I write you this letter with the heaviest our hearts, for I must inform you that yesterday, a number of our brethren lost their lives. I can only hope that they were good-hearted and faithful enough, and have now passed on into the Golden Teacup that we all wish to enter someday.
We were traveling on the road toward Easton for the annual Blessing of the Cucumber festival. In accordance with your wise decree, we had armed ourselves with prop weapons. Because we are a non-violent order, many of us found this distasteful, but we understood your explanation that this may deter bandits. Nonetheless, we would follow any order that you issue, regardless of whether we understand your reasoning or your inspiration!
Our carts were loaded with gifts for the children of Easton: from trinkets and playthings, to valuable goods, and even some magical items to cure their sicknesses and keep them safe. We also carried a number of weapons to destroy at the annual “Nonviolence Begins With Me Destroying These Weapons” convention next week.
Our newest acolytes were in the second day of the blessed ritual of New Life, only one more day away from giving up the evil and violence of the world, to become brothers and sisters in our church. The hooded robes they wore represented their skins they had been born into; they would soon cast them aside and be born again into the faith! The silver collars around their necks represented the burdensome materialism of society; they would soon unchain themselves and have all of their needs met by the love of the Holy Turnip! And the cages they rode inside represented the sin that most men can never free themselves of; yet soon our acolytes would slip through their restraints and walk free of sin. Their lives were to begin anew is just one more day, and our family would grow and blosssom!
We camped in the road for the night, with three of our brothers chanting vespers from atop the carts, and preparing to greet any fellow travelers with blessings for the road. The rest of us were saying prayers in our tents, and about to knit some nice blankets for the elderly and infirm of Easton.
Suddenly, we heard a shout from our brothers outside! I crawled out of my tent to discover Brother Bob was dead on his wagon, with arrows and bolts through his chest! He had been cuddling sweet Kitty Booboo, and I could see her bloodied, unmoving paw crushed beneath his body.
Brother Gus and Brother Brather had been attacked as well, but had not yet fallen.
Confusion overtook our camp as death continued to rain down upon us! Father Peacelove cast a holy spell of daylight in order to drive away the darkness which cloaked the murderers. It was then that we saw the vile beasts! They looked at first to be orcs, but then we realized that they were men… men who had thrown away their last morsel of humanity. They sought not only to murder us, but also to disparage an entire race of sentient beings. Their hate was almost palpable.
“Remember our tenets!” I cried to our brothers. For the most part they remained huddled behind the wagons, or struggling in the tents. We would bear the brutal attack, and respond with love, for this is our way.
One of the murderers had emerged from the woods nearby. He was a slow-moving, mean-looking brute – a dwarf, with a gleam of malice in his eyes. He began to cast an evil spell at us. I cast the Spell of Repentence, which would hold him in place and give him a chance to reconsider his foul deeds.
Meanwhile, Father Peacelove summoned a carebear at the edge of our encampment, where a horde of attackers were hiding. The carebear, with its hugs and goofgas, would hopefully make these murderers realize there was more to life than killing and plundering.
These occurrences seemed to confuse the evil men – these men that would call us their enemies, but that we would rather befriend – and so some of our brothers used this confusion to bravely walk toward them with open arms. There is no better time to spread the word, than when the difference between Our Way and Their Way is most apparent and obvious.
Luckily, their leaders seemed to have been caught in the carebear’s goofgas, and before a minute had transpired from the beginning of the attack, the murderers had fled into the woods.
Sadly, we grouped together and prayed over our fallen. Brother Bob and Kitty Booboo had been the first to pass on, but we also lost Brother Fahrtstorm and Brother Timmy. Our voices rising as one, we performed the Great Sad Wailing. Then we had some tea with biscuits and marmalade, and went back to bed.
After about an hour, Father Peacelove’s daylight spell blinked away, and the darkness swept in again. Just minutes thereafter, we heard the sound of bowstrings again as fiery arrows shot through the air and set our tents alight!
The arrows were coming dangerously close to our acolytes in their cages, so I asked the brothers to hitch the “horses” and break camp. Some of the horses, of course, were the unicorns which we had rescued from the horn harvesters, and had nursed back to health. Their horns had not yet grown back, but we could see in their intelligent eyes that they were beginning to trust mankind again. The others were the wingless pegasi that had lost their wings saving babies from forest fires, and now were a loving part of our family.
The arrows stopped for a minute or two, but then started coming from the other direction!
Although I couldn’t see the attackers, I stepped in front of the camp and attempted to cast Let’s All Just Get Along. Meanwhile, Father Peacelove summoned another carebear, and three of our brothers took up torches and ran into the night – toward those who would kill us! Our brothers would be willing to martyr themselves, in their attempt to spread the Truth.
I thought for a moment that Let’s All Just Get Along had found receptive ears, but then the sound of foul, unholy singing came from the woods and dispelled my own magic. We could do nothing but continue preparing our caravan, while the torchlight from our brothers grew more distant.
At one point, one of our acolytes shouted from their ritual cage: “Stop attacking us, or we will kill!” He was too young, and did not yet understand our ways. But before anyone could admonish him, a stray arrow from the darkness struck one of the other acolytes! The wounded acolyte screamed in pain.
“We’re serious!” shouted the first acolyte again, but again more arrows flew from the darkness and hit more of our young.
At one point, Father Peacelove summoned a pair of lovewolves, who ran off into the darkness in search of combatants to knock over and cuddle. Luckily, the attackers had retreated up the road and were now so far away that the arrows had stopped, but we feared for the lives of our brothers who had run out to face them.
Eventually, two of the brothers returned, running down the road. Brother Frodo had gone with them, but had not come back… his sacrifice had bought us all enough time to prepare the caravan. And worse, he had carried with him little Puppy Cuddlebone, who we knew was lost to us as well. The savages!
But, alas, our trial was not over. Arrows began to rain down on us once more! In desperation, we ran for cover in the woods. But… the horror! They were not just aiming for us! Instead, they targeted the sad, hornless unicorns and the proud, wingless pegasi. They slaughtered our friends, who we had selfishly bound to the carts, and stood helpless as the arrows stole their lives one by one.
We would have left at that point, but we could not abandon our acolytes in their cages; nor could we disrupt the ritual that they had been working toward for so long.
Father Peacelove wailed in anguish, and tearfully ripped off his cloak. “My love for all of you is greater than my faith,” he cried. “I will see you safe, in this moment, but will no longer be able to meet you in the Golden Teacup. I am no longer Father Peacelove; I will wander this land known simply as Uncle Ragekill.” With that, he drew a black wand from his backpack. It was an evil wand of magic missiles, which he had intended to destroy at the Nonviolence Begins With Me Destroying These Weapons convention.
“No! Don’t do this!” I urged, but he had already chosen his path. He stepped away from us, and moments later we heard the whizzing of magical arrows. By attacking the murderers, he had sacrificed his everlasting happiness in order to protect us. We moved away from him, deeper into the woods, because we all knew that he would never again be welcome among us.
We huddled in the woods, but realized that at least some of our attackers must have been able to see in the dark. They would surely slay us all! We began to collect firewood, throwing it in a pile on the road near the treeline. Once it was alight, it dimly lit the woods around us, but did little to ease our minds.
Time passed… whether it was minutes or hours I could not say. The night seemed endless. We arranged ourselves in groups of two or three, collecting fallen branches from the forest floor and then hurrying back to the fire. Our supply of firewood was dwindling.
Then, suddenly, things started to happen around us. We heard the sounds of battle – surely just paces away, but obscured by the tree and echoing so that we didn’t know where it was! Then, on the road, a horrible sight… cinders from our fire had caught in the wind and landed in the oily rags that we kept in the first cage of acolytes! Instantly I realized that it had been a bad place to store them, but it was a lesson learned too late. Flames started to spread around our young recruits, and they shouted in panic. Their screams of fear turned quickly into screams of pain as the fire spread.
And to make matters worse, we saw movement in the second cage. Our two newest acolytes, Brother Notaspy and Brother Notaspytoo, were attempting to tip the cage over. I shuddered as I realized that they were possibly spies for the very men who were attacking us!
I faltered then, since it seemed hope was lost. Our acolytes were burning to death, and our other brothers had been ambushed in the woods. We started to call out, begging for help, in the misplaced hope that the murderers still held a shred of humanity and would help our young brothers and sisters… or at least stop attacking us and give us a chance to save them. I sent two brothers into the woods to carry our pleas, but no relief came.
In what seemed like mere moments, the world was calm again. Save for our sobs, the woods were silent. We knew that five more brothers lay dead in the woods, and that our acolytes were gone. Those in the first cage had perished, and those in the second cage had been abducted by the traitors. Uncle Ragekill was lost to us. Utterly vanquished, we fled into the woods in all directions.
Now, light has finally come, and there is no sign that we were pursued. We lost two more brothers in the forest as we ran; I can only hope that they simply lost their way and that we will be reunited. So as I write this letter, there are only five of us… badly beaten, and without hope. I am dispatching this note with our faithful messenger, Turtley Wurtley, in the hopes that it reaches you. I implore you to let our story be known, and warn our brothers. The roads of the kingdom are no longer safe for us! And, don’t store your oily rags around the acolytes!
In your service,