Catster's histrionics, she was only half expecting a more dynamic demonstration.  She answered simply, "But what if I cannot do that?"

     Gai came down from his inverted posture succinctly within the second after the last word of her query.  He landed adeptly, bowed politely to her briefly, and said to her, "You must always keep your eyes so clear so to see -- no world awash with tears against your mind's clarity."  Gai then lifted his arms over his head, and with a slight spring in his feet he accomplished a smooth cartwheel to his right side.  When he landed, he gathered in Radhita's eyes with his and further stated, " If standing ahead is not sufficient in time to house your tears over world's cruel crime, then may I suggest an alternate tumult: hold your tears through centripetal force in standing somersault."

     The noble Gai then bowed again and proceeded to perform for his sweetheart the most beautiful, skillful display of cartwheels one after the other, as if effortlessly.  He accomplished an entire circle of cartwheels in one direction and then stopped long enough to say, "If situation encloses you with no surcease, let gravity hold you in circular release.  For then will your tears be contained within truth, for the laws of nature are physical, forsooth.  Upon executing the cartwheel whether one or amany, no tears can exude -- you will escape the enemy.  Watch!"

     Gai then proceeded to perform another set of cartwheels gracefully in a circle this time in the other direction and now encircling his beloved young lady.  Taking in the winning and remarkable show of love and compassion of her newly found consort, the great Giant Little, she sat quietly at the oak-rock table.  When he was finished his last cartwheel, landing at precisely the spot from whence he had recited his poetry to her, he recapitulated once again with the following words to the wise: "When enemy encircles to you entwine, then unravel safely in due time; circles within circles, cartwheels just so, will contain your tears, for they will not then show."

     At this, Radhita was deeply filled with a knowing awareness and began to border noticeably into a bemusement at what Catster and Gai had just demonstrated and said.  She looked at Gai a knowing look.  Gai smiled back, and said, "Think about it."  Then all three burst into laughter again, and the laughter must have filled the entire glade.  The birds began to sing after that, and the frogs in the pond started up an entire chorus.  There were two rabbits which began to chase one another playfully around the campsite,  and Giant Little and his wife-to-be happily sat at the table and shared some fine food and coffee in between smiles and little laughs every once in a while.      

     Catster sat close by the budding couple that memorable morning and showed his elation both at their meeting and at their merriment by purring smoothly.   After breakfast was finished, Gai's horse Victory paid a visit.  The horse was anxious to hear Gai's flute music, it seemed, since he was carrying in his mouth Gai's saddle pack.  He gently placed the saddle pack near Gai's feet where Gai sat.  Gai smiled and beamed.  Radhita watched closely to see what interaction might ensue not even considering the possibility that Victory was hinting at a departure from the beatific Strong Pond; she was so enraptured with the moment just being there.  There at Strong Pond she was as if in a timeless world so separate and different from the actual battlefield across which she had just coursed on the back of that majestic stallion.  Gai looked down at the saddle pack and waited to see what Victory had in mind.  Victory answered Gai's delay with a gentle nudge at the pocket in the pack where Gai's flute was kept.  At this beckoning of Victory for a musical interlude, Gai rejoiced.  "Yes, Victory!  I must play for my young lady, and for all of you here in this virtual paradise. "

     Victory answered with an excited whinny as Gai proceeded to open the pocket where he kept his flute.  Victory looked over at Radhita and neighed forth his excitement that Gai would begin to play his sonorous soul for her and for all of the happy creatures in earshot that day at Strong Pond.  Radhita stood up and took a couple of steps over to Victory.  The noble princess held out an apple in the palm of her hand for the heroic horse who had so courageously helped rescue her, and lovingly said to him, "Now you give me Gai's music, Victory, as if your speed and strength in delivering us was not enough.  You saved my life.  I admire you, Victory, with all my heart and mind."

     Strangely, Victory spoke in answer which was a rarity for Gai's horse.  Victory usually remained silent.  This morning he broke his usual quietness in an almost ceremonious demeanor, bowed his head to the side slightly for Radhita, and said lovingly and with reverence to her, "My beautiful young maiden, may this music you are about to hear this morning ring throughout the hills and dales nearby this little haven, and so may it bless all the creatures and inhabitants for miles around in honor of you.  May happiness ring to the heavens that I was privileged to deliver you to this magical place for your rest and repose.  I am your happy consort, your sturdy vehicle, always ready to run the wilds in your defense.  Have no fear, and enjoy what you, what we are all about to hear.  Let this be your loving morning together with Giant Little -- here at Strong Pond."

     Catster's eyes took in the still water of the pond in a far-reaching look matched by a slow turn of his head towards the party.  He then chimed in, "Yes, let there be the language of the unspeaking spoken, the language of music, which is understood by all yet is communicated not in word-words.  In other words, let there be music.  Let there be music on this fine day, and let there be more days here to be thus heard."   

     With that introduction from Catster, Gai gave the cheetah an awareful look and then positioned himself to play his flute.  He closed his eyes and thought of the most wonderful gift of his music, and how he could use this music to match the wonder of the gift of the one to whom he was now betrothed.  He reflected deeply upon Radhita momentarily.  Then Giant Little took in a long breath in readiness, centering himself, and he began to play.  The scene which had already unfolded by the shallow shores of bucolic Strong Pond was now surrendered to the godly music of an undeniably soulful flautist with otherworldly abilities.  Radhita just closed her eyes as she began to comprehend the message of this most remarkable person who had magically appeared when she needed him most out of nowhere; miraculously had he simply saved her in her moment of unspeakable need.  How lovingly he had apologized subsequent to the rescue, she reflected quietly, as if he were concerned for any future effects the abduction might have on her.  His solution -- to marry her -- embraced her heart now as ever before, yet hearing the musical side of this prodigy standing near her made her see entire facets of his being.   With those facets now included in her perception of the person Giant Little whom she could not help but love absolutely, Radhita saw more clearly than ever the higher meaning and purpose of the horrific ordeal from which he had with some kind of omniscience rescued her.  Even as the clarion notes of this extrapolated language of the flute announced the day reborn for her, Radhita became more intensely aware of the measure of the gift that truly was Giant Little for her.  As the music wooed her realizations of how miraculous this almost otherworldly person really had become to her, she found greater courage in her self to meet also the days past the safe haven which had become theirs at Strong Pond.  She sensed the security there with all of the power of thriving nature soothing her and consoling her so completely.  As she heard more of the progression of Gai's skillful notes flying ever higher into the peak of ordered jubilation which seemed to sum up the entire moment in which they all co-existed, Radhita began to forget the more serious matters.  However, such matters were dismissed not from a mystified mind; rather, they departed from a mind which was being fed the truth by a team of beings who all lived in truth and spoke it as they lived it, so she observed.  She let herself soar then upon this realization.  She saw what was meant to be seen, and she knew that she would see more as the calling would intend.  Radhita was steadily more enraptured as she heard the ongoing message of Gai, and there seemed to be a softness all about the visual outlay before her.  The trees seemed fluffy now.  The two little rabbits nearby were as if spellbound, hunched in total stillness, and, it seemed to her, lost in reverie.  She looked up at the sky for consultation fitting for its sheer elevation; there she saw clouds which must have been created to receive the language of music as their own special news, and so they had been made softer by it as it arrived and as it expressed the wonder of love and of life to them, as well.  Then she steeled herself for any like message the pond might give forth to her; the pond was her favorite entity, and she savored the idea that Strong Pond should appear to be as blessed as all else around had been blessed by the truly sonorific concert giver Giant Little; perhaps he was the author of all sound, she mused to herself.  She placed her eyes now upon the scene of the pond; she witnessed some kind of vague mist in the air over it and all around it.  Privately, Radhita wondered if the glasslike reflection of the trees and sky on the pond was so beautiful that it was captured in the air by the exact element of beauty itself; indeed, this was a rarefied beauty that no one can ever describe to another but can only perceive within the self.  As she fed upon the brilliant music of Gai, she thought that perhaps the element of beauty, the universal principle itself of beauty which had been extracted this day for her to witness, had somehow revealed itself to her in this heavenly surround of nature.  For where else would she ever have seen such a sublime, softened picture of the world?  How could the colors be so perfectly arrayed except that all of beauty had been summoned here to console her eyes and fill her heart with a love more replete with perfection than she had ever felt, known or imagined?  This young lady, still yet a girl in some ways, wanted to remember this moment for the rest of her life and vowed that she would.  Then she thought wistfully that the only moment which could ever probably match this one would be the moment she married the miracle worker whom she now loved and understood more but for his magic on the flute. 

                 

 

                             Chapter 4

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     Suddenly there was the sound of an approaching carriage pulled by two horses to the ears of Catster, who then announced to all that a party was in the offing and would be arriving presently.  Gai and Radhita were engrossed in a game of chess on the oak-rock table.  To them Catster calmly said, "We-ell, there is a carriage arriving now.  I sense that these are the municipality workers who make their annual trip up here to Strong Pond to get the park ready for visitors in the middle-to-late spring.  It would be nice to greet them, would it not?" 

     Gai was interested in the chess game he was playing with his beloved princess.  Drawing up the patience to inquire further as to the exact tasks they might perform, he looked over at Catster.  Gai was just getting to know Radhita better, and he by reflex did not want any intruders.  He calmly gave Radhita an assuring look; then he asked Catster pointedly, "How, pray tell, can this place be made any more ready than what we witness here today, Cats?  Only God can create this paradise.  What is it that is lacking here on a day like this?  Should I offer to help them install the raft in the pond or something?"

     Catster liked Gai's route to a receptive mind for the approaching visitors.  He tersely replied to Gai, "They might be able to wheedle some helping hand out of you."

     "Well, Catster, it is not often anyone has the time to win me over to action through the use of pleasing phrases who would owe his or her inspiration in doing so to my attributes and good nature, is it?  It is more likely that I am on an urgent mission, have no time to talk, and probably never will even meet the ones I thus serve and save.  This, the recovery of Radhita from some political cabal at least physically, is a rare exception to that rule of expediency of mission since she is now with me after the event.  Hence, you are your usual skillful self in naming the spirit of the moment . . . . "

     "Nor should there be any discussion with the intruders of the specifics of how this friendship and this sociality were formed.  Is that clear?" Catster added adeptly as he cut into Gai's understandable self-reverie regarding his staunch heroism.

     "I am certain that there will be no moment for these men to worry after the origin of the populace here since it is so small it does not constitute a state," Gai said with a joking laugh.  

     Radhita laughed at that comment from Gai.  She then asked inwardly in a pause how to say that she was willing to hide.  She had already given that concept some thought before she joined the party that morning for breakfast.  She had even chosen a possible hiding place in the bunk house where she had found a hidden door.  Radhita looked at Gai and then at Catster; she then posed her offer accordingly: "My fellow brave ones, would it serve the best interests of this mission if I were to hide, so there might be no report rendered the authorities of Bohemia as of yet?  Even if these will be just spies who interrupt our repose here this morning, I am most willing to hide."

     "No, no, no," Catster replied to her.  "Please do not dramatize this visit beyond its own natural moment.  There is a simple job here to be done, and we can only appreciate the new facility of the raft for better swimming.  It will allow you and Gai to dive out in the deeper water in the center of the pond.  I do not believe that these men will want to speak much further than their immediate work would imply even if they are spying on us all.  It is always good to let the word spread through camouflage above land and undercurrent otherwise."

     Catster's typical manner of speaking was of course most familiar to Gai.  "Catster, you see, refers to the widespread underground in this state, so he slights them, putting them down to the basic elements of nature," Gai relayed to Radhita.  "Many people who live in Bohemia live also in fear of the underworld here.  Those of the underworld are awful mobsters.  Some people are always trying to figure out who is who among the citizens since they are afraid that someone or other might be wrongly connected.  Catster, you see, just used a play on words equating the relay of intelligence information to an undercurrent; he means underground."

     "I see; and people might be afraid to talk in these social conditions," Radhita said musingly.  "Those workers might be so afraid."

     "I think the purpose of the visit makes an excellent camouflage, don't you?" Radhita queried, showing an appreciation of the mental acuity of her consorts.

     Catster relied on her as he perceived also her level, and she noticed this.  Then he mustered up another remark to set the proper mood for the visit as he said gently to her, "Swimming is indeed the most popular pastime at Strong Pond.  You see, it is safer here especially for the smaller children than the lake or the River Strong.  It is smaller, and there is no threatening current."  

     Radhita giggled a little at this and surprised Gai with her surface-level frivolity which seemed at once feigned yet real.  He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye as he registered her acumen for people.  Gai turned then full face to his new friend and said, "I see."

     "Just how deep is the water at the center of the pond?" Radhita asked.

     "We-ell, it varies somewhat with the season, but it is approximately 20 feet in depth in the central area at the deepest point.  The cold springs at that depth are also quite remarkable."

     Before long there arrived in sight on the trail to Strong Pond a wagon pulled by two horses which was carrying three workers from the parks services.  Gai and Radhita stayed at the table, resuming their chess game ostensibly.  Catster noticed forthwith the presence of wood on the wagon, and he observed coolly to his consorts, "We-e-ll, there might just be more than one budding project going on here at Strong Pond.  I see the makings of a dock, or so I would wager.  Building a dock should take some time to complete."

     Gai quickly and equally coolly quipped, "For us to complete."

     Radhita then interpolated her own perception of the moment before them and gently announced openly, "Check, Gai."

     "I see the world through the board on the table, Radhita.  How skillful you are.  Now that I must be custodian of this wondrous place, you announce with your own finesse a move which requires my focus.  What am I ever to do?" Gai pleaded with Radhita. 

     "Just play chess with me," she answered.  "Let them get started with their work and see if they need your assistance as things develop."

     Giant Little absorbed Radhita's possessiveness of him and reveled in it for a few moments.  He tossed a look toward the busy party who waved to him and to Radhita, Catster and Victory.  Gai and Radhita waved back.  Radhita saw her beloved reflecting on the chess board next, and then she watched him as he read the deeper meaning of her statement to him.  After contemplating broadly the entire setting before him, Gai said in an almost whisper an answer to her,  "You also speak the truth.  I am checked." 

     The Catster was interested in redeeming Radhita from being a total victim, certainly; he began to plant the seeds of a new idea which would envelop the brave young girl.  Ultimately, he reflected to himself, her level in swimming should become known to the workers just arriving.  Accordingly, he strategically announced to the youths, "I should think that this Strong Pond would be all the stronger now that it has felt such a feat of none less than heroic strength exhibited by the Herculean swimmer who sits in our midst now.  Its water should be more than capable of floating a raft by now."  Catster laughed a little at his own humor; he looked to Radhita to see if she would own up to her feat of swimming.  

     Radhita stretched her arms boldly at this recognition, using them to form an arch over her head as she maximized the stretch.  Tossing her head back to also arch her upper back as she looked skyward, she showed Catster her readiness to embrace the reality of their situation with further acts of athletic prowess if called upon.

     Catster read this body language of Radhita.  He now admonished the youths in his way and gave some gentle instruction to them: "These workers will be here for a few hours each day, and the rest of the day you can have to yourselves in private reveling.  Our Radhita may not know that the water she so adeptly braved is considered too cold for most at this time of the year.  The local country folk and townspeople are not likely to be out here swimming for another month or so, at least.  In the meantime, let there be good accord and all due respect for those who are the appointed caretakers of this beautiful Strong Pond." 

     Gai was glad to hear the well-rounded outlook of Catster; his first day in the company of the young lady of whom he had heard so much through the social circles of his parents was most dear to him.  Catster was kindly guiding him in accepting the workers not as intruders but as contributors.  Gai mulled over the wise cheetah's observations as he contemplated the ongoing dynamics of chess simultaneously.  Radhita watched as he curled his two hands into his cheek bones, resting his elbows on the table as he did so; and then he made a noise like a frog almost inadvertently.  Giant Little relaxed his mind and said in surrender to Catster, "What measure of mission is this?  You offer me peace here.  Do they, also?"

     Catster was adept at eliciting the questions relevant to good harmony in all situations with his favorite charge, the chosen Giant Little.  Not all would qualify to work so closely with such an honored elder of the cat kingdom as Catster, and not everyone knew of Catster.  He often performed his heroic work on the behalf of good directly and also with other major figures of his kind.  Catster's worldview was formed of an all-encompassing vision, an omniscience born of the vision of the absolute truth.  Therefore, Catster taught that recognition and reward were only secondary to humility in the performance of good works on the behalf of all -- of all of mankind.  After watching the workers assess the pond from the other side, Catster slowly turned his head in the direction of Giant Little whose demeanor now reflected his deeper reverence for the great cat.  Gai sat almost at attention and was waiting for Catster to tend to him, to answer his question.  Gai knew he had asked a leading question and also that it might be possible for the workers to hear their dialogue if their tone was not kept at a quiet level.  Radhita was absorbed more in the interchange between Catster and Giant Little at this point as she was preparing herself to contribute to the situation as she must.  She also was curious to know of any safety concerns centering on the abduction, the kidnapping event she had just experienced.  She waited on word from Catster, hoping that the cat would clear these workers as the promoters of peace, goodness and harmony which she and Gai wanted them to be.

     Catster, of course, was aware of all of this, and he was most compassionate towards the two.  He nodded his head slowly for them, and then opened up into words of prophetic wisdom so as to guide them along on the overall mission they shared:   

  "Where e're there is a peaceful and loving heart, 

So will peace and love nourish those contrary.

     Fear not for those who out of fear would abolish,

     For you can with compassion's courage take on the tallest.

     If one would ask of you surrender,

     Let it be only your hand of duty you would then tender.

     Duty to others from heart's truest harbor

     Will fell any enemy though even the larger.  

     For who can measure the size of love exact

     Which has the power to conquer in fact? 

     Stay thou in honesty's hold; be of good word,

     And any who thus knows you will also he heard.

     From these planks thus thou shouldst build a world

     platform,

     Whereupon will work wonders e'en through battle's

     storm.

     Thy heart thou must tender in God's loving trust,

     Whose ultimate sovereignty will evil obfusc;

     For though he may spend his life towards your ruination,

Thy enemy brilliant cannot usurp thy own salvation.

     They say to turn thy cheek for the strike of its other,

     How fitting and true -- the enemy's mind you will so uncover.

     For the mind of evil knows not its own source,

     And threatens and destroys in its resultant course;

     A course which defies reason and the love of thy heart

     For God's great goodness and any course He would chart.

     The mind of evil extracted is mere conviction

     That to destroy is ever safe towards security's depiction.

     Thus painting in life through deeds desultory

     All measure of harm and intent so refractory,

     The evil contenders may soon gather and band

     To forfeit more certainly any hope for goodness's remand.

     All of this, my dear charges, is the face of the wide world,

     Which wears two sides, though could be seen as unity unfurled.

     For those who might solve this vast puzzle or attempt it

     Through tedium's task will soon pre-empt it.

     For they will pre-empt the stolid conviction of mind

     Of perfidy's own source and all of its own kind

     With erudition and precept so shining and true,

     That just seeing it will protect the seer, just as sure as I see you.

For all of duality's hold in misery, if seen instead

As the nature of all things in-and-through read,

Will tender the mind a transcendent view

Upon reality's visage; thus will it misery eschew,

     Since evil and good are always at bother

     Against and again at one the other;

     Each side says this is true, not that,

     While evil does harm through a tit for a tat;

     The mind for good will this undo,

     And wait out the 'this' for 'that's' construe.

     The wait takes courage and principle strong,

     While each determination proves evil to be wrong.

     For to enter into hurt's employ is itself a block,

     So that vision of goodness will run amok.

     And as such runners will try to lead as if from light,

     Their eyes quite samblind, they create further fright.

     For the truth of courage is founded in peace,

     In a trial through non-hurt without surcease.

     Those evil contenders in world's array

     Lead only to false incrimination's fray.

     This leads to wider war across various times,

     So to ring God's universal bell for all mankind.

     No one truly savors war except the mad, the fallen,

     So that they can climb delusion's ladder to supremacy's calling.

     Yet those so pitted against evil's collective grip as to wax war

     See through the madness and would evil's supremacy abhor.

     That is why good will engage in destruction at last,

     And evil takes war to be now their concept finally held fast.

     For them is the principle of non-hurt so refuted,

     Yet good still believes non-hurt not even thus so disputed.

     Of the two who contend in battle, the bad or the good,

     The one who was driven there against a should

     Will be the more mighty, will conquer and have say

     Of ultimate mind for peace, for civility's returning day.

     Thus will war enlighten you, you see, dear youths;

     And now will Catster end for this day his say of endless truths.

 

     Gai slapped the table with his right hand a short while after Catster finished his homily.  His eyes were lighted, his face reflected an inspiration, and he puffed up his chest as he said to Radhita, "Fear not, my lovely lady.  You just heard the truth, and this is our day here together.  Let us make of it what we will and appreciate the goodness in others which will surely intend all that is right and just our way.  Our noble kind will cherish you here and also nurture you and then coddle you as we depart, leaving with the understanding of the people who are messengers of higher truth even if they might not know it.  These workers are here to assist us even if they do not know it and even if they are contrary in any way; and I am afraid they might very well be."

     Radhita calmly assented mentally to the noble heart of her fine young consort Giant Little.  She looked over at the workers on the other side of the pond who were taking measurements along the shore.  Then she quietly said, "My trust in you and in all of my friends here has given me such instruction and consolation since you saved me that I had truthfully already seen the picture you just painted with the words from your heart.  Gai, is this Catster an amazing being?"  

     Catster acted like more was ahead and then shot a knowing glance at Radhita; he quickly changed his act to a dumb, sheer observer.  When Radhita read the message in Catster's act, she escalated accordingly.  Becoming emotional, she said, "Oh, my great rescuers, how happy I am to hear these words; as if from Heaven, you are.  You all make such perfect sense and are such loving beings.  I am enraptured by the fact in my life that you saved me.  I am so blessed.  You cannot know how terrible those kidnappers were, and I saw no end.  Now I am safe.  Now I am delivered and that for a lifetime.  I am so grateful to you.  If you require that I should hide, I will hide for you to make it easier and not controversial.  Let me contribute."  Radhita's eyes were filled with the mist of forming tears, and she stopped abruptly before they began to take over her message in answer to the astute dialogue of her bold rescuers.

     Just then, there came a loud surprise to the highly reflective few gathered that day at Strong Pond.  With no warning, an arrow hit the widest tree behind the oak-rock table nearby where they were seated with a loud 'thunk'.  As it swooshed by the party at a distance of several feet, Catster had jumped to his feet.  He quickly mobilized to the line of woods where the clearing for the picnic area began.  Radhita's heart began to pound in her chest, and she looked to Giant Little for some way to find courage.  In him she saw a calm which caused her to remain more calm herself.  Suddenly, there appeared on horseback the figure of the leader of the outlaws; it was Durydon himself!  Gai was on his feet in a split second, and he scrambled to the other side of the table in barely enough time to snatch Radhita into his own protective arms.  He saw that Durydon had wanted to run by on his steed and snatch her up onto the horse; his plan was to steal her boldly for any to witness out from under the nose of her brave rescue party.  Giant Little pre-empted Durydon only by two or three seconds at the most and removed Radhita from the path he was making past the picnic table.  Gai caught a glimpse of the face of this terrible figure from the underworld and saw how angry he was that Radhita had been rescued.  As the infamous outlaw flaunted his bold entry for its moment of worth towards what might have been another abduction of the noble-born young lady and passed by without his horse breaking step, Radhita summoned up her own defense; she threw a stone at him.  She hit him square in the middle of his back.  Then she exclaimed to Gai, "That's he!  He kidnapped me!  He's the original one!" 

     Captain Durydon, who was all dressed in black and wore a wide-brimmed black hat so as to hide his face when necessary, galloped around the entire shore of Strong Pond like a gust of angry wind belonging to a dark doom cloud; moreover, knowing he was doom-laden did he do so.  Gai stayed close by Radhita in case he should make a second attempt on her physical security.  Victory reared up onto his back legs and announced the battle with a loud, warring equine cry.  Fearing the notorious gangster, the parks workers on the other side of the pond had run into the trees for cover and to hide.  Catster had been hiding in the woods a few trees in from the edge of the clearing so as to bait the badman to battle.  Gai of course knew this and stood also ready to fight.  When the great horseman and chieftain of robbers had come full circle around the pond, he seemed anxious to leave the area rather than to contend further in fight.  It was as if he sensed that the opposition would be too great to surmount alone.

     Gai saw this phase of his statement more as an intended retreat, yet the warriors he had chosen to challenge did not agree with his tactics.  It was not to be that he had tried, threatened and then left on the message of the statement that further battle lay ahead; this they already knew.  For the daring Durydon could not leave his stay past his first blunder in not snatching up Radhita while passing on his moving horse.  He had no other plan, so he figured his message of terror would be enough.  However, he did not know exactly how brilliant the Giant Little, nor did he know how closely Giant Little worked with Catster.  In fact, he did not know that Catster was even there.  Giant Little kept his position in basic defense of Radhita as the dark-clad horseman began to exit the clearing by Strong Pond for the trail.  Yes, out of the trees there came Catster who was  ready to contend in full force with this horrible figure, this indomitable felon Durydon.  Durydon was not expecting him.  Nor were the others in the party exactly expecting to see what unfolded.  Catster suddenly loomed into the figure of a large, golden dragon.  Durydon was obviously daunted by the sight of a dragon.  He had to come to a full stop as he had no place to go.  A dragon was now blocking the entrance to the trail through the woods so that the bold Durydon could not leave the area directly.  This dragon emanated a kind of enchanting wave of truth from his entire being which mystified that bad outlaw Durydon.  Catster, now in the form of a majestic dragon, just sat still and steadily gazed at the notorious demon-type in front of him.  The outlaw seemed overwhelmed with the perception of such a mighty, almost formless form which was obstructing his passage.  He started to back out of what could become a situation for him even after all of the thunder of his brazen statement to those whom he perceived to be his enemy and who guarded the one whom he considered to be his prize.  He was becoming spellbound by the supernatural being in front of him who was emitting light from his eyes, mouth, nostrils and back.  His back was jagged.  His concentration was total.  The simple Captain Durydon knew not what to do.  He kept backing up and then shot a nervous glance over at Gai, Radhita and Victory who were hardly huddling in fear at all.  They knew that this was the marvel of Catster and that the wicked Durydon would not be back for battle alone if he escaped this time.  Gai left the fight up to Catster who now appeared in dragon-form.  He would not let Radhita out of his direct body space where she stood bravely, feeling protected by him.  Radhita observed in Gai a fathomless calm and inner resolve which seemed to her to be almost meditative as he studied the outlaw's figure much as a mere target.  She found herself in this moment with Giant Little, for it instructed her as to his presence in battle even more now that she had become more acquainted with him.

     Finally, the outlaw gained his courage somewhat and pulled out his long, silver sword.  He lifted it into the air towards the great dragon who was slightly taller than the horse upon which Durydon rode.  As he began to conceive of a target in the dragon, the dragon spewed forth a kind of fire which was akin to barely shining light.  That dragon fire melted the blade of the sword of Durydon who then yelped in horror at what he saw, did an about-face in total fear, and with eyes awide that bad outlaw raced at top speed down the shore of the pond to the other end where he disappeared into the woods by another trail.  Catster calmly returned to his cheetah form and then said to the grateful young couple, "He won't be back to make a similar foray and then try to turn it into a statement, now, will he?"

     Giant Little and Radhita looked at each other.  Radhita looked at Catster and said, "No."  

     Giant Little nodded at Radhita after she answered and then said gently and lovingly to her, "Nor will he forget this day, this event."

     Catster then reminded Radhita, "You, courageous young lady, struck the first blow."

     Radhita said, "Yes, because I was safe in Gai's arms.  Gai let go of me long enough to throw the rock at the horrible man.  The rock was to me an amulet which I carried all throughout the ordeal when I was kidnapped.  I found it, and it resembled white marble.  It had always protected me."

     Catster then looked at Radhita with compassion, and said, "What's that sitting on the table?"

     Radhita went over to the oak-rock table and in amazement she saw her little stone.  She picked it up, examined it carefully and then referred to Catster, saying while she was in deep thought, "It seemed to be larger when it was in the air on its path to hit that gangster.  Now it is back to normal."  She looked next at Catster, saying, "How did it get here?  I thought it was gone forever when I let go of it."

     Catster said, "We-ell, where would it go?"

     Radhita assumed a knowing look; then she said in utter amazement, "Wherever you might put it, oh you of the ethereal inner kingdom of truth and goodness.  You, who goes by the name of Catster whilst you might also become as in dragon-form."

     "Let us see what avails the three parks workers.  They must be informed of the recent development."  All three laughed at this quip of Catster, and Victory whinnied a little.  Gai offered to visit them in the woods on the other side of the pond.  Catster then said in his uncannily winning way, "Why don't you call them forth with some sweet music on the flute, Gai?  The worst is over.  They and everyone are safe now.  Durydon, the bad captain, will not be back.  But they do not call him the Daring Don for any small reason.  You know that."

     Gai felt so profoundly sorry that the visitors from the local municipality parks crew had ever witnessed such a threat and such rash behavior by the area's leading outlaw, Durydon.  He looked towards the woods on the other side of Strong Pond where they were still hiding, and his heart went out to them.  Radhita felt the same way and said to her newly found consort, "Giant Little, my most beloved friend on this Earth.  Your compassion for those men across the pond does not escape me.  I am certain that if they hear the happy sound of your mellifluous flute, they will come forth."

     Giant Little looked at Radhita with an appreciation of her caring nature.  He said to her, "My dear one,  I am not so much concerned for them this moment as I wish to make certain that you see the likely results of the rudeness we just tolerated and the level of intervention to which we were elevated in our time of dire need.  Please see that Catster's plan in repelling Durydon as he did was no small measure for us and for our time and repose here at this beautiful Strong Pond.  It was intended by Catster to actually clear this spot into the near future. Catster wants you to continue to recover here more fully from the entire span of time in which you lived as a target to Durydon's cohorts who had taken you hostage through that heinous act of kidnapping.  We mean this, Catster and I.  You are going to take rest and gain a greater sense of deliverance while we stay here.  Nobody has driven us out.  Nobody will drive us out."

     Catster then applied his palliative powers to the genteel young lady, soothing her further with these words: "The price we paid for that stormy battle is great, Radhita, but it is not as great when we consider that Durydon and his outlaw gang will not make another foray into the Strong Pond surround for a long time yet to come.  As I said: not while we are here.  We have won a span of peace through that engagement with the outlaw.  If there is a purpose in an evil deed, that is the purpose of that battle as I see it.  Both sides must endure an act of destruction, and the one who has been targeted by such an act can only recover by seeing an ultimate reconstruction after the dissolution into such outrageous civic discord as we just witnessed here at this tranquil place of retreat."

     In her characteristic astute mind for steep concepts in the face of dire strife, Radhita calmly reflected for a brief moment upon the caring ways of her friends.  How could she embrace their love for her with an equal love back?  Soon she mustered an answer and said simply, "My dear friends, I must impress upon you that this event of the ulterior intervention to which we were uplifted will probably heal me and change even more completely the way I now view the kidnapping crime I just took; this crime had landed me with you in this great civic strife in the state of Bohemia.  Whatever I can do to integrate more fully the miraculous things I have seen unfolded with you since you rescued me is a matter of my perception of who you all are.  Now that I see how you intervene and from what ultimate plane you so manipulate the physical world with its evil towards me, I can learn how to accept the tragedy of my kidnapping heroically; now that I see this, I want only to be heroic like you yourselves.  I want to see things as you see them and be with you to learn more.  I am fully enlightened by this supernatural haven in which I now abide with you.  I feel protected, and just now I saw that I am ready for self-defense.  I am only appreciative of the revelations of goodness and remarkable power which live in the hearts of you yourselves, my bold and strong defenders.  I am at a loss to find any remorse for the battles past.  Now I do espy the truth through you; it is indeed the supernal truth.  I stand to be glad at your service as you are glad to be at mine.  Let me meld into this situation and into any situation we might face henceforward with the greatest heart for truth; in addition, may I be ready to contribute to our challenges and to our times here and ahead.  For I believe that this was meant to happen to me only so that I could attain to greater enlightenment by the lessons which have been rendered me through your collective aegis and remarkable instruction.  I thrive on your goodness to me and in general.  Now I have spoken my heart for truth.  May I also live my heart with you.  You cause me to reflect upon the wisdom of my great father.  That is a compliment I must pay you at this time." 

 

     Gai closed his eyes when Radhita finished her eloquent answer to his and Catster's concerns for her. He swooned; he had heard the most eloquent and beautiful young lady speak the truth regarding her place with them, seeing that her brilliance was truly great. He had fallen more deeply in love with her when once she stated her concepts of how the truth had become her vehicle, and he saw that she had been freed through the enlightenment rendered her by the battle.  She was now freed from within herself.  Gai reflected on how she had strived to make a target of Durydon as he galloped past once he had himself swooped her into his arms and away from the encroaching figure.  He was deeply inspired by the courage and presence she had thus shown in the battle.  How he admired the truthful words she had just uttered.  He rejoiced to the quick of his being that he had ever found such a magnificent young princess.  His love for her was swelling in his heart, and he opened his eyes to observe her beauty to match the inner being who had just spoken through to him, for that inner being was equally beautiful. Gently Gai said to Radhita, "I have never met anyone like you, my love.  I am enamored more of you since you have thus spoken.  When I finish savoring the words of your heart I have just heard, I will answer you with flute music.  May the others here, however repulsed from normal and good accord they had been, also be privy to the same harmony and melody I would offer you, Radhita." With that he took her hand and kissed it, and Radhita was filled with love for Giant Little. Her eyes glistened in the sun, her face was filled with supernal peace, and she seemed speechless at Gai's show of affection for her. Gai looked then at the peaceful water and saw the clear sky overhead reflected on its glassy surface. Then he said, "How I now know why I was ever born; for I was born to marry you, my lovely princess."

     Radhita was yet a shy maiden, and she recalled how all of the horror earlier had been commanded by an actual supernatural worker of wonders, Catster, who had transformed into a dragon to save them.  When she remembered how Gai acted in the foray, she saw that he was at home with such supernally directed events.  Now she knew she had been delivered to a most powerful and unique young lad, and that deliverance would be for a lifetime.  As she mulled this over, Gai followed her quietness and felt fulfilled that she was becoming more and more aware of the kind of life he had to offer her.  He smiled at her and asked her to find the flute.  She dutifully went to his saddle pack to procure it, and then Giant Little began to play gloriously upon his flute.  The creatures gathered once again as if knowing somehow magically that all in the area had been delivered to peace and harmony for ever more.  The birds close by would add in their grace notes at any musical pause in Gai's concert-giving.  Two deer peeked out of the woods from across the way.  They calmly walked out to the clearing and watched the people and Catster and Victory sway lovingly to the beautiful sounds which rang true in the air for all to hear.  Before long the three parks workers were seen standing on the opposite shore, watching in amazement the marvelous musician of Giant Little as he commanded the day with measure upon meter of the message of mirth and golden happiness of his heroic heart he wished to be heard and made known to all.  They made their way over to the little party so as to be closer to this glad messenger Giant Little and so as to meet the ones upon whom they had come to spy.  Now the tension in the air of earlier battle had been exorcised and no longer lingered there.  There now was a paradise to be seen; it was a golden paradise.  There were two happy youths who were alive in that paradise of all paradises as if no tomorrow could ever befall them which might bring trouble or doom upon them or upon anybody in their vicinity.  All this was read in Gai's music and in the air which received his musical message that day.  This to the parks workers was an undeniable and miraculous moment to behold, and they joined it with glad heart accordingly.  As they did so silently join the happy party, they felt their welcome most totally -- as totally as Gai sang his heart for them through the magic of his flute. 

     After some time, the remarkable joy which had been shared by everyone in the spellbinding love of Giant Little's music was furthered by his pause to make verbal comment to the newcomers in the picnic area by the table and fireplace.  By now they had absorbed such a powerful message of truth from the lad as he played on his flute that they seemed to know him quite well.  When Giant Little stopped playing, the eldest parks worker spoke effusively to Giant Little before Giant Little himself could speak, rendering him the highest words of praise he could muster.  He was brimming over with such emotions as Giant Little had stirred in him.  The greatest, humble admiration reflected from his eyes as he said to Giant Little, "My young lad, you have a gift beyond description, a gift of music; that was music the likes of which I have never, ever heard.  It is enchanting; it is out-of-the-ordinary.  Where did you ever learn to play the flute like that?"

     Giant Little bowed dutifully to the elder of the town, and as he did so, there was a great applause from everyone there in the small gathering.  Then the same elder exclaimed, "It is as if the angels could sing with you and be by your side.  It is as if they are your secret guardians, telling you each note to play and how to meld it into the sequence which just flows from you such that you do not even choose it.  It is to me like you are a messenger of some kind.  I have, I tell you, never heard anything like it."  Then he looked at his two cohorts and with great enthusiasm embraced them with these words: "Let there be a concert in the town square this coming summer that more people can hear this magic, this music!"

     Giant Little bowed his head slightly when he heard the airing of such an elevated idea that he would be invited to perform a music concert in a town located in the politically contentious nation-state of Bohemia.  He worked on the idea almost invisibly in his mind, and then he saw one of the parks workers enthusiastically clap his hands together, shine forth a bright smile, and exclaim loudly, "We cannot waste a day in setting it up.  We could build him a platform and set up the chairs from the church for the people, so they could sit and hear him."

     "I know a sign-maker who could be appointed to make several signs to give public announcement so that all would be sure to come and to attend this musical prodigy in concert.  This must not be missed.  That lad has a message," said the third maintenance man with a serious strain in his voice.

     Giant Little assented first mentally and more definitely than you can imagine even despite the conflict which was rife in the land. This was conflict in which his own daring deeds did often defeat great evil throughout Bohemia.  Gai looked over at Catster who was almost playing the part of a dumb creature.  Catster gave Gai a sign that he should accept the invitation by licking his left paw and giving an extra nod of his head in one its licking motions; this nod might have appeared to the usual observer as a motion of his devotion to cleaning his foot.  Gai observed the three visitors calmly and then deftly delayed the direct acceptance of the invitation to play in deference to his young lady.  He wished to inject some social grace on the behalf of Radhita whose uncertain status was of course a potential interference with the proposed concert.  Gai was capable of hiding any such doubt which the political situation at hand was trying upon him.  Yet, Gai was not deceitful; rather, he was compassionate and filled with an acceptance of the people before him.  He looked at Radhita and smiled upon her.  Then he politely said to the three visitors, "It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you three who honor us today with your visit my closest and most beloved friend, the young lady of my heart for now and for always, Radhita.  My name is Philip Latel and we are glad to meet you."

     Just then there came in quick fashion the sound of a runner on the trail.  He could be heard puffing and pounding through the woods where not too long before the wicked Durydon had made his commandeering entry.  As the idea of a flute concert had only been briefly broached among the members of the party, Gai and Radhita seemed to share a mutual sense of relief that this idea was now momentarily delayed by the sudden sweep of the runner into the clearing by the pond.  It seemed further to Gai that the parks workers from the municipality centered in the town of Bohan were expecting the runner; the runner was a messenger from the council-at-large.  As Gai expected, the supervisor of the three men spoke to the messenger as he stopped after his demanding journey to Strong Pond from Bohan: "We were wondering when you would arrive this day.  Tell me, what is the condition of the runway?  Did the repairs after the winter make a difference for you?"

     The runner was winding down from his run and he nodded successively as he sought the breath for verbal exchange.  Then he removed his small backpack from his back, reached inside for the letter he was to deliver and smiled broadly to the town elder as he handed it to him.  Then he spoke, "This is from the Council of Eldermen of Bohan who ask that you send back with me an immediate reply, Curtis.  You must be Curtis Goldenfellow?"

     Curtis took the document directly into his curious eyes, saying in his congenial way, "Yes, I am Curtis Goldenfellow.  And your name?"

     "I am Bogdhan Bogdhan.  Pleased to meet you,"  the brave and gifted runner said with a smile.  "This is certainly a great place to see on a day like this.  It is so quiet and beautiful here at Strong Pond today," Bogdhan said as he mused briefly on the still water.

     Curtis looked at his two cohorts and suggested that they all conduct their business over by the building site.  Before departing the company of the unusual visitors, however, Curtis politely made a suggestion to Gai and Radhita regarding the concert.  "Excuse us, Philip and Radhita, but this message which Bogdhan has so masterfully delivered us must be answered with appropriate dispatch.  However, if you like, I can suggest in this return message herein to the Council of Bohan that you be cordially received for the giving of a music concert later on this summer some time.  Perhaps we will have an idea of precisely when that public forum would be available to you; that is, if you are going to be here tomorrow, as well.  I should be sending our messenger back within the next few minutes after our meeting concerning the building materials for the new dock over there.  It is a budgeting problem we are having.  We are trying to sort out a financial obstacle before a deadline comes up with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the national governmental level.  Our parks improvements are part of a wider governmental source of funding than the local municipality which includes the town of Bohan."

     Giant Little heard this out.  He was most pleased to hear that there would be a great delay in the time before the concert might be given.  "Yes, that is good to hear," he replied with ease.   Gai then deferred to his sweetheart, saying politely,  "However, it is not my decision directly.  I must refer you to Radhita and let her speak for us as to the timing of the concert you propose."  Philip then looked at Radhita and said, "What plans do you have for the months ahead this summer, Radhita?  We are fortunate to be on summer vacation from school at the same time.  When could we visit the stately and quaint town of Bohan so as to be honored with the presence of the townspeople at a concert as Curtis suggests?"

     Radhita gathered in her courage invisibly. With an even mind and with one which reflected to Gai and to the silent Catster a well-rounded vision of the potential meaning of the would-be event of a flute concert for the people in Bohan, she reflected briefly with great heart for all. Then she offered a specific time.  "Let us say that the middle of the second month would be best for us; say, sometime in mid-July.  That would be a great time for the people of Bohan to hear your flight in flute fancy and fantasy.  You are the most skilled musician I have ever heard.  They must hear you for that reason if not for the furtherance of the arts in general.  That is something which our cultural programs in the state of Liberty Love Forest always support.  The cultural endowment upon the people is of high priority.  We would certainly be most pleased to be present at such time as would be allowed for us to prepare and for you to prepare, as well, you citizens of the state of Bohemia.  We are most honored to receive such an important invitation as you have posed to us."

     Curtis Goldenfellow was impressed with the formality and demeanor of these two youths, and he never let on that he was aware of the well-known identity of Giant Little.  Nor did he lay bare his mind to Radhita's skillful intimation that she was not a citizen of Bohemia.  In truth, Curtis did know that it was Giant Little with whom he spoke and also that he had rescued the young lady from Durydon's crime of kidnapping.  Word had spread quickly.  He nodded his head for a few moments after he heard Radhita's words, and then a slightly distracted look came over his face as his eyes took on a faint, faraway look.  He snapped his eyes back to Giant Little dutifully and queried in a much fainter tone, "Pray tell, lad, was it you who vanquished that strange invader who swept through here in a sudden whirlwind?  Was that not the Durydon who fell to your prowess?  We recognized him and ran for cover since we are not armed this day.  National law says that only hired military personnel are allowed to bear arms on sites of municipal projects, so we were at the mercy of the laws of the outlaws, the vagaries of the violent ones, when he burst into Strong Pond earlier.  I was carried out of the memory of that when I heard the magic of your flute music, my fine young lad.  Speak on this."

     Giant Little was surprised to see how astute the mind of Curtis who had just dealt with such an unwieldy situation which he had partly witnessed before hiding in the woods to escape the mad outlaw's notice.  Gai was sympathetic to the vulnerability of the three parks workers and immediately said to him, "It seems to be unfair for you to have to work at such great risk with no weapons of self-defense allowed you.  These are not peaceful times in the state of Bohemia.  How do you manage?"

     Curtis waited a moment and then looked at Gai in the eyes, saying, "I refuse to work on days when I feel that crime will strike at me.  I even sensed something like that today, but I was pressured by the call of duty over the financial deadline we are about to meet.  I admit that I  took a chance to come here today."

     Giant Little replied, "Then you are indeed blessed."

     Curtis pried further, hoping to hear a direct answer.  "How did you manage to rid this park of Durydon?  He is the most dangerous of the dangerous."

     "That was supernatural intervention, Mr. Goldenfellow.  We were all saved just now by supernatural intervention," Giant Little answered.

     The messenger spoke up on the behalf of what civic order was retained in Bohemia, volunteering at this juncture, "Did you know that the runways are declared to be held for free and safe passage, and they are immune to subversion by those dastardly outlaws?  Every runner is to be allowed safe passage at all times; even in times of dire and acute civic strife is there declared to be safe passage according to the laws and bylaws which are to be honored.  This is a victory of the current prime minister of our state.  He was able to reach a sanction for the runways on the behalf of the need for efficient communication on all sides with Durydon the infamous leader.  Even the unruly and the renegades respect that agreement."

     Giant Little was aware that these men were also aware of his exploits on the behalf of the good people of Bohemia even though they would not directly admit it to him, for he could read their knowledge of him in their mindsets as they spoke and observed with him that day.  He was glad of the exchange since it was softening the overall pending situation into which he had heroically entered in the saving of his beloved princess.  He very humbly observed to the runner, "May you be safe in your missions always, Bogdhan.  That sanction with Durydon for the runways is the equivalent of a political feat, my friend, for those roads and trails are dangerous for the average passer.  I have more than once helped those under attack by robbers and muggers.  Let us hope for the conquering and the full vanquishment of these terrible outlaws in these times we do witness."

     Just then Gai caught a message from Catster who began to brandish his tail  in order to get his attention.  He studied Catster silently for a few seconds.  This made him realize that the men before him were of the level of awareness and politeness to create a decorum politically through which he might navigate with Radhita as he accomplished her complete rescue back to her parents.  Upon this realization Giant Little declared openly, "My sweetheart, Radhita, is the daughter of the prime minister of the neighboring nation-state of Liberty Love Forest.  She will certainly report to her father on the sociopolitical conditions we observe here."

     Curtis Goldenfellow remarked with little hesitation at this intimation of Radhita's family status, "You also speak with the mind of one who has contemplated from higher ideals and from solid values, my young lady.  It does not surprise me to hear that you are the daughter of the prime minister of a nation-state.  Liberty Love Forest is a political ideal we of Bohemia would emulate.  We are so fortunate as to make your acquaintance; further, we would like to say that we would hope to achieve here in Bohemia the excellence in civic order that leaders like your own father keep.  That order certainly allows a greater sense of freedom for all the people."

     Radhita smiled graciously and answered, "My gratitude for that is with you, Mr. Goldenfellow.  I will also be most dutiful towards you and the nation-state of Bohemia in any way I can, so I will inform my father and his ministers of your current state of affairs here with the greatest care and accuracy of report.  I am certain that we can guard our mutual good accord at all costs.  You people have the greatest insight and have kept the finest decorum for us youths to retain in return."

     "Yes.  There is a purpose in this event here today, my young friends," Curtis observed with detachment.

     "My father and his cabinet work diligently to see after the questions relating to the civic strife in Bohemia and care deeply for your successes.  At times he fears for your very stability as a nation-state.  I want to tell you that," Radhita volunteered with the most transparent honesty and knowledge of her father's inner mind regarding the controversial nation-state.

  "I shall have to relay that to the mayor of Bohan, Radhita.  Thank you for the good word," Curtis retorted.   "I will look for you two tomorrow and hopefully report at that time on the precise date of our projected concert and also, of course, the place in Bohan where it will be held.  For now we must accomplish our immediate duties so that our messenger can make his run back to Bohan."  Then Curtis looked at his associates, searching them for their exact understanding of the status of things regarding the political framework within which they were working.  He said boldly in his baritone voice, "Men?  Are you with me?"

     The other two parks men were spontaneous in their readiness to conduct their tasks.  At the same time, they both had read the deeper meaning in the call to work of their supervisor, and one of them quipped congenially, "That we are.  So is all of Bohemia with you."

     Giant Little and Radhita beamed at this remark of the worker.  Radhita nodded and smiled famously at the three workers before they left so that any idea of endangerment or deeper intrigue created by her simple presence there at Strong Pond was not in the air between the two parties.  Gai reflected on this realization of their political prowess; he reflected upon all of them.  He then understood the meaning of the kidnapping of Radhita in a fuller context than previous to this meeting with representatives of Bohan, and he caught Curtis as he was a few steps away with the promise that they would be there at the pond on the morrow.

 

 C hapter 5

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     The ornate little porch of Bogdhan Bogdhan was his favorite breakfast spot in the mild seasons.  There was green ivy covering the metal curlicues all around the frame of the white wooden porch and pots of flowers hanging intermittently in the spaces between the beams.  On the south side of the porch was a gentle seating swing large enough to accommodate him if he chose to spend the night there for the cool breezes and fragrances available for comfort.  Bogdhan lived in the town of Bohan not far from the town square on a quaint side street called Small Street.  Small Street was a one-way street lined with beautiful three-story apartment buildings made of marble stone with a few houses scattered among them, as well.  His porch overlooked  a municipal  park where there were walkways, flowerbeds, graceful willow trees, colorful shrubbery and a fountain spewing water gracefully to the sky.  It was late dawn when he set the table for breakfast on the day after he had delivered the important document to Curtis Goldenfellow at Strong Pond.  He placed his coffee pot down on the table carefully as he remembered his auspicious meeting with Giant Little.  He had heard tales of Giant Little and had been glad of the opportunity to hint at his secret belief that the runways of Bohemia were somehow kept immune to crime by powers other than those from the civic sector.  In his own exploits as a hired runner for the government of Bohemia, he had often sensed grave trouble ahead on the run as if evil were encroaching.  A couple of times Bogdhan had even seen unusual happenings; these were events the likes of which he never spoke.  As he reflected on the day before him, he wondered what might be his assignment for the day.  Usually a post messenger would leave a written message on his door in the hour just before dawn, and this morning Bogdhan wanted to delay before checking his door.  He wanted to savor the last few minutes of hope that he might be the designated runner to Strong Pond once again.  As he mulled over his superior performance on the return run from Strong Pond where he had taken several minutes off his expected time, he beamed with his own self-gratification.  He had hidden with those minutes gained by his extra speed the minutes he had spent in conversation with the two parties at the site.  This would certainly help to qualify him for any run back to that politically charged place today, and he valued the time and prayer he would enjoy at breakfast on his third-story porch overlooking the scenic Border Park.  Little did he know that no assignment had been delivered at his door as of the moment he sat down to eat.  It had been unusual for him to have been given an assignment as on the previous day which had had the added feature of being a matter of direct and vital interest to the national security. However, it was expected by those in his line of work that such contentious assignments would one day become more frequent if the overall situation and political unrest were to escalate gravely.  The primary dedicated interest of the infantry reserve comprised of messengers was to mingle among the people in everyday concerns, commerce and politicking.  This intermingling would  keep order and engender among the people a mental grip on socio-political conditions since they would come to know the messengers interpersonally.  It was believed that strong communication ties throughout the nation of Bohemia via the runways would make all efforts on the behalf of law and order more likely to give good results.  It would serve the best interests of all to keep the runways clear of conflict on the behalf the peace and order which were to be served by a strong communication provision.  This network of runways was part of a long-standing tradition in Bohemia.  Currently, that runners' network held a vital interest to the stability of the overall nation and gave great promise to the side of good and certainly to the side of law and order.  

     As Bogdhan was finishing his meal and his last cup of coffee, he heard the footsteps of a fellow runner arriving down Small Street.  He bolted up from his seat at the table to save his associate the steps up the stairs, so he figured; the arrival of the runner at this time surely meant that his assignment for the day was just arriving.  On some days he had none.  On the current day, he could sense through the butterflies in his stomach that he would be the one elected to return to Strong Pond.  With piqued anticipation of such a great opportunity to serve the wider national interest accordingly, Bogdhan ran out his door and down the two flights of stairs to receive the messenger from the Department of Messengery.  As he opened the door to the apartment building at 10,000 Small Street, Bogdhan was greeted by one of his associates.

     Without a word between them or even a glimpse at the assignment Bogdhan knew that he was right -- Strong Pond was to be his next exploit in the civic strife associated with his line of work.  His associate Bob Stround was aware of the elation Bogdhan emanated.  Bob looked at Bogdhan compassionately and nodded once a partial nod.  He saw how confident and truly transcendent the high-spirited athlete was at this moment and then said, "We knew it would be you who would be chosen for this run and for this important mission.  There were no bets on it."

     "I am privileged at this moment in the history of our restless country, Bob.  Thank you for your good words.  I appreciate this," Bogdhan said in a humble way, bowing his head in deep reverence.  Then he looked at his friend, saying, "The most beautiful young lady awaits my heroic departure.  What is the hour at which I am to depart?" As he asked after his departure time, he was opening the envelope in search of an answer.

     "I heard at ten this morning.  But you can double-check," Bob said in a tone supportive of his courageous cohort.  "What does it say?"

     Bogdhan laughed a little at the answer from Bob and quipped, "Yes, I can double-check; that is for sure.  I can double-check on all of Strong Pond and on the political hostage whom I will see there on my repeat journey when I double-back.  I am so glad of this assignment -- I leave the town junction at ten this morning just as you said; it says so right here."

     "I think the reason for the assignment should be relayed to you this moment, Bogdhan.  The Chief Dispatcher quietly and confidentially told me to pass on to you a message," Bob gently related to his friend now that the initial moment of the work ahead for him had passed. 

     Bogdhan nodded in readiness to hear the inner message not mentioned on the paper in his hand.  "The Chief Dispatcher had told me that the content of the letter to the Parks Maintenance Supervisor Curtis Goldenfellow concerns the scheduling of a certain concert to be hosted here in Bohan where a young flutist will play.  But this is for the time being not to be revealed to anyone outside the Department of Messengery of Bohemia.  We all know about it due to a spy who covered the pond yesterday who is someone neither you nor I knows; however, that information is to be held strictly confidential until such time as there is word from the prime minister of Liberty Love Forest.  That might take as much as a few weeks.  We of this department must know, for it is our higher and nobler purpose which will save us and spur us on in this mission to shore up our ties with the nation-state of Liberty Love Forest.  I further received several words from our reserve of infantrymen of the Department of Messengery who all wish you the best on your assignment.  They asked me to pass on their good sentiments for you.  It seems to me that no one is really envious of you for this job today," Bob Stround stated evenly and eloquently to his valued associate.

     Bogdhan heard through the words and emotions of his co-worker the inner spirit of his entire regiment.  This regiment was comprised of civilian reservists who stood on guard in case of an acute outbreak of wider conflict in the nation.  They lived as private citizens in higher duty to the nation as messengers, but they were messengers conducting mostly non-intelligence assignments at large; they trained together as a regiment of foot soldiers weekly for a full day.  Scores of infantrymen would travel to an army camp not too far from Bohan for the weekly military camps.  Some who lived at great distances would attend only bi-weekly for two days at a time.  They were a growing force in the nation-state and they gave great solace to the wider citizenry.  They also received commission even though they all retained livelihood status in the civilian sector.  

     "Bob, this is indeed good of you to reflect the spirit of our fellow messengers.  Please tell them I am with the divine principle.  No harm will befall me, but harm will hover over me as I go.  Word of them from you gives me a gift of auspiciousness.  Thank you for your support.  And thank you for theirs."  This statement was spoken to Bob before Bogdhan receded with a turn on his left heel in semi-military demeanor after which he stiffened like a soldier as he faced his individual path back to the foot of the stairwell.

     "God bless you.  Bogdhan, God bless you on your way," Bob said evenly.

     "Yes, I hear you.  I must get ready.  See you later," Bogdhan said over his shoulder before he tackled the stairs two at a time.  

     Bob Stround watched as his cohort, who was now centrally involved in a fomenting civil war in Bohemia, departed bravely for his domicile in order to make ready for the mission ahead.  Bob also felt close to Bogdhan at this moment pending before both of them; he had been self-poised before delivering him the assignment.  He had run double-runs with Bogdhan on a couple of previous missions and also had worked with him in several relay runs to wider points in the nation.  With such close experience in working with Bogdhan registered firmly in his cognizance, Bob retained a solid faith in him for the work at hand.  In fact, he had tried to volunteer for a double-run with him on this day through the Chief Dispatcher; however, since the distance to Strong Pond was only about 25 miles, which was considered to be a reasonable distance even despite the sensitive nature of the document to be in hand, there was said to be no need to have two runners for the job.  Bob had tried to establish an issue on the point, weighing persuasively on the behalf of his idea that the acute nature of the situation at Strong Pond might call for unusual measure in case of trouble. 

     Before Bob had had a chance to reveal to his friend and esteemed associate his efforts to shore up the success of the mission to Strong Pond with an equal hand, his own, Bogdhan had absented himself in full absorption and devoted surrender to the task before him.  Bob was unsure of what to do in this instance.  He perfunctorily left the lobby of 10,000 Small Street, put his hands in his pockets, and almost moseyed down the street still slightly dim in the first hour of the day.  He walked slowly with his head down as he pondered the cobblestones diligently for nothing better to do.  He then surpassed his original disappointment in not having spoken his full heart to Bogdhan; after all, his aim in such patient restraint had been to provide his cohort a clear and one-pointed goal suitable to the magnitude of the event.  While Bogdhan was contemplating his mission, Bob did not want to clutter such contemplation with a report of the effete attempt on his own part to make the run with him.  Rather, he had decided  to read Bogdhan's readiness to hear him first and to be there for him if he thought that he needed it.  Now Bob had his answer.  He was  ready to resolve his own mind into a detachment from his offer to support and join the run personally.  What he had just seen was fundamentally telling and quite remarkable to him.  Bob had seen Bogdhan's fearless approach to the work as well as his prescience in battle.  There had been no opening or need for Bob to coddle Bogdhan at all.  All was well, and, as Bob realized this, he felt secure and inspired for all of his fellow infantrymen.  Among them was a towering man of courage and vision, and perhaps they would learn more of this remarkable Bogdhan through the exploit imminent on the scene in Bohan and at Strong Pond.  Bob felt at once relieved and enlightened now that he had fully integrated his brief meeting with Bogdhan into his conscious awareness.  His next duty would be to report on this meeting to others in their regiment who were waiting to hear of it.  He readied his mind for that, and, as he did so, he smiled uncontrollably.  What a great day was unfolding, Bob Stround sensed.  Then he began to wonder when Bogdhan would return from Strong Pond in the evening, for he wanted to give him a welcoming back and a solid dinner, if possible.   

     Bob attended a local eatery for breakfast called Transcendentals located only a couple of blocks from Bogdhan's place.  Transcendentals is both an upscale restaurant and a popular gathering place.  People from outside the city who travel in for business or governing affairs often eat there since it is located close by the city's hotels.  Many an informal meeting regarding the government's political affairs have occurred over the tables at Transcendentals.  One entire side of the attractive restaurant is an extensive picture window overlooking the pond in a well-landscaped central square which is usually busied with swans and ducks.  A few small tables sprinkle the area by the window which captures the national spirit of Bohemia with the view of a national monument, a stately statue of Arch General Borders sitting on a beautiful white horse.  The other side of the restaurant consists of several little alcoves as seating arrangements.  Overhanging plants grace the decor while at the time they form soft dividers between each individual seating area.  Beautiful mahogany tables sculpt out a warm welcome in each separate nook, each nook being also concretely defined from the floor up by minor stone walls no more than three feet high and covered with ivy.  Colorful flowers dominate each nook except for the allure of grand paintings in mural style on the walls with which they have to compete.  The murals depict the nation's capital buildings and monuments as well as a bucolic scene of nature.

     Bob took a seat in one of the smaller nooks to order some food and coffee and ask for the morning newspaper.  While he was waiting for service, there arrived through the door of Transcendentals an elderly gent who spoke of military through his mind and demeanor, Bob observed distantly.  Then he dismissed his observation as a subjectively born purport with no match in reality.  Bob gazed out the window; his eyes went straight to the monument erected in honor of Arch General Borders.  As he turned his head to look a second time at the customer who had just arrived at the restaurant, to Bob's surprise the elderly one proceeded to catch his eye as he was walking towards him.  This elder paused for a moment, breaking his step.  He then proceeded to give Bob Stround a slight salute in military fashion.  His eyes sparkled, asking somehow subtly for some glint of a reaction from Bob.  Bob did not know what to think; he suppressed his reading of the summoning forth of a salute in answer, not knowing what to do.  As he reached the nook where Bob was seated, this man of a rather luminous personality who shone a remarkable, verily unique charisma spoke; there came a rich, deep voice which announced an exact mission: "Yes, I would like to join you for the morning repast, young man, if I may.  My name is Arch General Robert Borders.  Allow me to introduce myself to you this morning as I have a certain purpose here."

     Bob sat straight for a second and then absorbed more fully what he had just heard.  As he gulped in disbelief, his head moved slightly forward briefly.  He then made quick work to his feet and went into a polite salute.  He summarily apologized for not having known who had greeted him with the quick words, "Yes, I am Robert Stround.  My apologies, great sir, for not having known you.  I am most honored to see you, to meet you."  Though as unexpected as this visit was to him, Bob collected himself as he understood the historically personified blessing to Bohemia who stood before him at least by categorical identity.  

     "I would be honored to share this morning's meal with you," Bob declared as he further collected himself unto such a great moment as to meet the renowned military legend of his nation-state.  Indeed, Bob Stround was required now to integrate what was happening and yet retain his own presence while infusing some grace into the remarkable situation squarely before him.  He knew not what further to say, barely even remembering what he had already said; upon reflection, he could only summon up what he knew of Arch General Borders from his knowledge of military history.  Small talk was the furthest thing from Bob's mind.  He at once decided to meet the unexpected dignitary on the grounds of his great personal heritage as national hero, therefore.  Upon that vaguely derived decision under the ominous pressure he was feeling, Bob motioned to the retired general to have a seat with him at the table.  "Please, take a seat," he said as if now finally in preparation for a more real involvement in this incipient rapprochement with history.  The ancient general was surveying the surround in the restaurant and did not acknowledge the invitation to take a seat.  The place was quiet that morning, he saw; the privacy afforded in the alcove where Bob sat put the mind of the elder at ease.  He searched now the face of Bob Stround with a slight inquisitiveness which sparked a response from Bob.

     "Yes, Arch General Borders?  I have heard about your heroic record in securing the border which is now under contention with the neighboring state of Pristinia, oh great one, most honored arch general of Bohemia," Lieutenant Stround recounted carefully.  Borders stood straight and stately as he heard the youth through, not responding with any direct emotion or recognition.  It was as if the wind of the past had already moved through the military giant's soul and needed not in his mind be reviewed at all on the occasion at hand.

     Bob continued on nevertheless, refusing to sit again until he was joined.  "You are verily missed among the living ranks and stand heroically loved in the memory of our infantry," he countered.  "I am most deeply honored to share this breakfast table with you, most revered Arch General Borders.  I simply did not recognize you; I am sorry."  Bob was steadily becoming more and more overcome with elation at this totally unexpected encounter with his greatest military hero, a hero whose record had inspired him to join the military as a messenger.  "May I shake your hand, revered sir?"  

     Arch General Borders extended his hand for a sincere, brief handshake.  "Aahh, so my reclusive nature does not go unnoticed after all," the ancient general intimated with a sterling detachment.  "May I?" he queried as he motioned to the seat across from Bob Stround.

     "Please, this is an unexpected honor, Arch General Borders," Bob repeated.  "Let me get the waiter and summon up your meal."

     "Black coffee, some orange juice and toasted bread, that is all I require.  I have not been out for my morning exercise like you yourself," the elder joked.

     The waiter arrived forthwith, saying, "What would you like this morning?  Coffee?  Water, fine sir?"

     "Please provide orange juice and toasted bread with butter for my esteemed associate.  Also, hot cereal, Morning Potatoes, and toasted bread for me, please.  Coffee and water for us both, if you will," Bob Stround replied.

     "Very well.  And what kind of cereal do you prefer, young man?" the waiter asked.

     "Oatmeal would be fine," Bob said.  "Please flavor it with cinnamon."

     "At your service," the waiter said pleasantly as he looked with a distant wonderment at the elder dignitary, trying to figure out who he was momentarily.  Arch General Borders ignored the waiter at this point and waited passively for the moment to change.  Bob had the presence of mind even despite this encounter with walking history to observe how the arch general remained discreet unto the waiter and did not wish to reveal himself more openly.

     Once the waiter departed for the kitchen to place the order, Bob Stround turned his mind to the general's mention of his morning exercise as they sat in patient silence with one another.  This mention had provided him a glimpse of a reference to the current, broader and contentious assignment in which he had played the part of postman on the behalf of delivering the messengery assignment of Strong Pond to Bogdhan Bogdhan.  He could not then hide his worshipful mind for the historic figure who had out of nowhere precipitated, first of all; and furthermore, the retired arch general arrived on the moment so very critical to his profound personal concerns for the nation-state of Bohemia just after the kidnapping by Durydon of Radhita had occurred.  The general seemed to know that he was being of such service to Bob, and he broke the silence, going straight to his point as he said carefully, "Now tell me, young man, do you have any question or questions regarding me myself which I might answer before we concern ourselves with certain of the contemporaneous matters?"

     Bob reflected for a moment.  He saw two steady, clear blue eyes posed like two mirrors patiently waiting to be of service in a most egoless way.  He was indeed grateful of this query, for it spoke of friendliness and displayed the arch general’s initiative to become better acquainted with him, making him feel even more deeply honored.  This gave Bob the presence of mind to ask immediately after the name of Borders.  "Tell me, most esteemed one to all of Bohemia, how is it that your family name matches the military mission you had been assigned so many years ago?  Your name is Borders, and you had also saved the border in the battle with Pristinia.  I have heard and read arguments and counterarguments which discuss whether or not your great ancestor had earned the family name in yet a similar battle before historical record was taken.  I have always wondered what the truth is of how your name matched the exploits at the border battle you commanded.  Do you mind my asking you?"     

     "That is a mere coincidence; that is all," the retired general said.  "You are not the first of the, well, hundreds who have asked me that question."

     Both Bob and the general laughed lightly, pausing in their rather strained conversation.  Their silence was then further inspired by the sound of the footstep of the approaching waiter.  Now were they gifted with the serving of water, coffee, orange juice, bread and cream.  After the waiter had completed his mission and had left earshot once again, Bob Stround resumed his talk with Arch General Borders.  

     "Sir, I know this is a sensitive topic; however, there are no other customers here at this time.  If I may convey to you, honored sir, history's hold on the land which had come under contention between the nations of Bohemia and Pristinia is profound, indeed; but it still grips us!  You of all people should know; Bohemia cannot afford to lose the gold and rare gems which are located in that strip of rich land.  Arch General, you saved it once before.  It is under contention again."  Bob refrained from saying more at the moment; however, the ancient general showed a mind that was wide open to the deep-seated fears of Bob Stround regarding the newly resumed contentions at the border.  Having implied that the general was needed once again, Bob did not quite dare ask him if he was returning to head the military in case of embattlement at the border.

     Arch General Borders read Bob Stround's fears for his nation-state in a quick glimpse; when Bob saw that, he was somehow placed at ease about the dangers facing Bohemia, for he could sense the giant-like presence of the retired general.  Borders seemed to effortlessly encompass the situation Bob Stround had reported to him.  Instead of answering to the current affairs involving the political strife between the two nations, Borders chose to remain discreet and confine the scope of his concerns to the meal at hand.

     "This meal is my provision to you, Lieutenant Stround; please allow me to pick up the tab.  After all, friendly invaders have to qualify themselves as friendly, do they not?" the affable general asked jokingly, alluding to his place in history just mentioned.  He began to reach inwardly for the moment to announce the more serious purpose of their meeting.  His brow was knitted as he studied the bread and poured coffee for Bob and then for himself.  His white hair was now at longer than regulation length and fell gracefully into a perfectly straight division by a part in the middle of his head.  Although he was well on in age, he remained adept with his hands, of straight posture and was in overall perfect physical condition.  Bob observed all this as he gained a deeper and more personal reverence for the renowned military elder of the nation of Bohemia, who rarely ever left his country abode located outside Bohan.  It was said that he enjoyed keeping there a small farm.  In fact, Bob began to wonder if the general who sat before him was not responsible for the unknown spy who had reported back to the Department of Messengry on the previous day regarding the events at Strong Pond.  Indeed, why would he be insinuating that he would have a personal and seemingly somewhat involved interest in the matters of the day as he had indicated early in his greeting?  Bob began to eat some of the toasted bread which had just been delivered to them.  He mulled over this possibility of a direct involvement of the elder general in the matter of the kidnapping of Radhita and its possible effects on the stability of Bohemia politically. The general was collected unto himself, not making visual contact with Bob, and yet he seemed to be aware of Bob's working mind.  

     After enjoying with Bob some of the toasted black bread and butter, Arch General Borders broke the period of querying Bob Stround had entered within his own mind with a direct statement to him: "Lieutenant Stround, there are certain confidences I must establish with you, and this is not the place for us to speak.  I have for you a letter which will depict your next assignment.  It is from your superiors, of course, one of whom I remain in spirit as you have just now so nicely regarded me; and you have indeed spoken your regard for me to me.  I see that you are equipped with keen readiness."  Borders paused momentarily.  He then added sparingly, "That's the mark of a good soldier."  As Bob reflected on that compliment, his throat tightened slightly; he awaited the next word with a mind which had been somewhat stunned by what was unfolding before him.

     At this moment the suspense Bob was feeling so acutely was further enlivened by the return of the waiter with Bob's oatmeal and Morning Potatoes.  Borders and Bob retained a silence in deference to the sensitive nature of the topic just broached, yet an ominous air of expectation infused the atmosphere around them.  The waiter felt somewhat like an intruder, noticing once again how dignified and perfectly groomed the distinguished elder who had graced the restaurant.  Borders wanted to put the waiter at ease, and he gave him a brief nod of thanks for the service.  The waiter could not help but compliment the new customer with that small show of recognition.  Cautiously and in a formality to match the air about the table in the presence of the unknown person he was starting to distantly recognize, the waiter said to Borders, "Is there anything else I can provide you, my dear sir?  I am at your service."

     Borders was taken by this abstract, dawning recognition just rendered him by the waiter.  He reflected on how soon it would be that the townspeople everywhere would know of his return to active military duty in Bohemia.  Wanting to safeguard the national security for the time being in deference to careful timing, however,  Borders chose not to become more personal in the given moment.  He politely answered the waiter in softened tone, "No.  Thank you."  One more nod from Borders dismissed the waiter; however, something came over the waiter, who was familiar with Bob Stround as a regular customer at Transcendentals.  "And for you, Lieutenant Stround?"

     Bob was truly surprised that the waiter knew his name even despite his frequent patronage at the popular restaurant.  He recovered invisibly from his sense of surprise at this citing of his name and military rank, indeed.  In the spirit of guarding the confidential nature of the work at hand did Bob Stround lift the moment from becoming one of incidental intrusion at the table, surprising himself, as he said the following to the waiter, "Thank you.  As always, you have served me just the right meal for my day ahead.  No, this is just perfect.  Could you leave the tab now?"  The waiter had the tab ready, and he dutifully placed it on the table, saying, "We do appreciate your patronage.  And I would look forward to serving you again."  At this comment, he searched once again the face of the ancient general as he tried to place him.  Suddenly, he saw who it was.  His recognition of the elder military hero at once surged into his cognizance as his words of service to the party at his table echoed in his mind.  As if overcome with a subsequent realization, he snapped into an understanding that this was a top-secret event as intended by the reserved manner of the elder sitting before him, not ten feet away.  He recovered himself accordingly, quipping skillfully, "Again, we thank you for your patronage and hope everything will be to your liking here."

     Nothing escaped the notice of the great Arch General Borders; he knew exactly what the waiter had perceived and admired him for his adept handling of the matter of the confidence of his presence at the table.  Once again, Borders reflected privately, true to his past experience as leader he was witnessing the political savvy in a typical Bohemian.  In response, he quickly placed a tip on the table for the waiter and said, "We thank you also for your good service.  Here, take this now.  Have a nice day.  You have my respect, young man."

     The waiter went further into his dumb act, somehow sensing that it could prove to be vital in some way.  He blandly said in response as he collected the generous tip from the table, "Why, certainly.  We will see you again.  We look forward to it.  Thanks for joining us at Transcendentals." 

     Both Bob Stround and Borders read the double meaning in the conversation that had just charged the moment at the table.  Bob searched the general for what to do or say next, slightly concerned that word might leak out to the town, indeed, the nation's capital of Bohan, that Borders had eaten at Transcendentals.  Borders, however, took the event in stride and allayed Bob's concern.  He intervened by saying, "I am not one to visit this eatery at all.  Perhaps I should take him up on his friendly invitation, though."  

     Bob registered that quip.  It put him at ease.  Then he asked politely, "You were saying, most respected one?"

     "In all humility," Borders methodically continued, "I am only here because I am needed.  Like you yourself I am needed in higher service."  This now autumnal elder spoke evenly but as if instructing the lieutenant with great affection and pleasure in so doing.  Bob Stround felt the hair on his arms stand on end when he received wind of the would-be command of this supposedly retired military macher from the annals of history.  He was speechless.  It was as if this ancient general had somehow walked out of a history book into current life; although he had every couple of years attended important national services and inaugurations briefly upon invitation, Borders was not a high-profile figure in Bohemia.  Bob had heard of these rare public appearances, yet he had never expected to ever meet or meet with this national figure.  That he would ever be chosen to hear him begin to expound upon the idea of the national security of the nation itself was like something out of the sky to Bob Stround; he briefly connected that realization to its proportionate match as to what it might take to actually save Bohemia.  It was now directly evident to Bob that this elder general was in reality intending to discuss sensitive matters regarding the national security of the nation-state.  Bob Stround was at first mesmerized with the words of the arch general that morning.  He remained expectant in an understandable silence in return.  He was profoundly dumbfounded.

     The arch general read the reactive mind of his newly adopted charge for mission; in fact, he took Bob's mindset in stride with his great, compassionate heart for him.  He immediately wanted to provide a proper meeting place for the work at hand.  With a measured tone indicating his concern for properly accommodating the chosen messenger he was finding in Lieutenant Stround, he said as he leaned slightly forward in his chair, "I have a waiting chariot outside with a driver.  We can leave here after this meal and preserve the privacy of this matter while en route to other parts.  That is, please join me and allow me to qualify my task with you this day if you would entrust in me the validity of my enterprise, the sincerity of my purpose with you this morning, regarding our torn-up sociopolitical mindscape.  For the mind of war is lurking now in the shadows of crime we withstand at a pitch too high for conscionable reckoning.  I think you understand," the ageless commander pontificated lightly, giving Bob courage.  The general was also accepting his own place as mediator in this situation with Lieutenant Stround as he revealed it partially to him.  He seemed to be highly contemplative while at the same time he conducted his concerns with finesse and with an effortlessness which somehow attracted the young lieutenant to the elder military mythical figure even outside his place in history.  The arch general remained once again impassive to the impact his presence and sense of mission were having on Lieutenant Stround as a way to discipline him, it seemed to Bob; this calm of Arch General Borders in turn caused the lieutenant to have an intuitive sense that something much larger was in the mind of the general for him as per duty, as per task assignment.  He could only rest his mind on the confidence he found in the retired general which was likewise inspiring in him his own deeper confidence to impart his best to the task ahead for the general, whatever that might be in these times.  He remembered his brief meeting that morning with his cohort Lieutenant Bogdhan with whom he shared equal rank.  Suddenly he was being rewarded for his desire to be of more vital and direct service to his nation, and he was awakening into the fact that this known military genius seemed to know that he had more ability to be tapped.  His heart raced at this realization.  He then bowed his head to Arch General Borders, and the general noticed it.

     Bob Stround came around from these deeper reflections, swallowed his bite of food with a sip of hot coffee, placed his fork on the table, and with a full heart declared respectfully, "I am ready to do your bidding as soon as you are ready to depart for the waiting chariot, Arch General  Borders."  He stiffened as he spoke this to his superior as if all the nation were calling him to the fore of action.  His eyes went into a brief trance-like look as he prepared his mind to receive what sounded like they might be orders in the meeting to take place in the chariot.  His hair stood on end.  He now found it within himself to own up to the sense that he was about to be issued orders by none other than the mythical giant, Arch General Robert Borders; and further, he knew his pre-existing attachment to the events at Strong Pond had had a psychic deliverance even before this historic meeting with his esteemed hero out of history.  This was the greatest day of his life.  Bob Stround was so uplifted; mostly, though, did he feel by far equal to the moment ahead of him.

     There was an urgency in Bob's voice which the elder had heard.  "I hear your concern for the state of national affairs, as well, my good lieutenant.  Let us enjoy the remainder of this meal -- finish your coffee.  Then we will join my driver, Lieutenant Stround," Arch General Borders said almost pensively.   

 

                      

     Chapter  6  

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     As dawn crept through the trees by light and with the arriving song of the birds, Catster stretched just right to refresh his muscles and start the process of awakening.  He could hear a campfire crackling in the distance with his keen hearing.  So began his day of vigilance over the two youths at Strong Pond.  He knew that Gai was on duty, preparing breakfast for Radhita who was still in repose and sheltered in the way station.  He stretched again and sat up.  Before he could spend much time reflecting on the matters ahead for his two charges, he noticed a footprint nearby and took in the smell of one of his cohorts from the same kingdom as his own even despite the typical species occupation he enjoyed as the fast-born cheetah.  He recognized the concomitant smell of Lux the Lion.  Catster began to look around the woods and see where Lux might be located.  Lux and Catster were the two primary dragons in the area who spent most of their time if engaged in sociopolitical concerns incarnadined as cats of the animal kingdom.  Lux, however, being a lion for all such practical purposes, enjoyed occasionally the game of being in charge of Catster by way of nature's own hierarchy while neither of them truly believed that either was indeed king of the jungle in the genetic sense, of course.  The lion is considered to be the king of the jungle in the lore of the animal kingdom most famously.

     "So, you are here," came the voice of Lux from a generous and low elevation branch of the huge tree under whose leafy, extensive umbrella Catster had taken shelter for the night.  "When did you arrive?"

     Catster gleamed his mind straight back and directly at the lion.  He needed the help of Lux in the current situation.  The fabled leonine luminary leaned his head ominously over his perch on the tree branch so as to be in the line of sight of his good friend and cohort, Catster.  Lux was occupying the most unusual branch of a tree of remarkably large girth, so that the horizontally grown branch upon which he sat was also itself the size of an ordinary tree trunk and only about six or eight feet off the ground. 

     "Very clever," Catster replied.  "Where have you been?

     "Yes, I have been around and over here, now there, and mostly everywhere if you can imagine the several tasks and where they might take me nowadays.  But I have been 'awaiting in some luxurious tree branches for the longest time neither you nor I can measure -- the time, that is, not the tree.  What took you so long to find me?" said the playful lion.   

     "I am not accustomed to trees which show their branches like walkways suspended parallel to the ground.  Therefore, I did not think you would sit in one.  You are more of a conformer than to visit such out-of-the-ordinary trees and occupy them, so you had escaped me," Catster joked back.

     "Gravity still applies, dear Catster.  It is easier for the climb which loses its very pitch; but one false foot, and the ground you will hit.  So the branch upon which I sit should not be the reason for your writ not to find me, oh fast-footed Cheetah from across the way," Lux intimated as if serious.

     "Lux, there is need of a mission here beyond my own watch and work.  I know you know what is going on here with the successful save by our Giant Little of Radhita Roundhouse from the great and beatific kingdom of Liberty Love Forest.  That kidnapping is now the subject of a town even though she was rescued by myself and Gai.  If you have been sitting in this tree for a couple of days, you must at least know that," Catster posed as answer in keeping with Lux's assumed theme.

     "Why, no.  I had not heard of this.  I just arrived this morning while you were hiding in sleep on the very spot where you now show profound evidence of such soporific sloth," Lux declared with further jest as he enjoyed taking the fore with Catster through such inverted humor. 

     "We-ell, I cannot say that to be here in the open is as hidden as being posted up on a tree branch," Catster said, pretending to be half distracted by the boring challenge.

     "What can we do for the brave princess?  She should enter the town and tell the town crier that she was rescued properly and that that should be the end of her plight and all fight.  It is the fear of the people which taunts the perception that the fight is not over.  Did you not tell them that -- both Radhita and Giant Little?" asked the noble cat known as Lux. 

     "That is a good fifth grade analysis.  Very good, except that it leaves out the fact of the growing civil war here in Bohemia," Catster said tauntingly.

     "Woops, I forgot that, teacher.  Let's see . . . what to do in the case of sudden and tumultuous outbreaks of riots, prisons, slave camps, underground political contracts and terrorizing hedonists from the underworld.  Coupled with all of that anarchy, we have the contrastingly peaceful and socially free state of Liberty Love Forest which the rebels would just love to invade and defile, do we not?" Lux remarked.

     "No, what ever gave you ideas like that?  Otherwise, you would have been here even before we arrived here a couple of days ago," Catster retorted, hiding the exact timing of their arrival.

     "You are right.  You are always right although I do have an ultimate say as the true, the most elevated of cats, who is true to the upward hierarchy of the cat kingdom and all of the wilds together, you remember," was the rejoinder Catster heard.

     "Is that why you prefer to answer me over my head?" Catster asked seriously.

     "There is an idea I have which might actually rescind the presence of my wit and wile in these parts if I offend you with my jocular nature this A.M., oh busy one.  Perhaps you would like to hear of it in all seriousness.  I understand your perplexity," Lux the Lion said.  Lux was about to enter into a more factual mode of conversation with his cohort, Catster observed with detachment.

     "Rescind is a strong word, Lux; but my ears can take it.  Tell me your idea if you will, please," Catster queried.

     "With a certain amount of light, though not meaning the light of dawn which is precursor to the light of the world we do at Strong Pond espy this fine morning, and with a little less levity in deference to the situation now smoldering in our midst, I would offer you a smart removal of Radhita Roundhouse.  Yes, a removal of Radhita herself to a sector of society more immune to the vagaries of existence in a nation-state torn apart by organized crime, the rise of the underworld, oh cheetah, beneath me, underneath this bough," Lux the Lion said in serious tone.

     "Your flowery statement intrigues me; you refer to the inner light of the universe, and you are that one of such light.  Thus comes your name which derives from the truth language known as Latin.  Am I not correct, Lux, thou who sitteth above me in arboreal ecstasy, wielding humor where facts might dry the intellect into sheer absurdity," Catster said as he was taking him on past his promise of becoming more serious.  Catster did not trust him on the point of being solemn about the two youths and the international situation their heroic adventure was to court. 

   "I am determined to make a point here, Catster, although do not be offended -- not in Latin for namesake's keep nor for its linguistic resolve unto truth's bold hold -- thou shouldst still not be offended," Lux demanded, belaboring a point as if it were truly ascendant.

     "We-eell, then go ahead.  Make your point if you will," Catster blandly said, leaving Lux an opening to become serious although he knew how greatly involved Lux really had been in the battles.  It was the duty of Lux to guard the runways throughout the area and even beyond.  Catster enjoyed ignoring his contribution while the lion played remiss to an extent so as to make the conversation interesting and lively.  Lux had several times over the recent years intervened on the behalf of runners who faced violence on the runways and who were delivered by Lux's oftentimes hidden intervention.  However, there were stories circulating of a divine principal who had intervened in certain instances on the behalf of the runners, some of them telling of a red dragon who might appear and fend off an attacker or two to let a runner redeem safe passage of a day.  A rare few of these stories also involved a golden lion who strangely was known among the people who were privy to the lore of the runways, especially, as Lux.  

     "Had you thought that perhaps Radhita Roundhouse might reside in the social security of the nearby temple?" Lux queried objectively.

     "Yes, I had thought she might reside there.  I am afraid the passage to her own country will cause a great battle, yet, if we wait, the overall situation will build and then fester, anyway.  There is no simple way for her.  I can feel the rebels organizing, and there is no out-timing them, is there?" Catster had to know Lux's viewpoint.   

     "That is what I divine, as well.  I think that the military forces of the locale here should shore up ties with her father, Prime Minister Ker Roundhouse, and that we should see after the triangulation with the nation-state of Pristinia. That is the home of the battle led by the Latel family for secession of their municipality from Bohemia so that it can merge into Pristinia.  While Radhita may be delivered safely to her home and her parents even through this with our superior intervention, I feel that the backlash will be history's repeat; you know what that is," Lux explained carefully to Catster.

     "We-eell, yes, I know; they would retaliate and repeat the battle over the border with Pristinia if they lose their sense of hope for supremacy in battle when Radhita would be finally so delivered.  How to break this news to Giant Little and his beautiful sweetheart -- that is my ponder.  I am at a loss momentarily, Lux," Catster said, bemoaning his task with his young charges.  "They think that we are going to the temple only to borrow a carriage for the final exit to Radhita's home so as to make the journey more comfortable for her."

     "Our primary challenge is the existence of large rebel forces in the mountains.  These rebels are in training so as to make civil war one day in order to overthrow the existing government of Bohemia, ultimately.  For them to gain more of Pristinia is absurd -- for what purpose?  Bohemia is not in need of arable land, nor water, nor reduced trade with our neighbor.  It is only to belittle the past supremacy of Bohemia when we had regained from Pristinia what had once been lost so that Durydon could win the people over to his purported might and thus gain direct, sanctified influence and power; do you agree?" Lux wanted to know. 

     "It is sheer power ploy, and I detest it," answered the cheetah.

     "This is known as a coup d'etat which that outlaw conjures up," responded the lion.  "That is not Latin, and I do not like it; not at all."

     "Think of the violence and heartache these crime-ridden people will see; it is untenable," Catster, the brave cheetah, expressed his remorse.  "What the true fight involves is virtue; it is not wealth and sustenance.  The evil contenders are rife with the loss of the virtue of their women, the families are shattered here, and a few at the top of the wealth ladder have turned to enslaving any targeted ones in all of their innocence.  The tyrant Durydon wants to indoctrinate with a power play; he would seize past the border if he could only to distract the majority of the people from the real issues at hand that of course involve fighting his attempted rule of crime.  He is the one to be fought, not Pristinia; alas, he conscribes many fine citizens with contractual monies.  Certainly, he should not be allowed to horrify Liberty Love Forest with an invasion of some kind of Pristinia.  This is not the day for a kidnapping to have occurred," Catster stated at length to his brave cohort.

     "You speak the truth, my Catster.  How great the enigmatic Philip Latel to constantly engage in fighting crime.  Now all of those acts of heroism have culminated in his saving of Radhita.  He is thereby more centrally placed; the impending marriage idea is being actuated through his new conquest in freeing her from being held direct hostage to Durydon here in Bohemia," Lux declared.  "I am impressed with that young hero.  I am duly impressed, forsooth."

     "Yes, well, that is my request for you, Lux; the mission I would propose to you would certainly please your compassionate mind to reward Giant Little and Radhita with the social event of a flute concert in Bohan.  Giant Little could easily enlighten and uplift the citizens with his music," Catster intimated to his cohort.

     "That reward he deserves," Lux said openly.  Then he leaped down from the tree branch and began to commune silently with Catster so as to keep secret the battle sense and any battle idea that might turn into a plan.  "How may I assist in this?  Are you suggesting more work on the peace-sanctified runways that I love to defend?  That should be kept a well-kept secret, and to speak it now might give the spy too much information for the humans to handle well," Lux said to Catster telepathically so as to provide a security to the sense of battle progression.

     Catster answered telepathically, also, saying, "It is clear that Durydon will try to overthrow the sanction he had provided the runways which keeps them immune to attacks.  If these runways are expanded to our neighboring state of Liberty Love Forest, then I think he will be tempered somewhat on that idea.  Don't you agree?"

     Lux indicated to the affirmative with a nod of his head, saying, "If we can defeat any attack on the runners in the days leading up to the date of the concert and also during the concert, then I think we could use the intersection of the two nations through this cultural feat to propose closer ties.  This would lead to the building of runways to connect Bohemia to our neighbor in terms of communication.  Having Radhita here as a guest on terms uncertain as to her return to home will become the keystone to the political wall which has been built up between her father's state and ours due to the war force that emanates from these powerful underground figures, these outlaws.  Then, we can see about the interest Prime Minister Ker Roundhouse might develop in helping Pristinia and Bohemia to keep the peace.  Thereafter, we might be enabled to see after expunging Bohemia of its corruption.  Roundhouse has turned into an isolationist."

     "True, he has kept his interests quite separate from his neighbors for too long now, and they are jealous of the civic order and civic freedoms he guards so masterfully," Catster remarked.  "Therefore, what can you do to assure that the runways will be guarded well in the acute time close to the date of the concert, Lux?"

     "I can recruit Drona; Drona's masters might work on the guardianship.  That should be easy. Drona and I have met and have already seen the mind of Durydon to end the era of assured communication by targeting the runways," said the mighty lion, Lux, whose mane glistened in the morning sun like a golden sheath to some higher instrument of cognitive power.

     "Indeed, it is time now to call in the martial artists in great strength.  May all of Bohemia be blessed," Catster exclaimed still in the silence of the telepathic mode.

    "Yes; and also Liberty Love Forest," Lux added.  

     With that last thought-born truth, both cats left the great tree to see about the two youths who were having breakfast.  They ambled across the turf quite oblivious to the spy who hid in the nearby trees, and both silently laughed to one another at the handiwork they had just accomplished in organizing battle in the silently fomenting civil war in Bohemia.   

     Catster entered the campsite area alone where the campfire was blazing.  The food was cooking, and Giant Little and Radhita Roundhouse were enjoying some coffee.  Gai had his back turned to Catster as he tended the food on the fire when Radhita noticed the cat arriving.  "Gai, the Catster is here; he is just entering the clearing now," Radhita said gleefully.  So glad she was to see their feline hero and mentor.

     Giant Little turned around to greet Catster who was playfully entering the campsite area with quiet feet, crouched and slinking; he moved as if he were stalking some enemy.  Gai noticed that Catster was playing oblivious to him and to Radhita.  He readied himself for some fun with the mythical cheetah.  Gai looked at Radhita and winked his eye so as to tip her off since he knew Catster well and could predict him.  His mind was ready for the amusement, and he had to restrain a prescient laugh in deference to Radhita.  She looked first at Gai and then at Catster; however, Catster was ostensibly preoccupied with his feigned mission as he approached them.  Then she looked at Gai again and saw that the assumed mode of movement of Catster was harmless; furthermore, Gai seemed to half know what to expect from it.  Then she went into a memory of the first time she had ever witnessed Catster in active battle motion.  Radhita remembered that he had come out of nowhere and had taken a leap onto the enemy from a tree branch.  Therefore, she had never truly seen him stalking on foot before.  After reviewing battle accordingly, as Catster's entry that morning inspired her to do so, Radhita kept her eyes on the noble cat.  She was expecting some lesson to be unfolded.   

     Catster approached the picnic area with his head down at the ground level now, his nose busily seeking out any scent available so that he was noisily sniffing the ground from side to side as he slowly and cautiously moved along.  Playing oblivious to either youth, Catster began to mumble as if to himself, "I wonder where that enemy is lurking now; I'll find him.  I'll get him."  Then, before he knew it, Catster was at the base of the table where Radhita sat, and, as his nose hit the rock, he became as if electrified, declaring definitively, "Aah  haa!  So this is a rock, not a sentiment, I mean, sentient being.  We-eell, just a minute -- which is it?  Sentiment or sentient?  I left my dictionary back at the cave.  Woops!  I cannot make a mistake in battle, or my superiors will accuse me certainly of prattle.  Whatever must I do?  And where is the awareful enemy who is capable of perception besides deception?  You cannot fool me, you beings of intent to end other beings through force and other means destructive unto life, liberty and all things pleasing to cognitive awareness.  Oh no, you cannot fool me!"

     Catster kept sniffing at the base of the table without lifting his eyes past the ground in front of him, using an exaggerated body language of stalking which was itself funny to see.  Soon he came upon Radhita's left foot, and, after sniffing it once, he stopped suddenly and froze in feigned fear.  "Oops!  They've got me!  They caught me by surprise!  Here is the enemy after all!" Catster exclaimed in falsified reaction to the presence of the innocent Radhita.  She was laughing quietly, waiting to hear the next aspect of Catster's act.  Giant Little observed with great amusement the actor who was captivating the day with his humor; Gai was just waiting for Catster to open up into the drama he was so playfully posing before them.

     Radhita decided not to interact with Catster verbally, and she indeed had no time to do so.   Suddenly, the great cat leaped backwards in total fright after having frozen briefly in battle.  With a look of great astonishment on his face, he said openly, "If the enemy should appear and not from the rear, then get ready to fight with all your might, for, if you delay, you will lose your say and then your life if enmity is rife.  Hhmm -- therefore, what I should do next is to give my back to the enemy as according to this famed fable, so that I can study the fight from another viewpoint -- and certainly not 'neath the table." 

     As Catster declared this to Gai and Radhita, who were laughing profoundly at him, they remembered the message of his last antic, as well.  Then he smiled gloriously and said endearingly to both of them, "Peace might just be possible if we view in this battle another angle, a different vantage point of action, you see." As he said this, he levitated skillfully off the ground and did an about-face in the air.  When once he landed, he gleamed his declared knowingness about the battle. Then he retained an expectant silence as he seemed to be waiting for an attack or not, and his body language changed accordingly.  During several seconds' wait, Catster's body stood in a state highly expressive of some expected attack from behind although he was not quite cringing.  

     Then, he cocked his head to one side and moved it a quarter turn to his rear, saying in a tone of expectation, "Is anyone there?  No?  No attack? No enemy in sight? Grreea-a-a-t!  Wonderful, winderful, at-one-ness-with-all-derful! This is just great!"

     Now the instructing cat turned around in all exuberance; he faced the two youths who were concentrating single-pointedly on the hilarious cheetah as if no other concepts in the entire truth panoply of survival in battle ever had existed.  "Let there be peace," Catster announced with a loving tone, gently bowing his head.  After this gentle bow he prostrated to Giant Little and Radhita as far to the ground as he could go without actually losing tension and lying down, stretching down his head and body with his front feet fully out in front of him.  

     Next, he returned to standing position and smiled a broad, winning smile, saying, "Never say 'peace' unless there is no attack first.  I always test the waters for peace, but that takes courage.  The coward strikes a blow; the master needs but one."  

     After having thus stated his advice regarding battle to the two youths, Catster arched his back briefly.  As the bend in his spine became maximal, the great cat lifted his left paw an inch off the ground and then planted it resolutely once again where it had been.  Both youths were aware of Catster's unmatched speed when he was on the run.  One of the keys to the cheetah’s speed as a species, Gai knew, is found in the remarkably great folding of the back which enhances the leverage of the animal’s stride.  Secondly, the claws of the cheetah do not fully retract; this leaves them solidly available to grab the turf on each stride in running mode.  Catster was showing them his structural attributes so as to lend a symbolic courage to them in their straits of embattlement; this was his readiness in battle which Catster was rendering the seemingly stranded youths with full heart.  

     Giant Little and Radhita were both in mixed mental states of amused mind and bemused quandary as to the actual message of Catster this morning.  They were  laughing yet not quite certain that they could take more in terms of the higher message the cheetah might further intend to portray with his skilled and witty histrionics.  Gai sensed that something was in the offing.  As of yet he did not know; however, he did know that Catster himself was not the one to ask directly at this moment.  Fortunately, Gai had been entertained by the gifted cat, and he referred to Radhita to see how well she might have received any message proffered by Catster as the first thing in the morning.  Radhita was intensely relating to the ideas Catster had just presented to her in his satirical, dramatic portrait of battle with the enemy since she was not as advanced as Gai in actual battle in the real world on foot.  Her life as the daughter of a prime minister had expanded her mind into the concepts of security, defense, battle and war, indeed.  She had further as a student of the martial arts been introduced to the metaphysics of self-defense, and in Catster Radhita had found a luminary, an intensely aware knower of all truth pertinent to her contemplations.  There is no greater teacher than the world itself, and Catster and Gai had lifted Radhita into the venue of truth perception and the know-how of such truth in the active context of battle itself in a brief, precipitous time.  Radhita was therefore much too absorbed in processing Catster's exposition through hyperbole in dramatic art to see that Gai was studying her to find out her reaction, her perception.  This of course drove Gai further into his own reverie of appreciation of the tutelage of Catster.  He remembered the moment when he had found Radhita bound up in rope by the two criminals and realized that they had actually tied her up in response to the kick in self-defense she had issued.  He had rescued her in the nick of time, and he saw how Catster's magic of levitation as he had just performed it would free her mind to see that matters of the physical can be addressed in terms beyond the ordinary, indeed, far beyond the ordinary.      

     Just as Gai and Radhita were expecting Catster to continue with further ridiculous remonstrations for their amusement, there appeared the beautiful lion, Lux, at the edge of the forest on the trail.  Radhita had not yet met Lux the Lion.   She had heard of him vaguely in the lore of the battles which live among those who keep track of the strife in Bohemia among her father's circle of governing officials; very little was known of Lux the Lion despite his heroic greatness.  Radhita was too astonished to say anything to Gai about the sudden appearance of Lux, and Gai nodded his head once to her in acknowledgment of the profound moment for her in the legendary lion's arrival.  As Lux the Lion coursed the ground with a certain dignity and aloofness, almost strutting towards them, his golden mane glistened in the sun and was blown into little ruffles in the mild breeze as he walked.  His tufted tail was moving like a gentle pendulum from side to side although only partially visible to them.  Radhita was astonished at the huge size of Lux; this majestic lion must have been ten feet long from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.  He entered the campsite area with his great presence, and then everyone noticed that the large cat had actually sitting on his face a pair of spectacles with gold rims.  When Radhita saw this unusual sight, Lux took on an air of assumed personality, she could tell; such an air was meant to connote an act.  Just like Catster, Lux was about to join the dramatic performance, and he already looked funny even before he spoke.  Radhita and Giant Little kept a respectful silence at this recognition of Lux's imminent participation in the fun, in the profound satirical comedy which Catster had staged for them.  Lux read this.  From some portrayed lofty stature, did he nod at both Gai and Radhita, briefly if not condescendingly.  Then he looked off into the woods momentarily with the most serious sense of purpose knitted on his brow, knowing of course that he had gained the stage in his silence.  Gai was aware that this was an unusual mode in which Catster's feline kindred spirit and consort would introduce himself to Radhita.  He searched for a reason that Lux would pose as an actor with a message instead of greeting his future wife in a real context; indeed, the reality of that very context was constantly beating with Giant Little's great and noble heart for his beloved Radhita and her security, her own safe destiny.  Then he contrasted the event this morning with the event so real and dire to battle in which Catster had appeared to Radhita and helped him free her from direct captivity just a day ago.  Once he had so compared the contrasting circumstances in which Radhita had met Catster, Gai sighed with a feeling of relief that Lux the Lion was indeed purporting a reality on a feigned dramatic stage with his fellow feline consort.  Gai smiled then at Lux the Lion a winning and affectionate smile; he waited to see what Lux might have to say.  Giant Little patted Radhita on the shoulder a couple of times, and they smiled at one another briefly in the midst of a certain expectation in the air for what was about to unfold.   

     Catster would soon instruct Gai and Radhita with the first words spoken.  The arrival of Lux the Lion had brought about a silence which was somehow ominous; this was a silence whose omen was yet in perfect harmony with the still water of Strong Pond.  The beautiful pond only rippled now and then in the soft, intermittent breezes.  It carried the day's young sun as a path of golden, diamond-studded light in bright reflection from where there was a partial break in the tree cover so majestically imposing its verdant visage on the blue skyscape.  

     Upon Lux the Lion's arrival at such a bucolic scene, it was Catster who first bowed to him after his various histrionics.  Lux was sitting now in a statuesque posture nearby the youths at the breakfast table so that he was facing the pond and not those whom he wished to address.  Lux the Lion was resolute in lending the children present the message that he was not at all ready to proceed while at the same time he was intending, it seemed, to negotiate great purpose there with them that morning.  His austere if not cold demeanor spoke of an approaching disciplinary or corrective procedure of some kind.  Catster, after he had bowed deeply to the lion, then nodded his head to the children and said affectionately enough as if to soften the moment for them, "Would you children kindly do your part now that His Honor has arrived here at Strong Pond this morning and cede your seats and the table to Judge Lux?  You can make yourselves comfortable over here on the grass, so you can hear what he is about to say.  Now move along nicely for the Judge.  That's it."   

     Gai and Radhita did not look at one another; without hesitation they gave up their seats and complied with the polite request from Catster.  They were surprised to hear themselves called children again, and the term gladdened Radhita's sense of security momentarily.  Indeed, she was looking forward to becoming acquainted with the mythical lion.  They were further surprised that Lux the Lion, now deemed for the moment to be Judge, did not stir the slightest until they were totally settled in their seats on the grass a few feet in front of the table.  After they were seated and still, the mighty lion, refusing so much as to look at them, chose to stand.   Next, he walked deliberatively over to the oak-rock table and then sat on the bench facing them.  He lifted his foot above the table as he stared off into the distance; it was as if he were in some mode of formal service to higher powers that be.  Then he brought his foot down onto the oak surface, making a loud and sharp sound with a small rock which he had tucked in between the pads of his paw.  After that, his voice challenged the silence about them, reaching loftily for its proper reception despite its own authoritative elevation, and announced forthrightly, "This court is now in session.  The court has been in long recession -- too long for conscionable reason to ponder as to why and how this had come about.  Are there any questions -- or answers?"

     With that question, Lux the Lion, having already waxed unspeakably judicial at this ceremonious entry to the scene of former quietude and pleasant exchanges over a freshly prepared meal at the picturesque Strong Pond, deigned to look at the youths before him.  He had certainly captivated them.  The campfire was crackling warmly in the background, and wafts of its smoke curled adeptly around the left ear of Judge Lux briefly.  Lux was now searching their innocent eyes for a response to his words, to his very drama, no matter how far-fetched he seemed to be to them.  Both Gai and Radhita stayed perfectly still, not knowing what to say, nor even daring to move.  Lux, now known as Judge Lux as it had been declared by his fellow thespian, peered over the top rims of his round spectacles with steady eyes.  He seemed to be waiting for something, but neither Gai nor Radhita could summon forth the moment to speak.  Both were much too much absorbed in this fascinating figure taking charge from some ulterior plane of purpose; it seemed that his offering was that of well-intended care for them.  Lux was deliberately playing the part of a towering authority too remote to be answered, and he knew it all so well; so did Gai and Radhita know it --Lux was a good actor.  Once this sense was so purported and accepted by all present, Lux nodded his head once and astutely, saying, "Good.  You know your respective places in this court of law where law is of course defined by laws which define what IS a law.  Is that clear?"

     No answer came forth.  The studiously acting Judge then said, "Very well, then I will define what must be defined first, and that is the letter of the law in this court.  A law is that which adjudicates over those who seem to adjudicate over you or over anyone.  A definition is that which allows a definition to define what must be defined.  If one defines a law, one must also define that which must adjudicate over all equally.  Now I am not the author of these concepts; I only impart them through the court assigned unto me; and the aforesaid is thereby assigned unto yourselves, and equally so.  And we all sit in here in this court under the same laws, the same defined statutes, which gain their definitions as according to a certain hmmm . . . dictionary, as it were, which is reactionary unto what had gone before in similar courts yet where the words had been ascribed as according to higher service than the sentences which they had so rightfully comprised.  Is that clear?"  

     Giant Little cracked up at this, trying not to laugh in the presence of the Judge Lux, yet not succeeding at the suppression very well.  Radhita placed her hand over her mouth to muffle her reaction to this inquisition-style lesson in the courts system being put forth by Judge Lux, implying to the Judge that she could neither laugh openly although she had to laugh, nor could she speak in answer to him.   

     "I see-ee," said the Judge.  "I see.  I am supposed to do all the talking here in this court this morning," he said rather informally, it seemed, as he leaned forward over the table and peered once again at all three of them across the rims of his glasses; it was as if he were searching for a way to close in the distance he had assumed through his posture, his foreboding demeanor with them.  As he began to nod his head in answer to his own supposition that he was to be the sole declaimer at the mock proceeding, his spectacles slipped down so far that they were resting on the tip of his nose, making him look ridiculously funny.  

     At this, Catster broke the silence of the body of the court and laughed out loud, declaring openly to the Judge, "Can your eyeglasses now offer jurisdiction over their neighboring sense, that of the olfactory openings upon which they sit -- in this court?"  

     Judge Lux began to twitch his nose as if to avoid the situation just mentioned by somehow moving the spectacles back to their proper repose further up on the base of his lion's nose without having to engage his paw at all in the process.  This just made the matter worse as the stems of the glasses had not enough reach to allow that technique to be effective.  Each time he twitched his nose upwards so as to try to nudge the frame back up a little at a time there was too much friction for it to work, and instead, the frame would be forced downwards.  He would occasionally focus his eyes upon the glasses, creating a cross-eyed look which was not at all becoming to a judge such as he himself.  Suddenly, as he seemed to realize that his industrious nose working intermittently with his crossing eyes signified an importunity all too visible to those present in the invisible court, one side of the glasses, the right side, lost its position on the side of his head, where it had been lodged in the thickness of his hair.  The glasses now were perched precariously on the physiognomy of Lux the Lion from one side, and they slowly slipped right off the front of his face to become suspended on one side.  This made everyone laugh out loud.  Judge Lux, after clearing his throat loudly so as to transpose the focus of everyone's attention away from the elusive spectacles, responded with a skillful replacement of the glasses to their proper place, surrendering finally to the use of his dexterous paw.  Then he blinked through his glasses once again after they were adjusted, saying perfunctorily, "Silence in the court, which is admittedly imbued with the fragrance of the local flowers."  He moved his glasses downward to a position whereupon he could again overlook them and proceeded to look over them and directly at Radhita.  Judge Lux smiled a brief smile at her as if he needed a friend even despite his air of supreme detachment on the behalf of his authority.  Radhita saw this intended message, certainly, but found at that moment a deeper glimpse of the seer in Lux the Lion past his actor's role and his overall dramatic act for their entertainment and edification.

     "You do not deign to review first principles on my behalf only because you see that I am in charge of them; is that the case?" Judge Lux queried quite seriously as if nothing had happened.

     "No, I am not in charge of such as those principles nor of you.  You are all in existence as individuals who are cognizant and aware of all that is right, good and ordinary in this life we hold in common feature about us though perhaps not in total agreement as to what remains in most common as feature for each of us.  Is that not correct and true to witness and aver?  No time to await your assertive answers rendered so respectfully and in full, timely accord with the spirit of justice for which we must mutually serve and strive as righteous citizens.  No time to wait for your response; we must move on this day with the order of the day while mindful always that we must mind all that there is to cultivate in the way of right action and duty.  Is it not thus and so?"

     Now that Gai and Radhita had been once driven to an open laughter at the majestic lion posing as their judge, they felt freer to respond to his query.  As Radhita nodded her head repeatedly in the affirmative, Gai answered simply yet testingly, "Yes, Judge Lux."   

     The Judge lifted the imaginary gavel for the second time and slammed it thrice now on the table.  Then he was looking off into the distance again as if gathering in some distant mentor of higher philosophical personage unseen by others yet entrusted unto him on the behalf of all.  He focused back onto the courtroom, visionary as it was, and said in serious manner and tone to the almost spellbound youths before him, "The court is adjourned, adjourned to laws and to the law-abiding, until such time as those who cannot accord themselves in good standing with right principle and proper deed cause there to be a summons to the court.  Then the court is called to order after which the court makes order as according to the laws which are written only to keep order; for if the order were written first into the nature entire of all that is retained in those repaired unto the test of truth and time, yes, even those, then no laws would be necessary, and I would have no cause for employ nor would you have employ for a cause.  Nor would anyone at all have to obey a law since there would be no laws -- none.  None at all, not at all, at all, at all.  Is all that clear?  No, no, no.  If it were clear, verily, you would not be here to hear me hear this all as if from afar in some distant visage of perhaps a far-off land.  Any questions?  Answers?"

     Radhita felt a slight concern that Lux had mentioned a far-off land, and Judge Lux must have been aware of her uncertainty.  Not wishing to frighten her or to overtax her tolerance of his insinuation regarding her status as one in a transient disposition to such a far-off land, indeed, to her own home in Liberty Love Forest, Judge Lux moved swiftly now to the actual case before them in his pretend court of law.  Once again he cleared his throat, this time briefly, and began to question the plaintiff who had not been named exactly, and whom he just conjured up on the moment.  

     "The plaintiff hath presented a case whereupon an attack had been suffered upon him through intent only, indeed, not in deed exactly; that is so.  Whereas no direct witness presents to give either an eye account," he said as he motioned with a pointing gesture to his bespectacled left eye, "nor either eye an account," he said as he pointed next to his also bespectacled right eye, "Nor an I-the-self account of such possibility in rude and destructive mode upon him in the second order, as well as in the second person of such would be second order, the complaint stands in spirit alone, the first in case.  Yet, since the social venue attached to the one in question is of more international origins, thereby testing the political governing system of this place beyond its own natural and reasonable limits, do those rights pertain to her, to such a passer-by, as it were?" the Judge issued forth.  Radhita and Gai were perplexed while they were reading the current situation into the words of the verbose Judge Lux to the best of their ability.  

     Catster adroitly intervened as he forthrightly took the part of the unmentioned defendant, saying, "I object, your Honor."

     "Thou shouldst never object to honor whether mine or another's, forsooth," jested the Judge as he blinked successively at Catster in protest to his words past his glasses.

     "We-ell, I am using the concept more specifically of honor as an appellation unto the stature of the court as presided over by one of reputed honor such as would refer to you yourself, good Judge Lux," Catster countered persuasively.

     "Objection sustained," Judge Lux interjected energetically; after this he landed the gavel once upon the oak-rock table.  "Now get to the point," the judge did decree.

     "If it please the court, no one has been named as defendant here today," Catster maintained.

     "And who are you to demand a defendant?" Judge Lux challenged the person in the courtroom.  "I am certain she must have a name.  What does that matter; it is the would-be misdeed which concerns the court and the plaintiff here today, not a silly name."  Then he bent his head forward and said further to Catster, "Now how would you feel if someone had brought forth an issue worthy of an esteemed court of law for settlement against a given young lady, and that without any witness whatsoever, and yet, you would ask her name even that there was no evidence that the plaintiff had not been creating an event suppositional to his imagination?  Furthermore, it seems patently clear that you have not been listening to the facts: that there is not a fact in support of even his own accusation, that of the aforementioned plaintiff, that she had indeed done anything at all whatsoever under any circumstances visible to the eye; nor was it subjectively proven that he had seen anything amiss in her action towards him beyond his suspicion of her to have intended harm.  Moreover, be it also declared unto you yourselves and for the record here again today in these precedings that there was no witness to what had not occurred, as well.  Now how am I to proceed if I must reiterate all that has been said unto your ears which are by all biological attributes affixed to the same housing which holds your cerebrum?" thus did the Judge adjudicate.

     "If it would please your honor, I could have x-rays taken and presented in order to qualify to reach upwards to your loftiness through any neural tissue aforementioned; and, secondly, if I may defend my point through elaboration in agreement with the aforesaid on the behalf of the defendant who in all certitude knows her name, why, then, are you convening this court on this day on the behalf of an unknown plaintiff who does not present himself here?" Catster politely queried.

     At this remarkable question the insightful Judge Lux delighted in setting the record straight as quickly as possible.  Without even a moment's delay, Judge Lux answered in stentorian tone, "My duty is to remand the innocence of the one of accused to proper evidence in this court of law.  Until that presents there is no need, A, to mention her name -- which you astutely pointed out she knows in all certainty; and, B, to allow the plaintiff an opportunity to convert a suspicion into an overt accusation."

     "Well  then, your Honor, is that why he is not here?" Catster demanded to know immediately.  

     "Does he have to be here?  The damage has been done -- not to him, but to her.  Since she had uttered no overt threat, nor expressed any malevolent intent by his own account, he wished only to make it known unto the town correctional officers, the police, that he was certain that she would have brought great harm to him.  She is now suspect on the thought-plane, and that is indeed difficult to prove if not challenging to adjudicate with no real people present to consider the case," Judge Lux intimated from his seat of knowingness in judicio-legal matters.

    Catster scratched his head momentarily, tapping his foot on the ground where he sat as he thought this over.  Suddenly, he cried out, "This is not so impossible a case to prove after all, your Honor, if you will allow me to present evidence of an overt nature on the behalf of the defendant so far anonymous to all present here in this esteemed court of laws."

     "Yes, but can  you prove your point without naming the innocent one?  This is a basic requirement, you see, as in deference to her stature and innocence there should be no defamation where none should exist as according to certain laws," the judge declared openly.

   "We-eell, what laws are they, and if she had broken none ostensibly?" Catster asked to know.

   "These are the laws of probability interfused with the laws of defensibility, and that being self-defense wherein she had been unkindly abducted against her own will and free thought so as to render her to live under the aegis of a known and incriminating outlaw," Judge Lux quietly said. "Pertinent to that factual substratum over which would flow the fulsome and false accusations of a towering anarchist known to the town if not nation, it is not probable that she would intend force unless force were necessary since she would not have been the situational instigator in her straits, nor would she have been the instigator in any straits kind to her security and tranquility of mind outside any such situation of artificial constraint placed upon her freedom to travel or to be in her own native context as the one most probable to inhere in her daily life as per birthright.  She was kidnapped.   She was kidnapped by him, and now he is pressing charges against her since she had escaped him, though indirectly."

     Giant Little was well aware of the situation at hand, for he knew the power of Durydon and how he was indeed trying to overthrow the government of Bohemia.  As he listened to the perspicacious dialogue between the two great cats, he was also mindful of its impact on his sweetheart.  Radhita looked over at Gai for a brief interlude, a passing moment, as she was deeply engrossed in the substance and meaning of all that was being said in the mock court.   

     "We-eell, if it please the court, your Honor, I do hereby dutifully present to the court and to your esteemed self . . . " Catster began to say when he heard the gavel loudly interrupt his train of words. 

     Judge Lux butted in and said with a measure of contempt for the wording, "To my esteemed self, is it?  And is that self-esteem you cite the selfsame self-esteem I hold for myself as from within my own purview; or, would it be the self-esteem others would hold for me on the contrary though not contrarily since I am a free citizen for that very self, myself, as others perceive me?  Now before you answer to this, imagine the defendant as one whose freedom to travel has been walked upon, whose native moorings and those as per her family circle, as well, have been altered through an external constraint imposed upon her as by a kidnapping event -- and this refers to the unnamed and previously mentioned defendant.  Now even if she were to maintain a certain self-esteem in the straits briefly described and abstractly presented in this court of law for the purpose of adjudicating, would the esteem others hold for her self match any self-esteem she might retain under such circumstances as cannot be described for their innocuous portrayal, given that they had been overshadowed by the issuing forth of the heinous accusations on the part of the plaintiff?  Would even those accusations not muddy the now adopted moorings she might occupy in lieu of her own native environment so that the esteem any others might hold for her own self would be secondary to the fact of her existence as a target to a larger, more far-reaching crime?"

     Catster answered briefly, "Yes, Judge Lux."  After an imposing silence, the noble cat continued, "Once again you have told before the court the truth of the straits of the defendant who has been demeaned to a defendant where she should by all rights be the plaintiff.  Now that aside, wherein it currently rests as before, may I indeed present evidence on her behalf?  That is, with all due respect for the incontrovertible extent of the expectations of the crime upon her she suffers in the minds of those others who lack great esteem for her because of it, I would on the dialectical side of the argument directly before us and having been presented by the plaintiff offer the court evidence that the basic mindset of the defendant is above reproach."

     "Yes.  How might that be done and carried forth to the satisfaction of all, including those who want to keep alive the greater fight?" Judge Lux posed respectfully as an argumentative point so as to make a clearance for the agile cheetah's basic legal positioning on the behalf of the invisible defendant.

     "We-elll, it might be done with words proffered unto this court and its adjunct personae who take an interest in holding her further hostage based upon the ill-repute she receives from them for being their hostage," came Catster's immediate reply.  "That is how I would offer the court evidence in her defense," he continued.  

     "Yes, and are those words substantive to the direct suppositional accusation she has suffered as outside the context of kidnapping which the kidnapper has so skillfully skirted due to his guilt?" the judge demanded to know.   

     "I am not in all humble admission privy to the knowledge your Honor holds on the case overall in deference to your pre-existing knowledge of the case; that pre-existence itself has flummoxed those who might actually comprise the receiving end of the defamation he, the defendant, I mean plaintiff, will have caused her through his imagination and noising abroad, that is for certain.  However, I have a personal, therefore, subjective experience alongside a second-order eye witness to a certain event which will speak through its unfolding to the court as per my description of the requested substance required as through words that she might just be innocent, as well as civil, on a typical daily basis even despite the context of imposed crime which she is living out due to the turpitude of the original accuser.  Shall I proceed with what has preceded, then?" Catster inquired with the utmost reverence for Judge Lux.  

     This show of reverence in attitude and in eloquence certainly pleased the great judge, and when he lifted the gavel and boomed out, "Proceed with what hath preceded, then!" and came down onto the table with two loud thumps on the behalf of truth, Gai and Radhita could not restrain their laughter and joy, and they began to clap their hands just briefly in support of the Catster.

     "We--eell, then-n-n . . . ," came Catster's adamant response whilst he did not give any notice to the rise in emotions in the courtroom.  "In order to follow your directive to proceed as it might on the one hand please you, would it be admissible to now present to those present here and here alone and by name the persona whose character should in the balance be known as it might be gleaned through my own account of correct behavior?  Should we not confront the game of an attacker, that famous game, wherein the attacker attacks first and then blames, using the reaction thus elicited through perfidious intent, the one who has had no choice but to defend, to react?  On the other hand, kind sir, I do honor your first and founding sentiments that her name should not be cited in the first instance.  Forsooth, that would be the will of the court -- that no false incrimination should claim the innocence of one who is indeed held to a wider crime -- lest the power of that wider crime be thus emboldened, let alone the defamation suffered upon her by wrong intent and false accusation.  Behold this paradox before I proceed, kind and fair Judge Lux, that we might defer as according to its grip on truth.  Are we to be accomplices to the nefarious intent and power of a rank criminal in the instance of his wrong accusation, that we might thus lend him license to proceed to unabashedly defame an innocent and vulnerable princess from a far-off land?  Woe unto those who support this strange defamation for its power to hold her ever more in the grips of his designs to usurp her freedom and her writ of habeas corpus only because he is closer to the system in his own homeland than is she.  Tell me, then, Judge Lux, how can I presume to name her and thus join the crime by building the false picture the so-called plaintiff would prefer and scheme to paint this day?" Catster spewed forth even further remonstrations; that is probably why he did not dignify the rise in emotion of the court.   

     The judge, who had listened with rapt attention to the words of Catster, did not even pause as he responded knowingly, "Now be it known that if such caution as to preface the giving of identity by name of one who is dialectical to a wrongly disposed plaintiff is carefully stated and re-stated and even if she should herself be the plaintiff: even so, it does become impossible to consider the case in hand unless the name is given, even that that nomination might be reprehensible to those of sound moral mind.  For if in the preliminary proceedings there is a question as to the name and reputation of the accuser, whose criminal record remains outstanding and indeed threatening to the wider nation, then this question also mitigates against the power of his supposed complaint as it should be.  From such premise, then, if we do proceed with the preceding event you wish to describe in support of the gentility of character of the defendant, then we might draw up, I suppose, an accurate rationale to offer a platform of defense in this instance for itself.  Thenceforth, this court should proceed even further unto the idea that this court cannot in any instance issue one of a criminally convicted mind by record the leverage and moment, yet through this court's own aegis, whilst such leverage and moment so established might be construed to constitute virtual license to perfidy, any legal suit whatsoever.  If license to greater design upon the defendant is given to the one who has fundamentally wronged his victim in a structural sense, and she is thus further defamed, then there will be great strife in the wider nations.  Who, then, will respect the laws and the courts, which is why I became inflamed when you referred to my own self-esteem?  How can I retain my self-esteem if I am required to even consider to consider a kidnapper as endangered by the one he has kidnapped?  This bold estimation on my part of the crux of the case should not be taken to mean that the case cannot be considered, that it should be dismissed, even though it should be dismissed.  First, I would wish to consider your legal point that the naming of the defendant paradoxically itself stands to support a pre-existing crime against her and by the one who names her, the plaintiff in the case.  If we individuate unto the case in point outside of the context of the wider crime field in which this nefarious outlaw  operates and allow the case in point you might present in defense and in contradisposition, indeed, to the reputation of the one who accuses her, then perhaps we will have served the interests of the wider nation accordingly; for if this defendant, even as she does not hail from this nation and was placed here as one targeted even by her accuser against her free will, and this is known throughout the nation of Bohemia to be true and so; then would we not all have to stand on our heads as we consider the case?  Perhaps then we could have turned an upside-down case into a right-side-up case, or would this inversion through anatomical support not sufficiently serve the nation?  I cannot imagine that all the citizens could walk on their heads in order to match the inverted reality to which they would then be subjected as per the indoctrination of war we would allow this defendant to place upon the nation's people if one of this noble line is so unjustly defamed."

    Catster laughed just briefly at this conjecture.  He mused upon the judge's point as he declared quietly, "There is no use to consider this case, and I would like to see it dismissed presently.  Otherwise, I would expect that a name must be mentioned.  If you cannot honor my request to do so, then I would retreat to the shelter of a dismissal forthwith."

     "Case dismissed except to those who cannot stand on their heads!" came the answer of Judge Lux.  All three of those present in the court summarily stood on their heads, and, after observing the appropriate gymnastics, the great judge simply sounded his gavel once and uttered loudly, "Will the one who wishes to present the defense of the accused please do so and in an upright position?"   

     All three, Gai, Radhita and Catster, immediately returned to normal posture upon the request of the Judge Lux for Catster's defense argument in favor of Radhita.  As they were reverting to upright positions, there sounded the clarion call of a trumpet throughout the air in the immediate surround of Strong Pond.  All the leaves on the trees seemed to quiver in gladness at the divine sound of the signal instrument which announced in sonorous presence the arrival of a most remarkable entourage of visitors to the mock court.  There was heard the clumping of the hooves of Victory as that heroic horse now appeared on the trail at the edge of the forest.  Victory was the leader of five other horses, all of whom were white in color in total contrast to Victory's black coat.  When Gai saw his horse as the actual herald of an entire procession, he gasped in astonishment and cried out with all his heart, "Victory!  Victory, where have you been?  What is all this in attendance with you this day?  I had thought you were out grazing on the good green grass somewhere this morning!"  Radhita's eyes were opened wide as she saw the most overwhelming arrival of visitors to the court that was being held in bucolic surround.  She was accustomed to the formal events associated with her father's high office which were always held in the chambers and halls of his administration complex in the capital city of Cambium, Liberty Love Forest.  There was a group of white marble buildings on a magnificent campus known as Cambium Capitol where she and her family lived.  It seemed to Radhita that God had chosen nature at this moment at Strong Pond as some administrative locus in deference to the founding essence of all of civilization as she sat thoroughly enthralled at the sight which was unfolding in high style yet in such simple environs.   It was as if God would visit her and her rescue team even outside that to which she was accustomed in the question of higher governmental service.  There she was: in the world to which she had been tossed so mercilessly in the beginning of her ordeal; how God was there for her after all.  This made her see more light of truth than ever.   

     In the meantime, Victory  reacted dutifully to his master's call.  When he began to neigh in answer to Gai's inquiry, the trumpet became silent, and the  mighty stallion tilted his head slightly upwards, his nostrils flaring, his eyes filled with light, and with his entire message being conferred through his strutting and most regal presence.  This magnificent black stallion was one of glad duty and of high purpose unto the youths sitting now with the divine creatures who were saving them.  More individuals of the ethereal plane definitely were joining the court as two carriages became visible; these carriages were entrained to the six majestic horses.  The carriages were white with light blue curlicues designated on their doors and were overall gilded in shining gold accents throughout and on the edges of their structures.  The carriage wheels were beautifully made with rims and spokes of gold, as well, which sent off powerful reflections of golden light as they turned in the morning sun so that lines of golden light were playing in rotational motion across the backdrop of the leaves of the trees on the border of the clearing of Strong Pond.  At the front of the first carriage there was a well where stood the charioteer who also was the trumpeter.  

     Once Victory had answered Giant Little's call, the trumpeter resumed his music which had a cavernous sound -- the sound of a brilliant, mellifluous call on the air in ornate melody.  The music seemed to thus bridge the heaven and the earth ffor there is no other way to describe its enchantment.  Radhita's arms were covered with goose pimples, her hair was standing on end, and she reached for Gai's hand to communicate her recognition of a most stupendous event which was really happening before them.  Giant Little steadied her and whispered gently into her ear as he leaned over to her, cradling her hand in both of his, "Radhita, my love, this is the beginning of divine intervention the likes of which I have never seen.  You will be delivered; so will the nations of the earth be delivered.  That is why we are here.  There is no other way to regard this divine visitation."  

     Judge Lux welcomed the arriving party of attendees to the court with a silent demeanor and a slowly nodding head as he scrutinized the pomp and the refinement in their procession.  As the horses and carriage train came to a stop, the door of the first carriage opened.  With no delay there stepped onto the ground for all to witness an angel.  Such an angel who thus appeared might have appeared to be a human being to one whose observing would have been cursory.  This divine being seemed to be almost transparent at first.  Her effulgence most remarkable to behold, her beautiful long tresses falling against the soft light blue satin of her flowing attire, her person being quite mighty -- all this was there for an eye witness, true.  However, if the stunning beauty of this being did not obscure the actual truth of her arrival even beyond her transport into the mock court in the carriage from which she was disembarking, then it would have been noticed that as she disembarked from the carriage she steadily took more density in form during the first few seconds of her appearance to those witnesses present at Strong Pond.  She was at first almost transparent in a sense or uni-dimensional somehow; and then, as light summoned up her form, her effulgence took on a translucency akin to form.  All of this transitional incarnating was most subtle and sudden as it occurred in a matter of two or three seconds, or so it seemed to Giant Little.  As she assumed a full, dense presence, she then appeared to be as a human being would look.  This unfolding of an angel in her midst made Radhita take in a deep breath and study the visage of the shining being before her in a mentally decided and concerted fashion.  Radhita did identify the being as an angel in her conclusions.  When Radhita realized that this must be an angel, the shining one looked directly over at Radhita as if smiling, and all of those present were deeply glad of this grace from on high being reflected towards Radhita whose very freedom was at stake.  Then this beautiful angel spoke.  She seemed to be in charge of the entire group of arrivals who awaited her preface before leaving their seats in the carriages.  In a mellifluous voice which sounded like water was intermixed or somehow falling within its vibrating resonance, the angel said eloquently, "We dutifully report to the High Court in the consideration of the Laws of Divinity as sent upon mankind and as inhering in the social aperture this court provides for the preservation and betterment of mankind.  Please accept our arrival as timely in view of the grave matters under consideration here, for we are most glad to accept the station of the ones who have been appointed on the behalf of the greater civic strife of the state in question.  My name is Angelina.  It is I who am the guardian appointed to lead my consorts into this proceeding, so that its truth might shine upon all of the world through its example and hypothesis.  May I introduce my cohorts, and may we be permitted to set up a gallery of chairs for our accommodation with your permission at this time, Judge Lux.  Oh, Thou of the esteemed league of dragons who must cherish the absolute truth in any form you occupy, oh, Thou, warrior guardian of those who are the good people and the righteous ones who serve in perfect trust to faith in the higher principle, may I respectfully submit to the court mine own attendance and that of all of my cohorts who have gathered here together to hear the court consider the case on hand?"

     Judge Lux sounded the gavel but once and mightily upon the oak-rock table and could not hide his exuberance at the glad tidings from on high.  He then ordered the event of the arrival and its welcome with the statement, "The court is so attended.  We will adjourn until the gallery is formed for the proper comfort of those whom you have just represented, as well as of Thee yourself, Angelina, Thine own self indeed."   

  "So be it.  May the greatest good shine upon the earth; may all strive for that greatest good," Angelina enounced with grace and a certain transcendence of mind, a transcendence which was befitting to you her presence and declared purpose.  Then without further ado, Angelina lifted her right hand as if she were holding something.  Lo and behold, there appeared a silver wand which sparkled in her hand.  As she waved it over the ground in front of the oak-rock table, there appeared several wooden chairs in two rows.  The chairs so assembled with magic, Angelina moved forward a couple of steps and then turned to the charioteer, made eye contact and nodded.  The trumpeter was now in possession of a small harp, and he played a brief ascending melody with great flourish.  This seemed to signal the other beings to leave their seats in the carriages and to enter the mock courtroom.  From the first carriage in the procession which had arrived at Strong Pond by dint of higher powers now seen and further unfolding to the wondering eyes of Giant Little and Radhita there stepped down a Shining One who must have been classified as a giant of some kind.  This Shining One was outstanding for her tall attribute, for she must have been 7 feet 6 inches tall at least.  She had jet black hair which was decorated with a garland of royal blue flowers.  She was wearing the same light blue satin robe-like dress as Angelina; it flowed gracefully to the ground and lapped onto the white leather sandals on her feet in such subtle waves of grace as she walked into the mock court and lent her careful dignity to the moment.  Radhita saw on the beautiful face of this Shining One a profound, deeply engrained compassion which looked like it had seen many tests, probably earthly tests, or so Radhita surmised somehow.  As the Shining One took her seat in quiet, respectful silence, the charioteer was close behind her.  He was of medium stature and retained in his hand the small harp-like instrument he had played briefly, leaning it against the side of the chair where he sat.  Next arrived the occupants of the second carriage, fellow angels of medium stature, whose happiness in being at the court shined forth from their placid faces as they took their seats in the second row behind Angelina, the giant-like angel, and the charioteer.  There were a few seats left unoccupied, and, as the last two angels settled into their seats in the gallery, Angelina spoke to Giant Little and Radhita gently the following invitation to leave the ground as their seats and thus to join the Shining Ones in the gallery.  "May it please the court: that these two representatives of mankind would join us in the gallery where we propose to listen with great heart to the travail before the young lady who has been confiscated unto the nation of Bohemia," said Angelina.  Gai and Radhita immediately arose and walked over to the three beings seated in the front row of seats, joining them on their left.  Radhita could not help but turn her head around to also view more closely the Shining Ones in the second row as she settled into her place with the agents from Heaven to her right.  Then she looked at Giant Little a knowing look; this would prove to be a most enlightening gift for the two children to comprehend.  

     As Radhita then turned her attention to Judge Lux, he gently sounded the gavel twice and declared resolutely, "May the hearing of the case continue now, for it has been buttressed by this unexpected arrival of the Shining Ones; herewith, their addition to this court of direct physical presence, is there great defense on Earth, so that to name the one accused, to identify her as by name shall not become known to have been itself a sin against her innocence as much as an appeal to the divinity in our presence at this fine court for proper justice and the defense of freedom.  Catster, you may proceed with your account of the young maiden, now named as Radhita Roundhouse of the city of Cambium of the nation of Liberty Love Forest." 

    Catster politely bowed his head to the judge and seemed to be in deeper reflection just momentarily, or so it seemed to Radhita.  As Radhita observed the delay in Catster's response, she could not help but wonder if Catster, with whom she was more familiar, would not be also overwhelmed by the arrival of these seeming divinities to the mock court.  She turned to Gai to study his face and see what he might think about her muse on Catster; and, as she saw Giant Little's composure and attentiveness to the moment  at hand, she realized that the angels in their presence were also in the league of dragons.  They spoke of each other from equal stature, it seemed, so that Radhita dismissed her query as inapplicable.  She realized that she was not only more familiar with Catster, but also she had been saved by that personable, catlike being; indeed, she discerned now that it actually was not her place to project a hierarchy among these luminaries as much as it was hers to try to unravel a profound sense of awe at even being in their presence.  Then a deep surge of gratitude for the sense of protection now conferred upon her by such a wondrous visitation from some celestial plane became Radhita's next contemplation.  Catster's timing in beginning his defense of her was perfect, for, after these realizations, Radhita was now better prepared to listen to Catster.  

      Catster watched with rapt awareness as Angelina lifted her magic wand and created with a single pass in the air of the wand a small witness stand which sat at the right of Judge Lux, facing the gallery.  Catster did not blink an eyelash as he saw the new furnishing, nor did Judge Lux.  Angelina spoke briefly to Judge Lux, "Now may there be in these rustic beginnings at this Strong Pond in the nation of Bohemia an appropriate witness stand for the benefit of the court.  So is it duly provided if it please the court."    

      Judge Lux looked over at the shining wooden stand, which shone the color of mahogany, and nodded silently to himself.  Then he answered the plea for good provision with the following statement:  "In these rustic beginnings  here in this court will be formed a shroud for a virtuous and courageous young woman whose background in the neighboring nation of Liberty Love Forest should be honored by the citizenry and governing officials of Bohemia.  Doubtful it is that honor should be eventualized, given the record of opposition to date by the leading revolutionary, by name Durydon, the plaintiff here in this court, who stands in opposition to the proper representation to Bohemians of this noble young woman of high birth; that there should be conferred upon her through this court the furnishing of a witness stand, which stand is meet with her own likely environs in her home, so be it.  This is fitting and proper.  Moreover, even as an accolade to the universal harmony of nature here in this setting might be rested on the behalf of the exigencies of the proceedings about to unfold before the godhead and nations of the world, and even as the inherent order of nature might be stayed for its place to call forth our reverent beatifications of its power to shine peace and so engender the soft, commodious heart of godly love; my fellow beings here today, I say unto you, I, as the one entrusted to this seat of justice before you, I say: may we also admire as we proceed with the docket the surround and the lovely weather which has blessed this event, so that higher powers might be given their say to the proper securing of her destiny and in light of her family birth."   

     Just as Judge Lux cut short his full praises of the beauty of nature and its place in the realization of the Law of Universal Harmony, a beautiful song bird sitting on a tall elm tree on the opposite side of the pond sang forth sonorous phrases which seemed to first match the concept of all that the judge had just said; then in the latter part of its refrain did the songbird seem to be announcing the presence of the young couple in nascent formation at Strong Pond.  There was known to be an occasional visit by beavers to Strong Pond.  This morning was such a day for one such creature of that species.  As the song bird was duly honored in its call of respectful listeners from the court to nature's own province and citizens, so did the beaver signal the court-goers whose attention to the arcadian place was indeed rapt and inspired.  There was a loud clapping sound as the beaver neatly slapped its tail onto the surface of the water; then it dived down into the water, disappearing from sight.  The water of the pond had become with that sudden, flat sound like a mirror image of the world to Giant Little.  The world was about to be told in this mock court.  Through the eloquence and supernatural presence of those industrious guardians of freedom who were now present by the shores of the pond was the world about to be told.  Indeed, divided did the world stand in the very truth of its dual nature and thus in its likely condition as a society, a nation together.  The entire world stood at this juncture before the mock court as it faced the throes of civil war due to the supremacy of evil within its social bearing and its governing councils; it was being adjudicated after from on high at last.  Giant Little reflected on how arduously he had struggled in the defeat of evil on the behalf of the nation of Bohemia, and how supernal the grace of this visitation of angelic beings upon his personal mission.  His heart was gladdened to know that the issue of his beloved fiancée's ultimate welfare was also now in higher hands, and he dedicated even more resolutely his entire being to her safety and to her destiny.  Now that their destinies had merged subjectively into a marriage platform, Giant Little felt requited just to be on Earth.  He also knew that Radhita had the same feeling for him, and so he looked over at Judge Lux and the magically gained witness stand where he saw Catster was poised to begin his account on the behalf of Radhita. 

     Catster looked off into the distance, coursing his eyes over the pond and then up into the tree tops as he searched for the words to match the seriousness of the moment, the gravity of his duty to defend poor Radhita in all of her innocence.  Then he began his discourse on her behalf as if returning from the depths of his soul and as if he were reaching for words to describe what had just occurred in his mind.  He began in the most persuasive tones, "Do all those present at this pond today see the trees and the underbrush also among them which obscure the etherealizing expanse of the sky with its interfacing horizon with the Earth's extent from our eyes, from our direct line of sight?  Well, then, who among you has the vision to see as if through the barriers to truth as in this case before us presently, so that no expanse of the pursuit of happiness and quality of life might be forgotten for our defendant in her life henceforth?  Certainly, because you are from the most rarefied origins connected to this planet, you would in an instant see the plight of our young and innocent maiden so cautiously named for this court that it required a small group of angels together to safeguard that identification; forsooth, you yourselves are here in all of your resplendence.  However, the purpose of this court as it convenes on this spot today is more ethereal in keeping with thine own divine stature and moorings, so that all of the socio-political plane will be affected with its proceedings and, hopefully, be swayed accordingly towards a futuristic justice for one Radhita Roundhouse, who is now named as the defendant in this case.  Not that she would occupy a prison, a physical place per se where all measure and modes of constraint might be placed upon her in the wake of the terrible deeds and words of the plaintiff, Durydon; rather, it is that her rights would become tainted, so that she would occupy more of a secreted sequestering off from her true level and stature for the rest of her life in the worst case, so bemoaned would be her losses.  I ask you: who could see beyond that cover, that snarled up foliage obscuring her pristine identity and formerly unperturbed freedom and simply know that she was in the substance of her deeds most perfect yet limited somehow by the intent of others if that intent were founded then upon prevarication, upon heinous false accusation?  Would there be one individual in our midst of sufficient stature to so bear the false war game of the nation of Bohemia to see this?  Can you, or, more succinctly, could anyone simply see that the unjust defamation of the leading rebel from this nation could so obvert Radhita's life's course as to overthrow her freedom to make choices in her daily life of her own as according to her sense of individuated destiny?  Would the said obversion of her destiny not endanger her in any particulars of her own life's true asking?  Yes, it would, most certainly; and this is the case before you.  This is the interruption, indeed, the dissolution together of the pursuit of happiness of our young heroine here in this court today who should learn to defend and gain for herself beyond all challenges to her very life fundamentally, so that she might live a normal life and regain the gainsay of her own interests and concerted welfare were they to be thrown under by the designs of one who wishes to overthrow the very government of the nation of Bohemia," Catster declaimed with his great might, effectively undoing the enemy to Radhita's freedom.  

     "I ask you again: who is he to thus use her as hostage in the progressively growing act of so doing, in the dynamic dint of that very overthrow?" Catster brought forth further remonstrations to the court at hand.  "Just who is this Durydon?  And is he to thus use her as one who is to be passively thrown under and objectively placed in submission somehow to his designs on the nation-state and its two neighbors whilst he declares her to be at fault yet towards him?  Well, I would propose to you here that this is preposterous, yet it unfortunately is the very essence of any battle which owes its source to that of a stolen destiny.  Her stolen destiny will be fraught with danger, and it will be fraught with danger that will be shared by the entire nations to whom she indeed matters.  She took a crime.  She took a crime perpetrated by him, the crime is kidnapping, and he kidnapped her so as to set up this axis of power through which he might rule from the underground he leads against the side of good in any and all matters including now critical, international ones with LLF.  From behind the one and replete veil of deceit Durydon forms by having thus disowned her from her very nation through this terrifying act of kidnapping does he etch his terrible signature like some blustering bully in all the tables of negotiation to be formed on  her behalf; yea, I say unto you at this venerate court, his is to turn those tables on any and all, not only on her for her life's footsteps.  He sits first and foremost as he always does at his own table of dark danger and throws his daggers onto it and then onto her footprints while he sullies the society with his horrible misdeeds not necessarily directly connected to her daily.  He will tell the world that she courts dangers as if he is not the cause nor the heinous contractor of the dangers he sends her way through his mobbing of her and through his diffuse defamation of her.  She is one Radhita Roundhouse, and she is innocent but targeted; the victim becomes the crime when the king of the underworld thus rules.  However, the victim becomes the crime only if we are not sagacious enough to disallow this folly of truth and justice.  Think on what I speak before you here today."

     There was a wave of low-level utterances much like a collective sigh among those who attended the divinely wrought court.  The hair on Giant Little's arms stood on end as he gathered into his immediate cognizance the transcendence of mind just inspired by Catster.  The boy hero felt that all of his vision and diligent work on the behalf of good stood now before his very eyes in one focused moment; it was all he could do to refrain from exclaiming out loud.  However, he read instead the sheer potential energy emanating from the divine beings around him and thrived on it, feeling at once secured and better equipped for his mission ahead.  Indeed, Giant Little's heart was as if filled with all of the light of the creation together to know that the vision of truth was now enveloping his dear sweetheart Radhita, his innocent princess, who could become forever bound up in the subtler throes of organized crime even since he had rescued her physically.  This amazing child hero waited for Catster's next word with avid concentration, for he knew that the presence of God at this court would forever bless his noble captive and his work in saving her unto marriage.

  Catster seemed to tune into Giant Little as he phrased his next rebuttal of Durydon.  He lifted his voice boldly once again unto the divine proceedings: "Since this defense is also based upon the event of the kidnapping of herself away from her home, her parents, her very nation, it becomes necessary in its fullest consideration to review that she was indeed confiscated and held prisoner, was bodily removed originally from her natural home, and now is free of her person but only through her will and desire to escape her captors; and also, that escape having been performed by agents even with righteous heart and forceful deeds, perhaps they will be also discredited along with her, alas."

     Judge Lux sounded the gavel twice at this juncture and boomed forth, "Tell the court of the crime as you know it, and, before you do so, are there any other witnesses here to the crime?"

     Catster proclaimed in answer to the judge, "Yes, there is a fellow accomplice in the rescue mission if you will pardon my sarcasm, your honor."

     At this question from the judgment stand, Giant Little started to rise to his feet as he felt a surge in the call to duty in his heart; that surge incited further his enlightened mind, enshrouded as it might be with purpose and with truth.  Now upon the recount of Radhita's plight so openly rendered was he becoming charged with broad ambition.  He left aside the need for direct answer; settled once again into his seat, his head held high and his two fists held tightly and upon his knees, he prayed silently for the appropriate moment to give his account of the dismal, horrible straits in which he had found his princess.  He closed his eyes and prayed for Radhita, thanking God for instituting such a mock court.  He prayed for the moment about to arrive whereupon he could bear witness before the court.   

     The great Judge Lux postured with his high intellect upon the entire scene before him; it was as if his mind could almost smile at the great truths he had just heard, yet he knew how grave the matters yet to be unraveled.  He interjected, "All measure of expression in this instance of rescue is in order whether it be metaphorical or rhetorical, concise or conceited; may it all rain upon us -- the truth of the awful intent of the terrible Durydon.  We must vanquish this evil he purports to place on some sordid platform through the simple town government of Bohan, for he is therein gaining the license to invert the justice locally as concerns the freedom of one Radhita Roundhouse but in the design ulteriorly of the entire nation as per that example of her, as per legal precedent, and also as through the effect of the indoctrination of war itself as he will so make that war happen through her.  Who are these local people to be able to comprehend the larger nation's perspective in deference to the enjoyment they might conceivably gain as oppressors, so singularly drunk on power they would become?  No, if sarcasm be your vehicle, then my ears are attuned to sarcasm; so serious the case is that we find for Radhita shelter from the goal of those who would build a war over her.  Catster, if I am long-winded, at least I am not in a whirlwind, an eddied flurry of intended harm, the likes of which these people are about to experience through the will of Durydon as he poses a continuing strife with Radhita.  I fear that these people might never stop spinning from its effects if it gains full force.  Through this court we have the opportunity to mold a way for all of the nation, for justice will be courted here."  So spoke the noble Judge Lux who sat in all his glory at the head of the court -- he, the kingly one.  He, whose appointment as chief adjudicator at the divinely ordained mock court befitted his own species, the king of the jungle, the lion, was now emboldened to smile benevolently upon the day before him and his divine cohorts.  Across the stately judgment stand there were sent as if in answer from on high two remarkable reflections of shimmering light from the glass on either side of his spectacles; this light itself reflected with a certain prescience what was about to be adjudged on the behalf of the side of good.  So remarkably did it signify the future to all who were present in the court's locus with its bucolic presence.  

     Suddenly, after hearing this defense of truth, this statement of portending battle, and after seeing the light from the famed spectacles of Judge Lux glint its inviting message across the court in its way, Giant Little rose to his feet and declared for all to hear, "Your honor, if I may, I am the other witness you seek in this case."  Giant Little then bowed his head but slightly in show of his humility and surrender to the stately court in whose face he stood as true as the day before him.  Radhita noticed that the entire body of her hero, held as he was in his boyhood years, was like a sword of truth itself.  As short as he was in stature, his physical presence was remarkable to her.  As she observed all of this after he spoke, his body seemed to loom beyond its own physical limits in some barely noticeable aura of faint, spiritual light.  Radhita in a single instant wondered if he were not actually one of the Shining Ones, as well.  She felt mixed emotions over that possibility since she wanted him to be of humankind lest she could not marry him;  how could one marry an angel, she mused to herself.

     Catster interjected, "May all hear now the condition in which we found Radhita, Giant Little and I.  This false record against her must be expunged if not at least challenged, for she is the victim, not the crime."

     Judge Lux sounded the gavel and said ominously, "Order in the court.  Catster, please give witness to what you saw first."   

     Catster was reticent for a brief moment, and as he looked out over the heads of those present in the mock court, angels or not, he lifted his heart for the good of all, the highest good he could imagine.  His face showed how profound his understanding of the matters before everyone there, and his demeanor was most dignified and smooth as he began his careful recount of how he had found Radhita.  He began with a warning to all that the facts of her original situation must not be ever shunted aside, and thus he said, "My fellow beings, we are here today to safeguard the freedom and destiny of an individual, Radhita Roundhouse, for, if the facts of her precise situation as pertains to her very presence in this nation of Bohemia are not retained for the general knowledge of the people, then, under the twisted leadership of Durydon, those facts if so obscured will lead to greater political disaster than what it is even necessary for this nation to tolerate.  If an individual loses some measure of freedom and then is blamed for the results of such loss, then the wounds so inflicted upon that individual, if she is of prominent stature, as well, will be felt by all the citizens who also would prefer their own freedom and its concomitant values.  Now, if Durydon had skillfully passed his captive onto his fellow ilk -- badmen -- who would continue to perform the original kidnapping he had accomplished right in the nation of Liberty Love Forest, then that does not still exonerate him from his founding crime, so that he might blame Radhita for her enmity for him outside of the consideration of her captivity as effected by him.  I and Giant Little here," Catster said as he motioned to the young man in the gallery who stood up again when cited, "had found Radhita bound and held hostage at the hands of two outlaws over by the junction of Bo Creek and the River Strong.  She had been transported there in a wagon and was kidnapped originally by Durydon himself  in the town of Cambium, so she recounted to us.  She had been two nights with her captors and had courageously prayed for a miracle to save her in what seemed to her to be an impossible situation.  If the political system cannot handle the power and place of the miracles which led to her rescue from the agents of Durydon, for that is how she perceives her rescue -- as a miracle -- then good will have been at least momentarily surrendered to the power of evil.  When Giant Little came as if out of nowhere to find the young maiden in dire distress, her kidnappers were trying to institute the precedent of starving her, so she told us.  Because she had kicked one of them in the spirit of self-defense while she was in need of the food with which he taunted her, first he gave her food to appease her; she then was bound up in rope and left to perish further at their hands as they enjoyed more of their food without giving her more of that food.  Giant Little had heard her scream as she was so tied up, and that is what had localized her position in the battle to his awareness.  He arrived on his steed, Victory, by name, the horse who led the procession to this court of our Heavenly callers, and together we defeated the two outlaws who were taking Radhita to a place off in the hinterlands for an ongoing imprisonment.  Now, if Giant Little and I had acted to extricate her from such a horrible plight as that, as she might have to stay on here in this nation in deference to the building civil discord here which has preceded her, then the facts of her arrival here must not be forgotten.  Radhita is a victim of a crime who has been partially rescued from it by me myself and Giant Little; and to continue the crime of kidnapping by false and  hearsay evidence as front and cover is a more subtle and therefore more powerful crime which first, she should not have to live out, and secondly, which we should oppose with all of our might.  Heroism must be cultivated.  The people must have a value for it.  Heroism must be also cultivated by a nation together if it is to serve that nation.  If the wicked subvert heroic record for their darker designs, then the most powerful force towards good in the sidedness of earthly battle will have been lost.  And that, my fellow creatures, is the case before us, and therefore it is before all of mankind.  We must not fail in this instance.  We must defend her properly in view of the foregoing. Thank you."   

     Judge Lux sat silently shaking his head from side to side with consternation at the plight which was bound to develop for Radhita without greater divine intervention; this was the entire reason for holding the mock court.  He was most pensive as his head with its shining mane gently swayed back and forth, and he was knitting his brow almost as if in a hopeless frenzy to have heard how it was that Giant Little and Catster had so gallantly intervened and rescued the young lady from abject and worsening misery.  Then he came back to the moment before him, leaving his subjective quandary aside; he looked out at the gathering in front of him.  He sought out Catster who remained on the witness stand waiting for any rejoinder from the courtly justice he was nourishing in his presentation of the case now before the mock court.  He demurely queried of his fellow feline friend, "My dear and trusted, most honored cavalier in the cat kingdom, how exactly did the fight appear to you?  What exactly did transpire, Catster?  Tell us."   

     Catster sat straight and regal, looking statuesque against the backdrop of the pond with its beautiful reflection of rich, green foliage being lulled in the soft sweep of the morning's breezes.  He did not blink an eye as he gazed at Angelina.  The majestic angel nodded her head once in the affirmative, Gai noticed, as if to say that she would gladly hear tell of the turnaround in battle at the rescue of Radhita Roundhouse.  Catster then sought eye contact with Giant Little who sat like a man quietly assuming his place in a steep situation.  Giant Little also nodded once at Catster a brief nod, and, when he so nodded, Catster saw the future through his young charge's spirit.  There seemed to be a concentrating force bearing upon those present.  It was a force which struck Radhita as that of a power of miraculous presence.  As she registered that moment for its presence, she felt a surge of self-realization to know that divinity was working one-pointedly at this moment and in this congregation where she was being extricated from the greater, diffuse effects of an awesome and evil rebel, Durydon.  Radhita knew that this event at Strong Pond was of immense consequence for the betterment and for the preservation of all of mankind.  She sat as straight as she could as Catster began to recount the battle more descriptively at the behest of Judge Lux.   

     "Yes, your respected honor, it would be my most honored duty to present the facts of the case with its true battle to you and before this court on this day so chosen as to afford the young citizen of Liberty Love Forest, indeed, the daughter of the prime minister of that nation, an opportunity to escape also the false incrimination war game which has since been posed as her nemesis by the outlaw, Durydon.  My dear and divine beings of this heavenly court: the vital fact I place before you here today is the fact that Durydon himself founded the battle to kidnap one Radhita Roundhouse.  I must bear witness as to her real plight," Catster issued forth as he began most calmly to give tell of the battle to rescue the young lady, a mere girl.  

     At this point in his account there arrived a loud crashing noise on the trail at the further end of Strong Pond when a horseman was arriving unannounced except by a clamorous charge.  This horseman galloped on a sable steed into the clearing by the shore of the pond and came to a sudden halt.  It was Durydon!  Durydon could now be seen across the length of the pond; he sat momentarily on his horse eyeing the scene at the other end of the pond.  This terrible outlaw brandished a pistol in his hand.  He held the pistol high above his head and fired a single shot into the air which signaled his two cohorts to enter from either side of the pond and in his lead.  From either side of the woods came galloping two bandits, but who were not the same ones from whom Radhita had been rescued by Catster and Giant Little.     

     Radhita noticed that the villain was clad as usual in black; so did his nefarious cohorts wear black masks about their eyes.  Durydon's eyes were not masked.  Then she thought that his unwanted foray at Strong Pond this moment was actually the reason the gathering of divine beings had ever occurred.  Upon this realization, she referred to Giant Little for direction mentally, aghast at the possibilities of this arrival of outlaws.  Suddenly, Giant Little disappeared on her.  So did all of the personae at the mock court disappear.  There simply was no one there, and, as she became more aware of this, she realized that she was actually looking down somehow on the entire setting at Strong Pond as if from another plane of existence; strangely, this plane refuted the very meaning of existence itself.  She could see the horsemen coursing down the sides of the pond.  As if a divine witness herself, she watched with total, empyreal vision which conferred a mental detachment of deep consolation upon her war-struck mind.   

     Durydon became bewildered that there was no one there by the time he reached the place where they had been, for he had of course caught sight of them before they had magically disappeared.  He hesitated mentally, bolted to a stop, looked around in sheer amazement, and, as his fellow badmen were in the same dither as to reality as it obtained seemingly before them, they were lost as to his instructions in battle since he plainly had none.  One of them yelped in dismay, "What?  Where did they go?  What is goin' on he-are?"

     There was a shimmering light cast all across the ground where Giant Little and everyone had just been located.  Giant Little was now witnessing the outlaws led by the terrible Durydon from some astral perch over the earthly abode where they had been convened in mock court proceedings.  Just after he heard the yelp of the outlaw exclaiming that there was nobody there, he passed his vision in search of the witness stand.  He saw the witness stand as if it were enshrouded in a cloud of blue light, and he observed that it must be also invisible to the small gang of outlaws.  Then he heard Durydon yell out an order, "Let's get out of here.  They're gone, they're gone . . . "  

     The third gang member cried in consternation, "What is goin' on here, boss?"  

     This made Durydon hesitate for a second; then he threw his head back slightly and answered gruffly, "Nothin'!"  He paused further, wanting just to leave the scene as quickly as possible.  He was confused, not quite sure of what to do or say just at that moment.  Then he tried to recover his presence and said, "Just follow orders, you fool."  But that answer was not sufficient for either of his men.  

     "You lead the way, boss, but where will that take us?  I saw those people asettin' here, and now they're gone.  Now what's goin' on?  Can't you answer us?  Don't you call me a fool.  I saw 'em."

     Durydon was too much in a state of shock to be angered with the insolence of his subordinate, but he realized that he had to answer them in any instance.  He turned crazed when he realized further that there was no answer.  So he lifted his pistol as if to recover his command, aimed it at the spot where they had been, and shot a single bullet through the air.  Amazed at this, his lieutenant boldly said in further continuation of his insolence, "Now what was that fer?  You gonna kill a rock?"

     Durydon became angered finally at this remark from his charge whose name in the trade was Dark One due to the huge, dark circles he wore under his  time-worn eyes.  "Now Dark One, don't test me -- I might have to remove the air to find them, er somethin' akin to that.  How do I know where they are?  Behind the air?  Do you want me to shoot again but in another direction -- like yers?"  

     This considerably chastened Dark One who feared Durydon immensely; he studied the craziness of his boss just then, putting aside the strange disappearance as secondary to his sense of survival.  He answered in a feigned calmness, "No, I think I get yer point.  Keep the target friendly as long as there's no enemy in sight -- whatever that be by now.  It ain't yer fault, boss."

     Durydon looked over at Dark One and nodded once, saying, "These are strange things; these are strange times.  I think we had better get outa here, 'n fast.  I sense somethin'.  Let's go!  Let's gallop, men!"

     With that all three gangsters took off for the closest trail in sight, Durydon leading the way, leaving a few clods of earth turned up but certainly no bloodshed, no record of violence in their trail.  

     After some time had lent assurance that the place was vacated of all such evildoers as Durydon and his men, the creatures resumed their usual song.  A frog with its deep bass voice led the way; then the crickets and birds chimed in.  The entire mock court resumed in visible presence and form, and Catster was called upon to now continue his account of the former and founding battle from where he had left off.    

     Catster, pretending he was wearing a bow tie about his neck, proceeded to straighten it and pull its sides apart so as to make it more taut before he began to speak.  He sat on the witness stand as if on a commodious world stage, yet he brought to bear upon those witnessing the metaphysical genius an air of humility and gravity in the situation even though he had hinted at humor with a modicum of mime.  Then he astutely cleared his throat slightly.  He began his account of the battle in which he and Giant Little had extricated Radhita from her captors: "I arrived at the scene of the battle through my prescience and took a perch upon a generous branch in one of the taller trees down near the side of the stream.  All was quiet, until there came upon the scene a party of three people, two horses and a wagon pulled behind one of the horses.  "Whoa, whoa, Nelly," rang out the raspy voice of one of the disheveled characters as the wagon came to a stop not far from my secret vantage point.  Then the two bad characters who had apparently taken charge of the most beautiful young lady who sat in the wagon began to build a fire and set up a temporary camp by the stream.  I observed that the young lady was mute -- rather fundamentally frightened -- but also showed some remarkable courage as she expressed a subtle disdain for those two characters who referred to her in their talk as their prisoner.  The young lady, Radhita, as we would now admit her name would search the area for an escape route each time she heard herself called a prisoner by one of them.  The men were preparing a meal, and, as they began to eat, one of them tormented the young maiden with a plate of food which he first offered her and then denied her.  At that point, she kicked the hand which was holding the plate with a skillful front kick, letting out a war cry as she did so.  The captor took umbrage at this and proceeded to find some rope, tie her up in it in the back of the wagon, and feed her her meal with the deepest, sarcastic apology you could imagine as she ate.  After her meal was fully accomplished in that fashion, she demanded that she be given a fair fight and that the ropes be removed forthwith.  At this point, the poor decrepit character who had tied her in the first place went over to her and just tightened the rope, causing her to let out blood-curdling screams.  This scared both of the men, so that the cruel one backed off, saying he could not remove the rope but would not tighten it if she screamed no further.  They were afraid that some chance passer-by might hear her, and yet they did not want to muzzle her unless as he put it to her, that became necessary."

     Lux the Lion interjected here most inquisitively, "And did the little captive girl comply with the request for the cessation of screams in return for the looser ties upon her limbs, with no muzzle applied?"

     Catster looked down at the shining surface of the witness stand, his head tilted slightly; then he lifted his eyes without moving his head and averted them to the surface of the pond water.  He said deliberatively, "Yes, she did so comply.  I read in her a certain hopelessness at that point in the twisted events slated at subjugating her, your Honor."

     Angelina then stood up and extended her beautiful voice into the air for all to hear.  "My dear Catster, if Radhita was saved thus far in the remarkable travail you depict, and she had suffered no obvious physical wounds and further had the forbearance to take the abuse and torture intended upon her in a studied fashion, how would you assess her basic disposition in the battle she handled as captive to some scoundrels, the horrifying likes of which you have described for us?"

     Catster looked over at Judge Lux.  The judge nodded.  Then Catster answered the angel, "Yes, Angelina, oh Thou of the beatific vision requisite to the proper comprehension of one so sweet and innocent as the lovely Radhita; our young prisoner at this point showed the will to fight while she at the same time was not wild or abandoned in her actions at all.  She used what skill she had gained in her study of the martial arts, I could see, while at the same time she practiced a wise restraint when she deemed it necessary.  She did not give up the fight; rather, she saw strategy in the fight.  This is as I perceived it in her.  She had the courage to delay a resistance, weigh it against possible odds, and to pray when she thought that an escape would be forever impossible.  The way she quietened her screams was useful to her chances to find again a better point of harmony in a grueling situation; this was how she viewed the matter.  But there is one thing I must mention here, and that is simple: our young child hero, Giant Little, had heard her screams since he was not far off, so that Radhita hastened the actual physical battle for her extrication from the two kidnappers when she sounded those screams.  She must have sensed that help was on the way, for she also calmed down summarily after she screamed, no matter what the outlaw said.  Then I heard them talking after she complied with their request for her silence, and one of them remarked that she had never screamed before this, not once."

     Judge Lux interjected softly at this point, giving an observation based upon Catster's witnessing of the fact and the nature of the kidnapping. " It seems that the current beatific state of mind of our young heroine, Radhita Roundhouse, might be taken for proof that she had never indeed been held in such captivity.  She might rather be expected to display a certain despondency, a mind reactive to the damage of conflict and unwanted constraints upon her freedom by those mobsters in charge who would project their own lesser capabilities upon their hostage.  This is an era of irreligion and of mob rule in Bohemia unlike the rule in Radhita's home country.  Therefore, the subtleties of mind more truthfully construed as indicative of deeper self-realization in a yogini, preserving in such as her a profound and soulful happiness no matter the external conditions and challenges, are not as well understood among the people.  In the contemporaneous, wider condition of wantonness of the social fiber there inheres a prevalence of poor discrimination of mind among the people, so that those who are of the knowledge of the self may not be recognized as such -- yet those of deeper self-knowledge do retain that powerful discrimination of mind which works to preserve moral judgment and virtue even if in the minority in these times of irreligion.  This general social condition I describe endangers Radhita to that mob-ruled society, and, therefore, I would posit hereupon, based upon even the brief account you have given before this court, the idea that Radhita should seek shelter and socio-political refuge with the religious society at the temple nearby here until such time as her father can reclaim her from this state of growing international political contention.  In view of the dangers which are sure to accrue more steadily . . . "  Lux the Lion stopped speaking suddenly as he turned around in response to the sound of the hooves of horses coming upon the scene so as to see who it might be.

     There came upon the beautiful Strong Pond at that moment from the further end of the pond a procession of three horses moving slowly and carrying men in khaki-colored military uniform, the color of the military of Bohemia.  At the head of the procession on a gray horse was Arch General Borders himself.  He looked statuesque as he with a ceremonious attitude approached the mock court of divine presence.  Arch General Borders seemed to reflect a pious attitude which indicated his probable knowledge of the exact source of the gathering of beings before him and his two compatriots while at the same time he emanated the dignity and resolve of his legendary level of command.  When once the arch general sensed that he had been fully noticed, he gave forth a hand signal to his horse and to his men, a gentle slap on the neck of the horse, and this caused all three horses to begin to prance as they coursed along the side of the pond on their way to the gathering.  Giant Little immediately recognized him, having seen his picture in an encyclopedia at school, and he nudged Radhita with his elbow briefly.  She looked over at Giant Little with expectation written in her eyes as to information on this arrival of others at the court being held in her honor.  Giant Little bent over to her ear, held his hand near his mouth and spoke behind it to her, "Radhita, this is history being made.  The leading general on the gray horse is Arch General Robert Borders, a retired hero of the war of my nation from years back.  He was a very young man during that conflict, and, when he left active service, he had prophesied that he would one day be needed and would return to active duty."

     Radhita searched her memory just briefly.  She held a particular interest in world history due to her father's involvement in matters of state and world level politics as prime minister of Liberty Love Forest.  She answered Gai's mention of his prophecy with an exact quote, "I remember learning in history class that he had prophesied according to the words, to be exact, 'Peace will arch over war, for I will ride again with white clouds in my hair,' Gai." 

     Giant Little nodded, looked over as he saw the arch general drawing his troops to a stop before the court, and said to Radhita, "Now will that meaning unfold before us, my darling." 

     Radhita gave Giant Little a most soulful, loving look as he referred to her as his darling, and they looked into one another's eyes with deep admiration.  They both reflected profound expectation for the event of more human beings arriving to bear witness at the mock court.  Giant Little tightened his two fists almost unconsciously as his eyes turned back to the scene of the three generals just arriving.  This was indeed a remarkable event.  Giant Little's chest swelled with ardor, and he took a deep breath, closing his eyes briefly as he slowly expired that breath, knowing that a great and favorable change would now occur in the politically determined status of his beloved sweetheart, the young lady he would one day marry.  When Radhita saw how Giant Little was responding to the arrival of the military of Bohemia through such a decorated hero and two high-ranking generals of its ranks whose shoulders were strewn with the golden insignia of their ranks, she in a fit of truth stood up and made a verbal statement: "Hail the great Arch General Borders!  Hail him whose prophesy to his nation is no less met by his timely arrival here today at Strong Pond and in full regalia and uniform.  Hail the great Arch General Borders!  God save my freedom and destiny!  God save Bohemia!  Hail the arch general!  May he rise again in righteous duty!"

     The three generals proceeded to place their studied eyes on Radhita as they one-by-one and in order of rank from highest to lowest dismounted their horses.  Arch General Borders then saluted Radhita, did an about face, and saluted the judge of the court; he then proceeded to give verbal commands to his fellow generals: "Line up!  Attention!  Bow and salute!"  His voice rang throughout the court.  His commanders took place shoulder to shoulder, stood at strict attention with their superior, and then bowed deeply to Judge Lux.  Next, they stood erect and saluted their crisp salutes.  Note that since Arch General Borders was commanding his fellow commanders, in honor of their respective levels his commands were ordered in a group and followed from memory rather than one-by-one.  After all three had saluted Judge Lux, they were ordered to do an about face and perform the same ritual in honor of the guests in the court, those divinely appointed beings, the Shining Ones, as well as of Giant Little and Radhita.     

       At the sudden and high-spirited outburst of his sweetheart, Radhita, followed by the show of military splendor and ritualistic respect, Giant Little could not sit still, for he was inspired to show his readiness to fight and to fight further for his betrothed, his beloved lady.  With a demeanor solemn and with the deepest respect for the new arrivals at the court, the child hero broke all at once from his cloister of humility and contemplative ardor for what had been unfolding before his blessed eyes that day; this was as any lad would be expected to do.  With a precipitate show of readiness to work with the human troops who had arrived at the court to give their support and pay their respects to the divinities, Giant Little himself and Radhita on the behalf of nations and the individuals involved in the developing civil war, Giant Little bolted to his feet.  He proceeded to the perimeter of the gathering.  On the side and not twenty feet from the lines of chairs which were placed in front of the witness stand, Giant Little went into a stand at attention, bowed from the waste to his Radhita, and then executed a karate form signifying his defense of her.  The form was twenty moves of blocks, kicks, punches and various techniques which signified fight and was put forth in a preset pattern  from deep karate stances.  With one final war cry at the last move, Giant Little returned to ready stance, turned abruptly, and took a few running steps towards the generals located at the front of the court between the witness stand and the gallery of chairs.  Suddenly, Giant Little took a sharp right turn so as to go down the aisle of generals and flew into the air adeptly, performing a high and majestic left flying front kick just opposite the arch general himself.  He landed, did a three-quarter turn so as to face the arch general, and bowed to him with two made fists.  Then he stood at attention front and center to Arch General Borders, giving him the respect and readiness to fight of a skilled and proficient martial artist.  Giant Little had thus singled out the arch general for his return to duty in the nation of Bohemia.  Even though Giant Little was from a municipality of Bohemia which was formerly an enemy to Bohemia as it once had belonged to the nation of Pristinia, a certain measure of alliance was founded with the show of portending fight in Giant Little’s deeds.  Arch General Borders read all of this, and, once Giant Little saw that his message was properly perceived by the arch general, he proceeded to seek greater divine sanction for the battles ahead in the growing conflicts.  Thus, Giant Little turned crisply to Judge Lux, placed his feet together, and with two formed fists bowed deeply to the dragon now in cat form.  Then he turned a slight bit to the left and bowed crisply to Catster who was sitting on the witness stand in line with Judge Lux.  Next, he did an about-face and bowed deeply to the entire court of the Shining Ones, for they certainly were gathered for the purpose of standing in on the behalf of the betterment and preservation of mankind.  

     Once this show of respect from Giant Little was completed, Arch General Borders addressed the court through the aegis of its judge, saying in even tones, “Judge Lux, may I introduce myself as Arch General Robert Borders; and these are my compatriots, General Chittling and General Foundling.  It gives us great honor to be here at this court today and to have the opportunity to establish an alliance with the young lad of the Latel family who stands before us.  May I have a few words with him, your honor?”   

     "Arch General Borders.  You must have returned to active military service.  Welcome back.  We, the guardians of the martial arts and the protectors of the Earth, render you the praises and profound respect your due for your past military defenses and civic duties.  It would please the court to hear you speak with the young lad.  Please proceed."  Judge Lux announced this with the greatest sense of consolation that such a great figure had arrived as a liaison to mankind at the mock court.  He closed his eyes briefly after he spoke, reflecting inwardly upon the moment which was unfolding.  As he heard the voice of the gifted general when he began to speak, Judge Lux opened his eyes and looked past his head as if to signify that a vision of this event now before him had once visited his mind  and that now a greater answer which he had foreseen as vital to the good of all was being played out before the mock court.

     Arch General Borders answered forthwith: “Yes, that I have returned -- home to the ragged and rugged precipitates of the civic strife of the time -- though far behind had they been for me since I had last intoned on the behalf of active combat for the duties of the defense of the security of the nation of Bohemia.  In the theater of war there is no real star, oh Thou of the wiser ilk of the possible beings of divinity’s conjure.  Though there may be stars of the sky which speak the same to generations upon eons of the human race who search their light for the consolation of identity’s face and place in this vast universe, such stars of war as myself do not shine when they move across the face of the place of the planet Earth, this lowly kingdom whose promise must nonetheless be guarded by battle whose premise of purpose must lie beyond the ways and days of mankind’s ponder so rife with ignorance, sloth and corruption as such battles accrue so sadly to war.  Yet glory is told; indeed, the way of the future must rest at times upon it.  So enigmatic is war that it will always remain as such as the simple mind for peace even within the confines of its own event and horrific strife.  Yes, I have returned.  There is smoke on the horizon as the last days of peace barely shine forth in the morn; alas, more and more do indeed mourn now for the character of the youth gone amok as organized crime claims its ugly darkness, dampening to the dankness of dastardly false commanders who recklessly rule through the concerted damnation  of rampant crime.  Yet, how can we preserve through all this?  We must fight, and here we have a youth, Philip Latel, renowned for his bold and courageous exploits in these parts where he becomes targeted and attacked by the outlaw traders; he wins, and so he teaches and guides.  Now must he seek the hand of marriage, I hear, of Radhita Roundhouse; and, alas, the innocent Radhita Roundhouse, the daughter of the prime minister of the beatific state of Liberty Love Forest, must have been targeted as well most totally by that unspeakable coward, that mob giant, Durydon, who hides behind his crimes as some tarnished vestige of self – woe unto me that I must pay visage to the warring moments which foment as that underworld macher tries to overthrow that which I had defended in the past Great War of Bohemia.  Yes, I have indeed returned, and so be it.  Let the woes be gone; for if you believe in the power of war to preserve and to mold for the good of all, then let glory be the song.  So sad it is to be said that the war song must ever dominate even for a moment in the golden sun of all the love that there is to be known through the glory of God most high.  Yea, that beneficent sun shines ever forth and fills with warmth the investiture of this great land when once He expresses through such a governing system as sheer goodness gives.  Like some majestic cloak whose buffering billows place happiness instead in their folds does the nation-state of Bohemia rise ceremoniously through God's protective cover; this behind the strength further of the protective shield of good fiber, aye, as such that retains even yet in the beautiful democratic nation of LLF.  My friends of the court gathered here, let us face it: in this horrid day, we of Bohemia wear some ragged cloak of threadbare hope, worn and torn by the riddles of the better conscience of man -- man, who rends apart decency, civility and security as if there is no mortal body encloistered behind the cloak and wanting of its protection.  I therefore ask you: are we to presume according to status quo, or are we to face the shivering and nearly subjugated masses in order to see the nation for what it is in these times -- Godforsaken?  Oh, power of the self supreme!  May I beg your pardons collectively here today for my lengthy expressions of sentiment, for, in the face of our mission together, there is no time for emotional repartee.  I expect no answer.  I expect only the call of duty.  That call to active duty is as you Shining Ones might portend and might prophesy to me in the way of ulterior guidance.  My motive pure and not saturated with self-adoration, my mind remains only yet humbly supplicant of your wisest and all-knowing counsel.  This court stands for me as a star, yet I must speak with the lad known as Giant Little for his several astounding acts of courage in the defense of the good.  I do not pretend to anything other than a human commander who works as an instrument of God most high; and I would not presume to interrupt these proceedings with egoistic talk.  I have an agenda; of that you must be aware.”  So issued the ancient and wise commander, Arch General Borders, his insights and supplications unto the mock court.

     With the prolific speech of the decorated arch general, who was indeed now returning to active military duty, Judge Lux was most encouraged.  Indeed, he was visibly uplifted.  The feline figure posing as judge at the divinely appointed mock court stood up and lifted his arms towards the sky; he raised his head as if about to speak to the highest principle represented by the firmament of blue overhead.  He appealed in a voice ridden with emotion for the truth Arch General Borders had just spoken as he said, “Oh, God most high, may there be provided for this tarnished nation of Bohemia a new light shed upon the leadership and upon the people through the superior counsel and abilities of this illustrious general now returned to active duty.  May he bless this court with the perspicacity of his mind for the civic strife we do here today address.  Indeed, those golden years of peace and prosperity this nation of Bohemia had known find their provenance in his past glorious achievements as its uniquely endowed defender.  May he guide the youth and claim back the peace and harmony now on edge to the attempted overthrow by organized crime we do here today countenance in antecedent’s foresight to an impending disaster.”  Judge Lux then lowered his arms to his side, sat down again, and nodded to the arch general, saying briefly, “Now guide the lad as you will, Arch General Borders, most honored one.”

     Arch General Borders placed his hand on Giant Little’s right shoulder and said simply unto the boy hero, “My young lad, how pleased I am to meet you.  I heard that you heroically saved Radhita Roundhouse from two of Durydon’s conscripts who had kidnapped her, and you found her and extricated her from them over by Bo Creek.  You understand the vital meaning of this save, do you not?  It has affected all of Bohemia.  Your heroic save of Miss Roundhouse, the daughter of Prime Minister Ker Roundhouse, has swung the civic strife considerably in the direction of the ultimate victory of good over evil.  Can you see this?  It is not only your impulse unto heroic measure which I today address; it is also the profound current of war which you have rescued from an eddy which could have grown into a whirlpool together, throwing hundreds upon thousands of people in all three concerned nations into an even greater dither of unrest and fear, leaving them ever more dizzied aside and adrift then to the mind of the indoctrinator’s scourge, to his mean and cunning clutches.  May  I commend you?  I must commend you most heartily, Philip Latel.” 

     At this address Giant Little was so gladdened that he lifted his voice to his sweetheart, saying loudly for all to hear, “My Beloved, my Radhita, come here with us.”  Then, as he awaited her, he bowed his head politely to the seasoned general.  “Arch General Borders, it was with the critical assistance of my cohort and cat friend, Catster, that I did succeed in rescuing the finest young lady of LLV, the daughter of its head-of-state.  I owe this victory to Providence, and I am glad to hear you tell its meaning for the three nations and their peoples.  I owe you a debt of gratitude for your past services to this nation of Bohemia.  Please forgive the Latel family our front in the current civic strife, for we do work hard in trying to figure out the political subversives who stand for the secession of our municipality from Bohemia in order to join Pristinia.  Pristinia is eternally interested in the rich gold mines up in the hills and mountains of my province, as if the Great War had never claimed its true victory.  This old rivalry was to you a then current matter when you handled the problems in the Great War, and we have no choice today but to conduct an intelligence mission on the behalf of Bohemia, no matter what else goes with it.  We do not mean towards you any disrespect whatsoever, Arch General Borders, and we bear the shame of our front.  I escape it, and I come to this area as often as I can and simply fight on the behalf of good.  I want to tell you that I fight for Bohemia.”

     Arch General Borders stood in awe of the verdant youth standing before him and slowly and pensively nodded his head as he took in what he had just heard, giving it all some deep reflections.  It seemed that the arch general was sizing him up, and when his mind came to rest over his observation of Giant Little, he turned his eyes to Radhita who was now standing by the side of Giant Little.  His blue eyes twinkled as he saw her beauty and presence; he took her hand with the greatest gentility and bent over from the waist, kissing it lightly.  Then he looked at her to assess her mind for all that had happened and was about to happen.  He moved on to the next social moment with her as if he had been contemplating her situation for a long time and was at last meeting her.  Finally, he said to her, “Radhita Roundhouse.  It will be all right.  There, there, everything will be all right for you.  We will keep you from dire harm.  Have faith and courage.  We are at your defense.”    

     Radhita tightened the grip of her hand being held in Arch General Border’s strong hand when he said this to her.  As from an awareness of his great stature, thus reflecting her reverence for him, she answered, “Arch General.  This is an unexpected honor to be greeted and spoken unto by one of your astounding stature and place in history.  Had I walked the line of danger for the privilege of hearing your noble heart espouse its nature unto the defense of the good and innocent, now that including myself?  This is too good to be true.  I am most grateful to you.  I am certain that my father will also be most relieved to hear that you have come to the rescue again of the nation of Bohemia, let alone me.  Since you are a noble one, your services, your return to military duty, must be regarded as a boon to all of the nations who are invested of the troubles we see stemming from Durydon.  I have studied the history of the Great War of  Bohemia in some depth and with great interest in school.”

     "And what level in school do you now distinguish with your scholarship, young lady?" the arch general queried.

     "I am at the middle school level, and I have my eyes on an early entry into a mentorship program at a university abroad, probably in England," answered the youth with a careful guard; she was worried that her international status as hostage might interfere with the continuity of her schooling and higher education. 

     Arch General Borders read this worry, and he took compassion for her.  He briefly lifted her hand again for a second gentle kiss and then let it go.  He professed briefly to her, “May your stay in Bohemia be as safe and as enlightening as possible.  May your marriage to Philip Latel be formed in this scrimmage with evil which we now address at this wondrous mock court.  I see how readied you are for the days ahead, and I pledge unto you my personal, deepest concerns for the security of LLF as well as for your ultimate safe return there to your homeland.  Thank you for your kind words to me.  I have contended in the dialectics of war of old, and, anytime you need my counsel, my personal counsel, I would ask that you recruit a messenger to deliver to me a letter asking for my word, my answer to your any question or need, Miss Roundhouse.  I am at your service." 

     Radhita felt solidly protected by the responsible words and manner of the great Arch General Robert Borders.  First, she considered placing her personal concerns aside in view of the contentious political climate of the three nations now involving themselves in her life and destiny due to the fact of the crime of Durydon against her freedom.  Then she thought better of the responsible role he was assuming with her, she decided to ask him for reassurance regarding her continuing education.  She broached the topic, saying to him, "Arch General Borders, I am informed at the proceedings of this mock court that I will be given refuge, political asylum, at the temple nearby here.  Will I also have a tutor so that I can keep current my studies?  This would please my father, and it would also lift my hopes that I not lose any ground towards my goals in attaining the education I desire.  I am a very serious student.  If I may, I am considered quite gifted."

     The arch general immediately replied, "I am certain that the holy order at the temple will arrange for you to continue on with your studies.  I would like to personally oversee this matter. Therefore, I ask that you send me a letter outlining your academic achievements as well as those which are to follow in good sequence as if you were at home in LLF.  From there I can assure you: I will see that you are well provided with the finest tutors available.  But I need the information so that I can keep an eye on it for you."  

     Radhita was relieved to hear this.  Mentally, she thanked the arch general as if surprised to hear his will to be personally responsible, certainly; but more importantly, she was struck by the idea that her term as hostage in the international sphere would be less exacting than what she had been anticipating.   

    By this all of this was Radhita inspired beyond consolation’s heart.  Such a compassionate, heroic rendering of a pledge to her by the great arch general of his command and support in the days and in the battles ahead she had never been expecting at all.  This was a man of great wisdom before her.  Suddenly, she saw through the words and very demeanor of this historic figure a given way, an offensive disposition which she would assume.  As he spoke, Radhita had glimpsed at Arch General Border’s expansion of mind into the future as to the question of her security and of how he viewed the promise of her marriage to Philip Latel.  Radhita could not rest on this moment in complacent resolution since all that the great general said and stood for was actually formulating in her mind as a way unto action.  So great was her realization, so relieved was she of any doubt or fear as she stood in the presence of this military genius of history’s kind accord, that she was overwhelmed  with the sudden urge to render him and all of those present at the mock court her own statement of call to battle.  She thereby bowed a deep bow to the generals standing before her; following this, she turned a quarter turn and bowed first to Catster and then to Judge Lux.  As she performed an about-face so as to bow to the Shining Ones in the gallery of the court, she caught briefly the eye of Giant Little and saw his look of admiration.  He knew that she was a talented martial artist who was about to make a statement.  Great encouragement did she gain from such brief connection to Giant Little since she was new to the venue of battle in the reality of the world at large, unlike Gai himself.  After so paying her proper respects, Radhita took five giant steps backwards as if to signify that she would now regain the ground lost in the overall sense of destiny in her life through the unwanted and unforeseen kidnapping crime she had suffered.  Arch General Borders of course read this and stood ready to observe the next aspect of her artistic expression.  His head tipped slightly back as his neck stiffened in readiness to observe her, he stood like the taut soldier he was.  This body language lent Radhita a more firm commitment to her desire to state battle in his presence; she was observing his stoic receptivity of mind and his undaunted courage to face the future with her.   

     What unfolded from Radhita was a magical level of proficient artistic expression, a series of blocks, kicks, punches and various other techniques of symbolic meaning which stunned the observers for its sheer brilliance.  The speed at which she moved was other worldly, and it was something she had seen in Giant Little when he performed his flying side kick to save her from the kidnappers.  She had never achieved such speed before, and that component alone caused her to rival the level of Giant Little as a martial artist.  

     When Radhita had finished her form, the great Arch General Border’s voice rang throughout the little amphitheater in which sat Strong Pond among the hills and dales of the beatific niche, so that all of the creatures and any humans there might have heard the call to arms of the nation of Bohemia at this moment from the voice, if not soul of its most decorated and honored military giant now returned from the past.  Suddenly, he sounded the commands to his generals to draw their pistols with the sharp words, “Men beware!  At attention!  Hand right!”  At this the three generals standing at strict attention placed their right hands deftly on the handles of their pistols at their hips.  Then he yelled out the next command, “Draw right!  Overhead 45!  Now FIRE!”  Thus did the military contingency present  at Strong Pond on that memorable day offer the youths so centrally involved in the civic strife of the nation of Bohemia a three gun salute.  The clarion sound of the firearms loudly cracked the air.  With ominous echoes resounding once, twice and thrice from the distance of the great, green surround did that memorable salute sound the opening battle in standing form.  Wherever lurked the enemy remained at ideation's determinant, yet the highest ranking general of the nation had made ready his command from the hallowed aperture to divinity lent all of mankind through the agency of the mock court on that auspicious day at Strong Pond.  The highest was holding accountable the sins of man wherein the innocent must suffer; where corruption bore false witness and drew up its sordid prospectus of social crime bent on the indoctrination of war, the vigil of the Shining Ones had founded a different idea at this mock court.  This court would surely guide the formation of battle as from on high, and thereby allow the people a chance to make a new and better day for themselves.

     “Retreat . . . return, chamber and salute!” announced the commander as all three officers  worked in perfect and harmonious timing to place their weapons back in their holsters and then salute the space they had just visited by angle and target with their bullets.  “At ease, men,” was the final command.  Giant Little had noticed that the three guns had sounded precisely in unison, and he read this as abiding, good harbinger for the mission ahead on the behalf of all.  To him it had signified a fundamental unity and order; moreover, it would be an order inherent in the power of skilled command -- that of the arch general.  This reflection gave Giant Little a realistic appreciation of what was to lie ahead in the future, and he wondered how deeply into service he might be drawn as matters and events would intensify.  He inwardly prayed for his full and dedicated service unto all, renouncing any need for wide recognition in his characteristic humility.  He steeled his mind for the call to even greater duty.  Now that ancient and wise personage from history's making, Arch General Borders, had met him on his grounds of victory even though it can be said that there is no victory or defeat ultimately, given the dualistic nature of things in the most universal perspective possible.  He stood that moment as a child of nature, embraced by the taming aegis of elders, generals, divine beings, dragons and all of the creatures and plants of beauty's hold; all were standing ready with  him to see a way to his marriage.  Giant Little was not alone this time on one of his clandestine missions wherein people would almost anonymously lend him their quiet recognition vaguely and far after the fact of the event of any of his exploits.  Now he was held within authority's ever growing awareness of him, he had heard words of praise and recognition, and he had been welcomed into a new context of active employ on the behalf of all of mankind.  It seemed that all of his reflections, contemplations and visions for the future had collected on the ground at Strong Pond and at the mock court.  A surge of ecstasy filled the entire being of one Giant Little, and how blessed he felt to be in the company and command of heavenly hosts now on the border of the difficulties and vicissitudes of the nations which had caused him desperate moments of profound concern despite his paucity of years.  How many times had he reviewed his date of birth and decried it; his own date of birth had the power to limit his fuller involvement in the issues and events of the times in which he lived wherein he was witnessing crimes, pillaging of villages and massive kidnappings of entire enclaves of people from some of the towns.  These people suffered at the hands of the wicked giant named Durydon.  Now he had not only faced off that scoundrel, he had also met him twice in active contention.  He gritted his teeth as he considered the backing and personal support he had just gained at Strong Pond, so that the third time might just be the last he would ever fight Durydon again.  He longed for that battle with all his heart.  Then he looked over at Radhita and saw more of that for which he could live even beyond all of the abstract discrimination so typical of his thoughts and of his noble heart.  He felt his love for her.   After that he softly yet authoritatively said to her, "There, there, Radhita, it will be all right."  Radhita nodded in affirmation and looked over at Arch General Borders and his two cohorts, General Chittling and General Foundling.  

     It was General Foundling who had been quietly observing the child hero all this time. Compassionately he said, "Rome was not built in a day, my boy, my young compatriot.  All of your work on the side of good now collects and forms a more visible platform for action and duty with more open sanction.  That is why we are here.  We will guide you.  You are great."

     At this statement of recognition and togetherness in a mission so long held unto his own, Giant Little warmed up considerably to the elder and said openly to him in the spirit of great admiration for his care and concern, "I am certainly hopeful that this will make the total difference I have needed in order to see that a new day, once a fond dream of mine, could ever come to real fruition.  But then, how can it go wrong?  It can't.  It simply cannot go wrong.  I am so grateful to you military people for being here.  You cannot know how lonesome my job at times, and now we speak of mission together, a unified, real front.  This is all further backed by the Shining Ones of this mock court.  Oh, General Foundling, how glad I hold you to my heart for your deeds as well as for your words.  How long could I have held out alone?  These parts are terrible.  However, I came here to get over what I saw right at home; I came alone to field the civic strife so rife among the people in the area where I live.  You should hear of the crimes, as well, as I am sure you have.  The outlaws gain license for their crimes by making a political case out of the desire and will to secede, and we as the Latel family have had to undermine them, posing as allies to the movement.  This has not been an easy task."   

 

            

 

     Chapter 7

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     Soon Bogdhan Bogdhan approached the valley a few miles from the trail which would connect him over to Strong Pond.  His feet were pounding on the stones of the runway, the sweat had gathered on his brow as the temperature of the day increased, and he reached for the neatly folded handkerchief which he had tucked into his belt at the start of the run in Bohan.  The runway in this stretch was built on the top of a high ridge, Glory Ridge, which ran transversely across the valley.  It was here that two extensively long hills parallel to one another were bordered squarely by Glory Ridge at one end.  Bogdhan could see from his height on the runway the yellow sun in the clear morning sky pouring its light generously upon the trees atop both of the hills, and he saw the valley sculpted out of the land before him as a preview of what might be ahead for him.  His eyes searched for deeper meaning in the splendor of the scene he was witnessing as he coursed the runway, watching avidly for any sign of resistance, for any symbol to lend meaning to his passing presence as he executed his mission.  Seeing nothing to match his curiosity in that extended way, finding no message of a preternatural sort to whet his desire for some sign of assurance of success in his greater task, Bogdhan allowed himself to revel briefly in the sheer beauty of the magnificent view before him.  He did not change the size of his gait while doing so, nor did he break his step, with each footfall instead gaining the ground beneath him in the constant rhythm of a dedicated mind.  The physical splendor of the valley before him now inspired him to perform his work with the deeper, more profound realization that thousands upon thousands of people were connected in some way to the safe delivery of the message he bore momentarily on the behalf of their security and their destiny towards peace and civic harmony.  This reflection upon duty to the many steeled his mind for any threats which might yet lurk on the way ahead, and he felt appreciative of the fact that so far he had made his way with no resistance, not even a hint of conflict or intended harm upon him.  For a runner, unlike many of those of other walks of life in the crime-ridden era of Bohemia in which he lived, such good accord was to be expected in the current political moment of the day.  The agreement to keep the runways open as viable channels of communication was guarded and actively well-kept; runners from outside the government's direct auspices were also allowed use of the runways so that its network was in the public forum for free use.  There was no patrol to guard the runners, but maintenance for the small roads was strictly allocated at the national level in a way faithful to the great need for vital communication throughout the nation's rural areas, villages, towns, cities and military installments.  The routes were easy on the feet, providing good efficiency and popularity for such tasks as the delivery of small packages as well as letters for both the private and business sectors, besides the military and governmental sectors.  Informally, there were private citizens, most of them martial artists, who even liked to contrive reasons to use the runways, thereby providing some further measure of support through the power of witness in case any crime or robbery plan might be in the offing.  Yet this morning there had been no other person running in either direction while Bogdhan was on his way; he saw no one.  As he remembered that fact, Bogdhan saw what appeared to him to be a crowned eagle leave its aerie at the summit of a dead tree on the side of the valley at some distance hence.  The grace and power of this eagle were intriguing as it rose above the tree line, captivating space with ease and sure intent now in the broad blue sky.  Majestically did the great, sky-bound eagle claim its presence with its wind-born wings so broad and busied; it was away with its own moment and awing on its own mission, being of signal inspiration to its lone observer.  Most probably the eagle would be going out to get food for its young, he thought, since it had just left its nest; and in its yet effortless flight Bogdhan found a message of harmony, as well as ease.  Bogdhan reflected in his contemplative mind that ease simply inheres in harmony; and then as he vicariously attuned his mind to that concept on his own footed, beaten run, the eagle seemed to answer him.  It navigated now downwards; there it was in a dramatic change from its wing-beaten course, capturing some space with some seeming intent while it unified boldly with distance all so suddenly through the provision of a magnificent though plummeting dive towards the vicinity of the rock-spackled ground.  In one fell swoop did that mighty mother eagle so conquer when she next lent her wings to a concert with her talons; no longer were her two talons tucked, for they were targeting to take from witness on high a piece of prey finally plucked from greater Mother Earth.  Bogdhan could only imagine that some luck-lorn rabbit had become passive to the ruthless laws of nature as it had summarily become the meat of a meal awaiting the mother eagle's hungry nestlings back at the cradle, the aerie atop the towering, gray remains of a tree.  

     The boundless runner thought of his own energy-giving rations of dried figs, raisins and almonds which he carried in his runner's pack; he took care to secure the presence of these provisions by testing the conformation of the slight bulge made by them in the canvas of his hunter green waist pack.  Mankind should introspect, he humbly mused, and weigh somehow its inborn civic discord against the laws of survival of the creatures in nature.  Indeed, Mother Nature's creatures are helpless unto food kill much as if they tolerate only blind momentum of some collective life force with its faceless power to randomly select from nutrition's hold a mere next morsel in the ebb and flow of life's oceanic energy preserves; accordingly, to be selected from or to select alone for death's final call -- either is all in a balance, a massive exchange which holds its own for yet the continuation of all the creation together.  Death only taunts procreation's deed.  

     What about man's crime and war?  Bogdhan challenged himself to settle his mind.  Now if the ways of man are by their utmost capabilities and nature of a more intelligent grasp of preserving life, he reasoned, then how can mankind as an aware and intelligent whole see that each individual might be endowed to simply think before acting?  Could a nation work in harmony as one conglomeration of those who so discern as not to hurt offensively at all for luxurious personal gain a fellow person?  Freedom gives people ease of mind, the happiness of their hearts unfurled; in the bosom of freedom do people find solace.  Within the warmth of the bosom of freedom is cultivated the social harmony which inheres in the intelligent principle to live by peace and not try to rule by ruthless greed to take more than what is meant to be for survival and for the shelter of the love of the heart, lest hatred break the serenity of mind.  Yet some wicked giants like Durydon, Bogdhan remembered, just do not have the law of social harmony within mind's reach.  The mind can become convicted of the necessity to destroy; thereby will such a mind set up a life's charter according to that single concept -- to destroy or be destroyed.  Bogdhan determined to refute that evil with all his might.  He was still in the face of reveling in the glory of love and peace among the citizenry which he believed could match the glory and peace he found as a runner in nature despite the law of the jungle.  Let life be; let there be goodness and freedom, he thought; let the principle of non-hurt inveigh silently as it will against those directed by the offensive will to hurt.  These were the ennobled aspirations of the war torn people of Bohemia who believed in the heroic efforts of foot runners like Bogdhan Bogdhan.  Bogdhan lived to see that day when the good would be delivered; and it was all he lived for.          

     As he left the direct view of the majestic valley, Bogdhan was smiling as he carried with him the impressions of Glory Valley and the royal eagle which had graced his day, indeed, his entire mission.  He found himself not surprisingly contemplating the beautiful scenery even further.  He felt strengthened by the visitation of the inviting repose of the tranquil valley with its thriving verdure as an image in his mind.  In sooth, the vista of that valley just witnessed represented to him an expanse now unto peace and actual supremacy in the fight, portending victory and plying greater valor from his own commodious warrior's heart.  Peace was found as well in the protected setting of the valley, nestled atypically from three sides, not two: it was as if the closure of the valley by its transverse ridge encloistered it somehow, fortifying the place from the dualities for which the two parallel ridges stood, he mused, savoring all his realizations as they goaded him on.  The supremacy Bogdhan had gleaned from the elevated vantage point afforded him over the entrancing valley during that run along Glory Ridge became steadily more of a concerted motive force in his entire mind.  Indeed, steep was that task in which he found himself.  He continued along towards his immediate destination of Strong Pond.  He worked diligently now to summon forth an even greater subjective, introspecting counterpart to the very leverage of the view just witnessed along the Glory Ridge run.  Indeed, the much larger remainder of the task was still to be actuated: the extrication of all of Bohemia from the throes of organized crime.  Would there be a civil war outbreak, he mused?  Lo, a creature had begun its course across that elevation, he reflected pensively; nature was calling so as to further personify the overarching presence of that larger goal of a return to the rule of the righteous.  An entirely new day was ahead for all; a new day was in the offing which was to be attained though at the same time was seemingly out of reach as crime's dark hand mercilessly suffocated the masses.  This creature, the eagle, throughout history has symbolized power and spiritual presence; its visage has been variously carved, incused, and also carried as standard by such as the Roman armies and Napoleon.  Bogdhan felt profoundly blessed by the eagle's appearance as he reviewed its kindred role as even a more universal messenger in the same battle he himself as a national-level messenger knew.  He ran along with a Herculean strength and renewed resolve to find the measure of the last stretch of his brave journey as more determinedly within his grasp.  While deeper self-realization and piqued inspiration took the fore in Bogdhan's brilliant hero's mind, any distant fears he had once harbored over his vital mission had seemingly been sent into dissolution by now.  How fortuitous the quelling of his fear, for Bogdhan was also in for a surprise.  

     Finally, Bogdhan espied far ahead on the side of the runway a landmark.  This landmark was a giant-sized tree, an oak tree with a girth of five feet, that indicated the turn-off point for the area of Strong Pond was nearby.  At this distant sight of the huge oak his inner being felt even beyond the physical exertion of running a certain surge of exhilaration, the same kind of spirited height of emotion which he had experienced when he had received the missive from Bob Stround early in the morning that had instructed him to embark upon the demanding task he now carried out on the behalf of his entire nation-state.  Hopefully, with the politics to develop out of this letter he carried to Strong Pond there would be formulated socio-politically an answer at last to Giant Little's mythical-level presence in the nation as defender of righteousness.  Such a powerful socio-political answer was fomenting at last in the idea of Gai's concert with its possible resultant cultural exchange with Liberty Love Forest.  Such was the topic and task of the message he carried as according to the assignment handed him by Bob Stround.  He reflected then on the memory of Bob's humility; how respectful and terse Bob had been in deference to the moment of the task he was imparting by rendering Bogdhan his day's assignment letter.  Bogdhan realized that it could just as well have been Bob and not he who had been chosen for the prized work.  Such humility in a fellow runner encouraged Bogdhan on his way.  Indeed, he became all the more certain that the destiny of his nation was actually being guarded and formed by capable and caring people such as he had found in Bob Stround.  For this insight was he grateful; he had observed this and felt the selfsame spirit of mission in his compatriots oftentimes before.  He then placed his hand on the strap to the backpack he wore which toted the letter relevant to Curtis Goldenfellow, Giant Little and the beautiful princess from the neighboring nation-state.  As he touched the strap of the backpack, he prayed fervently, "Oh, dear God, I, humble at your service, beg you to let me deliver this vital letter to the people at Strong Pond safely and peacefully if possible."

     At that point Bogdhan received a signal from the side of the runway.  It was the sound of rock hitting upon rock; this sound, moreover, caused him to look over to the side so as to seek out the giver of the signal though he had sensed that it was friendly and in alliance with his mission.  Bogdhan did not stop his running as he analyzed this communication methodically; in addition, he was not truly surprised to see just in a passing glimpse the figure and face of one Bob Stround who was a short distance off the runway.  Just as Bogdhan caught sight of him, Bob crouched down.  In a semi-crouched posture he quickly took cover behind a bush.  Bogdhan saw that Bob was willing him not to stop for talk; nevertheless, he was letting him know that there was support in the vicinity in case of any untoward event or circumstance.  It always seemed to be the last stretch towards the point of destination when a runner leaves the runway which would be most likely the questionable one in terms of security.  However, this time there was an ally there at what tends to be such a danger zone; on this most vital mission unlike any other, Bogdhan was receiving the message of support on the initiative at that potentially dangerous end phase.  His running steps all the more concerted, his mind more steeled by the fellowship of a cohort now more impressive to him than ever before, Bogdhan Bogdhan looked ahead to the final deed of actually handing over the message to Curtis Goldenfellow.  Indeed, the success of his task was now at hand, or so it seemed to him.   

     As Bogdhan coursed along the runway, the sign for the area to Strong Pond came up at a short distance before his eyes: the words 'Strong Pond Municipal Park' were etched onto a wooden sign.  Each letter was painted yellow; interesting to Bogdhan's notice, the paint on the letter P in the word 'Park' was mostly missing somehow.  When he read the words 'Way Station' in smaller letters there beneath, Bogdhan thought of Radhita's repose in the shelter; what a beautiful and well-cultured youth he had seen in Radhita.  He felt deep concern for her security, wishing that it were he instead of Giant Little who would be the one to court her to marriage.  However, now with greater confidence than ever after having seen Bob, the brave messenger took the turn off the stone runway.  He continued on into the woods on the dirt trail ahead, knowing that there would be only about two miles left before he would reach those people at Strong Pond who were of critical importance to the national security of Bohemia.  He briefly thought of Curtis Goldenfellow and his stalwart crew, remarking in his mind what courage and presence they had shown in the situation in which they all together did abide.  

     Not long after the turnoff Bogdhan saw the small waterfalls he had admired on the day before as he had made his way to Strong Pond.  He fought the desire to stop and refresh himself with water, realizing that his journey was almost over.  However, he began to feel that Bob Stround might have been informing him that there would be trouble expected ahead so that suddenly some fear entered Bogdhan's mind.  This caused him to want to hurry, to go faster, and be assured that there would be no danger or harm visiting his way to the final goal.  Once he felt the fear, he could only reach out through his prayer for safe deliverance, and at this point he saw something which amazed him at the root of his being.  Just past the waterfalls, sitting in the creek at a narrow point, there was a mighty red dragon in all of its unique hereness and nowness.  Bogdhan saw the back of the dragon looming above its head in an arc-like form with spiked formations there arrayed which emanated a kind of visible energy much like heat waves rising from wet rock in the sun.  The dragon nodded its head but once slightly as Bogdhan's eyes fell further upon its awesome image.  Bogdhan knew there was a message in this appearance to him of the red dragon since twice before this dragon had intervened when dire trouble was in the way.  Bogdhan came to a full stop and stood before the towering being in humble mind to receive its message this time.  The dragon spewed forth some light-filled energy from its mouth as if to answer Bogdhan.  In a flash, he realized that such energy as had come from the red dragon's mouth actually deflected a spear which had been thrown at him; yet, it was as if time had stopped and rendered the spear meaningless.  Bogdhan had seen the silver spear no less miraculously leave the straight line of its course to target, knowing it would have indeed hit him; the spear fell instead into the shallow water of the creek.  As it hit the water, the spear made a sizzling noise briefly as if to signal and not fully retire its power; that deadly weapon seemed to Bogdhan to be speaking instead to a continuing battle with all of evil under Durydon's dark directives.  Bogdhan then looked up slowly and saw the shady figure of Durydon himself.  That daring and  dangerous outlaw was standing on a rock at the summit of an escarpment which rose sharply and bordered the creek exactly parallel to it.  Bogdhan had lost his fear.  Bogdhan was ready to fight.  His second realization after the first direct cognizance of the enemy was straightforward: the red dragon must be invisible to Durydon, or else he would not have so boldly contended.  Bogdhan waited out his contemplative realization that the fight was thus being invisibly directed by the red dragon, knowing that if he were indeed correct, the wicked Durydon would enter bodily the path and pose a further fight.  As Bogdhan had figured, Durydon could not turn down this opportunity to scramble back from a felled spear.  It was no matter to him that it had been somehow miraculously deflected.  Bogdhan read this as Durydon's sheer desperation.  The brave runner felt a kind of supremacy in his being and in the entire air around him as he fought for his country against the most terrible threat to freedom and integrity which history had ever told.  

     In an adept standing broad jump, Durydon leaped down from the elevated embankment, landing not five feet from Bogdhan's body.  But at that point, so did two other of Durydon's men enter the vicinity from their hiding places on the trailside in the trees.  As they began to slowly and warily surround Bogdhan, Bogdhan knew that they were considering taking him hostage, perhaps to get information on the military from him.  In his mind Bogdhan felt that was likely a lesser game plan as the force to be killed was now upon him concentratedly.  He knew he had to fell Durydon immediately even though our courageous messenger carried no weapon; the weaponless messenger was in keeping with the creed of the military's official runners.  (This non-violent idea was effective in suppressing any fight on the runways; it took special courage for the runners to realize that it worked to engender non-violence and peace.)  No sooner than Bogdhan had entered fighting stance and placed his guard up for the fight with Durydon and his men did he hear the most awesome war cry of Giant Little in the offing.  Durydon gave a signal to hold back for some reason.  Bogdhan saw that as possibly Durydon's overconfidence or possibly that Durydon had been somehow mystified by the power of the red dragon.  Yet he knew that Durydon specialized in fighting Giant Little, so that he reserved further his surmise in the fight at hand.  From the direction on the trail from which Bogdhan had come there came also running Bob Stround as fast as he could muster.  From the other direction on the trail, leading away from Strong Pond, came running none other than Giant Little.  Before there was time for Bogdhan to launch a blow, since he waited by martial arts code for the first offensive action, Giant Little had much to the surprise of everyone scaled the escarpment from lateral access; he was now positioned where once had stood the dark clad Durydon.  Giant Little placed his two fists in the air and waited for activity of fight in the group of men beneath him.  Bob Stround himself had no sooner reached the actual scene of the fight when all of a sudden the former presence of command of one Durydon was mimicked as within the greater charge of the awesome boy hero; Gai just seemingly flew into the midst of the forming fight with his foot extended for a flying side kick!  Through this magnificent parry, executed from the exact rock from where once had also entered the evil mastermind, Durydon, Giant Little came down as if in a barrel of sanctified intent whose sanction grew with the wondrous sight of his awe-inspiring mastery.  Every inch of his way was resounding of the noble heart and famous courage of Gai; the steady vocal announcement of his arrival in his war cry was only matched by his undaunted concentration on his target: "Yaa-aa-tz."  Giant Little hit squarely the jaw of Durydon.  Yes, Durydon was peremptorily knocked out.  He collapsed to the ground in a helpless heap of black cloth.  

     Bogdhan saw this coup and bolted into action through its muster in the battle; he boldly charged at one of Durydon’s men and punched him in the stomach.  Doubled over now, the fellow tried to wield a knife to strike out at Bogdhan; but from his extreme compromise due to the blow was he disabled.  In fact, he knew he had been struck by a righteous man.  Standing ready was Bob Stround who saw the knife; he summarily kicked the knife out of the fellow's unsure hand, leveling it to the ground, where it clinked with finality against a small rock.  Then Giant Little rushed in a quick flash over to the remaining foot soldier of Durydon’s insurgents and simply pushed him into the creek where the dragon had been but was no longer visible.  That poor miscreant was begging for mercy, it seemed, and he certainly did have some fear of the boy.  However, he was a determined veteran of outlaw life.  He actually was to a degree feigning cowardice so as to hide his readiness to shoot them all in the back if they let him off and left with no further resistance.  Giant Little read this.  He also was aware that the felling of Durydon could incite this outlaw to the hilt of violent revenge for the disabling strike at his commander; he saw his life and the lives of his cohorts as on a precarious line of acute danger, therefore.  Instead of departing with no further contention, Giant Little leaped into the stream and kicked the gun hidden on the person of his enemy with a mighty foot, causing the bandit to yell out in tremendous pain.  Gai had sensed that the gun was concealed in a sling beneath his coat on his chest, and he was sure of his mark.  This astonished the poor fellow.  He reached into his coat and produced the weapon summarily in surrender to the might and all-knowingness of the remarkable Giant Little.  He put his hands up as he sat in the shallow creek, rudely dispositioned now to the force of Giant Little and just hoping that the three would spare his life.  Giant Little knew better than to take the life of anyone unnecessarily; so did Bob Stround and Bogdhan Bogdhan know this.  Thus, with two iron fists by his sides, Giant Little puffed up his chest to give sign of victory and left the creek.  He picked up the weapon which had been thrown in surrender to the ground and said to his allies, “Let us leave as skillfully as they ever arrived.  Let’s go!  Follow me, men!” 

     With that the three men ran down the trail in the direction of Strong Pond with fierce resolve that the best in battle had been theirs and that they had left the enemy in the shape they deserved, with all things considered.  This was to be a joyous day at Strong Pond.  The likelihood of the exchange of musical art as a way to console and nourish the people of the area in Bohemia near Bohan was sure to build in the right direction now, for the most auspicious intervention of the red dragon foretold such.  How great the matters of the day, yet how much greater the days ahead for all because the mission had been rescued and blessed by the higher intervention of the Red Dragon, not to mention the prowess of the great Giant Little in battle.       

     As Durydon started to come back into consciousness, both of his men were sitting by the side of the trail rather stupefied and almost grateful that their boss was not available to cause them to mobilize.  However, after the mighty blow of Giant Little, Durydon himself was also not in any condition to scramble back to the group of trees where the horses were nestled and waiting a few minutes hence across the most irregular ground.  He was not about to leave immediately -- that was for certain.  Slowly, Durydon lifted his head and started to look around.  He grabbed his face with both hands as pain shot through his jaw, and, seeing stars, his head fell limp once more onto the ground.  At this show of more compromise of their leader, his men’s sentiments became less selfish.  They looked at one another and then at Durydon who was still collapsed and weakened by the fight.  This was not like Durydon.  He was rarely ever struck quite like he had been struck, and he also showed a remarkable resilience in battle if struck.  “Dark One, what are we going to do if he stays under?” one bandit said to his fellow bandit.   

     “Spicable, how am I supposed to know -- you’re just as despicable as your name says you are,” answered Dark One with mild contempt.  “What a stupid question.”

     “I say we get him on outta here and none too quickly.  He’ll never forgive us if they circle back and launch an all-out retaliation of some kind as he lies there out in the cold like that,” Spicable said without paying notice to Dark One’s insult.

     At that point, Durydon lifted up onto his elbows and issued both of his men an easy warning as he said evenly to them, “Back at the horses in my saddle pack I have some smelling salts for which both of you will pay later on.  Either one of you could have gone back there for them to make me come to.  You didn’t.”

     Durydon then felt another surge of weakening due to his condition, and slowly he lowered himself back down to an outstretched position so as not to jar his head.  When his men saw that, they were both afraid for him and for themselves.  Dark One started as if nothing had ever hit him in the fight with Giant Little, rushing to Durydon's side.  Dark One bent down on his knee and held the shoulder of his chief as he said, “Never mind, boss.  We’ll take care of you.  Now you just stay quiet for a bit right there, and I’ll be back as quick as lightnin’ with your smellin' salts.  Can you hear me?”

     Durydon opened his eyes and calmly said in slow answer to Dark One, “I know you’d do that for me, Dark One.  I keep going in and out of consciousness, it seems.  I think those salts might just be necessary in order for me to make the long ride back to the campsite.  But I’ve got news for you both – I sense that my horse is coming to my rescue now.  Can you believe that?”

     Dark One and Spicable did not immediately believe their leader’s idea that his horse was somehow coming to his rescue.  Dark One thought it over for a second or two and realized that Durydon needed to be left quiet.  He decided not to dismiss the idea though and to let his boss think that his horse would be coming along with the needed medicine for his condition if he needed to so think.  He politely and affectionately said, “Sure thing.”  Then he went over to Spicable to give him his assessment of Durydon’s disabled state.  “Spicable, I think that there was somethin' awfully fishy about the way that spear was just altered in its straight-line course to the enemy, don’t you?  I mean, could you see it from where you were like I could?”

     Spicable thought for a few seconds before answering.  He did not want to insult his chief’s prowess in battle.  Cautiously, then, he lowered his inhibitions and issued the following observation: “I saw it.  I think there is somethin’ magic centered around that there boy hero who just kinda showed up here and took over.  That spear was dead right to its ever-lovin’ target, and then it just dropped its nose and clunked into the crick.  I saw it all right.  We'll get that so-called Giant Little.  We'll get him yet, and we'll get him good, that little miniscule, little imp of a thing.”

     “Well, now, then, I mean, if that’s the case, then maybe there’s more to our boss’s black-out than the physical blow.  Maybe there’s a kinda vibration around here that’s counter to his mind and body, and that’s still affecting him and had affected right from the start.  That’s not normal, what we saw.  I say we get him outta here even before I go for the salts full way -- like we could carry him partway.  I don’t want to be around here much longer, and he ain’t in any condition to issue orders,” Dark One said with encouragement in his voice.  “What do ya say?”

     Before Spicable could answer there was the sound of a horse running through the woods.  Spicable looked at Dark One with widened eyes.  “What in the world is that?  Is it another inexplicable event for us to chaw on tonight by the campfire?” Spicable asked in a high pitched voice.

     Dark One slowly left for the side of the trail to see if he could get a preview of what both men thought could indeed be Durydon’s horse arriving.  He was not too anxious to see what would be coming as he was both hesitant to believe it and afraid for a fleeting second that it might be an enemy on the prowl for them.  He stretched his head around trying to see past the trees which stood in the way between his sight and the approaching sound.  Spicable was also mistrusting, and picked up the spear in the creek to make ready for another scrimmage if necessary. 

     “Wait!  Before you hold mighty the spear, Despic, get a picture of what’s acomin’ through the woods!  That there is Majestic himself!  Boss!  Wake up, I mean, he’s here!  You were right, and, if you can’t wake up now, I’ll get the smellin’ salts out and you’ll be doin’ fine in no time!”  Dark One then let out a long and nervous laugh in expression of his great relief.

     “Talk about stupid -- does he have the right pack on his saddle where Boss keeps his medicine kit -- while he's at it?” Spicable quipped, reserving his elation until he was sure of the remedy even being there on the horse.

     “No, now aren’t we smart.  You think a dumb, stupid ape like you could ever think ahead with the angels in Heaven who have blessed this moment with their honey-like message of ever lovin' love for the likes of us; I mean 'specially you, your highness?  Of course he has it!  Now ain’t you smart not to get all happy?” Dark One sarcastically challenged his cohort, showing a short temper.

     Durydon seemed to come out of his seeming deeper unconsciousness as his horse came closer and closer towards him.  He opened his eyes and saw the steed; then quickly he said to Dark One, “Get those salts.  Get them to me, and I’ll be okay, so we can move out of here.  Move, Dark One.  Get them now, and get them over to me!”

     Dark One rushed to Majestic and to his saddle pack and went straight to the medicine kit, procuring the smelling salts from its folds.  He then rushed over to Durydon.  Durydon amazed him as he lifted his head to receive the treatment and then placed his head back on the ground to see how it was working.  After about two minutes Durydon slowly got up to his feet, and, as he was quite unsure of himself still, he asked for more of the treatment.  As the second dose took its effect, he closed his eyes briefly; then, he shook his head and said to his men, “I am going to take a quick refresher under that waterfall, men.  It'll wake me up more, so we be on our way.”  

     With that remark he went over to his horse, slapped his trusty steed twice on the side of the neck, and then gently rubbed its nose, saying softly, “Now aren’t you the best horse in the world, Majestic.  Yes, you are.  You sure are.  Soon as I wake up with some of nature's fresh water on my face, I'll get your apple for you.”  The horse just stood in silence and then lifted his eyes in recognition of the praise, as it seemed.  Dark One and Spicable quietly watched the sight of the horse and its master being united through conflict, feeling grateful that their leader had been rescued.  Having taken such a defeat from Giant Little, the miserable outlaws needed to feel that some of the same unexplainable power which seemed to always guide the boy hero could also be theirs.  

     As our valorous threesome of victorious heroes arrived in full strength at the shores of the stately Strong Pond, Curtis Goldenfellow and his crew were elated to see them safely delivered for this most important meeting of the day.  The receipt of the letter from the town's polity was foremost in Mr. Goldenfellow's mind.  Yet, he was clear also in his mind of the priority that all those involved would be secured for the task work associated with the inchoate movement to render Giant Little the musical forum of Bohan, the national capital of Bohemia.  Earlier in the day, while on his way to Strong Pond with his crew, Mr. Goldenfellow had been reflecting quietly that what indeed was unfolding before him and for the citizens of Bohan was none less than an entire movement together.  Now the fractious powers of crime and the anarchic disorder which organized crime promotes could possibly even be transcended.  The power of good through the musical genius of the child warrior-saint known as Giant Little could win over all.  Moreover, such brilliant music would resound in the hearts of all.  Gai's music would be certain to inspire an unprecedented victory which would rebound for all no matter if they had come to hear the child wonder play so magically on his silver flute or not; besides, there would be limited room to accommodate a crowd of listeners in the first place.  These reflections had gripped Curtis Goldenfellow profoundly.  The reality of this cultural boon had made his heart swell for the simple lives of children everywhere: to think that Giant Little could be the one to address the socio-political forum with driving truth though the medium, the art, the universal language that is music.  He knew that it would take more than the governing powers to effect such a musical event.  To so open the forum for cultural exchange would be on the order of a political miracle.  Mr. Goldenfellow was planning to soon place rumors abroad that citizens and possibly government dignitaries from Liberty Love Forest would attend such a concert while it was in its planning stages.  

     He had decided in a private moment within himself as he was on that ride to Strong Pond just after dawn to begin to organize the people of Bohan on his own as a private citizen; furthermore, he would include the people of the districts surrounding Bohan on the behalf of wider success.  His hope was to call forth more and more people from all over the nation of Bohemia.  In fact, if the movement were to gain ascendancy as according to his dawning vision that morning, he figured, then the music would have to be given in two or possibly three days in succession in order to accommodate the numbers of people.  For a brief moment this had seemed too good to be true to him.  But then, he had reasoned, the idea of a cultural exchange with Liberty Love Forest of this magnitude might be so attractive to all of the authorities involved in its consideration and planning that such an extended event might actually come to pass.  He wisely reserved his judgment about such an elaboration of the original plan for a single concert in deference to the possible dangers encroaching in the hours before him and his crew; however, he stored with great savor in his memory the feeling of elation rendered him for even conceiving of such a magnificent gathering at the behest of the good people of the nation of Bohemia and possibly also of Radhita's homeland.  Curtis smiled to himself as he admired the bucolic scenery around him and began to sing to himself the national anthem of Bohemia beyond the grinding noise of the wagon wheels and the sound of one of his crewmen crunching into a crisp, red apple.  Then he asked for an apple for himself and delayed biting into it as his helper joined him in one final refrain of the anthem.  After the happy laughter subsided Curtis began to eat the apple; after he finished one bite, he said with a resolute mind to his crewmen, "It is worth the risks we are taking to be on this road at this moment and for the reasons we share today, men.  I feel great and honored to be on a mission of this size and importance.  If any threat or trouble should intend upon us, then I know that God is on our side.  But I only hope that what I just realized on the road back there will ever come into a reality for the people of Bohemia; furthermore, I think it will."

     His men listened attentively; they could not hide their admiration of him as they were thinking over what he was saying to them.  He, their brave leader on this mission with its uncertainty and impending significance to everyone everywhere, had inspired in them the courage to join him in the political add-on to the usual work of the seasonal park maintenance at Strong Pond.

     Curtis Goldenfellow looked over at his crewman who was sitting next to him in the driver's seat of the wagon; he was searching for a way to carry his men into a fanciful moment, as it were.  Curtis was being guided by a vivid dream he had had the night before.  That dream had sent his mind into a fantasy just in his waking moments of the day, and his desire was to share that fantasy with his brave crew so as to inspire greater hope and courage in them.  After all, this was only the beginning of a great mission upon which they were embarking, and they were leading their entire nation.

     Curtis reached within himself for a way to embrace the minds of his men with his psychic belief that his dream had forsooth told the future.  He turned his head once again to the man sitting next to him and said carefully, "I think you should know something; is your mind capable of understanding the power of prophesy?"

     The worker he had addressed with such an open-ended question just nodded a little at first; subsequently, feeling a suspense building in the air about his brave leader, he ceased the smile which was seemingly indelibly planted on his face.  His brow became knit, and he searched Curtis with an inquisitive mind.

     Curtis was not certain of how to broach the idea held so dear to him so as to make it believable and acceptable to his men; he was cautious about this since he did not want to lose his own belief in the possibility which he thought had the power to turn around the entire state of affairs on the national scene.  He tilted his head upwards slightly, closed his eyes briefly, and came to a decision that it was time to prepare his men for the political moment he thought was about to occur.  Curtis glimpsed at the man next to him out of the corner of his eye; he then spoke carefully to him so that the others could also hear.

     "My dear fellow citizen.  You did not answer me.  I assume you are working on it, are you not?  You are known to complete each and every assignment I give you, my trusty one."  Curtis was beginning to rally.  "Although you were not with us yesterday, you are the one of distinction among your cohorts who volunteered to join this truly brave mission after you heard about it.  Therefore, I would expect you to have a viewpoint of especial interest to me; or, do I pry upon you?" 

     The crewman whom he had singled out was once again on the spot, and he began to search for an answer.  Curtis read him again, and then he received a slap on the shoulder from one of the workers in the second seat.  The worker encouragingly said to Curtis, "What answer must you hear in order for you to break the suspense with us, boss?"

     Curtis needed no more than the slap on the shoulder to begin his fantastical phrases of the most remarkable hypothetical happening now to be presented as fact even if in the name of hope.  He looked again over at the crewman next to him, saying wistfully, "Oh you of the smile of certainty unto eternity, my trusty one; it is you I must win over to a most unusual thing which has happened here in the nation of Bohemia.  Borders is back, I tell you!  Arch General Borders rides again just as sure as these wagon wheels turn beneath us!"

     The man sitting next to Curtis, nicknamed Smiley, once again uncharacteristically broke his smile.  He regarded Curtis Goldenfellow with the most cautious critical look of disbelief; Smiley could not take Curtis for his word on the instant he heard it.  He was searching now within himself and wondering if his boss was escaping into the unreal since he could not accept the gravity of their mission as he had thought he could.  However, summarily dismissing that concept, Smiley looked over at Curtis once again and smiled at him a partial acceptance of such a wild idea that Bohemia's living military conqueror had walked out of history to save and to redeem; but still he said nothing.

     Curtis Goldenfellow said further to his entire crew, "Don't you think his hair is white by now?  Can you allow that much, at least?"

     One of the men in the backseat conservatively called out in answer to his superior, "Borders' hair must be as white as the clouds above, Mr. Goldenfellow!  Or whiter!"

     Curtis was starting to gain the kind of ground he needed to make his fantasy realize its rescue work; greater hope lent the dire situation ahead for his men would prepare them for the tasks they faced.  He thought of his recent dream in which Borders had ridden through the main street of Bohan in an open carriage with Giant Little.  In the dream the arch general had white hair and was in full military uniform.  This review of his memory of the dream goaded him on to say more to those present.

  "Just think: Arch General Borders is back!  Consider that fact in conjunction with all of our hopes for this wholesome enterprise."  Curtis Goldenfellow remained smugly attentive to his crew as he fed them the hope for the future generation with the often-recited prophetic passage from history's annals that Borders had foreseen his own return to active military service even as he retired just after the war. 

     At that moment, something came over Smiley.  He started to shiver and shake.  He said most cautiously, "I will consider it, boss.  What if you know something we do not know?"

     Curtis understood Smiley's physical reaction to the idea that war was imminent if Borders had indeed been called back.  This only helped him continue to relate his dream through fantasy.  In answer to Smiley's weakly hinting acceptance, Curtis nodded his head briskly twice; and then he shook it from side to side slowly, saying in a steadily building crescendo, "Borders is back because he's right; Borders is back to save the fight!  Tell one, tell all, we shall not fall!  Borders is back to ride again; if anyone can save us, Borders can!  Tell one, tell all, we shall not stall!  Seize the day, for his prophetic say will rescue all, one and all.  Seize the day for history's way, to win the war like he did before.  Borders is back, he rides tall with white clouds about his hair; look over yonder, for he might be there!"  

     Once this litany was finished, Curtis Goldenfellow turned briefly to collect the looks on the faces of his crewmen in the back seat; then he confronted Smiley more directly, saying gently, "Tell me, do you dare?  For he might be there!  Look left, look right, look once, look twice; you can hear now his commander's voice; he leads in march, he leads in fight, and will set this country once again right!  Thus are you challenged!  This is the truth!  Young men of Bohemia, get out your marching boots!"

     At those poetic images rendered them by their esteemed supervisor, the parks crew let out several cheers of elation, lifting their fists into the air and yelling out repeatedly, "Borders is back!  Borders is back!"  

     Curtis answered vociferously, "He must be back!  Long live Borders!  Victory to Bohemia!"  As these praises ushered in the true worth of their mission together, the parks crew seemed to grow in its spirit of mission and solidarity of intent to lend their efforts on the behalf of the good of all.

     "Just think: this concert is golden!  Bring on the music!  Let us all hear!  Bring on the boy wonder!  Ladies and gentleman!  Here is the great, the-one-and only Giant Little!"

     "Bring on the music!" rang out the voices of the crew men.  "Bring on the music!"  So glad were these men of their mission together.  Their shining faces and gladdened hearts would have made any opponent to righteousness or any member of the political faction that stood for the overthrow of the nation-state of Bohemia itself shudder in the recognition of the unmistakable power of goodness as it characteristically works in the socio-political forum.   

     Curtis Goldenfellow was smiling light.  His mind was indeed vibrant in the memory of that journey to Strong Pond with his men that morning; he stood admiring Bogdhan for the successful delivery of the message from the town's council for Giant Little and Radhita.  Not even a glint of fear had entered his mind nor theirs.  The testy communication from the town was being conveyed through the quasi-neutral zone of the runway to Strong Pond which lent Curtis and his crew a certain immunity to the underworld.  He could only smile and shine forth his marvel at the sight of the three before him: Giant Little, Bogdhan Bogdhan and Bob Stround.  How towering is the heart that is mighty, he thought to himself; and how it belittles the stingy and meager powers of those who live only to destroy and thrive on inflicting misery upon others.  Curtis studied Radhita carefully, wondering if she had been aware that Giant Little had just vanquished the enemy with the other two, presently winded athletes.  Curtis knew of this fight since Gai had taken him aside and told him that he sensed great trouble in the offing before he left to lend his heroic hand in battle, telling Radhita that he was going out only on a brief surveillance run.  Honoring the boy hero for wanting to keep Radhita in the greater protection of innocence of any battle to save the messenger who was mobilizing the message, Curtis kept the confidence of Gai on this matter.  However, he could tell that all three were reveling in their recent scrimmage with evil, and that they were the obvious victors.  Radhita, he surmised, was mindful of the demeanor of her hero.  Giant Little in his exuberance of face-on victory against none other than Durydon could hardly hide the event fully from her.  Gai literally swaggered over to her, bent on his knee, and took her hand, saying in a voice filled with the emotion of good news, "My love, I have word from Bob Stround standing here some confidential news.  If I may share it with you first and privately."

     After thus gaining her ear ever so tenderly, the child leader placed his hand over her left ear and whispered the following to her so that nobody else present could hear him: "Radhita, my dearest future wife, Arch General Borders himself is on duty here near Strong Pond.  He is in the offing.  He will defend us."

     Radhita was thrilled to hear that their meeting was being flanked with the military of Bohemia.  She discreetly hid her reaction to Gai, and in like whisper ever so close to his waiting ear did she thus state her heart to Giant Little: "Gai, this means we will see the event of the concert actually happen.  I know it does.  His aid here will make the difference.  I am so glad to hear this." 

     Giant Little cautiously answered still in a whisper inaudible to the others, "Yes, who knows?  I had thought that his major part would be in training troops of the growing army of Bohemia as we prepare for all-out war.  But he is actually on the scene.  For your consolation, he is where he is needed most."  

     Radhita reflected deeply within her mind for the moment to speak further.  Gai read this; he strengthened his grip on her hand.  She looked briefly at the others gathered there and realized how supportive and concerned everyone was for her in her plight.  Thus, she took courage.  Yet knowing that the others would hear, she carefully said, "Do you think my father will attend the concert, Gai?  Do you think I could see him?  Will that be possible?"

     Giant Little stood up at this juncture and smiled at Radhita, saying now in his full, thicker voice which made him sound manly and beyond his years, "I think he might be invited, and certainly he will in the very least send an ambassador of peace to speak with you.  Propriety says he would do so.  As for his own visit, we shall have to see what develops."  Radhita sighed relief at the answer, sensing that to prognosticate at this point could only be premature.  Alas, she felt a surge of deep emotion for her loss of home and country since the kidnapping event; to recover and steel herself, she searched Gai's eyes for greater courage in the situation.

     Giant Little gently tipped his head to one side slightly as his compassion for her mounted; he assessed all gathered by the shore of the pond and slowly shook his head in the affirmative.  His eyes gained a far-off look just briefly as he reflected upon this change whereby his personal apposition to the military was taking on a new definition.  A veteran of many a fight against the outlaws of the time, large and small, Giant Little now felt amazed at how the fight in an overall sense was changing and gaining strength, order and greater involvement.  He could feel the growing movement in his favor.  He then adeptly recruited his mind back to the time and place in front of him, and with a demeanor noble and captivating to all there who heard him, he said, "My fellow compatriots, let us repair to the oak-rock table and conduct our meeting.  I have two pots of coffee, hominy, and some raisin-pancakes with honey for us to have together before the meeting."  

     Upon such as that generous invitation of Giant Little, the party set out for the other end of the pond to gather around the campfire for a small meal and some camaraderie.  There could have been no greater happiness within a twenty mile radius than the happiness which reflected from those who grouped around the child hero that morning at Strong Pond.  Now the work of his own wonders was starting to collect an interpersonal dimension for the legendary boy that was indeed unprecedented.  With the arrival of his sweetheart in his life, the people were beginning to join him in his enterprise, and he knew it.  How blessed and requited he felt in his heart for his entire country and for all that he had ever done to preserve it yet for no direct recognition.  This was a great day in history for the nation of Bohemia, Giant Little felt.  He took the hand of Radhita as he made his way with the kernel of people from whom he hoped to work to enliven the hearts and hopes of all everywhere for a return to normalcy, to peace and to prosperity without the rule of outlaws clouding the lives and destinies of the children.  How happy was Giant Little to be alive at that moment.  It was all for which he had ever lived gathering at his very fingertips, he felt; and how he did shine forth his inner soul as he began to serve the meal to his comrades.  Softly, he took his plate of food to his beloved Radhita's side once he had served her and the others.  He found her eyes with his own.  "I love you," he gently said to her.  "No matter what happens with the question of your father coming to Bohan for the concert, remember, I love you, Radhita."  

     Radhita began to cry when she heard this from her hero, her future consort for all of life's time.  She restrained her tears before they caught momentum and simply blurted out the truth to Giant Little:  "If it weren't for you, Gai, I would not be in the company of civil people.  I would be a lost hostage somewhere up in the hills of the hinterlands!  You are my destiny.  You are my great one.  I cannot wait for the day to introduce you to my father.  I love you more than anyone else on Earth loves you.  I love you to the heavens above.  I  love you with all my heart."   

     All of the men who were privy to this show of emotion from Giant Little and Radhita kept a respectful silence.  Bob Stround was visibly choked with deep feelings for Radhita, and he was trying to break the silence of the others present.  Bogdhan read this and saw that Radhita needed all of the reassurance and support of the people of Bohemia which fate might provide her.  He finished a sip of warm coffee, thought of his long run in to Strong Pond that morning, and found the way to console her further.  Bogdhan politely and respectfully opened his heart to her, as well, and told her not to worry.  "Radhita, you will be happy, safe and secure with us here.  The people of Bohemia will rise to the political fore of your plight in every way possible and see to it that you marry and settle wherever your heart desires.  It will only take time, that is all.  We are a good people.  We are in the throes of the controlling few who follow a demonic, despotic mastermind, and that is all that it boils down to.  There is a lot here to discover in Bohemia.  Bohemia will love you.  Bohemia already loves you.  As soon as you gain the right to travel, I am certain that your noble heart will only contribute further to the rapprochement between our two nations but in a freer way.  I can see that in you, and I admire you for it.  So do not worry."

     Bob Stround reveled in what Bogdhan had just revealed to the foreign-born princess, and then he added with a deeply sincere tone in his voice, "You have won us, Radhita.  I can assure you: we had heard about you before this happened to you, and you had even won us back then.  You are already in favor here with the governing officials and with the people in general.  Please accept us for our admiration of you even despite the odd circumstances which will surely test your patience with time and with the polity across borders.  We will stay by you.  I speak for several others who have expressed their feelings to me about you.  Word spreads like wildfire in times like this.  You are in here.  You are our guest, our honored guest; you are not our prisoner.  Welcome to Bohemia.  Welcome.  Please accept us.  Please, accept us in return."

     Radhita was deeply ingratiated by this unexpected expression of support and admiration from the two runners.  She studied them both for a while, absorbing their affectionate praises and warmly conveyed welcome.  Then she took further stride in the conversation, realizing how important their word to her regarding the people whom they obviously and officially represented to her.  She looked down at the ground and mused before she spoke to them; then she lifted her mind to the entire party present at the breakfast with the following brief statement: "My dear friends of Bohemia, is it not enough that I had come through this trial to find the providence of my future husband as he rescued me from the claws of crime?  That you should speak to me of such good heart and intent from your people and thus offer me refuge instead of constraint, parley instead of censorship, togetherness in destiny instead of the division of war and of cold politics which had stymied my father in his relations with Bohemia; this is all to me some kind of wonder?"

     Curtis Goldenfellow quickly spoke in support of her observations: "My young lady, you are correct.  This is some remarkable intervention and one from which we and the many will all learn, I can assure you.  This is real.  We are a capable people.  We also share your sense of wonderment at what is happening."     

     "How noble your hearts," Radhita answered, visibly moved and enlightened by them.  "And how I do receive your message of good worth and its match of good will."    

     Curtis Goldenfellow spoke again, his respect for her deepening as he observed her humility and sincere appreciation of them for their goodness and good intent towards her.  "That perception of yours is of the utmost importance to us here with you and to the local and national authorities who want to grant you proper political asylum while you require it.  This has been made clear to me, and that is for sure.  I am well-connected."   

  "Well, then, I would like to reciprocate; may I also extend back to you and on the behalf of all  my own true worth and my deepest appreciation that I might seize this day with better service towards you and your entire nation.  I certainly accept your welcome and relish your insights.  Thank you for your kind words.  I will assess others I meet while keeping in mind what you have said to me.  Thank you.  You have built my confidence in you."

     With this friendly exchange among those gathered at Strong Pond and with the deepening understanding of one another which was forming there, the entire day seemed to be more auspicious than ever to Bogdhan.   Bogdhan was inspired to introduce the message which had been secured for delivery through his own efforts, blessed as they had been by the intervention of the red dragon and the other two stalwarts who had come to his side.  He said to Giant Little, "Gai, I have for you the message from the town of Bohan in my pack here.  It gives me great honor to present it to you if you would like."

     Giant Little referred to Catster just then.  He knew that he was entering into a commitment which carried with it certain socio-political ramifications.  As he prepared inwardly to read the message from the town council, Giant Little felt a lightness in his stomach.  He had played his flute in nature predominantly.  That is where he had first discovered music and where he further found that the natural harmony of the surround spurred him on to new heights of musical realization.  A few times he had played before small audiences.  In addition, he had been recently cited in the school newspaper with word of his excellence by a few of his classmates who happened to hear him of a day in the public square.  Briefly reflecting upon his largely encloistered musical gifts and seeing that it was time now for his prodigious talent to be aired among the many in higher service to the nations, Gai was filled with an effusive strategy to help bring about the event of his concert as a giving to the people, at all costs.  People did not understand him for his gift of music readily as he was largely self-taught and also humble.  Having developed his abilities mostly alone while in nature, it was as if his musicianship had somehow precipitated out of nowhere to those who knew him well.  It seemed that he had overpowered them at times with his mastery.  The parks workers who had heard his flute playing had actually been called out of a fear state through it and had gained the courage to come out of hiding and see who was making such beatific song in the wake of a demonic attack.  Gai knew that this request for his concert had arisen from the actual way he had been discovered by those few townspeople just after they had mutually faced violent, destructive intent, and, therefore, for them the meaning was all the more special.  He mulled over the moment now before him.  Gai realized that his way in the world of music only appeared to be contained unto himself.  Indeed, it had seemed so contained since it had unraveled over time much as revelation to him.  He then smiled, realizing that Bogdhan was awaiting an answer from him.  Catster was sitting on the side of the clearing as a seemingly passive observer of the small group of people at Strong Pond.  The noble cat strategically hit the ground with his tail a couple of times as a way to signal Giant Little to accept now; it was now time to read the message delivered heroically to him by Bogdhan and to greet verbally the representatives of the town polity regarding the would-be concert.   

     Giant Little finally responded after his momentary introspection.  Bogdhan had certainly respected Gai's reticence with a passive and understanding mind; all there who were witnessing this moment anticipated his response with confidence.  The boy wonder bowed his head slightly to Bogdhan and said with formality, "Mr. Bogdhan, this moment of my timely receipt of the message from the Council of Eldermen of the town of Bohan cannot know its true worth without first paying proper homage to you for having successfully delivered it here today; your services are extraordinarily great to us and to all of the people who will ultimately benefit from your courage and your heroism in having done so, in having braved the evil to carry this vital missive." 

     Bogdhan drew within himself a slight bit when he heard the praise he had just received from Gai.  He quickly reflected upon the battle with Durydon and his men whereupon Giant Little, the red dragon and his cohort Bob Stround had made possible his success in delivering the coveted message.  He did not want to cite that most recent battle with the terrible Durydon in Radhita's presence since he was aware that when they all returned to Strong Pond after the defeat of the wicked outlaw, Giant Little had not verbally declared their summary victory to his lady.  Bogdhan hesitated somewhat; then he remarked to Gai, "Yes, I understand your praise of me.  It would behoove us all, however, to credit all of the people who made the delivery a success besides my runner's feet.  May I duly remind you that without the group efforts involved in this task I know that its success would not have been possible.  Indeed, what an honor it truly is for me that I had been chosen for this mission today, Gai; yet we must all share the burdens of these times.  This is but a single battle."  

     Bogdhan was searching for words to express the elation he felt as he was preparing to hand the missive over to Giant Little.  He started to take it out of his backpack, but then he paused.  A sudden realization was consuming his mind, soon overwhelming him; he could only at this point usher in the event with a high-spirited exclamation in order to announce the day for all to hear.  He broke his characteristic impassiveness and in a dramatic tone declared, "Power to the good and great people!  More power to them!  Onward!  To victory!  Ever onward to victory's true hold!"  

     The entire group of people began to clap at this exclamation.  Soon the clapping rarefied into words expressing the captivating spirit everyone felt in the presence of the charismatic Gai Little.  Curtis Goldenfellow gathered everyone with his loud, rhythmic claps into a unified chanting: "Power to the good!  Power to the great!  Power to the good!  Power to the great!"  Giant Little was flowing over with ecstatic realization that a great day was ahead for his nation.  He was moved by the excitement in the people.  The people for whom he had so bravely fought were now working with him in such a close, interpersonal way.  This new involvement was indeed as according to his long-standing perceptions that something could be accomplished to fell the evil regime of Durydon, a regime which had been insidiously decaying the moral and political fiber of his country.  Furthermore, Giant Little had never seen anything like this throughout his exploits as he fought for a better day for Bohemia.  Such an abstract vision of this young mastermind had driven his numerous giant-sized tasks in the defeat of evil.  Many considered his age to be a factor in mentally disarming the enemy to good as he unerringly defeated the bad outlaws who populated the countryside and towns.  In keeping with his compassionate will to hide the most recent battle with Durydon by the creek where he had conquered Durydon with a flying side kick, Giant Little passed by the idea to perform one of his usual flying side kicks; instead, the marvelous boy wonder opened up into a series of cartwheels before everyone.  Gai skillfully did eight effortless cartwheels in a seemingly perfect circle around the small group of people.  This brought on more cheering and clapping of the hands.  

     As the excitement peaked with those boisterous few at Strong Pond, they could not hear the next event when upon the scene there arrived directly three horsemen.  They were citizens of Bohan who had been tipped off regarding the presence of Radhita Roundhouse and Giant Little at the pond;  these savvy few had the courage to brave the roads and trails to go to Strong Pond and greet them.  These were good Samaritans bearing gifts.  As they saw the small group of people gathered around Giant Little and cheering the day, the excitement was contagious, and they became elated to be there.  It was Curtis Goldenfellow who spotted them first.  He recognized one of them and shouted his chant all the more vociferously as he made eye contact with him while bending his head forward; then he nodded his head once as an invitation to join.  When the others saw this, they also took notice of the newly arrived people.  Giant Little saw the future through his instantaneous recognition of the bravery of these newcomers to have joined them.  With that recognition Gai could not stand still.  The chanting was not enough.  He had seen the leadership of Curtis Goldenfellow as a powerful tool in the strife ahead, and it was obvious to him that one of the three who had just arrived had made the journey upon the previous encouragement of Curtis.  Giant Little swirled his magnificent little body out of the small crowd with a graceful and definitive move in martial arts stance, performing an about-face adeptly so as to give his full face to the three horsemen.  As he landed in deep horse stance facing them, he bowed his head to them so as to confer his silent message.  

     One of the newcomers to this verily historic event uttered in amazement, "That's Giant Little!"

     Giant Little bowed his head once again in averment of his identity; then he executed a flurry of side kicks numbering five in a circle from his standing place.  His right and kicking foot became almost a blur at times to the wide-eyed onlookers.  With this message the three horsemen dismounted their horses and proceeded to wait for the moment to formally greet the party.  Giant Little did not stop there, however.  Gai's great horse, Victory, had mobilized to the vicinity of his master now.  Victory stood on the other side of the horses who had just arrived and seemed to expect Gai somehow when he uttered a few short whinnies and tossed his head back slightly a couple of times.  Suddenly, Giant Little took a few running steps and majestically just leaped and flew into the air and over one of the horses.  Victory stepped forward and turned forty-five degrees so as to be there to receive Gai.  Gai landed directly on his horse's back; perfectly centered was he.  Bareback did he sit on his horse for a few brief seconds.  Then he grabbed his mane and let out a war cry: "Yatz!" was heard for it was the loud cry of Giant Little!  His great horse reared up onto his back legs with an elevated spirit and loud whinnying in answer while the boy hero hung onto his mane, showing his determination to render a display of his readiness to fight for all, to vanquish in the name of the good.  As the horse came down to the ground again, Gai directed him to course around Strong Pond as fast as he could.  Victory's renowned speed expressed even through the encircling course before him.  Giant Little performed the most magnificent demonstration of martial arts from equine disposition.  Any tree along the side of the path the horse made around the pond was greeted with a symbolic right side kick by Giant Little, some kicks making contact with the tree and some kicks not making contact.  

     In a matter so quick and clear in message had Giant Little and Victory announced with artistic expression the arrival of the three horsemen at Strong Pond, for this was a matter of true recognition of the meaning of fight, of battle.  As he and his mighty steed finished the brief demonstration, Gai thought to himself, "Let there be a battle so great for the good, let there be trouble abroad all across the land if it must; the good will rise and expunge the place, be it large or small the task in front.  Yes, danger is only there to be justly conquered."  Returning then to the place from where they had started, the boy jumped down from his horse and bowed a full bow with two made fists to the three newcomers who still stood apart from the others.  They were in total amazement at what they had just seen.  The three were speechless.  One of them, after seeing Giant Little's bow and his regal demeanor thereafter, turned his head to his friend, Curtis, as he tried to gain a reference point of some kind.  Martial arts were indeed flourishing at the time in Bohan, but the karate of Giant Little was beyond all.  

     Curtis broke away from the others nearby him.  He approached his friend with an assuring welcome.  Filled with joy at seeing him and the two others, Curtis reached for a handshake, saying with admiration in his tones, "I am so happy to see you are here, all of you!  Welcome to Strong Pond for this moment with us, Beaufont!  It is so good to see you!  Welcome to you and to your friends.  Thank you for joining us here today at Strong Pond, all of you.  Let us rejoice together!  Come, join us!"  //   

     Beaufont had been at once amazed and uplifted by everything he was witnessing at Strong Pond.  He politely bowed his head to his friend Curtis and then to Giant Little, who was standing next to Radhita.  He now searched Curtis Goldenfellow's eyes for the bearings he needed to speak, to say something in his state of awe.  

     Curtis read his state of mind.  He compassionately offered a few words of explanation as to the meaning of the jubilation which was in their midst.  "Yes, Beaufont, yes indeed.  I am almost speechless myself.  You see, today we have a special event unfolding here."

     Beaufont was looking around the place, and even yet he reflected a certain knowingness which did not surprise his compatriot, Curtis Goldenfellow.

     "You and your friends should know that to keep it quiet for a couple of weeks at least would be a good idea.  I chose not to tell you about it yesterday when we met," Curtis said with a slight, passing wink to his friend Beaufont.   

      "My connections to the inner circle of the town's governmental officers lent me the information relevant to this event, my dear friend Curtis."  Discreetly winking back at Curtis, Beaufont took great caution in guarding the sensitive nature of the intelligence initiative which he had just joined at Strong Pond.  Curtis wisely pretended not to notice the reciprocating wink of Beaufont. 

     "I felt keeping it confidential for the sake of the messenger's safe route here this morning was at that time of the utmost importance."  

     The gentleman who had arrived in such a timely manner so as to be witness to the impromptu, spirited demonstration at Strong Pond replied, "I understand that very well, Curtis.  I can only conclude from the festive nature of this small gathering that the messenger accomplished his route to good avail." 

     "The subject of the message victoriously delivered here today, you would ask?  We are in the middle of forming the event of a musical concert by one Giant Little.  Giant Little plays the flute; he plays it masterfully and beyond anything you can imagine.  I have heard him."

      Beaufont looked over at the child hero; after some brief recognition of him mentally, he smiled a smile of round acceptance towards the boy.  Gai respectfully smiled back. 

      "He stands indeed right before you, " Curtis continued.

     The newly initiated dignitary from the town of Bohan finally squared up with Giant Little mentally.  When Curtis saw this, he formalized his introduction of the valorous lad; bowing from the waste with a courageous reverence, Curtis made three rolling hand gestures towards the ground with his right hand before the feet of Gai Little as he did so.  These hand gestures indicated to Beaufont that great moments were about to unfold for the town now that this unique hero of great record was surfacing into interpersonal stature with the establishment for due recognition.  Indeed, that very concept of Giant Little's potential to gain more open stature was what had driven Beaufont to make the brave journey to Strong Pond so as to meet him. 

     "This is a miracle!  We have a message successfully delivered here this day from the town, and, as soon as Giant Little commits himself to this, we will be organizing  such a truly remarkable cultural event.  Now, what could be so ominous for the future of our town and entire country as this?  Can you tell me?" Curtis Goldenfellow inquired of Beaufont and his cohorts with an ominous tone in his voice. 

     Beaufont was gratified to hear a concrete explanation for the excitement and unique ritual he and his companions had seen.  He broke into a broad smile.  Curtis then inquired of him, "Allow me; please, let us make proper introductions.  Who are your compatriots this day?  With whom are we so honored as to witness with us few here this great event?"

     Beaufont snapped back to particulars at this direct inquiry and replied forthrightly, "Curtis, it pleases me to introduce to you and to everyone two of my neighbors who are interested in seeing the political developments here with me.  May I present to you Mr. George Craftstown and Mr. Heraldo Taft.  We made the journey here together.  The three of us braved the trail."    

     Curtis shook the hands of Mr. Craftstown and Mr. Taft, and then he said, "May I also introduce to you Philip Latel, Radhita Roundhouse, Bogdhan Bogdhan and Bob Stround.  I think you know my direct associates here from visiting us in the parks as you take your daily walks."

     "Yes, yes; I know them well," Beaufont said as he smiled at the parks crew.  "This is indeed an honor and a privilege to be here with you all at Strong Pond today.  If you would allow me, we are all aware of the magnitude of this moment in carving the destiny of Bohemia, and we have come to offer some gifts to the beautiful young lady who could very well be waylaid here and whose  circumstances are our deepest concern." 

     Radhita was feeling a calling in straits yet new to her in a foreign land; accordingly, she boldly stretched beyond her child's place in life as one who would be sheltered beneath authority.  She stepped forward and offered a courageous handshake to Beaufont.  As she did so, she realized that she had sufficient familiarity with the social graces of politicking from her upbringing as a ruler's daughter to interact as would any adult would in a similar situation.  Indeed, there was a polished manner in Beaufont's ways which appealed to her; his compassionate look and quiet reserve brought her out of the cloister of her young years.  "Thank you, Beaufont.  It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance here.  I am impressed that you and your neighbors braved the way to reach us.  I admire you for it," Radhita said with a sound look of recognition of him and then of his companions.

     "I am most pleased to have the moment to meet the daughter of Prime Minister Ker Roundhouse, and I want you to know that your status as such will not confuse us in any way, causing you to suffer deprivation or want.  There has been a lengthy discussion on that topic among those of us who are concerned for your well-being.  We of Bohemia want you to know that the good among us are still in charge.  We will make your stay here truly livable to the best of our ability.  At least, we do represent the people of Bohemia in spirit; we know Bohemians to be hospitable and kind to all," Beaufont said respectfully and with a deep sincerity to the maiden.   

     Radhita was visibly affected by such words of compassion and good will for her.  She bowed her head briefly; then she rendered her heart to him in her characteristic eloquence, saying "My dear Beaufont, your support while I am here will not only encourage me to render back to you and your countrymen equal concern in battle and in deeds connected thereto; it will also become the linchpin of future relations between the states of Bohemia and Liberty Love Forest.  You are most profoundly considered by me accordingly and therefore by my father, let me assure you.  I cannot impress upon you my gratitude for this in words.  There are no words powerful enough for me to do that."

     Beaufont was at once taken by the manners and grace of Radhita Roundhouse especially in the face the great ordeal she had just known at the hands of none other than Durydon, the terrible one.  He also had just glimpsed her political awareness and astuteness for questions of international concern.  She struck him as precocious.  Beaufont could not hide his admiration of her although such admiration was only magnified into more of a wonderment as he heard her words.  Radhita spoke through her heart, and Beaufont was aware of her as a special person, indeed.  Radhita, moreover, was softening the political chasm which had formed over the past several years between L.L.F. and Bohemia; unfortunately, the two nations had entered into an era of isolationism.  In the face of her unusual and rather total straits as political hostage now, this young lady was revealing a remarkable comportment and insightful mind for the overall situation through which she fended; she exhibited a certain selfless spirit of heroism, besides.  To Beaufont, a prominent citizen who was a factory owner in the town of Bohan, Radhita was actually herself a seeming gift from on high.  He knew from her attributes accordingly that she was indeed a perfect match in matrimony for Giant Little. If ever there were an intermediary so as to open up the channels of parley between Bohemia and its neighboring nation-state, Beaufont concluded summarily, none would ever match the young lady who had just opened into a betrothal to the remarkable Giant Little.             

     Radhita watched Beaufont as he was gathering in his impressions of her.  She then nodded her head and smiled.  She followed through with an expression of her needs: "Beaufont, I am not certain what gifts you might have supplied for me on this day.  However, I assume you know that I had been abducted away from my home and have been miraculously rescued here.  I am awaiting word from my father."

     "Why, yes, my dear young lady, my precious child of God; I have heard your story.  It was our Giant Little who freed you from two kidnappers who were the appointees of Durydon, as I understand it."  Beaufont then looked over at Giant Little.  Gai puffed up his chest at this and took a few steps in a little circle where he had been standing, looking off into the woods like a scout as he did so.  Beaufont registered the protective behavior of the young lad and then continued to address Radhita: "I am so sorry for the crime you have just taken.  That is why I am here.  I wish to help set the precedent for your good political asylum with Bohemia.  May it start with the people -- people such as me and Curtis, George and Heraldo here.  We are all concerned for your security and well-being.  We are deeply concerned for you," Beaufont said with compassion for the young maiden.  She watched his eyes as they began to glisten with the beginnings of tears and was profoundly moved to see that transparency of emotion in him.  Because it was touching for her to see how much he and the others, also, must really care for her,  Radhita did not know what precisely to say next.  She looked down at the ground to hide her eyes a little and reflect on how fortunate she was to have been given such insightful and caring people while in her dire straits.  

     Beaufont recovered himself forthwith, blocking his tears and retaining only the mist of them in his eyes.  He looked over at George Craftstown and bade him to procure the saddlebags laden with supplies for Radhita and also for Giant Little: "George, will you do the honors and get the saddlebags so that we can take care of Radhita and render her what is hers in the wake of this crime?  Let us gather together the nobility of our hearts and simply calm the wake of the crime of her abduction; we have the momentous power now to transform it into mission.  Can you hurry, please?"  Without word and without delay Mr. Craftstown rushed to the horses to procure the packs of goods.  Heraldo Taft went along with him as there were two saddlebags laden with gifts.    

        Beaufont’s face was beaming with love for Radhita, Giant Little and his entire mission.  He looked over at Giant Little, then at Curtis Goldenfellow, and smiled.  In so fatherly a manner, he said to Gai, “There you are, young lad.  I have heard a great deal about you.  You may be some kind of wonder, but you and your princess have to eat, as well.”  Giant Little reflected briefly on the statement of Beaufont, and kept a silence as he wondered privately how much Beaufont actually knew about his stupendous exploits on the behalf of the common good of all the people. 

     Beaufont next informed his friend Curtis of his organizational work for the two stranded youths.  “Curtis, last night I met with George and Heraldo here.  I took up a collection and managed to get together some essentials for these youths to tide them over until some formal provision or other comes through from the state.  We have some honey, some potatoes, carrots, squash, rice, oats, instant milk, dried fruits, nuts, bread and yogurt in the way of food for them; oh, and some cheese from my cellar, as well.”  Beaufont looked at Radhita and queried, “We thought that you should have some clothes, a sleeping bag, a blanket and a tent.”

     Radhita answered without hesitation, “Thank you for your gifts.  This is a godsend, Beaufont.  I would think my father will certainly repay you one day.”

     Beaufont did not even respond to the question of repayment since he was adamant about forming an understanding with Radhita and with Giant Little.  He continued, “The Way Station is safe for you, of course, Radhita; but in the event that people start to visit here, if they do, you are also welcome to camp in the tent we have provided just as are all the guests in the public parks welcome to do so.  We were concerned for your ultimate shelter in case of any conflict when the public arrives as the weather gets warmer in a few weeks.  This is just in case you are here that long.  Even if things develop so that you leave here soon, we will provide for you before acute need dictates."  Beaufont studied Radhita's face to see how she was responding to his authority and concerns for her.  Radhita remained calm as her mind opened up into this offer of provision; she simultaneously was letting go of any more immediate plan to attend the temple and see about borrowing a wagon for the journey back to her homeland.  Since Beaufont had learned of that idea, he waited to see if she would speak to him about it.  Radhita, however, remained reticent in deference to the generosity of the townspeople who had had the courage to join them.

     "Are you warm enough at night, Radhita?"

     "Why, thank you for asking, Beaufont.  Yes, actually, Giant Little has provided me his bed roll, and the Way Station has a little fireplace in it.  So we start a fire in the early evening, and it warms the place up nicely," Radhita answered, glad again that he was asking after her comfort and provision.

     Mr. Beaufont shook his head in the affirmative, feeling relieved that she was thus provided.  Then he elaborated his concern for her: "When the time comes and people do arrive here at Strong Pond, it will be warm enough for a tent for you.  Also, a tent would assure you of your privacy, and it would shield you from the question of how appropriate it is to take shelter in the Way Station which in your urgent status has served you so well.  We also applaud you for your courage in what you have come through."

     “I think that it is a good idea for me to pitch a tent, Beaufont, and thank you for that consideration.  But I also am concerned for the one to whom I am betrothed, my fiancé, Gai.  Do you suppose you could provide a tent for him, as well?  We are fortunate that it has not rained as of yet,” Radhita said.

     “Yes, we have a tent also for him,” Beaufont answered with a smile.”  

     Just then Beaufont’s two friends were there with the saddlebags, and they placed them gently at Radhita’s feet.  Heraldo said to her softly, “You will be just fine until higher-level help gets through to you, my young lady.  You won’t want for anything.  Let us take care of you.”  

     Radhita looked over at Gai, searching for a way to express her feelings without giving in to deeper emotions.  Gai went to her side when he saw this and took her hand.  Radhita looked at the people around her in silent awe that this was happening to her.

      Beaufont continued with his heartfelt words of compassionate giving to the two youths and especially to the one of the feminine gender before him: “We want to work with you so as to minimize any botheration to which you might be exposed.  Our goal is to make the townspeople respect you for your courage and not look down on you for your unusual straits.  Please understand, there will be a way for you here.  This situation certainly is not your fault.”

    Curtis heard that last point and quickly added, “Nor should you be blamed for it in any way. Good provision will pre-empt those who might be politically opposed to you from making any unwanted issues with you or over you. However, it is only a matter of time before the government will arrange a more proper place for you.  This provision is rendered you in your acute vulnerability to the elements first and to fulfill your basic needs while the politicking goes on.”

     Beaufont smoothly added, "Curtis, I cannot feel more encouraged than I feel at this moment regarding these two youths before us today."

     Curtis answered adeptly, "What ilk indeed has populated these parts at Strong Pond.  These are the gems of the future, these youths."  

     Beaufont raved on, "Yes; well, Curtis, Radhita is as she was described to me.  This event seems to have planted in the international political forum a remarkably gifted young lady.  As terrible as the crime she has taken, the counterbalancing forces suggest themselves to me as those being formed of the daughter of a wise man.  I value her as much as you do from what you said."

     Curtis realized that Beaufont had just admitted rather subtly that they had spoken previous to the current meeting at Strong Pond; at this he simply smiled slightly as if unsure.  His friend Beaufont stated further, "I saw her capabilities as a go-between for the higher purpose of peace-making after a terrifying battle had struck this park.  What strength in her!  I told you Bohemia has been blessed."     

     Beaufont said to Curtis, "I wish somehow I had been here with you, Curtis."  

     Then he stepped forward to Radhita and, smiling at her, asked for her hand with his.  Giant Little politely released it.  Beaufont took her hand gently, bent at the waist and kissed it with devotion.  Then he quietly said to her as he coddled her little hand in both of his, "My contacts in the government will hear about you through me and through Curtis, here.  I can assure you -- your security is of the utmost importance to us.  We will work to get that word from your father to you.  You are a most dignified and intelligent young lady.  I am impressed with your noble heart, and we value you accordingly."

     Radhita curtsied to Beaufont at these words of adoration and politely said with a serious tone, "I am at your service, and that on the behalf of my father; please, I implore you -- may I be so regarded by you and the authorities of Bohemia even though things had happened in this way.  Despite the unusual circumstances, may I be of good service to you and to all the citizens of our neighboring country."

     Beaufont was ingratiated further by that concept of service; most importantly besides, he valued her statement as one who represented her father's nation.  He was spurred on by it and decided to say more to her: "There will be no backlash you must suffer here in Bohemia for your birthright.  That will spell the defeat of the underworld, for that would be their game with you.  We do not want you to so suffer; and for your able confidence I have the intelligence of a certain spy who has occasional privy to Durydon's strategy and plans, so you can know that we are on duty.  We will help rescue you."

     Radhita looked first at Gai and then back at Beaufont.  She stated simply to him, "Beaufont, you yourself are a most remarkable person."

     Curtis began to inform Gai and Radhita forthwith of how remarkable Beaufont really was in his past work as an informal mediator between Durydon and the government of Bohemia.  He interjected, "Gai and Radhita, you may not know how remarkable Beaufont really is.  I told you I am a well-connected servant in the public."  Curtis paused for a moment, seeking Beaufont's permission subtly for revealing more of Beaufont's contributions to the civic order of Bohemia.  Curtis raised his eyebrows to show a tentative state of mind to Beaufont; Beaufont read him.  He nodded definitively to Curtis.  Curtis then intimated to the two youths, "Very few people know the work of Beaufont for its particulars as he was a key mediator in the establishment of the well-kept truce between Durydon and the state.  It was Beaufont who helped form the safe-passage sanction for the communication runways, Gai and Radhita.  That is indeed his record.  He is a maker of history although he must remain humble to his work in deference to his security; his work is not really broadcast too widely.  So feel glad of his intervention here at Strong Pond.  You must feel gladdened.  We know we can entrust this fact to you in careful confidence."  

     Giant Little referred to Catster.  He knew that Catster was highly unlikely to give away his identity as mentor even on the verbal plane in the presence of most, of those who were not likely to learn of the universal truth from him.  Catster was fond of reminding Gai that there were certain qualifications requisite to joining his inner circle, and such as his inner circle was therefore very small, indeed.  Radhita had of course leaped into that inner circle, indeed, in a most unusual way.  Catster stood up to stretch when Gai's eyes registered his form.  He turned his two front paws outward, then bowed his two front legs to either side just after the brief stretch as if to make an arch.  Gai read this as the arch of a temple.  He realized that it was time for him to reveal to the good Samaritans that he had had word from the military that political asylum for Radhita was to be arranged at the temple not too far from Strong Pond.  Giant Little spoke up at this juncture and said. "Beaufont, I assume that is the proper way to address you, kind sir?"

     Beaufont answered, glad to hear the voice of the unusual hero before him, "Charlemagne Beaufont is my full name; however, I have assumed the custom of taking my last name as a common appellation, young man.  It is as much as my first name and is as I prefer to be called."

     Giant Little was more astute than even the insightful Beaufont had expected him to be, and he decided to broach more light upon the topic of name as a way to give his benefactor confidence and courage for the strife ahead of them.  Gai looked over into the trees briefly.  He then turned his eyes back to Beaufont and said, "I see, Beaufont.  Is it that people tend to ask you if you are descended from Charles the Great as a way to ask after the extent of your wealth if you include your first name in conversation or in business dealings?"

     Of course, no one had ever seen through him quite so quickly as in this instance with the boy hero.  Beaufont was sent deeply into reflections as he heard the query from Giant Little.  He nodded his head slightly in answer at first, having glimpsed at exactly who stood before him.  Then he smiled as if relieved at his new insight into Giant Little.  Beaufont said simply in answer, "Yes."

     Giant Little continued speaking with him, noticing that Beaufont had been strategically informed of his power of insight with people.  He said, "You see, my Beaufont, you are such an outstanding citizen.  I am most endeared by your beneficent heart.  Any man who amasses wealth in his life and sees the way as to share and lead is a gem indeed, and it is a pleasure to meet one of your level.  May I first thank you."

     Beaufont was just smiling broadly.  His green eyes twinkled in the sun and in the spirit of the moment.  Giant Little read in him that he was beginning to feel once again as he had felt when he first arrived at the pond -- that this was some kind of a dream-world before him and that all here was too good to be true.  Beaufont remained quiet, waiting to see what Providence might say next through the heroic child conqueror.  

     Giant Little did not wait for a further response from the noble man who was in glad duty with Curtis and his crew and who relished every word Gai spoke.  He said to him, "Beaufont.  Beaufont, my deliverer, my kind benefactor, there is also news for you regarding the prospects for political asylum here in Bohemia for my sweetheart, the lady of my love and adoration, Radhita, whom I will one day marry.  It is my duty to inform you of this."  

     Beaufont raised his eyebrows, looked over at Curtis as if wondering if Curtis knew of this also, and still kept his silence.  Curtis volunteered forthwith, "Gai, now you tell us this? What development has there been?"

     Giant Little countered, "I must inform you of something rather unbelievable, gentlemen."

     Beaufont was captivated, not knowing what to expect next.  He kind of chuckled underneath his breath a little.  He was getting to know a most charming young lad, and soon he burst into an uncontrollable laughter at Gai's warning of the unbelievable.  He could not help himself, and it was contagious to all those present.  Soon the entire party was filled with a buoyant laughter which rang across the water of the quaint pond.  Radhita was more enamored of the moment than she was amused, for she saw that the people of the town were starting to get to know Giant Little.  This was part and parcel of their mission since Giant Little's leadership was direly needed besides his abilities as the vanquisher of evil in the abstract sense.  Radhita was smiling and filled with a sense of relief that the people were accepting of her beau, whom she cherished and loved with all her brave, young heart.  

     Beaufont managed to say politely, "Now what might that be, oh, you, the one who thrives on the unbelievable?"  At this he began to laugh even more heartily, and everyone was taken by the deep reaction of Beaufont as he was getting to know the renowned hero eye-to-eye.  Bogdhan was watching Giant Little closely to see how he would respond to the uproar from everyone around him.  He figured he would see more of the personality of such a unique individual.  Radhita read this in Bogdhan, who was not as consumed in laughter as were the others.  She smiled over at the brave messenger, nodding profusely at him.  Bogdhan worshipped in the attention he was receiving from the noble-hearted young lady, and he smiled a most loving smile at her.   

     Then Beaufont could not resist getting to know Giant Little further.  Having freed the air around the events there that day with his good humor, Beaufont decided to address the youth in the same vein as the youth had formerly addressed him.  He wished to probe further into Gai's mind and presence.  He calmed his laughter, composed himself somewhat, and then said to Giant Little, "Speaking as one to the other whose name has transcended the formality of Mr. or any such other title, and whose name further describes aptly the life's mission in your own instance, do you mind if I ask after your actual given name?  For I, in contradisposition to you,  have been abandoned in my name as to history's sake, yet you are one who writes history as you walk and are called accordingly.  I must say."

     Giant Little had never been summed up quite so for his well-earned nickname as it had been the attempt of the people of Bohan to express their readiness to accept his abilities with such a name for him.  His were abilities upon which the people had come to rely at least in the abstract, given the treacheries of the outlaws who were likely to strike at their lives at any turn.  However, Gai was not even slightly daunted by the friendly overtures of Beaufont of whom he was especially fond in all ways of measure.  He raised his right thigh so as to slap it loudly in recognition of the truth Beaufont had just spoken, and he quipped, "Yes, Beaufont, I am one Philip Latel.  Never late, so they tell." 

     With the raw spirit of livened laughter still fresh in the moment, the people who were gathered and getting to know Giant Little and Radhita burst again into laughter at Gai's joke.  Beaufont was laughing so hard at this quip that he began to feel stitches in his side.  As he grabbed his right rib and tried to calm the heaving of his chest, Giant Little said further to him, "They also call me Gai because it rhymes with sky which is to me God's own eye."

     Beaufont heard this from Giant Little.  It sent him into a reverie as he calmed his laugh now suddenly and thought over the boy's message.  Then he said to Philip, "My young Mister Latel, a hero is never late else not a hero.  Timing is the essence of battle."

     Giant Little said in answer, "I was late for school just once, and that was because I had to come to the rescue of an elderly lady on the way.  I must say, the authorities were most understanding."

     Beaufont was falling more and more into a realization of the astonishing nature of Giant Little.  He became, nevertheless, rather fatherly towards him as he said in response, "Well, I bet they were -- I can imagine you needed to be --  understood, Philip Latel.  Did they discipline you?"

     "Of course -- I cannot do anything wrong.  After I complied with the punishment, which was raking leaves in the quad, someone from the police visited the school and asked to see me, to get a report on what I had seen and so forth as I rescued her from an armed mugger.  I had saved her life.  The school principle was embarrassed.  Anyway, after a few such events and other wider battles against the bandits so omnipresent these days in the field I came to be known as Giant Little."

     "Yes, the field; well, now, I am most pleased to make your deeper acquaintance through this.  But what is it that you wish to tell us regarding the prospects of asylum for your fiancée, Radhita?" Beaufont pressed Gai for the information to which he had earlier alluded.

     Philip was glad to see his agenda being reinstated as this item of information would be critical to those present.  Beaufont continued, "What is unbelievable about it?  You must know that we of Bohemia -- as rag-torn as you of all people know we are by the effects of this regime of crime -- are at your side in this mission.  That is why I am here."  Beaufont began to stroke his mustache as he studied Giant Little's reaction to his words, feeling confident that there could have been no real and formal development as of yet from the government on the behalf of the task of proper political asylum for Radhita Roundhouse.

     "Let me be the one to tell you; allow me the say on this event.  People, I tell you now -- out of history there walks the great Arch General Borders again, my dear Bohemians.  I do not with you jest.  The books are coming alive, gentlemen." Giant Little answered smoothly, hinting at the surges of laughter which had previously overtaken the conversation in the meeting.

     Beaufont and all of the people present there with Giant Little were absorbed in the presence of the great boy hero.  None of them aside from Radhita and Bob Stround as far as Giant Little was directly aware knew of the return of the military giant to active duty in the developing civil war with its international overtones as per Pristinia.  Who among them could be mentally prepared to shift conceptually past the moment they were enjoying with such a remarkable personage as Giant Little?  This lad was known throughout the land for saving lives and rescuing citizens from robbers.  It was a great privilege to be in the moment of making history with him and also to be reconnoitering under his tutelage in the civic strife they had known for so long.  Beaufont had to reflect deeply at first, and then he began to outright dismiss even the mention of Borders.  He tried to remain as accepting of Giant Little as he could especially since he was just getting to know him.  In a moment of softening towards the unbelievable innuendo of Philip that Arch General Borders himself was actually coming back, Beaufont politely said to the boy, "Well now, it seems that you like most lads of your age are wont to enter into fantasy in the heat of active struggle; we all must admit to you that this is actually at the level of deadly battle.  That I grant you.  Your poetic expression of such a wild flight in fantasy is still understandable, however."

     Giant Little had bowed deeply to his elder when he first heard the false correction coming from him.  In the urgency of the moment he lost himself.  As he was returning from his bow, he interrupted Beaufont before he could go more deeply into his wrong surmise concerning the larger moment of history actually now forming before everyone at the gathering.  In his heart he weighed carefully the magnitude of the news of Arch General Borders' return and the embarrassment such an unlikely event would cause his new friend and supportive compatriot, Beaufont.  "But Mr. Beaufont, honored one, I have met and spoken with Arch General Borders himself.  Far from rumor or fantasy, he is back.  It is real.  Believe me.  Please, Beaufont, believe me!"

     Beaufont mulled over this statement from the boy hero carefully as he was trying to size him up somehow.  However, the august politician and self-appointed diplomat remained incredulous  of the report he was hearing from Gai.  He wanted to overtly dismiss the idea yet retain his respect for the remarkable record of the boy hero; Beaufont indeed rivalled Gai in the sense of the informal service he had likewise rendered the nation though his deeds involved money and commerce directly.  Giant Little worked from a more purely abstract plane.  When Beaufont saw how definite and forthright the child on the point at hand, he drew within himself in order to seek a way to diplomatically fathom further the inner workings of such an intelligent mind now veering away from actual possibilities, as he saw it.  Giant Little was dismayed somewhat that his deep bow had not moved Beaufont into a greater expanse of mind in this highly unusual situation.  He  studied the mind of the most dignified citizen before him, seeing how concerted his conviction that no such return of the military giant had occurred.  He dared not tread further offensively on the topic as he had been taught not to correct his elders.  He thus waited for any subsequent words of the honored gent in respectful silence.  Beaufont then carefully meted out his next conceptual  challenge to the serenely patient youth, who seemed to expect some greater intervention in the matter though in a recognizably passive manner.  

     "Now tell me, young lad, in your callow way before us this day are you not admitting in some wistful and far-sighted height of feathered fancy -- much like birds of a feather with fantasy's wing would you so soar -- that you yourself would aspire to his likeness, would be now the one we of Bohemia once knew in Borders?  Is that it, my young warrior so great? That you would ask us to join your wings?" Beaufont asked of Giant Little, thinking he could untie some knot of truth which lay hidden somehow in the fiber of the fine character of the noble martial artist he was at last getting to know, Giant Little.

     Giant Little calmly observed the engaged mind of Beaufont.  Evenly, he found within himself that he must first answer Beaufont's question.  "Maybe," Giant Little countered.  Beaufont was about to continue on in this vein of ideation as answer to the sensational statement that Giant Little had even met with the ancient general of Bohemian lore when he registered the calm assurance of Giant Little through his stately manner and terse reply.  Beaufont astutely perceived in a sudden glimpse that Giant Little was telling the factual truth.  Such a glimpse of the staid mind of the youth stopped Beaufont from his first impulse to downsize him to the working context he himself knew since he was a politically connected and active citizen of the nation, a successful and wealthy businessman.  As he began to humble himself accordingly to the lad, he looked around at the others present and realized that it was his duty to make certain that any developments in the growing situation over Radhita's safe political asylum in Bohemia should be treated with the utmost attentiveness to true fact.  After reviewing this just briefly in his mind, Beaufont turned his eyes first to Radhita and then to Giant Little.  He stepped over to Gai, placed his hands gently on his shoulders, and looked squarely at him.  He searched silently for any indication that Giant Little was indeed lost in an escape fantasy, not wishing to pursue his doubt further with words.  Giant Little savored this moment with Beaufont as he watched the truth catch hold.  He returned Beaufont's searching look with a tranquil steadiness of gaze.  He dutifully awaited the next level of his acceptance of this most astounding event which was to bless and save their nation.  When Beaufont saw how adamantly assured and there Giant Little really was, he became speechless.  He dropped his hands from Giant Little's shoulders in some small amazement which was starting to overtake him as he realized what such a seemingly unbelievable event would mean for the people and government of Bohemia.  As he allowed himself to project the actual possibility of Borders' return to active military service, he swung on his heel to look at Radhita and Curtis Goldenfellow.  He looked back at Radhita.  Suddenly, he swung both of his arms skyward, his hands grasping for the holding power of God himself.  He cried out in loud plaints to his Creator, "God!  Is this true?  Am I to hear your favored child standing before me in all his shining innocence announce the saving grace of our mythical hero coming back to save us all?  God, let this be true!  How we have suffered your wrath.  Free us!  Redeem us to the world!  Have mercy upon us poor citizens of Bohemia.  We cannot take more!  We beseech Thee; have mercy on us!"  

     Radhita and Bob Stround were at Beaufont's side in his intense moment of revelation of such a vital fact as the return of the great hero of Bohemian history.  Beaufont was by now on his knees clasping his hands together at his heart.  He was shaking with emotion and totally overcome by the almost silent message of Giant Little.  Radhita walked over to him and gently spoke to him.  "Dear sir, my dear Beaufont.  Please accept the greatness of your nation.  L.L.F. knows how the good among you suffer.  You will come back to a state of civic accord and lawfulness widely again.  May Bohemia be so blessed."

     Beaufont tipped his head slightly to one side as he heard such mellifluous tidings from L.L.F.'s young messenger.  Still speechless past his spirited prayer for Bohemia, he searched her.  Radhita nodded her head once gently and said, "The great Arch General Borders rides again.  He was here with us at Strong Pond.  He came here.  He is on duty.  He is indeed on national duty."

     Beaufont looked over at Bob Stround next.  Bob generated a smile for Beaufont.  "I have it from the general himself who commissioned me to be here as clandestine accessory to the brave messenger who relays vital word from the town government and national officials; they have just begun to work with the military command, the high military command of the nation of Bohemia, Beaufont.  This is all true and factual event," Bob declared unto him.

     Curtis Goldenfellow looked at his awestruck men, who were examining him in mixed belief and disbelief.  Curtis showed a mildly wonderstruck reaction at this most remarkable news even despite his psychic prowess that had rendered him that possibility before he left the town that morning for Strong Pond; his mind soared with elation at this rather expected report from none other than Giant Little himself.  He uttered in almost a whisper, "There is truly hope for our country now.  This must be the event of the century."  Then he went over to Beaufont to assist him back to his feet.  "Come on, Beaufont, my fine-feathered friend.  We have work to do, work on the behalf of our country.  Let us get this message signed and moving back to Bohan.  They will be waiting and wondering if we don't.  Hey!  Beaufont!  We now work in the service of the arch general, Arch General Robert Borders, and that is a fact!"

     Beaufont accepted the help of Curtis, saying as if returning from a dazed state of mind, "Yes, the concert.  The concert must be attended, I mean, tended to.  Where is the message, Curtis?"

     Bogdhan stepped over to Curtis and Beaufont.  "I was about to hand it over to Giant Little when the jubilation began," Bogdhan said dutifully.  "It remains here in my pack.  Shall we have Giant Little sign the contract, appoint the date and then I will carry it back now?"

"That is what must be done," Curtis answered.

"Gai, would you care to do the honors?" Bogdhan said as he took the letter and forming contract out of his messenger's pack.

Giant Little was standing a few feet from Bogdhan at the fireside where they had enjoyed a meal and some coffee.  He crossed the distance with a graceful cartwheel over to Bogdhan, saying after he landed and resumed upright posture, "With the study of the hand and foot in self-defense we make our way much like a wheel.  Through all resistances and conflicts, dangers, trials and trails, we move more circumspectly than the wheel itself."

Bogdhan broke into a broad smile at the playfulness of Giant Little.  He then found a rejoinder and said to the boy wonder, "Let the majestic and expansive soaring of wings belonging to the eagle catch the eye like the sky where you find your home, Gai.  The sky is to you God's roof."

     "The eagle only soars in what is, my brave compatriot, Bogdhan," Giant Little answered.

     "From whence his expanse," Bogdhan said.

     "Let us sit at the table, then, and tend to the future," Giant said to Bogdhan definitively.  As the two walked towards the oak-rock table, everyone gravitated with them.  There was a sense of expectation in the air which bordered on fulfillment as all of those present with Giant Little were becoming more enamored of the event than they were burdened by it.  Gai caught a glimpse of Catster as he was about to take the papers from the table where Bogdhan had respectfully placed them.  Catster, who was reclining by the shore of the pond, yawned momentarily; then the noble cat looked past the immediate moment as he eyed the trail upon which Bogdhan would soon take his leave for the town.  Gai knew from this sign of Catster that Bogdhan would be on time for the important delivery to Bohan of the signed contract.  Bogdhan said to Curtis, "There should be enough time for me to reach the town hall within the proposed schedule, Mr. Goldenfellow."

     "Well, I should think that it is certainly in good hands, Mr. Bogdhan.  We all have a great deal of respect for your courage and vision in this," Curtis answered.

     Giant Little set the date for the concert for the 16th of July, signed the contract and handed it over to Bogdhan forthwith, saying, "Without further ado, this contract is hereby given unto you; in fact, it is duly signed in the presence of the witnesses here on this day.  Should there be one elder to stand in for me for any legal reasons, my dear and long-awaited fellow citizens?"

     Beaufont quickly volunteered to be that one.  He said with the greatest sense of duty-mindedness to Giant Little, "My young hero of the land of Bohemia, you must have been peering into my mind somehow.  That is my exact concern this day, and I would like to stand in for you in the national exigencies of the moment and in the absence of your father.  I will co-sign for you, and further, offer you my exact care as benefactor in good faith.  If there are any needs which arise and require monies for the preparations and for your security in the town and also in consideration of the same for your betrothed, I will tend to them.  Consider your needs covered at my expense.  That remains an informal agreement as between us, Philip."  

     Philip thanked Beaufont for his generosity.  Beaufont then stepped over to the table and signed for the guardianship of the lad since by law he was too young to own a contract by himself.  However, any proceeds from the concert  would still be his.   

     Curtis Goldenfellow then called for the messenger to take the signed agreement back to the Council of Eldermen, saying with a sense of formality to Bogdhan as he handed it to him, "With this signed contract begins a new day not only for our nation but also for this child prodigy.  We must not take him for granted in any way, and may Godspeed be yours and therefore with all of us who share this moment with you, our brave messenger, Bogdhan Bogdhan.

     There was great applause for the hero after the statement of Mr. Goldenfellow.  Bogdhan was beaming broadly in the high spirit of the moment before his departure, and he also made a brief statement: "My fellow compatriots: with the support of this gathering behind me and with some higher grace, do I depart on this assignment with the greatest sense of dedication to our cause.  What a deep honor indeed to be the one who is chosen for this particular mission, and let us admit how it has grown.  Let us give even greater care and courage to our strife for success in liberating all of our nation from the throes of Durydon."

     Curtis Goldenfellow answered without delay this call to cause and action with effervescent enthusiasm, "Yes, all roads lead to Rome, where Rome is now a very much targeted Durydon."

     "And he is not quite urbane enough for above-board leadership; that is what he seeks in his way, and that is of course revolt itself.  We, the citizens of Bohemia, have had enough of this crime warfare constantly haunting our doors," Bob Stround said with a slight squint in his eyes.  "We see his game plan clearly.  You should hear Arch General Borders take him apart.  He does not have a prayer for a successful revolt.  History will be written around that fact, for it is a given now," he said roundly.

     "I could stand and analyze, but let me take leave; let me run now and serve the cause.  I hereby take your leave with the contract in hand," Bogdhan declared with a special light in his eyes.  He then bowed to his fellow people, did an about-face, looked up to the sky and then to the head of the trail.  As he was stretching his calves for the run ahead of him, the onlookers paid their respects to Bogdhan with polite bows of the head while Radhita went over to him and quietly handed him her precious amulet of white marble.  Bogdhan sensed how special it was to her.  He bowed his head as he accepted it fully.  He placed it in his breast pocket near his heart, patting it twice softly.  Then the heroic runner nodded at the young lady with a smile and left without further word from anyone.  Everyone watched him as he ran along the shore of Strong Pond and then disappeared into the woods as he took the trail.  One of the parks workers broke the silence and stated, "The die is cast."

     Curtis Goldenfellow added, "Thus begins a socio-political foray, an offensive move which Durydon's organized network will not defeat.  Let there be victory."

     Beaufont's rejoinder to Curtis was lightning quick: "Victory in the command of history's telling, for he won't defeat Borders!"  Then he looked over at Giant Little lovingly and said simply and pointedly, "Nor this godly child, who wears a disguise in his age."  

     Radhita looked over at Catster; the quiet commander from another kingdom had been quietly observing the event as if unattached.  He sent her a mental message: "Look in your own breast pocket, Radhita.  There is a present there for you."

     The young maiden found that Catster had created an amulet for her, and she took it out to examine it.  The amulet matched exactly the one she had so nobly conferred upon the brave runner.  She worked hard not to show much of a reaction which would be visible to the others there who might be watching.  Catster preferred to remain on the periphery of action in the world except as he would reveal himself to certain ones who qualified for his direct mentorship.  Radhita, knowing this, did not want to transgress her honor to the noble cat.  In fact, she had thought that he might as well be invisible to those who were not his followers, but she could not be sure.  No one had mentioned seeing the cheetah during the entire event.  She simply took the amulet to her heart, closed her eyes and sighed with great relief.  "Does Bogdhan still have the one I gave him, Cats?  Please say yes, Catsy." Radhita said to Catster in her mind.  Catster answered ominously, "We-ell, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.  He will be needing it.  The amulet I have just given you is yours to keep, my beautiful princess from afar -- yet now not-so-far.  It will save you."      

                    

                       Chapter 8

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      Bogdhan Bogdhan was well into the runner's trail when he heard the pounding of another runner's feet behind him.  As he was surprised by this, he immediately began to sense the development and to intuit if there was an impending threat to his safe passage on the trail.  Afraid that there might be some resistance or danger, Bogdhan decided to slow his steps momentarily and turn full-face around into reverse stride.  As he began to turn around, he realized that there was no real danger.  As soon as his eyes rested upon the approaching figure, he saw an expressive wave of the arms from Bob Stround.  Bogdhan waved back and was anxious to hear who had assigned him to a tandem run with him in such a belated fashion.  He slowed his steps further as he kept his eyes on Bob Stround, half waiting in a state of curiosity, half sure of whether it would be appropriate for him to stop so as to talk with his comrade.  Bogdhan was glad of the assistance  and was most anxious to hear if there had been any instruction from the famed and to him yet distant Arch General Borders.  Bob Stround was very close to Bogdhan now, and he called out, "Stop, Bogdhan!  Wait up!"  Bogdhan stopped, and in several footfalls more Bob Stround met up with him.

     Bob was sweating on the brow, and he pulled a cloth from his belt to dry the perspiration from his forehead.  His breath was deep.  It seemed to Bogdhan that he was elated to have caught up with him on the runway.  Bogdhan nodded his head a few times, waiting expectantly for word from his fellow messenger.  Before openly stating his purpose, Bob simply reached into his dark green runner's pack and produced a message.  He handed the sealed envelope to Bogdhan for him to inspect.  Bogdhan immediately saw the seal of the Bohemia Army with the added insignia for general on the lower right of the seal.  The sender's name was written clearly in the upper left corner of the envelope, where it said: "Arch General R. Borders, c/o Field Command Post 1269, Reconnaissance Commission, Bohemia Army Field Headquarters."  Bogdhan's eyes darted straight to the face of Bob Stround, searching for the fuller meaning of this important message from Borders.  Bob answered then with words.  He measured out a terse statement: "After you left Strong Pond I read a smoke signal which called me immediately to the trail.  There I met the honorable Arch General Borders who sent me forth with this message to the town elders.  There was a chance that I never would have caught up with you.  The timing was close.  I pushed; I had to push hard to catch up to you."

     "I see," said Bogdhan, still astonished.  "Did he expect you to catch up with me?  Were his orders also to establish a tandem run?" he asked with a crisp mind for possible orders to follow.

     At this point, Bob Stround snapped into attention and uttered the following words: "We are at the command of Arch General Borders to establish a generous tandem run to the town of Bohan.  He instructs that the lead be yours and that the lead runner will obey the rule of single-pack carry by the first in succession.  I am to stay within close range of you at all points -- always in the visual field of your precedence on the run."  Bob then saluted his associate briefly.  Bogdhan returned the salute in summary fashion.  After this, Bob Stround relaxed his posture.  

     Bogdhan Bogdhan then countered with the immediate question of him, "Did Arch General Borders recite any presence of organized enmity to our run as according to his surveillance?"

     Bob Stround countered, "Absolutely not.  Rather, he said that the messages were important, vitally so."

     "What is the substance of the message he entrusted to you?" Bogdhan asked, steeling himself for the possible worst.

     "The message is a duplicate of a message he has sent to the intelligence arm of the Bohemia Congress.  It maps the rebel encampments and so-called slave enclaves in the larger outreach.  These are now being placed under more highly organized and attentive surveillance.  It also maps similar results in the locale here regarding an encampment of Durydon and his closest associates," Bob Stround answered forthwith.  "You understand that this is strictly confidential although encouraging news."

     Bogdhan retreated from the fast repartee which had just taken place momentarily and searched the distance on the landscape before them.  There was an air of totality about the field upon which he and his close comrade now acted.  It seemed to him that the news just given him was of such a magnitude of importance that his every day from now on would be somehow affected by it at the level of dire action and duty to his nation.  Deeply moved by the report he had just heard that the military was now finally engaged in a more active reconnaissance of the rebels, Bogdhan was silent.  He knew not what to say.  Bob Stround realized this.  He offered reassurance to him: "Bogdhan, we cannot change the national state of affairs in a day or in a month.  But things have now swung into the force of righteousness again.  We will supercede.  Bohemia will not be overthrown by a rebel, no matter his size."

     Bogdhan saw this; indeed, he had seen it as Bob spoke the report to him.  He then came back to the moment before both of them and asked as according to the sense of the immediate task in front of them, "How does the arch general relate his message to the event now forming of the concert of our great little hero?  Did he give you any word on that?"

     "Oh yes, he is on duty in the area where Giant Little and the foreign princess now stay.  He is watching and studying the field there.  From what he said, the report regarding the outreach is not the direct result of his own; rather, it came from his men.  He has rendered the town exact clearance to go forth with the plan for the concert on the given date," Bob replied with elevated tones in his voice.  Then he paused for a moment and rubbed his chin thoughtfully before he shared with Bogdhan some of the personality of their new commander.  "He looked at me with his deep blue eyes filled with light and vision and told me that, in essence, the approaching concert of Giant Little would have full military backing and guard.  I will never forget that moment and the look he gave me, Bogdhan.  It was moving.  He has put in his recommendation for the same, and that is part of the message we now carry to the Council of Eldermen in Bohan.  The same message has been dispatched to the president at the capital."

     "This is some kind of a political miracle, my fellow warrior!" Bogdhan exclaimed with wonder in his voice.  Venting a doubt which had been quietly nagging him since he heard that Borders was in the field surround at Strong Pond, he queried, "Well, why was Borders not there when Durydon struck at the exit, the cutover to Strong Pond, then?"  

     Bob Stround glanced at the ground briefly; then without delay he answered, "He relied upon Giant Little."

     "He must have been engaged elsewhere at the time.  Tell me this, and then we will carry forth on our tandem run," Bogdhan demanded to know further.

     "I only reiterated what he had said to me regarding Giant Little because he reflected a deep admiration of the boy hero.  It was as if he had personal knowledge of him," Bob said deliberatively.

     "I see.  Borders has been to the hinterlands, has he, at all?  Do you know?" Bogdhan was most curious.

     "Oh yes, he stated briefly that his commission is to oversee the operation; he had gone there to set up the reconnaissance commission two months ago, and he visits periodically.  Reports on enemy plans have kept him in this area and nearby other towns and cities," Bob was eager to report, giving a kind of assurance in his voice.  "He did say that Durydon has more men at his encampment which is why he dispatched me for this tandem run.  But he doubts that there will be a scrimmage on the way -- that is his terminology.  Durydon apparently was badly beaten by us, probably injured.  He is said to be in his tent, not out and about.  He must be recuperating.  That is the report.  Borders has spies.  I think they were taking advantage of Durydon's occupation with your run this morning so as to get in on the others at the encampment while Durydon was not there.  So then you can see, the arch general did rely on Giant Little," Bob related.

      This explanation satisfied Bogdhan Bogdhan, and he snapped to attention himself, saying with a detached formality to his cohort, "Runners at attention!   We are set with wings of feet for all messages we greet.  May the duty of doves guard our rightful reach.  Give word its way.  We seize the day!  Runners ready.  In tandem!"  Then both runners called out in unison, "Depart!

     Both runners as according to tradition departed simultaneously and side-by-side, and after the first hundred strides silently counted by each of them, Bob Stround began to drop back slowly so as to establish a slight distance from the lead runner for the rest of the journey.  As Bob began to drop back, Bogdhan was sorting through the events in his mind.  Although he was impressed by the recent developments of the provision of the great arch general for all of Bohemia, Bogdhan could not help his amazement that Bob Stround knew so much and that he had caught up with him for the tandem run now in progress.  From what he could infer, this meant that he had spent some time with the arch general in some kind of a briefing at their meeting before he left.  He reflected on the day before when Bob had given him his assignment to Strong Pond in the lobby of his building; how astute he had seemed to him at that moment.  Now he had seen more of the true capabilities of his co-runner, and Bogdhan knew that Bob Stround was truly great.  He could only surmise that Stround had been chosen most probably for the special tasks he had just performed by the arch general himself.  Bogdhan felt humbled by all of this, and privately he wondered why it was that Arch General Borders had nominated him to be the lead runner instead of Stround.  There was no seniority between the two since they had been trained at the same time and together by the army's field commission.  Bogdhan was not certain of his status with the arch general, yet he felt honored that he was in the lead.  Now his humility had shown Bogdhan that his deepest heart for Bohemia had never been more gratified despite the strife.  Never more hopeful had he been for the future of his country; there were heroes among his fellow citizens, and he now regarded Bob Stround as one of them.  Bob Stround had just performed an athletic feat when most needed, and Bogdhan  felt honored to be with him.  He realized that word would spread among the military and civilians alike not only that Borders was back but also that Bob Stround had opened up into a miraculous deed as messenger when sent into duty by the great Arch General Borders.  Bogdhan smiled when he realized this, for he knew that Bob Stround's feat would inspire hope for the hopeless -- for those who had lost family members to Durydon's kidnapping network, for instance.  Indeed, he knew that Stround would inspire courage for those Bohemians who would perform meritorious deeds on the behalf of the cause for Bohemia.   

     The tandem run for the two brave heroes happened without incident.  There were no saboteurs along the way; no battle presented its face to the runners.  Bogdhan and Bob reached the town of Bohan in good time.  Once they began to run along the streets of the town, both runners noticed how quiet the place about them.  There were no pedestrians on the street typically, and the traffic of horse-drawn carriages and horses was unusually sparse.  The silence gave an ominous presence to the quaint picture before the runners, and that was especially so since the buildings and places were all so familiar and homelike to them even in the face of danger.  Bogdhan knew that trouble was in the offing.  Bob Stround kept his distance from Bogdhan as according to protocol; besides, he also feared that some evil lurked somewhere.  He prayed that Bogdhan would summon up the energy to increase the speed of the run.  He looked over at the shops as they ran on the side of the street, surveying them for people inside doing business.  The shops seemed to be open even though no customers were populating them.  Next the two runners came upon a park located well before the center of the town.  Usually there were children playing in the popular playground there, but today not a person was in sight.  As Bob mulled over what might have happened to cause this vacancy of people and activity in the town, he looked down a side street and saw a couple of pedestrians.  This sighting almost gave him courage.  He thought to himself that today was not any kind of special holiday which might explain the passive air about Bohan, but he asked himself to what event or threat might such a passive air owe its occurrence?  There had been times when terror had struck, when raids upon the shops and pedestrians had occurred by bands of outlaws.  Perhaps this was one of those times, and the event of their arrival as messengers could be quite unattached to the status of quiet about the place.  He wondered if any of the citizens of Bohan knew of their run and if many were yet aware of the arrival of Radhita Roundhouse from Liberty Love Forest.  He thought that it would be most unlikely that this news of Radhita's presence and of the return of Arch General Borders to active duty in the nation's military service had leaked out from higher intelligence sources quite so quickly if at all; he weighed the possible situation around him accordingly.  He concluded tentatively that the imposing and subdued atmosphere which had gripped the town was more likely to be a reaction to an event preceding their arrival than the expectation of a battle due to their arrival as they carried the important messages forth.  Nevertheless, it was only a matter of time before the two might be connected in fact in his mind and in the minds of the many, he surmised as he ran; indeed, something was bound to happen, it seemed, which would provide the answer before long that would break the suspense which held the moment for him and for Bogdhan.  

     Naturally, Bogdhan was equally interested in the status of the streets and lack of business around them as they ran.  He was thinking over the profound meaning their messages intended for the security and destiny of all of Bohemia; in fact, through evil acts was Durydon posing tremendous battle.  Durydon's present purpose in battle was to pre-empt free expression in the international political forum centered upon the music of a great though unusual, already national-level hero-- Giant Little.  Bogdhan began to assess the possible situation before them in light of what actually obtained.  In so doing, he decided bravely to expect the worst.  Courageously, he steeled his mind for a possible resistance of some kind which might occur before they were able to reach the town hall where their messages were expected for delivery.  He then gave his co-runner a hand signal to increase speed for the last few blocks of the run by pointing his left index finger upward twice in close succession.  Upon seeing this, Bob Stround immediately increased his output.  Together, the powerful runners had come this far.  They had indeed conquered in battle at the exit from the runway for Bogdhan's morning run; they had established a tandem run and prevailed with speed on behalf of the successful delivery of the direly needed messages.  Both runners were keenly aware that speed at this time would serve at the best possible level the completion of their task.  Speed at this time would be a sign of strength and readiness for those who might be observing them from hiding places and especially for any spies or counterspies located along the route.  Bob Stround was grateful for the lead of Bogdhan in stepping up the speed of the run.  He was so intent upon the mission that he did not feel daunted by the extra energy required in achieving that speed.  Due to his special ability in speed, Bogdhan had probably been chosen to execute the mission to Strong Pond at its very outset, Bob thought.  However, speed was quite within his own capabilities, as well.  Bob fortified his mind when he reflected therein -- that he had seemingly miraculously closed in from behind on Bogdhan earlier in order to establish the tandem run with him.  He knew with his masterful speed he had performed an incomparable feat.  How this reflection spurred him on, giving him presence and courage as they made their way down the nearly abandoned streets.  

     Bogdhan knew of a shortcut through a large public park, Arbor Park, just before the central square of Bohan.  As he and Bob approached Arbor Park, they heard a signal.  There was the sound nearby of a rock hitting upon a rock.  Both messengers knew that this was either the sign of guards on duty regarding them and their important mission, or else that matters were indeed escalated now to the point of active resistance against the successful delivery of their messages to the town politic.  Bob thought at this point how the local scene in which he participated must be so direly connected to the national fervor among those close to government circles; indeed, they were working on the situation of the noble hostage from Liberty Love Forest, Radhita.  The spirit of the nation was in the air as they ran.  They ran with unbroken resolve.  No matter of what might lie ahead concerned them as they transcended all doubt and fears.  Bogdhan thought over the report that Durydon had been physically compromised due to the fight he had endured with Giant Little earlier in the day, and he remembered how the dragon had appeared, taking the fore in the battle.  How blessed he had been through the remarkable events of that battle; moreover, he realized that all of Bohemia had shared that blessing.  With undaunted courage Bogdhan led the way on the well-beaten path as he realistically shored up his courage further with the awareness that his trusted cohort was close behind him.  Soon the outcome of the overall imminence of the atmosphere in the town would unfold before his eyes.  He could only steel himself for the next situation.  That next situation might just be the next fight.  He pondered briefly upon the possibility that Arch General Borders was there in the town with them at this critical moment and satisfied his mind that soon he was bound to find out.  This prospect was inspiring to him, certainly, and it made the hair on his arms and legs stand on end.  The return of the arch general was not generally known among the people.  Any skirmish  which  might occur would be certain to cause the news to become known to the wider people of Bohemia, for now the commander could be called to duty in a town.   From what Bob Stround had reported, Borders' work to date had been largely in the rural areas, or so it seemed.  This he had gathered -- Border's work had been in the peripheries only of the towns and cities.  However, coupled with that idea came the realization of the international nature of the situation in which the great general was now fending.  This tension was bound to lend a primary role to the report that was due the people.  As a matter of course, the town criers would be duly informed, and the newspapers would be expecting to receive any reports.  The general, he remembered, had appeared to Bob Stround in a public restaurant in order to assign him to duty that morning so that apparently the general was getting the people prepared to know that he was indeed back on the national scene.  Otherwise, Arch General Borders would not have sat in a public place with Bob Stround at all; he would have called him to the town hall for a private briefing.   

     Sitting adjacent to Arbor Park is the town hall.  There were only about five miles left in the run to reach this building, formally named the Municipal Building of Bohan.  Bogdhan had never really been so grateful for the location of the town hall as next to a park; he reflected that if there were to be an active fight he would want to spare the streets of Bohan.  He did not want women and children especially to witness any violence.  While contemplating this idea, he realized that if Durydon or one of his top honchos were indeed leading in an initiative to capture the messages if not the messengers, as well, it would be more probable that the mean spirit of such ugly destroyers would prefer to make trouble in the closer public eye, on the streets themselves.  Certainly, such an open-air show of violence would be a way to indoctrinate by stirring up the emotions and stoking a reactive mind in the people; what if innocent citizens were hurt in the scuffle, he asked himself.  There were likely to be fewer people in Arbor Park of a day than there would be on the town streets.  The numerous trees there in he park would offer cover and secrecy to an extent.  However, Bogdhan could not weigh this concept heavily enough to gain any certainty in his attempt to understand beforehand what was really wrong in Bohan that moment and what might actually happen as they wended their way to completion of the delivery, their feet pounding endlessly, their minds grateful for each step towards victory.  This was indeed a critical phase of the great task entrusted to them under the aegis of a towering patriotic giant coming back again to national service, Arch General Borders; in fact, the feeling that they were at home now that they were in the town piqued their motivation to win above all evils residing about them.  

     Just as he was surrendering once again to the unknown on the point of security of the messages they were delivering, Bogdhan felt the wind of an event suddenly unfolding in the vicinity; he saw Giant Little streaming by on his shiny black horse across the trail ahead.  Giant Little was galloping across the trail upon which they were running at an intersection well ahead of them yet still in sight.  Both Bob and Bogdhan gained presence when they saw this hero on the field before them, and just as he passed out of their visual field, Giant Little let out his loud war cry, "Yatz!"  The runners could only wonder if this war cry were a signal or an announcement of active scrimmage ahead.  Nevertheless, they would not let their lack of knowledge of the precise events in the implicit battle deter the rhythm of their running.  First Bogdhan interpreted Giant Little to mean that they should stay on their direct course to the town hall.  Then Bogdhan signaled Bob to join him now side-by-side as an indication that active resistance might soon be upon them.  Bob  stepped up his pace long enough to reach the side of Bogdhan and could not repress his own vocalized answer to Giant Little as he did so: he announced his own readiness to fight once they were just past the intersection with a loud "YATZ" in mimicry of the boy wonder's own invitation in battle.  Bob was also signaling Giant Little as to their continued, direct course on the trail towards the sanctuary of the their destined building.

     Giant Little was omniscient in battle; thus had he coursed across the trail in the park with his characteristic determination based upon prescience.  As he approached Arbor Park Way, the major, wide road which runs through the center of the park and leads directly to the town hall, he stopped Victory and led him quietly into a place behind a thicket where he would be out of sight to anyone passing by on the road.  "Just wait here, Victory, and enter to recover me when I signal you.  We will get them!  Stay quiet and still," the boy hero whispered to his mighty and trusty steed.  Victory answered the calm instructions by barely hoofing the ground most gently three times.  Then his head nodded in jerky motion a couple of times, and Giant Little interpreted this to mean that a formidable battle lay ahead just now.  He reached into the saddle pack on Victory's side and procured a juicy red tomato which had been intended for his lunch.  As he looked at it, he remembered how Radhita had so lovingly packed his lunch for the field.  This thought of her spurred him on more than ever.  He listened for the oncoming trouble, and began to prepare for it.  He was now positioned several yards from the actual road, and he said to his horse, "Now I will get ready for the fight.  I need some make-up."

     Moving quickly, Giant Little pierced the tomato with his jack knife adeptly, and then he squeezed some of its juice onto his left knee and thigh area.  The red color against the pale blue cotton cloth of his pant leg resembled blood.  He added a little more of the tomato juice to the yellow, patterned bandanna which covered his head.  He reflected upon finding the bandanna among the clothes with which Beaufont had gifted him.  Lovingly, he gave the remainder of the tomato to Victory.  Giant Little left in haste for Arbor Park Way whereupon he proceeded to lie down precisely in the center of the three-lane, paved thoroughfare, presently vacant as it was.  It was as if he were either badly wounded or even dead.  Within a minute of his arrival there came the yonder sound of horses galloping full speed forth though the sound was as of yet faintly heard.  Giant Little took courage that he would be noticed in time not to be trampled upon; bravely, he lay as still as a stone, knowing somehow that they would be sure to see him.  These were Durydon's men.  Giant Little was most certain that due to injuries he had incurred in the battle at the runway's exit trail leading to Strong Pond earlier in the day, Durydon would not be engaged in this fight.  He guessed that it would be Brown Tiger, Durydon's chief assistant, who would be leading the band of outlaws.  Indeed, these were the culprits who had just terrorized Bohan with the robbery of the jewelry store on Main Street; now that they had cast a darkness over the place and its people, feeling that they had the town in their terrible grip, they were setting up an advancement towards the messengers.  Giant Little once again expected that Brown Tiger would be sharp enough to see him and stop for him for verification of who he might sense would be there. He was a wide-open target, not to mention that Brown Tiger was on a dead-heat run for that very target he would be sure to find there in Giant Little.  It certainly would appease Brown Tiger to imagine that the great Giant Little was badly injured at a moment like this when his own boss had been severely compromised due to the side kick of the mighty boy and due also to the resistance the dragon had given in the skirmish at the outset.  Hoping that his sheer size would give him away from a reasonable distance so that his bait to decoy would work, Giant Little reviewed further in his strategic thinking that the timing of any interference he could offer would allow the runners to gain the safe haven of the town hall without becoming the direct targets of the horrible Brown Tiger and his men.  He knew that there were others present to give resistance, but he hoped for with all his might for the best.  

     Soon the sound of the horses was near.  How that sound did sound its threat much as some squadron of an army in full and studied action must sound, thought the brave boy.  But the approaching unit simply did not know its next target; verily, would that gang of oulaws soon find it out.  Gai divined that there would be five horses with five men upon him shortly, so he braced himself for the confrontation.  Suddenly, as the horses were closing in on his exact proximity, the boy heard a loud command uttered by Brown Tiger himself: "Ho!  Ho! Halt!"  The horses slowed down quickly and came to a stop at a safe distance before the image of a wounded lad.  Brown Tiger and his band of badmen were amazed at what they saw.  The boy lay totally still as if unconscious.  Brown Tiger said in a voice  somewhat muffled at first by his utter amazement, "That looks like Giant Little.  It is.  He's been struck!  Let's get him while he's down!"

     Brown Tiger and his men were several feet from Giant Little, yet it seemed that they must  be just a few feet away due to the ominous moment he was in, lying there so perfectly still with his eyes closed.  Appearing injured, was he seemingly dumb and down on his very stars; however, our skilled boy warrior was constrained essentially unto that appearance only as his own brilliant bait, a mere strategy in battle.  Verily, the great Giant Little knew how to take the upper hand in battle.  He was careful to hide his mind in this steep moment with the encroaching enemy, for it would be a defining moment.  Yes!  When he heard that telling command of Brown Tiger, he knew his plan would work; valiantly, he made his move!  Giant Little bolted to his feet even before the astonished men had a chance to fully dismount and pull their weapons; they had thought him to be possibly dead, or so he concluded.  The fake blood smears had famously fooled them.  He did not have far to run!  At top speed did Giant Little sprint to the cover of the bushes across the way.  Brown Tiger had time to fire a single hurried shot at him, but the warrior lad  had sharply curved his path both suddenly and miraculously so as to escape being hit.  He ran a few yards into the wooded area, leaving the band of Durydon's men totally cold; he had taken them so totally by surprise that they felt literally belittled by him.  

     Brown Tiger resumed his fight now, having been so taken aback by the entire skillful ruse of Giant Little that he had had to recover momentarily.  Gai then heard the next command of Brown Tiger: "Charge!"  Giant Little broke out onto the trail and gave Victory his whistle in order to summon him to his side.  He was taking them on.  Giant Little's strategic battle plan was now unfolding into action; it was to detain the bad men from ever reaching their true target of the messengers.  Those messengers also could have met a certain enemy who was working apart from Durydon's gang.  Rather than getting lost in the woods and losing Brown Tiger and his gang, Giant Little decided that to lure them into a chase on the trail would a be most effective strategy to take up even more time.  Now you may wonder how it could ever be that a boy could outrun five horses with their horsemen, goading them on in an ersatz chase.  That might be too much for an average likelihood, it is true.  However, there is none more remarkable and filled with feats than that wondrous Giant Little who always knows what to do and where to be as if being itself were the full story and all else only second to being.  There he was, indeed, running with two fists pummeling the air, with two feet pounding the ground, with head held fast and slightly forward, with mind as effortlessly focused as if there were a set of fools behind him, but who were most deadly, indeed.  Brown Tiger spurred his horse on, bleeding it for greater speed.  The horse was able to give just a little more speed; at this point Brown Tiger yelled out to those following him, "Ready!  Target!"  Giant Little knew that this meant to shoot.  Miraculously, Giant Little spurted ahead with superhuman speed -- even more than that which can be described well or believably.  He in a sudden phase of movement accomplished more ground in a split second than that which might be measured in time and space even though it certainly had occurred in time and space, or so it seemed.  Brown Tiger, leading the pack of wild outlaws, saw this as they all saw it, and it astonished the commander totally; in all reality, Giant Little had thus ruined his target.  The notorious Brown Tiger felt the hand which held his pistol draw back.  He knew not what to do next.  Brown Tiger was truly baffled and consumed in disbelief at what he had just witnessed.      

     Giant Little was aware that the band of outlaws who were pursuing him might still persist despite his magic, but he was ready with another tactic.  He listened for the rescue of his horse as a contingency plan and realized that from the rear Victory was pulling with a heart for his master greater than you can ever deem plausible; it would not be the first time Victory had saved the boy's life and limb.  As Brown Tiger was trying to recover his presence in battle and find some greater resolve to overcome the strange defeat he had just taken, which he could not formulate at all, he heard the sound of some wind to his left which had not been there before.  Distracted and ambivalent now as to whether he should take his possibly belying eyes off the elusive Giant Little in front of him at some distance, Brown Tiger managed to look over his left shoulder just briefly.  Brown Tiger's worst fear -- that the sound he had heard was that of Victory, the fastest horse on record in the widest area -- now became real to him.  There was as if a streak of blackness which left its image on the peripheral field of poor Brown Tiger's left eye; Brown Tiger immediately felt a pang of deep dismay upon realizing that Victory would intervene.  Now was Brown Tiger faint-hearted in the fight.  Without losing at least a perfunctory grip on the situation he now faced, Brown Tiger became aware also that he had lost two of his men in the last several seconds; the sound of their horses was now gone.  He could not afford to look back to locate the spot where they had dropped out, nor could he know why.  Little did he know that Drona was in action on the field in this battle so critical to the future of Bohemia.  As Victory with his great fleet-footed supremacy in fight had the courage to overtake the outlaws, Brown Tiger became daunted.  He knew not what to do as the horse who repeatedly saved Giant Little was only repeating history now.  In the warring mind of the one second in command to the infamous Durydon was  there an uncharacteristic vacancy; whether it was due to the supernatural feats he was watching or to the spot he now occupied as first commander, Brown Tiger was fundamentally and subtly annoyed to a state of utter exasperation.  His men sensed this vacancy of their capable commander and kept up the struggle.  Yet expecting there to be much less than any acute surge of a destroying mind that might be about to fire in the warring situation before them, they were watching their commander falter in the wake of magic -- magic which had also baffled them.  These outlaw men had just witnessed the loss of the two in front of them to the unbelievable prowess of Drona, the venerate grand master of karate, who felled them from their horses from the branch of a tree upon which he had bounced as they passed under.  Now Brown Tiger himself had no plan.  He was in a mindless momentum of the blind pursuit of a supernormal boy hero and his miraculous steed, and he knew not what to do.  However, Brown Tiger was the veteran of many battles, and his experience told him to keep what mechanical action he could keep until something changed for him and only because it might change.  Just after he had reconnoitered mentally enough to realize that point of truth, he heard the yell of one his men who cried out in vain, "Fire! The horse!  Fire black, B. Tiger!"  Of course, 'B. Tiger' was the nickname of Brown Tiger, and his man used it for its implicit meaning, hoping that it might break the hold on dynamic utility which had been imposed upon them through the miraculous power of the magic of the great Giant Little.  Nothing seemed to be working.    

     Brown Tiger had just heard tell of what might just be the solution to his strange loss of ideation in strategy due to the drastic change in  logistics about him; one of his own men had called for the change.  He could not outrun Victory, who had entered the battle out of nowhere, true; but he might be able to shoot him dead although the target of the back of the head of a horse is not easy on a dead run.  Brown Tiger lifted his gun to take aim, and as he did so, Victory saw red.  All of a sudden, the horse slowed his step long enough to accomplish a sharp turn and come to a stop off Arbor Park Way and on a side trail.  At the very instant he turned, so did Giant Little turn to the same side of the road about a hundred and fifty feet ahead of his steed and take momentary cover in the trees and bushes.  Victory was furious.  As Brown Tiger saw the mighty steed of peculiar power turn off when he had tried to make a target of him, he drew back mentally.  Brown Tiger did not appear to be fighting well, and his men thought that the injury of his boss must have affected him profoundly.  Nevertheless, Brown Tiger was practiced in war though that war was one of crimes for no ultimate sanction ever to the laws of state.  Thus, he persevered and decided to confront the angry horse if only to save his own ego at this point.  The faint-hearted outlaw slowed down so as to access his desired target, and so did his two horsemen follow.  Giant Little was now staying out of sight as he was going through the trees along the side of the trail towards Victory in order to gain a position in the battle where he could directly fight.  What Brown Tiger could not believe next was the sheer fury of the fiery figure in front of him!  Gai's great horse just reared up upon his two back feet, and with his two nostrils flaring and snorting did he flail his hooves at the commander known as Brown Tiger.  Brown Tiger feared this mighty horse and withdrew his idea that to draw his long sword and fight him would be even possible.  He was searching frantically for a better way to fight.  There is a phenomenon in fight, in battle, known as the dint of might put to the dint of deed.  Victory was capable of this level, he was known for it, and thus had he been aptly chosen to be the vehicle of Giant Little. Indeed, others theorized that Giant Little had taught Victory to fight on such a level meet with his own, and multitudes of people felt reassured by this supposition of truth throughout the land.  This moment held no exception to the rule of the improbable for the two as Victory had stood off the three of them by instilling in them fear, drastic fear.  Brown Tiger suddenly barely caught sight of one Giant Little as he slinked through the last several trees and bushes towards the active scene of fight.  Victory was confronting the enemy with formidable warnings thus far, Gai observed, and these had further quelled their capabilities as bad as they were.  Brown Tiger was conditioned heavily to despise the great boy hero, and when he saw the small form stalking the active scene, a well of hatred was tapped which caused in him a slow surge to draw more fight from his being.  Brown Tiger was looking for a way to vanquish finally that boy wonder, and Giant Little sensed this.  Victory was quietened now to a steady disposition on four feet, yet was he ready and waiting for further moment in fight.  He let out an almost screaming whinny as Giant Little approached more closely. This sent chills through Brown Tiger; he had never seen such fight in a horse in all of his years.  Suddenly, as Brown Tiger reached for his dart gun in its sling on the right side of the horse, his stealthy eyes focusing on the small figure of that Giant Little moving in the trees, there sounded the high-pitched yelp of a cheetah.    

     Suddenly, when the great Giant Little heard the battle signal of Catster, he was incited to regroup his efforts and fully cancel his original plan to mount Victory and escape by horse to make greater, active fight across distance.  Indeed, Victory was now sequestered in the little clearing off the trail where there alas! would be no easy escape for fast progress in any prospective exit.  There was a vague path, but it did not look reliable to Giant Little for the kind of sprint they would need to evade any in pursuit.  Besides, he was outnumbered.  The sound of the imminent arrival of Catster gave Giant Little courage and moment to formulate another level of plan in fight -- to actually turn from flight to confrontational fight.  The precision of timing in battle unfolded with ease for the great Giant Little.  He burst onto the roadway with not a single moment of hesitation in his being, small as it might seem to be in actual, visible size.  Gai with the greatest speed positioned himself to the rear of Brown Tiger, who was measurably jolted by the sound in battle of Catster.  Gai was to capitalize on that jolt to Brown Tiger.  That bad guy had just managed to procure his lasso from the side of his saddle pack.  As Brown Tiger began to whirl his lasso and eye the head of the black stallion, all of a sudden, there could be heard a cavernous war cry from the boy hero, a loud, long "Ya-a-a-tz" filled the air as Giant Little after five running steps flew into the air.  With one mighty flying sidekick did Giant Little hit a member of the gang from the second line square in the shoulder, knocking him summarily off his horse.  The man landed on the ground in a massive thump, going into an unconscious state.  In the meantime, Victory had been also as victorious as he could be against Brown Tiger.  He had ruined his targeting until Giant Little struck in the battle; forsooth, Victory had heroically escaped the use of Brown Tiger's lasso by rearing up and hoofing the air in front of him so that no rope could ever surround him with such a try.

     At that moment Catster magically appeared in the small clearing where Victory stood ready to fight and rear up again in defense.  Catster had made his way through the one little pathway to the edge of the clearing; it was by way of a deer run through which Catster had coursed with the greatest of speed through the woods right to the place where he was needed at this tense moment in battle.  Brown Tiger saw Catster.  He was visibly shaken by the appearance of the mythical cat, and he twisted his body on his horse so as to see what to do, searching for his remaining man, and as he had expected, one was down for sure.  He quickly shifted the lasso from his right hand to his left hand,  lifted his right fist to the air, shouting out the command, "Run for it!"  With that command Brown Tiger pulled the reins of his horse violently, signally to turn right and run with a desperation you could not believe except as you might be aware of the number of times the Catster had conquered such bad outlaws as the likes of Brown Tiger in the region.  Brown Tiger's consort turned with his commander almost simultaneously; he was as anxious as he could be not only to follow command but also to escape Giant Little and Catster, not to mention the fiery Victory.  Both gangsters galloped away in a burst of fury and a cloud of dust; evidently, Catster had no real job left to do.  In his characteristic bland way in most situations which might grip others as urgent, Catster calmly quipped, "We-el now, they were in a mighty hurry, were they not?"  Victory whinnied his answer, lifting his head and flaring his lips to show his teeth in response to the timely intervention of the great Catster.

     Giant Little looked at Catster steadily, concentrating on the situation he had just come through until the arrival of the great cat and trusty mentor.  Catster saw Gai's reticence and glimpsed over at the direction in which the outlaws had departed on the roadway.  He then turned his head back to Giant Little who stood with his own head held high like a soldier ready to receive his next command; his back was as straight as a rod, and a calm but serious mind infused his boylike face.  Catster retained his equanimity in the face of their next challenge and said to Giant Little, "Yes, what concerns us now is still the runners -- those two bad men just left towards the center of the action, not away from it.  They are obviously headed towards the Municipal Building, the final destination of the messengers."

     Giant Little then looked over at the unconscious outlaw whom he had felled in battle and then at Catster with a questioning mind.  Catster said gently, "He won't come back to consciousness immediately, I can assure you.  He can't hear our plan."

     Giant Little nodded his head at Catster.  He said with a contemplative awareness of the meaning of the final battle to secure the message regarding his flute concert to the town authorities, "Radhita's heart will be broken if we fail to arrange this flute concert, Catster.  What are we waiting for?  What if Chienne, that mad sorcerer, gets the runners?  What ever could we do?  I sense that he is here.  I know that Chienne is around."

     "You can trust me, oh great one whose armor is truth," Catster answered.  Then he eyed the roadway, looked over at Victory briefly, and tipped his head to one side gently as he said to Giant Little lovingly,  "Timing is the essence of battle, is it not?  In this interlude with B.Tiger and his men you so masterfully staged, the formation in the vicinity of the Municipal Building has surely solidified so that we can join a battle line which is likewise drawn for the fight and, further, quite by surprise -- they won't be expecting us in their delusion.  They are sure to think that B.Tiger has vanquished you instead." 

     "So that's why Brown Tiger escaped us, Cats!" Giant Little asseverated as he slapped his right thigh with a sudden, deeper understanding of what had just happened.   

     "Chienne will not get the messengers even with his little band of martial artists, for the grandmaster of all goodness, Drona himself, is here," Catster replied with a solemn assurance to the boy wonder.  "These outlaws have been repeatedly spared for their lives, and they just keep coming back to do more handiwork in the favor of anarchy.  Now it has built to this.  Let me inform you  -- the runners are not in motion even as we speak.  There is a road block, and they cannot get through.  We are needed there presently."

     "Do you mean they cannot run through the trees on an alternate route, either?" Gai asked with a growing sentiment against the evil he and Catster were facing.

     "Not without serious resistance of which a few gun shots would warn," Catster said as he squinted his eyes and moved his cheetah's head slightly forward to indicate their departure.  "Let's go.  Let us join Drona and his men.  Mount up!"  

     Giant Little took from his pocket a picture of Radhita and glanced at it briefly.  As he softly kissed the picture of his sweetheart, he lifted his magnificent body from his right heel, planted it deftly back onto the ground, and then after softly placing the picture back in his pocket, he prayed to save her, "Oh, dear God.  Guide me, guard me, save me and protect me always as I save my dear princess, Radhita."  

     Gai then ran to Victory; he mounted his horse in great urgency, and the daring duo of Giant Little and the mythical Catster left with the greatest speed for the scene of active fight in the close vicinity of the Municipal Building.  Those messages to be at once delivered were vital to the security of Bohemia.  The ignoble outlaws could not have been expected to keep their honor totally in this delivery event of keystone level, for they had effectively left the runways alone only to bait this battle which would come to be known as the Battle of Bohan.  Indeed, they were beset with enmity, bent on the runners, targetting the messages and thus breaking their truce and agreement that messengers should run freely and with immunity from resistance.  Giant Little reflected briefly that perhaps Beaufont could intervene and refurbish the truce through Durydon after the battle.  However, he put that question aside, knowing that any victory on the side of good in the battle at hand could mean a better chance at achieving even the negotiations for such as a renewed truce with the underworld.  Secondly, thought the small figure who was streaming on Arbor Park Way with Catster in the lead, if at least the bad men had not beleaguered the municipal building itself, there would be greater hope that the question of keeping the peace on the runways and for the runners could be isolated as the single most important issue to be processed ultimately.  If the building itself were to be placed under siege, then Giant Little feared an escalation to more prominent and total battles ahead.  At that point of analysis in his brilliant mind, Giant Little realized that with the physical compromise of Durydon due to the battle earlier in the day near Strong Pond the likelihood of a besieging of the Municipal Building of Bohan would at this time be greatly reduced; it would be most improbable.  With that sense of hope for a useful progression in battles, and one useful to the empowerment of good, the great Giant Little surged ever onward.  Gai was focusing intently as he  headed at top speed on his trusty steed towards the scene where the runners were undoubtedly detained and physically stabilized to a growing ambush by the forces of evil on foot about them.  Gai realized that if Durydon's men and also Chienne and his men were not to take the entire Municipal Building into their clutches, while such a blockade would by far require much larger backing in sheer numbers of men, then they would most likely be planning to shanghai the messengers as well as the messages.  Such a level in destruction would certainly answer as to the physical compromise of the chief commander, Durydon, whose ego would need palliation after being deprived of action in such a momentous battle as the one for the message regarding the music concert.  Gai knew how promising things would look if only they could tame this moment by winning the messages and the messengers to the Council of Elders and then setting up the cultural exchange with LLF through the performing art.  Perhaps, he thought, LLF would then agree to building runways for messengers into LLF so that the Foresters, the nickname for the citizens of LLF, could join the strife on the side of good and lend Bohemia a magnificent hand. This would end the period of isolation which had enveloped the governing policies of Prime Minister Roundhouse for too long now.  Little did Gai know that Catster and Lux the Lion had already envisioned that development towards an end to the isolation of LLF from Bohemia and that any victory to be struck on this very day would certainly set the backdrop for such intense negotiations accordingly.    

     Thus was the power of divine intervention underway in the wondrous world of the boy conqueror, whose intelligence on the matters of warring strife grew by the moment as he fought so valiantly to save Bogdhan and Bob Stround on that memorable day, a day which was bound to become one of vital importance for all of the people of Bohemia; this was indeed a day for history's record.

  

      

 

                 Chapter 9

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      Arbor Park is a large and beautiful, partially gentrified park with a mixed design.  Its design includes on the one hand a concept of preserving the happenstantial look of nature in some areas where the trees and other foliage and grasses are just allowed to grow with no pruning or special upkeep and where no structures or playgrounds are present.  On the other hand, some small sections of the park are replete with flower beds and artistically arranged shrubbery forming geometrically pleasing scenes with walkways, benches and tables.  Several fountains, monuments and little gardens with landscaped walls and ornate fences are sprinkled throughout the park.  There are also ball fields for the children and youth leagues for organized competitions. An archery club has its headquarters in one building all its own.  There is a large creek which runs through the park, Bohan River, which has been dammed off to form a large, quaint pond for swimming and small boats.  This pond, Arbor Park Municipal Pond, is the place where area swim teams from miles around convene once a year for swimming competition events to be followed by a large community picnic and the set-up of a huge bazaar for area merchants.

     Giant Little knew the park well.  He had camped out in it more than once during his many adventures as a wanderer while he was out to seek his opportunity to defend the cause of good.  He had always noticed, as well, that the Municipal Building has a huge tract of Arbor Park adjacent to it which is heavily wooded.  As a defender, a warrior saint, Giant Little understood the significance of that outlay since most towns and cities with parks would establish their governing buildings with a surround of town monuments, benches and walks to invite social togetherness and perhaps stables to keep the horses of any visiting dignitaries.  The town of Bohan was different in this respect.  The presence of a heavily wooded area located next to the Municipal Building stemmed from the early days when the park was marked off, designed and built.  Those statesmen who had built the park petitioned for the woods, which they named Municipal Woods, to be retained for posterity nearby the Municipal Building; thereby, the building could be guarded during any time of civic contention or resistances of a belligerent kind.  Municipal Woods would form at such contentious times literal hiding places for guardsmen.  It was hoped that any scrimmages could be contained on that field of endeavor for protection of the larger town, its streets, residences, shops and citizens.  One such time of marked resistance had now arisen as the town officials and police were anxiously awaiting the messengers to arrive back from Small Pond.  The messengers had been noticed to be somewhat overdue.

     Gai and Catster had left their route along Arbor Way for a small side trail in Municipal Woods at the further end distant yet from the actual Municipal Building.  As the two capable defenders approached there the locus of active resistance to the progress, the safe passage of the messengers, Gai could feel in the ominous silence all about the place a certain fear.  Since Gai was experienced in battle even despite his callow appearance oftentimes as a mere lad, the intimation of fear in the enemy minds on a battlefield as received through his body-mind complex was not new to him.  He had long ago learned to differentiate his own fear from that of the enemy; indeed, that differentiation was helpful to him in keeping his mind free for vital decisions while in dire action.  This power to discern the fear residing in the enemy hold on any battle was actually the foundation of the fearlessness itself of Gai as he fought.  Furthermore, any battle justified as to the purpose of direct good would empower the mind of the good as to a supreme disposition in that battle.  That very supremacy would allow a fearless enterprise in the mind of the boy hero, whose goodness bespoke of effortlessness in battle, of valor in motivation and of profound preference for non-violence even in spite of any salient action.  Giant Little consistently envisioned peace even as he fought and defended; yea, peace was the foundation of battle ideation in our boy conqueror.  This is what made Giant Little indomitable.

     Catster, who was in his capable lead in the foray to the area where Chienne and Brown Tiger and their respective troops were attempting to take the messengers by force, came to a sudden halt, lowered his head to sniff the ground and began stalking the enemy most intently.  Gai followed suit, slowed his horse to a stop, and dismounted.  As he led Victory at a slow walk by the reins, observing Catster with a mind intent upon results, there sounded within a generous offing the war cry of  a martial artist who was engaged in physical fight.  Catster at this point telepathically told Gai to let his horse go free for the time being, not wanting him tied up in case he would be needed later for any possible transposition on the battlefield.  Gai dutifully tied the reins of his mighty steed onto the side of his saddle and then stroked Victory once on his face, saying in a whisper, "Come to me when you are needed, Victory."  His horse looked lovingly at him, nodded in agreement slightly, and soundlessly hoofed the ground with his right front foot, barely even disturbing the soil.  Gai read this and nodded back in agreement.  

     Catster and Gai were aware of the mighty spirit of Drona, the venerate grandmaster of karate who had founded the martial arts academy where Gai's father had studied.  Gai relied upon Drona as much as he relied upon the companionship of Catster whenever he was on the field conducting a mission.  Indeed, the battle cry just heard had been indicative that Drona was at least present if not nearby, for Gai keenly sensed that one of Chienne's warriors had just been felled in fight under the command of none other than Drona himself.  Catster was working now to mold the movement of Gai on the field in the favor of Drona so as to give Drona maximum leverage in freeing up the two messengers from their targeted status on the field; the idea was to extricate Bob Stround and Bogdhan from the enemy mind and their plan for physical resistance -- Drona had conceived of more of an escape for them rather than an arduous and bloody physical fight.  Gai liked this idea of Drona since it would belittle the opposition. Moreover, such a clever battle plan would skillfully camouflage the breach of truce towards messengers which was now gaining potential supremacy as the underworld let forth its ugly battle surmise.  The figures of the underworld present in battle figured that they could take the messengers hostage, and that had become the order of the day. Drona's idea was to turn that around as much as possible.  Drona did not want the townspeople, who had already been terrorized by the robbery of the town's jewelry store by Brown Tiger and his band of men earlier that day, to become even more afraid of the turn of events since the arrival of Radhita in Bohemia.

     Gai knew all this as he worked with Catster to scout out the area since he was in close connection with Drona from the mental plane.  Gai thought to himself, "Hmmh.  If the mind is indeed the battlefield, and it is in truth the battlefield, then Drona's supreme idea to belittle the enemy without too much open fight will diminish the power of the criminals to indoctrinate so widely against even the presence of my beloved princess Radhita here in Bohemia.  In this way, the mental plane will be predominant since the casualties in the physical will not be there in numbers to horrify the people and so build the warring idea and power of Durydon.  Whether he is here or not, Durydon will be bound to be back.  B. Tiger must certainly be working on  Durydon's orders, anyway."

     Just then, Gai heard the thump of a small rock a few feet from his path through the sparsely placed trees as he followed Catster with quiet feet.  He looked over and made out the figure of Drona who was standing in the middle of a thicket of saplings.  Drona pointed upwards with his right index finger.  Gai looked up, and there in the graceful boughs of a maple tree he could barely catch the images of the two messengers who were hiding on the enemy forces.  Their uniforms of forest camouflage print hid them remarkably well, and if Drona had not let on that someone was there, Gai most probably would not have seen them at all.  Drona then mentally assigned Gai to guard them and began to inform him of his escape proposal and method.  Drona summoned Gai over to the place where he stood and pointed again to the side of a rocky escarpment.  Gai looked over at the face of rocks which were of dark gray color and wondered what Drona could mean, what he might be signifying by pointing out the rocks to him.  As he studied with an expectant mind the entire escarpment with its superior plateau well above his head, he at first thought that the enemy might be posing an offensive movement towards them with the advantage of the elevated ground on their side.  This caused him to review again the hiding places of the two messengers, and he thought briefly that perhaps they were actually on a lookout mission momentarily and not truly hiding as he had originally perceived them to be.  Drona read this in Gai's perception of the meaning of the presence of Bob Stround and Bogdhan in the safe nesting place of the maple tree where the leaves hid them almost totally.  Then the grandmaster did a sudden turn ninety degrees to his left.  He moved with majestic speed in several giant steps such that the center of gravity of his miraculous and powerful body was seemingly hugging the ground beneath his feet; he stopped at the foot of the escarpment.  Drona then beckoned Gai over to him once he was standing still again so that Gai, who was in a state of extreme awareness that Drona was teaching him something, moved towards Drona with an open mind.  Once Gai had reached his side, Drona pointed at an angle downward to the ground.  There Gai saw a large hole sculpted out of the earth, but this large hole was greatly hidden by tall grasses from open view; it tended to find its space beneath the rock past its more visible opening.  Gai looked at this revelation of a hole by Drona and then at Drona.  Immediately, Drona let Gai know that this was to be the goal of the two messengers in their escape to the municipal building.  Drona mentally said to Gai so that no one could hear him, of course, "You must lead the messengers to this hole when I give you the signal.  It will take you through a secret tunnel which leads to the Municipal Building.  It is dark, and they might not make it safely through without your guidance.  Nor do they know that it is here yet.”

     Gai thought this over briefly, and asked, “Will there be any of Chienne's or Brown Tiger’s men in the tunnel, Drona?  Will we have safe passage, Drona?”

     “Yes, there will be one who will find it after you enter, and who will pursue you at some distance.  Your job is to lead the brave messengers through the darkness safely to the building, for they will be somewhat afraid.  I am relying upon you to show them the way.  If you move quickly enough, I can take up the rear and vanquish the one who becomes wise to the existence of this route.  As of now, it is newly constructed, and not known to either Brown Tiger or to Chienne,” Drona instructed silently.

     “Does Durydon know about this tunnel, oh Thou who knows of all in all battles?” Gai asked with a reverential mind since he had knowledge of the awesome level of the wicked Durydon.  In Drona’s presence and under his tutelage, Gai was able to face the terrible prospects of the worst imaginable as might concern Durydon.  Drona seemed to be expecting this question from his student, and he said with an easy mind, “No, Durydon does not know about it.  Not even the authorities of the government know about it.”

     Gai reflected upon this and realized that this tunnel had been created just now with some magic or other.

     “The Red Dragon just created it, and it will save the day for all here in Bohan and for all of Bohemia,” Drona declared.

     Gai looked with gratitude at the opening to the rocks and searched the shadows of its deeper reach with a suppositional mind.  Then he said briefly, “What will be the reaction, then, of the people at the other end when we just appear out of nowhere in the building?  How will I explain that to them?”

     Drona smiled broadly at this question of his most brilliant student; he answered simply, “Just be yourself, Gai, and show them the tunnel which took you to the basement of the building if they ask you how you got there.  That is all.  You will find your way around once you finally reach safe haven there.  This tunnel has been created today.  The enemy commanders will not pose a greater level of resistance in this battle.  Otherwise, they might possibly conceive of taking the building with the town authorities together into their terrible grip.  You see, Durydon lies in the far perimeter outside the town with more men, waiting to see if a siege of the town building is necessary or possible; he is playing injured.  Rumor has it broadly that he is injured.  Durydon is playing disabled for that very purpose as he considers overthrowing the town government so that he can indoctrinate towards an overthrow of the entire nation together of Bohemia.  Borders is opposing him.  He awaits his any insurgency.  Otherwise, I think Durydon would be here alive and kicking.  That is the battle we here fight.”

     “But Drona, should I tell them that a dragon created the tunnel, which is the truth?” Gai asked as if afraid to be in the position to have to tell a white lie.

     “You could tell them that, or you might just appear in one of the chambers with the two messengers by your side and introduce yourself with diplomacy.  You should offer your services to the nation if that opportunity arrives; in all certainty, it inevitably will.  Don’t be afraid of the magic that will save you.  Realize that it is the ignorance of others which makes the magic necessary, and their ignorance of the magic will also serve you.  They will be so amazed and grateful for the victory that it will be some time before they finally ask how you arrived there; by then you will be gone.  Let the messengers then show them the door to the tunnel, and they can draw their own conclusions about how it got there and how to guard it and use it.  Those are the important matters now that the tunnel exists.  Obviously, no enemy would have created it, and that should become their greatest insight.  Leave them with that which is meet with their capabilities, and they will be happy.  May no harm befall Bohemia, and may you marry your loved lady.” Drona’s lengthy answer silenced Gai who was preparing now for more activity, the activity which would lead up to the actual exit and deliverance of the two messengers via the tunnel.  Drona knew that Gai would be asking after that event, so he deftly instructed him to await nightfall before departing with the messengers through the tunnel.

     Gai was puzzled since the tree in which the messengers were hidden was visible from the entrance to the tunnel, and no one seemed to be around.  Drona explained that the cover of darkness would greatly reduce the likelihood that anyone would be able to trace them to their clandestine route.  Then he gave Gai another fact of battle that greatly intrigued Gai.  “You see, Chienne has a magic potion which he carries and which he just finally finished developing.  I want to use the messengers who now hide here in order to bait Chienne in just before they escape, and then I will turn the potion on Chienne himself.  Otherwise, he could take many lives and win many battles with the power of this new potion, for it is deadly -- very, very deadly.”

     “I see,” said Gai.  “Then it will not be Chienne who will find us and follow us into the tunnel?”

     “No, it will be Brown Tiger who makes it that far.  You will never see Brown Tiger again.  He is over,” the grandmaster sedately issued forth his prophecy in battle to the young warrior.

     “But does Brown Tiger also have some of the potion of that mad wizard, Chienne?” Gai asked fearlessly of Drona.

     “No.  Chienne guards that potion maximally so that he can spring it on everyone regardless of sides in battle," the ancient master replied.

     Giant Little immediately saw the wizardry of Chienne in Drona's answer, for Chienne was always anxious to build his power and seek more of it.  Giant Little had fought the black magic of that wizard more than once, and thus was he fully aware of his powers.  Giant Little was aware of Chienne, but not daunted by him even when he heard of the destructive potion.  He calmly thought back on a recent battle he had fought before he and Catster had rescued Radhita.  Now he understood why he had seen an apple tree wither and lose its fruit.  It must have been the potion of Chienne to which the apple tree had succumbed, thought Gai in passing, for he was engrossed in the instructions of Drona at this moment in the present.     

     "He has kept it a veritable secret to date, not revealing it to even his own ilk.  In that way, he figures, it will have its maximum effect.  Chienne not only imagines great, great empowerment from the use of this deadly chemical, he also savors the surprise effect  on enemies and allies alike which he seeks in this battle," Drona continued.  "Chienne is on the level where he likes to make the evil more evil and win them to his homage in so instructing them.  This is why he sees the potion as a tool of invaluable use to his purpose in gaining more widespread influence.  He stands also for the overthrow of Bohemia and is Durydon's most valuable aid by now, even without the newly developed potion."  

     "Chienne and his horrible of most horrible potions does not daunt me, Drona.  In fact, I once saw its effects on an apple tree in a battle in the period just before I rescued my beloved princess," Gai informed the grandmaster.  "It must have made an apple tree wither somehow, right before my very eyes.  It just withered and then lost its fruits."  

     "Good.  Then you know what we are up against on this day.  Chienne thinks he can pre-empt the profound re-entry of Arch General Borders into active military duty with a new weapon of this magnitude.  This new weapon he figures would match that re-entry.  But rather, as its correlate of destructive power would it attempt to match Borders and not the preserving power which resides in the noble heart of the great arch general.  So have courage, my youngest charge.  You see, there was no such biological warfare when Borders fought long ago.  Chienne has worked for many, many years as an alchemist in order to develop this potion since he feared the prophecy that Borders would one day return to active command.  That chemical is why I ushered Bogdhan and Bob Stround to the safe haven of a tree.  Chienne cannot reach them with a mere toss from the ground.  He would have to climb, and then how could he send the potion upwards significantly?  He could not.  He must be two to three feet from his target in order for it to take effect; any mist it makes dissipates rapidly, so that it cannot travel with effect much more than arm's length at this stage of its development.  It would be next to impossible for him to kill the messengers in the current constellation of battle which is in effect.  The target is immune, the master is wise, and the wizard is thus weak.  But he does not know this.  He is currently directing a reconnaissance of the area, and my men are confusing him masterfully.  Furthermore, he only has two hours before dusk clutches his even darker hopes to kill, capture or commandeer the messengers and their messages with them.  Little does Chienne know that he is next while he thinks he is going to grip the nation with his evil power?  No, I don’t think so.  I don't think that will happen.” Drona was in full command as his words, however silently proffered that day, had set the stage for the battle first and foremost in Gai’s most capable and receptive mind.

     "Drona, even if Chienne attacks the maple tree wherein sit the two messengers, the wood itself of the tree will not wither.  They will be safe there.  He would have to climb it, and then they could knock him out somehow, right?" Gai inquired of Drona.

     "That is most certainly right.  Nor will they be alone in the event that Chienne thinks they will be his target to biological warfare ultimately.  Catster can climb, too," Drona reminded Gai.

       Once Gai had heard this reassurance from Drona that the two messengers would still be safe in the tree even despite the potion, and he had fully received his briefing coupled with his orders, he made two fists and bowed a deep bow to his respected grandmaster to show that he understood the battle and was grateful for the instruction.  As he stood up again and looked with great admiration at Drona, Drona became slowly invisible; and then he totally disappeared.

     Gai then set about the task of hiding.  He was soon to discover just past the hole an actual underground, rather dark cave, which was carved out of rock; this cave was the fuller entrance to the secret tunnel.  He thought of Victory, and realized that it would be some time before he would once again meet up with his horse.  Victory had vacated the immediate vicinity of Gai as he was hiding his master from the enemy.  Gai  trusted in those facts of battle regarding his steed and looked one more time over at the towering trees wherein one amongst them held the messengers in all their bravery and expectant hearts for delivery in this battle.  Gai knew that Drona must have given them courage besides safe haven, and he decided to lend them intelligence as to his own continued presence on the field in their proximity.  They were bound to realize that he represented Drona himself if he made himself known to them.  He wanted to enter the hole for his own safety and cover,  knowing yet that it would become his task to call them down to the ground and over to the tunnel when the time was right.

     Gai strategized according to the information Drona had intimated to him on the whereabouts of the enemies at the current time; he decided that to signal the messengers now was the correct thing to do.  Gai found a medium-sized rock which was loose and lying next to the hole in the ground, and he tossed it into the hole gently.  It made a muffled sound which was not capable of carrying, and then he lowered his body into the hole.  He picked up the rock at the bottom of the hole and heaved it upwards with careful aim so that it would hit the side of the rocky escarpment.  After it hit the rock of the escarpment, it landed on the ground with a thump, reminding him of the signal from Drona before his vital lesson was to take place just minutes before.  Gai waited to see if there would be any response from either of the messengers who were hiding safely in the tree. Soon he heard a bird call, and he wondered if it was indeed a bird.  As he was trying to decipher the timing of the bird call as so close to his signal in time, he heard another bird call which was identical to the one first issued.  He waited to see if there would be any other such call, thinking that it was certain to be one of the messengers in actuality and not really a bird.  However, it sounded indistinguishably like a bird.  There came a third bird call shortly thereafter.  Just towards the end of this third bird song Gai noticed that there was a subtle alteration in the actual music which would be difficult to distinguish for the average ear, and that alteration was a slight pause.  A slight alteration in the rhythmic pattern which he had heard the other two times had occurred.  No bird would ever be likely to make such an alteration in its music.  Gai immediately made the mental connection that the messengers had knowledge that he was in their vicinity still.  The musical prodigy smiled to himself when he realized that it would take none less than a fellow musician on the field to decipher the inner meaning of the skillful signal he had just been rendered by his comrades close by.  The invocation of music by the answering messenger warmed the mighty little heart of one Giant Little; indeed, he saw the future itself from its message, its message of like kind in yet an ornate rendition in the godly language of music.  Giant Little gained more courage now in his mission to lead the two messengers through the dark tunnel to the town authorities in the Municipal Building once music itself had so embraced the moment.

     At this moment Catster climbed the tree next to the maple tree which was serving as a holding apparatus for the two stars of the battle, and he settled in on one of the lower branches for the wait until darkness.  It is doubtless that Bogdhan and Bob Stround were aware of the arrival of Catster since his presence silenced them as to further communication with Gai.  This was a relief to Gai because he was afraid that too much signaling would give away first the hiding places and then possibly even the existence of the hole and tunnel.  Chienne was an extremely perceptive person.  He might even be able to read the thoughts of those posted in the vicinity despite the elapse of time, and his reconnaissance mission would be bound to soon take him to the site of departure where they all now were arrayed in dutiful expectation of nightfall.  Catster had a way of inspiring courage and presence in any battle situation, and now Gai saw this fact as the two messengers kept quiet.  Gai was hoping he could skillfully guide them down from the tree and over to the tunnel when the time was right.   He began to divine how to go about that and what to expect in the meantime, grateful that Catster was also present.  Was Catster not always there when needed, Gai thought to himself?  Would he go through the tunnel with them?  For some reason Gai thought that the tunnel mission might be solo for him and that Catster would be needed in other parts.  But of this Gai was not certain, and he decided not to give it too much thought; after all, he had to prepare for the worst case with Brown Tiger.  Drona would certainly be there for some part of the passage through the tunnel as he had said he would be there in pursuit of Brown Tiger.  Gai then decided that perhaps Catster would be in charge of disposing of the powerful potion which would fall out of the hands of Chienne, that wicked wizard, when Drona felled him.  These thoughts consoled the boy hero.  

     As Giant Little explored briefly he found to his surprise a spacious cave past the hole in the ground.  He set his eyes upon the greater darkness of the beginning of the tunnel at the further side of the cave just long enough to fathom its challenge to him in the hours ahead; then Gai repositioned his mind to the immediate moment.  He chose a comfortable place to sit while he awaited further action on the field-at-large.  There was a bench-like rock on the side of the cave, and Gai thought how handy to see a place which was the right height for him to be seated.  His task now was to contemplate the battle in front of him from his mysterious hiding place where he was well protected.

      Gai had learned to sense the battle in his days as a protector of the good on the nearby countryside, but he had never seen a battle quite like this one ever before; the entire nation was actually on the immediate edge of destiny in formation.  This was forsooth a destiny on the brink of changes which would result from the dint of the battle he now so bravely fought.  How intent he was as he concentrated on the magnitude of the premise of the enemy before him.  How determined he was to defeat their plan to confiscate the vital messages if not the messengers or their very lives, as well.  He was thinking over how vitally his concert was needed for the people and the two nations in question, and what might be the prospects for its actual occurrence and success given the size of the opposition Durydon was posing.  He remembered how enthusiastic and insightful Mr. Goldenfellow had been the day the idea of the concert was even posed by him.  Then when he remembered intelligence from Drona that Durydon was actually back and engaged though from a wide perimeter and in a contingency sense of waiting, Gai felt more at home in battle.  It was important to him to be facing off that terrible don, and Gai was welcoming him back mentally for active confrontation if necessary.  

     When Gai remembered having seen Drona turn invisible, he smiled.  His mind was filled with the light of knowledge.  That knowledge was to unfold in its salient power in the moment of conflict with which he was confronted, and he rested his conscious activity now in a more contemplative mode; he had seen the impossible, and this gave him courage besides vision in the battle.  Everything was certain to be resolved in the full favor of good now.  He saw the magic of Drona at hand.  That great master had just characteristically wielded a way towards the most peaceful direction in battle for everyone and not just those present on the field.  Only Drona had this capability, Gai thought to himself.  As Gai silently wondered whether or not this would spell the end of Chienne forever more since he had developed such a terrible tool of biological warfare, Gai began to ascend into meditation.  Once he reflected upon Drona’s leverage away from carnage, his mind became blissful in just seeing that as a possibility; he went into an altered state of consciousness beyond the physical plane where he sat composed in peaceful expectation of the unfolding battle.  

     Not far from the town limits at a distance of about ten miles there was a high ridge known as Cherry Ridge.  It was upon this ridge where Durydon and twenty of his trusted men were posted as they awaited the results of the skirmish to actually capture the two messengers or at least the messages which had been entrusted to them.  Durydon's orders were strict: he had told Brown Tiger to spare the lives of the messengers unless in self-defense they would be have to be killed; moreover, they were to place the first priority rather upon taking them hostage if things developed that way.  Durydon issued the vital warning that at all costs whether hostages were taken or not, the messages were needed.  Further, Durydon had prepared Brown Tiger and those with him for the contingency plan in the event that the messengers actually did reach successfully the town authorities in the municipal building with the messages in hand; the plan in that event would be to escalate to a siege of the building along with anyone in it.  The occupation of the building would be certain to cancel any such idea of a cultural exchange between the two nations of Liberty Love Forest and Bohemia, Durydon strategized, as a concert by Giant Little was to foster.  The cultural exchange would constitute certainly a camouflage socio-politically of the desire of the Roundhouse family to establish contact over their kidnapped daughter, Radhita, with the government of Bohemia.  This idea was a threat to Durydon whose warring leverage had already been aided by the presence of Radhita Roundhouse in Bohemia on terms uncertain as of yet to the relevant parties of both countries.  Durydon said that in light of the critical question of the status of Radhita in regards to her father he would occupy the municipal building of Bohan for as long as needed.  Durydon posed such an occupation so that it would accomplish the weighty task of creating an understanding that there would be no such concert of Giant Little allowed or planned.  His terms for departure from the occupation were demanding -- he would demand the forfeiture of the town coffers to him before he would depart and end any occupation.  Otherwise, he warned Brown Tiger, there would be bloodshed and the capture of as many authorities as he could take with him.  Durydon was even considering a more permanent occupation of the town of Bohan itself in order to create a stronghold in overthrowing both the capital and the country.  

     Across from Cherry Ridge where Durydon lay in waiting for the confiscation of the messages  regarding the contract  for a concert to be performed by Giant Little in the town of Bohan there ran a parallel ridge of the same elevation called Cobble Ridge.  This ridge was so named for its rounded shape at the southern face where the ridge ended abruptly and also because the cobblestones which were used in building the streets in the town of Bohan had been obtained largely from this ridge.  Some old-timers maintained that the name for the ridge had been conferred long before cobblestones had been found on the majestic ridge and that it was a mere coincidence that the ridge had also contained such a store of natural cobblestones.

     Arch General Borders occupied an outpost on Cobble Ridge.  He was sitting on his white steed at a lookout point across from the trail down Cherry Ridge which held his interest.  He was studying Cherry Ridge carefully and intermittently with a pair of binoculars.  Borders was aware of the exact locus of Durydon and his men up on Cherry Ridge.  The valley marked out by the two ridges was filled with grasses, wheat and hay the color of honey.  It was fairly flat and even.  This valley presented to the seasoned general ample room for a battle if things developed into open conflict.  Such conflict seemed most probable.  Arch General Borders had fifteen men with him in his immediate vicinity, five more heading northward and five already in steady position some miles hence; two of the fifteen immediately with him were reconnaissance scouts now in the valley below, Honey Valley, which graced the area between the two ridges with its beauty.  These scouts were taking a post for intelligence and signaling in the event that Borders would have to to pre-empt any enemy movement northwards towards the town of Bohan before nightfall.  Cherry Ridge and Cobble Ridge run a parallel course to the actual outskirts of the town of Bohan.  Borders' spies had reported he would try to invade and seize the Municipal Building as a contingency plan if the two messengers succeeded in the delivery of the messages to the town authorities.  Borders figured that Durydon and his men on horseback, seeking advantage closer to Bohan, would most likely take the trail which ran through Honey Valley.  This trail went by the name of Bee Trail informally among the country folk.  Bee Trail would allow a sudden and swift entry route to Bohan for the band of outlaws, and it was clear and well-beaten.  With dusk only about three hours away, Arch General Borders predicted to himself that Durydon would not brave the trees and rocks through the route across the top of Cherry Ridge that was more of an old logging trail.  Borders himself had explored this retired logging trail recently in expectation of this kind of threat to the security of Bohan.  The trail was partly grown up now; it was obstructed further by fallen trees and rotting logs that discouraged any steady, clear thoroughfare.  Indeed, even if Durydon were to strike in Bohan on the following day, the prospects of his using the old logging trail which ran its intermittent course across the top of Cherry Ridge even in daylight were very slight as Borders saw it.  

     Arch General Borders sat peacefully reviewing the entire scene before him.  He then quietly took cover again in the trees where a group of his men awaited his mind for prospective activity.  He rode slowly over to the thirteen men who stood by their horses; they were anxiously waiting to hear what he might have to say.  The cavalry was split into four squadrons now.  The northward bearing one had left hours earlier on a route across the top of Cobble Ridge, Miner's Ridge Road.  That route had been well-developed at one time; it remained still in fairly good shape for travel due to the intermittent laying of cobblestones on the route during the years the ridge had been mined for stones.  The arch general nodded his head slightly a few times, studying the troops before him briefly.  His eyes began to twinkle when he saw how calm and collected were his brave men as they awaited his word. 

     "The scouts are nearing the valley.  No information has been relayed yet from them.  Stay ready and set, think the worst, hope for the best and terrify the trees themselves if we make a foray to battle Durydon.  Once the five gone north are positioned, you yourselves knowing the prowess of my General Chittling in these deals known as war, those rebels do not have a prayer.  Chittling's positioning is the linchpin in this battle.  First we will descend along a decent route which winds easily down the ridge and at good speed to the valley, down the Miner's Side Trail.  Then we will either divide as planned into six and seven counting Brown if we have the lead and strike in two contingencies, the second contingency's wave real to the first.  Colonel Brown, you take the rear with a slight delay with your six, and I'll take the front with my line of six; Brown, charge after a delay unless you hear me command you not to so charge, so we can overcome them further with your arrival.  One scout has been assigned to add in to each squadron if all goes that way, making the best numbers possible of eight and eight in the two squadrons.  Now, I want to get his constellation in sight before I discharge the second line, but we work on a silent 'if' in this instance, so that he cannot decipher our plan through a signal necessarily.  We are outnumbered currently at this end of the battlefield by our sixteen to their twenty-one, and the chances that Durydon will present his entire cadre are next to zero.  Some will be held in abeyance, no doubt, by how much we don't know precisely until it happens.  If it looks like a wide breach in timing, you will hear from me, Brown.  There is no way with these numbers that we can work from a unilateral sense -- so we use our strategy this way.  Now, if they have the lead, that is, if we miss their turn northward with our descent and end up in a direct pursuit, it will be a direct pursuit along Bee Trail from behind with all of us as a working unit, an army bound for fire -- use your rifles first, your wits second and if that doesn't work, use your wits first and your rifles second.  But remember one thing, men, if we do take them up from the rear in unified fashion in the dint of timing, then they will not see our numbers, either.  We can use that to our advantage, and besides, just between you and me, our sixteen are worth more than their twenty-one in sheer training.  Nor do they have an arch general on their reins, holding up their shoulders, since they are led by a scoundrel named Durydon with no outstanding title.  Okay, now, the static five of the northern vantage will not, I repeat, will not give anything but a face-on-face front to the encroachers, or what is left of them by then.  The chance that the timing for a side contingency of the five mobilizing now also to the pass is there, but it should not be expected by any one of you.  They are well ahead of the unwritten program.  Durydon is not in rare form; he is injured, hurting and going on sheer spirit at this conflagration he poses.  He is not itching to depart for any siege.  I read him.  He hesitates, he ponders, while we breathe and we fly.  And if by some fluke our five moving ahead of us now do enter after Durydon's remaining front passes and from the side or rear before we get to the pass, we will use them to the advantage of surprise, anyway.  I would prefer to give the enemy front a wall of ten men at the pass; you would prefer it, and you should.  Those are the orders, but the goal to meet the orders is always in question as to other factors unforeseen.  Take it as it happens -- to change strategy mid-course is an old trick of mine, so if things get too hypothetical for your direct reflexes to be in action, look behind -- more forces might be coming to your aid, the collective force of the northward five.  If we are indeed called to action on the morrow, which will be determined in the next hour or so, then you can count on ten troops at Bohan Pass for certain.  Men, brave soldiers, let me exhort you: these terrorizing men of Durydon have been in training up in the hinter-hills now for quite some time, and they are not to be called lambs as a lie to inflate your hopes; they are tigers for sure.  But we have a rebellion brewing, and we have women, children and a town with its government to defend, so defend it we will.  Now are there any questions?  Men? Feel free to ask, because I want your centers centered and your minds set, so ask now if you want to ask.  The rest will be history.  Let us mold it a little, brave cavalry that you are.  Questions, men?" spoke the great commander as he readied his cavalry the for action which was likely to occur. 

     Lieutenant Sullivan raised his voice to Arch General Borders, who remained on his horse as he was addressing his men as a sign of impending action and so as to inspire in them readiness.  "Respected veteran, Arch General Borders, pray tell, does the daring don Durydon know that we are here, positioned so as to cut him off well before the town, before he can reach even the vicinity of Bohan?" Sullivan asked with great intent upon the situation at hand.  When he finished posing his question, since he had the attention of the great general, who was yet new to him as a person, Lieutenant Sullivan saw his hand reach for his saddle and come to rest on the pommel somewhat indecisively.  He remained intent upon the general for his answer, however, barely noticing that he was subconsciously aspiring to the moment for departure to take issue with the rebels.  Arch General Borders observed the movement of the hand of the young lieutenant and admired the spirited mind before him who was eager to know of the stakes of the battle.  Borders let the lieutenant know that he was aware of his growing fervor to fight by a slight nod of the head first, and then he looked out across all of the men and as if to speak the answer to all as a unit.  Arch General Borders showed the greatest regard for his troops, which moved them and unified them as an army.  Although his interest in the question of the young lieutenant was most profound, he remained calm and sounded out his knowledge for them on the leading question of any battle: whether or not the element of surprise could be counted upon at the outset of the confrontation.  "This question is of paramount interest to me and to all, and after some study just now from my lookout over there I have determined that the dual purpose in positioning five troops at the outset at Bohan Pass has worked.  As you must be informed, Durydon's two scouts who reported to him a short while ago on the progress of the resistance in the town got through to give their report, whereas I could have personally vanquished them on Bee Trail before they ever reached their commander-in-black.  I let them go in order to trust in the idea that one of our men at the pass nearby Bohan should have appeared to them so as to make them think that our army intended, but that it intended from a position right by the town more likely than not; indeed, at the pass precisely is where Durydon thinks we might lie in waiting for him.  The other four of our men opened up on their horses on a side trail and gave them a fright, as I envision it, though no fight as they might have feared it so as to make them understand there would be an answer.  However, an answer from a bottleneck strategy at Bohan Pass, if anything, was to start as real battle as we concocted it in their minds, undoubtedly.  This should work eminently well to allow us the advantage of surprise right here in the valley directly as we descend.  There is no other likely or viable route for Durydon to Bohan other than through that pass.  That is how the town was ever founded well in antiquity.  Bohan Pass served as a fortress of sorts time after time for the early townspeople since  it was a sure bottleneck geographically during times of strife just like this.  Now that decoy as to our greater positioning contributes to our basic tactics at this moment as things now stand.  We hissed at them.  They think we are there, not here.  Indeed, no scout lay watching when I sat out in the open on the rocks from my lookout a few minutes ago; that is a sure sign that they are huddling for the mobilization to a point more ulterior than they would expect at all."

     Borders could sense the presence of any scout on a reconnaissance mission with a power beyond his senses.  This ability marked him as a veteran of many a dire battle, and he was wise from the instruction that had been history's making.  His men had heard about this extrasensory ability of Borders.  All of them were reassured by his statement and report on the disposition of the troops yonder near the town at Bohan Pass.  At Bohan Pass the two ridges curved towards one another, making a narrow passage of extremely precipitous, cliff-like rock on both sides.  The static, distant squadron at the pass was to become the last holdout if the immediate resistance did not totally quash the insurgents.  This distant squadron was considered important to all the men who were securing the peace of Bohan and therefore the peace of all of Bohemia in so doing.  Many of the men were greatly encouraged when their commander decided to send in a contingency of five more troops to Bohan Pass while they awaited the encroachment of Durydon through Honey Valley.    

     "You see, oh! my great ones: you great ones of the First Cavalry of the National Army of Bohemia who stand first, yea, number one in defense of the nation on this ground beneath our several and sundry feet; you see, my men, Durydon is not only as mighty as he is wicked, he has conducted terrorizing missions like this for several years now without a glint of a sword nor barrel of resistance from the national army.  This is the first time a government resistance to his proposed rebellion has ever taken seed and sprouted to its moment as we now ponder.  Do you hear me?  He might just as well look upon us as a bunch of dead flies in the face of his destructive capabilities, coupled with his remarkable record of felonies to date.  He gets off every time scot- free.  He is terrible, he is armed, and I personally know him to be so.  I am not going to leave the opening to that town as free space in this battle based upon my idea that we are just going to blot him out in one fell swoop whether I am wise enough to go at him in two waves at the opening here if at hypothetical best advantage or not.  Either way, and you know the trumpet signal I will give for the division, Brown and all of those with Brown, we will get him for sure.  Probably, I would wager, we will get him totally here in Honey Valley.  But if we do not, then those at the pass will embellish the picture with a little power, will they not?  Moreover, comes the third idea, that if any of the other figures from the underworld, such as his psychic Chienne, his men and those involved with B. Tiger in Arbor Park, do make an escape from Drona and his martial artists plus the town police for these parts, then the static five at the pass will be there in the least; possibly, the full ten we would say as according to straight strategy foreseen will occupy Bohan Pass.  We will stay any resistance they might offer once we get there, and the question is numbers by then, so be prepared for a long fight, which could start any minute.  Is all that clear?  All that came from the supreme question, well put by Sullivan, which occupies the mind of any soldier savvy to battle whether he is a commander or not -- and that is the element of surprise.  You will be able to feel it once action starts if they are not expecting us at all.  So know it, use it, and base your every move on it as you attack.  Go for the life.  There is no other way.  We will get them by surprise.  They do not have a prayer.  Even if we open up on them from behind in full, unified force, the surprise in their minds will still be there.  So we have the leverage of timing where no time at all had been expected for a fight; then we have the component yet to be proven of two waves in the timing once the surprise fight is posed.  Correct?"  The arch general thus queried of his men as he prepared them for the sense of the battle as he saw it.

     There came a vociferous, unified "Yes," from the squadron as they took in the instruction of their beloved commander most totally, and thus did they gain their courage and presence for the imminent fight ahead of them.  Lieutenant Sullivan gave a crisp salute after he heard the entire squadron of men issue their asseveration of the likelihood of using the element of surprise to intimidate the enemy in the upcoming battle down in Honey Valley.  Following Sullivan's salute, all of the other soldiers snapped invisibly to attention without a verbal command from their general and saluted in like fashion and all together.  At this juncture in tendering his capable command to his army Arch General Robert Borders dismounted from his steed so as to go to eye-level talk with his men.  He had another point to share with his men so as to give them greater readiness to fight.  After searching each man before he spoke so as to find the fuller receptivity of their minds, he said, "Now men, I know that for the great majority of you this is a first-time experience in active combat.  You have plenty of good discipline and expert training, or else you would not be here with me; I know that.  Also, it takes something special in an infantryman to be chosen for this subdivision, the First Cavalry.  But let us say that battle is something to which you must become accustomed.  Notice that two of you who are experienced in active field fight are in the first line with me, and I have placed some others in the second line with Brown for particular reasons.  Mostly, I would like to guide you all together as a unit, to be sure, but also, when you enter the field and see action for the first time, and you are expected to take up a rear flank and delay until you join the fire, don't just sit there.  Be ready to mobilize, and I know you must and will.  But there is a way to break in a soldier, and that is what I want you to know.  It is common sense I offer you.  It is not a basket of roses; I know that.  But you can become adjusted to the conflict if you have a chance to see it first without being in the heat of that conflict.  Use that to your best ability, and you will perform excellently, I can assure you.  Some soldiers see it for the first time and instantaneously fuse with it.  They automatically know their place and actually can only be held by the restraint incumbent upon them through their practice drills and such training.  Others, a rare few, start to freeze and lose their mental presence briefly.  Now I cannot be there with each one of you personally and physically in order to pull you up out of that slump and wake you up into the desire for action.  Something else can do that for me, and that is the threat the enemy poses to kill you and also your fellow soldiers if you do not open up into the situation which is real before you and past your natural inner peace.  I respect each and every one of you, greenhorn or not, and I will make something out of you on this field, I can assure you.  You will see the light as you go.  Trust in me, for there is something on the other side, and that is your commander, that is I.  I love you all as you were my blood sons, and I do not want to bury you.  All I can say is, you will understand after the event of this, your first battle, that fear has no place, and I as your commander can teach you that.  You see, there is something about a commander which unifies the minds, spirits, and even bodies of all the troops in an army.  Wait until you experience this in active combat.  So if you sit in trepidation briefly, keep it brief -- for there is something on the other side, it is the spirit of the army, it is the spirit of the commander of the army, indeed.  It will protect you, inspire you and give you courage as you go.  Don't be afraid, be great.  For this cavalry holds the record in history's telling as the greatest unit of the greater army.  Remember that, for it will count for something as we go.  You are here now.  Where will you be once you have seen the real thing, the real fight-to-kill circumstance into which you are now placed?  It is all you have studied and trained for, but where will you be later on when you go back to yourself and ponder what it is you have done?  You will be enlightened.  Remorse is not real.  It will hamper your growth and way as soldiers if you dignify it as such.  Think of the lives you will be saving, and how these outlaws have just gotten away with murder, enslaving, kidnapping, robbery -- they have violated the virtue of the women, I tell you.  They are working and training on a daily basis to try to overthrow the government of this nation of Bohemia.  You are on a higher mission now to keep it from building to a peak of all-out civil war, to quash this rebellion before it becomes too real to undo because of the situation in the offing at this moment of Bohan.  Twenty thousand people live in the town of Bohan.  It is one of the largest towns in Bohemia, and five thousand more live within a twenty mile radius of the town.  Think of their lives, their security, the crimes they have known, suffered and feared these long years as Durydon has terrorized them.  Now again, I sense that we have more time, and with dusk imminent, we may even put in camp.  Until you get  your orders to mobilize, I am all yours for questions.  And one thing more: I love this moment with you.  You are my men.  You are the world to me.  I revere you for being here, and you are a chosen few as I see you.  I am proud to be your commander, and I am always your commander.  Questions?" 

     The snow white hair of the arch general captured the light of the day's moment, forming a veritable halo around his head as his men regarded him.  Borders had now come back from the glory of old, and he was conducting with the men before him again a most legendary defense of Bohemia.  They knew this.  For his part, Borders waited to see if any questions stirred in the minds of his men after his talk on the ground with them.  Once again he assessed each one individually and read the effects of his words on them, for he was breaking them in for real fight now.  After seeing how the men regarded the situation in front of them, he repeated, "Questions?  Questions -- like: will Bohan's town government be taken over and leveled tonight, or tomorrow, or on some other unknown tomorrow, neighbor?  Will there be any town officials to tend to the affairs of state next week, or will they be killed or taken perhaps to prison camps up in the hinterlands, to use a euphemism for Durydon's places, which are not palaces for those he kidnaps for good.  Questions -- like: will Bohan be safe and nice to visit in a few months' time?  No, not if we ourselves do not bravely intervene at this time.  Questions -- like: will the overthrow of the young hero's music concert idea be the beginning of the very end of Bohan that will empower the revolutionary Durydon to go for the throat of the nation in which sits the gentrified and beautiful town of Bohan?  Answers, my men, can only come from you .  That is why you are here.  Even if it hurts to kill, that is what armies are for when it is kill or be killed and then also destroyed through posterity's blinded eye.  Massive plots to destroy nations involving indoctrination of war and crime create blind spots in the vision of the people of those nations, and they lose something when such destruction takes over in war and subjugates them to the low-minded criminal charges of despotic rulers.  This is the history of man as written, I tell you, and we have too much national character in us to succumb any further to this idiot, brilliant as he is; he is a totally bashed character with not a whit of good character left in him which makes him constitutionally an idiot and not a mastermind.  You alone are masterminds if you go out and get him now.  Think: this is your chance to hide behind an army and then come out of hiding as you fight and kill him, for he will rob you of the very destiny of your nation if you let him.  And that will most certainly and inevitably rob you of your own self-determination for the rest of your lives.  Now, knowing this, I came back into active service of the nation I love so dearly.  I ask you to join me, men.  Join me in this war.  Let us fight the enemy together.  Now, when duty calls, let us take up ours arms together and vanquish this enemy to peace, truth and justice!"

     Just as the venerate general had in theory called the men to arms although the actual time for implementation of his troops was yet to be proven while it was thought to be close, there came from above a gray homing pigeon.  The pigeon flew straight to Arch General Borders’s right shoulder, where it alighted.  The general did not act at all surprised at the arrival of the messenger, nor did he waste a moment as he gently reached for the bird with his left hand.  He put out his left index finger near its feet, and the bird instantly hopped onto the finger, gripping it.  Borders then walked with the pigeon to his horse and coaxed the bird to sit on the cantle of his saddle.  Gently, then, the small tube containing a message from the scouts who had reached Honey Valley was unloosed from the left leg of the homing pigeon.  Arch General Borders proceeded to open the tube and read the message it contained.

     The words of the valuable message were inscribed on a small piece of white paper about one and a half inches wide by two and a half inches long;  the commander first read the words to himself with a calm demeanor and a scientific eye.  His men were all observing him with keen interest in what the message might have to say.  The following words gave vital information to Arch General Borders: “Campfires out. Owl flies yes.”

     The elder general lifted his eyes from the small paper in his hand toward the sky briefly and searched deeply within as he saw the event of battle before him now unfolding; the message indicated to him that Durydon had broken camp.  An owl had flown down from the top of Cherry Ridge, apparently, and one of the scouts must have read something in the visit of the owl as a sign that the troops were descending the ridge towards Honey Valley now.  The trail which would lead Borders and his cavalry down Cobble Ridge intersected with Bee Trail about a mile north of the trail down from Cherry Ridge.  Therefore, with this advantage and even the difference in timing as to departure of the respective armies, still there was a good chance that Arch General Borders would give an offensive onslaught head-on.  This was of course his strong preference.  He had held the high ground of the ridge throughout the day as any commander would since the elevation gave protective placement due to its difficult access.  His knowledge of the trails in the area was sufficient enough for him to estimate that with good speed and departure forthwith his men would indeed arrive in time to actually pose battle from the front, so as to meet the enemy face-to-face.  

     After  integrating the visit of the pigeon with its message in those few rare moments to himself, the noble defender of freedom placed the same message back in the tube and reattached the tube neatly to the bird's leg.  Then he put his finger out for the bird to provide it a take-off, and upon a gentle lift of his arm as encouragement, the bird flew for its next destination point: the Department of Messengry in Bohan.  With a spring from its two feet followed by a spectacular flourish of its capable wings the pigeon took flight effortlessly against the clear blue sky, veering northward in a large, gentle arc as it ascended well beyond the greenery. The sound of the veritably heroic messenger pigeon's wings had soon left earshot, and all the eyes of the soldiers remained yet with its flight through sheer space.  Arch General Borders broke his silence now.  He declared to his men in a matter-of-fact manner, "Soldiers the message conveys to this unit that the campfires of the enemy troops have been put out.  There was a sign from an owl flown down from the top of Cherry Ridge that those troops are now moving down the ridge, and that message has just been dispatched to the Department of Messengry.  From there it will as per my previous orders be relayed to the Army.  Plan is now action for this cavalry!  We will now battle to secure the town of Bohan as sure as the sun sets!  Bohan is ours!"  The brave commander looked out across his men to study their minds at that moment while he generated a silent, mental indication that there was no time left to think or to get ready; thus did the ancient warrior now gather in his troops for mobilization with his silent demeanor past his few words; he watched those words sink in and take effect on the troops standing in front of him.  He made two steadily increasing fists without flinching his mind when he glimpsed at their readiness for battle.  His mind gripped the moment now with the sheer strength of his Herculean fists, held as they were at waist level and in front of his body with his elbows slightly bent.  This readiness in his men was everything to Arch General Borders, and it was a readiness which he had skillfully elicited from them while they had been awaiting such intelligence on the enemy disposition as the homing pigeon had just now issued.  

     Having consulted so his troops for their preparedness to seek action with him for a field which was soon to become embattled, the eyes of Arch General Borders now looked off into blank space, now consulting the great self with assurance and from some thoughtless plane.  His men were studying him closely.  They imagined that their wise commander was thus envisioning battle in what must be a concrete sense; however, they knew that there was something special in this general's knowledge of battle which was actually more abstract.  Not one of them could quite put him in place for the puzzle he was presenting that moment in respect to his bold and confident detachment thus shown.  They had much to learn of him.  Seeing the mind of Arch General Borders prepare for active battle was in itself instructive for the soldiers, for it gave them confidence to see the elevated disposition of his mental faculties whether or not it was beyond them.  These men knew that someone extremely special was in charge of them, and this alone was certain to bring them to their best as they fought.  From such an almost empty look which was told with his eyes focused afar did the great Arch General Borders give his first, loud order: "Soldiers mount!"  With that order his men were as if electrified; Borders slowly turned his head and studied the cavalry again as the cavalrymen mobilized to their horses.  They adeptly and with total urgency left their observations of this elevated personage revealing to them some of his awesome presence in the face of military contention during the preceding moments; they quickly mounted their horses and sat at attention so as to await his next command.  After all the troops were thus mounted Arch General Borders surprised them: he walked around the entire group of horsemen and inspected each horse and man thoroughly, so that there would be inspired a sense in his charges that they were made physically ready for the deadly contention ahead.  Once the brief inspection was over Arch General Borders approached his own steed.  He leaped onto the horse without using the stirrup!  This feat totally amazed his cavalrymen.  

     One of these cavlarymen became keenly incited to battle upon seeing that final asseveration of the portending abilities of his commander.  He could not fully believe that his commander at his age could just leap onto his steed without using the stirrup.  Thus the cavalryman actually yelled out in the fervor he felt as he was trying to integrate what he had just witnessed in Borders.  He repeated what Borders had said in his talk preliminary to the battle now ahead of them in a loud yell, "Go for the life!"  Arch General Borders felt shivers in his being when he heard that war cry; he was in high spirits for the battle, and with a look of steel-like determination on his face, he answered the cry of that soldier as he yelled out his second command: "Salu-ute!"  All thirteen of Arch General Border's brave cavalrymen saluted with noticeable reverence and full surrender their honored commander, whom they were still getting to know.  "Now, lift your reins!" came the next command.  With that command all of the cavalrymen eased their salutes to their commander, gathered up their reins in their right hands, and awaited the next few commands to mobilize.

     "Colonel Brown: forward!  L-left!  Ride!" rang out the general's voice as if it had never been  raspy at all in quiet, conversational talk after training his men or after great battles.  Indeed, if a general loses his voice on steed in battle, he as well as others could be killed because of it.

     Colonel Brown went a few steps forward and leftward on his horse, who sensed the moment and was lifting high his feet in proud manner.  Arch General read this expression of his next-in-command; then he issued the crisp order: "Halt.  Rear squadron, rally!  Line up!"  As the men who were assigned to make a second-wave sally were moving over to take their places behind Colonel Brown, Borders' voice rang out again, "To your line, ride!" 

     Arch General Borders then called his line forth as he snapped, "First Squadron!  Places!"  The great general reflected inwardly that moment; he found himself more profoundly when he thus heard his voice summoning his own line.  A sharp memory of the great battles he had known long ago visited him for a fleeting second.  His mind, some reserve of knowledge now chambered to actively face the military field once again after decades since he had last seen action, had been blessed; indeed, the brief memory made the hair on his arms stand erect.  He bowed his head for a second as he prayed to the Creator in the next instant for His guidance.  

     Then Arch General Borders took the fore verbally once again, bellowing forth to his men: "Know your places and find them!  To your line, to me, ride!"  With that more personal command, Arch General Borders gestured with his right backhand to the trail in the direction in which they would next travel.  His hand was open, and many of his troops saw in the gesture the ease in which he conceived of the aggression they were about to make. Those who had been listening to and taking instruction from the seasoned general saw an all-knowingness in the man when he gave them the way in battle after calling them to his side, to their places, as he had termed it.  Thus did this gesture show them the way in battle in an ulterior sense even though it pointed to a physical trail before them in an immediate sense.  The six men who were to align, ride and attack with Arch General Borders in their direct lead showed great courage.  They now took their places behind him in single file for the ride down the side of Cobble Ridge via Miner's Side Trail.  Yet in some almost magical way, those who had been chosen to deliver Bohan in the interests of the security of the nation together under the personal command of Arch General Borders were indeed now steeled with a confidence whose measure could not be fathomed, nor could it be described, or so they say; this truth was to become bandied over many a campfire by compatriots who fought the horrific Battle of Bohan, and who told of the courage he had inspired in them to fight.  However, the concept of enlightenment always superceded the description of how the compatriots had gained their courage to fight.  The great general from history's telling was to enlighten these brave defenders on the war field he knew so well.  The great Arch General Borders, a veritable and venerate myth walking out of victory's history, would give of his wisdom to the soldiers as they were entrusted to the task of vanquishing in active battle the evil of the rebel who was posing an overthrow of their nation-state.

     Forsooth, now was the nation of Bohemia in battle with such a terrible revolutionary as was the bold and shameless Durydon.  On that very battlefield about to be defined for historical record in the Battle of Bohan was the entire nation-state of Bohemia to gain hope.  Theirs was hope for domestic peace and the rule of the righteous once again.  Yes, with the regenerated, shining command of none other than Arch General Borders as he returned to his military service in the defense of Bohemia all of posterity was certain to prosper in peace and easy accord in all affairs civic and providential towards the common good.  Thus was the battle so posed. 

     On the other side of Honey Valley, indeed, Durydon was descending Cherry Ridge.  He was heading down the well-beaten trail known as Loggers' Side Trail with his men on horseback.  Durydon had begun to read a different situation than that which his two scouts had reported to him when they passed through Bohan Pass.  Granted, Durydon had heard from the scouts that the Bohemian military had signaled at Bohan Pass when they were going through on their way back to Cherry Ridge; the message of the military was understood -- that they would answer any encroachment on the town of Bohan by the wicked Durydon.  In addition to that veiled threat, however, the reconnaissance scouts had also reported that the town crier of Bohan had announced Robert Borders' return to active military duty.  The battle had taken on a new and steeper challenge.  Be apprised: Durydon had an extensive network of mobsters who were well prepared to take his orders were he to decide to organize an even broader attack on Bohan in deference to the way things were developing with the open return of Borders to the military defense of the nation.  Durydon was more than ready to face off Arch General Borders.  He had sent two new scouts immediately over the Logging Trail along Cherry Ridge once he had gained news of the return of Arch General Borders earlier that day.  Those scouts were to recruit more men to the battle at Bohan Pass.  Intercepting the messages as a way to taunt the town governing officials was not proving to be as pointed a strategy as Durydon had thought it would be; instead, he was facing an actual battle with a national level military contingency.  Borders had strategically let Durydon know that he was in for active opposition to any resistance of a violent and forceful sort that the revolutionary would pose against the town government and peace of Bohan; to that end, Borders had lifted his secrecy through his appearance in the public with Bob Stround at Transcendentals and through the town crier.  Durydon knew that he had to mount a much greater force from his cadre of men in order to be effective in using such force to manipulate the international politics against the cultural exchange for which the people were asking.

     The brave villain reached the halfway point as he moved down Loggers' Side Trail with his men.  He held up a red flag, waving it briefly, and then yelled out the command, "Halt!  Halt! Halt!"  As his own horse came to a stop, the horsemen directly behind followed suit.  Durydon was calling a meeting to prepare his men for what he was starting to sense as they made their way down towards Honey Valley.  It was difficult to fool Durydon; he was a seasoned fighter and had extremely well developed abilities in analyzing conflicts with which he was confronted.  He had been aware that Robert Borders was likely to return to military service well ahead of the day that it was announced to the people of Bohan.  In fact, some of the reconnaissance of his rebel camps and of the contraband jewelry smuggling trade that Durydon ran across the Pristinian border had been under the command of Borders according to two separate spy reports he had received.  That very direction of the strife in the organized crime network headed by Durydon had propelled him to start mobilizing for an overthrow of the government.  Borders for almost a year now had totally evaded public awareness of his newly instated commission in the military, accomplishing his work in studying Durydon's organization and movements in a most totally clandestine manner.  However, Durydon informed his spies that he suspected that there was activity on the part of the military to study their organizing efforts; he told them when and where to focus their espionage, and twice he had proved correct -- Borders was on duty again as according to his own prophecy.  Furthermore, from subsequent, careful spying by Durydon himself, it looked like Borders was not always located at his farm.  His two sons were always there, however, and had left their former jobs and residences which had been apart from their ancestral home.  This intelligence had given Durydon more impetus to prepare for the worst in terms of government opposition to his organizational work towards an overthrow.  In fact, it was the retired general, Robert Borders, whom Durydon recognized as the greatest opponent there could be to a successful revolt.  In the mind of Durydon, Borders posed the most dire of threats to his plan to accomplish a takeover of the government of Bohemia.  He of all governing officers was his chief opponent due to his sheer brilliance and historical record.  Durydon's best hope in fomenting great trouble and leverage towards an overthrow had been to kidnap the daughter of Prime Minister Roundhouse of the neighboring nation-state.  Although the wicked outlaw had lost Roundhouse's daughter, Radhita, as a direct captive, he still regarded her being held hostage politically as an invaluable tool to build towards anarchy even if it seemed to be second best to having her in his own possession physically.   

     Durydon waited for all of his horsemen to come to a full stop.  There was a small clearing at the point where he had called them to a halt.  The black-clad outlaw was exuberant.  His spirits were high.  He had transcended his physical setback from battle with Giant Little and the dragon that morning with his readiness and eagerness to defeat the contingency of the Bohemian army led by General Borders; and he could read the profound regard for him which his men held for his show of strength in that transcendence.  Moreover, they all felt encouraged by the power lent them as Durydon had faked weakness and made it known by rumor to the enemy even after he knew he would be able to carry on the fight.

       As he sat waiting for the last horse in the line to gather into the forming circle of his eighteen men, he reached for his canteen on the side of his saddle.  As he lifted the canteen to his mouth to slake his thirst, many of his men followed suit and did the same.  His men were largely aware that they were about to receive a renewed concept of the battle ahead of them from their leader.  They were a motley and a rugged group of commandoes in a growing underground revolutionary army.  They did not wear uniforms, being dressed in average garb suited to their way of life.  Many wore chaps of leather of varying color to protect their legs.  Some also wore heavy leather jackets as armor to lessen to an extent the impact of bullets, flying stars or arrows.  For the greater part looking unkempt with grime on their clothes and unshaven faces, nevertheless, they were well-fed and ready for action on the field.  This was a day for which their villainous temperaments had ached for a long time.  The power of Durydon to indoctrinate and lead against the status quo retained by the laws of the land was very keen, indeed.  

                   

                    

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