The Amazon Chronicle
Book IV

The Fall of the Amazoi

Pada had showed up in the Amazoi village one winter afternoon alone and without purpose.

Ulforta noticed him from her hut as she carved out the end piece to a new bow. She sat watching with mild interest as he hitched his horse to a tree by the main path. Apart from mumbling to herself regarding how his horse had better not shit on the road, she generally forgot about him and went back to work.
A few moments later, she realized she had been waiting for his footsteps announcing his approach to her, but there were none. When she looked up, she saw him at the main fire with a few people with drinks of hot wine. It was obvious the translator from the wars of last spring had not come to speak to her and curiosity got the better of her. Ulforta gathered up her materials and joined the small group by the fire.

Pada was talking and acknowledged the approach of the chieftess with a simple nod in her direction. His familiarity made Ulforta want to step over and kick him in the teeth, but she sat patiently beside Nolatfel as he carved out a wooden idol. Nolatfel turned to greet her and quickly filled her in on what Pada had already told them. Pada's return home that autumn had been less than what he had hoped for after such a long time at war. The Borak village was split between those who were loyal to the Amazoi and those who loathed the women warriors. With every division within divisions of ideals, Pada found himself outside of most groups. Even the ones that welcomed him, he felt he didn't belong. And apparently his wife wasn't the nicest of women to be around. Pada said he had suspected she was bedding with someone else and that a sudden increase of hostility was a ploy to get rid of him.
His beloved daughter seemed to be following the example of her mother and he found it less and less enjoyable every day he was there. Most of all, he said, he missed the way the Amazoi were.
Their humour.
Their quietness.
Their strength and unity.

At first his message caught the Amazoi off guard.
No one was too sure if he was asking what they thought he was hinting at.
Tranaila, taking a ladel of hot wine and reaching out to refill his cup, settled the matter.
"Are you wanting to live with us?" she asked simply as she kept her eyes on the hot drink.
Pada started with a glance around the group, but his eyes quickly rested on Ulforta.
Though he said nothing, his face told her everything in his heart.
It was a surprise.
And funny to admit, it was a pleasant and flattering surprise.

Ulforta suddenly realized everyone was looking at her for her reply.
She straightened her back and looked back to her bow end.
"Sure. Of course you can live with us."she started, "We can always use a good translator."

Ulforta didn't know why she added the last part. It was exactly the thing that Rafel had berated her for.
Thankfully he wasn't there. And thankfully it didn't seem to bother Pada.
The loyal translator was busy being welcomed by the Amazoi like a brother.

Nolatfel walked with him to take his horse to the pens and settle in to one of the Men's Huts.

Pada learned more of the Amazoi culture and language in that first month, than the entire three that he had been with them during the war.

He was sitting with the other men one cold night when a light rapping on the door and giggles from outside drew their attention. Tolsan, sitting closest to the door, leaned over and pushed the leather flap outwards to see a young Naira standing outside bashfully with two of her younger friends peering over her shoulder. He knew the girl hadn't come for him, so he handed the door flap to Naira and sat back by the fire so she could see everyone inside.

Naira looked around at the men looking back at her. Most of them looked a mixture of confused and worried they had forgotten their sentry duties.
"I . . . uh . . . actually wanted to ask Pada if he wanted to come over for some tea?" the young woman asked briskly. The mouths of the Amazoi men dropped open in unison as they turned towards Pada who looked completely clueless. "Uh. Tea? Yes. Of course." he answered and started to stand.

It was painfully obvious to the others that he had no idea what the beautiful girl was really asking. Tolsan quickly rose on his haunches and grabbed the door from Naira.
"Give us a moment!" he shouted as he closed the flap on her.
The giggling outside started again as he turned to Pada.
"Do you know what she's asking?"
The strangeness of the question made Pada hesitate. He froze on one knee wondering if he had mistaken any of the words.
The complete innocent look on his face made Tolsan roll his eyes. "She wants you for the night." Tolsan explained pushing an extended finger in and out of his clenched fist.
"Ei? You understand now?"

Pada looked around at the smiling men raising their eyebrows or winking at him. Noiya threw his pillow at him. "You wolf!" he scolded jokingly.
Pada broke into a smile from ear to ear. He wasn't sure if it was a joke or not, but either way, he was enjoying the comradery with his new friends.

Tolsan held back the flap and gave a nod out the door. "He's ready now." he announced as Pada started to move past him. "Oh, wait!"
Tolsan turned and took the top off a wooden bowl and pulled out a pinch of dried mint and herbs.
"Here. Open your mouth." he said as he pulled Pada closer and pushed it into his mouth.
The idea of using herbs to sweeten the breath was a custom of various clans around the mountains, but not so much in Pada's tribe. After experiencing the breath of his wife, he appreciated having learned it. Sometimes kissing her was like kissing the carcass of a deer.

Pada chewed quickly as he exited the hut and stood in front of the beautiful young woman with her cheeks made rosy from the winter air. Her two younger friends, still hanging onto each other for warmth, stepped back out of the way. She turned to Pada, took his hand and without a word, led him quietly towards her hut near the entrance of the village. He looked over at the four heads sticking out of the men's hut. He saw Noiya once again mouthing the words, "You wolf!" before he turned away.

They passed the main central fire where a large group was gathered to drink and talk before bed. He had to hang his head in embarrassment when he caught the suprised look of Ulforta. She nudged Rafel, who tapped Panona who carried it down the line until the whole group was silently watching the two walk past.

It wasn't long before the mock sounds of kissing and physical release were heard from the tipsy crowd. Pada kept his head forward, but Naira turned around and smiled. "Don't be such children." she scolded as she waved the hecklers off. She looked up at Pada to make sure he wasn't taking their teasing the wrong way.
But, he had a shy smile of genuine happiness.

For the first time in his life, he felt part of the group, part of the tribe . . .
part of the Amazoi.

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