Archive for the ‘Lelra’ Category

Heena looked up from her quiet meditation to see Wod standing near. “I have seen the fires of two tribes near the sea,” he said as she began to stand up.

“Two tribes?” she echoed. “Are you sure?”

“My eyes are still strong, beauty, and I can count,” he said with a mocking grin on his face. He leaned over to give her a quick kiss. “We should go meet them.”

“Yes,” Heena said. “It will be good to see the children again. Go see how Ree is doing; perhaps the baby will come while we are with the Slow Fishers tribe.”

Heena started packing away her items as Wod ran off to see his current consort. Saska sat quietly nearby, watching her mother packing away the sacred items.

“Still can’t sense any sacred places,” Heena said as she continued packing. Perhaps the young one had sensed something she missed.

“Nothing since we met the Green Hunters tribe,” Saska said quietly. She was still preoccupied with the defiling of the sacred place.

“We will find something soon,” Heena said absently. She wasn’t sure she believed it.

The tribe had gathered up their gear and were ready to set out for the last leg of their journey. Heena lifted the pack to her shoulders and secured it. “Which way?” she asked Wod, and then led her tribe in the direction he had indicated.

The sun had passed the top of the sky when they came upon the dual encampment. Two tribes had indeed met and set up camp the previous night. The sound of children made it clear that one tribe was the Slow Fishers, and when she saw the members of the other tribe her paced quickened.

“Heena! What a nice surprise!” a voice called out from between the tents of the Slow Spears tribe. Dees walked out to meet Heena’s tribe as they approached. “Acti said you were due for a visit.”

Heena stood for a moment overwhelmed with joy at seeing her sister again. She dropped her heavy pack and embraced her sister. They held each other her tight for a while. To most, they appeared almost identical to each other even down to their matching pale green eyes. The embraced loosened and they looked at each other.

“It is a good to see you. I am glad to see you well,” Heena said, smiling for the first time in a long time.

“Of course, I am well. Did you have another bad vision?” Dees said as she frowned. “You think too much on bad dreams.”

“I worry about you,” Heena admitted. “Especially with the green ones and the Green Hunters tribe in the area.”

“You met up with them?” Dees asked. “I have not seen them for many seasons. How is Illis?”

“Same as always. Only caring about her hunt of the green ones and never about our sacred places.”

Dees nodded. “Let us get some food. Desso still has a talent for filling his nets with fish.”

Heena’s tribe had already started unpacking necessary things while the two sisters were talking. Saska was fidgiting impatiently nearby as the two talked.

“Go,” Heena told the young one to her obvious relief. “Find your friends.” Saska ran off to meet with her old friends from the Slow Fishers tribe.

Tama, Heena’s assistant, had gone off with Duni to go make a formal greeting to Acti, the leader of the Slow Fishers tribe. Duni ran back to tell Heena that the requests for hospitality were granted; it was a formality, but still important. Heena thanked the huntress, then walked with her sister toward the cooking fire near the beach. Taking some of the roasted fish, they went off to sit and talk together.

“How is your tribe?” Heena asked as they sat down.

“Not bad. Shae has kept me out of trouble, as usual,” Dees chuckled as she ate. “Natik is still opinionated, but I still enjoy his company.”

“What of Bralla?”

“She is still as sharp as ever. A strong mind in a strong body despite her age. She has remembered all of our travels and has made a few maps.”

“I should get some of those maps. I have had a hard time finding new sacred spaces. I can also show her where some of the recent ones are.”

Dees nodded. “But, she lost Moun. He passed during the last cold season.”

“I regret the loss,” Heena said with a frown. She put down the bit of fish she was eating and closed her eyes in remembrance.

“We took his body to one of the sacred places and prepared it properly,” Dees said, setting aside her own food. “His body rests peacefully now.”

“That’s good,” Heena said quietly as she made a promise to herself to talk to Bralla. “And Prin and Erdt?”

“They are fine. They are visiting their daughter with the Slow Fishers. She is old enough that she might join us soon.”

The two picked up their food again and ate quietly for a few minutes. “And your tribe? How are they doing?” Dees finally asked as she took a last bite of the fish.

“Saska still has her talent for finding the sacred places,” Heena said with a bit of pride. “She is more sensitive than I am.”

“It is good that she takes after her mother.”

Heena smiled. “Tama and Duni are same as always. Ree, however, is pregnant.”

“Who is the consort?” Dees asked with a grin.

“Wod! I cannot imagine Skiro being her type,” Heena said, smiling.

“Ha! How is that old man?” Dees asked after they shared a laugh.

“Cranky. He does not hunt well, and I think he does not enjoy being with us.”

“Too bad. He does not know how good he has it.” Dees took a drink from a skin and passed it to Heena.

Heena drank the cool water deeply. “Enough talking for now, let us go see the children!”

The two got up and walked toward the sound of children splashing in the water. The sun had set into the water, casting light all around the beach. Heena watched Saska laughing and splashing around with the other young girls. Haanu, the mother of the Slow Fishers, called the children in before the night fell completely.

“So,” Dees spoke quietly as they watched the children put on clothes. “Wod is now Ree’s consort?”

“Yes,” Heena replied. “They are happy together.”

“Will you consort with him, too?”

“No,” Heena shook her head. “I don’t think I need another little one to look after.”

“You’re lucky,” Dees said, looking over the children settling by the fire. “I wish I had a little one to look after.” Heena reached out and squeezed her hand. She had been trying for a child, but there was nothing yet.

The night surrounded them as Bralla’s strong old voice rose up to draw all attention near the fire. The stories she told from memory always entertained any who heard her. The two sisters sat quietly together and listened to stories new and old.

The young ones tumbled around in the middle of the circle of adults seemingly without any care. The adults were watching silently, some toward the children and some toward the horizon. The regular cries of hunger were soothed by the watching adults as they could. But, it had been a while since any of them had eaten.

“When we move and hunt?” was the question on everyone’s mind, but the Leader wasn’t giving an answer. He had rested in the shade most of the day, but now he stirred to take his watch during the night with some of the others. He stretched his long, feline body as he stood up from his rest.

Scar was ready to rest for the night, but it was Scar’s Mate that pressed the issue. “The Pup hungers. When we hunt food?”

Leader looked at her with tired eyes. “You know can’t hunt when green ones near. Kills cubs and pups.”

Scar Mate softly growled and fixed her wolfen eyes on Leader. “And, if my Pup starves?” she asked. The others made small noises of agreement.

“Soon. All want to eat, but must be safe.” Leader walked away, working out the last bits of sleep from his body.

Scar licked the Pup quickly and moved to take his position inside the circle for the night. The green ones had been cruel in killing all of Pup’s siblings, and Scar worried about him being alone. He knew that Mate was conflicted between safety and food.

The parents were starting to grab their young ones and get them ready for sleep. A few young ones howled in weak protested, but eventually all settled down into a quiet slumber. Shadow performed her nightly ritual of circling the sleeping area seven times then twitching her bushy red tail before laying down; she claimed it made her, and by extension the group, harder to find in the darkness.

As the last bits of light faded from the sky, the watchers turned all their senses to the surroundings. The light of the moons was bright this night, so all movement on the plains was easy to spot with their watchful eyes. A gentle breeze brought the various scents of the area to them, letting them know that nothing unknown was upwind. In the distance, sensitive ears picked up the rolling of the waves in addition to the typical noises in the area.

After many hours of quiet, something crashed through the brush near the group. Leader’s ears pricked up and he glanced that direction. The old wolfen one, Growl, stood up and took a slow breath to focus himself. He looked toward Leader, who nodded and motioned toward the sound. Growl crouched down and moved silently toward the brush and blended into the night.

With a quick sniff of the air, Growl caught a familiar scent that he couldn’t quite place. It wasn’t one of the pack, or an animal, but something he had scented before…. As he crawled around the bush, he saw it: a creature putting rocks together in a pile. He watched quietly for a short while. As the figure stood up, Growl coiled his muscles and got ready to pounce. The figured looked up and opened its eyes wide as it recognized the sleek form before it. The scent of surprise hung in the air.

They both stood there for a while, both keeping careful eyes on the other and tensed up to counter any sudden move. It was the bare one that took the first careful step backwards, then another, and some gentle sounds. It held its hands in front of it, protecting itself from any sudden moves. Growl took a few steps backward and relaxed a bit. The other figure slowly got down to the ground, touched its head briefly to the ground, then crawled backward slowly. It was out of sight before Growl turned around and headed back to the group.

“What?” Leader asked expectantly, wanting to know what Growl had found

“A tall, furless one, but no hunting stick.”

“They hunt green ones?”

Growl nodded as he took his place back in the circle and turned his eyes outward. The rest of the night passed quietly as Leader was left with his thoughts.

As the sun rose, the group started stirring. Sleepy adults were waking up and preparing to take their place on the watch. Leader decided it was time to share the news.

“Pack!” the Leader yelped, getting everyone’s attention. “The tall ones who hunt the green beasts have returned. Our cubs are safe.”

Small noises of joy echoed through the pack as relief washed over them. Finally, they would hunt!

Heena closed her eyes, took a calming breath, and strained her senses. She could almost feel the nearby sacred place, but something hindered her. She could feel her tribe around her, quietlysetting down their burdens, knowing that this could take a while. Saska stood nearby, copying Heena’s actions and straining her own senses.

In the distance, barely audible, the vicious scream of one of the green ones was cut off suddenly. Realizing the problem, Heena let out her breath, opened her eyes, and said, “Our kin, the Green Hunters tribe, is near.”

Her tribe shouldered their loads again and made ready to move in easy motions. The meet of the tribes wasn’t for a while yet, but when two tribes were so close to each other it was proper to greet each other. Even if the other tribe were the crude Green Hunters, those that use their weapons to kill instead of for hunting food.

Ree looked concerned as she laid her hand on Heena’s shoulder. “We don’t have to go.”

Heena looked down at Ree’s large belly. “Can you not make it?” she asked with concern. The pregnancy had lasted since the summer season, but she had not complained yet.

“I can,” Ree said defensively. “But I know you don’t like them.”

“They do not respect the work. Our sacred ground.”

Ree nodded. “So don’t go.”

“No, we must. They know we are near and will not easily forgive the insult.”

At her sign, the tribe started running in the direction Heena indicated. More violent screams filled the air as they got closer and closer. Outside a narrow cave they saw the Green Hunters tribe and a pile of the small green bodies of their victims. Heena frowned and almost spat a curse when she saw one of the sacred cairns had been knocked over.

“Hail!” Duni shouted in her role as leader of the hunt. “The Sanctifiers meet you.”

Only one of the five hunters turned to notice. The others stared at the cave holding spears with shiny stone spearheads and heavy clubs at the ready for any of the green ones that dared get too close to the opening. Illis backed two steps away from the cave and the rest shifted position to block any way out of the cave.

Illis planted her spear in the ground and started unwrapping the blood-stained, supple leather that served as padded armor. Taking some water, she hastily washed blood off her skin that had soaked through.

“Hail, kin. The hunt is good, see?” She showed a savage grin.

“You disrupted the sacred site,” Heena said, dropping formality.

“I didn’t notice,” Illis said, a smirk replacing the grin from her face.

“The cairn,” she pointed to the rocks, “the sign we agreed on.”

“It was the green skins,” Illis shrugged. “They came here first and we followed.”

“Their blood fouls the area. You shed the blood.”

A sudden scream pierced the air as a small green blur rushed from the cave. The hunters moved as one deadly force: a step here, a dodge there, a brilliant spear thrust then the sudden end of the scream. The green one convulsed on the end of spear then fell limp.

“Spoiled, spoiled, the sacred place is spoiled,” Saska moaned from the back of the group.

“Ha! The young one should learn to hunt, not pile rocks,” Illis said as she looked back at Saska with barely contained scorn.

“She recognizes sacred places better than I,” Heena said with a hint of anger in her voice. “She has a talent.”

Illis shrugged and looked back at her own tribe. They were putting away their weapons and unwrapping their padded armor as well. Some remembered the courtesy of quickly washing before meeting with their kin. Only Sana stayed back, taking ears from the corpses as trophies for their accomplishments.

“I see the useless tribe is here,” Tanham said as he approached the group with a mocking grin on his face.

Illis’ hand struck his face with a blow that made Heena wince. “Respect, Tanham.”

“Yes, leader,” Tanham mumbled through his clenched teeth. He bowed low before Heena and backed away. He turned quickly and moved away, hands checking his face.

“Sorry, my kin. I do not approve of speaking insults to other tribes.” Illis frowned and glanced off to the side.

Duni broke the awkward silence, “Any news, Illis? Have you been as far as the sea yet?”

“Yes. Saw a tribe of cave dwellers, the hairy ones, over toward the sea. Saw them hunting.”

Heena’s attention was focused on that. “Did they fight with you?”

“No, they hunted the animals and left.”

“Oh. Can we reach the sea and not see them?”

“Not sure. Probably.” Illis shrugged. “You do like the sea.”

“It is calming,” Heena said. “You should join us.”

Illis sighed. “No, we cannot stray. Other green skins are on the move. What news from you?”

“We saw some of the walking animals the other night. They were huddled together in the darkness as we traveled.”

“They do not fight us,” Illis said. “They do not pose a harm like the green ones.”

“They seemed… scared….” Heena started. “They are not like other animals.”

“Things change, Heena. But, now we must go. Good travels, kin,” Illis said as she started to gather her gear together.

“You, too,” Heena said without much warmth. She motioned to her tribe and they continued their trek toward the sea.