|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|
Council rumbled with wonder over the unexpected summons. They thought tribal issues had been resolved at the last meeting.
"Why are we here?" Et-esh posed.
Ohnaà brushed aside a raven wisp of hair tickling her eye.
"We must own Trader rifles."
"Surely you joke," an elderly council member scoffed.
Ohnaà folded mahogany-skinned brawny arms across her chest. "Do you see me laughing?" she demanded.
"The weapons of our ancestors are what make us strong," the old warrior argued. "To drift from them would make us less, I say."
"We are already less, Old One, because we own no Trader rifles. Possessing them we will be equal in battle against Outsiders and stronger against our tribal enemies. No Amazoni can afford not to add rifles to the bow and lance."
"You plan a raid, Ohnaà?" Et-esh asked.
"You, your choice of six warriors, and I will journey to Trader Jo-teff tomorrow to see if he has rifles."
"If he refuses to give you what you seek, Ohnaà," Old One insisted, "he would force you to steal from him and there would be war in his retaliation."
"Jo-teff could have a thousand rifles, yet sell us none," Ohnaà retorted. "He is my friend. I will not steal from a friend. I will take rifles from others."
"Who could be his friends! He will retaliate in their name!"
"He will not, Old One, for he knows why I do things. Anyone else have words about my decision?"
"You are one of great prudence, Ohnaà," war chief Chooka declared. "Your decision is sound and for the benefit of Amazoni." She glared at Old One. "Those who do not see this are fools."
All but the cantankerous old warrior voted their support.
Et-esh walked with Ohnaà toward her lodge.
"Do you think we will have trouble mastering the use of Trader rifles, Ohnaà?"
"The very old and those younger resistant to change will stay with the bow."
"Old One was wrong to challenge you when it is your people you do this for."
"I cannot really fault her. New ways are always difficult. It was her attitude about Jo-teff that angered me."
"It was good to see Chooka voice opinions. She fights hard, now speaks hard, expressing what few dare to. She makes me very proud."
"She should come with us," Et-esh suggested.
"She is a good choice, young one."
Et-esh's pale eyes glittered.
"In a way I hope Jo-teff has no rifles. Then you could find Traders we do not know and scare them to get their guns."
"You are an evil one, Et-esh."
The war chief shrugged.
"Not at all. I merely enjoy the fear you instill in strangers."
"I am quite fearsome," Ohnaà admitted.
"Asleep you are fearsome, my friend."
The warriors arrived at Ohnaà's tepee.
"Should we bring horses or furs to trade for our rifles?"
"If Jo-teff has them, he will set the price. If we must hunt others for what we need, to see another sunrise will be their price."
The answer pleased Et-esh.
"I will see you tomorrow, Ohnaà."
"Until then, young one."
Ohnaà sat at the fire. Drawing her knife, she savagely skewered a thick chunk of cold venison stew from the pot and gobbled it with gusto.
Seated in his corner, Ojah ceased his bead sorting. "Must you do that?" he exclaimed with annoyance.
Ohnaà impaled another chunk of greasy meat.
"Spear your meat like an uncivilized thief. You know how that annoys me."
Growling with mock ferocity, Ohnaà wolfed down her nugget of meat.
Ojah shook his head. As hard as he tried, his warrior would never be fully domesticated of her savageness.
After a hearty dinner, Ohnaà lit her pipe while Ojah watched from under the bed furs.
"Tomorrow I and others will ride to Trader Jo-teff."
Ojah's drowsiness lifted. "He has many nice things," he said brightly. "I need more of--"
"I do not go for presents."
Ojah's mood sagged.
Ohnaà puffed upon her pipe, cocooning herself in peppery tobacco smoke.
"You go for the pleasure of visiting a friend."
Ohnaà tapped out her pipe, then joined Ojah in bed. He cuddled close to her. She draped a muscled arm about his shoulders.
"I do not go for pleasure. I will see if he has rifles."
Ojah bolted upright, startling the warrior.
"You are planning yet another battle to cool your savage heart?"
A smile ticked Ohnaà's mouth.
"You cool my savage heart, Ojah."
Calming, Ojah resettled beside his warrior.
"We need rifles for added protection in battle against Outsiders."
"I suppose with a rifle your bow and arrows will be reduced to kindling for the cold nights ahead."
"You suppose wrong. I will always carry my bow and quiver."
Unleashing a gargantuan yawn as she stretched her fatigued muscles, Ohnaà slithered further beneath the fur covers. "Good sleep, Ojah," she murmured and turned on her side, falling asleep instantly.
Ojah planted a tender kiss upon Ohnaà's mammoth shoulder. "Good sleep, my warrior," he whispered.
The dying fire's crackling wood lulled Ojah to slumber.
Leaving her tepee in early morning Ohnaà, armed with bow and quiver, was greeted by a mounted party of six headed by war chief's Chooka and Et-esh. Gracefully she vaulted upon Appaloosa.
Traveling at a leisurely pace, the Amazoni company arrived at the Trader Lodge by late morning. Ohnaà led the way into the noisy establishment filled with eating and drinking traders, trappers, and hunters and to the bar where a young bartender stood drying washed glasses.
"Where is the friendly one?" Ohnaà demanded.
"He was here last I come. He make too sweet berry drink for Et-esh."
"He died weeks ago."
"How?" Ohnaà challenged. "Did you kill him to take his place?"
Young Bartender set aside his dried glass and flipped the damp towel over his shoulder.
"You have a rather short memory of him."
Narrowing her eyes at the young man's insolence, an annoying trait displayed by most Traders, Ohnaà seized a fistful of his shirt and yanked him toward her, slamming him against the bar with such force as to topple the washed glasses and a patron's bottle of liquor.
"It is not good for one of new rank to show disrespect. It is worse if I am the warrior disrespected.
"The old one was fine last I see him. Did you kill him?"
Young Bartender yanked free of Ohnaà's grasp. "Of course not," he answered, smoothing his wrinkled shirt. "He was close to eighty-one seasons old! Poor bastard dropped dead serving drinks. And I'd appreciate you not pawing me."
Et-esh clutched the man by the throat, her pale eyes cold. "I will paw you for speaking with contempt to Ohnaà and speaking ill of one we called friend," she hissed. "Mind your tongue, or I, Et-esh, will own it."
The war chief roughly released Young Bartender.
"I come to speak to Trader Jo-teff," Ohnaà declared.
All insolence and bravado sucked out of him, Young Bartender was careful now in choosing his words. "H-he won't be back until l-later," he stammered.
"We will wait for him in his great room."
"The back room door is locked."
"You will make it not locked," Ohnaà corrected.
Dropping his keys several times under Ohnaà's grim scrutiny, Young Bartender finally opened the back room door behind the bar. Shoved roughly aside by Et-esh, he watched the Amazoni party file past. Shutting the door behind them, leaning against it, he wiped his sweaty brow as he exhaled a relieved sigh.
"Ohnaà is one scary Shesh-Amazoni, ain't she," a patron at the bar confirmed.
Breathing hard as he tried to collect his nerves, Young Bartender nodded vigorously.
"I think she likes him," another patron teased.
"I do believe that's the case," the first patron agreed. "He still has all his body parts!"
The two burst into rollicking laughter over Young Bartender's harrowing initiation.
Trader Joseph returned from paying a supplier. He was unamused how Ohnaà and Et-esh had thrown their weight around. He found the Amazoni company seated upon the floor of his office.
Ohnaà gracefully stood. "Dahò, my friend," she brightly greeted.
"Dahò nothing!" Joseph exploded.
Ohnaà's smile dissolved with surprise over Trader Joseph's reception. She exchanged a glance with an equally confused Et-esh.
"You and I have some settling to do, Ohnaà."
"I do not understand."
"Your scaring my workers ends now."
Ohnaà scowled. "The young one showed no respect, Jo-teff," she defended.
"So he's stupid! You would have torn him to shreds while Et-esh cheered you on. Well, I'm fed up with this attitude of yours. The intimidation of my workers stops if you wish to remain welcome here."
Folding brawny arms across her chest, obsidian eyes blazing, Ohnaà refused to back down.
"You offer Amazoni fine goods, Jo-teff, and we pay you well for them. It is good to see you when we trade. Know this also. I will have respect from your people. I will not be challenged by a sharp-tongued Trader and do nothing. Always do your people challenge my patience. Always do I let them live within your walls because I have kept my promise. I will defend my honor, as will Et-esh or any of my warriors."
For several minutes Trader and warrior glared at one another. Since argument was a useless battle of wills, Joseph decided it best not to fuel that fire.
"I'll talk to my workers; you at least try to rein in that explosive temper of yours, along with others."
The hostility lifted.
"We will try."
"Good. We have that settled finally, or until the next time it happens. Now what can I do for you?"
"I come to see if you have rifles."
Trader Joseph was stunned by the unusual request, having thought Ohnaà a purest when it came to weapons.
"You have what we seek?" Et-esh pressed.
"Follow me into the storeroom."
Trader Joseph pried open one of six weathered boxes containing fifty carbines.
Grinning, Ohnaà snatched one, its heavy stock intricately inlaid with polished gold. With a huge, calloused hand, she lovingly caressed the attractive inlay and long cold barrel, feeling power within its rolled metal.
"Ah yah! This is a fine rifle, Jo-teff. I claim it."
"The tooling befits you."
"It is so. You will show us how to use these great guns."
"We will have them all. Name your price."
"Fifty rabbit pelts for each box. I'll provide instruction and ammunition free."
Ohnaà tenderly replaced her rifle into its box. "You shall own the finest furs hunted by Et-esh and I." She exchanged wrist clasps with her Trader friend. "Come to my camp at the next full moons."
"I shall be there."
At the next two full moons in the month Amazoni called Moons of Shorter Days, Trader Joseph arrived by wagon at Ohnaà's camp. The wagon was loaded with his promised six boxes of carbines along with bulging pouches of ammunition. He reined up at Ohnaà's tepee, drawing people like a magnet.
Ohnaà and Ojah exited the lodge.
As Trader Joseph lifted the protective blanket off his cargo, Ohnaà hurled a curt nod to Ojah who disappeared into the tepee. The warrior then greeted Joseph with a firm wrist clasp.
"Dahò mayjoe weekahnsah."
"Hello, my friend."
Eager to hold her carbine, Ohnaà utilized her great strength to tear off its box's nailed lid. Grinning, she seized it, caressing it tenderly.
The people whispered admiration of its stock of intricately tooled gold inlay befitting Ohnaà's status.
Ojah, loaded down with bundled rabbit pelts, handed them to Joseph who slapped the furs onto his wagon seat.
Hefting carbine overhead, the sun glinting off its gold inlaid stock, Ohnaà voiced exuberant whoops.
Caught up in Ohnaà's excitement, Et-esh shrilly joined in.
In moments the air was pierced by warrior shouts and the mens' trilling.
Smiling, Trader Joseph slapped his hands over his ears.