That's three spellchecks! God knows there will be boo-boos. My Muse is still giving me stuff. I'm writing again after a break. Slaving over a hot computer is tiring! Daniel, please keep Bubba occupied. I love you. I love all that love my children. These stories are my children. They will still be here after...you know,
Showing What They Can Do
Then Dakotah arrived with two other Natives we had seen yesterday, with Wahkooha. All wore thick skins, much darker than ours. I knew they used goats for food and clothes. Bear skins when it was very cold. I was concerned that the connection to Wahkooha was too strong. Were they so loyal they still thought Wahkooha was a god?
Dakotah smiled and waved at the man on his right. “This is Karey.” He waved at the man on his left. “And this is Tala.”
Karey had hair cut short, which was odd for Native men. It wasn’t common. Chitto had short hair, but he spent more time with European and British people. Maybe? Karey was a nice looking Native with alert eyes. He looked about Seth’s height and age in his mid-thirties. Tala was shorter. About my height, so he wasn’t a dwarf. His legs reached the same floor as mine and everybody else. He was a few years younger than me. In his mid-twenties and one man who I saw was affable. Yes, I hope people saw me as approachable and friendly. This man was the embodiment of the word. At first, I thought his hair was short, but when he turned to Dakotah I saw it cut short over his ears and over his forehead, I saw the long thin braid going down his back. He was good looking, too. He said something to Dakotah who laughed, but said to Tala. “We should speak English with our honored guests. Tell them what you said.”
“My English is…” he thought, “Not good like Dakotah’s. I think you need to know...I am glad you brought Wahkooha...down?”
Karey laughed, “I had more action with other pale faces.”
Dakotah smiled, “He means interaction.”
Karey bowed his head a little, “Yes, I have...interacted with your people,” He smiled at us again. “It was not a choice to serve Wakhooha.”
“No,” Dakotah said and indicted Karey, “He is of the Yakama Tribe and Tala is of the Colville Tribe. They are both the strongest and the best Braves. Karey is the best archer, Tala is deadly with a knife and tomahawk. He never misses.”
Tala even looked a little embarrassed at Dakotah’s praise, “We had no choice. We served him or died.” He shrugged. “We’ve seen a few examples of his power, lightning struck you,” he pointed to Max subtly, “was second I see.”
Okay, Tala previously said he didn’t speak a lot of English, both he and Karey had accents, but I understood him. I held my injured hand up. The little warriors were working and it was healing quickly. I no longer had the napkin tied around my hand. It clearly had bled. “Do I have to prove myself again? I’m just the same as you. So are they.”
“Please don’t need to be shown I am again.” Demetrius said holding his healing hand.
Karey chuckled, “No, we were told about you. The power is yours, but you like us.”
“Yes,” Seth nodded, “we are the same as you,” he looked at me, “but some of us use the magic better than the others.”
“Such as your use of the tomahawk,” I said carefully. “For some that’s magic.”
Dakotah nodded, “I told them what you did and you don’t have to worry. They are glad to be free of Wahkooha.”
“We pray for day,” Tala said.
“We prayed for THE day,” Dakotah instructed.
Tala smiled and nodded, “Yes, we prayed for the day. You don’t worry about that.”
“Well,” Seth looked at Ceto, “You got sugar maple syrup. Is there coffee? I never start a day without some.”
“I was told about you,” Ceto smiled. “Strong with a little sugar.” She pointed to a tall mug that hadn’t been there a few seconds ago. “You should have asked when we previously camped.”
Seth gave a light chuckle, “Well, that was so nice and I didn’t want to be an imposition. Then you spoke of the syrup and butter. We’ll be moving around a lot today. I thought I’d ask.” He picked up the mug and sipped. His eyes widened, “Wow, this will get me started. Thank you.”
Ceto nodded, “Good. Does anyone else like some? I’ll make more.”
There were a few that would like some. Me included. Karey and Tala, too. They marveled at the mugs that were there, but knew they had not been there seconds ago. I sipped her coffee. Mine had a creamy, rich smoothness. Ceto later told us mine was brewed with milk, not water. I loved it! She would have to show me how to do it. She didn’t ask if it was strong enough or hot enough. She knew it was.
As enjoyable as being together was, we needed to plan. Both Karey and Tala were from two of the largest tribes in a few hundred miles. A map was brought in and Martha only looked at it for a few seconds and pointed at a mountain area the Natives called Rainer. There was a passage they had to take. Or go way south or way north and find another. There were two tribes still there for protection. We came up on the western coast that had enormous trees and was hilly, but no mountains. Well, we did travel down a big hill to get to See-ahisih. Wahkooha feared invasion? Who would attack him and the magic he used openly? No one would dare.
Karey and Tala both had about twenty-five Braves that were trained warriors. Tala’s Colville Tribe was just above the route these Witch-Hunting Puritans had to take. Karey’s was just below the route they had to take, he also said he had about twenty-five trained Braves we could use. I also found out not all of the tribes moved here to See-ahlsih. There were some tribe members still there and Wahkooha used them to see advancing armies. The Yakama was below the route and had tribe members there for the same reason. The Yakama was closer to See-ahisih. It was about seventy miles away. Colville was little over a hundred miles from See-ahlsih. I knew that name would change. Europeans and Brittans would. It took time to learn to say it. It would change. They didn’t have the time to learn to say it One at a time, maybe, but not all of them as a whole.
Anyway, there were other smaller tribes like the Tacoma and Shoalwater that had a few warriors they could send. We were assured we would have a man for man. All of them were trained.
Max wanted to be sure they could be united and work as one and take commands.
Dakotah was pointing at the map, “They have to take this path. It's really the only one for a hundred miles for a group coming from an eastern location this size. They are coming west from a higher starting northern location.” He smiled at us, “You came two from the south.”
“There was a forest of big trees on the way here,” Beau said. He stretched out his arms wide, “Really big,” he kept his arms stretched up and down, “And really tall!”
I smiled at Beau and so did Ceto.
Max nodded, “They sure were.” He grinned. “I’d like to have everyone here to see them fight. I’d like to see the ones that are here now.”
“No problem,” Dakotah said. He looked at Karey and Tala. “Starting with you.”
“As you say,” Tala smiled. “No problem.” Yeah, he was open and a happy man. I liked them both.
We were escorted to another room in the palace. I saw many weapons here. The room was long with targets far away. It was a training room for warriors. It was better in here than out there. It was cold out there! Those Braves could fight out there. Those paladins had got to be crazier than we thought. They couldn’t know what the area or terrain was like? They sure as Hell didn’t know the weather. Or whoever was leading this group of Puritan Witch-Hunters was obsessed with destroying witches and magic, because it was evil. I wasn’t evil! Was I? Nah. Demetrius was a little crazy, but not evil. He enjoyed life and I meant crazy in a lovable, good way. Starting when he hurt his shin walking in the dark when he came into my room in A’Dore that first night we met. Now I couldn’t imagine life without any of them. Not Len Na, but the ones here I liked and loved.
Tala went to the wall of weapons. Looking at the weapons, I saw some I didn’t even know. I turned to Dakotah, “Some of these look Asian! I recognize the Blowgun. The Throwing Stars, and those things they prickly things Japan uses to slow advancing armies with. It had four things that stuck out. No matter where or how they landed, one of those sticky things stuck up to make horses and people step on them and they were very sharp. You or your horse would be seriously hurt. Those sharp points would go in deep too.
“We’ve welcomed many from other lands,” Dakota said smiling. “Japan and China have visited the tribes for many centuries.”
They did! Chitto told us there were a few tribes where the Native features also had some Asian features.
Toby smiled, “It’s called...I can’t say it, but…” he began signing, “Caltrops.”
“It’s Japanese!” I said, loud, “Of course, you can’t say it. And the others?”
“The throwing stars are,” his fingers moved, “Shuriken,” he went on, “The blowgun is,” He was signing again. “Fukiya,” “The darts are,” “Fukiban.”
I put my hands on my hips, “And how do you know that? And don’t say the library in A’Dore. I never read any book like that in that library.” I fussed.
Toby wasn’t bothered or upset. He knew I never really fussed at him. “And when have you read any books from there in the past ten years?” He smirked at me! He smirked!!
“I’m a busy man!” I said, “I have a business to run and two hungry boys that grow out of clothes and eat a lot!”
“Uncle Christian has gotten more books since you married Daddy,” Toby said. He was even learning how to sound smug. He couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he felt the vibrations in his throat. He was even changing his volume now. He wasn’t able to yell, but he varied his tone better. I grabbed him and hugged him.
I held him back a little so he could see what I said, “My son, the genius.” Toby smiled, but looked away embarrassed. A thought hit me, “Wait, are you using the doorway alone?”
“Sure,” Toby said, “You and Daddy do it. Sometimes just you for a few minutes. I can just reach the top crystal with a stool. You said to be careful and I am. You didn’t say I couldn’t.”
“The A’Dore staff didn’t ask?” I asked. “We live a thousand miles away.”
He looked at me sort of sideways, “Dad, most of the staff knows we come and go.” He shrugged, “They don’t ask anymore. All of the guards know. The route I take to the library I don’t really meet anyone. A few guards see me, but no problem. They’ve seen plenty of weird things, my being there isn’t surprising anymore. It’s like we’re one house. I walk upstairs and go down a few halls and I’m in the library! Please don’t say I can’t. They have more books than the book lender…”
Seth had heard the whole thing, “You’ve missed the point. You’ve never asked me to go.” He looked at me, “I take it he never asked you.”
“No,” I said. “Toby,” I began, “I love that you love knowledge. I love that you love to read,” I tapped him lightly on the forehead, “and you retain it. Of course, you can go to that library.”
“But it’s a thousand miles away!” Seth said, “And we didn’t know you were there.”
“A thousand miles, Toby,” I said. “If something happened…”
“Like what?” Toby asked. “We’re safe in Royal Valley and so is the palace in A’Dore.”
I sighed and looked up, “Royal Valley was attacked recently. Then why are there guards?” I asked. “A’Dore, too. There are secret passages in the palace..”
Toby’s eyes widened. “There is? Where?”
I was back to my mocking fuss mode, “You’re smart, what part of secret didn’t you comprehend?”
“How many? Tell me one,” Toby begged.
“That’s not what we were discussing,” I said. “If something happened to one of the mirrors, or to you. It’s a thousand miles and we don’t know, or you’re stuck there and can’t come back.”
Toby nodded, “I hadn’t thought of that. Sorry.”
“We don’t want you to stop,” Seth said. “Tell us when you go.”
“I’d hate it if you had to get back, even on a horse.” I smiled, “Even riding fast takes almost two weeks! If the horse breaks a leg…”
Toby was nodding as he said, “I understand. I’m sorry.”
“We love the independence you show,” Seth smiled, “But we are your parents, we need to know.”
“I’m sorry,” Toby said again. “I’ll tell you next time.” He got a mischievous look I recognized in his eyes, “You could share a couple of these passages. They are for the family. That includes me!”
I heard the guys “whoa” in amazement as Tala threw two metal tomahawks at a good distance, at two separate targets of thick slices of tree trunks with the circles on it a good distance apart. He struck the bull’s eye on both.
“Impressive,” Max conceded, “But now you’re out of weapons.”
“No,” Tala smiled, “I’m not.” He pulled something from a small pouch on the sides of his torso and was almost too fast to see as he flung something three times. Before we saw what it was, it hadn’t gotten to a target yet, he took some things out from pouches at the sides of his hips and threw whatever from near his head. The three throwing stars he threw hit three of the targets on their bull’s eyes, two larger what looked like big throwing stars hit Bull’s Eyes. “If that was the body of man, they go deeper.” He smiled grandly and even bounced a few times.
I walked up to Max, “Give in, Max. Natives can fight just fine.” Max was just standing with his mouth open gaping.
I went to Tala and touched him, “Can I see one of those…” I wasn’t touching the Japanese pronunciation of the throwing stars, “those throwing stars.”
“Yes,” Tala agreed, “the edges are sharp.” He pulled a few out. They were flat and so smooth, many could be stacked together and not need much room. There were multiple stars. Some stars were four pointed and others were six pointed stars. You put them between your thumb and four fingers at the center of the star. You needed to be careful with those star points. They would cut the thrower’s hand if you didn’t!
Seth was looking over at my shoulder. Max looked over Tala’s.
“So, what were those bigger ones?” Max asked Tala.
“That is Star Knife,” He pulled one from the pouch. He showed it to us. It was much bigger and round. He touched something on it and those rounded edges sprang up into three long sharp blades the size of daggers! Deadly. There was a leather handle on each blade for a hand to throw. The blades folded down to carry them easier.
“Wow,” Seth said.
My concern about them losing what they were was proven was going to happen. It couldn’t be helped. They were still Natives. Tala was great! Karey showed his triple stringed bow. It was the same string that went from end to end three times.
“May I?” Seth asked Karey holding his hand out.
“You may,” Karey handed the bow over. “You pull this string.” He pointed to the one that was separate from the other two.
Seth lifted it up and pulled it and it hardly moved. He pulled harder and it did move. “It’s so tense!”
Karey nodded, “Arrows go farther and hit harder.” He picked up an arrow. Taking the bow and shooting the arrow that flew faster than any arrow I had ever seen! The target was that wood and more than half of the arrow went into the wood.
It was my turn to say, “Wow.”
Seth looked at Max, “I don’t think you need to worry about their weapons or tactics.”
Max was again staring and gaping. He looked at Seth, closed his mouth and said, “Yeah.”
“How did you keep the wood bow from breaking?” Seth asked.
“It’s soaked in an oil and then boiled in another,” Dakotah answered smiling. “Boiled at a temperature you normally use to metal iron. The result is a wood as strong as metal, but flexible.”
“None of the ones that attacked Royal Valley had these,” I said.
“We only met a few of those men,” He chuckled. “Even Wahkooha wasn’t going to give them these weapons. They are hard to make. I don’t think those men were to do anything but scare people.” He thought, “I believe the words are cannon fodder.”
They were disposable.
“The strings are treated, too?” Seth asked.
“Yes,” Dakotah nodded, “Almost impossible to break.”
“How do you string the bow?” Seth asked.
“We use a tool to string it,” Dakotah replied. “A man can’t do it alone.”
Max looked a little chagrin, “Okay, okay, I was wrong about them.” He looked at Dakotah, “I apologize.”
Dakotah chuckled, “We knew the reputation of the Creid. We would not want to become adversaries.”
I handed Max a throwing star, “Look at this metal.”
Max took it and felt the weight and tried to bend it, “What kind of metal is this?” He said in amazement. He tossed it up and down. “It’s light, but strong.”
“A man from Japan showed us how to mix metal ores when making them,” Dakotah pointed to the star. ‘It is lightweight to ease the carrying, but strong enough to withstand bending.”
Max dropped to his knees and put his hands together and pleaded, “Teach us, oh great man of knowledge.”
Dakotah laughed hard, “We teach our friends.”
“We’re your friends!” Max said, “We are! I swear!”
Max brought out the new armor they had.
“I wish we knew how they made that metal,” Max said. “This steel feels heavier now.”
“Dakotah promised to tell you how they do it,” I smiled as I reassured him.
Max nodded, “Yes, he did. It would make a suit of armor light and easier to wear.”
I growled, “Yes, but it would be better than the one I trained in. I hated that thing.” I looked up at Max’s surprised eyes, so I went on. “I know it protects and you’re supposed to be able to fight in them, even run and jump in those things. I wore it all the time for three months to get used to it, but I felt my skills were hindered by it!”
“Three months!?” Max balked, but smiled. “You gave up too soon! We wore ours,for a year!”
“Those black leather ones weren’t steel,” Seth said. “They are hot, but not heavy!”
“But we trained in those suits of armor,” Max chuckled, “These have both. Your suit of armor is supposed to protect any vulnerable spots such as your arms, your hands, neck, your heart..” he held up the breast plate, “This is leather over steel and will protect all of your vital organs. It will also deflect arrows, swords, knives, and any strike to you.” He brought a chainmail something, “This protects you farther.” He showed the tightly worn circles. This will stop the same things such as arrows and swords.” He held up the chinmail and stopped as he thought, “I wonder if an arrow shot by that bow Karey showed us might go through.”
“Do you want to put it on and have someone shoot you and find out,” I bounced and grinned.
Max looked at me thinking and a few seconds later he shook his head, “Nah, these Puritans don’t sound very sophisticated. They won’t have advanced weaponry.”
Chitto smirked, “It just goes to show that Natives just might be more superior than you.”
“We’re all smart people,” Seth smiled. “We should know that.”
Max’s eyebrows rose as he nodded, “Oh, I do.”
Chitto chuckled, “So, you think they can fight as well as you? You were worried last night.”
“I apologized!” Max said loud, he waved at Seth and me, “You heard me.” Then he held his arms out helplessly, “Our motto is “Anything It Takes,” and we worked to become a strong and often brutal fighting force, but who could have imagined ANYBODY knowing more about metal ore and forging than us? We’re Creid!”
It was said in jest, but it was true. They prided themselves as being superior to everyone in fighting and metal ore. I truly thought they believed that melted metal was in their very blood. I befriended them because I defeated who the king at the time knew was the best. When I bested him, suddenly I was welcomed as a long lost Creid. I loved that king who is the father of this Creid king, Yannik. I loved many of them now.
“Be careful,” Seth warned Max. “You should watch your step. I don’t want you to get hurt.” Seth’s voice was gravely serious.
Max looked at Seth uneasily, “Why?”
“Being forced to step down from that pedestal you are on,” Seth grinned. “I don’t want you to fall too hard.”
There were laughs from everybody, including all of the Creid, except Max.
Max looked at Seth, he wasn’t too annoyed, “Oh, hardy har, har, har,” he moved his head from side to side as he mockingly spoke the laugh. I didn’t know where these words and phrases came from, but they stuck with you. He pointed at us with the chainmail still in his hand, “Laugh it up, guys. Most of you will be practicing sparring today.” He clutched his chest over his heart and said not quite sarcastic, “It would be devastating for me if anyone got hurt.” He was very dramatic.
Now, everyone was laughing.
“I love that all of you,” Dakotah began, “and I sincerely mean this. You find humor as you prepare for conflict.”
Max shrugged, “We sort of have to.”
I nodded, “It feels so much better than being scared, serious or angry all the time.”
“I’ve known many people that are so serious,” Val said. “You wonder why they are still alive.”
“More serious than you?” Reese asked in disbelief.
“I laugh!” Val shot back defensively, “those serious moments with me are because I’m always thinking!”
“You think a lot,” Beau said simply and without malice. It was just an observation. That made it more funny.
“Yes,” Val haughtily said. “I do!”
“ANYWAY!” Max said loud to change the subject back. “What I’ve learned is that our Native friends are better at attacks at a distance. We will certainly need that.” He waved at Seth and me. “We are better fighting one on one up close.” He looked at Dakotah, “If the people here can eliminate as many of the support by killing,” he paused. It was clear he didn’t like the idea of ending a life, “or just incapacitating as many as possible...there are just too many to fight individually. We can deal with the rest.”
“They will be able to,” Dakotah replied confidently. “The passage they have to take had many places to hide and still hit the target.”
They would be ambushed!
“Good,” Max nodded, “Today we’ll spar simply to disarm.” He looked at me. “We don’t use practise swords, but our real swords. We’ll be adding the armor in a couple of days.”
That would give me a chance to renew skills I had. I knew they were there, but hardly used in a while. I looked at the Creid. I had told them not to go easy with me and they swore they would not. Then I looked at Seth.
“Have you ever fought with a sword?” I was now worried. He was a great archer. I didn’t know if he could use a sword.
“I have sparred with Darius as he trained growing up,” he admitted, “I can do it, just not as well as you.” Okay, now I was worrying. Seth picked up on that quickly. “I will probably be using that bow and arrows mostly, but I would like a little training with a sword. Just in case.”
I could go with that. Then I looked at Thomas and Toby. They were under the care of the Children of Lilith we knew. We were promised they wouldn’t get hurt. I knew Thomas had trained with Jason with a sword in A’Dore. I never saw him fight. I was near his age when I fought Darius those two times. The Hunt and in Thorne Valley outside the home manor? Remember? Should we allow Thomas to fight?
There was no way Toby could fight. He was super smart, independent, but still a child! What sort of parent would allow that? His two parents would not let him.
“That’s your place as a father.” Demetrius said to me. I looked around for him, but none of the Children of Lilith was here. “You are supposed to worry about Toby. You still see Thomas as a little boy. It will be fine.”
“Demetrius?” I said looking around.
Seth looked at me puzzled, “We haven’t seen him since breakfast.”
I frowned, “He was just speaking to me. You didn’t hear him?”
Seth shook his head, “Not just now. He can’t use telepathy.” Seth pulled his head away a little as if that would help. “Can he?”
“It was in my ear,” I stated. “Not in my head. I heard him.” How did he know what I was thinking about?