Betrayed

I crouched in the bushes, desperate for my presence not to be noticed. A bird shrieked above me, and I jumped, making the bushes around me shake like a rattlesnake's tail. Arrows immediately started falling like deadly rain around me. I groped for my shield, quickly swinging it up and over my back as I drew my sword. I backed away from the edge of the clearing. Seeing that no one jumped up at my motion, I turned and rushed into the forest, hoping that the arrows wouldn't pierce through my thin wood-leather shield. Stretching my legs out and trying to breathe evenly so that I wouldn't develop a stitch in my side, I leapt over fallen logs and fought my way through sticker bushes.

Finally, seeing a lighter green among the dark browns and greens of the forest, I sped up and burst through the barrier of thick thorn bushes. I raced through the maze of tan and brown animal skin tents and finally reached my own, the home also of my father, Mon, chief of our tribe. "Father, Father!" I shouted, staring into his startled face as he turned to look at me, "The Inti tribe has broken the Sacred Covenant! They've kidnapped Maya!"

Without a word, my father jumped to his feet and fastened his sword belt on. He rushed out the door to the village square. I quickly followed and handed him his ram's horn, which I had grabbed on the way out. He put it to his lips and blew, a great ringing blast sounding out over the hills. I knew that men miles away would awaken, buckle their swords on and rush to help my father vanquish the horrible Inti tribe. For the Intis had broken the Sacred Covenant, which promised that they wouldn't try to recapture their princess, Maya, after she wanted to marry my uncle. But now they had, and they had to pay.

Men rushed out of the trees to come and gather at my father's feet. When the last man had come, Mon shouted out, "Friends! Comrades! The terrible Inti tribe has broken the Sacred Covenant, and stolen back Maya!" Boos rang out all around the green. My father cried, "Are we going to let them break the Sacred Covenant!?"

"No!" the men cried.

"Are we going to let them make fools of us?"

"No!" they cried again.

I stood at my father's side as he shouted out what else we weren't going to let them do. Pride for him threatened to burst out of my chest. He was willing to risk his life to save Maya, a small, timid girl of the enemy who had wanted to marry his brother.

"No!" I shouted with the men, my heart lifting. "Are we-," my father cried again, but then his voice was cut off by an arrow sprouting in his throat. Everyone ducked and ran for cover as more Inti arrows came raining down, but I rushed to my father's fallen body. Sobbing, I pulled at the shaft and eased it out of his flesh. Hot blood spurted onto my hand. I wanted to stay there forever, and just die there at my father's side. But I was forced to move when an arrow landed in the dirt at my side, its tip quivering. Grabbing my sword from where Idropped it, I rushed into the trees.

Turning to see how the fighting was, I knew that all was lost. Most of the men lay on the ground, arrows peppering their bodies like porcupine quills. All of the rest were being pursued through the now-burning village by Inti warriors, and one by one their lives ended with the flash of a sword. A figure stepping out of the trees to my left caught my eye, and I turned my head to see better. When I saw who it was, my mouth dropped open.

It was Maya, and she wasn't sobbing or even looking remorseful as she gazed down upon the carnage before her. On the contrary, she had an eerie, satisfied grin on her face, as she watched brave men die below. The thing that stuck me was that she was wearing the silvery green, skimpy dress of an Inti high priestess.

It was then that I understood. The Covenant hadn't really been a covenant at all. Maya had only wormed her way into our tribe to betray us. And now, I was the only one left.