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Amazoni #23 Warrior Astray

Story ID:6952
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 #23 Warrior Astray

©1999
Lisa Godin

Chapter 1
Ohnaà entered war chief Et-esh's tepee, inclining her head in greeting to Dukwukka, who was resting from sorting dyed quills intended to be sewn in elaborate patterns onto Et-esh's new moccasins.
Et-esh sat near her low fire weaving a grass halter.
Ohnaà sat opposite her friend, watching her long fingers adroitly twist, pull and tuck the stiff yellow grass.
"Your hands are never idle when it comes to your horses."
"My black colt will have nothing less than a sturdy halter woven by my hand. Trader halters wear out too fast."
A couple of twists and tugs and the halter was complete. Et-esh placed it next to two grass halters in need of minor repairs. She eyed Ohnaà, her pale eyes penetrating.
"Your heart aches for Cho-hot."
Ohnaà nodded.
"Many miss her, daughter of Codot. Gambling games are empty without her. There will never be another warrior in battle like her."
Ohnaà sighed forlornly.
Et-esh stood.
"You need diversion. It has been a while since we have ridden the prairie together."
Scraping a glistening sable lock behind her left ear, Ohnaà shook her head.
"Cho-hot would want you to ride."
Ohnaà stood.
The day was warming rapidly, but the warriors didn't mind as they ambled to the corral. The winter had been unusually long and brutal--heat was a welcome change.
Swinging his dripping, boar stomach water bag, Ojah flashed Ohnaà and Et-esh a radiant smile in passing.
"He is the happiest person I have ever seen, Ohnaà."
"You would be too, young one, if you were mated to me."
"I prefer a man over you any day, my friend."
Ohnaà giggled.
The warriors entered the corral where war chief Chooka had just finished grooming her gaudy pinto. "Chooka," Ohnaà called, "ride with us."
Grinning the warrior gracefully mounted up.
Et-esh led the way out of the corral at a brisk trot, her sleepy-eyed buckskin swishing flies with his shaggy, ebon tail.
Chapter 2
The cropped prairie was studded with wildflower heads dressed in multi-petaled coats of radiant hue from metallic to pastel.
Billions of delicately winged white moths fluttered in clouds of frenzied mating.
Stinger bees and silver butterflies flecked with gold greedily siphoned nectar from their blossom lunch counters.
Laughing, Ohnaà pounded her knee-high fringed moccasined heels against Appaloosa's ribs.
Et-esh and Chooka struggled to keep up.
Ohnaà effortlessly stood upon her racing stallion and executed a flawless front flip.
With a scream Appaloosa suddenly collapsed.
"Ohnaà!" Et-esh shouted.
Shakily, Appaloosa scrambled to his feet, leaving Ohnaà sprawled unconscious upon her back.
Et-esh and Chooka raced to their fallen comrade.
Gently cradling her friend's head in her lap, Et-esh spied the sunken rock tinged with Ohnaà's blood from the blow to the back of her head.
Chooka, probing with a cautious foot, discovered the offending prairie hole capable of snapping a horse's leg like a brittle twig. She ran to steady Appaloosa so Et-esh could sling the fallen warrior over his back. Before they left Et-esh ran expert hands up and down Appaloosa's front left leg checking for damage feeling nothing.
Progress was slow to avoid aggravating Ohnaà head injury.
Despite its remarkable beauty, the prairie was a trap of hidden perils.
Chapter 3
Settled in the medicine tepee, after cleansing Ohnaà's head wound, Medicine Woman then wrapped her head in a loose bandana of white Trader cloth.
"By morning she will be awake with quite a headache, but there is no need for worry. This is not her first fall."
"Blood was shed," Et-esh protested. "Awake, her spirit could be different."
"How different?" Chooka demanded. "I do not want Ohnaà different."
"Stop it, both of you!" Medicine Woman barked. "To worry while Ohnaà sleeps is pointless. Tomorrow will tell."
"We will be here," Et-esh hissed.
Ohnaà awoke with a start the next morning, staring at Et-esh, Chooka, and Medicine Woman surrounding her bed. Scrambling to her feet, she swayed in a wave of dizziness.
Chooka clasped Ohnaà's massive right shoulder to steady her.
Teeth bared, obsidian eyes blazing, Ohnaà backhanded Chooka with all her tremendous strength, propelling the young warrior inches from the medicine tepee's entrance.
"Ah yah! I told you her spirit could be different. She remembers no one!" Et-esh exploded. "To her we are enemies to fight!"
Chooka hauled herself painfully to her feet but dared not venture from where she stood.
Ripping off her head bandage with a growl, the scowling Ohnaà squatted on the bed of furs, bulging mahogany-skinned muscles flexed as she balanced herself upon tight fists.
"Chooka must bring Trader Jo-teff, " Medicine Woman declared.
"What can he do that you cannot?" Et-esh snarled.
"He has special Outsider ways."
"Chooka speaks no Trader to tell our need if Jo-teff is away from his Trader Lodge," Et-esh argued. "Therefore I must go."
"You must remain, Et-esh, taking Ohnaà's place as tahna until she recovers."
Et-esh's pale gaze darted from Ohnaà to Chooka as she considered. "Go, Chooka," she commanded harshly.
In the blink of an eye the warrior was gone.
Medicine Woman poured water into a tin cup and dissolved several pinches of black powder taken from her waist pouch.
"This will ease your pain, Ohnaà."
"We must tell Ojah, shaman."
"Do not bring him. The fewer people crowding Ohnaà, the safer for all."
Et-esh grunted compliance as she watched her friend noisily slurp the bitter medicine.
In minutes Ohnaà drifted into deep, calming sleep.
Chapter 4
Chooka arrived at the Trader Lodge. Eating and drinking traders, trappers and hunters crowded the noisy establishment. Not as imposing a figure as Ohnaà or Et-esh, she garnered not even a fleeting glance.
"Hoashkà neecheh Jo-teff!"
Rudely ignored, Chooka voiced a shrill, angry war cry.
The room silenced, all eyes riveted upon the baby-faced, tawny-haired warrior.
"Hoashkà neecheh Dewhatconeh Jo-teff!"
"Anyone understand this barbarian?" a trapper asked.
"She's Amazoni, I know that much," a patron answered, "but I spent more time runnin' tail between my legs from them than learnin' their babble."
Everyone laughed.
"Hoashkà neecheh Jo-teff!"
"What in blazes is she yelling about?" another trapper complained.
Chooka stomped to his table. She seized his empty liquor bottle. Scowling, she ripped the drink from his hand and dumped its odorous blue contents to the floor. Resting the bottle on its side upon the table, she hovered the shot glass above the bottle as though it were a mounted rider. She moved the bottle jerkily for several inches and slammed it to a halt. She moved the glass in a wide arc over the bottle, shattering it upon the table as though it were a dumped rider. She slapped the back of her head and pointed to the shattered shot glass. "Ohnaà! Hoashkà neecheh Jo-teff foe-da Ohnaà!" Chooka stomped up to a wall and banged it once with a fist. "Jo-teff!" she enunciated very slowly. "Hoashkà neecheh Jo-teff!"
Comprehension dawned.
"Ankris," Trapper called to a hunter, "you see where Joseph went?"
"Home."
Trapper pointed to Ankris.
"He'll take you to Joseph."
Chooka stalked to Ankris and shoved him in the direction of the door.
Everyone cheered their departure, glad to be rid of the loud Amazoni.
Chapter 5
Ankris and the pinto mounted war chief Chooka arrived at Trader Joseph's cabin two miles from the Trader Lodge where he hurriedly abandoned the warrior.
Chooka, never having seen domesticated flowers, was fascinated by the well-cultivated clusters of flashy wildflowers rimming the cabin's sunken porch. Briskly walking her pinto to the cabin's backyard, she was greeted by another strange Outsider sight in Trader Joseph's wife, Kiddy, in ankle-length yellow dress, hunched over a section of budding vegetable garden yanking up weeds.
Recalling Ohnaà's spectacular tale of Kiddy's killing a long-toothed cat, saving Ohnaà's life, Chooka's confusion deepened. Yanking up weeds seemed a demeaning task for a woman Ohnaà deemed a warrior, and why, with Joseph as mate, did Kiddy coax plants to grow when she had him as a steady hunter.
Chooka noted the corral yards away stocked with three horses recognizing one as Et-esh's prized palomino, ridden by a girl child instructed by Joseph. It irked her seeing an Amazoni horse burdened by a saddle. She reined up before Kiddy who looked up from her weeding with a smile. Straightening, she smoothed her yellow dress and long, wavy auburn hair.
The Amazoni thumped a fist to her chest.
"Hoashkà may Chooka. Hoashkà may hesh foe-da Jo-teff."
The warrior abruptly cantered to the corral.
"Jo-teff. You must come with me. Ohnaà fell from her horse and hit her head. Knowing no one, she is astray from her people. Medicine Woman says you have special ways to help."
"I can try."
"We must not delay."
Joseph hurried to prepare his horse.
Chapter 6
Chooka and Trader Joseph arrived at the medicine tepee to find a worried Et-esh and shaman kneeling beside the fur bed. Ohnaà had taken a turn for the worst. Eyes closed she tossed, turned, shivered, and babbled in delirium. Her dark skin glistened with sweat.
Kneeling beside Et-esh, Joseph rested a hand upon Ohnaà's drenched brow. Frowning he turned to Medicine Woman.
"What has been done so far?"
"Cold water for her face, neck and arms. Her chest and legs are kept covered. When Ohnaà was lucid she drank a potion of the black powder of Silver Thorn for her head pain. Now she will take nothing."
Ohnaà shuddered under a new round of chills.
Joseph shook his head.
"I've seen this before. Pressure from the blow causes the fever, and the swelling from lying down interferes with her memory."
"What must be done?" Medicine Woman requested.
"How cold is the lake outside of camp?"
"It numbs the body," Et-esh replied.
Joseph stood.
"Ohnaà must be submerged. The shock will cool the fever. Medicine Woman must prop her up in bed to ease the pressure in her head."
"I have many furs for that."
"We must work quickly."
Trailed by the curious, Et-esh and Chooka carried Ohnaà to the lake.
Ohnaà was floated into deeper water with Joseph having the unenviable task of dunking her.
Shocked by the glacial water Ohnaà shrieked and struggled, splashing waves of water. Twice Joseph dunked her. Exhausted, she ceased her fighting and only then was removed from the lake.
Back at the medicine tepee, Ohnaà was propped up by furs with only a single fur blanket warming her waist and legs. She quickly fell asleep.
Et-esh clasped Joseph's shoulder.
"Tomorrow we will see how your Trader healing works. For now you will stay with me. We will eat boar stew, talk, and smoke. Dukwukka will dry your clothes by the fire."
"Leaving me naked for your prying eyes until you give me a fur, if you give me one."
Et-esh grinned.
"Ah yah! You have nothing I have not seen on Dukwukka. But as you are shy, I have for you an old shirt and long pants until your clothes dry. Too bad you do not have the muscle of an Amazoni warrior, Jo-teff, or my clothes would fit you better. There is still hope for you to grow big like me."
Trader Joseph burst into laughter, Et-esh's humor dissolving the tension.
Chapter 7
Late next morning Et-esh, Chooka, Trader Joseph, and Medicine Woman encircled the bed observing the inclined Ohnaà as she slept, her sweats long passed, her breathing deep and steady, her chiseled features relaxed.
Suddenly her eyes fluttered open, her piercing gaze boring first into Joseph.
"Dahò, Jo-teff."
Ohnaà's audience was thrilled by the success of the river treatment.
"I had many bad dreams. One dream showed me striking you, Chooka. I am glad it was only a dream."
"It was no dream. You did not know me."
Ohnaà was horrified. "Forgive me for harming you in my madness." She exchanged wrist clasps with Chooka. "Never will you feel my power against you again, my friend. Never do you have to fear me."
"A friend knows no fear of another friend," Chooka assured.
Ohnaà and Et-esh exchanged a wordless wrist clasp, their closeness making words unnecessary.
"Jo-teff. I dreamed you tried to drown me."
"Had to dunk you to get you well or it would have been too late. You had a bad fall off your horse."
"I am in your debt for saving my life."
Ohnaà and Trader Joseph exchanged a wrist clasp.
"Ojah."
"I will get him," Et-esh promised and hurried out.
"You must rest," Medicine Woman prescribed. "You are weak."
Grinning slyly, Ohnaà flexed a massive right bicep.
"Yes. I am very weak."
Everyone smiled at the joke.
Et-esh returned with an ecstatic Ojah, who ran to his mate's side. Tears crawled unashamedly down his white cheeks. Hugging Ohnaà fiercely he was comforted by her powerful embrace. She wiped away his tears with a dark palm.
"You had me so worried, my warrior!"
Ohnaà smiled.
"You will not be rid of me so quickly, my mate."
Exhausted, the warrior closed her eyes.
"Sleep the sleep of the strong, daughter of Codot," Medicine Woman bade. "You have earned it."
Ohnaà heaved a gentle sigh.