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Santiago has a vision of an invading army. After consulting one of the guides of the caravan, Santiago resolves to tell the chiefs of the oasis what the omens of the desert have shown him.
Santiago tells the chiefs and, after some deliberation, they decide to ready themselves for war - even though this is against the tradition of the oasis, which is usually considered neutral ground. The chiefs make a stipulation: if the enemy arrives, the chief will give Santiago a piece of gold for every 10 enemies slain; if Santiago's vision is wrong, he will be killed.