Home of Sword and Soul
Kadira mount seemed as anxious to be out of Wadantu as she. It galloped across the barren lands of the temple then sped through the surrounding forest. Even when they emerged onto the ominous savannah where they fought the antelope men and faced the hill beast it did not slow.Unlike before the grassland was empty, but Kadira kept close vigil as her horse streak across the expanse. Soon they were back to the dense forest. The gash that Sebe, or whatever it was, created was gone, replaced by a trail just wide enough for horse and rider. Kadira shuddered when she thought of the power of the Caretakers. They had to be connected to the Creator is some way. She decided not to dwell on it. They spared her life, which was more than she could say for everyone else.
"Keep running, war horse," she whispered. "Don't stop until were out of this strange place."
The horse obeyed her order. It stumbled to a halt only a few strides into Kenja, panting hard. Kadira quickly dismounted then removed her saddle and bridle from the tired beast.
"If you ran off and left me today it would be deserved," she said. Another surprised greeted her as she stripped the horse, two leather bags and a large gourd. The gourd contained fresh water, which she shared with her horse. The leather bags contained relief and joy. One bag was filled with food; berries, edible leaves and strips of dried meat. It was at least enough to last her a few days. She opened the other bag and a giggle escaped her lips. It was filled with gold dust. It was nowhere near eight stacks, but it was enough to make her journey worth it.
"We got paid after all,' she said to her horse. The horse ignored her, busying itself with consuming the thick green grass surrounding them.
Kadira set up camp and gave way to the fatigue and pain she'd ignored for days. She planned on setting out for Sati-Baa after a day's rest but stayed at her camp for three days, resting and healing. On the third night a strange sound woke her. It came from the direction of her food bag. She was about to rise when she heard her horse snort. There was a thud and a shout.
"Damn you, you crazy horse!"
The voice she heard was shocking and familiar. Kadira sprang to her feet and ran to the source of the sound.
"Omari!" she shouted.
Omari lay on his back, her war horse standing between him and the food bag. He was filthy and he stank, but he was very much alive. Kadira picked up the food bag and threw it to him.
"You're alive," she said.
"Of course I am," he spat back. He opened the bag, reached inside and pulled out handful of food then stuff it in his mouth. A moan escaped his lips.
"Twigs never tasted so good."
Kadira pushed the horse aside then sat beside Omari.
"How did you get here?"
"I walked," he said. "Thanks for leaving me, by the way."
"I didn't leave you. You were..."
Omari stopped chewing. "I was what?"
Kadira smiled. "Never mind. What do you remember?"
"I remember trying to shoot of of those short men. The next thing I knew I was lying on my back surrounded by them with that damn head on my chest. It felt like an elephant was sitting on me. Then one of the short men lifted it of me and told me to go."
"I'm happy to see you," she said.
Omari stopped eating and a sly smile came to his face. "Really? We should celebrate."
Kadira would have laughed if she didn't think it would give Omari the wrong impression.
"I'm not that happy to see you."
Omari shrugged then continued eating.
"Go easy on that," she said. "It's all I have. I'm going back to sleep."
She shook her head. "Alone. And don't get any ideas. My horse will stomp you to death."
"I'm sure he will. I think that horse is Nguvu."
Kadira finally laughed. "I think you're right."
The morning came with a clear sky. Kadira and Omari broke camp, traveling together in silence for a while about midday Omari stopped walking and began looking about.
"I think I'll head that way," he said.
Kadira was puzzled. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm not sure, but I think Bashaba is that way."
"It's a Kiswala port."
Kadira finally understood. "So your not going back to Sati-Bab then?"
Omari shook his head. "I think I'll rejoin the Mikijen. They're always looking for men and I'm familiar. Besides, a city like Sati-Baa is no fun without money."
Kadira remember the other bag. He went to her horse then returned with it and the empty food bag.
"Hold this," she said, handing him the food bag. She poured half of the gold dust into the bag. Omari's eyes teared up.
"I could kiss you!"
Kadira drew back. "You better not."
The sight of money seemed to add a bounce to his stride.
"Then I'm off," he announced. "It was good riding with you again, Kadira. Things didn't turn out as expected, but then it never does."
Kadira nodded. "It never does. Good bye Omari."
Omari bowed. "Good bye sweet lady. Tell that husband of yours he made a fine choice. And kick that damn horse for me."
Omari turned away and marched toward the northeast. Kadira watched him for a while, then resumed her journey home.
The walls of Sati-Baa never looked so good. Kadira rode toward the walls surrounded by a stream of merchants, farmers and others heading to the city for their daily work. The lax guards barely paid her any attention when she passed through the gates. The patience she possessed throughout her journey home suddenly vanished, replaced by an urgent need to see her man and girl.
"Get us home fast," she whispered to her horse. He snorted a reply and trotted through the throng, gathering curses and shouts along the way. By the time they reached their alley the horse was in full gallop and Kadira's heart pounded against her chest like a celebration drum.
"Nguvu! Olea! I'm home!"
She jumped off the horse and rushed into the house. It was empty. A bolt of fear struck her until she heard the rhythmic hammering. She sped through the house to Nguvu's shop. Her man's broad back was turned to her as he pounded a strip of red hot steel.
"Nguvu!" she squealed.
He turned and laid eyes on her, smiling as if he knew she would be there. She started toward him but he held up his hand. Nguvu put down his hammer then went to the cradle, lifting Olea into his arms.
"My baby," she whispered.
Then Nguvu surprised her. He set her down on the ground.
"Mama's home," he said.
Olea gave her a look of recognition, clapped and smile. Then she stood, her bowed legs wavering.
"Olea? Are you.."
Olea half stumbled and half walked into her mother's arms. Kadira could not hold back any longer. She cried like a child. Nguvu came to her and hugged them both.
"Welcome home," he said.
She kissed him full and long.
"Are you satisfied now?" he asked.
"Very much so," Kadira replied. "I'm home for good. There is no treasure greater than the one I hold in my arms this moment."
Nguvu nodded. Together they left the shop and entered their home.