|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, wrapping the final, sticky sinew around the last arrow's metal head she had honed to a razor's edge the night before. These wonderful Trader inventions were among the few goods she really appreciated. Trade mirrors, pots, and blankets were fine, but nothing compared to the power of a whetted metal arrowhead. She gently rested the arrow next to the others drying before the fire.
In his corner, Ojah rested from his sewing.
"You are like Et-esh with her horses, my warrior. Your arrows are too many."
Grinning, Ohnaà sat beside Ojah. She held up a cut piece of soft, stretched, tan hide.
"You enjoy the rewards of too many arrows. I supply you with skins to make your hands never idle and meat to fill your belly. My guess is that you own more new dresses than Et-esh has horses, and twice the number of my arrows."
Ojah snatched the skin from the grinning Shesh-Amazoni.
"I should sew this skin over your gloating face in gratitude."
Laughing, Ohnaà jerked her head, flipping a long, thick, onyx lock of hair off her face.
"How would that show gratitude?"
"It would silence you about the number of my dresses, and I would be grateful for the silence."
Ohnaà chuckled softly.
Ojah set aside his sewing.
"You are hungry for boar stew, my warrior?"
Ohnaà's smile faded, her obsidian eyes smoldering as she stared into Ojah's azure gaze. Seizing the front of his dress, she yanked him close.
"It is not boar that I hunger for."
Ojah slid cool pale hands over Ohnaà's mahogany-skinned muscled arms, aroused by the feel of their great size and solidity.
"I have great hunger for you this night," Ohnaà whispered between hard kisses upon Ojah's pale neck, "and I will take you."
Ojah pushed the warrior from him as part of the game.
Ohnaà seized Ojah's long, flaxen hair, yanking his head back hard. "I will have you," she growled. "You cannot resist me." She scooped him into her strong arms. "You never could."
"Your hold over me is too strong, my warrior."
"I know. I have taken your heart, and now I will take all you can give me."
Ojah giggled as he was carried to the high bed of thick, soft furs and gently rested upon them.
Ohnaà quickly sloughed her skimpy bikini skins. Standing boldly naked, aroused by Ojah's admiration of her brawn; she glared down at him with mock ferocity.
Ojah shed his dress.
With a low growl, Ohnaà was upon her mate.
Repeatedly Ohnaà made passionate love to Ojah, her appetite for him insatiable. Carried away by her fervor she awarded him no rest, her own pleasure selfishly paramount. The more demanding Ohnaà became, the harder Ojah worked to satisfy her.
Drenched in sweat, quaking in explosive release, every muscle taut, Ohnaà's needs were at last quenched. She rolled off Ojah and rested, panting. Gradually she calmed.
"Ah yah! Again you coax the beast from within, Ojah."
"I am glad I pleased you."
Ohnaà affectionately ran a dark finger down Ojah's nose. Eyes heavy, she fell asleep in seconds.
Ojah pulled the fur blanket over them both and fell asleep, content.
After breakfast, Ohnaà met Et-esh at the corral to assist in the war chief's riding lessons. Seven five-season-olds mounted and armed with bows and quivers, watched Et-esh set up a human-shaped target made of grass for the day's lesson of learning to shoot from a moving horse, a skill essential on the hunt and in battle.
Ohnaà walked up to a student whose bowstring was frayed.
"Chooka. You expect to shoot with that bow?"
The child nodded.
"Do you have your spare bowstring with you?"
Chooka shook her head.
"An Amazoni always makes sure her weapons are sound and carries what she needs for repairs. It can mean the difference between meat and hunger. Also, you forgot your knife. In battle you would be defenseless if you could not use your bow."
"I am always picked on! It is not fair!" Chooka whined.
"An Amazoni does not complain either."
Chooka looked to Et-esh for rescue but found no warmth in her stern expression.
"Go home, Chooka. Tomorrow come prepared," Et-esh ordered.
Flushed with embarrassment, Chooka walked her horse home.
Et-esh's class resumed.
After Et-esh's class, Ohnaà ambled to Chooka's tepee but found only her mother, Hoongsha-oot, sitting outside smoking her pipe.
"If you are looking for Chooka, she is not here."
"Where is she?"
"She stomped to the yellow caves to pout."
Ohnaà rode Appaloosa swiftly the mile to the caves to find Chooka sitting outside one of them, angrily pawing the ground with the heel of her left fringed knee-high moccasin. "What are you doing here?" she demanded ceasing her foot pounding.
Ohnaà sat beside the child.
"You shamed me. You made Et-esh shame me."
Ohnaà drew her knife and plunged it into the ground.
"Return my knife to me."
"Return my knife."
Chooka struggled but the knife remained fast in the ground.
"What have you learned?"
"I cannot remove it," Chooka growled. "You knew I could not."
"Why can you not return my knife?"
"Now you make fun of me!"
"Why can you not return my knife?" Ohnaà insisted.
"It is too deep."
Ohnaà yanked the weapon from the ground.
"What else did you learn?"
"I am not strong enough."
"One day you will be strong enough and the task will be nothing to you."
Chooka shook her head with confusion.
"In time, young one, you will become like the knife, holding strong and firm. It has no fear or hesitation. You hesitated when I asked you to give the knife back.
"Et-esh is teaching you to hone your skills, and you must be prepared to meet the challenge. You were not prepared. An angry boar will not care if your bow is in disrepair. It will attack and his tusks will tear you apart. An enemy will take advantage of you having no knife, and your scalp would be his.
"You must be as the earth that embraced the knife by remembering every important lesson, large or small. To become a strong warrior you must learn to be undefeated by weapons and words."
Chooka nodded in dawning understanding.
Ohnaà sheathed her knife.
"Come. I will help you fix your bow string. You are a good rider?"
"You will guide my horse."
Chooka grinned, honored that Ohnaà had confidence that she would be able to control the strong, spirited animal accustomed only to the Shesh-Amazoni at the reins.
Months passed, summer graduated into autumn while camp life continued its steady pulse. Ohnaà supplemented Et-esh's training of Chooka, watching the child grow stronger and more proficient with weapons. After an intense lesson in hand-to-hand combat, Ohnaà called a halt. Glistening with sweat and impressed with the child's rapid progress, Ohnaà clamped a hand upon Chooka's shoulder.
"You are much like Et-esh when I trained her. Now you are fearless. You show great strength and cunning. One day you will be at my side in battle."
"I would like that. But for now, can I go home?"
Chuckling, Ohnaà nodded.
With a five-season-old's exuberance, Chooka dashed away.
Later that day an unusual visitor staggered into camp, weary and dazed, his feet bloody, his boar skin pants bloodstained. He collapsed face down, unconscious. Big and powerfully built, he had pitch-black skin, a color whispering Amazoni curiously crowded around had never seen. All noted the stranger's bare back, criss-crossed with old and new lash marks.
Et-esh ran to Ohnaà's tepee, interrupting her meal with Ojah.
"A stranger comes hurt. Come quickly!"
"Not one I have ever seen."
Arriving where the crowd gathered, Ohnaà sharply commanded them to stand back. She kneeled beside the ebony stranger and carefully turned him onto his scarred back.
"He does not belong here," Cho-hot growled. "I say he is trouble."
Ignoring the comment, Ohnaà easily hefted the burly man into her arms. Accompanied by Et-esh she strode to the medicine tepee and deposited him gently on his stomach upon a mound of furs.
Immediately Medicine Woman began tending her patient.
"Who is he?" Et-esh wondered.
"I do not know. But Trader Jo-teff has spoken of others like this one. He says some of his people own them."
Ohnaà nodded. She looked toward Medicine Woman tending her patient.
"He will live?"
The shaman finished.
"He is strong. A lesser man would have died of his wounds and exhaustion."
"He is but a slave, Ohnaà, owned by Traders. He must not stay. We have enough trouble with Traders without keeping what is theirs," Et-esh insisted.
"He runs for a reason, young one."
"Let his owner deal with it then," Et-esh argued.
"He will stay until I know more."
"You ask for trouble, my friend. Is he worth risking the safety of your people?"
"He will stay until I know more, young one."
Frustrated by Ohnaà's steadfast stubborness, Et-esh left.
"Et-esh gives good advice," Medicine Woman acknowledged.
"When I hear his words will I decide what will be done with him. He comes seeking refuge. I will not throw him away. Tomorrow I will return when he awakens."
Ohnaà abruptly left.
The stranger awoke the next afternoon in the presence of Medicine Woman and Ohnaà. Et-esh attended out of curiosity rather than concern.
Wincing in pain, the ebony stranger sat up.
"You stumbled into the camp of Amazoni. I am Ohnaà. I lead my people."
The man looked at the glaring Et-esh.
"She is war chief Et-esh."
"Who doesn't like me."
"She does not know you. How are you called? Who do you run from and why?"
"My name is Joo-ko-ko. I killed my owner, who murdered my wife and son."
"You are the first Trader slave I have ever seen."
"I'm my own man now!"
"Your escape will not go unnoticed. Your coming will bring us trouble," Et-esh spat.
Joo-ko-ko ignored the war chief's outburst.
"You look different than the others, Amazoni leader."
"I am Shesh born."
"Then you were once a slave then freed before taking command."
"Why do you think this?"
"Different ones are always enslaved."
"No one owns me, dark one."
"I'm no one's property anymore either! I won't go back!"
"Joo-ko-ko is not well enough to travel. He will stay until he can return to his people as a free man."
"I have no people. They're either dead or owned so I'm alone."
"You have Amazoni who will defend you against Outsider enemies who would look for you."
"Tell me, Ohnaà, have you ever owned slaves?"
"From one slaver to another!"
"To my people it is different."
"People aren't property!" Joo-ko-ko snarled.
"They should have cut out his tongue, Ohnaà," Et-esh growled in Amazoni. "He has no right to judge you or our ways. He does not even appreciate your vow of protection."
"He looks at things with different eyes, young one, and he has much hatred in his heart. Well do I understand distrust.
"Rest, dark one. You will need it."
Weakly, Joo-ko-ko lay down.
As the warriors ambled through camp, Ohnaà scowled at Et-esh.
"Never have I seen you treat anyone with such disrespect. You sounded like Cho-hot."
"I do not want the trouble he brings."
"Trouble comes only when one does not help those in need. We must never forget that Joo-ko-ko could easily be us."
"I never thought of that."
"Now you will."
Et-esh nodded. To avoid annoying Ohnaà further, she wisely kept silent.
While hunting, Ohnaà and Et-esh discovered tracks of shod horses. Forgetting about the prey they were stalking, they studied the tracks.
Ohnaà nodded as she fingered the imprints set in crunchy dirt, gauging their freshness.
"They ride closer to camp, Ohnaà."
"We must hurry to beat them."
The warriors mounted up.
"Do you think they will battle for Joo-ko-ko?" Et-esh asked.
"Only if they are fools. Come."
Cho-hot intercepted Ohnaà and Et-esh at the corral.
"Scouts have reported five Traders."
"We saw their tracks," Ohnaà confirmed.
"The dark one is not feeling well. He stepped out of Medicine Woman's tepee and collapsed."
Ohnaà ran, leaving Et-esh and Cho-hot.
"She shows concern over the wrong things, Et-esh," Cho-hot groused.
Ohnaà burst into the medicine lodge where Joo-ko-ko lay in a coma.
"Infection is eating him."
"You said he was strong, shaman!"
"Not even I can cure everything," Medicine Woman replied unruffled by the sudden turn of events.
Ohnaà kneeled beside the big, ebony man bathed in sweat who had become a friend. Joo-ko-ko shuddered violently, sucked in a mighty breath, and breathed no more. Resting a huge strong hand upon his bare sable chest, Ohnaà reverently bowed her head.
The following morning five Traders entered the Amazoni camp to meet a waiting crowd.
Ohnaà stood apart.
Chooka, armed with bow and quiver, shoved her way through the crowd to the front determined to miss nothing.
"Who among you barbarians is the leader?"
Et-esh bristled. "Who asks?" she demanded in Trader.
"I do!" the intruder snapped, thinking the war chief a stupid savage who couldn't understand a simple question.
"How are you called?" Et-esh demanded again.
Ohnaà stepped forward.
"I lead, Lo-gahn. I am Ohnaà."
"Well, well, well. I've finally seen the infamous Shesh-Amazoni."
Ohnaà folded brawny arms across her chest, assuming an arrogant pose. Her dark eyes glittered.
"You come for Joo-ko-ko who dies because of you. He is owned by no man now. Go!"
"Dead or alive, don't matter. He's coming back with us," Slaver Logan snapped.
Understanding none of the Trader banter between Ohnaà and Logan, Chooka grew angry at the hostile tone the man used. Unshouldering her bow, she stomped up beside Ohnaà and yelled at Slaver Logan, accenting her torrent of words with bow thrusts.
"Chooka, too, tells you to leave our camp," Ohnaà interpreted. "She says if you do not leave she will make you sorry."
The slavers laughed having never been challenged by a five-season-old.
Chooka looked up at Ohnaà who inclined her head slightly. Chooka drew an arrow, notched it, and with the deftness of a grown warrior let it fly, toppling Slaver Logan off his mount with an arrow through the shoulder.
"Amazoni learn young how to fight, Lo-gahn. Chooka has much skill with the bow. Is the dead Joo-ko-ko worth losing your life? Do you wish to become Chooka's first scalp?"
Slaver Logan struggled to his feet.
Swiftly notching another arrow, Chooka aimed at his heart. She shouted a harsh command.
"She tells you to go."
Slaver Logan yanked out his shoulder arrow. Shakily he remounted.
Chooka relaxed and shouldered her bow.
The slavers thundered away.
Cho-hot voiced her pride with a shrill war cry that shattered the tension permeating the scene.
"You did well, Chooka," Ohnaà complimented. "You will help prepare Joo-ko-ko to meet his spirits."
In true warrior fashion, Chooka inclined her head gravely.
"Et-esh and Cho-hot will escort you to Medicine Woman's tepee."
Chooka obediently followed the warriors.
Ohnaà grinned, prouder than everyone.