Fantasy Fiction posted June 21, 2014 Chapters:  ...23 24 -25- 26... 

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Please Don't Mess With The Crossans

A chapter in the book The Trining


by Jay Squires

NEW TO “THE TRINING” FANTASY ADVENTURE?  You'll find summaries beginning with Cha. 2 and continuing to Cha. 23   What follows is a summary of Cha. 24 
Giln explains their lateness in meeting with Doctrex: The three needed to be of the same mind about the forced change in relationship between themselves and Doctrex.  They also needed to explain it to Zurn.  Giln tells Doctrex of his vision he had the same time Doctrex and Klasco had theirs.  Sheleck is amazed that he had the very same vision.  It was of Glnot Rhuether warning them that in their defeat their heads will be ground up for fertilizer and their bodies fed to the Pomnots.  He concluded that one of them would have his severed head delivered on a platter as a gift for Rhuether’s new Bride.  After spending the night at a Kabeezan inn, paid for by Klasco’s money, they proceeded to Camp Kabeez.
Chapter Twenty-Five
The enlistment camp was not what I had expected.  Sitting well off the road, the camp's perimeter, at least what I could make out from the front, was marked by a variety of pine trees.  There was no fence or wall so that unauthorized entrance to, or exit from, the camp would be a simple matter.

We approached the uniformed soldier standing on a platform just outside the guardhouse.  The brothers Profue and Zurn were in the lead, while I held back to observe.  They handed him their papers which he studied one by one.  Placing the papers on a ledge which extended from the door of his guardhouse, he addressed them:

"You will dismount your crossans and walk along this road to the right to barracks number four, where you will receive your training instructions."

I waited, but sensing no one would ask, I did: "And, what of their crossans?"

He had to bend from the waist to look around Sheleck and see me; when he did, he cast me a look that seemed to challenge my impudence.  "What difference does it make?  Their saddles and gear will be brought to them.  They will be given other crossans, specially trained for battle."

"But, you haven't told me what becomes of these crossans.  Are they boarded and cared for until their return from battle?"

The guard's face reddened.  "And, just who are you, mister?"

"My name is Doctrex."

Instantly, the guard snapped to attention, saluting.  "Sir," he said, "C-Commander Djars is expecting you.  May I see—I mean do you have your papers sir?"

"Yes I do.  But, first tell me what becomes of the crossans.  This surely isn't the first time this has happened that a new soldier arrives on his own crossan."

"No, sir, it happens aplenty."


"And?  And I contact a courier—and someone comes out with a crossan wagon.  He removes the saddle and the gear and brings them to the guard where they get returned to the soldier's barracks."  He stopped talking but continued to watch me.

I stared at him a while longer, until I saw him starting to squirm, and then held out my paper.  He had to go down the steps of the platform and walk between Blackie and Freckles to take it.  He made a slight bow to me, turned, went between them again, and ascended the platform.  He looked it over.  I noticed he was blinking rapidly.

"Here is what I want you to do," I told him.  "Keep the crossans here.  Do not make your call until I discuss the matter with Commander Djars.  Do you understand?"

"I do, sir.  Yes, sir."

"Giln, Sheleck, Zurn, do as this young man has instructed.  Everything will be fine."

They dismounted and made their way past the guard and to the road that curved to the right and would take them to their barracks.  As they walked Zurn looked back over his shoulder at Blackie.

I dismounted and looked up at the guard.  "Now, will you please direct me?"

"Sir … no, sir—you don't have to—I'll call Commander Djars.  You can ride your crossan to his quarters."

"But, I don't understand.  Won't they have a trained crossan for me as well, one that I'm supposed to exchange for this one?"

Clearly, the guard was flustered.  Then, he did something strange: he grinned, fatuously and shrugged.  "I won't call to have the crossans taken away.  I'll wait for further instructions on that.  And, in the meantime, I'll inform Commander Djars that you have arrived."
"Camp Commander is largely a titular position and without much actual power."

I nodded, trying to figure where Commander Djars was going with this, and afraid I knew: he was trying to lead me to a blank wall.  No one below his titled, but ineffectual, position would be able to do anything to resolve the problem.  "Well, it's wrong, Commander Djars.  We both know it's wrong.  Let's fix it."

He produced two snifters from a shelf behind his desk and poured brandy in first mine, then his.  He did this slowly and deliberately with a little smile turning up the corners of his mouth.  "I'm not sure you'd want your newly ranked position here, General Doctrex, linked to such controversy.  As a student of behavior—"

The commander droned on, but his last words: As a student of behavior… struck a chord that I couldn't connect to anything just then but I knew was vitally important … to something.

"—coming in from outside and not rising up the normal chain of command as they have had to do."  He extended the brandy to me and I took it without thanking him.

"The only important thing here is that it's wrong," I said taking a sip of its fruitiness.  "Let's not confuse that issue with anyone's petty jealousy and greed.  Who was the person who initiated this peculiar procedure?  And, how long has it been in effect?"

"Since before I was named commander.  I believe it was suggested by one of the training officers to the previous commander.  I'm sure he was immediately promoted.  General Doctrex, does it make any sense at all that a crossan trained in battle might be a better companion than an old, swayback plow crossan that carried him to the camp?"

"Yes it does, Commander.  It makes perfect sense.  But, I think it goes deeper than that.  Why shouldn't all new recruits or inductees be given with his letter an attached note that warns them of the drawbacks of arriving at the camp on the backs of their crossans.  Give them advance warning so a relative or friend can accompany them and take back the crossan.  What additional reason is there that such a letter doesn't accompany their papers?"
Commander Djars downed the rest of his brandy, set the snifter on the desk, turned and walked to the window that looked out to a courtyard.  He stood there thus, his arms behind him, seeming very comfortable in this titular position.  I think he enjoyed knowing that he could stand in this way at the window, rocking heel-to-toe and being fairly certain that the other would wait for him to turn around with his answer.

"Can you think of a reason, Commander Djars?

He turned to me.  "I can think of a reason, General Doctrex, why those notes aren't attached to the letters of enlistment."

I waited for him to tell me and when he didn't, I asked him, again.

"Some of the recruits are mere children, General Doctrex.  They have a warm hearth and family at home.  Most are spoiled.  And, certainly they—and all the recruits, for that matter—have been conditioned by a society that encourages non-violence and passivity.  This first act they experience from the guard who reviews their papers is designed to give them a strong dose of Authoritarianism.  They understand immediately that their new lives are going to be polar opposites of their lives back home.  From the military viewpoint it's a good thing."

"And, from the human and moral standpoint it's not a good thing.  There are other, humane ways of teaching them the military way."

He shrugged.  "And someday, a humane and more nonviolent, passive military will adopt it.  But, for now—"

"What do they do with the crossans, Commander?  Just answer me that?"

"Understand, General Doctrex, the military cannot afford to care for them over an extended—"

"What do they do with them?"

"Let's just say many impoverished people would be going without food if it weren't for the crossan flesh.  And, may I add that when properly prepared it has become a delicacy for the more … privileged classes."

"Which leaves less for the impoverished.  My goodness, Commander, does the military inhumanity never end?"

Commander Djars merely smiled.

"We need to fix this."

"I'm afraid that would be impossible at this time."

"Then, I must add my crossan to the other three at the guardhouse and inform Klasco Braanz that his gifts to his four friends are to be slaughtered so the privileged classes and—if there is any remaining—the impoverished will have dinner tonight."  I watched the color in his face drain with the mention of Klasco Braanz.

"Of c-course," he stammered, "we shall make an exception in the case of the three crossans.  And … and yours was never in question, General."

"But, indeed it was, and is, Commander!  There will be no exceptions.  I will accept nothing less than the reversal of the current directive.  The slaughter of the recruit's crossans will desist at once."

The color came back into his face … and then kept coming until it was flaming red.  I thought he might be having a stroke or heart attack.  He was shaking.  Sitting down in his chair, he stared out the window.  His eyes started to tear.  "Yes, General, as of this moment there will be no more seizure of the crossans.  A request will go to the Council of Twelve to have the note be attached to the recruits' papers."

"I will take care of the second part, Commander.  Just make sure the first part is enforced."

"It will, General Doctrex."  He pushed a button and soon the door opened and a young man in military uniform entered.  Inside the door he snapped to attention and saluted.  We returned it.  "Is General Doctrex' quarters ready?"

"Yes, sir," the soldier said.

"Then show him the way."  Then the Commander turned to me.  "General Doctrex," he said with a little dip of his head.

"Commander Djars," I countered, but without the bow, and left with the young man.
*     *     *

  • Doctrex:  The name Axtilla gave to the man who woke up on the shoure of an alien land without memory or identity.
  • Axtilla:  The young lady who discovered the ailing man on the shore, brought him to health and then held him captive, certain he is Pondria.
  • Pomnots:  (Pom = Dark not = Force)  Formerly on the plane below, these ancestors of the people of the Encloy were drawn up to the Kojutake during the Bining's 30 days of darkness.  Fierce, living for their appetites, they are not above killing each other to satisfy their insatiable hunger.
  • Glnot Rhuether:  According to Axtilla, the name of the dark entity who is destined to empower the lodging [the Trining] on their plane.
  • Klasco Braanz: Husband to Metra and father to Sarisa and Klea.
  • Metra Braanz: Wife to Klasco and mother to Sarisa and Klea
  • Sarisa Braanz: Klasco's and Metra's youngest daughter.
  • Klea Braanz: Klasco's and Metra's eldest daughter
  • Giln Profue: One of the three who helped Doctrex & Klasco in the Tavern Brawl.
  • Sheleck Profue: One of the three who helped Doctrex & Klasco in the Tavern Brawl & was stabbed.
  • Zurn: Intellectually challenged, Giln and Sheleck are watching out for him.
  • Crossans: They are similar to horses, but broader in the chest and sloping down to smaller haunches than horses.
  • Trining: 1) According to The Book of Kyre it is “a sudden, easy and complete translation of authority.”  2) A code word used by the enemies in the Far Northern Province marking the beginning of the all-out assault by Glnot Rhuether on the other provinces.
  • Kunsin: The magic that Pondria possessed.
  • Kojutake: In the provinces it is the afterlife.
  • Prevaluate: In the provinces, it is where you go just after you die, where you measure yourself to find out whether you will go to Kojutake
  • Papper: In the provinces, the ability of one language being automatically translated into another so there is no reason for one to learn a foreign language.
  • Commander Djars:  Commander of Camp Kabeez.  Doctrex’s nemesis while there.


NOTE: Reluctantly, but at the request of many Fanstorians, I am including a Glossary of Characters and Terms. I trust the reader who measures his/her interest by the length of the "scanning bar" will keep in mind the space that list takes up.
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