Thursday, 27 August 2009

Mist- page 4

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Uksmar and Mekh watched the girl Bansha and her grandfather the craftsman from the chief's tent.

The old man was holding a wild white-nosed coati. The long nosed creature had a lame leg, and the craftsman held it in his hands, humming in an even tenor voice and caressing the cinnamon soft fur. The animal had initially struggled but was now still. Bansha, stood in front of them, asking questions in her high pitched voice.

‘Can you imagine them as slaves, Mekh?’ asked Uksmar. ‘Forced to work in the mines until they go blind or die?’

Mekh didn't reply.

‘Or Bansha, taken away from her grandfather and held as a domestic slave, the richness of her life here replaced with house chores, her mist dancing on the top of the cliff becoming a faint memory while she's treated little better than an animal?’

Mekh shook his head slowly. ‘My chief, we can face them. I am willing to fight them to my death.’

‘That would not be helpful, Mekh. They only kill the warriors. You, me, the other strong men. Then they capture the rest of the tribe and chain them to a life of misery.’

‘We can hold them while you walk south and take the forest path. Kihlanni only gave them the entrance she knew about. You can then look for a secure place on the other side where the Shilapa can live.’

‘That plan holds no hope. Even if you did hold them long enough for the rest of us to reach the forest path, the lands on the outside are densely populated, and all of the other tribes are now under the control of the conquistadors. We would only be postponing the inevitable’ Uksmar didn't comment on the accusation. It didn't matter anymore that they had found the feathered darts among Kilhanni's clothes. They stood in silence.

Down the path, the craftsman released the black and brown coati on the ground. The animal took a few tentative steps and then darted for cover on four perfectly healthy legs, provoking an excited squeak from the girl Bansha.

Uksmar smiled but the smile didn't reach his eyes. ‘We will all leave together, Mekh.’ All but one, he thought. She has made her choice. ‘Nothing is to be gained by facing them.’

His captain growled. ‘I am sorry my chief, but I can not do that. I will not run from them like a scared insect. I will stay and fight, even if I am the the only one who does.’

The chief's voice was flat as he answered his most trusted man. ‘I said nothing of running.’

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