Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chapter Six

Pain, survival, and scars. The introduction of characters who will carry the story with decriptions that I can see, but was hard pressed to decribe. Does it show that I may have stumbled or does the ferocity of the decriptions come across?

In Dreams The Solitary Road A Serial Novella By S. I. Hayes

Copyright 2013 Shannon I. Hayes


       The warmth was peculiar, Amara eyes strained in the low light around her; she found she was in a large tent made of well-tanned hide, outside, were the outlines of two tall figures. She scrunched her nose at the pungent muskiness of the animal furs on which she lay face down. There was a burning in her throat, and her body was wrecked by pain. She tried to call out, but no sound came. Again, she tried to lift her body, but fell back into the deep furs. This action forcing a hard yelp from her. The figures outside stopped moving, listening as it were, and finally Amara managed a weak almost inaudible “Hello?”
      The smaller of the figures made motion toward the flap opening of the tent, as the other disappeared completely. Amara was temporarily blinded by candle light as the figure entered the tent. A woman’s voice broke the silence.
       “Are you alert or just complaining again?” Her tone was soft if not somewhat condescending, the words flowed as if she had a mouthful of pebbles.
      “You had a nasty scuff over the cavern side, lucky you didn't freeze to death. Not so smart running around here without any fur.” The woman approached, shaking the snow off her boots, unfazed by Amara’s gasp as she crouched down and the flame illuminated her features.
        Her arms were covered in a fine layer of deep caramel fur, her face a mix of human and feline. The top half of her lip was clefted and melded with her high cheeks and nose, from the widest place of her cheeks and atop the high arches of her brow were long thin hairs that moved as she spoke. When she smiled her sharp teeth reflected yellow-white.
       “I'm sorry if I frighten you, but I am the lesser of two scares. Be lucky we bothered to go looking for you, that cavern has a way of throwing sound rather good.”
Amara tried to get up once more only to be pushed back down, by powerful hands.
        “You stay like that, or that infection will crack and bleed again, and I don’t want any of that stink on my pelts.”
        “I'm sorry.” Amara managed, and then hushed hearing a snarl and scuffling by the tent flap.
      “Portia, enough! You’ll give our guest an attack. Do you want to explain to him why you’re digging a hole this time of night?” Another female voice broke in.
      Portia turned and stood immediately as another female entered the tent, covered by a long fur lined, hooded cloak, although her companion stayed outside. It seemed to Amara a towering creature; so wide that it blocked the opening, making it hard for Portia to make her bowed exit.
      “Forgive her, Portia has a way of getting her dander up when people gawk, she forgets that we are not as well seen as others. I am Khane, the Pride groups communicating healer please don’t be frightened. We did come looking for you after all, and we have no intention of making a meal of you, so just relax and we’ll get you back on your feet in a few days or so.” She spoke matter-of-factly.
Amara nodded, swallowing hard, her mouth having run dry.
      “Give us a few moments and we’ll get you some food and water, and sit you up, but don’t go leaning back or you’ll be rather sorry.”
       The other with Khane began to move its arms around erratically, drawing Amara’s eyes back to its shadow, as Portia’s voice rang in from outside.
         “He says to get on with it, there’s a storm coming.”
Khane shook her head, “I am sorry, I know that you are in no real condition for visitors, especially the kind you do not know, but this one has been pacing for some time now. I only wanted to prepare you. We are a bit much for those who do not know us.” Khane motioned to the flap, as it shifted, the hulking shadow made its entrance.
        It stepped forward and from beneath the cloak, Amara saw a long black and white striped tail as it twitched too and fro. Its face was not like that of Portia’s, its features were more bestial, the muzzle elongated and where Portia and Khane had something like hair, it only possessed fur. A loud vibration echoed through the tent as it approached Amara with its huge head, tilted down; it dropped to all fours, seeming more beast than man. With a wide-eyed stare, Amara paced her breath as it began to make erratic movements, calling her attention to its hands. Long thick fingers tipped with short curled claws that receded into the fingertips as they gestured.
          Khane nodded, and then patted its arm. “Graw here wants me to tell you that he is glad you've woken up, he was afraid that you may have yelled yourself into a stupor.”
Before Amara could react, in a fluid motion he scooped her up and placed her in an upright position. The sound Amara realized came from him, as his whole body vibrated softly from the gentle purr, as he rested near to her.
          Khane's words were not her own, she translated for Graw, who as Khane explained it, like most males was unable to speak, in words, theirs was a language of gestures and murmurs. Khane first apologized for the shift of a dress she wore, that her clothing was hardly salvageable. She then went on to explain that Graw was one of the Pride group who had sought her out. That they had heard her cries, and spied the last fire. When they found her, she was fevered and infected, it would take time and treatment for the poisons to leave her body, but she would make a full recovery and have beautiful scars.
            The word “Scars’ sent a panic through Amara, her breathing quickened, but her voice would still not come. As a High Priestess, she was supposed to remain unscathed, one of the few rules, which saved her from Rosaline’s wrath. How was she to go home if she were now marred?
           “It’s no use trying to talk girl, you screamed your voice away days ago. Not much, we could do about the pain, our ways may be intolerable, but the results cannot be matched. But considering, you did pretty well.
            ‘Considering? Amara mouthed, wondering what the hell these things had done to her, had she much of a choice she would have fled then and there, but her condition kept her at the mercy of these beasts, who pretended to be men.
Her ethnocentric view was all she had; tolerance was not one of her virtues. Cloistered as she was, she had never been told such creatures still existed. The shock was palatable.


       After Graw and Khane made sure that Amara was fed, and comfortable they took to looking after her wounds and she found out just why she was without voice.
They took her outside of the tent, to where a huge bonfire burned and several more of them gathered, covered in fur, and accompanied by a female speaker. Amara saw Portia who seemed to have an air of nervousness around her, as she and her companion soaked scraps of fur and heavy cloth in buckets of water. Amara was laid down on her stomach in a snowless patch of earth, which appeared to be bruised by scorch marks.
       “You got rambunctious last time; no one wants to get their whiskers singed... Again.” Portia half-heartedly cooed as she rubbed her head against her companion, who returned the gesture adding a long sweep down her back with his tail.
          Once Amara nodded, they took it as understanding and the pair took to wrapping the rags and soaked fur around her arms and draped them over her legs. They were icy, making Amara’s body tingle. Graw sat back and watched as the healer came out, he was larger than Graw who stood some six and a half feet. The Healer crouched down over Amara and untied the dress, pulling it down off of her. She tried to protest, but Portia and the other held her down with little effort. Graw made eye contact with Amara. They were gentle yellow eyes; he tried to calm her down. His hands motioning that it was all right, and she should settle down.
                The sensation of pain suddenly filled her as though her flesh were being pulled from bone. She was not far off, the Healer’s way was to cleanse the wound, his thick heavy tongue scraping away the scabs, his saliva helping to kill the infection and stop the bleeding. The rags and furs began to steam as Amara struggled to free herself from the tortuous remedy.
           They had to stop several times as to avoid Amara’s setting fire to those who tried to aid her. They soaked her again and again, trying to keep her temperature from combustion. The bonfire kicked, spat, and licked the high branches of the trees above them. If this had been summer, they would not have been able to keep, but as it was, the heavy snow kept nature quite safe.
            Eventually, they finished and Amara was redressed and carried back to the tent by Graw. Khane brought her a blank book and a chunk of charcoal; she explained that Graw could read, mostly and that his writing while juvenile was passable enough that they should be able to understand each other.
Amara sat with the book in her lap, trying not to stare at Graw, but the more she avoided it, the more uncomfortable and self-conscious she became. Graw sat down, his posture reminding her of an obedient dog. He wore no shoes, for his feet were not those of a man, rather they were two huge paws with claws that protruded slightly as he leaned forward on them, his hands on the ground as his tail swooshed slowly side to side.
              He let out a snort and put out his hand gesturing to the book and stick of charcoal. Amara handed them to him, careful not to touch him. He shook his head sadly, as he scribbled in the book, the coal braking in his large hands; he swiped the broken pieces away as though it were commonplace. Then turned the book back to her with a tooth-filled smile.
               “Don’t be afraid you know I am called Graw, but what do we call you. You don’t just go by girlie I suppose cause that’s what we’re gonna call you otherwise.”
               She looked up; he pointed to her, and then put both hands up to the side of his head half-fisted with a comical nod left and right.
                  Amara managed a gentle raspy laugh, as she wrote her name down. “Amara Dagon, I am called Amara Dagon.”

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