The forest is never more deadly than at night. Even an experienced and well armed hunter fears being alone in the prehistoric wilderness after sunset. The painted woman was not only alone in the forest, she was naked, unarmed, tired, and hungry. Although she had leapt at the opportunity to escape from the Bellamani she had also realised that the Matriarch had probably given her a death sentence; and perhaps also a death sentence to poor young Rosha. It occurred to the painted woman that this may have been the Matriarch’s intention: kill off the strongest Paximani woman. In truth, there was a voice inside the huntress that beg for death. After watching all her friends, the men of the tribe, slaughtered and mutilated by the Bellamani, and the subsequent easy capitulation of the remaining women of her tribe, had filled her heart with so much woe and despair that death seemed like a welcome avenue of escape from her current situation. The ultimate way to destroy your enemy is to trick or convince them into destroying themselves. Despair and misery are just another two weapons of war no less important than a spear or a bow.
But another voice also spoke inside her head. A voice of an old warrior, Tannas, she had known him as a little child. She could hear his deep cavernous voice echoing inside her head, “The most dangerous foe is not the one who strikes you down with his spear, and not even the foe who can convince you to lower your guard foolishly, but the one who can convince you throw yourself on the point of your own spear. For this reason you must learn to conquer the despair in your own heart before you attempt to conquer enemy.” Continue reading “The Paximani – Part 4”
Printara managed to push Allaynah down underneath her, she placed both her legs across her stomach pinning her down. Allaynah tried to push her off but Printara managed to pin one of Allaynah’s arms between her legs while holding her other arm down by the wrist. With her free hand she raised a fist to pound it into her defenceless sister’s face. Her fist landed with a dull thud and Allaynah tried to cry out but was half choked by the weight on her chest. All around them dozens of pairs of eyes watched passively, none of the women were willing to intervene in this violent dispute. None except the painted one. Printara’s fist rose up in the air ready to strike again but was captured in mid air by the painted woman who then yanked the confused Pintara up onto her feet and pushed her away. Allaynah was dazed and struggling to catch her breath from the beating she had received, but Printara bared her teeth furiously at the strange woman, “she stopped me from going with the other women. I am teaching her a lesson!” Printara cocked her head down and prepared to throw herself onto Allaynah again.
The painted woman drew back her right arm and proceeded to land a punch so hard it caused Printara to flip over and hit the ground flat on her back with a thud. Printara was now too breathless herself to get back up. The painted woman leaned over her threateningly.
“Your sister saved your life, and if you ever try to hurt another one of our tribe again I will beat you so hard you won’t ever get back up again, do you hear?”
Printara nodded in stunned submission. The painted woman turned around to face the other women of her tribe, “that goes for all of you. If any of you attack another woman of this tribe, I will deal with you swiftly. Attacking a fellow Paximani is treason, and traitors beg to suffer and die!”
Continue reading “The Paximani – Part 3”
The Matriarch’s camp was situated in a field not far from a river. It was surrounded by a wall made by binding hundreds of thorn bushes together and dragging the assembled chain of brambles into a perimeter line. The wall wasn’t straight at all and so the camp was shaped more like a splatter mark than a well organised military base. There were only two entries to the camp and each was guarded by at least six of the Matriarch’s warrioresses armed with spears, clubs, and bows. There were no towers overlooking the perimeter, nor any huts. There were several open fires burning throughout the camp interior, around them were clusters of tents made from saplings and animal skins stretched over them. There was something that troubled Allaynah about the things the Bellamani built. Weaving brambles and nettles together to create a wall was something the Paximani never did. On the few occasions they had built walls they had used wood, dirt, and stone; that much she knew. But the foreignness of this wall troubled her. It was like a long thorn studded snake weaving its way into her home. While looking at the wall she vaguely recalled the men of her tribe talking about the challenges regarding the building of walls. She wished she’d paid more attention to what the men had said.
When Allaynah’s group first arrived they were made to wait on the grass just inside one of the camp entrances. Small groups of Paximani women were then escorted down to the river allowed to drink for the first time that day. Allaynah was careful to wash Rosha’s wounds. She found some leaves from a herb that helped wounds to heal faster, but lacking a mortar and pestle she crushed the leaves up in her hands as best she could before applying them to Rosha’s injuries. She would have used her teeth but the same herb if ingested would make one sick. Allaynah was aware that the painted woman was staring intensely at Rosha while the teenager’s wounds were being treated.
“Are you a medicine woman?” asked the painted one.
Allaynah shook her head while quietly making eye contact with the painted woman. The painted woman rose up onto her toes and crept closer to Rosha to peer down at her curiously. Rosha’s face had several gashes on it and one of her eyes was almost completely squeezed shut by the swelling. A large purple lump dominated the right side of her face. She looked up at the painted woman and shivered.
Continue reading “The Paximani – Part 2”