|Written by:||Lisa Godin (bio, contact, other stories)|
|Story type:||Serial Fiction|
|Location:||Cleveland Ohio USA|
|Home | Help||Member Sign In | Create an Account|
|Written by:||Lisa Godin (bio, contact, other stories)|
|Story type:||Serial Fiction|
|Location:||Cleveland Ohio USA|
Sitting before her low fire Ohnaà nodded in her inspection of her last new arrow fitted with its well-honed gleaming silver arrowhead from the packet she bartered two fox pelts to her friend Trader Joseph. It joined the others leaning toward the fire to harden its sinew wrapping. Delving into her bulging waist pouch of Trader tobacco she packed her pipe. Igniting it with a stubby stick she inhaled deeply its soothing smoke.
A brawny, fair-haired warrior whose right side lock was tied a five orange pebble dangle, crossed Ohnaà's tepee threshold.
"I may speak with you?"
Easing cross-legged opposite her brawny, mahogany-skinned, sable-haired host, the caller accepted the pipe, inhaling a deep lungful before returning it.
"Tie-yoh does not visit enough."
"It is not easy to get away when I am constantly breaking up fights between my three mates."
A smile tickled the corners of Ohnaà's mouth.
"I keep telling you to divorce them and find one mate with a good temperament."
"Three get more work done."
"Ah yah! Only when they are too tired battling each other."
Ohnaà set aside her smoldering pipe.
"What brings you this night?"
"I need your help."
"It will not be easy for me to convince another to take your three ill-tempered mates."
"The problem is my son, Paicoma. At thirteen seasons is he still...confused."
"He despises the work done as a proper Amazoni boy. He does not like to wear dresses. I suspect that when the tepee is empty he wears the two-piece skins of a warrior as I have found the hiding place where he keeps them. When I took them he made new ones that I have not touched.
"I have tried punishment, I have tried talk. He refuses to accept that Amazoni men cannot be other than what they are."
"What does Paicoma say when you speak to him?"
Tie-yoh frowned. "Ah yah! He says that his mind lives in the wrong body," she growled, "and that his only goal in life is to become a great warrior.
"Paicoma looks up to you. I know you can convince him to be a proper Amazoni male."
Ohnaà folded strong arms across her chest.
"I will do no such thing."
"Well do I remember our youth, Tie-yoh, your allying yourself with those who resented me because I am Shesh born. Because I am stronger you hated my victories in games of strength claiming I held an unfair advantage. You were jealous of my bringing down the biggest boar and deer in the hunt.
"Your feelings changed toward me after I proved my courage in battle and witnessed our people relish the many victories I brought them. Earning my place as a leader, it was not long before you joined my war parties.
"Long have you accepted that my heart beats Amazoni and that I am truly the daughter of Codot."
"Accepting you is different," Tie-yoh argued.
"You are not an Amazoni man. Amazoni men have never been warriors."
"Before me, no one from another nation had ever been an Amazoni warrior. Now Paicoma wishes to be what no one expects and it is unfair that you make him miserable because you are threatened by his difference decreed by the spirits."
Stung by Ohnaà's harsh reproach, Tie-yoh glared into the fire whose soft radiance cast an eerie glow upon her long flaxen hair.
"You do not like my words."
Tie-yoh shook her head.
"Would you prefer I dishonor our long friendship by telling you only what you want to hear?"
Tie-yoh raised her gaze to meet the penetrating obsidian-eyed scrutiny of the Shesh-Amazoni.
"I did not think so. Do you wish me to make true Paicoma's warrior desires dictated by the spirits so you both may at last know peace?"
"Because he is special will I train him without others. I will be harder on him."
"You will find Paicoma stubbornly determined."
"I will visit him tomorrow."
"I will tell him nothing. It will be a good surprise for him."
Retrieving the pipe beside her Ohnaà relit it with a flaming twig and deeply inhaled several puffs.
Tie-yoh reached for the offered pipe.
After breakfast Ohnaà strode briskly to Tie-yoh's tepee finding her seated at the fire finishing her boar stew breakfast with her three mates, and her son, Paicoma.
"The daughter of Codot knows not the meaning of privacy," Tie-yoh's second of three irritable mates grumbled.
Ignoring the rude comment, Ohnaà approached the breakfast fire to stare at thirteen-season-old Paicoma with stubby blond braids put down his stew bowl and tug at the snug collar of his ankle-length yellow hide dress with beaded fringe.
"Walk with me, son of Tie-yoh."
Rapidly passing tall tepees and passers-by, Paicoma valiantly kept pace beside Ohnaà despite his constricting dress. They passed the lake outside of camp.
"Where are we going?"
"You will know soon enough."
The mile hike brought the travelers within sight of a yellow cave. Halting at its entrance, Ohnaà lowered herself cross-legged.
"Are you worried the ground will swallow you?"
Dark hand clenched into a slightly raised huge fist, Ohnaà sharply motioned downward.
Obeying the sign, Paicoma settled opposite the Shesh-Amazoni.
"Your mother spoke to me last night about your strong desire to become a great warrior because you have never accepted your place as an Amazoni male. She wanted me to convince you to change your thinking. She was not pleased when I told her why I refused."
Paicoma's azure eyes widened with surprise.
"Why do you think I would do otherwise?"
"The way my mother speaks of me, I did not think anyone would be on my side."
"I choose only the side that does not force another to walk against the path the spirits pick for them." Ohnaà stood. "Agreeing to train you as a warrior you must start by looking like one. We will go to your lodge now so you can change into the skins of a warrior I know you hide. Medicine Woman will give you strength by purifying you."
Ohnaà patiently waited outside Paicoma's tepee. Emerging in soft tan doe skin bikini the warrior nodded approval of the boy's transformation.
Never seen in anything but the traditional ankle-length fringed and beaded dress of an Amazoni male, Paicoma expected jeers and stares from onlookers. He was astounded at being ignored.
Entering the medicine lodge, Ohnaà and Paicoma found the elderly shaman seated facing them before her fire grinding herbs in a small brown wooden bowl. They sat cross-legged opposite her.
"Ohnaà said I must come to you for purification before my warrior training begins."
"You are late, Paicoma," Medicine Woman replied setting aside her herb bowl.
"How long have you been waiting?"
The shaman chuckled.
"For the last thirteen seasons."
Blue eyes wide with astonishment Paicoma turned to the amused Ohnaà.
"How did she--"
"Medicine Woman has great power in knowing things no one tells her, or realizes themselves, Paicoma."
Seizing turtle shell rattle with black gorak tail feather tassel and herb bowl beside her, arthritic knees making it painful to stand, Medicine Woman grunted in rising.
Having participated in dozens of purifications prior to training warriors, Ohnaà accepted the turtle shell rattle which she began shaking in time to Medicine Woman's unhurried chanting. Every fourth lyric, the shaman dusted Paicoma's head with pulverized orange herb. The song lasted an hour before it was terminated.
Ohnaà returned the rattle.
Medicine Woman rested a gnarled hand upon Paicoma's flaxen crown. "Your heart and mind are now pure. The spirits can now better guide and strengthen you during the hard seasons of training ahead," she declared.
"We go now to Jo-teff at his Trader Lodge. You need a good knife for battle and the hunt."
"I will trade my yellow pebble necklace."
"Meet me at the corral."
Inclining his head respectfully in farewell to Medicine Woman, Paicoma left.
"He does not know it yet, shaman, but Trader Jo-teff is his first lesson."
"I will ride while Paicoma trots beside me. The journey to Jo-teff's Trader Lodge will test his stamina."
Paicoma rummaged beneath his sleeping furs for his beloved yellow pebble necklace. Draping it around his neck he ran out of his tepee to the corral grateful that he was no longer constricted by an Amazoni male's ankle-length dress.
Mounted Appaloosa, Ohnaà eyed the boy's yellow pebble necklace. She nodded approval. "Weeshgah go-gah-goh. We go," she commanded easing Appaloosa into a slow trot.
Knowing better than to gripe about being afoot, Paicoma silently kept pace beside the warrior.
Breathing heavily, sweat drenched, legs feeling like lead, Paicoma collapsed at the tenth mile mark. "I cannot go another step," he panted struggling to a seated position.
"Your legs are strong, son of Tie-yoh. You have earned rest. Jo-teff's Trader Lodge is not much further."
Paicoma heaved a relieved sigh.
Crossing the last two miles, Ohnaà and her afoot charge reached the Trader Lodge's hitching post packed with Outsider steeds. Trader hunters and trappers talking loudly and eating watched Ohnaà and Paicoma walk to the crowded bar.
The plump balding bartender approached.
"We come to see Jo-teff," Ohnaà grunted in Trader.
"I'll see if he's available," Bartender answered then disappeared through the open door behind the bar.
A white-haired trapper in tan fringed boar skins glared at the doe skin bikini'd Paicoma beside him. "Who invited you?" he snarled.
Comprehending no Trader, Paicoma ignored the demand focusing his attention on the multi-colored liquor bottles lining the wooden shelves behind the bar.
Trapper slapped Paicoma's shoulder.
"Answer me when I talk to you!"
Ohnaà protectively eased herself between Paicoma and the irate trapper. "We do not come for trouble. You go now," she warned.
"What cave have you been hiding in that you don't know who you're dealing with, Clodd?" a hunter beside him asked.
"I don't take mind of barbarians."
"You better mind this one. She's as mean as they come. Gettin' on her bad side is usually the last thing anyone does."
"She don't scare me."
"You're either too liquored up or too stupid to notice that she could break you in half."
"Ain't neither. Never been scared of women."
"You better be scared of this one and leave while you're able."
"No stinkin' half naked wild barbarian tells me what to do!"
The hunter grabbed his half empty beer glass. "Be hard headed then. But if you're still breathin' when she's done with you, don't say no one warned you," he counseled before walking away.
Trapper Clodd shoved Ohnaà.
"If anyone's goin' to do the orderin' and scarin' around here it's me!"
Baring her teeth, Ohnaà snatched her challenger by the throat, effortlessly lifted him off his feet a couple inches, then slammed him to the floor onto his back. Dropping to one knee she drew her knife and pressed its thick honed edge hard against his throat.
"First you bully a young one who cannot defend themselves, then you lay hands upon me. It is not a good day for you, is it."
Trapper Clodd trembled.
"Do you have more words for me?"
"N-no," Trapper Clodd hoarsely stammered.
"I did not think so." Sheathing her knife Ohnaà stood. "Go!" she commanded.
Scrambling to his feet Trapper Clodd ran out of the Trader Lodge.
Trader Joseph stepped through the open door behind the bar. "Ohnaà, welcome!" he exclaimed in Amazoni.
"Who is your friend?"
"He is Paicoma, a warrior-in-training."
"Come to my office for talk."
Trader Joseph sat behind his desk.
"A boy warrior? A staunch traditionalist, I am surprised you agree with it."
"Long ago I thought differently. I have since learned that it is not for me to dispute the spirits' wisdom in deciding the path of another."
Trader Joseph chuckled.
"Just what we need. Another invincible terror on the prairie."
"How can I help you, today?"
"Paicoma comes for his first trade."
The boy offered his yellow pebble necklace.
"I need a good knife."
"I have the perfect one for you."
Joseph left the office.
"I like Trader Jo-teff, Ohnaà."
"He is a good man."
Joseph returned with a sterling silver-handled knife in a tan leather sheath which he handed to the boy.
Drawing the magnificent weapon gradually from its casing Paicoma's azure eyes widened in admiration of its glittering wide blade.
"Do you like it?"
"I will learn to use it well, Jo-teff."
"Of that I have no doubt."
"Do you need anything, Ohnaà?"
The warrior shook her head.
"This is a time for celebration!" Trader Joseph exclaimed.
"Celebration?" Ohnaà asked.
"Indeed! Paicoma has not only made his first trade, but you will be guiding him on the epic journey of becoming the Amazonis' first boy warrior. Perhaps he will become grander than you."
"No one can be better than Ohnaà!" Paicoma defended.
"Jo-teff has great wisdom son of Tie-yoh. If he thinks you will be mightier, he knows what is true," Ohnaà corrected.
"It is settled then," Trader Joseph declared. "Bartender has been brewing a new tea I have acquired which is the finest in the land. Let us drink to Paicoma."
Trader Joseph hurried out of the office.
"I did not expect such attention from Jo-teff. Did he act the same to you when you first met?"
"He was the first Outsider I had ever met when I was ten seasons old. At first I did not like or trust him, but with honest trading and his good way with people, it did not take me long to become his friend. He gave me much attention. Now he does the same to you."
Trader Joseph returned with three tall brass mugs of hot tea on a round wooden platter and joined Ohnaà and Paicoma sitting cross-legged on the floor.
Ohnaà deeply inhaled her tea's spicy steam.
"You have discovered Soydoh root."
"I have added something else."
Downing a mouthful Ohnaà nodded.
"It adds a nice nutty flavor."
"It is good."
While the three drank, Bartender hurried in to whisper in Trader Joseph's ear.
Narrowing her eyes in observance of her friend's stiffening Ohnaà set aside her empty mug.
Joseph's nod sent Bartender away. "Seems you forgot to mention the trouble after your arrival, Ohnaà. One of Trapper Clodd's sympathetic friends complained and expects me to do something about it. Is what Bartender said about you almost slitting Clodd's throat true?"
Clawing a long, thick lock of ebony hair behind her right ear, Ohnaà folded muscled mahogany-skinned arms across her chest. "You do not trust the words of the other?" she challenged.
"We both know how people exaggerate about you."
"What was said is true. I said nothing because it was my right to see if the loud one's courage was as big as his mouth for challenging me with words, pushing me, and daring to lay hands upon Paicoma. His friend should be grateful that I keep my pledge of no killing within your walls. Becoming my enemy outside of them a bad end will come. You will tell this to those who think you can change that."
Trader Joseph nodded.
Ohnaà and Paicoma stood. "Weeshgah goh-gah-goh notso. We go now," the warrior declared.
Paicoma inclined his head in farewell.
It was mid afternoon when Ohnaà, atop Appaloosa, trailed by the exhausted, sweat drenched Paicoma who trotted on foot the twelve miles from the Trader Lodge, halted at the boy's tepee.
"Rest well son of Tie-yoh."
Nodding wearily, Paicoma disappeared into his tepee.
Dismounting, Ohnaà led Appaloosa toward the corral.
Facing the fire where his trade kettle of venison stew hung warming for Ohnaà's afternoon meal, Ojah, clad in new dress of fringed brown hide and yellow painted deer teeth collar accents, stitched beads onto a round amulet. When his burly warrior crossed the tepee threshold, he set aside his project and ran to greet her with a tight hug.
"You have not missed me at all, my mate."
"It is hard not to miss one as big as you."
Ojah followed Ohnaà who sat before the fire. Filling his warrior's bowl and adding a wooden spoon he served then sat.
"I saw you nowhere in camp. Where were you?"
Ohnaà rapidly devoured several scoops of dripping venison stew.
"I took Paicoma to Trader Jo-teff for the first time. He needed a good knife."
"That one is touched."
Ohnaà scowled."Why do you speak ill of Paicoma?" she demanded setting aside her food bowl.
"Because of what his mother, Tie-yoh, thinks."
"She spoke to you?"
Ojah stared at his lap.
"Speak plainly!" Ohnaà commanded impatiently.
Startled, Ojah looked up. "Returning from wood collecting," he answered, "I lingered by Bah-koo sitting outside her tepee with Tie-yoh who said to Bah-koo that as much as she trusts your training Paicoma to become the warrior you say the spirits dictate he be, not even you can erase her shame over her son's refusal to be a proper Amazoni male."
"Do you side with Tie-yoh?"
"Then you feel the same way about me."
"Yes! Born Shesh I know what it is like to be different. Born Amazoni, Paicoma is different only in mind. Those who speak against him behind his back number the same who still refuse to face me. So easily swayed by gossip, another like Tie-yoh, who would chatter loud enough, will turn you against me with second thoughts!" Ohnaà stood. "Ah yah! I have lost my appetite. I will find war chief Et-esh and see if she is in the mood for gambling stones."
Turning her back in departure, the cross warrior didn't see the glistening tear inch down Ojah's white-skinned right cheek.
Twilight settled when Ohnaà returned, ignoring Ojah sitting on the high fur bed at the back of the tepee. Sitting before the dying fire's embers, she retrieved the pipe beside her, poked into the round tobacco pouch attached to her bikini skins' waistband, deftly filled then lit the pipe with a charred sliver of firewood.
Climbing off the bed Ojah went to sit at Ohnaà's right.
"Was your gambling with Et-esh good?"
"We rode instead."
Ohnaà drew deeply upon her pipe.
"Was it a good ride?"
Exhaling gray smoke through her nostrils, Ohnaà nodded. Repeated exhalations entombed her mahogany-skinned sharply chiseled features in pungent tobacco mist. Finally tapping out the pipe's ashes, she set it aside.
"We need to talk my warrior but I cannot see you through your pipe haze."
Whisking clear her swirling tobacco fog mask with a huge hand, Ohnaà selected a long twig from the fire pit and poked hard the embers to rekindle them. Snapping the twig in half she tossed its pieces into the fire.
"After our fight," Ojah informed, "I went to my friend, Cojay Soakahs and his warrior, Dah-wute, who have agreed to take me in until I finish a new lodge with Cojay Soakahs' help. Owning no horses of my own, Dah-wute has consented to finalizing our divorce by giving three horses."
Massive shoulders slumping Ohnaà shifted her gaze from the glowing fire pit to Ojah. "If that is your wish," she replied quietly.
"Is that all you are going to say after seventy seasons of being joined?"
"I would be a fool to dispute your right to finally leave me because you are tired of my cruel words that I do not mean."
Ojah rested a compassionate pale cool hand upon Ohnaà's colossal right forearm.
"Seventy seasons is a long time to finally admit your weakness. To keep me you will not be cruel again."
Ohnaà's reply was a long passionate kiss. Pulling away her piercing gaze bored into Ojah.
"Tomorrow I will tell Dah-wute and Cojay Soakahs that I will give you another chance."
"I am glad." Easing her beloved onto his back Ohnaà leaned her powerful frame over him. "I would also be glad if you strengthened my body with what only you can give."
Smiling, Ojah combed pale fingers through a long thick dangling lock of his warrior's glistening ebony hair. "If that is your wish," he whispered.
Her obsidian eyes smoldering, Ohnaà attacked with another impassioned kiss.
After breakfast Ohnaà armed with bow and quiver left her tepee. Strengthened by the settlement of differences and Ojah's pleasuring she strode with light step to Paicoma's lodge finding the bikini clad lad standing outside waiting.
"Today you will watch me hunt. Next time you will have you own bow and arrows."
The pair visited the corral where Ohnaà demonstrated a horse's capture awarding the boy a spirited sorrel mare. Having ridden before Paicoma had no difficulty handling his mount.
The pair rode to the border of a forest and dismounted.
"Mind your path, Paicoma, so you do not get lost as you track. Study your ground to avoid sticks and dry leaves that would scare prey away."
Paicoma trailed closer behind Ohnaà deeper into the tangle of tree, brush, and thick ground vegetation. The pair climbed over wide fallen trees infested with multi-colored fungi and strangling cords of slender yellow vines. Spotting a broken ball of wet ground leaves, Ohnaà unshouldered her bow and kneeled to decode it for her student.
Shoulder-length shell earrings clanking, clad in loincloth, an enraged grey-skinned, barefoot, spiky scalplocked Ossit behemoth, armed with raised stone war club, bulldozed through a high hedge of silken Copper Grass to the right. His mighty war club swipe against Ohnaà's right temple collapsed her to her back. Seizing Paicoma by the throat Ossit slammed him against a tree stump.
Shaking her head, rising on hands and knees, Ohnaà dodged another war club strike at her head.
Paicoma leaped upon Ossit's huge back.
With a roar Ossit flung the boy to the ground. Baring his teeth he viciously kicked him aside as if he were little more than a pile of wrongly placed skins.
His rage refocused against Ohnaà, Ossit raised his stone war club when suddenly he stiffened and fell onto his belly. Protruding from his lower right back to the hilt was Paicoma's trade knife. Retrieving his blade the boy joined his mentor.
"Can you stand?"
Battling waves of dizziness Ohnaà nodded as she steadied herself upon one knee.
Powered by rage and adrenaline the wounded Ossit leaped to his feet, snatched Paicoma's knife from his hand, spun him around and thrust the knife twice into his belly before tossing it aside. The boy crumpled to the ground.
Enraged, Ohnaà tackled the wounded Ossit slamming him onto his back. Baring her teeth she rammed her fist into his throat killing him instantly.
Ignoring the pain caused from Ossit's war club assault to her bleeding right temple Ohnaà drew her knife to expertly excise her enemy's spiky scalp lock then kneeled beside Paicoma to tie the trophy to his bikini skins' waistband.
"You have earned this scalp boy warrior. Forever will I owe my life to you. I am proud of you."
"Will my mother finally...be proud...of me?"
Paicoma closed his eyes with a smile as he exhaled his last breath.
Bowing her head, Ohnaà quietly wept.