“You’ve heard of what the Albigens do,” he said. “They destroy all that they cannot take.”

“I have,” said the Abbot gravely. “But we are a pacifist sect. Strictly sworn to nonviolence. What can we do?”

“You are the only organized force in the area now that the guard has fled,” replied Haxersham. “Your monestary is the closest thing we have to a castle, with stone walls and battlements.”

“Yes, but those walls are meant to keep us in, not the world out,” the Abbot said. “Against attackers with even the most rudimentary battering ram, our walls are useless.”

Haxersham sighed. “I wish the Albigens knew that,” he said. “They will assault your monastary as if it were the personal treasury of our useless king.”

The abbot raised his eyebrows. “It’s true, they know nothing of this area,” he said. “Tell me, didn’t you mention that they had attacked Daxim, Golyya, and Firax?”

“Only Golyya and Firax,” the mayor said. “Daxim was spared.”

“Why was it spared?”

“Because it was strongly held, by a garrison that were not cowards,” said Haxersham. “Their fortress is not well-known but it is old, and it is formidible. The Albigens are raiders, not fools. They won’t let themselves be bogged down in a siege if they can’t quickly storm something.”

The Abbot nodded, staring off into the distance. “I have an idea,” he said. “We will help you, but we must do it as pacifists. No one can be hurt.”

“You’ll help us?” Haxersham cried. “But how, if we can’t attack anyone?”

“We will use the time that we have to make our monastary look like a menacing citadel,” said the Abbot. “They will not want to attack us.”

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