Zarnak stood beside her father, as he waited for the arrival of their visitor. She had heard the rumors of Ardeth Bay, he was the Commander of the First Medjai tribe. His father was the Chieftan of the twelve tribes, but Ardeth was due to inherit the title. Just as Oded, Zarnak’s brother, was set to inherit the title of Commander of the twelfth tribe from their father.
“Remember to mind your manners, Zarnak,” her father advised as they waited for Commander Bay.
“Yes Abu,” she answered, a soft sigh escaped her lips.
Suddenly, in the distance a rider appeared. Zarnak’s golden gaze spotted the black stallion as it fast approached with its rider astride. The female medjai watched and waited for Ardeth Bay.
He pulled to a stop not far from the duo. Ardeth jumped off his horse and moved to the pair. The Medjai Commander greeted his fellow Commander, before his attention turned to Zarnak.
“You must be Zarnak,” Ardeth said as he looked at the brunette female with his dark eyes. “Your brother speaks very highly of you,” the Commander addressed. He reached forward and placed a kiss to her knuckles, his eyes locked onto her own.
“Thank you,” she replied softly, as she pulled her hand away. “Oded has spoken highly of you, Commander Bay.”
She stepped back as her father moved forward. “Come Ardeth, let us return to camp,” Zarnak’s father suggested. He sent his daughter a warning with his eyes.
Zara looked down, her cheeks flushed. She knew she would later be getting a lecture from her abu about her behavior with Commander Bay. Her Umi had hoped that she would leave an impression that would make the Commander desire her, but Zara did not want to be an object. She was a warrior, she had no desire to marry or have children.
The trio walked the short distance back to the camp of the twelfth tribe. Ardeth held the reigns of his horse as he walked beside Mohad. Together they spoke softly with another of the various news and reports of different camps. Zara kept a fair distance from the men to give them some semblance of privacy. While she was a Medjai warrior, her father had often kept things from her, as he felt she contributed little to the tribe.
Golden eyes swept the area, in constant motion as they reached the village. As they reached the stables, Zara caught her father’s eye and nodded towards the training arena. Mohad gave a simple nod.
Zara smiled before she turned and ran to the arena.
Mohad’s eyes followed after his daughter. He hated the idea of his only daughter being a warrior, but Oded had allowed her train. His son had taken her under his tutelage and guided her as she completed her training with the others her age.
Zara was one of the youngest warriors at sixteen, but she still needed some more training. The female was sufficient with sais and the short sword. She grabbed her sais. She easily spotted her friend and fellow Medjai, Mana.
“Mana,” she called out.
“Zara, you’re back,” the brunette rushed to hug her friend.
Zara laughed but returned her friend’s hug. “We didn’t go far. Practice with me?” she asked with a stressed smile.
“Of course,” Mana assured her friend. She patted Zara on the shoulder.
Soon, the pair were looking at each other. Arms raised and prepared for battle. Seht, Mohad’s second-in-command counted off. At his word for attack, Zarnak and Mana moved towards each other.
Zara’s sais clashed with Mana’s. The girls swiped, dodged, and ducked at each other’s coming attack. Zara sank down when Mana attempted to stab her in the face. She swiped a leg out, to knock Mana on her back.
As the fight continued, other warriors stopped to watch the pair. Both knew each others strength and weaknesses. The duo pushed the other to get stronger and better, the crowd watched. Seht kept a critical gaze on Zarnak and Mana, he had easily spotted a few mistakes.
Seht saw Mahod and Ardeth enter the training arena. As the two men joined Seht, he kept his eyes on Mana and Zara. “You should be proud, Mahod, she has shown great improvement,” Seht told his commander.
Ardeth watched as Zara and Mana fought each other. His eyes followed the movements of Zarnak, the female he had heard so much about. Oded’s stories of Zara were full of admiration and fondness. He knew that Oded adored his younger sister, she had willingly defied Mahod to join the Medjai. Her story fascinated him, and he hoped to eventually have patrol rotations with her.