A Big Shiny Blue Marble Ch. 30byTaLtos6©
***Cha'Khah is one of my favorite characters in this. I put off writing this scene until I felt that I was ready to do it justice. If you've followed this, you'll know that she's a pretty complex girl. So what would it take to get her to step out from behind the barricades that she's erected all around herself? I couldn't answer this at first. Would she see someone that she likes and pounce on him, or would she play shy - and blow that all to hell in an instant?
So I pondered it for a while. How does one reach Cha'Khah's heart? Well he'd have to be a certain type, for sure, and then how would she react?
Of course, by now, we all know that she's seen someone that she likes.
It's uh, ... it's probably why she shot him. 0_o
Book of the Mountain Clan Part 7
Cha'Khah was beside herself, angry with herself for liking him, and angry enough at him to want to kick him in the face. He'd pointed a weapon at her -- and all that she'd wanted to do was to talk to him. She knew why he'd done it and she was even mad over that. She realized that she'd never stood a chance in this. He couldn't have ever met another Drow, not here, and the merchant in the town that she'd met had left the next day over a year before.
And somehow the tales of her kind had reached his ears anyway. Or maybe he just didn't like dark people. It wasn't common anymore, Azrael had told her, but it was still possible.
Fine, she told herself, it all boiled down to her finding another reason not to like human males. She was rapidly going back to the comfort and safety which her usual attitude offered. When you don't give a flying fuck about anyone, it's a lot harder to feel hurt.
She looked at him, deciding that she'd take her time applying the antidote, and if she spilled a little and it ruined his clothing, it would be his problem. He shouldn't have raised the weapon. If he ever had the bad luck to meet her again and he raised one finger then, she'd kill him for it and laugh.
Shaevre chuckled at her and it made Cha'Khah even hotter, "Why do you laugh?" She asked.
"I am not laughing over what happened," the Xer said, "This has now become even worse."
She smiled warmly, "I am seeing how much you liked this one. I am sorry for what happened, Cha'Khah, but it is nice to see that you still have the heart of a young female inside and under your hard shell. I learned this about myself, and I took it to mean that the wars had not ruined me after all -- you told me this yourself. You should listen to your own advice a little. You should think about it when you have calmed yourself." She reached down and picked up his ancient rifle to examine it out of mild interest.
"You and I have become good friends, I must admit, Shaevre," Cha'Khah growled, "but you need to learn a little more of me. You'd know then that now is not the time to try to make me feel better, though I thank you for your words. I cannot believe that I have made such a mess out of a simple thing."
"How long do you have to apply the drug?' The Xer asked as she worked the action of the piece. She set it down and knelt to search his pockets.
The Drowess shrugged, "Perhaps an hour before it starts to kill him. The longer that I wait, the harder his limbs will spasm from the antidote. With luck, he'll beat himself senseless with his own fists from the pain."
Shaevre looked up, "I think you had better hurry. I see that you feel bad enough now. I can say that this male that you liked is either a fool, or he cares for you in his way."
"Now you try to make a joke to me," Cha'Khah scowled, "and I have said that I am in no mood -- "
Shaevre held up one object between her furry thumb and forefinger, "The weapon is empty. He had only one shot, and it was in his pocket. This is what the weapon needs to shoot. Either he is mindless, or he wanted only to warn you off. He did try to tell you to stop."
Cha'Khah stared for a moment, her jaw opening in shock, and then she threw herself down onto her knees beside Barrett.
"Help me, Shaevre," she said, "Everything that I see about him tells me that he is a poor man. I will remove the dart, and then we must act quickly. I will need his coat and the shirt underneath off him when I give him the antidote."
"Why?" Shaevre asked, watching the Drowess work the tiny lever which folded in the barbs on the poisoned dart.
"He deserves what I have done no more than he deserved the loss of the cattle. The longer I take, the more harm I will do, and I do not want to ruin even his clothing from my stupidity."
When they had the dart out and his shirt off, Cha'Khah worked feverishly, right up to a point.
"What are you doing now?" Sheavre asked.
Cha'Khah paused for a moment and spit some of the antidote that she'd sipped into the snow. She made a face at the taste, "I have a tool to draw out the poison, but it does a poor job. I have never cared much before, but I want everything out. I lined my mouth with the antidote to keep the poison from affecting me while I suck it out of the wound. This was taught to me, but I have never seen the need to want to do it for anyone."
Shaevre nodded and watched for a time. "Is it out of him yet?"
The Drowess nodded as she spit into the snow, "Yes, all that I could find."
"Then why do you suck here and here?" she pointed.
"Never mind," Cha'Khah said.
Shaevre helped as much as she was able, finally carrying the unconscious rancher to his home. "I know how badly you must feel," she said, just before she smiled, "and how much you like him still."
Cha'Khah nodded as she opened the door for them. She sighed heavily, "It will do me no good. I only want to get all of this past me and be gone now."
"You could kiss him once," the Xer suggested, "he will know nothing of it, and at least you would know -- "
"Stop, my friend," Cha'Khah smiled sadly, "You make it worse now."
He heard sounds, muffled and soft from around him. The way that it sounded, he was not out in the woods anymore. He wanted to open his eyes, but the commands didn't seem to be getting that far from his mind yet. He was able to make out two voices a moment later, the one attached to that sweet laughter that he'd heard and another, deeper one, which oddly enough, sounded female as well. Both voices carried accents of some sort and he noticed that they were not the same accent between them. It was all a bit much, considering that he felt like shit at the moment.
"I have added two more pieces of wood to the heating system," the deeper voice said, "You should close this control here if it gets too warm. It is already too warm here for me."
Barrett managed to open his eyes, and he stared at the source of the deeper voice. He might have been scared to death and as confused as hell, but he did manage to maintain at least a little clarity of thought. "If that stove is full of wood, then you'd better close that damper all the way, unless you plan to have me die when the place burns down from a chimney fire."
When the one with the deeper voice turned its head to him, he wondered why he wasn't pissing himself in fear, and the dog-like tracks that he'd seen suddenly made sense.
"You stole my cattle?"
"Yes," Shaevre nodded, "We did not know that they belonged to anyone," She turned her head to Cha'Khah, "I must go. Will you be alright?"
"Yes," the dark woman answered, "though I've managed to almost get him killed with my foolishness. I have everything that I need. Thank you, Shaevre."
The dog-thing nodded its head and after closing the damper as Barrett had instructed, she opened the door to go.
"We think that you will be angry," she said," and we can understand it, especially now. But you really should thank my friend. When you raised your weapon, I was about to kill you with mine. We have made an error and we sought to correct it, but it went wrong. Please do not think of her too badly for what happened. She saved your life." She picked up her weapon from where it leaned against the wall next to his by the door and ducking her head carefully, the tall Xer turned to go.
"What the hell are you?" Barrett managed to ask, "And that thing, it looks like some kind of rifle, but it's so big."
"It is near enough to be called that, even by me" the Xer nodded, "but it is made to kill ones like me when we war. We are hard to kill. If my friend can ease your feelings, you might ask her of it. I must go, it is too warm for me here," she said, indicating her fur. She walked out and closed the door behind her.
Cha'Khah looked at him from where she sat on a chair, "Are you not going to ask what she is?"
"I'm really not in the mood," he said in a low voice, "I'm waiting to see what you're going to do to me next while I try to figure out what I did to deserve this."
He felt a little sorry for his tone, seeing the way that it caused her to look down, but not much.
"You did nothing," she said to the floor, "I made a mistake, and then another, and after that, I wished to do the right thing and make it better if I could."
She sighed, "But then I erred and made another mistake, and you did what you saw as right -- which it was -- and of course, I made another mistake then. If it were not for Shaevre, you would be in great pain now or soon. I am here now to try to fix what I can, and then I will go. I will not bother you again."
Barrett found that he could now feel his extremities. But he couldn't move much at all.
"You are tied to the chair," the dark one said as she got up. She looked disgusted with herself for a moment. "I have no fear of you and I do not wish to harm you. I will free you in a few minutes, and I really am very sorry. It probably means nothing to you, but if you knew me at all, you would know that perhaps the thing that I hate most of all to do is to apologize. I see it as a personal flaw, but it is there."
She looked down for a moment and sighed, "I am sorry for everything.
I shot you because we thought that you were about to act in the only way that you could from your side of it. My friend would have killed you in only a moment more to protect me, so I shot you to save you from her weapon.
All of this is because I made a mistake and we came to tell of it and try to make it better if we could. The bolt that I shot you with was tipped with a poison. It is used where I come from for abductions. It acts quickly, but will not kill for some time. That is why you feel drugged, because you were, really. When it passes with an antidote, it usually causes strong muscle spasms in most, but you seem to have escaped this because I started the antidote in less than two minutes. A good thing, because those spasms are sometimes strong enough to break bones, in the legs for example."
She hung her head a little, "Another good thing is that I remembered which weapon carried the slow poison. The other one works just as quickly and kills in seconds." She sighed, "And there is no antidote which could be applied fast enough to prevent death. You are tied so that I may undo some of the wrong that I have done. I need you to be still then."
"Wonderful," Barrrett said quietly," so that's why I'm trussed up here like a turkey. Where's my shirt?"
"I had to remove it," Cha'Khah said, "There is the antidote to counter the drug and I wished to apply it before you suffered real harm. The antidote stains clothing badly. We removed your coat and shirt for this where you fell and I brought them when my friend carried you here. That is why you probably feel cold. I also found some thread and I have repaired the holes from the dart in your shirt and your coat," she said, rolling her eyes.
"Now, I wish to heal the damage to you."
She stood up and removed her cloak. He could see that her shoulders were not quite as broad as he'd thought. Her armor included spalders over her shoulders. The edges of the ridges on them looked to be sharp. He could see that she wore swords as well and he wondered about that as she removed them and laid them on the table beside some things which he couldn't identify. She noticed his expression.
"Ask me what you will," she shrugged a little sadly, "I am the one who has ruined your day -- and put holes in both you and your clothing."
"I have a lot of questions," he said, and she was at least a little pleased that he didn't seem to be quite as angry as she knew that she'd have been under circumstances like these. He did look annoyed though, even more so after he'd looked down and seen the thin hole in his pectoral muscle and the angry redness around it.
"What's all that stuff on the table next to the swords there?"
She moved a few things around and opened a container of some liquid, "I am about to make sure that there is no more poison in the wound. There will be only some brief pain, and then I will clean the wound and medicate it before I close it. I can do better with flesh than I can sew. There will be no scar or mark of any kind and the wound will be healed. It is not something that I would do for most people that I shoot. But then, I do not ever try to meet many humans either. This is all my fault.
Why was your weapon empty?" she asked.
"It's a long story, and I'm an idiot," he said, and looked away.
He felt the hardness of her gauntlet against his cheek as she turned his head, "Human, I have made many errors here, but I try to correct them. I wish to know why you did not load your weapon, and yet you made as though to prepare it to shoot me. We have enough differences between us to make things harder than they need to be. Once I knew of what you did, I worked very hard and quickly. Before I knew, I was angry with you for raising it. I would not have tried so hard. Another good thing, because it was Shaevre who noticed that the weapon was empty. I was too angry to care much until then.
Well I am not angry with you anymore. I am only angry with myself. I know that you have many reasons to hate me and I cannot say that you would be wrong. Only please tell me why."
Barrett looked down for a moment, "That thing over there against the wall is older than anyone knows. Some ancestor of mine brought it with him when he came to settle here and it's been here ever since. Living here, you need a rifle like that. In the past, it wasn't just animals who'd come to raid here. I don't know what happened hundreds of years ago, no one does, but when you're starving and stumbling around in these mountains and you see cattle and crops, well a gun is maybe the only thing that'll change your mind.
But it doesn't always work out that way. It's never happened to me, but a couple of my family have needed to use that. It's killed men before, a few times. But when you're out there facing somebody who might want to kill you to get what's yours, a lot of things can go wrong in less time than you'd think.
At least once, a man was killed by mistake and out of fear. It's something that I always keep in my mind. That's why I only carry one cartridge for it, and I never carry it loaded. That way, I need to think before I can use it."
Cha'Khah nodded, and understanding at least a little, she found that she could respect his view. "What do you know of my kind?" she asked, "I saw your face change when I pulled my hood back. I wished to show that I was friendly, but I saw something else in your face then."
"I don't know anything about you," he said, "but all that I've heard is that you can kill somebody before they know it. I'm missing some of my herd, and I thought that you were here to take another one, but maybe I got in your way."
He watched her hair fly at how hard she shook her head. "No," she said, "I think that I can see it, but I was here to offer money to pay for what we took."
She leaned forward and placed her hand on his leg as she did, "You may have heard things, and I cannot say that what you heard was wrong, not knowing it, but you need to know something that is truth from the mouth of one who IS what was spoken about. The ones who were spoken of to you, I am not one of them anymore. I can offer you only truth, human. You will have to decide if I lie, but those ones that you heard of," she said, looking directly into his eyes to make her point.
"They do not come alone, and they NEVER come in the daytime. Only at night. I am a Drow and my kind loves the darkness."
She chuckled to herself, "And they would never come to you to pay you for anything."
She leaned back and took her hand away as she did. "I understand some of it now, but if you felt threatened, why did you not load the weapon then?"
He tried to shrug, "I don't really know, but I don't trust everything that I hear in the barroom of an inn. There's a lot more bullshit there than truth. I only knew that I didn't have enough of a reason to shoot you. I had the round in my hand inside my pocket, but even though you're something that I've never seen before and you seem to be able to move so fast that I can't see you do it and walk on snow and leave no tracks, well, that's no reason to want to kill somebody, at least to me it's not.
So I left the round in my pocket and I hoped that if I worked the lever that you'd get the idea, since you weren't listening to me when I told you to stop. Besides, if what I heard was true, you were already too close for me to have time to load the rifle, and until all of this happened," he said, looking down to indicate what had been done to him, "I kind of liked you."
Cha'Khah's mouth fell open. "You -- you say that you liked me."
He nodded, feeling foolish and she laughed for a moment, "This is the most unkind day for us both," she said with a sad shake of her head, "I have heard that humans tell each other not to believe what one of us might say to them. That is probably for the best with most of us."
She smirked, "I can almost hear the words that human mothers say of us to their children to keep them in their beds at night."
She stood up and turned away to look out of the window. Barrett watched her, thinking that she didn't look quite so fearsome now. She looked really nice to him until the mild throb from the wound in his chest reminded him of the way that things were.
"Well," she said, "it seems that I must be more cursed than I know. After all of this, who would ever believe me?"
He watched her look down and he thought that he could feel it when she laughed at herself a little bitterly for a moment. "I came to find the one who owned the cattle that were taken. I found you. I am here with my cousin. We are the only Drow in this area as far as we know, and we are not here to hurt anyone. We only sought to get away from our miserable lives and begin here -- where everyone hates or fears us."
He watched as she spoke to the window quietly, "I found you. I do not like human males. I never have. But I liked you."
She was silent for a moment and then he heard words from her that he didn't understand and he asked her about it.
"Nothing bad to you," she said sadly, "I only curse my foul luck."
She turned then went back to the table to resume what she'd been doing and he could see that she just wanted to be done here and go.
"Before I forget what I did to cause all of this, say how much for the two animals which were taken. I did not see any markers on your land and old fence here mostly means little, there is so much of it which leads nowhere from long ago. I was hunting with my friend and I saw the animals. I did not think, and I am sorry. She did not know any better and I should have. If I had known that you ranched here, I would have left your cattle alone."
She looked up as she worked, preparing, "I know that you likely do not have much, and the loss of those beasts was probably a blow to you. It is my fault, and though it was not meant, I stole from you twice before I knew of my error. Today, I only wanted to speak to you, not harm you as I have. Only say how much, and I will pay it,"