Disclaimer: Xena and Gabrielle were the creations of the writers of Xena Warrior Princess. They are now apparently owned by Studios USA. I have borrowed them for a bit of fanfiction. I wish to also thank Inga for being an outstanding Beta reader.
The Pomera and The Price
We are the Pomera--the People. We had to leave our homes because of the locust people.
They came into our home, riding horses, and marching like ants--devouring everything in their path. They could not hear the screams of the trees, and the plants. They had no ears to hear the pleas of the animals or of the people. We attacked them in the same way they attacked the land-- hacking them with our axes. Then we put on our war paint, in honor of those who had died at their hands, and followed their trail back to where they came from.
We did not want their land--we only wanted for them to stop. We tried to talk to them, but they only had a strange grunting sound, instead of words. There was a woman with them, tall and with hair like the night sky, and eyes like ice. We fought her, and her men. She was a worthy enemy, but still these locust people persisted in their destruction of everything around them. We continued our fight.
We had chased some locust people up a river when the worthy enemy appeared again. Her ears were still stopped up, but our shaman said that she might still be made to hear. He pointed to the small woman with hair like sunshine, saying, "She is our Ilyeashka--our bridge. Watch her, and be sure no harm comes to her."
So we watched. It was a long siege--very unpleasant. The heat was oppressive, and our wounded were stacked like fallen timber in front of their fort, made of the bones of the trees they had killed. Our warriors cried out for water, and the locust people heard nothing. The worthy enemy lined up her dead along the wall. We could see that they never moved, but it was an arrogant plan. Our dog soldiers admired that arrogance. We waited, watching to see when Goldenhair would hear us.
We ate our puny rations, washed the grime and blood from our bodies, and watched. They sneaked a man out. We ran him down and killed him. Worthy Enemy was living up to her name. Hissing Snake declared that when the time came, he would fight her. We all agreed, since he had earned that right by his bravery in too many battles to count. Privately, I suspected he might not be as worthy as he claimed. I knew him as a child, and he used to pelt me with rocks when all the rest of us used snowballs to play at war. I decided that if he should shame us, I would even the score for those childhood bruises.
We talked often of the locust people, and why they were like that. The shaman said it was a sickness. He said through Goldenhair we could begin to cure it. Just then we saw Worthy Enemy capture one of our warriors and drag him into their fort. We cried out--knowing they would devour him as they did everything else. My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. We stood, rooted to the spot--imagining the worst.
It was very hard to sleep that night. I kept dreaming that the locust people were eating me. I woke up, my heart racing, and in a sweat. I prayed to the Creator that he would open Goldenhair's ears soon. I couldn't eat that morning. I was nervous, and as the day unfolded, I knew something significant would happen. I patrolled endlessly, and still my feet needed me to keep moving. It was hot, and our warriors lying at the wall continued to cry for water.
It was then that the gate opened, and Goldenhair came out alone. In her hands were waterbags. She took water to our men. A thrill went through me. I looked at our Shaman. He was smiling. He nodded at us.
"Yes, her ears are open. Go, get our wounded. Harm no one."
I volunteered to help. We went in pairs to lift the dying back to our healers. I glanced at Goldenhair, and I saw someone who really is Ilyeashka. I smiled at her, and she nodded to me very soberly. Worthy Enemy sent their people out to help their wounded, and came out herself to chase Goldenhair inside. We cared for our fallen warriors while we waited. Hissing Snake practiced with his weapons.
It must have taken a little while for Worthy Enemy's ears to open. It was almost dusk when she came out of the fort alone. She walked directly to Hissing Snake. He puffed out his chest, and I caught the eye of Fleet Mind. My eyes flicked from Hissing Snake to my axe. He slowly nodded. He remembered those rocks too.
Worthy Enemy earned her name. She fought with grace and skill. Hissing Snake tried as hard as he could, but she was a better fighter. She won, and as she turned to go back to her people, I saw Hissing Snake prove his dishonor. He moved to strike her in the back. I let my axe fly, and hit him in the chest. We buried all our dead except Hissing Snake. We went home, and I never saw Goldenhair or Worthy Enemy again. I must say though, that they proved themselves to be more than the average cannibal.
Return to the Academy