Intermission

"Ayah. U'sapa he nea?"

The words hit me like cold water on a hot day. I blinked, unsure who was talking or why they were talking to me. I blinked again, realizing the sun was searing right into my eyes, blinding me. That simply wouldn't do.

I got up, or tried to, at least, as it seemed I was held down by something, or someone. I had no idea what was going on, so I thrashed around, trying to get the bastards holding me down and give as good as I had apparently taken. Unfortunately, they held me down pretty tight, since I couldn't move a darn muscle.

"Ayah! Ayah! U'sapa tu am'he, cho'aga no'eh!" the voice demanded of me. I couldn't understand a lick of it, but I recognized it soon enough: Ano'tu'ana. Great. I was being held by natives. Suddenly, I felt something loosen on my arms and legs; my hands and feet began to sting painfully as blood rushed back into them. I had apparently been tied down, but how the hell did that happen? I carefully flexed my extremities as I tried to sit up and immediately realized it was a bad idea as I fell back down. This time, though, strong hands grabbed me and prevented me from possibly braining myself on a rock.

Now how did I know there would be a rock?

More hands came over and picked me up. I still couldn't see a blasted thing, the sun still burning my eyes into oblivion, which was a definite issue. I realize I probably had my eyes open so long I was sunblind, which was very bad: Being a 'slinger and losing your sight is a mite worse than being eaten alive by ants and buzzards. For those of you who have never had that happen, may the Fates bless you. I almost wished I had been eaten alive, because being blind is a big career limiting event for a 'slinger. 'Course, being eaten alive is similar in that respect, but you get the idea, I'm sure.

I smelled sweat, leather, horses, and a mixture of all sorts of other smells associated with the Ano. I wasn't sure why they were helping me; maybe I reminded the chief of a long lost brother or something. Anyway, they put me on a horse with another native and made me hold onto him. I did so with every ounce of strength I had, knowing if I fell it would hurt like hell, not to mention them having to stop and pick me up yet again. So, I willingly submitted to their help and simply waited.

I suspect I dozed off at one point because I was startled by the sound of laughter and the smells of cooking meat. Can't beat that with a willow stick, of course, and I'm sure my rumbling stomach was heard throughout the camp.

Now how did I know I was in a camp?

As I thought about it, I realized the sounds of camp gave it away. I heard Ano talking amongst themselves, both male and female voices, as well as kids running around, screaming and making a general nuisance of themselves, as kids are wont to do. In short, I heard family life all around me and I marveled at this fact, considering my brain was still cooking from being tied up in the elements.

"U'sapa chem makka?" It was a younger male voice this time, and when I did not answer immediately someone gently took my hand and placed something hot into my palm. It only took a moment to register it was a hunk of meat. I tore into it with a passion, wolfing down the meat in three bites. This obviously amused my rescuers as they chuckled and laughed amongst themselves, revealing them to be in a semi-circle around me. Another piece of meat was placed in my hand and I gave it the same treatment, but that was apparently the last one because no more meat was forthcoming, but they did eventually hand over a waterskin (which was the most delicious liquid I had had at that point) and something akin to bread, but a lot more coarse than I was accustomed to. After choking a bit on the bread (resurrecting a fresh round of laughter from my companions) and drinking more water, they led me to some place cool and shaded, most likely a tent or lean-to. I thanked them, despite the fact that they probably didn't understand a word of Madoran, and lay down on soft blankets. I was asleep before I understood what was happening, but that was alright.

Ironically, it wasn't until I started to dream that everything came back to me