The Twins of Embrellon – XI

The next morning, while he and Shamira were eating Shandarro said that he and Knala needed to hunt, and did they need fresh meat. Jason checked their supplies and said some fresh meat would be nice. Shandarro said they would be back soon. When they left, Jason sat next to Shamira and said “When we get back we will have to scout out new quarters, any preference?” as he sat there chewing, she looked at him and said “If I had my choice, I would stay here forever. I love this place.” He felt the same way, but knew that they would get called in from Scouting eventually, and some other pair would use the cave. It wasn’t a permanent home, but while they were here, it would be their home.
He looked around the cave while they waited for the Skree to return from hunting and with the light that Yoran had given him looked in the deepest part of the cave, and found a mystery. He called for Shamira and asked her to bring her light as well. They had found a recess in the back with a fitted door, and when he had opened it, it lit up. Inside was a ladder made from faron and it went up. He climbed the ladder and when he reached the top, there was a room. It had no writing on the walls like the Armory, and it was bright inside. He told Shamira to come up, and when she saw the room, she was as puzzled as he was, there were couches in the room with cushions, very old cushions, perfectly preserved, he supposed the sealed door had kept anything from decaying, and in the center of the room was a sculpture of a Skree and a Brellon looking at each other. This must be some sort of representation of the bonding, but it would have been impossible for a Skree to ascend the ladder. The space was to small, and there was no other entrance.
They left the room and resealed the door and then went to where their gear was at, put on their armor, checked their weapons, and prepared to leave when Shandarro and Knala returned from the hunt. They didn’t have long to wait. The Skree entered the cave, left the meat they had brought and while Jason saddled them, and loaded the gear they needed, Shamira put the meat away. She looked at Knala and then she understood, they had mated while they were out, and she was happier than she had been since the day that she and Shamira had bonded. She was almost smiling.
They mounted up outside, scanned the skyline, and went aloft. They decided to head west today, to see if they had any visitors. As they were flying west, they noticed that there was a camp about fifty kilometers west of the cave. They went to investigate. They were surprised, there usually weren’t any people out and about and never in plain sight. This camp was near a small stand of nut trees, and there was a riding beast tied to one of the trees and a line of the burden beasts, they counted eight. They landed far enough away from the camp to approach on foot and not startle the camper or the beasts.
The nut trees were the nuts that the tanners and dyers used for dying leather and cloth. These nuts couldn’t be eaten, the husks were green, the shells were brown, and the meats were red, they ground them and added water and cooked the mixture to make the dyes. They used other plants and nuts to make other colors, but these were the most sought after ones, they only bore fruit every three years. This was a dye collector. They approached the camp and when they were out about one hundred meters, they hallooed the camp. The nut collector came out of the trees, and they were surprised. They expected one of the more robust and woodsy men that usually did this, but this was a woman, who seemed to be rather refined. She was older and about Lara’s age and when she saw Jason, she smiled the biggest smile he had ever seen, and then he realized who it was.
“Risa, Risa, I had no idea you were out here collecting dye nuts.” She looked at Jason and smiled, she had been there the day he and Lantana had been born, she had helped to deliver them while their father was fighting the Marn. “I have been collecting my own dye materials for fifteen years now, I have found the best sources for my dyes and my weaves are in the highest demand.” Jason laughed, it was good to see her, he hadn’t seen her since he bonded with Shandarro, and she made the best berry tarts he had ever tasted, his mother could cook, and cooked well, but Risa was the best baker on the planet. At least in his opinion.
“How are your parents and your sister Jason?” she asked. He knew that question was coming, “They are doing well, Father and Mother are always ready for an invasion, and Lantana is one of the new Seers, in fact she is the Leader of the Seers, and Yoran returned to us about six months ago.” She had been very fond of Yoran, he always treated her with respect, standing beside her, he was a giant. He was already a meter taller than most Brellon, but he was even taller for Risa was shorter than most, in fact, she was the shortest person he had ever met, and his mother and sister were a few centimeters taller than Risa.
He realized he had gotten so caught up with Risa he had forgotten to introduce Shamira. “Risa, this is my Life-Mate and Scouting partner Shamira, she is the Bond-Mate of Knala, and we would love for you to join us sometime.” He had no problem with her coming to the Bonding Cave, he was sure that it wouldn’t be a problem, she like Yoran, was a null. She had tried several times to bond, and when she couldn’t, she became a weaver. She had helped Yoran develop the faron shirts they wore under their armor. He made the wire, and she wove it into cloth. Then she made the leather jerkins that the cloth was sewn to with faron wire.
“Risa, it’s important that you get to the cave as quickly as you can, the Marn are coming and we are going to be fighting them. If something happened to you, my parents would never forgive me. You’ll be safe there, and we can get you home as soon as there is a lull in the fighting. How far can you travel in a day?” She thought about what he said and decided it was closer to go to the cave than to strike for the Temple. “I can make about 20 kilometers a day, if we don’t stop.” Jason told her to break camp, and they helped her pack up, then he told her “We’ll meet you fifty kilometers due east of here in two and a half days, we will check on you daily and make sure you get there. Our Skree know not to come close right now, and once we get you to our cave, we will put your beasts in back of the cave.” They left her and walked back to Shandarro and Knala, mounted up, and went aloft. They were going to keep an eye on her until she stopped to make camp, and then they would land and help her set up camp before making their own camp.
He wanted to let his parents know that she was in their care, but they were under orders not to break silence unless it was to communicate about the Marn, so he let it go. There would be plenty of time to catch up when they rotated home. Until then, Risa would stay with them, in fact, he started thinking about that upper room they found, he was sure it would make a great room for Risa, and they could get her beasts out to eat and make some sort of fence to keep them from wandering away.
That night, they ate with Risa, sharing their food and telling stories, drinking kaba of which she had a large supply. Shamira told her that near the cave was an ample supply of kaba root, as well as tubers, berries, and nuts. All the comforts of home. Risa was one of the people who had helped Yoran design the armor the Guardians wore, and she had made the saddles, it was her design. Her father bred herd beasts and runner beasts, and she had learned to make saddles when she was a child. There were other Vela who had helped them outfit the Guardians with their weapons and gear. The sword master was her uncle, he made both the swords and daggers, her brother had been an armorer until he was killed during a Marn attack.
She had decided to become a weaver because her mother was the best weaver in the community. She built the loom she used, and when Yoran had joined them, he had taken her design and improved it, and built the loom to weave the faron cloth. It had been a long time since they had escaped from the Marn and come to Embrellon. They had found the cave that the community lived in, and the Grotto that housed the fishing boats. They were always careful to watch the skies for Marn, and that made them fish close to shore, and always within sailing distance of the Grotto. The only other community was a few kilometers east of the Great Temple, they didn’t want to associate with the Guardians or the Vela who chose to live there. They tried to live as though they were still on Vela.
Once they had finished visiting, and made sure her camp was secure, they went to their own camp, about a hundred meters away, and down wind. They didn’t want her beasts to run off because of the Skree. Even though the Skree were sentient, every beast on the planet, no matter how domesticated, would run at the first scent of the Skree, they always thought the Skree were there to eat them.
The next day, they did the same thing again. They broke Risa’s camp, packed her animals and let her get on her way before they saddled up and went aloft. Following Risa during the day had given them more time to talk, and had let them give a much closer scan of the area they were in. They noticed everything, herds of Auroch, the big birds that they sometimes took for meat, the wild herd beasts, as well as seeing locations of nut trees, and berry vines. Sometimes, always flying and going at a fast pace, let you miss all the sights that someone travelling by runner beast wouldn’t see. It was a trade-off.
They made camp the second day, and set up for the night, they took their meal together again and enjoyed a relaxing pot of kaba, and some tarts she had made with some nuts she found. They were still on guard, they knew that they had to get to the Bonding Cave by midday the next day, and then be prepared for the coming battles. They hadn’t deceived themselves into thinking that it was going to be one battle and done. The Marn wanted conquest, and prizes to carry home, and they weren’t going to give up that easily.
They broke camp the next morning and set out for the cave, Jason and Shamira knew they were cutting it close, the Marn should be here no later than the next day, and they were surprised they hadn’t seen them already. Jason asked Shandarro to scan the sky as far out as he could, he didn’t want to be taken by surprise, Shandarro didn’t see anything but he couldn’t see the whole planet like the Seers could. They were still safe, on a couple of kilometers to go and they would be at the cave. They were brought up short suddenly by the appearance of several rider-less Skree. That meant Regulon was on the move, there were Marn somewhere.
They made it to the cave and as they got Risa and her beasts inside, Regulon arrived. Lantana had contacted him, the Marn had landed far out to the west and were on the ground and moving. They left immediately after telling Risa to make herself at home and not to worry, there was plenty of supplies and there was a bath in the back. With that they left with Regulon to engage in the first battle. It would take a day to get to where Lantana had told them the Marn had landed. They were at least far enough away that they could ambush them. They had had the warning they needed.


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