|Written by:||Lisa Godin (bio, contact, other stories)|
|Story type:||Serial Fiction|
|Location:||Cleveland Ohio USA|
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|Written by:||Lisa Godin (bio, contact, other stories)|
|Story type:||Serial Fiction|
|Location:||Cleveland Ohio USA|
Ohnaà sat before her fire, unusually quiet even for her. For months, Ojah had kept watch over his mate's change, noting how little she ate, awakened each night by her tossing, turning, and moaning. Worried, Ojah sat beside his warrior.
"You are still bothered."
Heaving a heavy sigh Ohnaà continued to gaze into her fire.
"You have not eaten today. I will warm up some stew for you."
Ohnaà shook her head.
"Talk to me."
Ohnaà looked at Ojah, her dark eyes tired.
"The dreams have returned."
"The same ones?"
"They give you fear?"
"How can a dream inspire fear in you, a mighty warrior?"
"It is true I fear no man or beast, Ojah, but unable to fight in these dreams am I afraid."
"What do you dream?"
"A man and a woman appear in the beginning of the dream. The woman holds and sings to me. These people are not my parents, Codot and E-flet."
"Who are they?"
Ohnaà choked on the very word.
"Next I see fire and hear shouts. I hear the thunder of running horses. The woman puts me down and the man flees with the woman. I see the face of Codot, my mother, who picks me up. More fire do I see. Blood scents the air. Darkness swallows me."
"It was the raid."
"I was a baby Ojah. Why do I remember these things? Why does this man and woman continue to haunt me?"
"To remind you of who you are."
The warrior glared at Ojah with such ferocity that he recoiled.
"I am Ohnaà, daughter of Codot and E-flet. I am Amazoni. That is who I am!"
"Your heart is Amazoni, Ohnaà but your blood is of another people. It speaks to you because the spirits make it so."
"I do not deny," Ohnaà growled, "that I am born Shesh, that I am dark like Shesh, that I own the greater strength and hot blood of Shesh. It is not right that the spirits that I serve plague me with images of a time long dead, of a people I do not call my own."
"Have you spoken with Medicine Woman about this?"
Ohnaà shook her head.
"You must make peace with yourself, Ohnaà, for I fear you will die if this is not solved. Medicine Woman can help."
Ohnaà blinked back the tears clouding her eyes as she wiped dry Ojah's falling tears.
"For you, Ojah, I will go."
Ohnaà hugged Ojah tightly.
That night Ohnaà struggled to remain awake, but it was a futile battle. Under Ojah's watchful eye, she drifted to sleep.
Immediately it went dark, and a frigid breeze roared. Slowly the image of a man and woman materialized before the furiously dreaming warrior, their faces smiling and friendly.
The dream woman began singing, her high lilting voice echoing through the glacial breeze.
A blast of flame suddenly erupted all around; the woman screamed.
Shouts echoed through Ohnaà's tortured mind, rising to deafening pitch, mixed with the whinnying of horses. The beat of their hoofs pounded the earth.
The painted face of a woman slowly issued through thickening smoke, her long blond hair decorated with three swaying black feathers.
Ohnaà moaned in her sleep, recognizing her mother, Codot, looming larger, her piercing blue eyes staring.
The raw breeze turned into a powerful wind before all went dark.
A shout escaped Ohnaà who bolted upright with a start.
Breathing hard, her naked brawn glistening with sweat, she rubbed her eyes and ran strong hands through her onyx hair.
Awake instantly, Ojah rested a comforting pale cool hand upon Ohnaà's muscled arm.
Growling softly to herself, the warrior settled beneath her fur covers, falling asleep instantly.
Midmorning Ohnaà sat before the fire puffing her pipe.
Ojah put his kettle of stew over the fire, stirring as it heated.
"You are hungry?"
Ohnaà shrugged massive mahogany-skinned shoulders as she exhaled a thick cloud of smoke.
"You will eat even if it is just a bite."
"You take care of me well, Ojah."
Smiling, Ojah spooned Ohnaà's breakfast of warm boar stew into her wooden bowl, added a flattened wooden spoon and a dash of sugar, and handed it to his warrior.
"You would be lost without me."
Ohnaà began to eat in spite of her lack of appetite.
"Make sure you tell no one of this. I would be teased without mercy."
"I also told her of your dreams and of my worry."
"Why?" Ohnaà snapped.
"She is your best friend. Like it or not, I will not allow you to be alone in this bad time you go through."
Setting aside her half-eaten stew Ohnaà prepared the pipe beside her.
Ojah hurriedly ate his breakfast.
"You will see Medicine Woman?"
Ojah went to his corner where his sewing pouch lay beside a pile of skins and fringe that were to become Ohnaà's new moccasins. Humming softly, he began his sewing.
Et-esh made her appearance with a smile.
"There is plenty of stew left," Ohnaà offered.
Et-esh assumed her place opposite her friend.
"I have already eaten."
Ohnaà handed Et-esh her smoldering pipe.
The war chief luxuriated in a lungful of smoke, exhaling slowly before surrendering the pipe.
"Ojah told me you know of my dreams, young one."
"It hurts that I learn from him rather than you," Et-esh complained.
Ohnaà tapped out her pipe's ashes.
"I could not tell you."
"Why? You are my friend, Ohnaà, one I would gladly give my life for!"
"My weakness I could not share."
"You are not weak, just troubled. If I can I will help you. Insult me again by not sharing your heart, I will drag you to the lake outside of camp and dunk you."
"I am too strong for you."
"My war party will do the deed."
"I promised Ojah that I would visit Medicine Woman.You can help by joining me, young one."
Shesh-Amazoni and war chief stood before the medicine tepee.
"Enter Ohnaà and Et-esh," came a voice from within the lodge.
"Medicine Woman has a third eye I think," Et-esh whispered.
"And a third ear as well," Medicine Woman called.
Ohnaà chuckled softly and led the way inside.
Seated before her scented fire, the elderly shaman grinned.
"It is good to see you both. You rarely visit."
The warriors sat.
"The spirits have spoken to me so I know why you come, Ohnaà. Your problem is a grave one. I will help you begin your path of discovery. Are you prepared to trail the difficult path that awaits you, daughter of Codot, but born of another?"
Ohnaà inclined her head.
"Et-esh, are you prepared to help this warrior?"
"I am prepared."
Medicine Woman picked up her oversized purse of white wolf skin lying beside her.
"We will go to the yellow caves. But we must walk, Ohnaà. As you walk you will clear your mind so that the spirits may better speak to you."
"I will follow with strong legs and pure heart, shaman."
"Et-esh, with wild horse swiftness run to the yellow caves to prepare. Build a small fire. Around it you will make a wide circle of rock. Sit within the sacred circle so the strength of your friendship will make Ohnaà safe."
In the blink of an eye the war chief was gone.
Medicine Woman stood, shouldering her medicine purse.
Ohnaà remained seated, closing her eyes.
Resting a firm gnarled hand atop the warrior's ebony-haired crown, Medicine Woman began to chant, her words mesmerizing and repetitive. Soon, Ohnaà joined in the song to the spirits for guidance, her voice strong and clear. After an hour's preparatory singing, Medicine Woman led the way to the yellow caves a mile from the village.
Et-esh sat in the cave of sulfur stone within the rock circle she constructed, feeding the fire a twig or two.
Ohnaà and Medicine Woman appeared; the shaman nodded.
"You have done well, war chief."
Et-esh vacated the circle.
Medicine Woman delved into her medicine purse and drew from it a small, worn pouch bulging at the seams. Singing in a language unknown to the warriors, she sprinkled white powder within and around the stone circle. The fire flared on its own on the shaman's final pass. "Ohnaà," she sharply commanded, "sit before the fire."
Retrieving another pouch from her purse, Medicine Woman sprinkled a pungent herb upon Ohnaà's head. "Open your mouth." A pinch was placed on Ohnaà's tongue. "That will help you receive your vision. Et-esh and I will leave you now." Medicine Woman handed Ohnaà her herb pouch. "This is powerful, warrior. If you need more, take it."
Et-esh raised a hand in salute before leaving with Medicine Woman.
Arms folded across her chest, Ohnaà sat staring into the fire a long while, her mind clear, her senses sharp.
She indulged in another pinch of bitter herb. Almost immediately she became light-headed, her strong body tingly. Closing her eyes she lay on her back.
The familiar cold breeze enveloped the warrior's dream image standing in an unfamiliar forest clearing. She drew her knife as the Shesh man and woman materialized.
"Stay your hand, strong warrior," the man intoned, "for you cannot harm us here."
Scowling, feeling foolish, Ohnaà sheathed her knife.
"Ohnaà," the dream woman asked, "born of Shesh, great Amazoni warrior leader, do you know who we are?"
"My real parents?"
"Correct," the man image replied. "Come to the Northern Shesh. I, Beeshko, and your mother, Geesahday, await you."
"You will then not haunt me?"
"All will be explained," the dream couple repeated as they gradually grew transparent until nothing remained but the vision forest clearing."
Ohnaà sat up, her mind clear and at peace as she gazed with new eyes upon the yellow cave's smooth walls and the stones of the sacred circle within which she sat with its long cold fire.
Striding through camp, Ohnaà's change was recognized by all in her light step and peaceful eyes. Et-esh ran to join her as she headed toward her tepee.
"You are at peace now."
"Yes, young one. I know what I am to do."
Respecting the privacy a vision afforded, Et-esh posed no questions, pleased that Ohnaà had returned with a new outlook.
"May I eat with you and Ojah this night?"
"I have other plans with him."
"Then I will see you tomorrow."
"No, Et-esh. I will be gone many days."
"Then I will see you when I see you, my friend."
Entering her tepee Ohnaà found Ojah sewing finishing touches upon the moccasin he was working on.
"Sit with me before the fire. We must talk, my mate."
Ojah joined his warrior.
"I must travel to the Northern Shesh. Through Medicine Woman's power granting my vision, I do not know how long I will be gone."
"I will pray to the spirits to keep you safe on your journey. I will ask them to give you strength in whatever test Shesh demand to make you whole."
"And I, Ojah, will carry you in my heart while away."
Ojah hugged his warrior fiercely.
That night Ohnaà made passionate love to Ojah.
The next morning Ohnaà's appetite returned with a vengeance. To Ojah's delight she ate three bowls of boar stew. Donning her bow and quiver, she fiercely hugged Ojah before leaving for the nation of her birth, the Northern Shesh.
The journey was uneventful and pleasant until she met a mounted party of six barefoot Shesh armed with bows and quivers. Bare-chested on this hot day, their hide trousers and colorful trade cloth bandannas were damp with sweat. Defensively, they surrounded their visitor.
"You are the Shesh-Amazoni called Ohnaà," the leader in orange bandana declared.
"What brings you our way?"
"A vision dictates I speak with Beeshko and his woman."
"You know them?"
"It is said they are my parents."
"Your vision says this?" another Shesh asked.
"It is so," Ohnaà replied having nothing to hide.
The Shesh leader relaxed. "Our hunt can wait," he declared. "Beckoned by powerful vision it is only fitting that we escort you to our village."
The party headed toward home, with Ohnaà bringing up the rear. A young Shesh warrior in white bandana reined up beside Ohnaà.
"Beeshko and Geesahday are shamans."
"I did not know this."
The Shesh leader in orange bandana pulled up beside Ohnaà.
"I have heard a lot about you," the young warrior went on. "Your name is spoken with grudging respect."
"And you, young one, do you share your elders' respect?"
"We are enemies."
"Our nations no longer fight."
"To me you are still an enemy. One day I will face you. I will see if you are as mighty as the stories tell."
"You are determined to kill me, young one."
The warrior nodded before returning to the party's head.
"My son, Tohzahn, is headstrong and overeager to prove himself. There has been peace between our nations for many seasons and I will make sure it stays that way."
"That is good to know. Join your son so he does not get us lost."
The Shesh leader grinned.
The party's arrival drew a mob. All had heard of Ohnaà while few had actually fought her. Many pointed and whispered. Hidden behind her austere mask of stone, she basked in the awe of her audience.
Ohnaà's Shesh escorts led her past one tall, sun-baked, clay lodge after another, and reined up to the domed clay lodge of the shamans.
"Wait inside for Beeshko and his woman, Geesaday," the Shesh party leader instructed.
Ohnaà sat before the low fire, glancing about the walls decorated with sacred masks of painted clay and horse hair. Heaving a heavy sigh, she folded her arms across her chest and focused her attention upon the fire.
Minutes later, shamans Beeshko and his wife, Geesahday, both dressed in long hooded robes of silver silk made entrance.
"Welcome my daughter," Geesahday greeted.
"I am Ohnaà, daughter of Codot of the Amazoni."
Geesahday's smile faded.
"I gave birth to you, rude warrior."
"I do not mean to be rude. It is true you gave birth to me, but Codot was my mother."
"You are honest to a fault," Beeshko observed.
"Honesty can be taken many ways. It is the way of Amazoni. It is my way."
"It is a good way then," Geesahday conceded.
Not one to mince words, Ohnaà came to the point.
"I come because your medicine casts a spell on me with nightmares of the raid that brought me to become Amazoni. I wish you and Beeshko to end them and bring me peace."
"Acknowledge your Shesh blood," Beeshko countered.
"I do not deny from where I sprang," Ohnaà growled. "I look like Shesh."
"Yet you carry no pride in it," Geesahday observed.
"I am Amazoni!"
"No," Beeshko retorted. "You are Shesh with an Amazoni heart. There is no shame in it. Amazoni know you are both and accept it. Shesh strength, will, greater courage are what make your Amazoni heart beat like no other. Only full acceptance of your Shesh heritage will bring you peace. Denial plagues you," Beeshko insisted. "We made you, Amazoni shaped you. You cannot separate the two. Your two nation lineage makes you strong."
"Go in peace, daughter of Codot," Geesahday bade. "We hope you will remember us kindly."
Answering with a curt nod, Ohnaà held up a hand in farewell.
Ohnaà met Et-esh on her way back from corralling her horse.
"All went well?"
"It was a good trip."
"Ojah will be pleased."
The friends walked in the direction of Ohnaà's lodge.
"As my best friend, Ohnaà, always have I spoken my heart to you." Et-esh stopped. "It never mattered that you are not born Amazoni. You are a great warrior and wise leader. But more than that you are as a sister joined beyond blood." Et-esh hurried away so Ohnaà wouldn't see how shaken with
emotion she was.
Struggling to compose herself, Ohnaà continued on toward her tepee. No longer would she worry where she belonged. She was truly home.