Looking up I saw a woman, wearing only a skin, a spear in her hand.
Laying in my furs waiting for sleep to come … my mind raced on the days events …. then slowly, slowly drifted back … far into the past and a smile crossed my lips as I played with Bonny, my faithful and loving slave in our little house in the village of Rarir. An apprentice green in a btb village takes a terrible risk when she becomes too close to her slave and I knew .. I sensed the freemen watched us as we played, the Magistrate especially watched us … until one day he summoned me to his office and reminded me that if I were to be a fully fledged green I must have two children and therefore I needed a Free Companion. My heart filled with fear as he informed me that he was to speak with my father and would take my hand.
My mind whirled as I heard my own voice, pleading with my father, begging my mother not to give my hand to the fat, oderous man in the blue gowns but to no avail. For a week I cried in my sleep as my dreams turned to nightmares of him kissing me, his hands pawing at my body … I screamed and pushed him away as he tried to force himself on me….waking . shaking with fear I dressed and ran from my fathers house through the streets, into the fields not stopping .. into the forest … crashing through the bushes until I tripped and fell… gasping for air, my chest shuddering, tears streaming down my cheeks until I slept .. fitfully, my first night in the forest.. I woke with the sun warming my face … not knowing where I was, hearing the rustle of the bushes .. sounds all around me,, the forest was alive! I stumbled on, drinking from streams, eating berries and fruit the second night sleeping in the open.
My eyes opened .. a second prod in the ribs … looking up I saw a woman, wearing only a skin, a spear in her hand……prodding me with it..then I saw another ..and another … they bound my wrists tightly, no words were exchanged; they dragged me, stumbling through the forest, quickly, silently … the spear jabbed into my ribs if I could not keep up with them.
Eventually we entered a clearing ….and a rough palisade of stakes, as we entered I saw huts … and more huntresses. My gowns torn and stained,,, I was forced to my knees at the feet of a tall, blonde woman, I was to come to know as Cao, En of the Sa’jesuil. Cold, tired ,, hungry I shivered as she stared down at me. I saw her hand point and I was dragged to a hut , what was left of my gowns of concealment torn from me.
Naked, I was forced to me knees .. and a fierce, red headed huntress stood over me … smirking ” tal town girl ..” forcing open my hands she laughed at their smoothness of my skin and told me they would soon be rough.. from chopping wood.. cooking .. tending the wheat and carrying out the chores of a slave. She stood tall and proud, she wore a bow on her back, had a dagger on her thigh and a flogger in her hand. Soon I felt it across my back… cutting .. stinging I cried out but she continued to beat me… hurling insults .. “I am Mary Ellen Beresford, Tor of the Mighty Sa’jesuil … you are a slave girl!” I cringed at every stroke but would not fall at her feet .. she hit me harder, pulled my hair .. screamed insults about my mother and father .. until I could take no more …my fear gone, a rage consumed me … I fought back … I bit her… scratched her .. punched .. kicked her just as she fought me… until, both exhausted, we collapsed to the ground gasping for breath. As I recovered I saw two feet,, looking up I saw the En, Cao ” So you can fight?” Mary stood next to her and nodded “Aii she can fight we should offer her the feather… we shall see if she is strong enough”.. I quickly understood my choice was either slavery … and no one wants to be a panthers slave, or to join them as a Huntress .. but first I would have to take the test and prove I was worthy. Those first few ehn flew past .. they showed me how to use a bow.. how to shoot tabuk… skin them… gut them cut and cook the meat.. they showed me herbs and plants I had never seen before how to use them as medicine or foods.
One morning the Kyra, the Se called me over… she was a kind woman, a skilled fighter and a great bow.. she was responsible for my training.. She looked at me kindly and nodded ” You are ready sister…. you must prove yourself worthy to wear the feather of the Sa’jesuil’ . I swallowed for I knew the test would be hard, some failed and were enslaved, some died in the attemp …and now it was my turn. Kyra looked at me ” All you have to do .. is hunt a larl, kill it and bring me the fang” .. my stomach churned .. but my Se told me she was sure I could do this and then, and only then, I would truly be her sister, just as all the others were her sisters.
I nodded and packed my pouch with food and herbs… slung my bow over my back and filled my quiver… hugging each of my sisters in turn… each telling me I would soon return to take my place with them… I slipped, alone, into the forest knowing I could not return if I failed in my quest … therefore I must succeed! I travelled through the forest for 60 ahn looking for signs of a larl, always the Sardar mountains in my view.. silently, swiftly moving until the forest ceased and I could see a village nestling at the foot of the mighty Sardar Mountains, smoke rising slowly from the chimneys.
I climbed a tree so that I could rest safely until darkness would come. As the day faded I slipped down the trunk of the tree and slowly, carefully worked my way past the village. I had heard that many larl lived on the holy Sardar Mountain .. but I only wanted one, the hairs on the back standing tall as I sensed my prey was near. I walked and ran for ahn having passed the village … now I was alone … then I heard it … the low howl carrying on the wind as it blew through the mountains …a chill went through my bones, instinctively I knew … I .. the huntress .. was now the hunted. I tried to stay in the open, I did not want the beast leaping onto my back .. I knew I would be lost unless I faced him head on. Silently I moved through the rocks and the boulders .. my eyes searching for him as I knew he also searched for me. I waited, concealed behind a boulder ,,.. my heart pounding .. then I saw him silently padding along a path … his eyes burning red, ..standing taller than myself, lit only by the moon.. his huge head containing those fangs that only needed to bite once….. whispering a silent prayer to the Goddess I slowly pulled back the arrow …I felt myself shaking as I released and heard the arrow zip through the air… an angry roar filling the air as it found its target. I knew I had once chance.. it was him.. or me .. I pulled another arrow from my quiver …. he was coming for me, I fired again … then again then again .. each arrow striking the huge beast … but still he came.. I turned and ran through the boulders .. hearing him crashing after me .. rage in his growls. Scrambling up a rock I could see him searching for me.. his nose twitching as he searched for my scent… taking another arrow from my quiver I fired … then another .. into his flank.. the fearsome roar echoed through the night.. I moved again … firing at him as i ran .. he was moving less quickly now but the growls still filled me with terror…. Knowing where he was I fired again … moving .. firing again …until slowly the huge beast sank to his belly ….the growls fading as his life slipped away.. Pulling my dagger from its sheath I hurried towards him …expecting him to rise up one more time but he moved no more….I counted 10 if not 12 arrows in his magnificent body then quickly cut the fang from his mouth and smiled ..I, Sheera was now a Jerag or ‘full huntress’ of the Sa’jesuil and my heart sang.. now I was truly a sister amongst sisters. It took me another 60 ahn to return to my tribe, holding the fang in my hand I whooped and screamed as I entered the camp. my en, Cao, the Se, Kyra and the Tor Mary laughed as I showed them the fang … I handed it to Kyra saying” I Sheera now claim my rightful place amongst my sisters of the Sa’jesuil. Two days later, when the moon was full and the tribe danced, Kyra returned the fang, mounted on a necklace …as she tied it around my neck she said “You are now Jerag .. if you must you will fight to the death to defend your tribe, you will kneel to no man .. Welcome Sister” … That day I was surely the happiest Huntress in all of Gor.
Time passed, we were a small tribe, often raided by other tribes…the Di’jan .. or mustards as they were commonly known, the Sa’ng sar and others. New Sisters joined, .. some did not return from their hunting trips for one reason or another .. but I was happier than I had ever been. Slowly I earned the respect of my En, my Se and my Tor until one day I was told the En would be leaving, Kyra take her place ..and i had been elected as Se …my jaw dropped ..” but I have not been asked .. this is not what I seek.. ” I loved my tribe, my sisters and my En .. but she was gone and I never really knew why. Our tribe went through hard times, we lost many sisters for many different reasons .. I was learning quickly how difficult it is to run a tribe … my new En was away much of the time ..and now we lived in Valkerie Forest, in the shadow of the Valkerie Torva. Joyously, my en Cao returned unexpectedly from her travels and resumed her place as En. To my surprise she asked my to stay as Se and reluctantly I agreed. Times were good… we slowly rebuilt our tribe new sisters arrived .. Donnie Flagon of the Sa’ng sar, my long time friend joined us with some of her sisters.. the Sa’jesuil was rightly feared ..throughout the forest!
There was talk.. and even a vote on whether the Sa’jesuil and the Valkerie Torva should merge … but in my heart I knew this could never happen.. I WAS .. I AM Sa’jesuil or I am nothing …some can flit from tribe to tribe but this, like many in other tribes, I cannot do. I fought the merger tooth and nail .. and with hindsight I was right … the Valks are now once more a strong tribe, they did not need us and we certainly did not need them. We moved to another part of the continent.. Cao slowly taking more and more of a role in the background.. I took more and more of the day to day decisions.
©Sheera/Gazette of Gor