Chrono Continuum Chapter 16
A Princess of Her Time
The reptite was scared out of his mind. He was certain that he had seen a shape in his peripheral vision, but it had been gone instantly. Since then, he had heard occasional rustling, and was sure he had heard light foot steps. He was almost back to the safety of his cave, though, and knew he shouldn't worry- That thought was broken as a form flew from the bushes, swinging out an appendage, and hitting the mostly unsuspecting reptite. He managed to do a full 540-degree back flip due to the force of the blow, and landed on his head. He got up quickly, expecting one of the stupid apes to be towering over him. He was half right.
He saw a female of the apes, standing a little taller than he was. She didn't wear the customary shreds of cloth. The cloth she wore covered all but her head, hands, and feet, the last of which were covered in an odd substance he couldn't define. She was not even close to as muscular as he had expected, and this pleased him greatly. He wasn't very highly respected, but killing an ape would prove his worth. He looked to her hands and saw a small stick in each hand. Not clubs, merely sticks. Still, defeating an armed ape would be even better. He hissed at her fiercely, inspiring surprise, and jumped at her.
Corea quickly regained concentration and crossed her arnis sticks. As the reptite ran into them, she moved them up over her head, flinging the reptilian attacker over her. He landed face first, but was quick to recover. He jumped at her, but this time she merely sidestepped, not wanting to get caught by those claws. She was inexperienced, she knew, and would just have to play this by ear. At landing, the reptite had turned and charged, deciding that jumping wouldn't work. She backstepped, then decided against it, instead throwing out a foot in the direction of the reptite's face. His own momentum carried him into it, and he landed on his back in the snow. He once again rose, however, and started slashing wildly with his claws. He almost laughed, wondering if she actually expected to counter this.
Corea dodged the claws, usually by less than an inch, trying to find an opening. A claw found its mark and sliced along her arm. She yelped, and almost dropped her stick, but worked on dealing with it. One claw grabbed at one of her sticks, and she instantly batted it away with her other stick. It took her a moment to even realize that she had done it, being so fast. He withdrew his arm, but continued slashing, determined. She, however, had learned something. Two things in fact. One, that being so lightweight, these sticks could move as fast as she could. And two, that she was armed, he wasn't, and that sticks feel no pain at being scratched. She smiled to the reptite. Surprised, he almost stopped. Almost.
Oh, well, Corea thought. It's his fault, not mine. And she slapped aside a claw with a stick. The other quickly replaced it, but it too was batted away. As this continued, not one claw made it past her sticks. Each swipe met a stick, and was put off, stinging. The reptite was surprised, but merely stepped up his attack. He wouldn't be beaten by an ape, least of all this ape. Corea, however, didn't have to do better. Her concentration showed her where to move the sticks, and when to do so, giving her a cold detachment to the battle. She was going faster by the second, anticipating the claws, and sometimes overcompensating, getting there too early. As the reptite tried to get faster, her sticks did the same. There was no visible effort on her part to do so. Her reflexes compensating perfectly, every swing made by the desperate reptite was stopped halfway. Stick and claw became a blur as the frantic blows and the calculated parries grew in speed. Finally, Corea decided to stop it.
As she batted aside a claw, she turned and brought her elbow into the side of the reptite's face. Blocking another wild swing, she slapped his head with her free stick, followed by the other one, and stepped back to send her knee up directly under his chin. He flew back, purple blood running from his mouth. He lied there for a few moments, and then, struggling, managed to stand. He was swaying back and forth, barely strong enough to stay up. Corea flipped her sticks, tucking them under her belt. She stood, shoulders squared to him, and told him firmly, "I'll let you live... if you tell me where you all are keeping Ayla, the chief of Ioka." Although he was surprised at such a well-spoken ape, he still spat a blob of blood at her, which landed at her feet. Corea looked down at it, and then looked back to the reptite.
"Is that an 'I don't know,' or an 'I know but won't tell you'?" The reptite smiled and replied in a raspy voice choked on blood, "Take it as you will." And he charged again, faster than he knew he could go. Corea was faster. The sticks were out instantly, and her arms flew out, deterring the thing with blow after blow after furious blow. Faster than even Corea could see, the sticks lashed out again and again, rapping the head, body, and arms. Again. And again. And many times more. Finally Corea swung with both hands, the sticks slamming into the reptite's head with a sickening crack. Corea looked worriedly at her sticks, but found that the crack had come not from them, but from the reptite. It was in the snow, head twisted unnaturally. The skull, on one side, was caved in, exposing blue brain matter. She stared at her vanquished foe for a moment more, and then couldn't hold on. She vomited heavily.
Corea sat up against the tree, one arm draped over her bent knee, a fire burning before her. She had made it with a small blast of lightning, which she was getting quite good at. She contemplated the fact that she had just killed, and it bothered her. True, it had been kill or be killed, but that didn't help very much. As she thought about it, she realized that she was partially or wholly responsible for many deaths. Any meat she had eaten had come from an animal, killed for that purpose. She had also killed many insects. And plants. Come to think of it, everyone's a killer, even vegetarians. Well, maybe not most plants. She sighed, and decided to get off of that train of thought. She began to mentally review the events of the last few days. (Everyone imagine wavy lines at his point)
She had awakened several days earlier, refreshed from her rest. As she had gone out to explore the village, find Turga, and meet the chief "Ayla," she had heard people talking of an emergency. Worried, she asked what was up. She was told (in simple language) that Chief Ayla had gone hunting and had not come back. When asked who she was, she simply replied that she was the daughter of Crono. Although there was a little confusion about her age, everyone knew that strange things had happened when Crono was around, and she was accepted. More than accepted. More than five guys, about her age and older, said that they would be there for her if she wanted to bear children soon. She remembered wondering if it was because there weren't enough women, if it was because she was the daughter of Crono, or if it was because she was pretty. She looked down at her clothes. They weren't nearly as revealing as those of the other women. Corea had ripped the sleeves into shreds to use as bandages for her arm and future injuries. She still wore the makeshift bandanna Rakin had made for her to staunch the bleeding on her head. She smiled. Then sighed. She missed Rakin.
The next day, Ayla had still been missing, and the villagers were basically lost without their chief. Kino, Ayla's brother and second in command, had died, shortly after fathering a child, leaving a mother to care for her child alone. Turga, to be precise. Corea had seen the baby, and he was just adorable, with blond hair, and a pair of blue eyes exactly like Corea's and her own mother's. She often wondered who this child was the ancestor of in her time. Anyway, the village was panicked, and it was decided that a temporary chief would be instated until Ayla could be found. Contests were had to see who was the strongest, and the fastest, and some that had no relevance, like who could eat the most. Corea had pointed out that wisdom was the most important thing in a leader, and the elders convened to see who they thought was wisest. Finally they decided on one. Namely, Corea.
You think of wisdom, when we no think it, they had said. And you daughter of Crono. Must be strong, and fast, and able to eat much. Corea, of course, could not believe it. Sure, she was next in line to the throne if anything happened to Rakin, but the survival of just about everyone in the world of this time now depended on her. And they wouldn't take "no" for an answer. So she was Chief Pro Tempore, and responsible for everyone's well-being. She had soon found out that it was a task worthy of a king of queen, and the royal blood probably helped her out a lot. Figuring out when the time was right, and where to hunt and such, had required a lot of advice, which she took from the elders. After several days, she'd gotten things to where they could survive for about a week or two without her, and she announced that she'd go searching for Ayla, and take a hunting party with her.
And she'd done just that. Eight very capable men and women accompanied her, as well as the husbands and wives of the five who had them. When they weren't hunting, the couples were usually trying to "get children". And they were perfectly willing to share, an offer which had caused Corea to pale on more than one occasion. Which was why she was alone, while thirteen men and women made a lot of noise in the camp, separated by a large rock. After the first night, she'd decided that a secluded area would a big prerequisite for any future camping sites. She leaned back against the trunk of the tree, looked up at the stars. They were so different from the stars of her home. She could pick out no constellations, and sometimes taken to naming some of her own. Like "The Castle". And "The Crown". She sighed, and thought of home, and comfort... and Rakin.
"Where are you, brother. When are you..."
We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.
- Robert Louis Stevenson
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