When the armies of Armageddon gathered on the Endless Plains, the warrior-shaman Orfie did the only thing he could think of. He fell asleep.
He had always had a gift for sleeping. When he was a child, Orfie stepped beyond the edge of the village and saw a manticore stalking the bush. His eyes widened in horror, and his muscles became loose. The wild animal looked directly at him with its lion head and made a step in his direction. Orfie fell to the ground asleep.
When the elders discovered him, half buried in the underbrush, their only answer was that the manticore had assumed he was dead and left for live prey.
At the time of his age-coming ceremony, the central fire of the village cast its illusions of the horrors of the wilds and war and death and what lay beyond at all the boys who were going through the initiation. One monster reached its talons out as if to rake Orfie’s face, and he fell forward toward the fire, fast asleep before he landed.
But it was after he landed that the villagers discovered the strangeness of it. The fire, which the boys were instructed to resist and defeat if they wished to become men, did not burn Orfie. In fact, as his body fell into the flames, they went cold, and the soft ash cushioned his fall. All around, the fire still burned, but it left not a single mark on Orfie’s body, and so they declared him a man.
During a small tribal war—a highly ritualized affair involving only a few warriors at a time—Orfie followed his fellow warriors and fought well with the korpe stick and the spear. But when the enemy tribe broke tradition to ambush Orfie and the other victorious fighters of his tribe, he tripped over a snake of a vine and fell asleep. When he awoke, he found himself at the bottom of a hidden ravine, wrapped in the camouflaging leaves of the lotus-lilies. Beside him in the ravine he saw the sleeping forms of his tribe-mates. It was the first sign that his magic was growing, the first time it had put others asleep as well. He heard the sounds of the enemies desperately searching for them fade away.
Then he woke up his tribe-mates, and they returned home.
Throughout the years as he learned to serve his tribe as both warrior and shaman, his sleep magic saved him many times, occasionally reaching out to save those around him.
So when the armies gathered from all corners of the earth, when he saw the heroes of Amonti on their rearing mammoths and the hordes of the Aglish surrounding their necromancer-king and the fighting beasts of Lamadu straining at their leashes, when he heard the thunder of a myriad soldiers and uncountable spears and swords and w -- [End of Preview.]