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Rated: ASR · Sample · Fantasy · #1204084
A short story / sample inspired by a RPG and fun for me to write.
         Danger was a part of her life. Working with the Koa Litha demanded top physical conditions, but also required a sharp mind and quick adaptability. Right now her tasks kept her spying, but some time shortly in the future she would be fighting hand to hand. Her life had not always been one of a warrior, but her need for achievement and lack of freedom at home had sent her out into the wild world at the unseasoned age of twelve. The only distinguishing trade she had known back then had been her gift for cooking. Even now whichever group she was assigned to felt the benefit of her gift for the culinary arts. Since leaving home she had learned even more things, things that most women in her home village would not consider proper. Her life had been hard and full of such lessons as she never would have expected, but back then she had never known that the Koa Litha even existed.

         The Koa Litha was a tribe of people who lived a semi-nomadic life and were now beset upon by an invading foreign people. The Koa Litha were the most demanding group she had ever worked for, but she liked the culture of the people more than any of the others she had so far been with. Most other cultures she knew about were either patriarchal or matriarchal, but the Koa Litha saw both sexes as equal. They had people who were farmers with lots for land; there were people who herded animals and people who lived by crafting. They would stay in a general area for a few years and then move onto another spot that had been on their route for as long as many could remember. They were a peaceful people, but they were now resigned to defend themselves and she was one of the mercenary warriors that they hired. The tribe hoped that the problems could be solved bloodlessly, but she was starting to think that it would not be so easy. The invading people seemed to have some driving force that, though it was not yet revealed to her, pushed them much too completely to have resolution without bloodshed. Yes, it would be a dangerous war; she could almost feel it like a coming storm.

         People moved all around her now. She was sitting by a fire on a piece of log someone had conjured up earlier. Looking around her, she marveled at how different the Koa Litha children seemed from what she remembered of her childhood. Children were so confined and poorly treated where she was from, and for the upteenth time this moon cycle, she thought about her far away family. She had left behind a younger sister and brother when she had made her decision to leave all those years before. She knew that wherever she went she would always wonder about and miss them. But now she was a mercenary warrior and the twelve year old person she had been lay under ten years of memories like ten layers of silt in a river. She thought about them at this time in particular, because her twin siblings had been born when a certain constellation reached mid-sky. Now it was a little low, but the anniversary of their birth would be soon.

         She dismissed these thoughts and went back to glaring at the fire and watching the people. If she was anything, she was a meticulous people watcher. A lady in red to her left was pounding on some meat that would be used in her family’s dinner. Some men to her right were caring for their animals and gossiping about a blacksmith’s wife. People moved in and out of tents, children ran around playing or doing chores, she sat by the fire and tried to think about nothing. Silently she cursed herself for even trying; she was not a philosopher but she knew there was no such thing as nothing. Inwardly she laughed at the way her thoughts sounded but outwardly she showed no reaction. That was a mark of her skill as a warrior, and she had known it to come in handy many a time. Obviously there were times even she could not control her face, but then again, she was only human.

         There were many other mercenary warriors in the camp that night. She had been one of the first to arrive about two moon cycles ago, but now there were almost as many warriors as Koa Litha in the camp. This did not bother the Koa Litha because they knew that the invading armies had fewer people than their entire tribe. Three camps consisted of the entire tribe, each with roughly two hundred people. Of course she had found much of this out when she had gone out spying. And unlike many of the people or places she had worked for, the Koa Litha did not keep the warriors separate from themselves or feel that the warriors were disruptive or bad child role models. She saw that they did not want war and that they thought it to be a horrible thing, but also knew that they did not think the warriors to be tainted people for fighting and killing. She now respected the people and felt a sense of protectiveness for them that she did not always feel when hired. Most times she took a job for the money. But no, that was not entirely true. If she only did it for the money, then she could have very well have been on either side, but she had a sense of ethics and never fought a battle she believed morally wrong.

         It was now time to eat. She could tell by the synchronized way in which the whole camp stopped moving about and paused. Another unique thing about the culture was the shared times. Before each meal everyone paused and silently prayed. It wasn’t just everyone together with their families in their tents, but the whole camp. Logically there was a chance that all three camps could do it at the same time also, but there she was again thinking like a philosopher. She had been sitting quietly by the fire, so sitting and thinking now was not that much of a change. After a few minutes someone came and tapped her on the shoulder to give her some food, but she had known the tall youth had been coming by his walk. The camp had returned to normal, and everyone was eating and laughing. A small boy came over to sit by the fire and looked up at her while eating his meat, rather messily she thought.

         “Hello.” He said when his mouth was empty between bites.

         “Hello.” She said back to him and rested her hand, giving him her attention more fully.

         “What’s your name?” He asked quite eagerly.


         “Oh that’s a pretty name.” He smiled broadly and swung his feet a bit.

         “Thank you, it means hedgehog.”

         “My name means river cow.” He rolled his eyes a bit theatrically.

         “What is a river cow?”

         “Oh well, they are great big animals that live in the river to the south more. We call them river cows and that is my name. Dupeni was my grandfather’s name too. I have never heard of a hedgehog.” Dupeni was bright and curious, much like the other children she had seen in the last two moon cycles with the Koa Litha.

         “A hedgehog is a rodent like creature that lives in hedges and curls into a ball when attacked. It uses spikes on its back as a defense but it is generally timid. That is all I know, I have not seen one.” Moleja was used to the role of a teacher but hoped she did not sound too patronizing.

         “Well I have not seen a river cow, so we are even.” A big disarming grin lit up his face, stealing into the long-lashed eyes, and Moleja knew he now thought of her as a friend.

         Pretty soon Dupeni returned to his tent and Moleja was by herself again at the fire. She didn’t mind so much because, even though the company was good, she was not in the best mood for talking. Something had thrown her off today from her recent good mood and she was trying to figure it out before she had to sleep. She thought back through her daily activities in order to try to pinpoint the time when her mood had fell. This morning she had been cheerful during her daily warm-ups, she had done all her running and stretching pleasantly, so there was nothing wrong there. Breakfast had been fine as well, and meditation had brought no disruptions either. Next she had gone and practiced sword fighting and target practice at the makeshift area that the Koa Litha had set up. Thinking back she now noticed a bit of hesitance and went on to mentally survey her next task. After lunch she had taken a walk around the grounds and made sure the perimeters were secure. Then she had sat down with the group of mercenary trainees who she had been mentoring for the last six moon cycles for their daily lesson. Here she saw the worst humor in her day and stopped to inspect it further.

         What was it that had disturbed her so thoroughly as to disrupt her mood? Generally she was not one to let things disturb her, so feeling bad for a non-apparent reason was a little alarming. One thing she was though, was truthful. If she had a problem or emotion, she did not pretend it to be otherwise. She looked back at today’s lesson and thought carefully. Today she had been talking about what sort of things were to be forseen in battle and how to avoid being overwhelmed by it all. Then she saw what had done it, what had caused her to fall into a thoughtful and morose attitude. One of her students had asked her a question that had sent her mind humming. It was a harmless question really, but not one that she had been ever asked before.

         “What will happen to our bodies if we die, will anyone come to claim us?” He had asked, his throat a little sore still from a jab someone had given him in the earlier sparring exercises.

         And with that one question, Moleja's thought process had been devastated until her mood had become unnaturally low. It was not a question that she had never thought of before, but perhaps it was just the right time for her to be struck by it. It was almost her sibling’s time of birth and she had been thinking so much lately how it had been ten years. The time seemed to reverberate in her mind, ten years. She had been gone for long enough that her sister could be married for all she knew, but she was not married. Why should this matter so much to her, she asked herself? Somehow it just did, and she had to let it be that way for she knew the answer was not accessible to her at that time. Perhaps there was something in her that felt she was missing her family, or maybe even some part wanted to have a family of her own. In any case she knew she could not do much about it now, she was still working for the Koa Litha. She knew this with the same certainty as she knew that her time with them had only just begun.
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