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Bitter war comes between the Kingdom of Nath and the Saiph League.

It came to pass that Telan Blackseed crossed the River Armak with an exceedingly great force and entered the Kingdom of Nath to subdue it. And Count Hilkiah Zelus came forth from Mizal to give battle to Blackseed when yet half his forces were still on the Menkal side of the river, and Zelus brought him into captivity, but Hovan the son of Telan went into the camp of Zelus with a squad of elite soldiers and released his father.

And Blackseed came again after Zelus with his army. They clashed in the ravine of Anixi, and Zelus was driven down the brook to the plains of Nolesh. Then Count Zelus turned and fought Blackseed, and drove him below the Enkaa Dam to the gorge of Armak. But Joy came to the aid of the Saiph League army with dragon fire. Untanirok the chief lieutenant of Blackseed slew Count Zelus, but in his death throes Zelus sorely wounded Hovan in his thigh.

And it came to pass following the death of Hilkiah Zelus that El Shaddai sent a curse upon the land such that when any of the soldiers of the Saiph League set objects down at night, in the morning they were found to have disappeared. Blackseed said the missing goods were not a sign of the power of El Shaddai, but indicated only thieves. So everyone started keeping their worldly goods and weapons on their own person, but the invaders were steadily impoverished even as they looted Nath.

And it came to pass that Baron Nahaliel Kerresh came out of Linan and gave battle to Blackseed, who was driven to the wilderness of Shikah. And the Baron waylaid the greater part of the army of Blackseed because they were exceedingly drunken. Then seeing his foes flee before him, the Baron went nigh to the city of Mizal and plundered the encampments of the invaders.

And after that all the people in the land flocked into the army of King Garand; yea, even the women, the infirm, and the children. The war grew so bloody that the whole face of the land of Nath was covered with dead bodies, but no one took the time to bury them because they were busy marching to make more dead bodies. And the land exceedingly stank.

Then King Garand pursued Blackseed across the plains of Nolesh to the shore of Lake Enkaa. The king assembled his army on the hill of Ronmok, where he could spy over the plain upon the army of Blackseed. And King Garand gave battle for three days. Lord Blackseed fought with his back to the water. In the battle Blackseed smote upon King Garand with many wounds. The king fainted from the loss of blood and was carried away. Battle casualties were so high on both sides that Blackseed ordered his army not to pursue the armies of King Garand as they withdrew again to the city of Hadal.

And it came to pass that Telan Blackseed wrote an epistle to King Garand that he ought to surrender his forces for the sake of the lives of his people. But the king answered nay.

And it came to pass that Blackseed wrote another epistle to King Garand that if he gave himself up, and renounced his crown, he would spare the lives of the people. And the king answered nay.

And it came to pass that Blackseed wrote a third epistle to King Garand, saying, Behold, with me are six thousand staters of silver, and all these I will give thee if thou wilt renounce thy throne and step down.

King Garand refused to yield even to the sore temptation of the silver offered by Blackseed, which was enough to buy two and forty thousand measures of barley or seven hundred head of cattle. And this money had not been taken by the curse of the land, for it had been carried on the person of each person loyal to Telan Blackseed. Yet it could not be used to buy provisions in Nath, for the war campaign had run well into the harvest season, and many crops rotted in the fields while the farmers fought for the king, and the cattle had been slaughtered. It was truly worthless. So King Garand replied, May El Shaddai the true and living God curse your money.

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Strangers In Paradise