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 blinding sun was searing right into my eyes. That simply wouldn't do, so I closed them again.

I got up, or tried to, at least, as it seemed I tied down for some reason; at first I thought it was whatever was talking. Unfortunately, they tied some good knots and got me bundled up fairly well. I braced for the worst, expecting…something.

"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. There was more conversation in their tongue, sounding like they were discussing something fairly serious. Suddenly, I felt the bindings loosen on my arms and legs and they began to sting painfully as blood rushed back into them. I had apparently been tied down, but the Ano obviously didn't, so who did? 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.

More hands came over and picked me up. I still couldn't see a 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, but I wasn't going to argue. 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. They helped me down and I could tell I was in a camp (presumably with other Ano). I could smell food cooking, which set my stomach rumbling with a sound that could have been heard across the county lines.

"U'sapa chem makka?" It was a younger male voice this time and much nicer than my first interrogator, but 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 portion of meat, and I tore into it with a passion. This obviously amused my rescuers as they chuckled and laughed amongst themselves, revealing them to be young men 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. However, 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 cleaning my hands and drinking more water, they led me into a lean-to with soft furs and blankets. I thanked them despite the fact that they probably didn't understand a word of Madoran, and lay down in the shade. I was asleep before I knew it, so tired I was from my ordeal.

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