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Amazoni #24 The Gift

Story ID:6965
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 #24 The Gift

1999
Lisa Godin

Chapter 1
Dusk was cloudless, breezy and nippy. The aligned double moons scowled upon the land amidst a backdrop of flickering golden stars.
Ohna stood outside her tepee gazing into her sky, taking particular interest in a shooting star.
Exiting the tepee, Ojah, clad in new belled and fringed dress, coiled a slim arm about Ohna's waist, his size dwarfed by the huge warrior.
"Tell me how the stars were born, Ohna."
"It is said the Sky People needed something to admire before they created Amazoni, so they dusted our sky with golden powder; thus, twinkling and shooting stars were born. But I believe, also, the spirits of our dead dot the night to watch over us when the spirit land becomes too crowded."
"When you die, my warrior, your spirit will be the brightest in starlight."
Ohna met Ojah's gaze. "It will be many seasons before I gaze upon the land from above." Turning, she rested strong hands gently upon Ojah's delicate shoulders. "The stars this night will never be as bright as my heart is in having you as mate. You give me strength and purpose."
Drawing her beloved closer, Ohna passionately kissed him beneath a firestorm of shooting stars.
Et-esh interrupted the dinner stew of Ohna and Ojah.
"I may join you?"
"Of course, young one."
Et-esh sat at the low fire opposite Ohna and hungrily eyed the stew Ojah was ladling into a wooden bowl.
"It is rare you eat with us since joining with Dukwukka."
Et-esh shoveled up a massive spoonful of dripping stew.
"We had a fight. He criticizes me for spending too much time with my horses."
"I do not understand why as all know they are your passion."
"Dukwukka expected that now taken my ways would change and he is jealous. No one should try to change another after they join."
"You wish to sleep here?"
"No. I will have words with Dukwukka after I eat."
"I can imagine your words with him. He may end up sleeping with your horses."
"If it gets that far his snoring better not keep them awake as it does me."
Ohna chuckled softly.
After the meal, Et-esh wolfed down two heaping bowls of spiced white bark pudding.
"Ojah, Dukwukka pesters about your pudding recipe."
Excited over the growing popularity of his dish, Ojah hurried out.
Et-esh shook her head.
"The pleasures of Amazoni men baffle me."
Ohna stuffed her pipe.
"That is why warriors are superior, young one. Our minds are not filled with nonsense such as recipes and who can sew better."
Et-esh grunted agreement, watching as Ohna ignited her pipe with a burning twig plucked from the fire and puff the strong tobacco. "I have a special hunger," Ohna noted passing the pipe, "for the flesh of the gray bear. Perhaps tomorrow we can find one."
Et-esh's pale eyes glittered with keen expectation.
"My favorite!"
"Anything that does not eat you first is your favorite."
Et-esh chuckled as she hefted the smoldering pipe to her lips.
Chapter 2
Et-esh met Ohna at her lodge next morning. Her quiver bristled with new arrows and she carried a newly restrung bow over one broad shoulder. So excited was she about the pending gray bear hunt, she had no hunger for the offered light breakfast stew Ohna and Ojah feasted upon. She was eager to be on the move.
"I will await you at the corral, Ohna."
The warrior's eyes widened with surprise as she gazed upon the spot Et-esh had occupied seconds earlier.
"This is the most excited she has been over a hunt, Ojah. To leave without food is new to see in her."
Hardly caring, Ojah kept his opinions wisely to himself.
After finishing breakfast, Ohna gathered bow and quiver leaning against the back tepee wall beside the high fur bed and left without a word to meet Et-esh at the corral.
"The long-haired pelt of the gray bear will give me warmth for many winters."
"Ah yah! All I want to do is eat it."
The Shesh-Amazoni gracefully vaulted onto Appaloosa.
"Let us find one soon, young one, before you starve to death."
Twenty-season-old Trojan hunched over his morning campfire watching his roasting rabbit. The breeze flung a wisp of flaxen hair into a blue eye. His shoulder-length hair hung hotly against his neck. He brushed aside the offending hair from his eye with a huge calloused hand.
The morning was warming rapidly. Trojan was glad he had dressed lightly in a sleeveless brown cloth vest without shirt, cloth trousers, and knee-high moccasins. His brawny arms and chest oozed sweat.
As he watched his meal cook, Trojan's mind drifted back a decade when he foolishly ran away from the orphanage. He had met Ohna who not only healed him of the wound from a mistakenly fired arrow, but had protected him on the journey back to the orphanage. Trojan intended to take up the warrior's long-ago offer to visit when he grew to manhood. He was nervous he'd not be remembered by the stern Shesh-Amazoni.
Hours later Trojan rode into the Amazoni camp bolstered by the people's friendly smiles and bowed heads. He reined up to a tawny-haired, delicate little man dressed in a belled and fringed dress hunched over a skin, fleshing it with a curved metal knife.
"Excuse me."
Ojah looked up into the handsome chiseled features of the long-haired, pale-eyed stranger and absently put aside his flesher.
"Can you help me?"
Understanding no Trader, Ojah stared blankly.
"I'm looking for Ohna."
Brightening at the name of his mighty mate, Ojah smiled and stood. He patted his chest, setting his dress bells to tinkling.
"Ojah."
"Pleased to meet you."
Ojah pointed in the direction from which Trojan had come. "Ohna." He pointed to a tepee. "Ohna, Ojah."
Ojah seized Trojan's reins and led his horse to the lodge.
Chapter 3
From behind their blind of forest shrub, Ohna and Et-esh spied their gray bear in the clearing. Judging by its huge size, it was a male, its long slate-gray fur matted to its chest, its broad back plagued by a horde of gnats. Lumbering on six great paws, Bear moved from berry bush to berry bush, curling his long, thin, orange tongue around each berry while carefully avoiding the plants' protective thorns. His stumpy tail convulsed in a futile attempt to dispel another cloud of pesky gnats. Tufted, pointed ears swiveled; his single yellow eye blinked rapidly as he foraged.
As one, Ohna and Et-esh loaded their bows. Leaping to her feet, Et-esh let fly her arrow into Bear's thick neck. In startled pain he bellowed and swung his huge head from side to side, his eye tearing blood. He reared.
Ohna's arrow pierced Bear's heart felling him.
Laughing and drawing her knife, Et-esh led the way to the carcass. Rapidly she expertly skinned it for Ohna so Ojah could fashion the hide into a coat or warm winter knee-high moccasins for her. Removing the beast's heart, she presented the organ to her friend as only one who made the kill was entitled to it.
Ohna bit into the organ, savoring its bloody sponginess.
Gray Bear was best eaten raw, and bypassing its purple intestines, the warriors feasted on the tender organs. With strong teeth they ripped succulent warm flesh from bone then cracked them open to reach the nutritious marrow. The skull was crushed and its brain devoured. In less than an hour the bear was reduced to bone shards and convoluted purple intestines.
Cleansing themselves with water from their belt gourds, Ohna seized her coveted pelt and the warriors mounted up.
Et-esh patted her gorged muscular belly.
"Good bear."
"You will not be hungry for while, young one."
"A very short while."
Ohna laughed heartily.
Chapter 4
Ohna entered her tepee finding Ojah and Trojan at the fire. She tossed her weapons and bear pelt into a corner.
Trojan scrambled to his feet.
The big warrior stalked up to Trojan with a scowl, critically examining the burly Trader, her penetrating gaze boring into him. Seizing her guest's broad shoulders, her scowl dissolved into a brilliant smile.
"Tro-john!"
Heaving a sigh of relief being remembered, Trojan grinned.
"Ah yah! You have grown tall and strong. It is good you come!"
"From the look on your face when you came in, I was afraid you didn't remember me."
"No face do I forget." Ohna released her friend. "You speak good now."
"Told you I'd work on my stutter."
"Sit, my friend. We have much to talk about. You have hunger?"
"Ojah gave me stew."
They sat.
"Lek ushguh, Ojah," Ohna grunted in Amazoni.
Obediently he left the tepee.
"We will smoke and talk."
The smoldering pipe was passed as Trojan brought Ohna up to date.
"You are glad you stayed at or-phon-edge to learn the ways of the land and become the man you are."
"I have you to thank."
Ohna shook her head while tapping out pipe ashes.
"Long ago did you promise to stay at or-phon-edge. You chose to keep your word. I did nothing but tell you how important a promise is."
"You surely did."
"You have proven yourself in battle?"
"I've been in a few scrapes."
Trojan unhooked a pouch from his belt.
Ohna watched with muted excitement as the worn pouch was slowly opened.
"I'm a wood carver by trade. I make toys and furniture. I made this gift for you."
Trojan gradually drew from the pouch a palm-sized elaborately carved and painted golden eagle, wings outstretched, talons spread. Through its head was drilled a small hole so it could be hung on a thong.
Ohna examined the carved eagle, greatly impressed with its detail. Her fingers lingered upon its protective coating of glistening shellac. Reverently she slipped it into a beaded belt pouch.
"I carry many talismans, Tro-john. They give me much power. Because I am special, I have both eagle and wolf power. Your eagle medicine will make me stronger. Only one who is special dares to give away his eagle medicine."
"I make these all the time," Trojan replied, confused.
"Ah yah! To Outsiders this is only a trinket. To a warrior it has great meaning. Many animals could Tro-john give to me. But he choose the eagle. I do not take this great gift lightly, for you are special to give such a thing."
"No one ever thought of me as special."
"It is good you are the friend of Amazoni to hear this truth. From what you told me, you have grown to manhood learning to love the land, keeping your word, living your life with honor. Few Outsiders live your way. You are a living gift to your people."
Trojan beamed with joy, holding his head higher.