What exactly does it mean when the two other amazons that don't wish to slit your throat happen to also be cackling and giggling behind your back every minute they're around?
I believe there is a certain line of etiquette that has been crossed on one too many a ritual night. I would have thought Tara would go super-warrior-girl on them but instead she just seems to shut up internally every time they appear. I'm not even really sure what their names are.
No, no I remember now, one is called Boughff, or Buck or Buff, or... Lord, who in their right frame of mind names their child something sounding like a fitness protection program?
It doesn't matter.
What matters is that these two harpies - whether or not life-saving bodyguards in disguise - are seriously ruining any and every chance that I might have to get to get closer to Tara. One moment I'm doing this sacrificial, (Pagan with a hint of Aztec and/or Mayan?) ritual about to close the very unnecessary gap between me and the beautiful woman when they just happen to slip in with huge grins plastered on their faces, and, and...
It's like they know. They know that I'm staying here for her - that I could easily escape this magically enchanted forest and three hundred or so capable amazon warriors - and that I'm merely playing the "pitiful captive" roll for Tara's sake.
I could take them.
Doesn't matter - the problem lies not within the tactics necessary of taking on a whole amazon tribe whilst looking fashionably dressed, but the constant, and might I say infuriating interruptions for the past five days.
Every. Single. Day.
There's some excuse, some new kill they just have to show Tara. Or, like on the second day of the Sacrament, the Buck one kept walking in, as if perfectly in sync with my dire attempts to move nearer to Tara, with one exasperating question after another. I do not speak Amazonian - true, but anybody with a brain knows the pantomime for "water."
What unholy devil's game is this that forces me to choose between being near Tara and never being close to her?
And she... she doesn't seem to care either way. Whether they burst in with another wonderful excuse or not she just pulls this curious face - a sort of grimace and groan. Then nothing. Not even a hint of violence. Not one mortal threat has been made. She shuts up; her head does a half nod and stays there hiding from the world while the annoying amazons trample all over her.
And I don't even know why.
What could they possibly know that causes Tara to curl away from me?
"Tar'airah..." came a silky voice.
The blonde's shoulders hunched and she slowly pulled in the air that was necessary to keep her nerves calm. Tar'airah was slowly stirring in the spices for the night's fire-powder necessary for the final sparks to celebrate the ritual's termination. The body belonging to the offensive voice was leaning lazily on the side of the entrance to their hut. Tar'airah replied slowly, "Yes Fa'aith?"
"Nothing," came the quick reply, "just that your loverboy is awaiting for the next ritual, as usual in the hut."
"He is not- She is not my loverb- Shut up, Fa'aith."
"Aw, Tar', no need to get angry. Buf' and I are really happy for you and your insanely impossible crush..."
"It's not a crush-"
"So it is more than a crush?" Fa'aith was enjoying this game. Every day she had playtime. As if she had finally clued into what was worthwhile in life: eating, sleeping and making your friends pop a new vein.
"Fa'aith, just, just go away. The ritual doesn't start for another two hours."
"Which is why I thought you should go early and you know," she shrugged innocently, "have some..." she searched for the right word, "non-captive-and-killer time before the final goodbye?"
"What?" Fa'aith smirked, "head over heels in love with a foreigner who, after we get out of this deathtrap, is never going to come back?"
That caught the blonde off guard. A moment left to let the words sink in, and the blonde shrugged it off.
"You don't know her."
"Oh come ON, Tar'," Fa'aith almost yelled laughing, "have you seen the way she acts when a piece of dirt comes her way? She's used to the inferior life women have in the outside world."
The outside world was always a topic of discussion among the women of the tribe. It was frightening, a curiosity that no one dared to go near, save Caranthia. Course, she was sent out merely on business; trade and barter were the means by which the tribe had survived cut off for so long from the rest of humanity.
"Look," Tar'airah had gotten fed up with this. It was true Buf' and Fa'aith had agreed to help her in Willow's plan - they were her friends after all - but it seemed that they had little faith in Willow as a person, "she is different. Do you want to know why?"
"Because her hair is less tangled than everyone else here?"
"No. Because on the night I was sentenced to begin the Sacrament I went... I tried..." Tar'airah's voice caught. She breathed in slowly, "I was going to kill her."
"I wanted to get it over with," how horrible it sounded, especially coming from her mouth. It was painful to hear herself utter them - forcing the thoughts into reality. Words, once given a voice have the power to become the harsh blades we shy away from in our minds, "I wanted to kill her so I wouldn't have to think about it!" she laughed almost hysterically.
"Tar' killing is killing - alive then dead. Simple," Fa'aith said as if spelling out a simple formula. This however, managed to make the blonde stop all movement. She put down the bowl, straightened up and turned her full body towards the brunette, who seemed more or less frightened by the deadly transition the conversation had just taken. First she was making fun of Tar'airah, next thing she knows their discussing the values of life and death. In all of Fa'aith's days profound thought never led to happy tramps through the jungle.
"Can you comprehend, can you for once understand," Tar's body tensed, "think about what it means to kill - destroy - a life? I know," Tar' laughed at this, "you do it so carefree and easily as if it's a talent, but do you know," Tar's voice began to scratch, "do you know what it is to make something so beautiful to just not exist anymore?"
"Whoever said it was beautiful?" asked offended at the carefree attitude her childhood friend had stamped on her, "Life is brutal. It is ugly. It is harsh. It is-"
"The only thing we have."
"Tar' I'm not getting where you're going with this. So you were going to get a head start on the Sacraments, so what? It doesn't make you any less of a person."
"You're right," she looked mournfully down to the ground, "It makes me less of a human. I can't understand how you can live knowing the lives you've taken... how does one live with death?"
"Tar' it's still me. I'm still the same girl you ran around the grass with naked when the moon was full on summer nights. I'm still the one you first beat in combat during our Shelka training," Fa'aith's voice lowered, "And I'm still a part of this tribe."
"I know," Tar'airah, "I'm just not sure I want to be anymore."
"What?! Tar'airah if this is just over the fact that you have the hots for a runaway redhead-"
"It's not just because of her. I can't, I can't be here anymore..."
"Tar' I know something's been up with you for a while. But this is ridiculous. First you refuse to do the Sacrament, now you're thinking of leaving with that," Fa'aith spat, "poor excuse of a woman-"
"DON'T-" Tara began but was shortly cut off by the brunette.
"DON'T WHAT?" Fa'aith had gotten tired of this charade, "You know what? I'm SICK and TIRED of you getting completely defensive for that worthless, albeit pretty, girl. She'd leave you in a heartbeat for the pathway out of this jungle!"
A quick flash of metal, a sharp elbow turn and a sword was at Fa'aith's neck.
"Listen," the blonde breathed as the brunette stayed still, "And listen well, Fa'aith. I will not let you speak of her like that. She is special," Tar'airah almost broke with the words that speared her heart like daggers, "I've been trying to tell you... she is special... she's special because unlike everyone else here, unlike the women I had grown to love, and learn to call my family," Tar'airah said tears jerking every word, "she forgave me. She accepted me for me."
The sword was swiftly retracted.
A moment of silence sunk in.
"Maybe. But maybe," Fa'iath began but at the warning look softened, "I want to protect you Tar', please just listen," she continued, "She might just be waiting for the safest way out of here."
"Maybe," Tar' seemed to shrug as if the last resort had been pulled, "but so am I."
"Tar' what are you talking about? You can't just leave!"
"Why? Why not?! I don't belong here!"
"Don't tell me you're actually listening to that crap Caranthia spews out with every self compliment!"
Tar'airah's eyes bristled with tears. She said nothing.
"You're the best warrior in the whole tribe! You were the highest qualified Caleahlakia ever to be elected!"
Fa'aith was starting to get nervous.
What the hell is wrong with her?
"You finished first in all sparring events! Ever since you first began training, you've become the best fighter we have here!"
"Sometimes..." Tar'airah looked up slowly, and ever so softly, she whispered, "becoming something and actually being something can be two very different things."
"So, what? You're just going to throw away this life to run off the moment you get someone to follow after?"
"I'll never forget my life here. Never."
"Then why go?!"
"Because if I don't, it'll kill me."
May 7, 1890
"Momma's gotta go," A quick kiss on the young forehead and the older woman grabbed her longsword, "momma's gotta go fight the bad men."
"No! Please don't go!" the girl was crying. A five-year-old's whimpers barely reached the highest octave of a grown woman, and yet held so much power in so few words, "Let Thea go and stay here."
"I can't, Kaleh."
Kaleh, a term of endearment meaning, "soft kitten"
"But you promised! You promised you'd stay away from them!"
"I will," The pain of breaking your child's heart, if only for a second, is the most unbearable feeling, "but I have to go now to protect you. If I go then I can stay with you, forever from now on, I promise."
"Momma," the babe-girl cried to her mother in vain as the older woman prepared for battle, gathering her grieves, and spear. She slowly stood up and headed for the doorway of the small hut. Pulling back the curtain, Ranthia turned one last time back to see her daughter, eyes filled to the brim with unshed tears.
"I'll be back, my Kaleh, I promise."
A lightning flash and the woman was gone - her child left to cry on the one bed they shared since her birth.