Lord Martin gazed upon the verdant plains of North Klingraff. Night was falling, and if his messengers were correct, the Thuns would arrive by dawn. If Martin’s soldiers failed to hold them back, then all of Altruia would be lost. Lord Martin hoped his ditch was deep enough. Only the deepest of ditches would be able to stop the Thuns.
“How goes the digging of the ditch?” Lord Martin called to head digger Galbraith.
“We’re doing the best we can,” said Galbraith. “I just hope it’s deep enough.”
“Keep digging,” said Martin. “For the sake of every Altruian, dig as deep as you can.”
Lord Martin brandished his swutchel. (A swutchel is like a sword, only fatter.) Martin pressed the swutchel’s cold, fat blade against his forehead and prayed for victory.
“Lord Martin!” cried a young squire. “There’s trouble at the stables! Come quick!”
Martin dashed off, his armor clanging valiantly with every step. At the stables, he saw the horses were in a frenzy. They gnashed their teeth and stomped their hooves, and waved their two tails violently. Lord Martin’s favorite horse Night Whisper was flinging the tail on his backside and the tail coming out of his forehead so violently, that Martin had to whip him with a crip, which is an Altruian horse tool that’s softer than a crop but harder than a whip.
“Baaa!” cried the horses. “Baaa! Baaa!”
“All the sheep are clucking too,” said the squire. “What do you think it means?”
“Animals can sense when danger is near,” said Lord Martin. “They have a fifth sense for it, which is one more sense than you and I have.”
“I sure am scared,” said the squire. “You think the ditch is deep enough?”
“I sure hope so, my boy.”
“Is there anything more I can do to help?”
“You can help by taking care of your family,” said Lord Martin. “Let them know you love them. Your mother, your father, your siblings, and your grand siblings: let them all know you’ll do whatever it takes to protect them.”
“You think the Thuns will bring dregons with them?” said the squire.
“No one’s seen a dregon in these parts for years,” Lord Martin assured the boy. “Now finish up giving these horses their bread so you can run on home to your family.”
Lord Martin rode Night Whisper back to the ditch. He wished the boy hadn’t mentioned dregons. Martin had encountered a dregon only once before. It was many years ago, but the memory gripped his sleep-thinkings every night. He could see the dregon in his mind, clear as day - a giant, scaly, fire-breathing dregon. Lord Martin looked the dregon right in the eyes, its forehead tail lashing about, as Martin steadied his arrow. Luckily, the ditch he’d dug earlier in the day was deep enough, and the dregon paused on the other side just long enough for Martin to toss the arrow at the center of the dregon’s belly, which is the location of the dregon heart.
But that was many years ago. Lord Martin didn’t know if he had the strength to survive another dregon attack. He dismounted Night Whisper to speak with the Chaplain.
“I sure could use some comforting words, Chaplain.”
“I’m afraid I wouldn’t be much help to you, Lord Martin,” said the Chaplain. “I used up every last comforting word I had. All we can do now is pray to Jesuses that our ditch is deep enough.”
“I’ve prayed to Wartime Jesus and to Peacetime Jesus and to every Jesus in between.”
“Then the fate of Altruia rests in Their hands,” said the Chaplain. “Jesuses wills be done.”
The Chaplain walked back to camp. Lord Martin watched his silhouette as it flickered in the bonfire’s light. Martin decided that if Altruia won the coming battle, he’d find a different Chaplain the next time around – probably someone who isn’t such a sourpuss all the time.
Martin climbed to the bottom of the ditch to help his men. He knew he should try to sleep, but then his sleep-thinkings would only frighten him more. He drove his fat shovel-like instrument into the ground.
“What do you want us to do with all the dirt?” asked Galbraith.
“Why aren’t you eating it?” said Martin.
“What do we do with the dirt if we’re full?”
“Put it in bags to eat later.”
“I sure hope this ditch is deep enough.”
“Me too, Galbraith.” said Martin, valiantly. “Me too.”