Chapter 2 – Fate Sealed (part 1)
A figure hidden by the morning fog slipped into the woods leaving nothing but footprints in the dewy morning grass. The early morning sun peeked through the leaves and small branches of the forest as the figured moved on to its destination. The air was fresh and heavy from the previous night’s rain.
Her ankle length cloth dress soon became heavy with dew as she crept past the other huts of the village that made of her home, escaping into the forest that was at the edge of her people’s territory.
She moved swiftly across the forest floor into the thicker part of the forest, through the thick branches that would have caught a normal person’s clothing. Heading toward the sanctuary she often went to as a child, a place only her and one other soul knew about.
Parting the branches of the trees, she revealed the sparkling waters of the lake that was the very cornerstone to the survival of her people, the Rothous. It provided water for the plants and for the people, food and on this slightly chilly autumn morning it would give a relaxing bath.
She shimmied out of the dress, hanging it on the one of the branches and took a tentative step forward dipping her foot in. The water still held the chill from the night before, but to bathe in the fresh rainwater from the night before was worth it. She waded slowly into the water, a presence stirred in her mind it was the panther who rose for a moment and grumpily went back to sleep. A few moments passed as she moved further and further away from the land until she was neck-deep and a ways from the bank where her dress hung like a cloth flag.
Disappearing beneath the water for a moment and coming back up her black hair plastered to her face, she brushed it away pulling it back and twisting the access water out of it. The sun was fast rising and soon some would come to collect water for the morning. She waded back to the shoreline reaching for her dress when a shimmer caught her eye. Looking down she saw a snake slithering slowly towards her. Normally she would have stepped back away from such a creature and let it continue on its path. But this one she felt was different as it was a dark purple almost black, she watched it wrap itself around her left ankle and climbed up to her calf. Its tongue sticking out occasionally feeling around its new-found territory.
The snake had a firm grip on her left leg and slowly reared its head and struck her with sharp fangs. The bite broke the trance and she kicked her leg up with all her might send the snake flying. She dared not look where it went for she was too busy trying to regain her balance and stumbled backwards for a moment. She grabbed the nearest thing she could find to steady herself, it was her dress tearing it as she pulled it down with her.
The world seemed to slow down suddenly as a presence came forward from her mind, annoyed and awake the panther came forth and the human woman saw only darkness…
As the afternoon began to fade into early evening, a tall broad-shouldered tan skinned man shifted his weight from one foot to the other in front of Morishta’s hut, it wasn’t like her to be late for the ceremony. The beat of drums and happy chanting filled the air. The sun’s orange rays were fading into the horizon of trees as the music and chanting grew louder.
“Morishta?” Aquil asked tentatively, daring this time to poke his head into her hut.
It was empty, stepping inside he found her blanket crumpled to the side of her cot. He frowned he hadn’t seen her since the afternoon before. Surely she wouldn’t have gotten lost unless she ran into trouble. He left her hut and went in search of Hazel the healer to see if maybe she had seen her.
He found her near the center of the village at the heart of the celebration. She was surrounded by eight wolf cubs who were playing with each other as well as the folds of her skirt. Noticing him she looked up and smiled, a fluffy grey cub growled at her and went for waist length brown hair, grasping it with tiny razor-sharp teeth and tugging.
“Ow.” She said, turning her attention to the cub, picking it up gently she and managed to get it to let go of her hair. The cub yipped in protest; she wiggled a finger in front of it.
“No hair pulling.”
It snapped it’s little jaws trying to catch her finger in its teeth without much success. Discouraged it wiggled itself out of her hand and landed with a soft thud on her skirt where it scampered off to fight with other one of its siblings.
“That one’s fiesty.” He noted, unable to stop himself from being amused.
“They slept most of the journey here, so they’re all full of energy now.” She supplied watching them play fight with each other.
“Have you seen Morishta?”
“I thought she was with you.”
His worry grew.
“I’m sure she’ll turn up.”
“I hope so.”
He glanced up from the wolf cubs and Hazel, looking across the large flames of the fire and saw his tribe leader with that of the visiting tribe, the Kyti. The two leaders were an odd contrast to each other, Nae with her small slim figure and long thigh length black hair and Aeji the leader of the Kyti, with his tall and muscular figure topped with ear length auburn hair. Their fingers entwined and she was leaning into him as though whispering. He smiled at her and responded positively to whatever she had said.
Aquil felt a something tug at his pants, turning back to his surroundings he saw an all-black cub trying to get his attention.
“What is it little one?” he asked, bending down to its level.
The cub yipped and ran in a little circle in front of him. He sat down before it and it climbed into his lap curling up.
“Apparently that one likes you.” She noted.
There it stayed for most of the night until the fires had all but died out. He had kept a watch for Morishta in case but gave up once the fires were out. He took the sleeping cub and handed it to Hazel. She took it gently and led the others to her hut. He went to his passing Morishta’s one more time, peeking in to see if maybe she had slipped in during the ceremony. The cot was still empty with a sigh he went into his hut and settled in for the night.