Jane Williams

When we first came to this land, it was Summer, and life was good. Our warriors, proud lions that they are, hunted when they wished, and dozed in the shade of the olive trees when they wished. The barley grew, watered by the great river, and our women made bread and beer from it, and used the left-over straw to weave shades from the sun.

But sadly, the Orlanthi, treacherous wolves that they are, also lived here, and as always, wanted to steal our bread, our beer, and our women. One of their warriors came to us, demanding that we leave what he said were his clan's lands. He boasted of his deeds, and the deeds of his ancestors, puffing himself up with impossibilities as the Orlanthi do, full of hot air and pride. We agreed to a formal duel between him and our champion, thinking that the power of the Light would show his lies for what they were. But he called on the power of his god called the Wind, and blew down our sunshades of straw, blew them into our champion, entangling his weapons and blinding him so that he was easy prey to this treacherous wolf.

So, we had to leave that place. We went to the lands of the older brother of our champion, who had lived here longer and knew better how to defend against the Orlanthi wolves. His stead was surrounded by a wooden palisade, for there is much wood here, more than in our homeland. We lived there, and grew barley, and hunted, and rested in the sun, once more. But the Orlanthi followed us. Once more, they said that these were their lands, and we must leave. Once more, the Orlanthi champion huffed and puffed of his supposedly great deeds, and once more, a duel was agreed, under the full light of Yelm. Then the treacherous wolf called on his god again, and the sun was hidden behind clouds thick, dark clouds that dropped rain heavier than we had ever seen before. The duelling ground became mud, treacherous and slippery, like the wolf who had created it. Then he called the wind, and the strong wooden palisade, now supported only by mud, not by Ernalda's solid earth, fell. One of the heavy logs fell on our champion, and so he could not fight.

So, we had to leave that place, too. We went to the lands of the eldest brother of our line, and the wisest. He knew how to defend against the Orlanthi wolves with the power of the Sun. He told us to take the straw that had failed us, and the mud that had defeated us, and mix them. Then he called the Sun, and let its power work on the mixture to turn them to stone or something very like stone. Bricks! With bricks, we could build dwellings and walls that would not blow away, and could support themselves. We built, and built no more dozing in the sun. When the Orlanthi wolves next came to demand that we left their lands, their boasts were less certain, for they had never in their primitive lives seen anything like our walls, and houses, and roofs. They called the wind, and it blew round our bricks, unable to harm us. We had strong gates, and would not let them in. Finally the Orlanthi warrior used the wind to lift himself up, to fly over the walls, over the houses where the women and children hid, and onto the roof! Down he came, through the smoke hole and down to the cooking fire and it was hot! Fire beats storm, we all know this, and what a sight he was, with his trews on fire, choking in the smoke, and with the women and children all beating him with their spoons and bowls! He flew away as fast as he could, and never again did any Orlanthi wolf dare to tell our proud lions that these were any lands but our own.