Chapter 4

Written by: Ray Stone

Thin columns of black smoke drifted lazily into the cloudless sky from dozens of charred circles that were once the homes of the Otunga villagers. Dilara peered cautiously from the safety of the tall waving grass that skirted the river behind the main long meeting hut. The hut, an open thatched area with a raised floor built on wooden stilts, had survived the ferocious attack. From within it a wailing chorus of mourning women rent the still air, chilling Dilara's heart and hardening her resolve. The feud that had plagued the two villages for many years had to be resolved. Whether the dream was a sign or not, it was time to follow the old sage's guidance and find the strength and courage to fight the evil curse and restore peace.

***

"This apathy and wailing has to stop," said Dilara, waving a finger in the air. "We will mourn our families' deaths but there is work to do, and sitting around will not get it done."

Fifteen women in all, including five who had been hiding in the grass, sat cross-legged in front of Dilara. A hunting spear lay on the floor at her feet. Dilara bent and picked it up.

"We must train to hunt like the men!" she shouted, raising the spear above her head. "We must fight like the men and, if we have to, we must kill like the men!"

"But we are women. How can we fight many men from the other village?" asked Sashid, a teenager.

Dilara's chest rose with pounding heart. She could hear the old woman's words. "By carrying a vision of our fathers and brothers before us as we train, equip and prepare for battle. We will not be afraid. We will not run away." A loud angry cry came from deep inside her as she felt the strength of the old woman wrap itself around her.  "Women of Otunga, follow me and fight for what is ours by right...fight for freedom!"

The women rose as one, each one shouting and cheering Dilara, their new leader.

"We must find a place away from here where we can prepare, not escape to. It will be many days and months before we are ready to avenge. First, we will make weapons, spears and arrows that fly straight and true, strong staffs that will break bone and, most of all, shields of deerskin that will protect us."

For ten days and nights, Dilara led the women to a place of safety in the foothills many miles from the village. There they built huts and learned to hunt, make weapons, and grow food to eat.

One night, around the fire, months later, Dilara was sure the women were ready and spoke to them.

"It should not be our wish to simply kill. We need to take the witchdoctor alive and banish him into the plains, for without his evil influence the villages will know peace again. We must do this in front of everyone." 

Comments

A great chapter from a seasoned storyteller. The scene is well set in the first paragraph and the story simply unfolds from there, until at the end we have a leader - with a purpose. Great work! Can't believe I'm the first to comment :)