The physical wounds would heal in time, but Heena felt pain that plagued her soul. She was able to keep moving, but she rarely looked at anyone besides Prin and hadn’t spoken a word since the fight.

The tribe dragged the sledges with the wrapped bodies of the fallen tribe at a slow pace. Prin had babbled directions to the nearest sacred space and Tama got the tribe to move toward that destination. They did their sacred duty with or without Heena leading them.

It was the fifth night when they stopped to make camp that Heena went wild. She shrieked and ran toward the sledge calling her sister’s name. “Dees! Dees! I won’t leave you!” she screamed, fingers tearing at the ceremonial wrappings on the bodies. It took Tama, Duni, and Wod to pull her back and hold her down, so great was the frenzy that overtook her. When she realized the futility of her struggle, she went limp and simply started sobbing. The sight of it shocked Tama and Duni, not accustomed to seeing their leader break down. Wod laid down next to her, holding her close to him and making quiet, comforting noises. After a moment the others away drifted away to find wood for a fire.

Night fell and Heena finally found sleep. She clung to Wod as newborn Laen clung to his mother.

The morning sun came, but Heena seemed more withdrawn than before. She refused to move until Tama came along and helped her, having to treat her like a child. She helped Heena wash and get into fresh clothes. When the tribe was ready, Tama made sure Heena moved along with the group. Low whispers were shared between the tribe, wondering if Heena could recover from the tragedy.

At the end of the tenth day, they had found the sacred space. Prin had found her resolve and taken the lead, directing the group the last little way without hesitation or error. The tribe was glad to finally be able to put the disfigured bodies properly to rest. Heena still sat passive, not participating in the ritual, so Tama lead it to the best of her ability. Her words were clumsy and awkward, but she knew the important part was bringing the bodies to the sacred space.

After the grim work was done, the tribe collapsed, exhausted. The trip and the rites had taken a toll on them. Some started to set up camp lacking any other plan, planning to just rest for a little while.

The finality of putting her old tribe mates into the ground sank in, and she just felt tired beyond understanding. She wandered away from the bustle of the camp absentmindedly, wanting quiet not not quite wanting to be alone with her thoughts.

Prin still felt like an outsider. The tribe had taken her in after finding her, but she felt alone and adrift. She had focused on putting her old tribe to rest, but now that was over, what would she do?

She saw Heena sitting on a log, her dim eyes staring off into the distance at nothing. Prin sat down next to Heena without a word, staring off into the distance. Finally, Prin broke down and started crying, the frustration, alienation, and pain hitting her all at once. She doubled over, tears streaming from her eyes onto the ground.

Heena seemed to come to her senses and looked over at the weeping figure next to her. Perhaps it was motherly instinct, or a mutual understanding of two people in deep pain, but she reached out and held Prin close. Heena cried as well, expressing her wailing grief. Some of the tribe checked on them to make sure they were okay, but mostly left them to their grief. Time passed as the two sat huddled together, hugging each other close and sharing their mutual loss. They spent that night in deep slumber after the catharsis.

The next morning Heena was up and about as the sun rose over the horizon. Tama went over and gave her a strong hug, welcoming her back. When everyone was up, Heena called for attention.

“Thank you, my friends. You cared for me when I did not, and you kept me going when I could not go on. I cherish you.” Heena smiled for the first time in a long time.

“Let us also welcome Prin into our tribe. She has also suffered great loss but has shown strength in leading us to the sacred spot. Truly the spirit of Bralla lives on in her.”

The group came together and embraced. They fixed a meal and ate together, things almost feeling like normal.

But, in the night, the disfigured face of her sister shambled in Heena’s dreams. She talked to Prin, who shared the same dark dreams, and they formed a bond that lasted for the rest of their lives.

« Previous:

Leave a Reply