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From the Darkness of Our Souls (Part 1)
Waking early, I slipped out of the furs, trying hard not to wake Nana. Tugging on my moccasins, I left. Nana stirred, turning over in her furs. When I was sure that she was not awake, I ran down through the fields, patting a few of the horses as I went. Mourning Dawn trotted up to me when I entered the field, keeping in step with me. Just as I entered the tree line, she nuzzled my back and cantered off to be with Dark Sun. He had been watching us as we ran, keeping an eye out for danger while most of the mares slept or grazed. He called to me, his whiney sharp and precise. Turning to peek over my shoulder, I watched the stallion paw the ground, jogging up to a running Mourning Dawn. He briefly touched her flank with his nose before she wandered off to feed. He met me gaze and I left feeling chastised.
Finally I was deep into the woods. Searching for some hours, I found the kit that had been abandoned by its mother. It was a burnt orange color with white socks, a pale peach nose and deep green eyes.
After running about, catching fish and climbing fallen trees, we were tired out.
I would have to return soon. It was late morning, and I need to do my chores and help cook.
Savoring the time I had, I laid back in a meadow with the kit by my shoulder. A doe and her fawn stumbled out of the tree line at a great speed. They ignored me with just a passing glance and thundered on. Something must have spooked them. Silence encompassed us again, but it wasn’t for long. There were some shouts from the direction the deer had come. The kit perked his ears up, and took off in the other direction. The men were in the meadow before I could even stand. They pointed at me with their guns, their dogs howling. A call from the other end of the meadow sounded. Nana and Askuwheteau were calling my name. Jumping to my feet, I pulled my knife from my waist. One man, seeming to have just reached the cusp of manhood, turned to the other and began to talk with them in hushed tones staring at me. I saw the eyes if the men look me over as if studying me. They came to an agreement on whatever they were talking about and the one who had stepped forward held his hand out to me. I didn’t understand what he was saying but his words were soft and they calmed me. They weren’t going to do me harm. The wind blew and my hair tickled my elbows, fanning out around me. Some thing about them, about these people seemed familiar. Especially the man at the front who was inching closer to me. He said one word, that much I could tell. He repeated it. Madie.
It sounded familiar. There was a heavy tension in the air, an excitement you could taste brewing. It was coming from the group, excitement and disbelief. That was written all over their faces. They continued to say things to each other, pointing at me, and someone else would nod, as if agreeing. Something called me to them, told me to trust them. A heavy call from beyond the trees stopped the man’s hand from touching my bare shoulder.
“Zeta!” Ash’s voice danced off of the trees trunks and I was reminded who these people were. They were our enemies. They were taking our land. Just fours moons ago they had killed three of our men who were out hunting. These people were relentless killers. My heart leapt into my throat once more and I took off before any of them moved.
With a shout, one of them was at my heels.
I could feel them reach for my arm. I screamed when we tumbled to the grassy floor. I scratched him across the face and he yelped, his hands leaving me to cradle his eye.
I was on my feet and bounding away in a flash. With a quick backward glance, I saw him gaining on me. I yelled for Ash and saw him at the meadow, eyes scanning the field. I felt them latch on to me as he caught sight of us.
He turned and disappeared into the village. The man was running along side of me. He was panting that word, his fingertips trying to grip my arm as we ran down the small hill into the village. The villagers were just finishing their late morning chores, milling about. A group of our men were rushing towards me. They shouted something and the women began running about, moving towards the river with the children/ Ash was sprinting towards me at full speed, his knife in hand. A stitch ate at my side and I was huffing for air. Nana was looking for me, I could tell by the way her head twisted back and fourth. She cried out to Ash, but he either didn’t hear her or ignored her. I wanted away from these people. I shouldn’t have come out this morning. Ash had told me last night that it was dangerous. I should have listened to him. The men from the village were shouting, I think at me. I couldn’t understand what they were saying over the pant of the man’s breath and mine and the pounding of my heart in my ears.
The grass under my shoes was slick with dew and the man must have slipped. A heavy limb was thrown across my lower back. I screamed again as he took me to my stomach and we tumbled down the rest of the hill. We rolled and toppled and something sharp caught on my neck. The searing pinch trailed down to my shoulder. At the bottom of the hill, I sat up slightly dazed. A heavy weight lurched on top of me, slapping a hand over my mouth. The stinging brought tears to my eyes as the fear building in my stomach.
“Zeta!” Ash’s yelling was close, but the hand over my mouth kept me quiet. The hand on my shoulder, and the heavy body on top of my kept me in place.
Studying him closely, I was taken with his eyes. They were a ark blue with a black ring bordering the color. The man looked down at me and I saw my image mirrored in his eyes. I quickly shut my eyes.
I didn’t want to see my own fear.
My heart dulled to a speedy thud and my pulse slowed. My body wasn’t fearful of this man, or the situation.
“Zeta! Where are you?” Ash’s voice was surrounding me, spinning through my head. He was right there and I couldn’t call out.
“Come Ash, they have left here. We will go search the woods.” I tried to scream but it came out as a bunch of muffled coughs as the man lay his other hand on my neck, putting weight on my vocal cords.
‘Please Ash, don’t leave.’ My mind begged.
“No! I can feel her. They are close.” I wanted to be home, not under this man, pressed into the cold grass. Closing my eyes again, I fought through my panic to recall what would happen on a normal morning.
I would fight to sleep in late as Nana tries to wake me. She would give up after a few seconds knowing Ash would come and get me for morning chores.
He would come in complaining about my laziness and I would jump out of the covers to greet him. I could vaguely recall being in his arms. The warmth of his chest, the sturdy beat of his heart and the strength of his embrace. I wanted to be working at the river or picking the ripe foods in the fields. I didn’t want to be here, they would take me away, maybe even kill me. Of course they would kill me, what use would my being alive be? Fear made tears come to the back of my eyes. I wanted to be at home.
In three moon cycle time, Ash and I were to be bonded. I don’t want to die.
Struggling against him, I flailed about. My knee hit something soft and he rolled off me, curling into a ball. Digging my nails into the dirt for leverage, I pulled myself up and took off. Tears finally broke through and slipped down my chin.
I ran blindly with my eyes closed and head bent, my feet leading me. I ran head long into some one. They grabbed my shoulders roughly. The cut on my neck cracked open again, stinging. I jerked away. I wouldn’t get caught again. I would make it home.
“Zeta! Please, calm. Stay calm, it’s me.”
My breath huffed past my lips which were pressed into soft skin and tanned leather. My fingers clenched the soft leather of the vest. My face was pressed into the center of his chest, a musky, woody scent filling my senses.
“Ash…” The murmur was said to his chest as one of his hands threaded through my hair, holding my head against him.
“You’re fine now.” My knees felt weak and my stomach rattled. They would get me. They would. There could be an ambush. What have I done? I led them right to the tribe. They would kill us all.
My breath was brushed against my wet cheeks as I puffed into his chest. His arm dropped to my waist and his lips pressed against my temple. His touch calmed me greatly, but my heart still thundered. Courage ate at me, urging me with small nudges to turn and face the man. Ash kept me from turning for the most part with his arm around me. Still I forced my head around and met the man’s eyes. He stood still as stone. Was he even breathing? His eyes flashed to mine, then down to my side then over my head. It almost seemed as though there was a confused shocked look in his face.