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Today I have a really stinking long cut scene for you. I wrote the original Pike’s Revenge a few years ago, before all the changes in NAMELESS made the second book require a completely new storyline. Barracuda is no longer a character at all (I did give Karigan’s son the warrior name Barracuda in Book Three to make up for it), but in this little snippet he’s Pike’s son, returned to Fie Eoin without knowing what a bad guy his father was. He’s brought a bit of a plague with him, and Karigan is on a mission to find a cure.
Again, I used to be a head-hopper. I apologize 🙂 Enjoy!
Karigan and Bar decided not to go any further for the day despite the hours of daylight left, and set up camp early. They could use the rest, they both decided – there was no point in trying to kill themselves finding a cure. So they made a fire and caught some fish and ate an early dinner, smoking the extra fish to take with them. Bar was fashioning implements out of the squirrel bones while Karigan cleaned her spear, marveling at how little used it appeared, although she’d used it every day since they started on their journey, half a moon ago.
“Is that the spear you brought back from Gaerlom?” Bar asked, and she nodded. “What makes it so much better than the others?”
Karigan shrugged. “It’s stronger, able to withstand the elements better, and it’s lighter for throwing.” She turned it in her hand, admiring the smooth wood, the sharp blade. “It’s much more accurate.”
“Have you ever killed anyone?” It sounded like a stupid question to be asking a girl younger than he was, but she was training to be a warrior so she must know how to kill someone, even if she hadn’t used that knowledge yet.
“No.” She looked neither pleased nor disappointed by her answer. It was what it was. “There have been no battles since I started training; and my parents promised to hold Sipi and I back if we ever went to a battle before receiving our marks.”
“What’s a mark?”
Karigan thought someone would have explained the warriors and their marks to him by now. She was constantly surprised by what he didn’t know. “It’s the scars on the warrior’s backs. It gives them their warrior name.”
“They just look like scars to me.” Bar shrugged. He had tried hard to picture the namesakes of the warriors in the webbing of scars on their backs but so far had been unsuccessful. “Are they battle scars? How do they get them?”
“It’s ceremonial,” she explained, moving forward in her excitement to talk about the ceremony that for her was only two summers away. “They send all of the trainees who have made eighteen summers out to catch food for the feast, and if you don’t come back with at least one deer you are a failure. Usually if a trainee can’t catch something big he just won’t come back at all.”
“What happens if he does come back with nothing?”
“He’s shamed for life.” She said it so casually, as if it was not a huge deal for someone to be shamed in their village for the rest of their life. His mother had been driven out of her tribe for shame, and Karigan gave it no more than a glance on the life of the tribe. “He’s stripped of his weapons and sent to another tribe. He probably won’t marry, because no one wants a failed trainee. Like I said, most just don’t return.”
Bar nodded in understanding at that; it was hard to find respect in the tribe of Fie Eoin if you weren’t a warrior. He already knew that. “So you hunt. Then what?”
“Then you go to sweat for the night, and try to see visions of your future accomplishments as a warrior.”
“You can see what you will do?” Bar asked in awe.
Karigan shrugged. “I don’t know if anyone actually sees anything. My mother saw our ancestor, Ian Odion, when he took over Fie Eoin by force…” She trailed off and grew silent, it was the first time she had mentioned her mother on the trip.
“I’m sorry, Karigan,” Bar said softly, knowing the fresh pain of losing a mother. The pain of being fine one moment until you tripped over a memory, and then growing cold and silent at the realization that there would be no more.
Karigan brushed his concern off and continued on as if it hadn’t happened, although her voice was rough with held in emotion. “After sweat you are brought out to the whipping rock, which is exactly what it sounds like. They whip each trainee, giving them their mark, and at the feast later that night they examine the mark and name them. It’s my favorite feast of the year.”
It sounded violent to Bar, but he didn’t mention that. “What if they can’t see a name?”
“Sometimes they can’t, and they hold a second ceremony later, after a battle wound completes the mark. That’s what happened to my mom.” Karigan fought off her desire to stop talking about her mother and continued in as normal a voice as possible. “They couldn’t see a name in her mark at first, and had to wait until her mark was completed in battle. They held a ceremony just for her so she could be named in front of everyone.”
“Completed in battle? Was it-“
“Yes.” Karigan knew who he was talking about and didn’t make him finish; it was a small kindness he appreciated. It was good to know some things, for the sake of understanding where he came from, but he wasn’t interested in the details.
“So you can look at the mark and know the name of the warrior?”
“Of course,” Karigan gave him a funny look, “don’t you know the names of all the people you meet?”
“And how do you recognize them?”
“By their face, or their hair, and sometimes their clothing.”
“And in Fie Eoin you recognize them by their mark. Each mark looks different.” Karigan picked up a twig and moved closer to Bar, sweeping the leaves from the ground before them. She began a series of lines in the dirt that she had been memorizing from birth. “Can you see it?” she asked as she finished and looked at him.
Bar studied it for a moment, seeing only the lines in the dirt. “No,” he said, shaking his head and frowning. “Who is it?”
Karigan outlined the grouping with her stick; it was a long, thin fish. “It’s my dad’s mark.”
Bar looked at her, studying the sudden softness of her features at the mention of her father, debating with himself whether he should ask her to turn around and go home now. He looked down at the mark and saw the fish now that she had outlined it, but Karigan took her palm and wiped the lines away into the dirt.
“A warrior’s mark is powerful,” she said in a hushed voice, “we do not leave it lying out for anyone to find.” But she picked up her stick and drew another mark, similar to the first. She had never seen the actual mark on the man, but she had seen her father draw it many times, in his own personal ceremonies that her mother had not known about. When she finished she got up to let him study it and moved back to where she had been seated with her spear. She drew another mark in the ground, one that Bar vaguely recognized, and continued cleaning the spear off above it.
Barracuda turned back to the mark in the dirt before him and studied it, trying to find the name. It looked, to him, almost exactly like the one she had drawn before, but he suspected it was just his inability to see the lines for something else. As the firelight flickered over the lines in the dirt, however, he saw a flash of scales, a flick of tail, and although he knew it was just his imagination he also knew the name in the mark. Bar put his hand out over the lines, afraid to ruin it with his touch, and then looked at his cousin with gratitude. She had given him a great gift, this mark, and he would memorize each line until he could see it with his eyes closed.
“Thank you, Karigan,” he whispered, but she pretended not to hear.