The Enemy of my Enemy
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by Mercedes Lackey
Description: Chali's clan came to the town in peace, to trade. Clan Skaht of the Horseclans came to raid, but was deterred by the peace-banners. Then the son of the local king decided to promote himself, by patricide and regicide, and everything changed.
eBook Publisher: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, 1989 Friends of the Horseclans II
eBookwise Release Date: June 2008
43 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [70 KB]
Reading time: 39-55 min.
Chali had been banished to the forest as soon as the bright golden heads of the Horseclan twins had been spotted in the grasslands beyond the camp. She was not altogether unhappy with her banishment--she had caught an unwary thought from one of them, and had shivered at the strength of it. Now she did not doubt the rom baro's wisdom in hiding her. Dook that strong would surely ferret out her own, and had rather not betray the secret gifts of her people until they knew more about the intent of these two. So into the forest she had gone, with cloak and firestarter and sack of food and necessaries.
Nor was she alone in her exile; Petro had deemed it wiser not to leave temptation within Howard's reach, and sent Bakro, the king stallion, with her. They had decided to explore the woods--and had wandered far from the encampment. To their delight and surprise, they had discovered the remains of an apple orchard deep in the heart of the forest--the place had gone wild and reseeded itself several times over, and the apples themselves were far smaller than those from a cultivated orchard, hardly larger than crabapples. But they were still sweet--and most of them were ripe. They both gorged themselves as much as they dared on the crisp, succulent fruits, until night had fallen. Now both were drowsing beneath a tree in Chali's camp, sharing the warmth of her fire, and thinking of nothing in particular--when the attack on the Rom tsera came.
Chali was awake on the instant, her head ringing with the mental anguish of the injured--and God, oh God, the dying! Bakro wasn't much behind her in picking up the waves of torment. He screamed, a trumpeting of defiance and rage. She grabbed a handful of mane and pulled herself up onto his back without being consciously aware she had done so, and they crashed off into the darkness to the source of that agony.
But the underbrush they had threaded by day was a series of maddening tangles by night; Bakro's headlong dash ended ignominiously in a tangle of vine, and when they extricated themselves from the clawing branches, they found their pace slowed to a fumbling crawl. The slower they went, the more frantic they felt, for it was obvious from what they were being bombarded with that the Rom were fighting a losing battle. And one by one the voices in their heads lost strength. Then faded.
Until finally there was nothing.
They stopped fighting their way through the brush, then, and stood, lost in shock, in the blackness of the midnight forest--utterly, completely alone. * * * *
Dawn found Chali on her knees, exhausted, face tear-streaked, hands bruised from where she'd been pounding them on the ground, over and over. Bakro stood over her, trembling; trembling not from fear or sorrow, but from raw, red hatred. His herd had survived, though most had been captured by the enemy two-legs. But his two-leg herd--Chali was all he had left.
He wanted vengeance--and he wanted it now.
Slowly the hot rage of the stallion penetrated Chali's grief.
I hear you, prala, I do hear you, she sent slowly, fumbling her way out of the haze of loss that had fogged her mind. Kill! the stalli