you're right about that,â Jalor agreed quickly. âCome, tell me what you've been doing.â
The two walked along, and as the young man talked, the plan took final shape in the mind of the small, dark Jalor.
âIt's a little dangerous to have visitors like that,â he said, shrugging his shoulders. âThey confuse things. Now, I've been watching how things are going, and it seems to me that there's a chance here for a young man with courage and daring to achieve something.â
Quickly Swiftwind glanced at him. âWhat do you mean, Jalor?â
âWell, what's the one thing that would impress your father and the rest of the tribe?â
Instantly Swiftwind said, âTo recover the lost crown of the Raiders. Ever since it was stolen by the Shadow Wings, it's been a shame on our people.â He referred to a crown of gold that had been the greatest treasure of the Winged Raiders. It went far back in their history. It had been lost in a raid when the Shadow Wings had appeared suddenly. There had been a fierce battle. Many had been wounded and some killed, and the crown had been stolen.
âExactly! I think if you could get that crown back there would be no question in Lareen's eyes when she looks at you. And your father would be pleased too.â
Swiftwind was suddenly aflame with desire. âDo you know where the crown is, Jalor?â
âWell, I think I may say that I do. Not that I have anything to do with the Shadow Wings, but I met one of their elders once. He told me the whole story. Actually, it shouldn't be too hard to get it back. They're not expecting anyone to come. It's not in a well-guarded place.â
âBut, how could we get it? My father won't go to war. I've tried to talk him into that.â
âI think I can be of some help to you. I have a map,â Jalor said, lowering his voice to a whisper and looking around as though he expected the enemy to be behind him. âIf you had just a little help, I think you might make it inside their lines.â
âWould you go with me?â
âWhy, of course,â Jalor said.
âGood, I'll get some of my friendsââ
âNo, it would get back to your father. They are very loyal to him.â
âBut we have to have some help.â
Jalor nodded. âThis may sound surprising, but suppose we ask the Sleepers to go?â
âThe Sleepers? â Swiftwind stared at him with astonishment. âWhat good are they? They're not warriors!â
âNo, but they have some power. I don't understand it exactly, but the servants of GoÃ©l get things done when strong men fail. On a mission like this, I think they might be quite helpful.â
Swiftwind looked doubtful, but he was burning with desire to go on with the feat. âAll right. I'll talk to them. They've been saying they want to do something. This will give them a chance. But once we get the crown, I will tell my father to send them back to the chores of slaves.â
âGood,â Jalor said, âand I think you must move quickly. Let me know when the plan is ready.â
âYes, I'll talk to them today.â
Swiftwind was as good as his word. He did not say a word to Lareen, for he knew she would be against the plan. Instead he went to Josh.
âJosh, you're the leader of your people. I have something to tell you.â He set forth the plan, leaving out Jalor's part in it, and his eyes glowed with excitement. âWe want the same thing,â he said. âYou want to convince my father and the tribe that GoÃ©l is strong, and I want to get the crown back. If we could do that, everyone would admit that GoÃ©l is worthy.â
Josh was wary. âWell, it sounds good,â he admitted reluctantly. âWe're not getting very far where we are, but you understand we're not Raiders. That is, we're not strong warriors.â
âI know that, but if GoÃ©l has any power, it's with you. I'm going,â he