“Surely you understand the gravity of my words?” said Astoba.
“I do,” said Manfry. “We may be monks, but we are also Nusalleans.”
He got to his feet.
“Brothers, please heed me!”
Conversations hushed within the dining hall.
“As you know, our army is at war with the Vindavians and I have news the Vindavians will come here. Brother Lytica claims that they will kill us if need be to to pass through the mountains.”
Soft murmurs arose.
“But a much greater calamity befalls us; one which every Nusallean tribesman fears. We are in danger of a tribe’s extinction.”
A few of the monks gasped curtly.
“This woman and this boy, are all that is left of the Magpie tribe. There may be Magpie tribesmen still alive in the king’s forces, but of that, we cannot be sure. We can only be sure of the injured soldier in my chamber. After we have eaten, Valmaas will prepare food for a journey.”
He looked among the seated faces.
The monk stood, with the etchings of a beard tracing the lower jaw of his young face.
“You are the swiftest runner among us. It will be your duty to climb down the rear face of the abbey. Once on the ground, run like you have never run before. You are to head east for Caliet. Tell the king of the threat here.”
Hargan bowed his head. “Aye, Abbot.”
“I also want two volunteers, weapons masters to form a second party. It will be your task to escort Astoba and Uruban to the capital after Hargan.”
“What of the soldier?” asked a monk from a source unknown.
“He cannot be moved,” said Urquor. “For him to make the climb down would open every wound he has.”
“Then the rest of us must stay behind. We cannot allow a tribe to die out; so be it?!”
“So be it!” every monk said in unison.
Manfry looked around the hall, proud of his brothers’ support, before sitting to resume his meal.
Hargan rose from his seat minutes later and came over to the Abbot’s table. Valmaas stood without speaking to prepare his provisions.
Lytica left the last few scoops of his stew, pushing back his chair. I will prepare ropes for the climb, Abbot.”
Manfry bowed his head.
Lytica ran from the dining hall and down the corridor, entering into his room, hosting four beds. Every monk had coils of ropes beneath their beds to climb down and up from the rear of the monastery. It provided them with strength of arm and stamina for weapons training. He looped them all over his shoulder and headed toward Manfry’s chamber, pushing open the door unannounced.
Padaver sat on the bed, looking bemused.
Lytica said nothing, running past him through the open doors to the balcony, where he dropped the ropes. He cinched two of them tightly on the stone rails and dropped the remainder of the coils over the edge. Then he commenced to swiftly tie a harness, using intricate knots.
“What are you doing?” asked Padaver.