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"Becoming a Man"
Chapa Kem awoke on a day like any other as the hot sun broke through the clouds over the eastern hills. He had slept in a little later than he had planned, and his fellow warriors were already breaking camp and preparing to move on. He quickly rolled up his blanket and donned his armor. It was a simple hip-length vest of hardened buffalo leather that would serve only to protect his vital organs from glancing blows, but it was all he could afford. This was his first real excursion beyond the wall and he had yet to earn the spoils of war. His sword and iron cap were right where he left them. Knowing that the enemy fought with arrows like the cowards they were, he gladly would have traded his hefty sword for a smaller one and a shield if he could have.
The men were passing around the jug of wine and a bowl of rice. Kem drank and ate heartily when it was his turn. He would need all of the energy he could get for today's trials. As a young man of the warrior caste, he had to earn his right to a place in Washraha society. Today he would kill a man and take his ear as proof, or he would not be welcomed back until he did. His three companions would go back at sunset regardless and he would be left to fend for himself. The Chomi plains were a harsh land to wander alone. He would not be expected to survive. The savages would get him, or the giants, or the hyenas, or the thirst. No matter the dangers of fighting, they were not as bad as the dangers of exile.
The band of warriors was nearing its quarry. The savages only had them outnumbered six to four. Kem thought to himself, “This should be an easy fight. I'll be a man today after all.” The six Chomi tribesmen must have heard their approach. They were waiting with spears and shields at hand.
“Come, arrogant Washraha. We have nothing to fear from you.”
The four warriors charged, kicking up sand and dust as they raced through the tall grass toward their targets. The tribesmen raised their shields and met them. One of the larger men knocked Chapa Kem to the ground with his shield and drove his spear into the Washraha warrior next to him. Both sides traded slashes and stabs, and then the Chomi turned to run. The Washraha gave chase, with Kem picking himself up and bringing up the rear, but the Chomi ran quickly with no armor to weigh them down. After they gained a lead of about twenty paces, they pivoted back around. Each tribesman dropped to one knee, holding his shield up and his spear forward and up in a defensive stance. Four more tribesmen stood up out of their hiding places in the tall grass and unleashed a hail of arrows. Two of Kem's fellows turned to the archers while the other, who had been wounded by a spear, panicked and ran. He was soon felled by an arrow. The archers scattered and the Washraha gave chase. The spear-wielding tribesmen joined the pursuit. Kem froze. Four against six was a good bet, but not three against ten. He couldn't run or he'd be left out here to die. He couldn't fight, or he would die even sooner. His mind was made up when his two remaining companions fell. The ten Chomi turned their eyes to him. Paralyzed with fear, he fell to his knees and wept. He would never be a man. He would die a boy.
One of the tribesmen shoved Kem down to the ground, holding him against the sand with a bare foot on his chest. Kem couldn't look. He felt the sharp edge of a spear against the side of his throat.
“Foolish Washraha. You think you can come and take as you please? You think you can come and kill us? You think we are here to be hunted by you? The Chomi are here for their own purposes and we will never bow to you. Never forget that.”
“Leave him, Abo. He's just a child.”
Kem opened his eyes to find himself alone. The men who had killed his companions had vanished into the grass without a trace. He took a minute to calm down. He still had his sword and his armor. He knelt down beside one of his fallen warriors. The man was still breathing.
“Kem, I'm sorry. I guess we are all dead now.”
Kem smirked. “No, friend. Today, I return as a man.” With one swift motion he sliced off the dying man's ear. Then he stood and began the long walk back home.
It's spelled "definitely", not "definately". "Defiantly" is a different word entirely.
Whoa! Weeks without a post and now that! Great story. It's a good example how you can describe an entire culture with few words, as long as this words tickle the reader's imagination. I started to work on a story describing the arrival of the Chomi at the Green Isle, but it became a lesser priority since I began to receive a scholarship for the novel I'm currently working on. So finishing and translating it might take until Chrismas or so. I'm trying to keep up on the further development of Arajunna.
"Each of mankind's steps towards tomorrow is a breaking of today's laws."
- Sergej Lukianenko
- Sergej Lukianenko