Dancing On The Sun (Part 2, page 1 of 1)

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Part 2

Yunabi awoke after a night of celebration although she had sat sullenly throughout until the time came to offer her spear to the successor and new leader of the army that should be hers. She took comfort in the fact that Zinair, a girl her own age that could match her fighting skills and had been her second in command would be worthy to wield her spear. Yunabi wanted to see her sister before she left. Nyra was married and lived a short way from the main village where married couples set up their homes and raised families. As she travelled the dusty path in the relative peace of the early morning she listened to the distant familiar bird calls and wondered what sounds would greet her in the strange land she would call home. Nyra had a large hut, a testament to the position of her husband the son of another chief and Nyra's standing as the Great Chief’s daughter. Yunabi called her sister and saw her small frame waddling out of the door moments later heavy with child. “Good Lord sister you look like you swallowed a baobab whole” Nyra chuckled and hugged Yunabi “That is how I feel. I heard that father wants to make you a queen and I laughed” Yunabi shook her head sighing. “ He may as well have offered to have a monkey succeed him, that's how useful I will be as a queen. Oh Nyra can he not see the good I could do as a warrior?” Nyra looked thoughtfully at her sister then sat on a stool and began to shell peas. “Each one of these peas has the potential to join a meal and fill your belly if one or two are sacrificed to the dirt the meal can still be satisfying as long as enough remain. Yunabi you will be sacrificed but the whole army will stay and remain strong even without you. If I would use a fruit instead for my story you would be the sacrificed one that was thrown to the dirt and did not spoil but instead grew a tree that would bear more fruit. What you will do requires more than leading an army you must lead a kingdom.” Yunabi looked questionably at her sister. “They already have a king Nyra" “Yes but the queen rules the king and so also the kingdom. Who do you think my husband turns to and gets all his best ideas from?” Yunabi laughed at her sister's declaration and then added “I would not boast too loudly about that, he may hear you.” Nyra leaned in conspiratorially. “I hear that king Ezeim is very handsome and that he had once wrestled a lion. Women fall at his feet, imagine sharing a bed with such a man.” Yunabi rolled her eyes and huffed loudly. “He is probably old and fat and only glimpsed lions from afar.” Both Yunabi and Nyra began laughing until Yunabi's laughter waned and a more serious expression settled on her features. “Oh sister, I have been in countless battles and defeated many enemies but how do I face what I cannot know. My weapons are useless for this and for the first time I am afraid.” Nyra hugged her sister and they remained in an embrace not knowing when or if they would see each other again. When Yunabi arrived back in the main village her father was waiting with many of her village people and a beautifully draped palanquin was waiting with four bare chested men in gold loose trousers holding each corner of the transport as another stood in front and another behind and through the veil of the transport sat a girl with wavy hair and a caramel complexion. The men lowered the transport and the girl stepped out on the dirt floor and bowed before Yunabi. She spoke the common tongue; a language that allowed people from different kingdoms to be understood. “My queen I am Damisi your servant and travelling companion and I will tend to your comfort.” Yunabi looked on in surprise all this luxury was for her a simple warrior. She stepped towards the transport and one of the male servants knelt in front of the transport and at once Damisi explained that she must step on his back to enter the palanquin. Once Yunabi was seated beside her servant the transport was lifted and the veil fluttered close. She could see the people she loved through it but the veil separated them from her. Then as they moved off- the distance and a veil separated her from the life she wanted to return to. Outwardly she accepted the sacrifice as any warrior should and held her head high holding the sadness deep within. That life was behind her now. Damisi gave her a sympathetic reassuring smile but she could not yet trust the girl and so gave a brief polite smile back that was not sincere but was better than no reaction. The rocking motion and the previous nights festivities caused Yunabi's eyelids to become heavy and as they drooped. Yunabi's last image was Damisi's smiling reassurance before sleep lured her to its comforting numbness. She awoke to a jolt and a deafening roar which ripped away the drowsy veil of sleep and threw her senses into high alert. Damisi answered the unasked question. “We are being hunted by a lion but your protectors are eliminating the threat my queen.” Yunabi went to jump out but was stopped by her servant. “We are safe in here” Yunabi shook her head and explained that she wished to help tackle the beast. Nyra looked scandalised by the thought. “No my queen you must stay in here where we are safe.” She leaned out of the palanquin and offered one of the men nearest the entrance her knife, which she had kept under her clothing for security. The servant looked at the knife and hesitated to retrieve it from Yunabi. “Take it and give it to the ones fighting the lion in front, go now!” The servant did not delay further but instead gave a brief nod and brought the knife as requested and they made short work of its use on the lion killing it at a distance when the knife was thrown between its eyes. The knife was pulled from the lion's skull and cleaned then the servant returned to Yunabi sitting in the palanquin and bowed his head offering the knife in his out stretched hands. She reached through the veil and took the knife replacing it under her clothes. As she looked at Damisi she saw her disapproving expression and merely gave a weak smile and continued to look at the foreign landscape that passed by, she wondered how one country could look so different from one place to another from the red sands of her home to the lush greens of the plains outside of her transport. How different would places across an ocean look or even other places within her beloved Africa, such were the thoughts that stirred her imagination. Damisi’s soft voice brought her attention back. “My queen we are a days journey away from the kingdom of Sudea, the king is eager to meet you.” Yunabi wanted to know more of this king. “What is the king like?” Damisi's expression took on a shy girlish quality that was not missed by Yunabi. “He is strong and handsome, a great king." Yunabi only sighed at this description it was obvious a king’s servant would not be honest about the king especially not to the future queen. She would have to see for herself what kind of man he was, she was often able to assess character with only a brief meeting; a useful trait as a warrior to work out the true intentions of people. The servants continued on through the night and Yunabi wondered how they could go on without rest and when she asked Damisi if they would camp soon she gave a laugh and explained that a queen does not sleep outside with the animals and the men were trained to withstand up to three days without sleep. Yunabi was impressed even her own army required rest. An army that did not require rest was one to fear. The cool breeze of the night blew through the veil and Yunabi shivered at the unexpected chill that was so different from the balmy nights in her village. Damisi drew a fur blanket around her. Yunabi thanked her and gratefully accepted it. There was a rushing sound in the distance that Yunabi recognised as running water and Damisi exclaimed excitedly that they had reached the great river and so had made greater progress than expected. The river intersected farm land surrounding Sudea. The water rushed by as Yunabi peered through the veil. “Have we got a boat?” Yunabi asked “No my queen the men will carry us across" Damisi replied. Yunabi looked out and was alarmed as the force of the water beneath them rose wildly as they moved forward until they were close to the water. Yunabi was unsettled in her seat but felt more relieved when the water began to recede a little as they almost reached the edge, then a jolt shook the transport causing Yunabi to gasp. The transport shook again and Damisi clutched Yunabi's hand feigning reassurance but her grip showed her fear. Finally they were carried to the safety of the shore and a servant stood at the veil head bowed. “My queen I must offer myself to your punishment for stumbling and causing you discomfort.” Yunabi was just happy to be back on solid ground and thanked him for risking his life. “You are a most generous queen" he stated and returned to his post. The rest of the journey was quiet as they travelled on through farmland and it was day break when she saw a town in the distance. “Welcome to Sudea your new home my queen.”

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