|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|
Shesh-Amazoni warrior Ohnaà dredged up another heaping wooden spoonful of dripping breakfast boar stew. "Today I will trade with Jo-teff for new metal arrow heads," she announced to her mate, Ojah, eating beside her.
"You grow soft, my warrior."
"By trading for arrow heads instead of making them like you used to."
Ohnaà downed her last spoonful of warm boar stew. "I do not see you turning down Jo-teff's metal sewing needles and metal blades for fleshing hides when bone is stronger, or make clay cooking pots that work as well as metal, or use furs that last longer and are softer than your beloved Trader cloth blankets," she countered.
"A great hunter and warrior who faces wild animals and enjoys battle, you do not need what I need."
Ohnaà walked to the high fur bed where her bow and full quiver leaned against the tepee wall beside it.
"What are you going to trade Jo-teff for your arrow heads?"
"I will hunt fox."
"Look under the bed."
Withdrawing two red fox pelts strung on a hide cord, Ohnaà raised them.
"Where did you get these?"
Ojah joined his warrior at the bed.
"Et-esh's mate, Dukwukka, had these extra he did not need. They are yours."
"I cannot accept these."
"Jo-teff might ask where I hunted. Knowing the truth he would think less of me using another's game."
After fastening the corded pelts upon Ohnaà's bikini skins' belt beside her sheathed knife, Ojah rested a cool pale hand upon his warrior's mahogany skinned broad right shoulder and seductively caressed her muscular right arm. "I will visit him to explain how nearing your hundredth season causes hunting limitations," he cooed.
Aroused by Ojah's contact Ohnaà swept him into her powerful arms.
"To save my honor you leave me no choice but to trade for your silence."
"What do you have that I want?"
Gently settling Ojah upon the bed on his back, Ohnaà leaned her powerful frame over him, her obsidian eyes smoldering. "What you cannot live without," she hissed. Her savage lust satisfied, the warrior dressed and donned her bow and quiver.
Ojah fell asleep with a smile.
Exiting the tepee, Ohnaà briskly strode toward the corral.
"Daughter of Codot!" war chief Et-esh exclaimed running to join her best friend. Glancing at the two fox pelts on Ohnaà's belt, she frowned. "I see my mate, Dukwukka, gives away more of my hard earned furs."
"When you run out of furs do you think he would give away your horses?"
"He knows I would sell him to a warrior he did not like."
"Where do you go with my furs?"
"Trader Jo-teff will give many metal arrow heads for these. Come with me to visit him."
The warriors stopped at the corral gate.
"I am late for a gambling game."
Hefting a farewell hand, Et-esh went on her way.
Mounting Appaloosa, Ohnaà cantered out of camp.
Tying Appaloosa to the crowded Trader Lodge's hitching post, Ohnaà entered the establishment teeming with chatting, eating, drinking, and card playing Outsider hunters, traders, and trappers. Ignoring the usual stares she stepped up to the corpulent balding bartender.
"I come to trade with Jo-teff."
"He's on an errand."
"He will return?"
"Can't say when today."
"I will wait."
"Glass or mug?"
"Hot or cold?"
Bartender filled a tall metal mug with steaming red liquid.
"The Shesh-Amazoni never pays," a gray-haired trapper complained. Hefting his half bottle of spirits he drained it.
"She's in good company then because neither do you," Bartender replied handing the drink to Ohnaà who rapidly drained it. "Land sakes! That was hot enough to peel paint off a house!" he exclaimed.
Ohnaà set the empty mug on the bar.
"I did not notice."
"Shesh-Amazoni," Trapper called.
The warrior turned. "I am called Ohnaà," she growled.
"Whatever! I'll bet your pelts I could beat you in arm wrestling."
"I come to see Jo-teff."
Trapper unsteadily stood.
"In other words, you dung eating, boar humping barbarian, you're implying that I'm not good enough to socialize with."
The noisy room fell into tense silence.
Scowling, Ohnaà stomped to her foul-mouthed challenger. Teeth bared she snatched Trapper by the throat and slammed him to the floor on his back. Dropping to one knee she seized a fistful of his thick gray scalp. Drawing her knife she pressed its gleaming thick blade against his hairline.
Returning just in time, Trader Joseph rushed to the scene. "What is the meaning of this, daughter of Codot?" he barked in Amazoni.
Ohnaà replied, her guttural language making her sound angrier.
Trader Joseph knelt beside his patron.
"Damn it, Trapper, when are you going to stop opening cans of trouble bigger than you?"
"I had too much to drink. I didn't know what I was saying!"
"The hell you didn't!"
Trader Joseph spoke at length to Ohnaà in Amazoni then stood.
Clenching tighter her fistful of Trapper's thick gray hair, bellowing a blood curdling war cry, the warrior raised her dagger.
Ignoring Trapper's screams, Ohnaà expertly excised a dime-sized patch of his thick gray hair. Sheathing her bloody blade she stood to attach the lock to her belt's heavy scalpcord then slammed a moccasined foot upon her antagonist's chest silencing his crying.
"Insult me again, loud one, your tongue will hang from your horse's tail!"
Ohnaà calmly followed Trader Joseph through the bar's back open door and corridor of room chambers before entry into his office. Closing his door, the beaming Joseph leaned against the left corner of his paper littered desk.
"After your spectacular performance, I guarantee you, Trapper won't challenge you again."
"That is good." Untying her two second hand red fox pelts from her hide bikini skins' belt, Ohnaà hoisted them."Metal arrow heads," she grunted.
Accepting them, Trader Joseph retrieved from his desk drawer a transparent packet of silver metal arrowheads.
Ohnaà deposited them into an empty waist pouch.
Trader Joseph sat behind his desk. "Several months ago my elder daughter, Xona, returned from teaching school and works nearby," he informed.
"Ah yah! I have not seen Xo-nah since her sister,
Sah-leshgoo, was born in my camp many seasons ago. It is my wish to visit her."
Armed with directions, Ohnaà passed without a backward glance on her way out of the Trader Lodge Trapper's table where he sat pressing with trembling hand a wet cloth against his head's tiny bloody bald spot.
Arriving at the porched, squat, open-doored, grey wooden school house, Ohnaà noted in the corral twenty yards away nine unsaddled potbellied bay ponies congregated around Xona's saddled Palomino mare that war chief, Et-esh, gave her when Trader Joseph and his wife Kiddy, brought her to visit Amazoni when she was twelve seasons old. Dismounting, she padded no further than over the doorway's threshold to observe Xona, clad in beige lace collared, ankle-length, long-sleeved turquoise dress and black leather shoes, waist-length wavy chestnut hair secured into a pony tail by a thin navy blue ribbon, writing sentences in white chalk on the blackboard behind her desk for the pantsuit clad nine-season-old five boys and four girls seated behind wooden flip top desks.
Ohnaà stepped into the room.
The amazed children gaped at the deep voiced, tall and brawny, mahogany skinned warrior with thick waist-length sable hair, dressed in skimpy tan bikini skins and fringed knee-high tan moccasins, armed with bow and arrow laden quiver, a warrior whom their teacher enthusiastically rushed to and fiercely hugged.
Seizing Ohnaà's huge right hand, Xona pulled her to stand beside her desk.
"Children, this is Ohnaà of the Amazoni, born of Shesh, and my family's dearest friend."
"Hello, Ohnaà," the nine pupils greeted in unison.
"You sure are big and mean looking," a black haired boy in short-sleeved brown pantsuit observed.
"I think Ohnaà is pretty," countered a girl with tight blond braids dressed in grey short-sleeved pantsuit seated at the desk at the boy's right.
"How can a lady with big muscles be pretty?"
"Because, Yor, she can beat you up with her little finger and look good doing it," Tight Blond Braids replied.
Yor blushed with embarrassment under his classmates' laughter.
"No one's going to beat up anyone," Xona assured. "Now everyone write what's on the board."
"Can Ohnaà be our lesson instead, Miss Xona?" Yor asked.
"You will make Xo-nah's marks, first."
The class quickly copied their lesson on their slates.
"Get your lunches and go outside," Xona instructed. "Ohnaà and I will follow shortly."
The excited children collected their bagged lunches from inside their desks and ran outside.
"Teaching is a good path, Xo-nah. The young ones learn much from you."
"They'd better with all the homework I give them."
Xona led the way to her nine students seated on the porch eating sandwiches.
Ohnaà sat between Yor and Tight Blond Braids. Xona sat beside her.
"Miss Xona said you're born Shesh. Why are you with the Amazoni?" Tight Blond Braids asked.
"Shesh attack the camp of the mighty Codot and kill her baby. Leading many warriors, Codot took many Shesh lives in her grief. As a baby, I become her daughter."
"Were your parents killed?"
"They escape knowing Amazoni would give me a good life."
"I've never seen an Amazoni," Tight Blond Braids said.
"They have your yellow hair, light skin, and pale eyes."
"Does it bother you looking different with dark skin, hair and eyes?" Tight Blond Braids asked.
"To be bothered by what I cannot change makes no sense."
"Can I see your big knife?" Yor requested.
Ohnaà drew her crimson tinged thick-edged blade.
"Where did the blood come from?" Yor asked.
Sheathing her knife Ohnaà pointed to Trapper's dime-sized swatch of thick gray hair attached to her shaggy scalpcord.
Horrified, Xona leaped from her seat and ran into the school house.
"Why did you hurt the person?" Tight Blond Braids asked.
"So he would remember never to insult a warrior again. Do not worry, young one. His hair will grow back."
Ohnaà went to check Trader Joseph's daughter sitting behind her desk.
"You are troubled, Xo-nah."
"Why shouldn't I be? Displaying the hair of a dead man to children is the act of a savage!"
Scowling, Ohnaà folded muscled arms across her chest.
"Today I go to your father for trade. He was not there so I wait. A man made strong from burning water challenge with insults. Because I keep a promise to your father not to kill in his Trader Lodge does the man live.
"When asked why my knife held blood I hide no truth from the young ones as I own no shame in what I do.
"I go now."
Ohnaà was midway to the door before Xona collected herself enough to hastily block the warrior's exit. "Please don't go," she pleaded.
"I have no place here."
"That's not true!"
"When the daughter of my friend, Trader Jo-teff, judges my ways, she says I am not welcome."
Deeply ashamed, Xona lowered her eyes.
"Please forgive me."
"Those who hide their eyes from me, do not speak their heart."
Xona raised her gaze.
"Will you forgive me?"
Her scowl gradually dissolving in consideration of the apology Ohnaà answered with a curt nod. "Now, your young ones must learn the lesson of seeing Amazoni without judgment," she decided. "Come."
Warrior and Outsider teacher rejoined the nine children seated on the school house porch.
"Are you all right, Miss Xona?" Yor asked.
"We go to my camp," Ohnaà declared. Vaulting gracefully atop Appaloosa she watched Xona lead her nine pupils to the corral where she mounted her saddled Palomino, and the children straddled their barebacked potbellied ponies and return single file to be led away at a canter.
Walking their horses into the village of tall teepees, Ohnaà's Outsider party attracted Amazoni like moths to flame.
War chief Et-esh strode alongside Ohnaà. "Ah yah! The last time I saw Xo-nah, daughter of Trader Jo-teff, she was small," she recounted in Amazoni.
"How do you know it is her?"
"There are many palominos. There is only one that I gave Xo-nah. She has taken good care of her. It is a pity she did not keep my string of good luck boar teeth within the mare's mane.
"Who are the others?"
"Xo-nah teaches them."
"Why are they here?"
"Today I will be their warrior teacher."
"I fail to see what you have to offer that they would appreciate."
"They will see that Amazoni do more than fight and tell their families who judge us."
"You have the wasted optimism of age my friend to think they will care, or that the Trader boys when they become men remember this day and not have you in their gun sights. What will you think before you are forced to kill them?"
"That I offered them the choice of seeing Amazoni differently when young."
"How will you know it is them and not others?"
"When all palominos look the same, you knew it was Xo-nah who rides the horse you gave many seasons ago. I, too, will remember her Trader boys when they reach manhood."
"If they do not have a good memory it will be a very bad day when they face you in battle."
"Perhaps your dark thoughts of the future will lighten after seeing who will join you in showing our strength on horseback beside the lake outside of camp."
"Ah yah!" the delighted Et-esh exclaimed. Posing the question to warriors in the trailing crowd she was rewarded with three volunteers who followed at a run to the corral.
Passing the last tepee, Ohnaà, Amazoni, Xona, and her nine students, halted at the grassy grounds beside the lake where the riding demonstration would take place.
Xona and the children dismounted. Ohnaà was pleased that her mate, Ojah, held Appaloosa's reins as she dismounted. "Do you remember Xo-nah, elder daughter of Trader Jo-teff and Kid-deh, who came many seasons ago when her sister, Sah-leshgoo, was born here?" she asked him in Amazoni.
Yor stared at Ojah's ankle-length tan hide dress with long beaded fringe.
"Why do your men wear dresses?"
"It has always been the way."
"He looks like a girl," Yor declared.
Grinning, Ohnaà spoke in Amazoni, her comment eliciting laughter from villagers.
"What's so funny?" Xona demanded.
"I say what hangs between Ojah's legs no girl has and well does he know how to use it."
Divesting herself of bow and arrow packed quiver Ohnaà handed them to a warrior in the crowd's front row. She instructed two warriors to house the Outsiders' horses in the corral.
The rumble of hoofs interrupted further joking as war chief, Et-esh, straddled atop her sleepy-eyed buckskin, and three warrior sisters mounted their wild-eyed pintos, stampeded through the parted crowd and whirling in unison halted before Ohnaà. In rapid Amazoni, she outlined her plan to them. Enthusiastically they galloped one hundred yards away and waited.
Settling the five boys into a widely spaced first line, the four girls and Xona in the second line separate from the crowd, Ohnaà mounted Appaloosa and galloped to her waiting warriors.
Et-esh studied the closed-eyed Tight Blond Braids.
"The Trader girl looks fearful, Ohnaà. I think she would struggle in panic and injure herself ruining our fun. It would be better if she stood with our people."
"Ah yah!" Ohnaà snarled and galloped to the now sobbing Tight Blond Braids wrapped in Xona's protective hug. "Dry your tears," she harshly ordered.
"Stop yelling at her!" Xona commanded clutching the child tighter against her chest. "Can't you see she's scared to death?"
Dismounting Ohnaà glared at the child. "Why do you shame yourself weeping over nothing?" she demanded.
"Being stared at by four mean looking warriors like a piece of meat is something a child should cry about," Xona hotly defended, "nor are you entitled to make matters worse by displaying judgmental rage you so hypocritically despise from others. You'll apologize this instant for your outrageous behavior," she sharply ordered.
Gazing into Tight Blond Braid's flooded azure eyes, Ohnaà's anger melted. Easing to one knee she motioned the child to leave the safety of Xona's tender embrace. Gently she wiped dry the gleaming tear tracks from the girl's cheeks with a huge dark calloused right palm. "This day is one of many when the fire in my blood clouds common sense, young one. I did not mean to scare you," she apologized. "It is my hope your heart will hold no grudge."
"That is good. Do you wish to stand with Amazoni watching our game so you will feel no more fear?"
"I'm not afraid any more," Tight Blond Braids assured and walked back to her place in the second line.
Accepting Ohnaà's regret, Xona repositioned herself in the second line.
Vaulting upon Appaloosa, Ohnaà galloped back to war chief Et-esh and her three companions. Signaling the game to begin with a shrill war cry she led her party at a thunderous charge into a diminishing circle around Xona and her nine students' double lines then weaved between each guest kicking up clods of grass before sharply parting and racing to their starting point a hundred yards away.
Clinging to the inside flank and neck of her galloping buckskin by heel and muscled arm toward the nine children and Xona, war chief, Et-esh, weaved so closely beside her targets that they were chilled by her slipstream's draft. Regaining her seat, dropping her reins to guide her charger with muscular leg pressure, she snatched Yor by the collar, her great strength enabling her to suspend his feet inches from the ground before yanking him up and gently settling him in front of her. Barking shrill war cries Et-esh sharply veered and leaning over seized a red-haired Trader boy by the waist to the wild applause of Amazoni. Righting herself she deposited him behind her and galloped to Ohnaà and the three warrior sisters.
The siblings thundered out single file. Oogah, the bigger of the three, snatched a brown-haired Trader boy by the seat of his pants and rested him in front of her and galloped to Ohnaà and war chief, Et-esh.
Hahdà snatched a black-haired Trader boy by his belt and swung him to his seat behind her and raced to her sister, Ohnaà, and Et-esh.
Tayneh seized the last Trader boy with white hair by the collar and hefted him to his place behind her and sped to her waiting two sisters, Et-esh, and Ohnaà.
Breaking from her warriors, eyeing Xona and the last of her students in Tight Blond Braids, a brown-haired girl and red-haired girl, Ohnaà pranced Appaloosa back and forth. Hefting fist overhead she yodeled a shrill shout then kicked her stallion into action.
Racing around Xona and the three girls, Ohnaà carefully stood upon Appaloosa's broad speckled back. Inhaling a deep breath she executed a front flip which drew excited shouts and trilling from Amazoni. Regaining her seat, ignoring her reins, she turned her speeding charger with muscled leg pressure and bearing down on the red-haired girl scooped her up by her pantsuit collar. Laughing, she exhibited her superior strength by repeatedly shifting the frightened child between grazing her shoe soles against the grass and dangling her at hip level before gently settling the girl behind her. Arms locked around Ohnaà's mahogany skinned muscled midriff, Red Hair buried her face in the warrior's thick waist-length raven hair plastered against her strong back and held on for dear life.
Sharply turning Appaloosa Ohnaà zoomed between Xona, the brown-haired girl, and Tight Blond Braids. With a shrill shout she snatched Tight Blond Braids by the waist and hoisted her to her seat in front. Turning she raced toward Brown Hair and scooped her up by the collar suspending her at arm's length before swinging her behind Tight Blond Braids.
Pivoting Appaloosa Ohnaà targeted Xona and with a shrill yell scooped her up by the waist, dangling her feet inches from the ground. Galloping faster she thundered to the waiting war chief Et-esh and the three warrior sisters a hundred yards away to lightly deposit Xona upon the ground in passing Et-esh. Whirling around she trotted her lathered mount to her warriors facing the cheering villagers.
Smiling broadly Xona approached the Shesh-Amazoni. "Outstanding!" she exclaimed.
Dismounting, Ohnaà helped Tight Blond Braids, Red Hair and Brown Hair down. She gazed into the eyes of each Outsider guest. "I am filled with much pride in your bravery and trust," she complimented.
War chief Et-esh and her three companions departed at a canter to drop off their Trader children with the waiting villagers.
"May we go?" Tight Blond Braids asked.
"Do not wander from my people. We will go to my lodge for food."
Tight Blond Braids, Red Hair, and Brown Hair raced toward Amazoni.
"Come, Xo-nah. Ojah makes good boar stew."
The children were amazed by Ohnaà's spacious tepee with its hard-packed earthen floor and high fur bed at the back wall. At the bed's left leaned a carbine with gold inlaid stock which Xona recognized as her father's trade good. Intrigued by the warrior's majestic seven foot, metal tipped, black gorak feather and scalp trimmed lance leaning against the tepee's hide wall to the right of the entrance threshold, the children examined it closely. Yor tentatively touched a scalp.
"The hair of many brave enemies hang from this lance," Ohnaà proudly explained.
Tight Blond Braid shifted her attention to the eagle feather trimmed round hide shield whose face bore the black outline of an eagle head hanging beside the fearsome spear.
"You like birds I see," Tight Blond Braids observed.
"Eagle is my animal guide."
"Why did you choose him?" Tight Blond Braids asked.
"Eagle choose me to share his power."
A warrior entered the lodge to return Ohnaà's bow and quiver of arrows given for safekeeping during the riding exhibition then left. The Shesh-Amazoni leaned her weapons temporarily beside her lance.
Xona and the children settled with Ohnaà around the empty fire pit rimmed by smooth fist-sized oblong gray rocks. The warrior picked up her pipe. "We will smoke," she declared.
"The children are too young," Xona reminded.
Ohnaà packed her pipe with Trader tobacco from a waist pouch. "No one is too young to share the pipe of friendship, daughter of Jo-teff," she countered. Igniting the tobacco with a Trader match from another waist pouch she inhaled deeply. Exhaling aromatic white smoke through her nostrils she presented the pipe to Xona who huffed a tiny drag frowning at it's sharp bitter bite.
Nodding approval the warrior motioned Xona to pass the pipe to Yor who enthusiastically inhaled. His classmates laughed at the huge puff of smoke forced out by his cough.
"Ah yah! This one smokes like a warrior unafraid of good strong tobacco."
"I'm not afraid of anything," Yor boasted passing the pipe to the boy beside him.
"It is my hope, young one, that when you become a man, you are wise enough not to test your courage against Amazoni."
"You won't have to worry about that, Ohnaà. I like them," Yor assured.
"It is good I have taught you this. War chief, Et-esh, will be pleased."
Ojah entered the lodge with an armful of firewood after the last child returned the empty pipe to Ohnaà who set it aside. Neatly arranging his wood in the fire pit Ojah lit it with two spark stones from a waist pouch. From a corner of the lodge he retrieved a metal pot of boar stew for heating. When it was ready everyone was given a heaping wooden bowlful and wooden spoon. Filling his bowl Ojah then sat between his warrior and Xona.
"This is delicious!" Tight Blond Braids exclaimed.
Ojah beamed at Ohnaà's translation.
The meal finished, Ojah served his delectable white spiced bark pudding sweetened with Trader sugar.
The last to finish her pudding Ohnaà stood.
"Young ones, it is time for you to go. Speak of this day of friendship to your families so they will not judge Amazoni as only fighters."
Ohnaà led her Outsider entourage outside.