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Amazoni #39 Legends

Story ID:7137
Written by:Lisa Godin (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Serial Fiction
Location:Cleveland Ohio USA
Year:2011
Person:me
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OurEcho Preface This post deals with a mature theme or contains explicit language. While the post is not extremely violent or pornographic, it does contain language or explore a subject matter that may offend some readers. If you do not wish to view posts that deal with mature themes, please exit this post.
Amazoni #39 Legends

2000
Lisa Godin

Chapter 1
Ohna awoke with a start at the clunk of dropped firewood. Bolting upright, she relaxed when she viewed Ojah kneeling beside the fire pit, his fresh load of wood close at hand. Bucket of toughened hide beside him, wooden scraper in hand, Ojah began scooping out cold embers and soot. The warrior wrapped her fur blanket loosely about her broad shoulders.
"It is cold."
"Toe Mahtah jay Netsdik-pa Itbosh-The Moon of First Ice-will not warm because you wake up."
"It should," Ohna grumbled.
Ojah scraped the last of the fire pit's garbage into his bucket. "I will have the fire started soon to warm the lodge and our breakfast stew." He arranged a portion of his gathered wood within the small fire pit's stone circle and lit it with Trader matches. "I left my Trader ax at the lake's frozen edge." He looked up. "Do not forget this time to bring it back."
Nodding, Ohna wrapped her fur blanket more securely about her broad shoulders and left.
"How you can complain about the air's chill, yet walk outside barefoot, I will never understand," Ojah mumbled.
Walking briskly through ankle-deep snow, Ohna arrived at the frozen lake outside of camp. She gazed upon the hole Ojah had hewn that was now hooded with a thin crust of ice. Reopening it, she dropped her fur blanket and slid into the frozen water, scraping herself clean with handfuls of sand. Refreshed, she pulled herself onto the bank, ignoring the numbing snow that buried her feet. Drying and sheathing herself within her blanket. Grabbing Ojah's hatchet she headed back to the tepee, entering just as Ojah was ladling hot stew into wooden bowls. Dressing in fringed boar skin shirt and trousers and lacing her hard-soled, knee-high black wolf pelt boots, she joined Ojah.
"Today is story telling, my warrior."
Chewing her stew, Ohna nodded.
"I wonder who Medicine Woman will pick to entertain our people this season?"
"Perhaps Et-esh. She is a good storyteller."
Ojah frowned.
"Two seasons ago she told a story of a winged horse eating Outsiders. She told the same story two seasons before that. How can you say she is a good storyteller when she recounts the same one?"
"Amazoni stories are always retold."
"Our legends. Her story was not one of them."
"That is so. But her slight changes made the story interesting. Besides, I did not see you leave."
"Seated upon your lap, shrouded in your arms, escape was impossible."
Ohna chuckled.
Ojah finished his stew and stood.
"I am leaving to join our people. Try not to spend all morning eating. Stories cannot be told until everyone has gathered."
Nodding, Ohna shoveled a heaping spoon dripping with stew into her mouth.
The early morning sun barely heated the frosty air. The ankle-high snow crunched beneath Ohna's hard-soled, knee-high, black wolf pelt boots. Cocooned within her hooded, silver wolf fleece parka, hands jammed into its deep pockets, she shivered as she trudged through the deserted camp. Puffs of exhaled breath tickled her frosty lips. A barking black and white puppy eager for play dashed in circles around her, wagging his curled tail. Grinning Ohna scooped up a gloveless fistful of snow and threw it into the puppy's open mouth. With a snort, he shook his head and stretched upon his front paws, jutting high his wagging tail as he whined for more play. Snatching his snout, Ohna gently yanked him from side to side matching his growls before releasing him. Fashioning a snowball, she tossed it. Like a shot the puppy ran and leaped, exploding the snowball in his mouth. Surprised, the puzzled puppy cocked his head sideways and gazed at the laughing warrior. With a joyful bark the puppy bounded away.
Storytelling was always held in the spacious village storehouse, the only structure big enough to house the thousand member band; Ohna hurried on.
Chapter 2
The Amazoni storehouse loomed like a resting behemoth atop the snowdrifts. The storehouse was a three hundred foot long, thirty foot high oblong structure of hardened mud sheathed in waterproof boar skin. Built to store dozens of sealed woven baskets of jerked boar, deer, nuts and berries, luxuriously carpeted with skins, it comfortably housed the thousand member tribe for winter storytelling. Entering, Ohna gazed into the faces of her chattering people marshaled against the walls waiting patiently for Medicine Woman to chair the gathering. Rapidly warmed by the heat of the central fire and two torches in each corner of the building, she slipped off her parka hood.
A girl of six seasons wrapped in a calico fur coat broke from her seat beside her parents and raced to the Shesh-Amazoni, hugging her parka'd waist, luxuriating in the silver-wolf skin chilled by winter air. Grinning, the warrior scooped the child into her arms and with a long dark finger whisked away a stray tawny hair from the child's eye.
"It is good to see you, too, young one."
"You forgot my name again."
"I forget no one's name. You are Ah-tets Bookah. Little Bird."
"An ugly name which does not suit me."
"You are small but will grow tall one day. Birds are very important to our people for they are special messengers from the spirits. Your name suits you well for now."
"Do you think I will get a more powerful name when I grow up?"
"Perhaps. If not we will still love and respect you."
"That is good to know. What was your name before it was changed to Ohna?"
"I have always carried my name. Because of my great power was I named 'strength'."
"Even as a baby when you were named?"
"So I am told."
"Is it because you carry Shesh blood?"
"It is so. But Amazoni taught me how to harness my power."
"You are very special."
Setting Ah-tets Bookah down, Ohna affectionately rested a huge dark hand atop her head. She looked into the front row of people.
"I see Et-esh and Johtah. It is my wish that you sit with us."
"It would be an honor!"
"It is I who am honored."
Leading the child by the hand, Ohna settled between her friends, gently easing the child into her lap. Shedding her parka, she handed it to Ahtets-Bookah for safekeeping. As she scanned the congregation she spotted Ojah sitting among friends, happily chattering.
Medicine Woman, clad in flowing cape of woven russet foxtails, kaleidoscopic feathered pipe in hand, gradually silenced all conversation with her presence. She walked to the crackling center fire. Filling the seasoned pipe with special tobacco, she lit it with a glowing stick from the fire, blowing the acrid white smoke toward the high ceiling smoke hole to appease listening spirits. Inhaling again she blew a puff into the fire to purify words spoken around it. "We gather today," the shaman intoned, "to entertain and to teach. So it was in the beginning, so it shall be forever." Inspecting the gathering Medicine Woman focused on Ohna cradling Ah-tets Bookah in her lap. "I summon Ohna, daughter of Codot, to take her place beside me."
Rolling out of the warrior's lap, Ah-tets Bookah settled between Et-esh and Johtah.
The Shesh-Amazoni approached the shaman. Accepting the ancient wooden pipe, she brought its worn stem to her lips, then expelled a puff of smoke to the ceiling. Then she rotated the pipe over the fire several times clockwise, twirling its prismatic feathers. Reverently she returned it to Medicine Woman, who assumed her place among the seated.
"I stand before you to recount the legend of the mightiest warrior ever to walk among us. I shall then tell of how the Sky People made Amazoni from stardust."
Possessing a flair for the dramatic, Ohna paced, her hands clutched behind her back, stealing an occasional sly glance at her eager listeners. When all eyes were riveted upon her every move she crouched, pointing an index finger upward to emphasize her words, then slowly pivoted so all could gain a better view. "In the time of our great-great-great-grandmothers, the mighty tahna D'wah Neeha, led our people." Dropping her hand and straightening, Ohna continued. "D'wah Neeha fell in love with the shy Blek Mahtah. In those days a warrior had to fight to the death to win a mate, and Blek Mahtah's only other suitor was no match against D'wah Neeha. Not long after they had their only child, a daughter. They named her Ah-tets Seh-ah. Much shorter than the average Amazoni, her mighty deeds towered above all others at a young age."
"Like your deeds!" Ah-tets Bookah blurted.
"It is said I am much like Ah-tets Seh-ah in deed. Big as I am, humbly do I stand in Little Warrior's shadow." Ohna smirked. "It is also said that she nibbled the knees of little girls who interrupted her words."
Everyone laughed at the joke.
"The deed that set Ah-tets Seh-ah into legend began..."

* * * * * * *

Armed with bow and quiver and dwarfed by her two tall, equally weaponed companions, four foot tall, twenty-two-season old Ah-tets Seh-ah, daughter of D'wah Neeha, led the way to the corral. Her wavy waist-length flaxen hair bound in a ponytail bounced to the rhythm of her brisk stride. Her muscled body packed in skimpy skins adorned of feather and colorful pebble gleamed with sweat beneath the afternoon sun.
"Ah-tets Seh-ah, your mother is not going to like us causing trouble by stealing horses from the Shesh."
"I want her to have new horses as a present, Skeesh, and I have stolen enough horses to be confident in my ability to be out before the slow Shesh can do anything."
"They are not that slow," Skeesh complained.
"If that worries you, stay home."
"I will!" Skeesh snarled and stomped away.
"Coward," Ah-tets Seh-ah grumbled.
"Why did you even bother asking Skeesh to come with us?"
"Because, Skoyahpeech, no one else will include her in anything."
Dismissing the unpopular warrior from her mind, Ah-tets Seh-ah sprinted the last foot to the corral and climbed effortlessly over the top rung of the fence. A follower, Skoyahpeech succeeded in crashing, entangling her long legs and arms in both rungs of the corral fence. "Help me!" she yelped, ensnaring herself further in the fence with her thrashing.
Laughing, Ah-tets Seh-ah struggled to free her lanky, wiggling friend.

* * * * * * *

"Ah-tets Seh-ah was famous for climbing over tall things, " Ohna continued. "Small as she was she did everything big, including riding a tall black stallion."
"How tall?" Ah-tets Bookah demanded.
"As tall as a tepee!" Ohna declared.
"No horse grows that tall."
Approaching Ah-tets Bookah, Ohna kneeled. "The spirits favored Ah-tets Seh-ah by sprinkling magic dust upon any grass her black stallion ate, which made him grow. One who carried such a great warrior had to be big. His hoofs trembled the earth so much when he ran that he split the ground apart in passing." She winked at her war chief friend. "If you do not believe me, ask Et-esh. She knows about horses touched by spirits."
"Is this true?"
"Ah yah! It is so."
"Ohna, you are a mighty warrior. Why is your horse not as tall?" Ah-tets Bookah pressed.
Everyone stared at the Shesh-Amazoni wondering the same thing.
"I am big enough."
The warrior returned to her place beside the story fire.
"Leaping upon her black stallion,
Ah-tets Seh-ah set out with her best friend Skoyahpeech to the Shesh..."
Chapter 3
Ah-tets Seh-ah and Skoyahpeech reined up upon the earth and pebbled hill overlooking the Shesh settlement of sun-baked high-rise lodges. The camp appeared deserted. Noting withered gardens of vegetables, empty pens that usually housed squealing tame boar and no patrolling camp dogs, the lack of human sentries didn't surprise
Ah-tets Seh-ah or Skoyahpeech; Shesh were famous for their laziness in securing their perimeters. The excited little warrior pointed to the corral stocked with a hundred horses.
"Those are fine Shesh horses. Are you ready to help me claim them?"
Her pulse pounding in her ears, the grinning Skoyahpeech nodded.

* * * * * * *

Azure eyes wide as saucers, the roused
Ah-tets Bookah leaned forward.
"What happened next?"
"What happened next..." Exhaling sharply, eyes widening, Ohna's hand rested upon her belly. "What happened next is a feeling my water about to burst my kidneys!"
The people burst into raucous laughter as the warrior hastily retreated into the cold. Several minutes passed before Ohna returned to the story fire.
"As I was about to say before I was interrupted..."

* * * * * * *

Ah-tets Seh-ah and Skoyahpeech cautiously rode into the seemingly deserted Shesh borough to the horse-filled corral, Skoyahpeech opened the creaky gate, frowning at the sound. Ah-tets Seh-ah roped a palomino stallion she had decided to use to coax the others to follow. Terrified of his small daring kidnapper, Palomino shrilly trumpeted.
"Hurry!" Skoyahpeech called.
Ah-tets Seh-ah held fast the rope noose as the screeching animal reared.
"I am trying!"
The Shesh town came alive like a swarm of angry ants. Defending short-haired women in long dresses, barefoot bandana'd bow-armed men in boar skin vests and trousers ran toward the corral.
"Let us go! Forget the horses!"
"Go! I can handle the herd."
The young warrior galloped out of the corral, only to be dispatched by several arrows in her chest. She pitched off her horse, landing on the ground with a dusty thump.
"Skoyahpeech!"
The irate Shesh mob ripped Ah-tets Seh-ah off her horse, shouting epithets as they kicked and pummeled her with fists and bows.
"Enough!" shouted a Shesh with red bandana slamming his way through the throng. "Pick her up."
Two warriors hauled the battered Amazoni to her feet.
"I am Shesh tahna, Bootoak. The palomino you tried to steal is mine. What do Amazoni call such a daring one?"
"I am Ah-tets Seh-ah, daughter of Supreme Tahna D'wah Neeha."
Bootoak was pleased.
"I have fought your mother in battle many times and what a warrior she is. I am honored to have her seed trying to steal my mount. For your high breeding you will suffer special consequences. Too bad your companion is dead. I would have enjoyed punishing you both."
"Shesh vomit!" Ah-tets Seh-ah exclaimed and spat in her enemy's eye.
Bootoak backhanded the insolent captive.
"Indeed you will suffer. Take this one to the nailing ground."
The crowed roared their approval.

* * * * * * *

So absorbed was the tale that the snowstorm's windy battering of the sturdy storehouse walls went unheard.
Chapter 4
The wild Ah-tets Seh-ah, unimpaired by the Shesh peoples' vicious beating, fought every inch of the way against Shesh tahna Bootoak's two hardiest braves as they forcibly towed the powerful pint-sized warrior to the south side of camp. They were followed by the ecstatic people, for no Amazoni had ever before been captured.
"You fight well, daughter of D'wah Neeha," Bootoak complimented. "But your struggle is futile. Your courage, too, will be short-lived once you are put under the nail."
Ah-tets Seh-ah laughed with contempt.
"Ah yah! You forget, Shesh dung, I am Amazoni. I live for torture!"
Bootoak laughed heartily as he and his followers approached their destination.
"You are one of overblown courage. As a betting man, I wager your dubious survival against the horses you foolishly tried to steal, including my prized palomino."
Ah-tets Seh-ah ceased her struggling, causing the procession to stop.
"I add to the wager by demanding burial of my murdered friend Skoyahpeech according to Amazoni custom."
"You ask much of me."
"A man of honor would have no difficulty. Are you honorable or are you the two-faced puddle of Shesh piss I think you are?"
Bootoak's mahogany-skinned face wrinkled in a scowl.
"The wager is set, tiny big-mouthed one!"

* * * * * * *

"Ah-tets Seh-ah possessed boundless courage and was a fierce negotiator. For what Shesh had planned she had to be if she was to beat their tahna in his own game to earn horses for her mother D'wah Neeha and atone for the death of Skoyahpeech.
"I would wither under nailing, the severest of all enemy punishments. But Ah-tets Seh-ah laughed at her impending doom."
"That cannot be, Ohna!" an upset Johtah exclaimed. "Buried to the neck by the evil Ossit, you were being eaten alive by insects. I saw the wounds to your head from their attempt to crush your skull with the soaked rawhide band. You equaled Ah-tets Seh-ah's courage, weathering your torture like a true Amazoni. You even endured a Trader whipping which would have killed an ordinary warrior. Surely you would endure nailing."
"Even the mighty Ohna has weaknesses just like everyone else, Johtah," Et-esh reminded tersely.
"Forgive me, Ohna, for thinking you perfect," Johtah apologized.
"No offense taken, my friend."
"Stop arguing and tell the rest of the story!" Ah-tets Bookah growled.
Ohna chuckled. Leave it to children to end a word battle.
Chapter 5
Tahna Bootoak and his entourage reached their destination, a gnarled, leafless, amply trunked, thousand-season-old tree. Beside a gargantuan twisted root lay a fat, sharpened stake soiled by countless seasons of dried blood. A wooden mallet lay nearby.
Ripping free of her burly guards as they shoved her toward the nailing tree, Ah-tets Seh-ah glowered at her Shesh captors. "I need no help," she snarled.

* * * * * * *

The distant howl of a wolf to his pack mates steered Ohna's attention from her tale.
"Listening to Wolf makes me hungry for boar stew."
Collecting her parka from Ah-tets Bookah, Ohna slipped it on and left.
Wolf howled again.
The child scowled at war chief Et-esh beside her.
"It is all Wolf's fault for making her leave!"
"Ohna possesses both eagle and wolf power. If either tell her to eat, she must obey or their angry brethren would take their power from her. Would you have that happen due to your impatience?" Et-esh challenged.
Lowering her eyes, the ashamed child shook her head.
"We must wait patiently."
As Ohna ate she sensed she was not alone. As she calmly lowered her stew bowl her gaze was drawn to the low fire. A face materialized within its flames. It was the youthful face of
Ah-tets Seh-ah. Favored by spirit messengers, Ohna wasn't surprised by the vision.
"You tell my story well, Shesh-Amazoni."
"I am honored by your praise."
"You will, of course, say nothing about my appearance."
"Of course."
Ah-tets Seh-ah frowned.
"Your belly is full enough, warrior. We eagerly await your return to the story fire."
Nodding, Ohna hurried out. The people met her reappearance with cheers. Playing to the crowd, she bowed as gracefully as any genteel Outsider. Removing her parka, she handed it to the beaming Ah-tets Bookah and returned to the story fire.
Chapter 6
"Ah-tets Seh-ah demonstrated great courage by refusing to be led to the nailing tree. Never had Shesh encountered such a warrior..."

* * * * * * *

Shoving the tiny Amazoni against the tree, Shesh tahna Bootoak ordered a brave to force her muscled arms above her head palm over palm against the trunk. Seizing the mallet and stake, Bootoak settled the spike's point upon the center of his foe's palm.
"May your spirits award you a quick death."
"The sooner we begin, the sooner you shall bury Skoyahpeech and I own all your horses. Do it!" Ah-tets Seh-ah commanded.

* * * * * * *

"The daughter of Supreme Tahna, D'wah Neeha, was determined to prove herself by nailing."
"But you would not do it."
Ohna's patience with Ah-tets Bookah was running thin.
"Do you wish to hear the story?"
"Yes."
"Then listen with your ears, not your mouth, young one."
Ah-tets Bookah gazed questioningly at Et-esh.
"Listening without challenge is always best."
The child blushed with shame.
Scowling, Ohna hefted a fist overheard, swaying the long fringe on her sleeve.
"Hammer in hand, Shesh tahna Bootoak swung with all his might..."

* * * * * * *

Enthusiastically Bootoak swung the mallet, striking the sharpened stake through the stoic Amazoni's palms, pinioning her to the tree trunk. He tossed the mallet aside.
"We will release your rotting corpse after the sun has risen four times."
"I do not die easily, Shesh. Take good care of the horses. I will claim yours as mine. Build high Skoyahpeech's funeral pyre," the peewee warrior reminded between clenched teeth, ignoring sweat dribbling into her blazing azure eyes.
Bootoak's retreat with his people roused contemptuous laughter from the Amazoni, for only cowards nail their enemies yet have no stomach to watch the show.
Ignored by her captors, the feverish Ah-tets Seh-ah kept strong for three days with song. "I, Ah-tets Seh-ah," she chanted repeatedly, "daughter of D'wah Neeha, stand defiant against Shesh death spirits. Pain means nothing to me for I am strong. Here I make my mark."
The morning of the fourth day, the Shesh led by Bootoak inspected their prisoner. The mighty Ah-tets Seh-ah stood tall and defiant.
"We have greatly underestimated your courage, daughter of D'wah Neeha. I am very impressed." Bootoak removed the stake bored through Ah-tets Seh-ah's hands. "I will escort you to our shaman for healing."
"I do not need your healer."
The crowd was amazed.
"You will build Skoyahpeech's funeral pyre so she may honorably join her ancestors. Then I will take all your horses."
Bootoak fell to one knee. Respectfully the people joined their tahna.
"Your desires are our command, mighty one."
"Remember well this day, Shesh. Remember well the name of Ah-tets Seh-ah."
"All shall forever remember," Bootoak vowed.

* * * * * * *

"From that day forward has the tale of Ah-tets Seh-ah been retold," Ohna concluded.
Amazoni exploded into applause and cheers.
Ohna held her hands up for quiet to begin the next story.
Chapter 7
"Now I shall recount the interesting story of how the Sky People made Amazoni from stardust."
Everyone leaned forward in eager anticipation to hear a favorite legend that all considered true.
"When World was first created, there was Sun; yet, all was in darkness for uncounted seasons for there was not enough light. The Sky People looking down decided World needed more light, so they blinked and millions of stars appeared. The Sky People were very pleased with themselves for a long while. Easily bored with their creations, one was unhappy. 'World is green with grass and flowing with water, but there is something missing,' Sky Person said. 'I think I will make sister Moons so World can enjoy their light.' So our two moons were formed.
"Time passed. World was happy that she had Stars and sister Moons to look at when Night fell. But eventually World grew unhappy. 'Why are you unhappy?" another Sky Person asked. 'You have Wind, Water, Stars and sister Moons to keep you company'. World looked up and said, 'Wind is fleeting. Water prefers to talk to herself. Stars have become good friends with sister Moons and no longer speak to me. I need better companions.' The Sky People pondered World's lament for thousands of seasons."
"Why so long?" Ah-tets Bookah asked.
"Sky People think things out very carefully, and time to them is like a blink of an eye. One day the solution came to one of them. 'We shall make rocks, birds, insects, and reptiles, and while they sleep we shall give World special new companions. They will be spirited, honorable, and courageous'. The other Sky People agreed. With a blink, the animals and rocks rose from the ground. It takes a lot of ground to make animals and rocks, you know, and World was just too tired to make anything else.
"The Sky People looked around them for material to make World's special companions. Deciding there were too many stars, they scooped up several handfuls. Crushing them, they blew stardust onto World. Amazoni sprang up instantly. World was so happy that she taught Amazoni how to care for her by protecting her land and hunting the new animals so they would not become too many. World taught us to speak to her in prayers and promised the Sky People that we would be forever grateful to them for creating us from stardust."
"That was a good story, Ohna," Ah-tets Bookah complimented. "I want to hear another."
"I have no others."
"Oh yes you do!"
Ohna frowned in confusion.
"You forgot to tell your legend."
The people nodded.
"It is unseemly for me to speak of myself."
Medicine Woman approached the story fire. "That does not mean others cannot." She grinned. "I have known you since you were a baby. I will gladly recount your legend."
Embarrassed, Ohna assumed her seat between Et-esh and Johtah. Ah-tets Bookah resettled into the warrior's comfortable lap. "You are a bad girl," she whispered into the child's ear making her giggle.
With a grunt Medicine Woman settled cross-legged beside the story fire.
"The legend of our mighty Ohna, daughter of Codot and her mate E-flet, began ninety seasons ago. What sprang from the spoils of war blossomed into our most valued asset."
All eyes shifted to the Shesh-Amazoni. Experiencing a renewed rush of embarrassment as the center of attention, Ohna lowered her gaze and shifted uneasily. Her modesty was a source of amusement to her people, for they knew she was used to the accolades spouted around the fires of respectful enemies.
"You enjoy the attention. Admit it," Et-esh needled.
Ohna exhaled an annoyed sigh.
Et-esh grinned.
Amazoni shifted their gaze to Medicine Woman.
"Two seasons after joining, Supreme Tahna Codot and her mate E-flet were the proud parents of a baby girl. But happiness was short-lived, for a day after the birth of the unnamed one the Northern Shesh invaded our camp for no reason other than to cause trouble, for we had shown no hostility toward them for a long while.
"Codot spotted a Shesh warrior dash into her tepee where her newborn slept wrapped in a bed fur..."

* * * * * * * *

Codot rushed into her tepee to discover the smiling Shesh towering over her newborn he had just bludgeoned with his stone war club. Outraged, Codot attacked. After a brief ferocious tussle, she salvaged her enemy's club and pounded his skull into bloody rubble. Hugging her battered child to her chest, Codot screeched her grief, oblivious to the battle raging outside.

* * * * * * *

A tear slithered down Ohna's dark cheek, for her mother had never mentioned her murdered baby.
"After a week of mourning," Medicine Woman recalled, "Codot pledged revenge upon the Northern Shesh and vowed to reclaim what they had stolen from her..."

* * * * * * *

Codot led her angry legion into the Shesh village of sun-baked high-rise lodges.
The shaman couple dressed in long hooded robes of silver silk, hearing the thundering hooves and screaming people, their domed clay lodge inundated with smoke from outside fires, settled their days' old daughter into her hide cradle. Singing, the shamaness tenderly caressed her infant's dark cheek.
"We must leave now if we are to save ourselves!" the shaman shouted.
"I cannot leave my daughter."
"We have no choice."
"No!"
"The spirits will watch over her. Come!"
The shaman yanked his weeping, screaming wife behind him, escaping seconds before Supreme Tahna Codot's entrance. Drawn to the sound of gurgling, she penetrated the smoke to investigate. The Amazoni leader smiled upon inspection of the mahogany-skinned infant's beautiful face framed by wisps of ebon hair, staring with fearless obsidian eyes. Codot removed the naked baby from her hide cradle cocoon. Offering a finger, the infant took hold with such crushing force it made Codot wince.
"You shall carry the name of Ohna, little one, which means 'strength'. Through you will my broken heart heal. You will grow big and strong, and through your strength, Amazoni will be strong. You will make us proud for you are special. You are now the daughter of Codot."
The infant flailed her arms and flashed a toothless grin.
Her mission complete, Codot left.

* * * * * * *

"Our people praised the new arrival with a spectacular celebration," Medicine Woman reminisced. "No one cared that Ohna was not of Amazoni birth. We saw Codot's grief turn into joy and that was all that mattered. And so, Ah-tets Bookah, the legend of Ohna does not rest upon her mighty deeds but in her existence."
"Long live Ohna!" Et-esh crowed.
A beaming Ah-tets Bookah squirmed around in the Shesh-Amazoni's lap until she faced her.
"Long live Ohna, our living legend and my friend."
Deeply moved, the warrior hugged Ah-tets Bookah.