Home of Sword and Soul
"La'daiobe'! La'daiobe'! Godsdamn it, you hear me calling you!" La'daiobe' tried to stifle his laugh, then slapped his hand over his mouth. His older brother Seseyu and their friends had been playing, on this High Day, when La'daiobe' managed to get the braided grass loop over Seseyu's long thin neck and tied it to a fencepost. By the time Seseyu had gotten it from around his neck, La'daiobe' had long scooted off and hid. Now, Seseyu angry and embarassed was forced to track his little brother down, who had hid himself so well from him. And in front of several of their relations and friends at that!
"Face it Seseyu! Lil La'daiobe' could be riding your shoulders right now and you wouldn't know it!" Tamoje said it laughing, but she was mocking Seseyu because he had said aloud Calqiomne was the prettiest of the girls in their group. La'daiobe' lay still in the niche under the small natural bridge. Seseyu stomped off, still calling his name. La'daiobe' rolled over to find himself staring into the face of a gold furred single horn cat! The creature slithered about the young boy quickly.
" I know ya name, La'daiobe!", it said staring into his eyes. La'daiobe heard himself scream but nothing came from his mouth.
"Yeah, La'daiobe' just when ya get ahead, Life yanks ya ten yards back!" La' daiobe' couldn't move, the furred loops held him in place. And the Fear being exuded by the creature.
" Thanks for droppin' by La'daiobe'. Now I don't have to go out!" They both went further into the darkness of the niche.
The only notice of this had been taken by a hurriedly dressed young woman who had been downstream bathing when she just casually looked that way. Vaonessle cursed aloud then caught herself from saying more.
Vaonessle raced along the south bank where the predator and prey had disappeared into the natural arch. She ran along it till she came to the spot above the overhang. Coming the opposite way was a now puzzled Seseyu and a taller much heftier in build cousin, Kliytato. Though Kliytato did not usually associate with the brothers, as they were younger than he, they were family and it was seeming more and more unnatural that young La'daiobe' should stay hid this well and this long. Now into this family adventure there seemed to be the appearance of an armed priestess of Wanul and the Dancer entering! Vaonessle looked up at them, then called out to the pair.
" One or both of you, hurry to your village and tell the elders a renegade Fetlishi has seized a child of your manses! Bring aid back and quickly!" Before the pair could either verbally or physically reply,Vaonessle jumped down upon the narrow ledge and crouched to slide into the creature's den.
Kliytato pushed Seseyu towards the home village. " Get moving! He's your little brother!", he said when Seseyu looked back after regaining a steady stance. Kliytato ran past him and jumped down after the priestess, nearly going forward into the creek below. Righting himself, he swiftly went after Vaonessle, his iron spikes topped staff before him.
Vaonessle wrinkled her nose with a grimace of disgust on her face at the scent around her. The creature moved rapidly across the smooth rock floor. Vaonessle knew she had entered the Fetlishi's world. In her world she would've been fell on the otherside of the arch. Here, a light did appear ahead. She stepped out onto the shaded overhang of a taller, cliff face. Below, Vaonessle saw a forest on one side of a green lake's arm that ended before touching the cliff. Across from it were a cultivated fields and a unwalled village in their midst. Arising from it was a mist wreathed pyramid. The young man came up behind her not trying to hide the awe in his eyes. "It went this way," she said said after tapping him on his forehead with her cavalry sword's pommel. She led them off on their right down a trail that seemed to lead to the fields.
Vaonessle said aloud prayers of the Temple and young Kliytato joined in. They followed the path long ago worn out by the creature down onto the short grass ground. As they descended they listened and 'felt' that place. It was an eerie loud place. Flying things, whether avian, batlike, or reptillian crossed the yellow tinged sky, crying out as they soared in wedges or singly.There was the zip of winged insects, a pair of whom hovered before the alien pair of Vaonessle and Kliytato.
"Hey! You after that Fetlishi ?" one of them piped out. It had a black and yellow head,large red multifaceted eyes on a wiry humanoid body. Its companion or mate came up beside it in midair a tiny necklace about its rapidly swiveling head.
"Of course they are! It got out of line once too often in their Place, right?"
"You are both right! I take it you are not on good terms with it?" Vaonessle said with confidence. The two flyers did a loop and came closer to Vaonessle.
"Not with that one! It sees itself as Mister Big To Do around these parts," said the first.
"Especially since those characters," the second said and pointed back at the village and its pyramid. "...Moved here. All this was forest in our ancestors faroff times till they came and changed everything." Before Kliytato could even get his nerve up to ask who those 'characters' were, six orange furred, axe and spear armed, upright walking apes came toward them, answering that curiosity.
Vaonessle nodded her her toward them. "Is this them?" The fliers turned and the first reacted with a 'gagging' gesture.
"That's the Enforcer side of 'em," the second said. "The others aren't as tall or buffed up. Straight to the point: You'd better kill 'em,they are not to swift ambassador types!" Vaonessle drew her sword and charged. The lead Enforcer made as if to throw his axe, but the swift moving Vaonessle was on him. Before he could assume a defensive pose, Vaonessle was by him, and he looked with dimming lights on his entrails spilt in the grass.
Kliytato thought it best to follow and fast. An axe whirred by, just missing his quick side-stepping form, then he heard an Enforcer's pain fillled cry as Vaonessle drove her sword into its chest. Kliytato blocked the strke of an Enforcer seeking to encircle the priestess. Kliytato kicked it in its groin before the Enforcer could recover from the parry. It grunted and bent over. Kliytato cracked his staff across its skull. Then he had to swiftyl avoid the assault of another. The beast had a spear and was most adroit, using it as both a thrusting weapon and as a stave. Kliytato had to parry both stabs and block bonerattling swipes. Kliytato managed to plant his staff, leap, and deliver a sandaled foot into the Enforcer's face. It staggered backwards, with a bloodied mouth and nose. Vaonessle split the skull of one Enforcer at the same time tripping its squadmate off balance. He righted itself just in time to parry Vaonessle's oncoming assault. With no shame, it bolted for the village. It's remaining squadmate fell, with the combination rib strike- spike to the left knee.
"Don't finish him! We need to know what else is up ahead," Vaonessle said to the heavy breathing Kliytato.
The two fliers came back with others like them, all applauding. "That was a magnificent show! You truly are an Alpha killer," the second said, a whirl of smaller fliers about its head. They and the adult seeming similar sized ones hovered for a moment more, before diving on the lead Enforcer's entrails and lapping at the blood. Kliytato mouthed an "Ain't this a Royal Bitch!" at the sight. The first flier flew by Vaonessle's ear saying as it went by,
"It's been awhile since someone left these out for groceries." Vaonessle wagged a finger before it, lest it join in the buffet.
" What type of defense and the number of remaining defenders does the village and pyramid have?"
It scratched the side of its black and yellow head, then began to tap out an answer.
"Subtracting Mr. Big To Do, these here, (ya gonna kill this one still breathing?) ninety five Enforcers all told. I can't say whether or not the villagers got any spice in 'em," it said before the second flew up.
"There's about close to four hundred villagers. Maybe their eight Alphas who have a meeting place at the foot of the pyramid, have the gall to flare up. Hope that helps, c'mon dear it's still steaming fresh."
"Enjoy!" Vaonessle bid them both. She walked over to the lain out Enforcer, its eyes shut and nose snotting, with teeth clenched. Vaonessle looked down upon it, then said to it smiling, " You have things to tell your litter or, you can be a part of someone else's tale. How you answer my simple questions will determine how it will sound."
The Ogabodi elder looked on the coiled Fetlishi with angry eyes.
"We have given you due respect, and I might add, some of our most worthy of domesticated beasts and fellows. You have seemed to found that not sufficient. You- slither out into the Other World and hunt their inhabitants. Indifferent to what that might arouse. Well, a vengence force has come, that's what! And judging by their scouts, they are formidable!"
The creature raised its feline like horned head and met the stare of the elder. The two Enforcers escorting it into the pyramid, were chilled by the look and their fur bristled in fear. The elder was not moved. Instead he stomped forward and growled!
"You brought this on, you deal with it!"
Kliytato found the big cross between an ostrich and a chicken that seemed to have taken to him off putting. The bird thing walked behind him and after some tense moments from being pecked/pushed, Kliytato though still wary, soon realized the thing had grown to like him. The village seemed to have a flock of the giant trutters about it. And the midsized chimp villagers looking from the doorways and windows were not making anything that could be seen as menacing gestures. Nor were the groups of Enforcers they passed. One of the young ones waved at the priestess who acknowledged it with a grin and a wave. Now that was a gossip stirrer, Klliytato observed.
Vaonessle found the sights and scents of the village both strange yet familiar. Though she had to give the inhabitants most definitely strange awards. The pyramid rose before her, its broad stairway seeming to be of various slabs of stone placed together. Vaonessle was thinking the pyramid itself was of a single hill shaped by much labor. Stone heads of stylized Fetlishis were at the foot if the stairs on each side. Coming down it was a white and black furred village Alpha wearing a silver headband with an escort of two nervous seeming Enforcers, who were looking back at the way they had come. Vaonessle walked midway up and bowed before the now stopped elder.
"I take it it knows we're here," she said assuming the being would comprehend her speech as the fliers had. It did, because it nodded its simian head and pointed back up the pyramid steps.
" We Ogabodi have nothing to do with this! That greedy bastard up there has brought this down on his own head. For putting up with it and its deprivations in your Place, we are willing to make some kind of remittance within reason. You may tell your leaders that."
"Oh I will, good -Ogabodi elder? I will tell the people what you have told me. Hmm. May I borrow your guard's throwing axes?
The Fetlishi came forth into the daylight and reared its upper body upward. It's anger at the impertinent Ogabodi subsided when it saw the priestess walking up towards him.
"Oh good grief! I'm in for it now!", it hissed to itsself. It snarled, then roared and made a thrust at the priestess when she was in range. She was not caught unprepared. Instead it was the Fetlishi who felt the bite of the sword and axe she bore as she dancer spun out its way and brought down her weapons on its muzzle. It yowled in pain and whipped its head as if to gore her on its horn. The woman ducked flat beneath the beast's head and rolled quickly to where it swung it's head from.
Springing to her feet she struck out with her blades. The axe bit into the uppper jaw and the sword stabbed into the spiky fur of the lower jaw. The stiffened gore strewn fur crackled and some of it fell onto the steps with drops of green blood, its muscles slowing the upthrusting blade. It drew off the sword and reared its head back again as if to strike, but soon retreated as another of the Other Place people raced up the steps, yelling out the name of Wanul the caracal headed one and bearing a ironshod spiked stave, a male trutter racing up with him
Just as Vaonessle and Kliytato reached the top ledge and were about to enter the pyramid, out came La'daiobe'! He appeared as if he had just wakened from a dream. He yawned widely and stretched!
" Hi Kliytato! Hello ma'am! What time is it?" Kliytato was about to say something, but the trutter crowed.
La' daiobe' was riding on the bird, both of them quite happy, it seemed. It was going back with them Along with a smaller hen(?) which was carrying astride its back sacks of pyramidal shaped silver coins. Vaonessle had performed a ritual outsie the village to make sure it was the real La'daiobe'. Satisfied it was, she bid the watching awed elder Ogabodi and the swarm of fliers come to bid them off, a good day. She found the trutters, as they were called had an uncomfortable waddle all squatted down through the tunnel. They both crowed, standing erect, the male flapping vestigial wings when entering into La'daiobe',Kliytato and her Place.
"Tell me young sirs, how do you intend to explain all this to your village?" Kliytato who was knuckling the neck of the male trutter, 'tcch-tcching' stopped and looked at Vaonessle.
"You're not coming, ma'am?"
"Oh, I'm coming to your village, but my conversation will be with the elders and any of the Temple or of the majik web. This entry must be closed!," Vaonessle said strongly.
La' daiobe had jumped up on the arch with the female trutter. He began waving at the crowd of spear and bow bearing villagers, gabbing away excitedly and pointing at him and the feathered loadbearer.. His father and helmet wearing mother looked from him to the bird then their eyes grew agog even moreso when the male fluttered up. The priestess and Kliytato came up next, almost as if ignoring the crowd.
"From here I must go to the Sanctuary of Thandie and see the head priest there and tell him of this gateway. Not just the region we've come from do such entrys open, but on a myriad of places. Some much,much more rife with danger. Those which can must be closed or closely guarded on this our side. It is why some Temples or shrines are built in the most unusual places. Anyway, let us go show everyone your new animals." Vaonessle said smiling. The trutter looking at her, and winking it seemed, cawed good humoredly