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{Translator’s Note}: Among the ROI, the Z-LOTZ and the Veritas, swear words, as best we can tell, refer to religion, excretion or procreation. At least among the tribes that I’ve studied, no-one swears by referring to ingestion, coagulation, thinking, moving muscles, or other functional aspects of life. However, it appears that the different tribes varied in their preferred choice of swear words; I will not bother to translate these directly into their English counterparts; instead, I’ll use a more “polite” word but you will know doubt be able to tell what was really meant. These tribes all seemed to have shared another odd trait. They actually used both crude and polite forms of cursing. It was considered more powerful and more satisfying to use the “polite” forms. It showed, so the reasoning went, that you were fully aware of the fact that you were cursing; that you were still in charge of your faculties.

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One of BRA-BRILL’s lieutenants rushed up to BRA-BRILL. “Sire, we must slow down a bit. The women and children are having trouble keeping up. There may be further Veritas about who would capture our women and children for their own purposes. For that matter, so might the wolves. Might we take a short break so everyone can catch up?” 

BRA-BRILL turned his lifeless eyes to his lieutenant. “Oh, thank you so much my fine lieutenant for bringing this to my attention! I did not realize that there were Veritas about. I did not realize that our entire procreating village has been destroyed! Thank a diety we have brilliant people about such as you to set me straight! You are nearly as valuable as an obstruction to a defecation! Come here. Come closer. Attaboy! Now, hand me your sword, you diety-forsaken ever-procreating excretion. Come on. Do it.”

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The soldier realized he should have sent one of his own lackeys to make a suggestion. What the hell had he been thinking, making a suggestion himself? Maybe it was the shock of being awakened to an alarm and soon after being caught in a forest fire. Still…

BRA-BRILL took the sword and smiled, “Thank you. This is indeed a fine blade.” BRA-BRILL turned it in his hand and made a couple of sweeps with the sword through the air. “A fine weapon.” Suddenly, BRA-BRILL twirled the blade and struck the messenger across his thigh causing a substantial gash. The soldier fell heavily to the ground. 

“Oops. My hand slipped. No matter. Now, you can serve some useful purpose. You there! And you! Come take this wounded soldier and tie him fast to yonder tree. Make sure he cannot escape. He will draw any wolves or lions off our trail and perhaps the Veritas may find him and torture him for some truth. Well, come to think of it, best to cut out his tongue as well.”

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The soldier lay on the ground with his hand pressed to his thigh, trying to slow the escaping rivulet of blood. “NO, SIRE! No, please!”  

BRA-BRILL loved it when he had a chance to mock others.  In a fair imitation of a small child’s squeaky voice, he repeated, “No, sire. No, please!” 

“You disgust me, bodily function, now go serve some useful purpose. I’m just following your advice, after all.” With this, he curtly motioned to the two guards to take him away and cut out his tongue. As the bleeding soldier was carried off to be set as wolf bait, he turned to see some of his people had stopped and stared. “Get back to marching! ALL of you! Unless you procreating anatomy-parts want to join procreating visage as procreating wolf bait!” 

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BRA-BRILL’s mood had improved considerably after this incident, but he knew that tough times lay ahead. NUT-PI was every bit as … focused … as he himself was. The truth was that BRA-BRILL was about to stop anyway, not so others could catch up but because he was exhausted. All the fine food he had had access to as well as the servants that did his bidding meant that he was now considerably overweight and walking any distance tired him quickly. “Procreating horses!” he muttered to no-one in particular. “How the mythical and horrid afterlife did all those procreating horses get away? Procreate!!” 

BRA-BRILL liked swearing. It made him feel powerful. In this case, though, he had another purpose. He wanted to be all “sworn out” by the time they reached the city of the Z-LOTZ. They were all an odd lot and some of them objected to a person simply expressing themselves in the most natural way. He didn’t need that kind of trouble. He strongly suspected that NUT-PI believed none of the malarkey that the Z-LOTZ believed, or at least professed to believe. But that didn’t mean some jealous priest or other wouldn’t call BRA-BRILL out if he used profanity within the walls of their “Sacred City.” 

“Sacred City. Hah!” BRA-BRILL sneered aloud at the idea. Just more horse manure for the weak-minded, he mused. “You there! Yes, YOU! Bring me some meat and bread and wine.” 

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The hapless youth who had been pointed at was not sure who, if anyone, had brought such provisions. This was not, after all, a planned and organized march. Usually, the ROI would have spent weeks planning a trip to see the Z-LOTZ. He had just witnessed the wrath of BRA-BRILL when irked. He would try to find something pleasing among the people and if he failed, he would sneak away into the woods and try his luck with the wolves rather than risk displeasing BRA-BRILL. “Yes, sire! I’ll be back soon!” He scampered off and began querying the ROI about provisions, making sure everyone knew that they were not for him but for their leader. 

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A few day’s march brought the numerous throng of ROI to the city gates of the Z-LOTZ. They were hungry, thirsty, and exhausted, but all were ordered to remain outside. Word came that NUT-PI would see BRA-BRILL but he was to come unarmed and alone. When BRA-BRILL heard this, he began to sweat. He carefully slowed his breathing, but his bone dry mouth still tasted of metal. He muttered under his breath, “Procreating waste!” There was little for it though. He would have to comply. Though he had taken much more than his “fair share” of the provisions found among the ROI, he also felt hunger and thirst. So, he thrust his new sword into the ground and marched off to see NUT-PI, surrounded by four guards. Each sported a long pike and wore leather armor studded with metal. 

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Soon, he stood in a courtyard before NUT-PI who sat upon a high chair. He tried to lick his lips and took a deep breath. “Well met, oh great NUT-PI! I bring you…” 

“Silence,” NUT-PI said in little more than a bored whisper. “Speak to me again before I give you leave to do so and I will cut out your tongue as you did with your lieutenant.” 

BRA-BRILL almost spoke again. Instead, he slammed his mouth shut, wondering how the painful afterlife NUT-PI found out about the lieutenant. 

Again NUT-PI spoke softly. He hissed as he spoke, almost like a snake. “Come forward now and kneel before me.” 

BRA-BRILL shambled forward and knelt in the sharp gravel in front of NUT-PI. NUT-PI regarded him coldly with unlit eyes. “Did you bring the required number of women and children as slaves?” 

BRA-BRILL tried to swallow but couldn’t. “Close but also vital information, Sire.” 

“Close?” NUT-PI snickered. “I asked you a simple question. Surely, even you, have the intelligence to answer my question. I will say it slowly for you. Did. You. Bring. The. Required. Number. Of. Women. And. Children. As. Slaves? Yes or no?” 

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BRA-BRILL tried to think but found it difficult when his knees hurt and his mouth was so dry. He decided that trying to be clever would be too risky. “No, Sire.” 

“So you failed in the only task I asked you to accomplish. Is that right? You failed. Did you fail?” 

“Yes, Sire. I failed.” BRA-BRILL looked down. He began to fantasize about cutting NUT-PI to pieces but shook it out of his mind. 

NUT-PI smiled. “Well, it’s not your fault, after all. You have no real ability, do you?” 

BRA-BRILL gritted his teeth together. “No, Sire. I do not.” 

NUT-PI continued. “No, you do not. And now, not only have you failed to bring me the required number of slaves. You have allowed your village to be burned down. And, now you bring your entire people here…for what purpose? I suspect you wish to beg for food and water for them?” 

BRA-BRILL saw a possible opening and decided to chance taking it. “Oh, Sire, no. It is true that we are hungry and thirsty but we ask for none of that. What we can do is offer up valuable information about a tribe that call themselves The Veritas. They came in great hordes to attack our village and burn it down. They destroyed many of our weapons and stole our horses as well. But we come to offer to help you hunt them down and destroy them. If you will accept our humble gift.” 

NUT-PI sneered at BRA-BRILL with open contempt. NUT-PI began to drum his fingers on the arm of his large chair. He was in no hurry. After all, NUT-PI was not the one kneeling in sharp gravel. He gestured to one of his slaves and she brought over some grapes and bread. NUT-PI began slowly and sensually taking tiny bites of the food. He arranged his face into a large smile as he ate, chewing each bite over and over. 

BRA-BRILL saw the world shrink and grow dark. Just as he was about to pass out, NUT-PI spoke again. “Guards, take this pathetic man back to his people, such as they are. Bring me the inadequate number of slaves here for me to take first picks. I will see whether any are capable of pleasing me. If there are, I will consider his entreaty for food and water. If not, well, if not, just take the slaves and use the rest of the ROI for target practice.” 

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BRA-BRILL tried to rise on his own, but he couldn’t make his legs move properly. He put his hands on the ground and pushed off with his hands, staggering to his feet. He was marched out of the presence of NUT-PI. 

BRA-BRILL felt as though he had won a great victory. After all, he had escaped with his life, at least for now. He would find a way to oust NUT-PI and make him pay! He swore to himself that he would do that no matter what it took. For now, he would have to play a waiting game. 

The guards unceremoniously threw BRA-BRILL to the ground and began rounding up the slaves to be taken before NUT-PI. Preparing slaves provided one of the most fun aspects of their jobs. They would oversee the cleaning and dressing of the slaves. Occasionally, they were rewarded with one to share. 

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