Emerald Feather

Twenty-six

Her silent feet sent her flying through the forest, darting between the trees and gliding effortlessly over fallen logs. Her rich green eyes never lost sight of the young cassowary sprinting ahead of her. She slid her sword from its sheath, knowing she was coming close to catching up to it. Just a few more seconds.

A plume of flame suddenly flew out in front of her, blowing the cassowary over, its glossy black feathers charred and smouldering.

“That was so mine.” Keena pointed her sword accusingly at the redhead.

He shrugged. “You snooze, you lose,” he said simply, grabbing the bird by the neck and dragging it through the leaf litter. His orange-furred tail was held high.

Keena growled and made her way angrily back to the beach. She spotted a monkey in a tree and killed it the easy way, catching it as it dropped to the ground.

“Do you know how sick I am of that guy?” she informed Ninyo when she got back.

“Took your catch again?”

“He’s so inconsiderate!” Keena continued, “He’s only got himself to feed, he doesn’t even need a whole cassowary!”

“Keena, calm down.”

Keena took a deep breath and sat down in the sand. “Can’t we just go live somewhere else?”

“I have to admit,” Ninyo agreed, “It is a tad on the crowded side here. Everyone knows we live here. Do you know how many people have asked me to teach them Green Magic?”

“Probably about as many who’ve asked me to teach them how to use their sword. I even gotten someone with Blue Magic ask me, now that’s weird.”

Ninyo shrugged. “Least they’re not running from us anymore.”

“True, but I kinda prefer solitude.”

“Think just about everyone in the forest knows us by now,” Ninyo said dismally.

A pair of hands clasped themselves over Keena’s eyes. “Guess who!”

“Gee, I wonder.” Keena grinned and reached her arms up, tickling her son under his arms. Miliko giggled and took his hands away.

“Whatcha talking about?” he asked, bouncing down into his mother’s lap.

“Going to live somewhere else,” Keena answered, “Too many people here.”

“Like where?”

“Dunno. Up the beach, I guess.”

“When are we going?”

Keena laughed. “We don’t even know if we are yet!” She tickled him again. “Ready for more sword practice?” she asked him playfully.

Miliko’s ears pricked up. He jumped to his feet and stood, legs apart and glistening green sword held tightly in his grip, a grin over his face.

Keena stood up. “You don’t mind cooking the monkey?” she asked Ninyo, unsheathing Blue Serpent.

Ninyo waved his hand at his son. “Go for it, I’ll call you when it’s done.”

Keena smiled in thanks, then turned more aggressively to her son. She spun Blue Serpent in her grip and began circling him, looking into his black eyes as he began to do the same.

“Ready?” she asked, raising her eyebrows. He nodded firmly. Keena grinned. “Go,” she said, and sprang back when Emerald Feather flashed by her arm. She spun and thrashed at him with her own blade, but he was ready and blocked it easily with a loud clash of steel. The two blades slid against each other and Keena whipped hers around, trying to dislodge the leather hilt from Miliko’s hands, but again he avoided her, striking back with his own and forcing Keena to defend. He hooked the tip of his blade under Blue Serpent’s, attempting at the trick his mother had taught him.

“Nice try,” Keena grinned. She flicked her own sword tip under the opposing hilt and whipped the sword from his grip, catching it perfectly in her left hand. Because of his lack of magic, Miliko was probably the only person Keena would ever be beaten by, but that wouldn’t happen for a while yet.

Miliko grinned and took his sword back. “Come on Dad, I’ll go against you.”

Ninyo shook his head. “Nah, I’m cooking your dinner.”

Keena folded her arms and raised an eyebrow. “You just don’t want to lose.”

“You think I’m chicken?”

Mother and son looked at each other, then back to Ninyo. “Yup,” they said simultaneously, nodding their heads.

“Come on Dad, it won’t be ready for ages yet, get up.”

“There’s no way out of it, Nin.”

“Righto,” he said finally, getting to his feet, “if my reputation rests on it, then I guess I’ve got no choice.” He unsheathed his sword and approached his son, beginning to circle.

Keena stood back to watch as the two men of her life thrashed at each other with their swords. It was a very closely fought battle; both competitors had evenly matched skills, and in the end it was only Ninyo’s strength that brought him out on top.

He casually sheathed his sword as though he thought nothing of it, but Keena knew better. Ninyo quite enjoyed winning once in a while.

Keena applauded them then offered them some advice. “Miliko, keep your eyes on Ninyo’s sword and keep both hands on your own. Ninyo, you still need to be more aggressive.”

Miliko and Ninyo looked at each other and nodded, then turned back to Keena, grinning evilly.

“What?” she asked suspiciously.

Both cat-people lunged on her, forcing her to draw Blue Serpent and defend. Good as she was, the two blades were no match for her, and her own was removed from her grip by Emerald Feather, then grabbed out of the air by Ninyo.

Ninyo inspected his new acquisition. “Now Keena,” he said with mock seriousness, “You really need to be more vigilant.”

“Know exactly what your opponent’s thinking at all times,” Miliko added.

Keena smirked and folded her arms. “Is that so?”

“That’s right,” Ninyo answered, tossing her sword back.

“Good to know,” Keena answered. She flicked her sword around and caught both swords, one in each hand. “Anything else to add?”

She was soon bowled over into the sand, laughing.

“So do you want to come?”

Iis shook her head. “I quite like it here,” she answered, “We’ve got a group together with all the people who lost their magic, and I’m trying to learn a bit about more traditional healing methods, so it’s quite nice. Thank you for the offer though.”

“‘Sokay,” Keena said, slightly disappointed, “If you ever want to drop by, we’ll be somewhere up the beach. Don’t tell anyone else that though,” she added.

Iis laughed. “Don’t worry, I won’t.”

Keena smiled and stood up. “Seeya whenever, then,” she said, dusting off her skirt.

“You too.”

Keena didn’t feel quite right about leaving. The river mouth held a lot of sentimental value for her. It was where she had met Ninyo, where she had learnt her magic, where her son was conceived and where she and the rest of the group had eradicated Black Magic forever. But still, it was just a place, a random spot on the edge of the rainforest. She had all she really needed with her. She had Ninyo, she had her magic, she had Miliko and she had Blue Serpent. That was all that mattered.

Started Saturday 28 September 2002
Completed Wednesday 4 December 2002

Old Fiction