The War of Peace - Part 2
by Trina Marie Phillips
. . . continued from issue 31 . . .
Ardam watched the town from atop the ridge. There was not a two-leg to be seen outside of their
rigid structures. The warm morning would turn into a blazing hot day. That they were not
making use of prime working time was foolish, but then, maybe the heat did not affect their
simple bodies so greatly.
All thirty children were lined up behind him. Each carried a pack or pushed a cart laden with
food, seed and supplies. Kaliff's Family even offered up a share of their finest farming tools. She
said they would make more during the breeding season; Ardam knew it would take more than
one season to replace what she gave.
This was the first time he had acted without the Family's general approval. It saddened him not
to have their faith. They stood back from him now, anxious ruffles wafting through the group as
they watched their children prepare. Ardam had spoken with the young ones and told them what
to do. It was a good generation; they would not react in fear. He would win the two-legs over
with kindness. Ardam looked back. Beyond the Family stood rows of Nemek warriors lean and
ready at his call. If kindness didn't work . . .
With a huff and a whistle, Ardam started the descent. The trail of children chittered in
excitement. If they were truly training he would have insisted on silence, but they were too
young for that. Besides, he was counting on them being children to win over the two-legs. It was
best to let them act naturally.
When they were partway down the hill, the two-legs emerged from their structures. They spread
out, forming a rough line across the front of the town, a little ways back from the tiled edge. It
was not dissimilar to the line Ardam's Family had created a few days before; except he saw that
only adults were present. Once again, Mayor Toumani Shaw stood out front, flanked by his two
Ardam did not hesitate in his approach. He stepped up to the Mayor and extended his hand.
"Hello, my friend."
Toumani Shaw took his hand. Ardam noticed that the cloth around his arm was smaller and
clean, and the swelling had diminished significantly. He was glad the Barter had not had lasting
"Hello, my friend. What is all this?" He bared his teeth in that gesture that Ardam had figured
out was something good and not the danger his gut told him it was.
The children fanned out but stayed behind Ardam, awaiting his signal. "I thought you should
meet last year's seedlings. These are the strongest, the ones that survived. They were born here."
He stopped before he made any accusations. Let the Mayor derive his own meaning.