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Amazoni #22 Vigil

Story ID:6945
Written by:Lisa Godin (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Serial Fiction
Location:Cleveland Ohio USA
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Amazoni #22 Vigil

Lisa Godin

Chapter 1
Ohna, Cho-hot, and war chief Et-esh, convened around the fire after a hearty meal of stew, passed the pipe. Dispatched to visit his brother, Ojah's departure provided a more open atmosphere to discuss warrior topics.
"Ossit grow ever bolder, Ohna" Cho-hot grumbled, passing the pipe to Et-esh, who, as usual, inhaled deeper than her companions. "Our horses vanish at their hands as fast as Et-esh captures new ones. I wonder at times if they eat horse, they take so many. They must be punished."
Et-esh passed the pipe to Ohna, who relit it with a flaming stick. "Ossit are like Outsiders, Cho-hot," the war chief reminded. "They never learn."
"We must raid them. As fighters they are no match against us," Cho-hot growled.
"You hunger for battle," Et-esh noted.
"I always have a big appetite against Ossit."
"We will speak of the Ossit problem in council," Ohna decided.
"Why?" Cho-hot demanded. "The solution of attack is obvious."
Et-esh's retort was arrested by Ohna's upraised hand.
"Does Cho-hot challenge my decision making?"
The warrior bristled.
"I meant only that for other raids against Ossit no council was ever called."
Ohna calmly enjoyed several puffs on the pipe, her chiseled features framed in aromatic smoke.
"I do not see the need to explain my actions to anyone."
Argument a futile exercise, Cho-hot stood.
"I will hear your words in council."
The warrior departed, lugging her dissatisfaction with her.
Chapter 2
Council assembled the next afternoon.
"All know," Ohna began, "of the Ossits' horse stealing. It weighs heavily on my mind. Cho-hot does not approve my calling council on the matter."
All eyes bored into the warrior who expected only to listen.
"It is as Ohna says. Our horses have been stolen. I insisted on a raid against the Ossit dogs, yet Ohna hesitates."
"Who are you to question, hotheaded one?" an elder demanded.
"Because we should retake what is ours, not waste time with talk!"
"You are too eager, Cho-hot," Et-esh growled. "Ohna's judgment to wait is sound. Ossit are not going anywhere."
"I say," a warrior said," tripling the sentries is as affective as a raid for now."
Seething, Cho-hot leaped to her feet.
"What has happened to everyone? Are your minds so clouded that you have lost the hunger to fight?"
"I am the last to say I will not fight Ossit. But soon the air will become cold and snow will fall. Our hunters need to kill many boar and deer if our stores are to feed our people. That is our priority. We must remain strong through the long snow so when it leaves we can make Ossit pay for their thievery," Ohna retorted.
All but the incensed Cho-hot pledged support of Ohna.
Cho-hot angrily stormed out.
Chapter 3
Other topics were discussed and solutions passed before council was disbanded.
"Et-esh, I fear Cho-hot's fire will boil over."
"No one will join her should she put it into action."
"It will not matter."
The warriors walked on.
"Cho-hot will come to her senses. She usually does."
"I wish I could share your optimism."
Et-esh clapped a reassuring hand upon Ohna's back.
Unable to shake her concern about Cho-hot, Ohna visited her friend, finding her honing her knife with enthusiasm.
"We must talk, Cho-hot."
The warrior ceased her honing.
"What are you planning against the Ossit?"
"Any plans I think about are my own concern."
"You would not disobey council's decision."
"As in all things, council's decision was yours, Ohna," Cho-hot snapped.
"If that were so, then I could have decided away your hot blood long ago. Your rebellion will be your end."
"Do you not have anything better to do than criticize me?"
Frustrated, Ohna left.
"I will retake our horses and steal all Ossit horses. They will have to walk to hunt," Cho-hot grumbled. "When I return victorious, you will eat your words about me, Ohna."
With an angry thrust Cho-hot scraped her blade against its oiled metal bar.
* * * * * * *
Ohna ate little of Ojah's exquisite rabbit stew, ignoring the offered spiced bark pudding, her favorite dessert.
"Are you ill, my warrior?"
Ohna shook her head.
"I have displeased you somehow?"
"No, my mate."
"Why are you so sullen and without appetite?"
"Cho-hot's rebelliousness grows stronger."
"It is her way."
"Her way could get her killed."
"Talk to her."
"I have. In her temper she hears no reason."
"Cho-hot has your temper and fiery heart."
"My temper and fiery heart bear the scars of wisdom."
Ojah snuggled against Ohna, stroking her massive right bicep to soothe her."
"It will work out in the end, my warrior."
Ohna heaved an uncertain sigh.
Chapter 4
Minutes before dawn, her face painted black, armed with bow and quiver, Cho-hot trotted her eager mount out of camp.
A sleepy owl hooted warning but was ignored. Thunder grumbled in the distance. The signs beckoned reconsideration of rash action, but Cho-hot heeded only her irate need for battle.
After days of pushing her mount to near exhaustion, Cho-hot reached the screen of high brush from where she could observe under cover of sunset the settled Ossit camp of domed brush lodges. Through lidded eyes she glared at two topless, gray-skinned poly-braided Ossit women in grass skirts as they lit the evening torches before retiring into their brush lodges.
Mounting up and unshouldering her bow, Cho-hot thundered into the Ossit camp, screeching shrilly.
Gray-skinned, barefoot and loinclothed, scalplocked warriors, their shoulder-length multi-shelled earrings clacking like rattling bones, barefoot women, red berry-stained poly braids and bare, gold-ring-pierced breasts flapping, stampeded out of their lodges to confront their Amazoni rival.
Heaping insults upon the Ossit, Cho-hot fired an arrow into the heart of an Ossit woman. In rapid succession she dispatched four more Ossit.
Thundering to the corral she released all the horses who blindly followed her lead.
As Cho-hot charged past, an enraged Ossit warrior hurled his poison-tipped lance into Cho-hot's left side. Roaring in pain, her speed unhampered, she yanked the lance out. An arrow ripped into her back as she sped behind the horses.
Hunched over, Cho-hot headed home, instinct keeping her mounted.
Chapter 5
The venom from the Ossit lance worked its evil within Cho-hot, blackening her side wound and spreading, boiling her with fever, stealing her breath, and blurring her vision.
Obedient to her lead, no Ossit horse strayed during the unrelenting retreat home.
The horses charged into camp amidst surprised Amazoni.
Cho-hot tumbled off her horse. Et-esh yanked the arrow from her back and with Chooka's help lugged her to Medicine Woman.
"I must get Ohna," Et-esh panted.
"I saw her ride out this morning," Chooka informed.
"Summon the drummers."
Chooka watched Cho-hot being tended by Medicine Woman.
"Now!" Et-esh roared and stormed out.
The drummers pounded out their message of disaster with deafening urgency.
Sitting beside a stream Ohna interpreted the drums. At breakneck speed she galloped Appaloosa home.
Chapter 6
Ohna burst into the medicine tepee to find Cho-hot lying unconscious, black face paint removed, bathed in sweat. Medicine Woman sat dejected beside her patient.
"Do something!"
"I cannot. Cho-hot suffers from the poison of Teluga Root. There is no cure."
Ohna hauled the elderly shaman to her feet.
"You lie! There must be a cure!"
"I cannot invent what does not exist."
"Leave me!"
Medicine Woman hesitated.
Ohna's powerful shove sent the shaman to the ground several paces from the tepee door. Teeth bared, she threw a rattle at her, striking her in the shoulder. Picking up a small empty clay herb bowl she hurled it at the shaman. Missing her by inches it exploded into pieces against the tepee hide beside the door.
Genuinely fearful, Medicine Woman ran out.
Et-esh approached the shaken shaman.
"Ohna is in a rage I have never seen. She becomes violent with me. Do not go to her."
"Ohna will not harm me."
"She wants no one near her war chief. Enraged, and with her strength, she cannot be controlled and she will hurt you. Do not go to her!"
Et-esh was crestfallen.
Chapter 7
Ohna kept vigil over Cho-hot, mopping sweat from her brow with a water-soaked piece of hide. For three days she neither ate nor slept on her watch. On the fourth day Ch-hot awoke.
"I have returned with many horses. I did good."
"You triumph as always, my friend."
"I am hurt?"
Ohna nodded as she wiped sweat from Cho-hot's flooded brow.
"I must steal our horses from the Ossit," Cho-hot murmured, her mind eaten by the poison.
"Later. You are too ill."
Cho-hot frowned.
"Who are you? Why does a Shesh capture me?"
Ohna's heart sank.
Suddenly Cho-hot erupted into violent seizure.
Ohna struggled to restrain her friend, fearful of injuring her further if she utilized her full greater strength.
Cho-hot heaved a heavy sigh and lay still, her open eyes unseeing.
Muscled arms outstretched, fists clenched, head back, Ohna voiced shrill inhuman screams of anguish, terrifying the gathered Amazoni outside, who began to wail their grief. Ohna's screeching drowned them out.
Embracing the sobbing Et-esh while tears streamed down her weathered cheeks, Medicine Woman held the war chief tightly.
Cho-hot's demise was a devastating blot in the annals of Amazoni history.