Breath in. Breath out. The spear is an extension of my body. The spear is an extension of my strength. The spear is the manifestation of my will. I count three beats of my heart and come out of my hiding place. I throw the spear, a short and characteristic sound.
Like a ray of the Supreme, the weapon punch throws my enemy. I run to the scout, and I relieve him of his pain. Quick, quietly. It makes the same sound as the deer do when die. Without his scout, the invaders will have difficulties in their attack. I return to my hiding place. Waiting for the best moment to attack is the toughest part. Focus, I need to keep the focus. The mind always tries to disperse, but you have to be stronger. I have to be stronger.
I am a daughter of the Supreme. Like all in my village and the others in the White Forest, we are Childen of the Supreme. Like one of His children, when I was born, a tree was planted. Mine was a blackberry tree. On the day of my name, one-year living, my parents took me along a branch of the tree to see the shaman. The exact ritual is only for the shaman and his apprentices' knowledge. Although the elders told me that the shaman bathed in the smoke of the burning branch stained with my blood, a few drops, taken from my hand. Inspired by the Supreme and the smoke, he wrote my destiny on a scroll. The scroll was delivered sealed only with my name visible. Byrne.
Wich is me, Byrne from Vrestown. The forest is in complete silence, a sign that the invaders are already on their way. They already realized that the scout would not return. My resources are few: two spears and my short sword. I'm not the only one defending my people, but I'm the best located, the vanguard. I need to stand out. Only then can I reach my goal. I close my eyes in concentration.
The seal of the scroll can only be open when the person is no longer a child. Thirteen years I waited, as everyone does, but I was in a hurry. I longed to know what my destiny would be. My glorious destiny. Would I be destined to learn the secrets of the Supreme, or lead my people to greater glory? I didn't know. I just felt deep inside that it would be something important. The expected night finally arrived, and the leader of the village gave me my destiny so that I would know and share it with my people. I saw and immediately regret what I had to say.
My eyes are closed, but my hearing goes beyond. I hear the wind and its path through the leaves. I hear soft steps trying to be stealthy. I count the number of feet, the number is more than my fingers, and there is more coming. I tighten my spear and draw strength. "Supreme, I ask forgiveness again for challenging my destiny but give me strength."
Mother. That is my destiny. Every destiny is a single and simple word. My dreams and hopes had fled from my body. In front of everyone and the sacred fire, I said that my destiny was to be a Mother. The mothers and midwives of the village rejoiced in knowing that their group would grow. My fate was to give birth, nurse, and care for babies. Although essential and beautiful, there is no glory, not for me. There are no legends or stories. I denied it and still deny it. I don't accept something simple. My destiny should be greater.
I joined the shadows of the tree and observed the invaders approaching, more than a hundred men in groups of ten. Torches covered up to not attract attention. Reinforced leather and steel of quality. It wouldn't be war, would be a massacre. If I didn't act, it would be a massacre. The honor would say to jump in front of the nearest squad, but it is the cleverness that guides me. Take one by one from behind. Precise and deadly. Like a predator.
The children of the Supreme obey his word to the letter. Midwives began to teach me their secrets, and I was forbidden to participate in other tasks and activities, if not these until I became an adult. I could not help in hunting or harvesting, couldn't help the carpenters or the blacksmiths. Only midwives and baby caretakers were my company. I made sacred vows to take care of the little ones and ensure their growth and safety. I cling to the idea that by fighting to defend my village, I am fulfilling my oath too.
Everyone passes by me. Some close enough for me to touch, but I stood still in the shadows. Down with the spear, drawing my sword. I control my heart. I walk with my body low and approach my target. Precise and silent. Deadly and invisible. I cover his mouth and strike my blade between his ribs repeatedly. Like killing a piglet, the other prey cannot notice its death. I help to lay down his body on the ground. I return to the shadows.
Inside, my blood was boiling with a riot. On the outside, I obeyed the instructions. At least before the eyes of adults. Far from their vigilance, at nightfall, and when they ordered me to gather herbs to ensure good fruit or to speed up a birth, yes, I rebelled. I sought to make my way. I tried to teach myself everything I had access to, but books, the art of fire, and sacred rites, I couldn't master. I learned about herbs and animals. But I decided to focus my efforts on hunting. Arrows and spears, these should be my destiny.
I don't notice, but by my hands, two more go down. I'm back in the shadows. Someone turns around, suspecting something wrong, and I hold my breath. A man carrying a torch appears in my sight. The spear pierces his throat, and I drag him to the ground to silence his suffering. I put out the torch, but they already suspect something is out of the ordinary. I need to be faster.
Being obedient never made me the best apprentice. My hands were not good to bring a child into the world, and my patience with the little ones needed to improve. My strength and energy were not there. They were in the bow and the spear. I was more aware of the masters teaching on the outside than the ladies on the inside. Every night I asked the Supreme to change my destiny. He never answered me.
I wish I had set traps. Snares and stakes would have helped. The torch man had arrows and a bow. I killed the rest of his squad with them. A whistle, a race to another position, and a new whistle. With the bow, I can't always contain their screams. Fear, maybe fear will snake through their bodies. Knowing that something will hunt them maybe will make them lose their confidence. Become weaker. I like to be feared.
I carried the animals that I hunt to the village and put inside the smoker. It was hard to steal the key, and it hurt a lot to see an apprentice take the punishment, but it was necessary. To go against one's destiny requires a lot of effort. Effort and repetition are what build skills. Midwives taught this by referring to becoming perfect in the function of caring for pregnant women and their offspring. I used this in my hunting. Cleaner deaths, rougher prey. I ended up getting good and overconfident, so they discovered. Pride is not a very sneaking path.
The arrows are gone. They are many. I ended the life of the agonizing ones I met while moving. If they discovered me, I'm dead. I have no choice but to get the sword. Blood and sweat, the handle is slippery. Focus. Breath out. Breathe in. Shadow. Cover his mouth and strike between the ribs. Repeat. Shadow. Cover his mouth. Dead. Repeat. Shadow. Cover his mouth. Dead. Repeat. I was spotted. Shit, I have no choice. Run. I run as if my life depended on it. My life and the whole village depends on it.
I was seventeen, two seasons to be declared an adult. I decided to capture a big boar. Kill it, put in the garden cart, and show the shaman. Use it as proof that my fate was wrong. Everyone knew I wanted more than to be a mother. This plan would be the tool to change my destiny. I was all youth and innocence. The boar proved to be more aggressive than I expected. I hurt my leg and broke my nose. His screams attracted two other night hunters. I manage to put the beast down, but the price was the shame and contempt of the village.
My leg doesn't let me run much. Someone gets a hold on my legs, and we fall on the ground. I struggle, and with all my strength, I sink my blade on his back, straight through the heart. Another approaches, and I see an axe. I have to get up. I have to, but there won't be time. My spear. I parry the blow, the axe got stuck in the spear. I pull with all my strength. The axe comes, and with it its bearer, the man comes to the ground, over me. Kicks, bites, scratches, punches, but, finally, my blade through his throat. I prevail, time to stand up, and seek the shadows.
My punishment for challenging everyone and The Supreme was seven days tied to a pole in the central square. Without food, gagged, water once a day, and the indifference of all. It rained, and it was hot. I slept a few hours at night, by exhaustion. They told me that all suffering was to atone for my sin and bring light to my mind. I didn't acquire any of it. It taught me that I would have to be much better to challenge fate. That's what I did.
The screams of the village begin. I know that the cries of those I killed alerted some sentinels and warriors. I only hope that it made the invaders hurry as well. I wish I had eliminated more enemies before they reached the village. Damn, seven times damn. The shadows serve me little now. They already know about me. The axe destroyed one of my spears. I'll take the other. I pray, "Forgive me Supreme, for defying your words, but guide my spear against my enemies." I run against one and punch through it. I kick his dead body and look for the next. I doge his blade and blow his head. He squats in pain. I pierce his throat. Another comes, and this one falls but leaves a cut on my arm. I scream. The sound of the massacre is brutal.
Everyone has been watching me ever since. Wherever the elders teach, I learn. I did all the extra tasks they imposed on me. I became resistant to all indifference. At last, I became an adult, but I did not become the mistress of my destiny. It eats me alive. In time, the vigilance diminished, and I was able to return to what I loved and was good. So, by day, helping women to have good children, by night, making traps in the forest, over the sun, making medicines for pain, over the moon, shooting deer and wild boar. They marked my union with a member from another village. By custom, I should follow him to his village. My suffering seemed to have no end. I tried to enjoy my last days of freedom hunting. Until this night, after spending all my arrows, I saw the lights of the invaders. My golden opportunity. The only way to change fate. To be a hero, Heroes can change their destiny.
My throat dried up with the frenzy of battle. At some point, I fell from it. I remember killing almost a dozen more, some with their weapons. I remember taking a cut on the face and a blow to the head. They pierced my arm and punched my mouth. So many scratches and bruises. The last thing I remember is choking a horrible man with a bow, and that he fell on me. After that, all black. I waited for death. She did not come. In her place, a new day.
I gather my forces to come out of the pile of bodies. My body hurts. My blood and that of others cover me. I walk towards the village. Bodies. Of my people and the invaders. A light rain falls, extinguishing the fire. My village stinks of burnt flesh and rust. My heart squeezes. Everything I see is dead. The invaders were defeated, but the price was too high. I hear a noise. Glory to The Supreme, someone groans.
At the end of the village is my current home. As an outcast, they allowed me to stay in the house where the babies are delivered and where they take care of the sick ones. I run limping until there. The sound of crying gets louder when I approach. Someone is alive beyond me. The door is stuck. I throw my body over it, and it falls. A cloud of dust rises. When the cloud settles, I see several children and two young girls squeezed into a corner. I smile. Everyone is scared, but soon someone recognizes me under the blood and the dirt. I am enveloped by the children, in a desperate embrace. We cry.
There is no one else, just me and these twenty children and two young girls in the process of receiving their destiny. However, all the scrolls of destiny are gone. Everyone's fate burned and lost. Mine is the only that remains. But this time, I accept it. Yes, Supreme, now I understand your word. My destiny is to be the mother of a new clan.