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Amazoni #16 The Mate

Story ID:6894
Written by:Lisa Godin (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Serial Fiction
Location:Cleveland Ohio USA
Year:2011
Person:me
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Amazoni #16 The Mate

1998
Lisa Godin

Chapter 1
Perched atop the corral fence, Ohna observed with amusement as war chief Et-esh dreamily gazing into space, repeatedly brush the same patch of her sleepy-eyed buckskin's neck hair.
"If you are not careful, young one, you will groom the hair off your horse in your preoccupation."
Startled, Et-esh whirled around dropping her brush. She grinned, flushing with embarrassment at her friend's laughter.
Carried away by her mirth Ohna tumbled off her corral seat and fell inside in a muscled heap, startling several horses. As she spit out dirt, it was her turn to be laughed at. With Et-esh's helping hand, Ohna carefully stood. She slapped corral dust from her arms, legs and skimpy bikini-skins, and vigorously slid long fingers through her raven hair to restore herself to good looks.
"Your laughter grows stronger and wrestles you down faster the older you get, Ohna."
"Better to be conquered by laughter than be distracted by a man as you are over Dukwukka."
"Is it that noticeable?"
"Your feelings for him lately are as hidden as today's sunshine, young one. I thought horses would be your only love."
"I watch you and Ojah closer than you think. You are settled for many seasons with one who makes you happy and strong. It is time for me with Dukwukka."
Ohna clamped a hand upon Et-esh broad shoulder.
"A warrior such as you deserves the same happiness."
"You approve my choice."
"Dukwukka is a good match for you."
"To have him I need help. Would you do me the honor of being my go-between with Dukwukka's parents? You are better with words."
"Of course I will help. We will go tonight after food and good smoke."
"Thinking of Dukwukka gives me a bigger appetite lately."
"As always, Ojah will have plenty for you."
"I will see you later then, my friend."
Ohna nodded and stepping through the corral gate's wooden rungs left Et-esh to her horse and Dukwukka daydreams.
Chapter 2
The evening meal of boar stew mixed with Trader bread was delicious topped by Ojah's famed spiced white bark pudding. After the meal the pipe was lit, the warriors enjoying the tobacco's bitter bite, coupled with small talk about arrow making and horses. Ohna at last tapped her pipe's ashes into the fire. Without a word she left with Et-esh.
The bi-mooned night air was crisp and breezy. The firelight reflecting through tepee hides reminded Ohna of flickering lightning bugs. The warriors made their way to Dukwukka's tepee on the other side of camp.
"May Ohna and Et-esh enter?" the Shesh-Amazoni called.
"You are welcome," responded a female voice.
Entering the warriors were bathed in golden firelight. Tay-neh, Dukwukka's father, sat beside his mate, Chahko, at the fire. Chahko waved her company to sit before her. From his corner, Dukwukka hurled a radiant smile at the serious
Et-esh, who inclined her head slightly in answer.
"It has been a long time since you have visited, daughter of Codot," Chahko noted. "But you, Et-esh, visit often. It may please you to know that most of the time Dukwukka makes the stew you wolf down in great amount."
"It pleases me to know this."
"It pleases my son to make the stew to your liking."
Ohna cleared her throat. The task of go-between was to begin.
Chapter 3
"War chief Et-esh," Ohna began, "is fearless in battle. Her war cry strikes fear in the hearts of her enemies. The blood of these enemies stains her knife. Her scalpcord hangs heavy with the hair of many. She owns many horses which she breaks with great skill and strength, and there is no horse she cannot ride. In the hunt, never do her arrows miss. In council does she speak with great wisdom. Now she accomplishes another deed, expressing her wish to take Dukwukka as hers."
"What does Ohna say of this war chief's desire for my son?"
"I support it and have promised my help in that which would bring Et-esh happiness."
Chahko gazed upon Dukwukka seated in his corner, whose luminous azure eyes silently proclaimed his desire for Et-esh. Chahko looked to her mate Tay-neh beside her, who nodded. Chahko's ice blue gaze locked with the piercing stare of the war chief.
"I want many things before you may claim my son. I want horses but not from your fine herd. You and Ohna will take them from the Ossit. You will sneak into a sleeping warrior's lodge and steal his shell earrings. But in doing so, you will show greater courage by not killing him. You will claim his war lance. Do you accept this high price for my son?"
Chahko knew the answer, but the custom of asking had to be observed.
"I accept! Fearless, I will triumph!"
"I have never known you to boast so, war chief."
"Boasts are empty words from those who accomplish little of substance and as Ohna has said, I have achieved many things. I will be victorious in our raid against the Ossit."
"When will you leave?"
"After a hearty breakfast of course."
The pipe was smoked to seal the Joining's terms.
Chapter 4
Morning witnessed the bow and quivered Ohna and Et-esh trotting their mounts out of the corral. Close to the edge of camp they passed Ojah and Dukwukka, who smiled and giggled. Unable to resist, Et-esh broke away from Ohna and rode up to both men, admiring Dukwukka's new fringed and belled dress as she goaded her sleepy-eyed buckskin to prance around them. Eyes locked upon Dukwukka, Et-esh shrieked shrill war cries, hefting fist overhead in mock display of ferocity.
Ohna frowned and shook her head as she watched.
"Prepare to become mine, Dukwukka!" Et-esh ordered and screeched again. Laughing she spurred her horse back to Ohna.
Giggling, Ojah and Dukwukka continued on their way.
"Keep your mind on the given task, young one," Ohna scolded, "or you will make mistakes giving the Ossit the upper hand."
"Why do you insist on spoiling my fun and making me angry?" Et-esh demanded.
"An angry war chief is an alert one. Angry enough you will be less preoccupied by Dukwukka."
A low growl rumbling in her throat, Et-esh kicked her horse into the lead.
Chapter 5
Days of riding prairie, grassland, and canyon corridor, coupled with good hunting of plump deer, brought Ohna and Et-esh into the rock and brush terrain of the Ossit. Ohna pointed to the last gorge's throat ahead.
"The Ossit are beyond there. Looking around, you see why they call themselves Rock People as their skins have taken on the gray of the stony land they call home."
Et-esh wiped her sweaty brow.
"And like rocks, Ossit will always be. We will be through the canyon by cooling dusk?"
"If we hurry. From our hiding place we will watch their camp and see their horses."
"I will take them all. Docile, they will quietly follow."
"I will kill the horse sentries. You must waste no time choosing the warrior you will take lance and shell earrings from before taking the horses for Ossit always have sentries lurking the shadows."
The plan set, Et-esh nodded, her heart quickening with the thrill of the venture.
Darkness blanketed the land with a chilly hand by the time the Amazoni topped a rocky ledge. Below, the Ossit retreated into their domed brush lodges. Torches bathed the camp in an eerie glow in some places, leaving gloom in others.
The corral with twenty horses stood in shadow on the eastern side of camp, a perfect location for stalking intruders.
Patiently the Amazoni waited to make sure the camp was settled. Satisfied, Et-esh signaled Ohna.
Chapter 6
Soundlessly the mounted invaders descended the rocky ledge. Ossit kept no dogs lessening a sounded alarm. As Et-esh trotted through camp hunting for the biggest domed brush lodge, Ohna reined up at the rear of the corral. Scanning for sentries she spotted two. The sentinel with feathered scalplock paced the corral's front, too lazy to guard a wider range; the spiky scalplocked lookout was seated and dozing.
Padding through the corral and slinking through its wide wooden poles, Ohna emerged behind the pacing Ossit. Pouncing she snapped his neck pleasured by the feel of her enemy gone limp. She gently lowered the brave to the ground. Drawing her knife she crept to the dozing Ossit and roused him with a hard tap to the shoulder. He never had the chance to voice alarm for Ohna slashed his throat.
Ohna opened the corral gate, but without direction, the horses stood placidly. Mounting Appaloosa, she trotted into the corral and melted into the shadows.
Et-esh entered her target's fire-lit domed bush lodge housing a snoring warrior, his wife, and two small children. Leaning beside the lodge door rested a six foot white feather trimmed lance. Carefully stepping over the sleeping children, ignoring the snoring wife, Et-esh kneeled beside the sleeping warrior. Applying pressure to the right side of his neck, she plunged him into deeper slumber. She ripped his shoulder-length multi-shelled earrings from his stretched earlobes and tied the rattling ornaments to her scalpcord, the hair muting their sound, and picked her way back to the lodge door. Snatching up the lance beside the exit she left without a backward glance.
With expertise gained from dozens of horse stealing expeditions, the Amazoni raiders herded their twenty head out of the Ossit camp.
Chapter 7
The Amazoni drove the herd all night, calling a halt late the following morning far enough away from the Ossit to comfortably rest the gaudy pintos, buckskins, bays and the white, blue-eyed mare with long mane and tail.
"Chahko will be pleased with your fine gift of horses. The Ossit lance and earrings pale in comparison."
Et-esh lovingly rubbed the white mare's silky neck.
"It is a shame I cannot keep this one. She would make a fine brood mare."
"I am sure Chahko will insist that you breed her."
Et-esh grinned devilishly.
"Before or after I breed with Dukwukka?"
Ohna chuckled.
Et-esh mounted her sleepy-eyed buckskin.
"Let us ride. I am anxious to claim Dukwukka and sleep."
Ohna mounted Appaloosa.
"Before or after a big breakfast?"
Et-esh laughed. It didn't matter, of course. She had fulfilled her obligation to win Dukwukka. The main importance now lay in getting the herd safely to camp.