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Last edited by Aurora on 2009-05-07 03:22:15

Sisterhood

By Aurora

A high-pitched, raucous cry composed of a dozen, clear female voices in unison echoed through the dissipating fog of the Tro wood. Sabers were raised triumphantly in victory. The battle had gone perfectly according to plan, and the Xsian interlopers lay dead to a man on the cool loam of the forest floor.

Maritana Nightstalker, leader of the Darakaiva tribe of Xanthyr, surveyed the scene in grim satisfaction. Twelve against thirty-two were not terribly good odds under most circumstances. Most circumstances, however, did not take into account these particular twelve, on this particular battleground. For the Darakaiva, and their beloved Xana, those were just the kind of odds they lived for.

“Mighty Xana,” a young warrior crisply saluted Maritana in the Xanthyr manner, beating her fist twice upon her leather shoulder brace. “We scouted around. There are no survivors among the Xsians, and there appear to be none lurking nearby.”

“Good work, Heira,” Maritana complimented her, with a good-natured clap on the shoulder. “See to the wounded.”

“Yes, Mighty Xana.”

As Heira walked away, Maritana glanced over at the one wounded tribeswoman whom she was most concerned about, and strode quickly to her. She shared the chieftess’ olive complexion and blue eyes, though her hair was a sandy blonde instead of Maritana’s deep, raven black. Unlike the other warriors, she carried a quarterstaff carved with a dragon totem and decorated in feathers, and she was presently leaning upon it, her right foot cocked in a rather painful looking fashion. “Phaedra?” Maritana gave her a disapproving scowl, coupled with an exasperated sigh.

“Don’t lecture me, Mari,” Phaedra winced, shifting her weight onto her staff. Maritana sighed again, shaking her head.

“That was a foolish thing you did,” Maritana said bluntly, patently ignoring Phaedra’s frustrated expression. “You could have gotten yourself killed.”

“Sheikala-ma was with me,” Phaedra retorted. Maritana merely smirked.

“It’s not Sheikala I’m worried about. It’s my little sister, who seems to have taken one too many blows to the head.”

“Mari!” Phaedra cried, stomping her foot in indignation, and then wincing in pain when she remembered it was, in fact, broken. Maritana laughed at her, which made her even more irritated. “I am a shamaness of this tribe, you know!”

“I noticed,” Maritana deadpanned. However, all traces of casual, smirking mockery left her visage in the blink of an eye, and she glared at her reckless younger sister. “But I am the Xana of this tribe, which means the next time you get it into your head to drop into a group of enemies while channeling your physically weakest Kri Sen, run it by me first. I am more or less in charge, you realize, and I am fairly good at this planning business. You’re lucky a broken leg was all you got for your foolishness.”

“Maritana—”

“We’ll talk later,” Maritana cut her off, and gestured for a pair of warriors to aid her. “Is everyone else—” she began, then froze suddenly when she turned and saw one of her warriors sprawled on the ground under a tree some yards away. She was clutching her side and moaning in pain, her hands covered in blood.

“Mighty Xana, it’s Tesani,” one of the Xanthyr said as Maritana rushed to her side, a tall, mahogany-skinned woman with dark, braided hair. “One of the Eastern devils got her in the vitals.”

“Quickly, move, Kemeira,” Maritana instructed her, and Kemeira dutifully stepped to the side so that her chief could kneel down and examine the girl. Though her exterior remained calm and collected, her heart was racing. Tesani was young, so very young—this was her first real patrol with the Kriyanatina, the elite warriors of the tribe. Maritana remembered how well her mothers rejoiced when she joined their ranks. And she was only recently married, too. No—Tesani could not die. Not now, not like that.

“It hurts so much,” Tesani whimpered, writhing. Maritana nodded grimly, and brushed the young woman’s red hair out of her eyes.

“I know. But, be strong. You will not join the ancestors. It’s not your time, yet,” Maritana replied, trying to soothe her as best she could. In the meantime, it was critical to stop what was likely internal bleeding as well as the obvious flow from the visible wound. Maritana took a deep breath, forming stiff daggers with the pointer and middle fingers of each of her hands, and then quickly and methodically jabbed Tesani precisely in a number of pressure points around her abdomen, just as her tutor had instructed her so long ago as a child. The wounded warrior gasped in shock, but then lay still. “Phaedra!” Maritana shouted, and her sister came limping over.

“Oh, dear,” Phaedra fretted when she knelt down carefully beside her. “A kidney injury, it looks like. I do not think our medicine is enough to heal her. We need stronger stuff.”

“I was afraid of that,” Maritana sighed. She squinted up at the sky to gauge the time; fortunately, there was still quite a while before sundown. If they hurried, they could make it before dark.

“Skaldanis?” Phaedra raised an eyebrow. Maritana nodded.

“Yes. Only the Lai’Quessir can help her, now,” the Xana replied. She rose to her feet, calling her warriors to attention. “Construct a litter as quickly as you can. We’ll have to get Tesani to Gilsarath.” Almost before Maritana could finish her sentence, the tribeswomen were lashing vines together for rope and gathering lumber. Their concern was clearly evident in their faces. The pain of one sister was the pain of all in the tribe. They worked together with remarkable efficiency, and before long, Tesani was secured in a litter, strapped onto her chocobo.

"We must hurry," Phaedra said, and Maritana nodded. Clapping her hands sharply, she gave a short cry, and the women mounted. She got onto her own steed, Simeko, and urged the bird skyward. One by one, the warriors followed, bursting through the treetops to the clear skies above. Maritana would not fail this sister, not if she had any pride in herself as Xana at all. Skaldanis' druids would take care of her, as they had done countless times in the past. At least, she prayed they would.


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