The Red Hand Part 6
by Shane Migliavacca
Part Six Morning Stroll
Thanks to the old woman's vile concoction we could understand each other now, and Tenth quickly grew annoyed with me. She left the next morning and I didn't see her for nearly more two weeks. I started keeping track of days on one of the cave walls with some homemade paint. Maebh didn't mind, she thought it added color to the place. After my first night there let's just say my bathroom requirements were not going to be adequately met. It wasn't pleasant, but after a few days the old woman went with me to the cave I met Tenth in. This is where she washed up and there was another spot farther back in the cave that made for a good outhouse. A large hole in the ground. It looked endless. Also, I found that that moss that grows in the cave makes good toilet paper. The old woman also gave me some clothes to wear. A lose fitting tunic and some baggy pants plus a hooded cloak for when we went out. Basically I looked like I should be taking your ticket at a Renaissance Faire. The two of us settled into a routine: Breakfast, bathroom break, training, lunch, more training, supper, another bathroom break and then bedtime. We ate our suppers early so we could make it to the cave and back before nightfall. Maebh told me there were worse things out at night then the bat-lizard I'd run into. I'd gotten lucky that first night. Not to mention the sandstorms that spring up time to time. There were days I could almost forget. Forget about home, about mom. It was there in my thoughts first thing in the morning, and when I lay there trying not to cry in the darkness of the night.
On Tenth's next visit after we'd drank that potion, Maebh suggested the two of us should go for a walk. Just to get me used to working with Tenth. A prospect that thrilled me no end. I felt I could trust the scaly purple girl, but talking to her much less not having the old woman as a buffer, well that seemed like it would be an uncomfortable time. Moss as toilet paper was one thing. Hanging with Xena lizard princess was another thing. What do you say to a scaly alien chick anyway? If anything at least I'd get to see something other than two caves on this planet.
We headed out after breakfast, further into the valley, in the opposite direction of our water cave. Maebh didn't want us going too far. I still hadn't got the sword thing going. But I felt better physically then I had in a long time.
There's a warm breeze blowing already. It was going to be a warm day. The air felt good against my face. I drop the hood. Tacking a second to breathe in the air.
Tenth stops walking and looks at me. "Is something wrong?" she asks.
"It's just good feeling fresh air. Being stuck in that cave most of the day, it stinks. Old lady stink."
She shrugs. "Air is air."
Great. I could see she was going to be a great conversationalist.
"Uh, so where do you live? You got a cave all your own?" I ask.
"My clan have a cave underground."
"Your clan? Oh."
"Yes. The Reveka. Are you done feeling the air?"
She seems to be getting frustrated. I have that effect on people. Guess it works on aliens too.
"Sure. Lead the way."
We start walking again. I was kind of curious now. About her people. I hadn't really thought about it before. All I've seen since coming here were her, Maebh and that bat thing. I'd never given much thought to the fact there was a whole race like her. The old lady had mentioned she had a clan. But I've been kind of stuck up my own ass thinking about how to get off of this planet.
"How do you know Maebh?" I ask.
"She came here many cycles ago. I was but a young hatchling. She helped our people when there was a sickness. She cured it. Since then she has been a revered healer to us."
I smile. I could see the old woman doing that. Wading into that chaos. Whipping up one of her smelly potions. No wonder Tenth is always bringing her supplies. Maybe it's part of their debt to her. I looked at Tenth. Trying to imagine what she looked like as a baby. She always seems so confident. I couldn't imagine her as a helpless baby.
"You think I could meet your clan?" I ask.
"Perhaps. We are weary of outsiders. It is easier to trust few then many."
I take in the scenery as we walk. This valley is quite beautiful. Little dragonfly like creatures buzz around large stalked flowers. There's red patches of dirt here and there. The yellow grass sways in the gentle breeze. I could stretch out the grass and stare at the sky, given half the chance, but there's no way Tenth is going for that. Her eyes are constantly scanning our surroundings, never letting her guard down.
"A little further and then we go back." Tenth says. Breaking the momentary silence.
"Do we have to mom?" I say. Trying to sound whiny as possible, but my joke is lost is on her. She just looks at me with slight bewilderment.
"What is mom?" She asks.
"You know...The one you come from? The one that raised you?"
"We do not know the one our egg came from. We are left in a nest. After we hatch we have to make our way back to the clan. Those that do are raised by the whole clan. The ones that do not are weak and not worthy."
It's hard to imagine, but that's their way. I'm trying to think of things the way they were back home, but I'm most definitely not in Kansas anymore.
We walk in silence for a bit till we near a rocky hill. We stop upon hearing the distinctive sound of somebody or something else on the other side of it. Tenth motions for me to crouch down. We climb up the hillside. Tenth stops me near the top. Signaling for me to hang back. She goes on ahead. Peeking over the top of the hill. She quickly starts coming back down. She takes me by the arm and starts pulling me down the hill.
"What is it?" I ask.
"We must go now. Speak no more."
I pull away from her and climb up the hill. What could rattle her so much? Surprisingly she doesn't try to stop me when I peek over the top trying to emulate the way she did it. I immediately wish I hadn't. Two large dog-like beasts stood at the bottom of the hill. They look like about the size of a horse, but lower to the ground then a horse. Their brown hair is matted. Large fangs jut out of their drooling maws. On their backs are saddles. Saddles meant... Riders! Too late it hit me. They're nowhere to be seen. But they'd seen me. I hear a growl and turn to the side. A little ways down the hill, there’s two of them. They must have been making their way up the hill. Hulking blue bipeds. Their scaly skin was blue. They look more lizard-like then Tenth. Both are wearing gold colored armor. They start towards me. Shit! I turn and slid down the hillside. Tenth stands waiting at the bottom.
"Fool!" Tenth screams at me. "Now run!"
She takes off back the way we'd come. I have all I can do to even trail after her. I'm too scared to look over my shoulder. But at least one of those things is after us. I can feel myself starting to tire out. Then suddenly Tenth stops running. She turns and rushes past me. As she passes me she draws her crystal dagger. I can hear it humming.
"Keep running!" She hollers.
I watch helpless. Too tired to move as Tenth charges the bigger blue lizard. It pulls a long curved two-bladed weapon from its belt. At the weapon's center is a hilt, with a blade jutting from both ends.
It spins the blade in its hand. It growls something in its language.
"Roka. You are far from home." Tenth says.
The blade in her hand starts to glow. The humming growing louder as the distortion grows around the crystal. The big blue guy swings his blade at Tenth. She sidesteps his swing. But his blade has a long reach. It grazes her arm. She howls in pain as green blood drips from her arm. He wastes no time, swinging at her again. This time she darts under his attack. Tenth scores a glancing blow off his armored side. I'm too far away to tell if she cut him though. I should be running but I can't leave her. This guy towers over her. He's all muscle and armor. She doesn't stand a chance. But what can I do?
She jumps up into the air. Trying to ram her dagger into his neck. But he head butts her, knocking her away and Tenth tumbles to the ground, the dagger flying from her hand. With a powerful leg he kicks her before she can get to her feet. He then steps on her. Pinning her to the ground. He spins the blade in his hand. I can feel my heart coming out of my chest. Beating faster and faster. I look around for something to use as a weapon. I grab a baseball sized rock and hurl it. It bounces harmlessly off his armored chest. But it was enough to distract him.
"Hey shithead!" I scream. "How about some of this!"
He roars. I'm going to die here. But maybe she can get this asshole. He kicks Tenth out of his way and lumbers towards me. I drop to my knees. God I hope this works. He stops in front of me. Looking down at me, a bit perplexed. As he sizes me up I grab two handfuls of dirt from the ground. I blast him in the face with both. He staggers back trying to get the dirt out of his eyes. Just then Tenth jumps on his back. The dagger in her hands. It glows and hums as the blade starts to reform. He tries to bring the two-bladed weapon to bear on Tenth. I grab his large arm trying to hold it back. I can feel my feet coming off the ground as he starts to lift me up. Then thick yellow fluid splatters my face. I fall from his arm as the blade falls from his hand landing next to me on the ground. I look up to see Tenth still on his back, her dagger jammed into his throat. He blindly reaches for her, staggering about before letting out a gurgle and toppling forward. Tenth jumps off him. I use part of the cloak to wipe the now dead lizard guy's blood off my face. Dead. She killed him. No doubt he would have done the same to us. Still doesn't make me feel any better.
"Why did you not run?" She asks.
"Couldn't leave you." I respond. Out of breath.
She looks down at me for a second. Then offers me a hand up.
"Where's the other one?" I ask.
"He will be telling the others about us."
"There're be more?'
"More will come. Looking for us." She sheathes her dagger before going over to the fallen blue lizard man. She kicks him.
"Did you know him?"
She bends down and starts to inspect his body. She takes a large pouch from his belt.
"No. But his kind. The Roka. They are enemies of my people."
She attaches the pouch to her belt.
"They have never been this far out of their lands."
She looks me over. "Are you well?"
"Yeah. Pretty much. Why?"
"We must run. Get to Maebh. I must take you both to my people. I fear what may be coming."
And then we flee back towards the old woman's place.
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