Shahdee is the daughter of the chieftain of the Kutolah tribe and one day she loses everything dear to her and is stripped of every innocent notion she ever held and brought face to face with some ...
"...And be good and obedient, say your prayers, remember I love you and that your father loves you, and - and come home safe." Shahdee's mother, Kaileena, starts to cry.
"Mother, don't. Now I'm going to start crying."
"Your mother is a little emotional right now dear; you'll have to be gentle with her. But have a safe trip daughter, and be safe."
"Yes Papa. I love you and Mama so much."
"And we love you Shahdee. Have fun meeting new plainspeople."
"Yessir." Your father laughs and slaps Stone on his rump. Stone rears up on his back legs and starts off. Shahdee and Master Wolf gallop across the plains until well after mid-day. Stopping by a stream, Shahdee take a late lunch of traveler's bread and jerky.
"How long will it take to reach the Lorca?" Shahdee asks, munching on the bread.
"Three days there, three days back. We'll be there for about two weeks."
"What's the matter?"
"I feel like something really bad is going to happen. Like I'm never going to see my mother again."
"What kind of feeling is this?"
"My instinct. From my gut. And you've told me that the only thing a warrior can truly rely on is gut instinct. I just feel extremely bad and that bad feeling is telling me that something bad is about to happen."
"Don't worry; I'm sure everything will be alright."
Three extremely uneventful days later, Shahdee and Master Wolf arrive at the main Lorca encampment. The minute Stone's hooves touch Lorca ground Shahdee knows something is off.
"Something isn't right here. Where is everyone?"
"You think they - Dead?! How?"
"Remember the rumours we heard six months ago? This must be the tribe no one wanted to name."
"Master Wolf? You know that bad feeling I told you about three days ago? It just got a hell of a lot stronger."
"The horses need to rest. We'll start back tomorrow."
"If we start back now, the horses may collapse from fatigue because I assume you will want to gallop all the way back. I know it's not what you want to hear Shahdee."
"It isn't, but I'll have to abide by it."
"Come, let's practice your swordskills. If your bad feelings and gut instinct hold any water, you might need your skills." Shahdee and Master Wolf practice swordplay until the light is so bad Shahdee can barely see. Shahdee sleeps well only because she is exhausted from being made to practice so hard. The next day Shahdee is up and in her saddle before Master Wolf is even up and awake. The pair ride hard and well into the night for two nights. Delayed several hours by the mounts' need to rest or die, Shahdee is anxious to be back at home. It's dusk by the time Stone and Whisper (Master Wolf's horse) reach the hill that is just before the encampment. The sight that greets her eyes makes Shahdee want to vomit.
"Oh gods, this isn't a fight, it's a massacre!" Master Wolf exclaims. Shahdee and Wolf jump off their mounts at the same time and quickly arm themselves to the teeth.
"Stone, go hide with Whisper." Shahdee turns to Master Wolf.
"Ready?" He inquires.
"Yes." Shahdee and Master Wolf creep down the hillside. The first foe Shahdee creeps up on and slashes his throat from ear to ear. She and Master Wolf have dispatched roughly half of the remaining fighting force before they are noticed. Sticking her triton back in it's sheath, Shahdee unsheathes her sword. The first guy to come at her has his sword raised high, like he's gonna hack her into pieces. Almost feeling bad for him in his stupidity Shahdee acts like she's been struck dumb by fear. At the last minute she quickly brings her sword up and it goes right through the man's throat. The fighting goes on for an indeterminate amount of time, until Shahdee is tired, covered in blood, sweat, and dirt and ready to give up the fight. She slays her last opponent and sinks to her knees from exhaustion. Shahdee hears a noise and turns around. One of the enemy, dying but not yet dead, is standing right behind her, his sword raised, apparently hell-bent on taking someone with him.
"Master Wolf!" Shahdee cries, forgetting her training in blind fright. The sword comes down and Shahdee closes her eyes. She feels wetness all over her clothes and opens her eyes. The man who would be her killer is dead and Master Wolf is lying on the ground.
"Oh Gods." Shahdee blurts. Master Wolf's hand moves suddenly, gripping Shahdee's wrist surprisingly tight.
"They were...the Black Fang. You...mastered...sword today. Parents...been proud. Listen carefully Shahdee. Black Fang dangerous. Go...to...my tent. The brown chest...explains..." Master Wolf gives a small huff of breath and dies.
"Yes Master." Shahdee says quietly. She closes his eyes for him and lays his body down. Shahdee picks up the man who killed Master Wolf and drags him by the ankles out of the encampment. Shahdee drags or carries every Black Fang body she can find. The pile of people grows and grows until Shahdee loses count at 50. Standing a little ways away form the pile of dead Black Fang, Shahdee glares at them, her eyes all but glowing with hatred. I wish they would all burn. They killed the crippled, old, children, women, toddlers, newborn. This was a vicious and cowardly massacre. I want them all to burn. As if the elements are listening, the pile of dead starts to burn, the flame spreading quickly, consuming and making ash of every body.
"Oh no, the grass! It's so dry it could create a wildfire and burn the plains to nothing! How am I gonna stop this?" As if on cue, the heaven's open up and the rain comes down in buckets. Shahdee stands there as the rain washes all the blood, dirt, and sweat off of her and the entire encampment. Shahdee stands there and watches as the fire dies and the rain cools the melting metal and fabric and the scent of a fresh rainfall cancels out the stink of the burning and melting flesh.
"I hope your souls rot in the hell reserved for cowardly murderers who kill infants and the defenseless for all time." Shahdee turns on her heel and walks into her family's ger and into her room. Literally peeling off her wet clothes, Shahdee takes a length of dry linen and dries herself with it. Getting into dry clothes, Shahdee thoroughly scrubs her hair dry and heads out into the main room. Donning a pair of her father's boots, Shahdee gets a roll and apple and starts to eat them. While eating this light meal, Shahdee mulls over what just happened.
"A force of over fifty soldiers, why? My father had no quarrel with any marquess, so what warranted this group, the Black Fang, to send over fifty of their soldiers? Albeit, they're all dead now, so I can't find out why. It looks like I'm on my own now, unless Rath or Guy come back. It also looks like I'm now the chieftain of the Kutolah, which is also rather pointless because everyone is dead now. And what in the world happened just now? It's like I have control over the elements, two of them at least. The fire that consumed the bodies of those monsters, the storm that stopped the fire, it's like magic or something. It's so strange, if I possess magic, why haven't my powers shown before now? Why now, even?" Shahdee says to herself. She finishes her meal and sticks her head out of the ger and looks up at the sky.
"Stop." She says in a commanding voice. The rain stops and the final droplets of water hit the ground. Shahdee walks out of the ger and to the edge of the encampment where Master Wolf kept his tent. Shahdee undoes a single flap and slips inside. Her eyes take a minute to adjust to the half-light. There is a cot in the corner and a brazier in the middle of the tent. Shahdee lights the brazier to offset the light chill in the air and get a little more light and turns her attention to the chests. There is a pale wood chest that holds his clothes and then Shahdee spots a wooden brown chest under his cot and pulls it out. Kneeling on the ground, she undoes the two toggles and lock and opens up the top. Nothing immediately jumps out at her, so she just ruffles through, pulling everything out one by one. Shahdee pulls out rolled up scrolls, unmarked books, and unmarked boxes.
"What is all this?" Shahdee asks herself. She puts everything back in the box and carries it back to her ger. She clears off the table and lays out the books and scrolls and boxes. She's reached in and picked out the very last thing when she hears whinnying outside of the ger. I forgot about Whisper and Stone! Shahdee thinks, quickly getting up and going outside. Stone and Whisper are standing side by side outside the ger. You go up to Whisper and pet his nose.
"He's gone boy." You say softly to the horse. You look into the horse's eyes and it's like he already knew. "He's over there." You say, pointing to where Master Wolf's body lies. Whisper trots over to where Master Wolf is and sits down like he's protecting the body. Stone nudges your shoulder and you look up at him.
"I'm still alive." You say, hugging his head (you know how people hug a horse, they kinda hug the head). "You hungry Stone?" He ignores the comment and trots off to the food trough. "I'll take that as a yes." says Shahdee wryly, following Stone. She gets out a bale of the plains grass and places that in the trough along with some sweet grass and she fills up his water bucket from a nearby river. She fills up another bucket with water and tucks some grass under her arm and walks over to where Whisper is.
"Here you go Whisper." Shahdee says, bending down and putting the water and grass in front of him. Whisper carefully bends over and takes a drink from the bucket. Shahdee stands up and takes a step back, looking down at Master Wolf's body.
"You need to be buried." Shahdee says. She looks around the destroyed camp for some way to move Master Wolf's body. Then it comes to her. Her 'powers' maybe she can control all elements. Shahdee stands still and tries to center herself like Master Wolf taught her. When she feels centered, Shahdee imagines a gentle wind picking him up, opening her eyes, Shahdee sees Master Wolf floating in mid-air at her waist height. Imagining the same for everyone in the encampment, Shahdee walks out of the encampment with a hundred bodies floating after her. She sets them down in a four by twenty-five square. Then she imagines a funeral pyre and the bodies alight with no help from any kind of accelerant. Shahdee stands there and watches the bodies of her tribe member's burn, silently saying the prayers that will help them along the path to the afterlife.