By: Jackie Lavache
The air was hot and humid as Lei drifted in her boat in unknown seas. Her food supply was pathetically low, and Lei felt so parched. She forced herself not drink her remaining water. She needed to preserve it as long as possible. Lei needed to survive.
Lei drifted, all alone with nothing better to do then ponder the events that had led to current state. Her execution.
It had not been so long ago that she was anxiously awaiting her engagement to Cai. He had been in talks with her father and everything was seemingly perfect. She would marry her love and the people of the Fyrlight tribe would get to see their beloved princess in wedlock.
Things of this nature, however, were not to be. Anfri changed these plans when he murdered Govan, Lei's father and chief of the Fyrlight tribe.
Anfri was an evil and ambitious man, which Lei just could not begin to fathom. She did not understand his greed, his need for power. Anfri had destroyed the precious peace between the three tribes: Fyrlight, Tannatt, and Yorath on the small island of Meniaka. Meniaka existed in a small island chain that was unknown to the "civilized" world of Amtar. Meniaka was a place of peace and honour. There was no greed as each tribe made sure to provide for its own members, but Anfri changed that.
Lei felt as if she could cry, but did not as tears would waste precious water she so desperately needed to survive.
Survive. Lei could have laughed at the notion. She knew in her heart that death was imminent, yet still she continued to fight.
Anfri had chosen the perfect form of execution. He could have killed her outright, but instead he chose a death that would show even the gods damned her.
It had been a custom to execute people by casting them out to sea, leaving them at the mercy of the gods. They even provided the accused with some food and water, which to Lei seemed only a cruel way to make her suffering last longer. It had been known to happen that someone cast out in this fashion would return to the shores safely. It was then assumed that this person was innocent and the gods themselves had saved that person. If they did not return, then they believed they had died, as their punishment required.
Dying out at Sea would also prevent her cremation. Lei's heart would never be burned and therefore her soul would never be freed to spend eternity with the gods. Such a fate was considered worse than death.
This was a perfect way for Anfri to get rid of Lei, the only person who could and would challenge him. Lei held a position of power as the princess of the Fyrlight tribe; she was a born leader and his greatest enemy. So when Lei fell into his hand, he carefully chose a way that would not only kill her, but make it seem that the gods where also against her.
There was a chance that Lei would make it back to shore, safe and sound, but Lei knew otherwise. Anfri would be certain that never happened. He would probably post guards in order to prevent any chance of her returning. Lei also knew the boat was not returning to shore, and if it did, she'd be dead by then.
Lei believed fervently in the gods, but now she found her faith in question. Why had the gods let her father die? Why did they let Cai, her beloved, die? Why did they let her best friend Eira die? And why did they let Anfri gain control of Meniaka? Why did they let the precious peace be destroyed? Why did they leave her to die this slow and painful death?
Lei wished for death, to end the misery and to be reunited with her love, to leave the pain and troubles of a brutal world behind. And yet, she continued her struggle to stay alive. After days upon days of endless drifting, Lei did not give up. There was a force, driving her own, and she almost believed it was the gods.
Lei's thoughts, during this ordeal, often drifted back to her life and the way things had been. The most notable thing she would remember was the peace and the happiness. She was the heir to her father's thrown. It would have been preferable if Lei was a boy, but Govan had only been blessed with a daughter. No one questioned the fact that Lei would take the thrown. Everyone believed things happened because it was what the gods wanted. If they wanted a female leader of the Fyrlight tribe, then they were not going to dispute it.
To anyone else, her culture may have seemed uncivilized, but in reality everyone was taken care of, everyone was free. The women were treated slightly different, but that was the way. They were the child-bearers, and men where the hunters. People prospered through bartering between the three tribes. Money was not a concept. You exchanged goods for goods.
Lei suddenly missed the simplicity of it all. She missed the peace and the love. She missed the fighting lessons with Cai, and the late night walks in the woods with Eira and Aeronwy. (Lei's two best friends and twins) She missed the children running around, playing and doing mischief. She missed all that and so much more. The thing that hurt Lei the most was that even if she managed to get back to Meniaka, things would not be like that thanks to the tyrant called Anfri.
And then suddenly, a frightening and thrilling vision came to Lei. It looked like a huge water demon, with many wings of white. It sailed through the water, almost as if it owned the water. Lei could not determine the head of this monster but she did see that it was coming her way.
Maybe this was it. Maybe the gods had sent this sea creature to end her misery, but then as it advanced she saw people on its back.
Upon further investigation with her eyes, Lei determined that it was some sort of enormous boat. Lei had never seen such a sea-faring vessel such as this before. It was large, large enough to hold all the inhabitants of Meniaka. She looked at the white cloth she had mistaken for wings. "What purpose do they serve?" Lei wondered.
Lei also noticed the men aboard the ship. They were dressed so strangely. In this hot and humid weather they wore clothes that covered almost all their body. They wore strange things on their feet, and even cloth on their hands. Their clothes seemed heavy and rough. Their skin was also incredibly light along with their hair. It ranged from brown, to a light yellowish colour. This was in deep contrast to Lei. Her skin was a tan brown, and her hair a deep black colour. It was like that with everyone on Meniaka. Also, the clothing was incredibly different. On Meniaka men usually wore a loincloth, and a woman would wear a small skirt, and if they chose, they would wear a top. Modesty was not a concept on Meniaka, and Lei, who wore nothing more than a light cloth wrapped around her waist and continued up to her chest, would take a long time to grasp this concept.
The men aboard the ship saw Lei in her shabby and unsophisticated boat. From what Lei could tell, a man, who appeared to be the leader, shouted orders at the men which resulted in a rope being tossed down to her. Lei realized they were saving her, and therefore did not hesitate to climb up the side of the ship into the starboard deck.
When she reached the deck, instead of passing out from extreme exhaustion, she stood tall which took her to a full 6'6" in height. She would not show weakness in front of these oddly dressed strangers. She would show them she was a princess, a woman to be respected.
The look Lei saw in their eyes was surprise. They couldn't seem to believe that she acted so boldly in front of them. Never before did these men see a woman dressed so scantily clad in a simple greenish cloth. Lei did not understand these men, and the men did not understand her.
But one man approached Lei; he was the man who had barked the orders to drop the rope. Lei noticed he held the aura of a leader by the way the men acted towards him and the air in which walked suggested this fact. Lei also noticed something, which disturbed her, he had the same cruelty Lei saw in Anfri's eyes. It was a faced chiseled by someone who saw so many deaths and didn't care, maybe even enjoyed it. He had hard set eyes that showed greed and power.
Lei's thoughts flickered to the gods. "Where have you brought me?" she pleaded of them in her mind. What where these men going to do to her? These men had not saved her out of pure kindness, which anyone in her tribe would have done in a heartbeat; she realized they saved her for a more evil reason. Despite her strength she would be overpowered. And she would be plunged into a world of darkness, where she would be sold as property, and considered uncouth and savage. She would be thrown into a life without freedom and a culture of money, nobility, and prejudice she can only begin to understand. And with that, the leader gave the order, and everything went dark.
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