|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|
At the lodge fire the Shesh-Amazoni warrior Ohnaà studied her pale-skinned, azure-eyed mate, Ojah, clad in ankle-length tan dress of beaded fringe and new moccasins, long flaxen braids tied off with blue Trader ribbon, kneeled before his heating breakfast boar stew kettle, stirring it with a lengthy wooden spoon. Prompted by Ohnaà's piercing gaze, Ojah looked up.
"Since returning from the Trader King called Dah-gar across the Great Water, you watch."
With long brown fingers Ohnaà scraped a long thick lock of glossy obsidian hair behind her right ear.
"I should ignore you?"
Plunging wooden spoon into Ohnaà's boar stew bowl Ojah handed it to her.
"Of course not. It is just that you have never watched me so closely."
Ohnaà dredged up a spoonful of dripping stew. "It is just that you have never noticed until my return," she corrected.
Contemplating the possibility, Ojah filled his bowl.
At breakfast's end, Ohnaà stood.
"I will hunt many rabbits."
"Why?" Ojah demanded of his warrior striding to the high fur bed where beside it, against the lodge's hide wall, bow and quiver of arrows leaned.
"They must be added to our peoples' stores before winter," she explained donning her weapons back to her mate.
Ojah hurried to obstruct the lodge door's threshold.
"Why are you really leaving?"
Turning, Ohnaà frowned.
"I just told you."
"Speaking to your back I know something is wrong."
Ohnaà joined Ojah at the lodge door.
"It is nothing to concern yourself with."
"Your concerns are mine!"
"I say what concerns you," Ohnaà snarled shoving Ojah aside and stepping outside.
Undeterred, Ojah dashed after Ohnaà to bar her passage.
"Stop hounding me!"
"When you tell me where you really go!" Ojah countered.
"Today my business is not yours," Ohnaà tersely retorted brushing him aside. Briskly heading for the corral she ignored playing children, warriors seated before lodges smoking pipes, or engaged in lively group gambling games, and men hunched over hides they were scraping with long curved knives of bone and steel. Plucking leather Trader bridle off the corral doorpost, swinging open the pen, she summoned Appaloosa with a whistle. Leashing him she vaulted upon his broad bare dappled back to exit corral and camp at a brisk trot.
Rapidly marching Appaloosa, keen eyes scanning short olive prairie grass inches ahead of his hoofs Ohnaà reined to a halt. Dismounting she kneeled to examine verdant turf freshly trampled by a pair of bare Ossit feet. "Ah yah!" she exclaimed. "Escaping our scouts will not long protect you from me." Whisking dry her sweaty brow with a mammoth brown forearm, the burly warrior remounted.
A thunderous vibration grumbled underfoot.
Russet tail elevated like a signal cloth, in panic Appaloosa screamed, bucked, reared, and pranced beneath his powerful mistress's taut rein.
Shaken but undaunted by the dissipating tremor Ohnaà resumed travel.
Hugging prairie so forcefully the terrified, unarmed, short, slender, gray-skinned Ossit, pressed long multi-shelled earrings painfully into his collarbone. The heated breeze toasted his bare soles, loinclothed buttocks and bare calves. His greased graying scalp lock's bed of shaven skull gleamed with sweat. Gradually realizing the plain wouldn't swallow him, Ossit rose with a grunt to resume his jogging pilgrimage.
Ohnaà halted atop a prairie rise. Shielding eyes with a huge brown hand she squinted at the distant gray-skinned intruder. "Ah yah! I have you now!" she snarled under her breath and savagely kicked Appaloosa's ribs in pursuit.
Perceptive bare feet detecting galloping hoof beats Ossit turned. Recognizing the gaining raven-haired, mahogany-skinned, burly Shesh-Amazoni armed with bow and quiver, clad in skimpy bikini skins furiously pounding fringed knee-high moccasined heels against her Appaloosa, he broke into a panicked run.
Voicing shrill war cry Ohnaà increased her speed.
Tripping, Ossit's escape was swiftly barricaded by his irate tracker. "I have done nothing to the mighty Ohnaà to make her pursue me with such vengeance," he panted struggling to his feet
"You trespass Amazoni land!"
"Searching for medicinal plants, I did not know I tread your ground!"
"There is no such thing as a lost Ossit!" Ohnaà roared unshouldering her bow. Rocked violently by a more forceful tremor that split prairie behind her, she dropped the weapon in the struggle to control her screaming stallion's rearing. Her quiver's worn shoulder strap snapping, the hide case crashed upon the trembling grass, scattering its arrows.
Seizing opportunity, straining to keep upright, Ossit dashed away, shoulder-length multi-shelled earrings swinging.
Ground Thunder passing, ignoring fallen bow and quiver, Ohnaà stubbornly resumed her pursuit.
Viewing sandstone cave ahead, imbued by desperation's adrenaline, Ossit pressed on.
Besieged by Ground Thunder's massive aftershock Ohnaà toppled off her rearing Appaloosa stallion that bolted in panic.
Felled far over the grotto's threshold chest first, bashing his wind out, gray body drenched in sweat, Ossit was too exhausted to attempt entry through the two hundred yards of sandstone tunnel leading into the grotto's high ceilinged massive belly. Aftershock subsiding, he stood. Compelled by instinct he turned to view with dread the mighty Shesh-Amazoni Ohnaà rapidly chewing up the two hundred yard distance upon powerful legs.
Breathing unaffected by her run, mahogany skin sweat slick, the burly Ohnaà crossed Cave's threshold.
Unable to concentrate upon his task of fleshing deer hide, Ohnaà's mate, Ojah, pitched aside his curved steel blade and strode briskly toward the medicine tepee, his ankle-length dress's beaded fringe swaying vigorously with each step. Entering the shaman's lodge without permission he approached the healer seated in closed-eyed contemplation at the mentholated fire.
"We must talk."
Scowling, Medicine Woman opened her eyes.
"What is so important that Ojah must so rudely disturb me?"
He lowered himself to his knees.
"Why Ohnaà lies to me."
"What would you call the promise of hunting many rabbits to add to Amazoni stores that are full?"
"It was a lie! Demanding to know where she was really going Ohnaà angrily said that it was none of my concern before walking away."
Medicine Woman prodded her fragrant fire with a long thin stick.
"Until Ohnaà tells you, Ojah, her travels are not your concern."
"This time is different, shaman."
Medicine Woman ceased stoking her fire.
"I cannot explain it."
"A great warrior with immeasurable strength and cunning, Ohnaà can well take care of herself."
"They are not enough I fear. Tell me where she goes!" Ojah pleaded.
"I did not speak to Ohnaà nor is it your place to demand of me what the spirits have not revealed," Medicine Woman rebuked.
Ojah bowed his head in submission.
"Forgive my bothering you."
Medicine Woman inclined her head.
Blue eyes clouded with tears, Ojah left.
Massive physique tense, the scowling Ohnaà advanced through Grotto's entrance upon the fear paralyzed Ossit an intruder her lazy scouts dishonored her impeccable training in allowing to trespass her land.
Eclipsed by the strapping Shesh-Amazoni towering over him, Ossit trembled.
"I beg you to pity my misdirection and point me on the right path so I may return home in peace. I promise you will never see me again."
"How are you called?" Ohnaà snarled.
With the velocity of a pebble snake's strike, Ohnaà snatched her prisoner's throat easily hoisting his small frame off his feet several inches. Gasping for air, It-tay clawed at his captor's massive brown wrist with small ineffectual gray hands.
"It-tay is right. I will never see him again."
Ground Thunder's enraged vibration coursed beneath the sandstone cavern drizzling the tribal opponents in dust and pebble. Gazing overhead, Ohnaà observed grand cracks rapidly webbing through the crumbling sandstone ceiling. Tossing It-tay aside she turned to escape. When the dust settled, both entrance and cavern belly tunnel were rubble entombing the Native rivals within a cramped dimly lit chamber.
Dust coated It-tay of the Ossit, tossed against the cave wall by Ohnaà, sat buried to the waist in boulders. Rewarded by excruciating pain in moving he realized his legs were broken. Adjusting to the dim light It-tay gazed upon the high pile of sandstone boulders marking Ohnaà's position where moments ago she was effortlessly strangling him with one hand. He gaped with amazement at the mound's heaving. Seconds later Ohnaà's head and torso exploded through her sandstone cocoon proving tales of the warrior's indestructibility accurate.
"I would help but my legs are broken."
Ignoring It-tay, Ohnaà boosted herself up on flattened palms only to recoil in silent agony from her fractured right wrist beginning to swell.
"Pressure will make your pain worse," It-tay warned.
"Ah yah! Spare me your false words of care," Ohnaà snarled.
"Training to be a healer, I care about those in pain regardless of nation. You captured me looking for pain killing leaves. Unarmed of medicine the best I can suggest to ease your fracture's pain is that you use your left arm's great strength to free yourself."
Scowling, Ohnaà hesitated.
"I am trying to help you, Shesh-Amazoni!" It-tay exclaimed.
"I need no help from an Ossit!"
"You are afraid!"
"I fear nothing!"
"Prove it by following my advice," It-tay challenged.
Baring her teeth, massive left arm muscles straining, Ohnaà gradually hoisted herself from her rocky sheath. Exhausted and wheezing from rock dust clogging her lungs, she rested muscular back against the cave wall. Wincing in silent agony she rested her swelled right broken wrist across her muscled belly.
"It is good you are free. I wish I was as lucky." It-tay shifted his back's weight against his cave wall. "This is good. My broken legs have numbed."
"You talk too much," Ohnaà growled. Drained, she fell asleep.
Heaving a depressed sigh, It-tay closed his eyes.
Waking hours later It-tay gazed upon the dozing,
sandstone dusted Ohnaà. His survival dependent upon her despite her animosity, he was choiceless in having to rouse the temperamental warrior. "Wake up, Shesh-Amazoni," he barked.
A light sleeper Ohnaà awoke.
"We will die if we do not escape before the air grows bad," It-tay reminded.
Rising, sidestepping rock debris that had encapsulated her, Ohnaà stiffly walked to the cave entrance blocked by sandstone boulders. Turning she glared at It-tay. "What makes you think I will help you?" she challenged.
"Your honor will not permit you to forsake a helpless man baring no hatred for you."
"There is no honor in helping an enemy."
"I am not your enemy."
"You are Ossit!"
"Who has never done you harm and whose only goal in life is to become a great healer," It-tay retorted.
Ohnaà's irate adrenaline launched a wave of excruciating pain to dash from her swollen broken right wrist, up her entire right side then back, eliciting a wince.
"Forgive my causing you more pain."
"It is nothing," Ohnaà hissed through gritted teeth.
"It is everything, Shesh-Amazoni."
Fatigued by the plugged grotto chamber's stagnating air, It-tay closed his eyes.
Mind racing while studying the blocked cavern entrance's firmly interlocked sandstone boulders for exploitable weakness, Ohnaà was torn in her thoughts of It-tay. Helping an enemy Ossit would be an unpardonable violation of Amazoni doctrine. On the other hand if she abandoned to death one spirit guided to heal, she wondered if the spirits would punish her in vengeance. Suddenly overcome by dizziness, she lowered herself cross-legged upon the cavern entrance's floor. Head drooping she closed her eyes.
Chilled by a frigid draft Ohnaà opened her eyes to witness the faces of her long dead adoptive mother, Codot, and the past's mightiest Amazoni, Ah-tets Seh-ah, Little Warrior, embed themselves into the corked cavern entrance's boulders. Honored by her dream apparitions Ohnaà reverently inclined her head an inch.
"Ohnaà troubles herself over this Ossit,"
Ah-tets Seh-ah reflected.
"When escape takes time one begins selfish thinking," Codot replied.
"I am not selfish!" Ohnaà snapped.
"How is she selfish?" Ah-tets Seh-ah asked ignoring the warrior's indignant outburst.
"Ohnaà fears betrayal to Amazoni if she helps because she gives no credit to her peoples' understanding of circumstances that allows exception to rules. Falsely assuming the worst from our sister spirits if she shows kindness to this Ossit she fears personal retaliation, so great is her malice toward one whose heart is pure."
"Helping temporarily because it is right despite differences is a good thing, is it not, Codot?"
"It is a good test for this special warrior."
"It will be interesting to see if good judgment prevails."
"Indeed," Codot replied as she and Ah-tets Seh-ah's images swiftly faded.
Ohnaà awoke with a start. Compliant to spirit wisdom she approached the dozing It-tay and kneeling roused him with a gentle shoulder shake.
"I will help you."
"I am glad I changed your mind."
Ohnaà rapidly unpinned It-tay from his lower body's heavy sandstone boulders' sheath with her good hand.
"Spirit guides change my heart."
"I am grateful."
"Can you feel your broken legs?"
"Yes," It-tay whispered through gritted teeth as his released circulation swiftly canceled his numbness.
Ohnaà's austere chiseled features softened. "Although your path is that of a healer, you endure pain with the heart of a warrior," she complimented.
"I am honored."
Seizing a round fist-sized sandstone rock beside her in her strong left hand, Ohnaà returned to the sealed grotto entrance. Absorbed in furious hammering against its center, ignored went the excruciating pain of her right wrist break and spray of sharp sandstone chips bouncing off her burly physique. For hours she doggedly thumped until her mighty effort produced an eye-size hole. Breathing hard, dark brown skin glossy with sweat, she greedily inhaled the cool air.
"What do you see outside?"
"Night. The two moons are high and full."
"Now you stop."
Ohnaà faced It-tay.
"I cannot stop so close to freedom!"
"Chipping so long using one hand I see your great strength weaken, your breath grow short. How will killing yourself from exhaustion help?"
Sighing wearily, massive shoulders slouching, Ohnaà sat cross-legged and set aside her worn battering rock.
"Any food in your waist pouches?"
Fumbling with her aching left hand to open her jerked boar meat pouch Ohnaà tossed It-tay a slice.
"You, too, Shesh-Amazoni."
"I am not hungry."
"Eat! Then we sleep. You can pound again tomorrow."
Selecting a boar meat slice Ohnaà bit off a chunk.
"I see pain does not diminish Ossit bossiness."
"About as much as yours and fatigue slows your ability to take orders well."
It-tay was startled awake late next morning by the crunch of rock against rock as Ohnaà widened Cave's entrance wall's eye hole with her worn round hand stone.
"How long have you been at it, Shesh-Amazoni?"
Ohnaà crumbled more rock. "Since dawn," she replied. Her next mighty strike collapsed the wall into a high loose boulder mound whose wide top gap permitted sunshine to flood the chamber. Tossing aside her battering stone the elated warrior turned to the Ossit. "Ah yah! Soon we will be free!" she declared.
Cave's glow dimmed in comparison to It-tay's brilliant smile
Ohnaà's Appaloosa stallion plodded into camp.
Sitting before the lodge fire beading a friend's sewing pouch, Ohnaà's mate, Ojah, heard shouts and running. Abandoning his project he stepped out. Panicked by gathering villagers he ran, his ankle-length dress's fringe swaying as madly as his long blond braids. Shoving through the mob, joining its front row's ranks, he gasped his horror seeing Ohnaà's mount scrutinized by the expert hands and eyes of burly war chief, Et-esh.
Parting villagers allowed shaman, Medicine Woman, to join Ojah in the front row.
Et-esh concluded her inspection. "The horse has seen no battle," she declared.
"Something is wrong that makes Ohnaà's horse return without her after only a day. She could be dying! We must find her!" Ojah insisted.
"Searching blindly will not help," Medicine Woman reminded. "Expecting our trust in her survival skills, Ohnaà would demand we wait patiently for her return."
Angrily breaking from the crowd Ojah grabbed Appaloosa's reins.
"As a concerned mate I cannot! It is up to me to find Ohnaà!"
"Lacking warrior survival skills you would not last long. Here you are safe, here you will wait with everyone else," Medicine Woman snapped. "Et-esh, bring Ojah to my lodge for calming herbs. He will stay with me until Ohnaà's return."
Ojah's drawn knife elicited a shocked gasp from Amazoni.
Insulted by the threat, Et-esh angrily snatched Ojah's wrist and squeezed until the knife dropped to the dirt ground. Roughly slinging the small man over a broad shoulder, ignoring her charge's kicking and screaming, the warrior followed Medicine Woman to her lodge.
Speculating in whispers Ohnaà's fate, the crowd dispersed.
Warmed by sunshine flooding through the top gap of Cave entrance's high pile of sandstone boulders, Ohnaà placed left hand against a top row boulder's back, drew a deep breath, and channeling thrust through massive left arm, leg, and back muscle, pushed until the stone landed on the outside prairie grass with a dull thump.
"How many days rest before carrying me the three day journey to my camp, will you need?"
Ohnaà rapidly diminished the rock pile's load by five more boulders. Wiping dry her brow on her huge left forearm she turned to It-tay.
"I need no rest. Soon we leave. Running this night our journey will take two days."
"After such hard toil no warrior can accomplish this feat!"
"I am no ordinary warrior," Ohnaà reminded. "Know this also, It-tay of the Ossit. When I leave your camp, my spirit guided truce between us, ends. Tread my land again, I will kill you."
"I will make sure not to test your promise."
Awarding a curt nod Ohnaà returned to her task of clearing rubble.
By late afternoon Grotto's obstructed entrance was hollowed out.
It-tay groaned in pain as Ohnaà draped him over her broad left shoulder bracing the backs of his broken legs with her powerful left forearm. No sooner had the pair cleared Cave did Ground Thunder's final rumble collapse its weakened excavated mouth.
Ohnaà commenced her trek to It-tay's Ossit camp across flat prairie at a run. Hours into the night, illuminated by the double full moons chasing her, achieving her second wind, she accelerated her pace, the relentless pounding of her feet transmitting ripples of excruciating pain through It-tay's broken legs making sleep impossible. Gritting his teeth to prevent agonized screams, nauseated by ground swiftly flying beneath his mighty carrier's moccasins, he closed his eyes.
Her step silent as the padded paws of the long-toothed cat, Ohnaà sprinted through dense forest and waist-high golden grassland. At daybreak the gray canyon ahead, one of many gateways to Ossit land, beckoned.
Deep within the canyon Ohnaà unshouldered her charge and leaned him against its wall.
Sitting opposite It-tay, delving into her bikini skins' waist belt's meat pouch with her uninjured left hand, Ohnaà withdrew a couple slices of jerked boar meat handing one to the Ossit.
"In two days we will find your camp."
"It will be a long two days so anxious I am to be reunited with my brother, Ash-kot, my wife, Wuh-tuh, and my three-season-old son, Mee-op. When I left, Wuh-tuh was close to giving birth. I hope she is well and gave birth to another strong son.
"You have family?"
"My mate, Ojah."
Finishing their scant meal, Shesh-Amazoni and Ossit closed their eyes for a well earned nap.
Late afternoon Ohnaà awoke It-tay. Hefting him over her shoulder she resumed her journey. Traveling through barren land of grey rock, soil and ground scrub for two more days, she topped a high hill of gray clay and white pebble. Below lay It-tay's small camp of brush lodges where grey-skinned barefoot, loin clothed, Ossit warriors, greased scalp locks adorned of feather and bead, earlobes stretched by heavy shoulder-length multi-shelled earrings, congregated outside their brush huts for talk.
Grass-skirted, barefoot, topless Ossit women, pendulous breasts pierced with tiny gold rings, multi-braided hair stained red with berry juice, prepared food in black metal pots suspended from wooden pole tripods.
Napping soundly, children were hidden in their brush huts.
As Ossit owned no dogs for alert, Ohnaà announced herself with a shrill war cry.
Racing to their brush huts to snatch bows, arrow heavy quivers, and lances, defensive warriors joined their people waiting at camp's edge.
Pressing It-tay slightly tighter against her shoulder, Ohnaà trekked downhill to meet the apprehensive Ossit crowd.
A scowling lance wielding warrior sporting shoulder-length gold painted multi-shelled earrings, three red feathers in his greased scalp lock, and deer tooth necklace, stalked behind Ohnaà to examine the Ossit body slung over her broad mahogany-skinned shoulder.
It-tay lifted his head.
"What trouble did you get into this time?"
"Searching for medicinal plants I mistakenly entered Amazoni land. The Shesh-Amazoni chased me into a cave. Ground Thunder collapsed part of it breaking my legs under rubble. Despite a broken wrist, she helped me escape."
Ash-kot confronted Ohnaà.
"It is not your way to show mercy toward Ossit who are your enemies. Why did you spare my brother?"
"I obeyed the will of spirit guides."
"I am surprised that one as vicious as you, who thinks herself above everyone, would bother to heed spirit council. I say also that it will not be said of me that I do not know gratitude, so you will be rewarded with one of my best horses."
Ohnaà accepted the offer with a curt nod.
"Follow me to our healer."
The Ossit villagers watched Ohnaà trail Ash-kot to the medicine lodge.
Ohnaà was directed by the shaman to rest It-tay upon a pile of furs beside the fire.
"My brother's legs are broken," Ash-kot explained.
Rapidly splinting then wrapping It-tay's legs in hide, the healer filled a clay cup from a water gourd, opened a belt pouch, and tossed several pinches of orange powder into the cup. Mixing it with his finger he fed his apprentice the pain relieving sedative. He eyed Ohnaà's swelled fractured right wrist.
"I may tend you?"
Ohnaà extended her right hand.
The shaman tightly wrapped the warrior's wrist in hide.
Ohnaà left with Ash-kot to the corral where she was awarded his black stallion. Gracefully vaulting upon her new mount she exited the Ossit camp at a gallop.
Ohnaà's homecoming was celebrated by Amazoni with ecstatic warrior war cries, mens' high-pitched trilling, childrens' singing, and camp dogs' yapping.
Breaking from the throng following Ohnaà, war chief Et-esh walked alongside her mounted best friend."Where were you? Where did you get this horse? How were you injured?" she interrogated eyeing Ohnaà's broken right wrist wrapped in hide.
"I will tell everything while Medicine Woman tends me, young one." Ohnaà searched the crowd. "Where is Ojah?"
"In the medicine lodge. Seeing you will his troubled heart make a miraculous recovery."
Hearing the approaching commotion Ojah sat up in the fireside bed furs Medicine Woman provided. "I must go out to meet Ohnaà," he announced to the shaman seated beside him.
"She will be here soon enough."
Dismounting at the medicine lodge, Ohnaà entered, war chief Et-esh close behind. Ohnaà kneeled beside Ojah.
Without asking, Medicine Woman seized Ohnaà's hide encased right wrist and unwrapped it.
"Why are you here, my mate?" the warrior asked ignoring the shaman's painful manipulation.
"When your horse returned without you, Ojah became outraged when Medicine Woman forbade him to look for you alone," Et-esh answered. "Asked to bring him here for calming herbs, he drew his knife on me. Disarming him I carried him kicking and screaming over my shoulder."
"Threatening people is unlike you, Ojah."
"Neither is your lying to me for the first time before leaving!" Ojah defended.
"You are right, my mate."
Medicine Woman rewrapped Ohnaà's right fractured wrist in hide.
Ojah grasped his warrior's huge brown good hand, his small pale hand's soothing coolness prompting Ohnaà to tighten her grip.
"Why did you have to lie to me?"
"Guilt drove my scout leader to admit her patrol allowed Ossit sign to go uninvestigated dishonoring my training."
"No wonder she refused to explain her bruises when I asked!" Et-esh exclaimed.
"I could not reveal my disgrace to anyone, least of all you, Ojah. At the time I thought it better to lie about hunting rabbits than Ossit."
"Pride and lies got us both into trouble."
"You found Ossit," Et-esh concluded.
"One. Ground Thunder tried to come between us by splitting and shaking our prairie knocking me off my horse who ran away. I chased the Ossit into a cave. Another Ground Thunder caused a cave in breaking my wrist and the Ossit's legs."
"You rightfully killed him before you escaped."
"Dream spirit guides told me I must help the Ossit healer. Returned to his camp did his brother award me the horse I rode."
"Enough talk. After such an adventure what you need now is rest," Medicine Woman prescribed.
"I am so tired my feet need help moving," Ohnaà remarked to Et-esh with a grin and wink as she rose with exaggerated sluggishness.
Leaping to his feet, wrapping a tiny arm about his smiling warrior's waist, a happy Ojah guided her outside.