Story Preview

THIS IS A ROUGH DRAFT- a "preview" of what's to come.

I’m not entirely sure that this will end up in the final draft unless it’s as a flashback, cause these two characters are much older in the rest of the story. (they’re about 6 and 4 here) They have an interesting brother/sister relationship that is sometimes fun, sometimes confusing to write.

This story is also up on my DeviantArt:


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      Ahm’s feet pounded through the sand as he ran across the camp. He had heard the adults talking- the party had come back from the hunters’ camp very early. The six year old wove around the brightly colored tents as his companion struggled to keep up with the energetic boy.


      {wait!} Hinih called, breathing hard as she strived to keep flying. Ahm skidded to a stop and she gratefully settled around his shoulders. At only three years old, Hinih had nowhere the endurance of her Srrdian companion.


      [Sorry,] he apologized, petting his Laiihthi’s tail when he started to run again. Hinih snorted and held on for dear life as her companion insisted on traveling at this reckless speed. Ahm whipped around the corner of a tent and ran straight into someone.


      “Woah there, Naren,” the warrior grabbed the little Prince’s arm to keep the much smaller boy from falling back. Ahm’s excited demeanor abruptly vanished as he looked up into the older man’s eyes. Something was wrong.


      The warrior gently let go of Ahm’s arm and returned his to his side in a slow, defeated motion. Ahm looked him over quickly, then over the rest of the men and women near him. Most of them sat down on the ground, quietly staring at nothing. The silence was loud and oppressing, any talking was kept to a low murmur. No one here was hurt, from what Ahm could see, but…


      “My father?” Ahm slowly met the older warrior’s gaze.


      The warrior hesitated, then turned and pointed to a group of four people who stood a ways off from the others, talking quietly to each other. Ahm nodded to the warrior and walked past him quietly.


      In reality, the three men and the woman that the warrior had pointed out were not that far away, maybe twenty feet at the most. It felt much longer to Ahm.


      He could feel the various gazes of the other warriors as he walked through them, but he kept his face straight ahead. Hinih squeezed tighter around his neck, burying her small face into the collar of his shirt. A small breeze blew by, but it did not offer the usual comfort from the desert heat.


      “Who could…”


      “More like what could.”


      “At such a young age…”


      Disjointed whispers from the warriors flew to Ahm’s ears over the wind. He shivered and crossed his arms, feeling chilled to the bone. Upon reaching his father in the small group, Ahm kept back from them just a bit, waiting respectfully for them to finish speaking. Aeton talked in low tones to his officers, and each of them solemnly nodded.


      Even Rhuk, his father’s Laiihthi, was quiet and still on Aeton’s shoulders, betraying his companion’s thoughts and mood.


      “Sir,” the woman spoke a little louder, halting their conversation. She nodded over towards the boy. The group went silent, and Ahm looked at the ground.


      “Right,” his father spoke heavily. “You know what to do.”


      The officers bowed and respectfully took their leave. Ahm could hear his father approaching him, his steps weary but quiet. “Son,” Ahm heard him crouch down and felt a hand on his shoulder. “Something very sad has happened.”


      Ahm looked up at his father and touched Hinih’s tail to calm her.


      “The hunter group… they are gone,” he said gently, but Ahm knew what he meant.


      “I have a job for you,” Aeton continued, “We found a young girl there, about your age. She is very lonely and scared, and would not eat or drink anything we gave her. Could you and Hinih, become friends with her? That is the one thing she needs the most right now.”


      Ahm nodded, and Rhuk slipped from Aeton’s shoulders to lead the boy. “Rhuk will show you to her,” his father said softly.


      The dark red Laiihthi curled his tail around Ahm’s wrist and Ahm followed him obediently. Aeton watched his son for a moment, then turned back to his warriors.


      Rhuk led Ahm back through the quiet camp to the healer tent. The Laiihthi stopped near the back of the long tent in front of a drawn curtain. He nodded to Ahm, then flew off back to his companion.


      The young boy looked up at the muted colors of the cloth hanging over the doorway and took a deep breath. His father almost never asked him to help with grown-up things that concerned the tribe. He was just supposed to listen to his father and the elders, and act proper and princely when the occasion arose. This task was very important- he could feel it.


      Ahm pulled the cloth aside and stepped inside the room. He blinked as he let go of the door cloth, as the room was brightly lit with many candles even though it was still early afternoon. It was a typical room in the healer tent: a bed with a box, stool, and burner stand beside it.


      “H-hello?” Ahm called softly, nervous.


      Two eyes peeked up from a bundle in the far corner, scrutinizing the newcomer closely.


      “Hi,” Ahm said again with a little wave.


      The bundle in the corner did not move, or show that it acknowledged Ahm.


      “My name is Ahm,” he continued, undeterred, “and this is Hinih. She will not bite, cause she is really nice.” Ahm walked forward and sat on the stool in front of the box. On the stool was a simple canteen and an empty cup. He reached forward and uncapped the canteen, sniffing its contents.


      “Ooh! They gave you chicode juice!” he exclaimed with a smile. The bundle in the corner perked up a bit. “Do you want some?”


      Without waiting for an answer, Ahm poured some of the juice into the cup and brought it over to her. He sat down a few feet in front of her and took a small sip. “It is really good,” he smiled at the small bundle.


      The little girl sat up a little straighter, the blanket slipping from her face. Tentatively she reached out a thin arm for the cup, and Ahm carefully passed it to her. She pulled back quickly and looked into the cup, then slowly took a sip. Her eyes lit up as she recognized the sweet juice, and she continued drinking it till there was nothing left.


      She looked disappointed as she stared down at the empty cup, her little lip trembling. She shivered and dropped the cup on the ground, where it bounced twice and rolled away. Ahm was quiet, hoping that he did not do anything wrong. He looked nervously to Hinih, but she was just as clueless.


      Very quietly, she began to cry, tears running down her already red face. Ahm’s eyes widened, and he looked around the room in vain. Hinih shifted nervously on his shoulders, trying to help her companion think of what to do.


      “H-hey…” he stuttered out quietly. The young boy reached out and touched her shoulders. Instantly she flew forward and wrapped her little arms around his neck. Hinih squeaked in surprise and flew backwards, just managing to not get crushed.


      Ahm blinked in confusion from his sitting position on the floor with the girl across his lap clinging desperately to him. Hinih delicately perched herself around her companion again, wary of the girl. She leaned down to carefully sniff at the girl’s arm, and jerked back when the girl shifted her arms. There was a lot of pain and confusion there, more than what she could sense.


      {she feels… sad} The Laiihthi tilted her small head to the side, trying to sum up everything she had sensed in the girl.


      Ahm could not really think of the words for a response as he felt through Hinih what this girl was feeling. It felt familiar somehow, the sense of utter abandonment.


      He did not remember his mother very much, only a vague hovering shape and whispers of a soft voice. He did remember, however, that for months afterward when he would cry and cry, that for all the arms that held him, none were as warm, comforting, and safe.


      Ahm squeezed his eyes shut against his own tears and hugged the girl back as tightly as he could, hoping that maybe he could somehow be of some comfort to her. Hinih rubbed her nose against both of their cheeks, trying to stretch her short tail around both of them for a hug. She purred lightly, knowing that the soft humming noise would help them.


      The younger girl soon fell asleep from exhaustion. Ahm began to nod off as well, and slumped to his side on the floor, half-conscious. He gasped between breaths as he let his tears out, holding onto the girl just as tightly as she still held onto him.


      Maybe her arms were not the same, but they were hurting, and craving the comfort of another just as much as he was.


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