The Unfinished Song: Initiate
…the men cudgeled his back. The blows brought agony without the solace of oblivion —the warriors knew their art, and steered their blows away from his head, aiming to hurt and subdue, not kill—yet. They tied his hands and feet, yanked his hair to expose his neck.
A mountain of muscle tattooed on both arms and both cheeks loomed over Kavio.
“The death blow is mine, blame or fame. You are all witness,” the leader barked at his men.
They grunted back.
This man knows who I am. Unfortunately, their acquaintance was not mutual.
“I know why you plan to kill me,” Kavio announced. Bold lies worked best. “But just the opposite is true.”
The leader shot a beefy hand out to grip Kavio’s neck. “Don’t waste my time.”
“Let me prove it.” “How ?” Good question. Kavio would bet his mother’s goat and toss bones
the big man and his sept of disciplined warriors weren’t petty bandits. The big man fought for kin and glory, but whose? What was his rank? Too good to be a mere sept leader, too far in the wilderness to be a War Chief. A war leader, then.
“Take me to your War Chief and let him decide after he hears my proposal,” Kavio dared him.
“Why should I waste War Chief Nargono’s ears on your begging?”
Nargono was War Chief of the Blue Waters tribe, once an ally of Rainbow Labyrinth, now one of his father’s bitter foes. To be fair, his father had a knack for embittering foes.
“Did you know my own father once gave me as a slave to the War Chief of Yellow Bear?” Kavio asked. “Yellow Bear—are they friends of yours?”
The big man glared at him through narrowed eyes. Whatever he saw, it bought Kavio another day of life. “Dump him in the boat.”
“Gag him, Rthan?” asked a warrior.
Kavio trotted the name through his memory, but it didn’t sound familiar.
“No, I want him to talk.” Rthan unclenched Kavio’s throat one finger at a time.