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The Last Battle
The low morning fog settled in droplets on her wolf-hide parka. The steam from her breath only created more condensation within the tiny burrow concealing her and 15 of her tribe’s best warriors. She sat silently and unmoving at the mouth of the cave. Off in the distance the song of war had begun, drifting softly on the cool daybreak breeze. As a trained warrior, she awaited the arrival of battle with anticipation.
The people of Dwinton had become increasingly aware of the restlessness in their neighboring tribes so a scout party was sent into position on top of Ferdindale, a high plateau of bedrock bordered on one side by a ferocious running river and on the other, a cliff that dropped for miles below. Ferdindale was Dwinton’s foremost advantage in battle.
A bugle horn was blown from behind the group’s hidden cave.
“Awake the men,” Raphira commanded, “the army draws near.” Silently the scout party waited for the arrival of their savage counterparts. It had been rumored that they carried within their ranks the ancient creatures spoken of in old childhood tales. Able to devour human flesh, these giant fowl-like creatures resemble human form and have very little weakness so that the elders had sealed them away hundreds of years ago.
“What do we do once the battle begins?” Trubelenor, Raphira’s best friend, signed in the old ancient language, continuous flowing movements comprised of facial expressions and hand signals. The old language was used as a way for communicating while remaining undetected. Raphira recognized a glint of fear in her dear friend’s eyes. Experienced in battle, Raphira knew what to expect and how to react, but she worried for Trubelenor who although she had excelled in training, was inexperienced.
“We attack and drive them over the edge,” Raphira instructed nodding towards the edge of the plateau. “Nature is on our side in this battle; we must not lose the element of surprise,” she cautioned the group.
The first enemy warrior appeared in front of the cave but passed them by as if he had not noticed them. A short pang of recognition hit Raphira as she identified the man as a friend she had frequently met with many summers ago as a child. She pushed those thoughts aside, rationalizing the situation. As the army continued to march, Raphira relaxed, “We have hidden ourselves well,” she thought to herself. Following closely behind the people were their dogs, an element they had overlooked. One of the dogs, a beautiful beast with a white face, stopped in front of their cave and began to sniff the air. They had been detected.
“Now!” Raphira ordered, no longer concerned with silent language. Their cover had been blown, and the element of surprise was quickly fading.
Springing from the camouflaged cave, 16 warriors emerged and began slashing their way through their enemy’s army. Without the element of surprise, pushing the army over the edge was going to be difficult.
Raphira had already slain half a dozen foes when an enemy wielding a club struck her from behind. The force, crushing the bones in her arm, knocked her to the ground. Breathless she turned to acknowledge her assailant. The sheer size outweighed its ferocity as she faced the fictional childhood creature. The smell emanating from the creature overwhelmed Raphira’s senses, taking her a few moments to assess her next move.
Without her arm she was useless with a sword, but she knew the giant’s weakness. Revealing a hidden dagger from within the folds of her cloak, she desperately plunged the dagger into her enemy’s knee, forcing it to the ground. With the creature now closer to her level and off balance, she took initiative and kicked it in the face, a loud crack resounded from the giant beneath her foot as its nose broke. Another kick and the intimidating creature fell over the cliff, screaming as he tumbled hopelessly to his death.
A familiar cry to her side caught Raphira’s attention just in time to see Trubelenor in mid-combat as another giant made its way around the hill and used its weight to crush her into the ground.
Ice shot through Raphira’s veins as the sight of her friend’s death caused her to go numb. A pain cut deeper than any weapon could penetrate, and she lost control as she became blood-drunk with rage. Ignoring the searing pain in her arm, Raphira went into a frenzy, lashing out at anything within reach. Leery of the insane warrior, the other tribesmen kept their distance.
With time turned against them, Raphira and the last seven warriors stood against a sizeable army. Picking up another sword Raphira was twice as deadly, spinning both delicately crafted swords in a beautiful death dance.
As all hopes were lost after four more brave Dwinton warriors fell, a loud war cry from the north announced the arrival of Dwinton’s main army. In the excitement and relief of the advancing army, Raphira was blind to the arrow coming from a bow to her left.
The pain in her chest exploded like fire coursing throughout her body. Raphira screamed out in pain, swinging her sword with all her might one last time, sending a surprised enemy over the edge into the raging river. Raphira’s body no longer able to hold her up, the world around her faded into darkness, and she smiled as she closed her eyes.
“I’m coming…Trubelenor,” she whispered under her breath, ready to join her beloved friend. As her body hit the ground, Raphira’s battle was finally over.
Kari Eneas is enrolled in the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and attends Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, MT. Describing the inspiration behind her story, she said, “One night I picked up paper and a pencil and began envisioning a world of my own. As I wrote my thoughts down, they quickly began forming into an elaborate scheme. I formed a world unlike our own. It felt so exhilarating, being able to create a land and people and share them with another through a story. As plans for my characters grew bigger, so did the story. Still a work in progress, I hope to finish my novel in the near future.”