"How did you know that?" came the mystified question.
"Hello! You're speaking and I'm understanding - Amazons have their whole "melekah blubuh mooglah" language thingy!"
"Melekah blubuh mooglah?" The blond giggled.
"Hey, they sound like they could be real words," the redhead was grateful to hear the other girl laugh. It was a wonderful sound.
Really pretty sound...
"Actually, it almost sounded like... um... n-n-never mind," Tar'airah thought better of repeating the translation "I eat dog, thank you."
"So, wait, are you or aren't you an Amazon? How is it that you can speak English?" Willow was intent on finding everything out about this stranger that was becoming more interesting with each passing moment.
"Well, a-actually a f-few of us in the tribe are supposed to know surrounding languages in order to barter with the locals - I just happened to be a b-bonus for the t-tribe in that I was brought into this world with an English-speaking mother. I'm not of pure-amazon blood, actually. But I've lived here my whole l-life."
I've just summed up my whole life for a strange cross-dressing girl I've never met before. And I'm stuttering! I haven't stuttered since I was a kid. What is wrong with me?
"Oh..." Willow said, content for the moment. Too many questions were buzzing through her brain, and she desperately tried to avoid the lovely "why'd you try to kill me?"
That sounds a bit harsher than I want it to. Hold on, she did try to kill me, and here I am worried about hurting HER feelings? What's wrong with me?
"How did you g-get into this place?" Tar'airah asked confused by the mysterious girl's presence.
"I didn't choose to be here, your buddies - one big bitchy brunette and a bunch of others - found me after I got lost in this jungle. And when I say 'found me' what I really mean is entrap me and then knock me around harder than a polo ball in play," Willow grumbled.
"Caranthia..." Tar'airah whispered to herself, not daring to ask what a polo ball was. She knew that girl had something up her sleeve; it all seemed so easy to have some one to ready for her to dispose of, "She isn't usually this stupid though, you're a girl," she pointed out again to the redhead.
"Yes, we've been over the lack of manliness here. Why do you keep bringing it up?" Willow asked mystified.
"Well, for one..." Tar'airah looked down appreciatively at Willow's outfit.
"What? What's wrong with my clothes?" She asked looking down, patting herself all over, noting nothing wrong since her last look.
Nope, nothing wrong, whatsoever. Everything's here, including normal, female anatomy.
"Nothing, they're very jungley," Tar'airah quirked her mouth up almost giggling again.
"You just tittered,"
"Who, me?" Tar'airah said innocently.
"You, all with the tittering at my expense! Are you trying to tell me that I look like a man in this outfit?!" Willow said outraged.
"Well, it's not just the outfit," Tar'airah was wondering whether explaining that the short hair, and mud-face wasn't helping, would hurt the girl. She didn't want to hurt her feelings - or any part of her for that matter.
I wonder why I'm so suddenly protective of her? I did just try to kill her... must be a mental backlash of some sort...
Willow looked as confused as ever, and although reluctantly, Tar'airah bent down and picked up her sword in order to give the redhead a reflection.
"Um... I can understand that Caranthia could've mistaken you for a second or two, but if she got close to you, I still don't get how she still could've..." Tar'airah was busy trying to understand Caranthia's interesting role in this.
"Did you say that you were lost in the forest? How did that happen?"
"Well I started out alright with a bunch of local tour guides, but once we got near this tree they went all crazy and left me, standing in the middle of nowhere!" she huffed. Tar'airah handed the blade over to the girl to look at with.
"Wait, you say they saw a tree?"
"Yeah, a huge tree, with a rather large carving in it... quite crude if you ask me..."
"This tree... it didn't happen to have the strange effect of making you, I don't know, walk back to it after trying to walk away from it?"
"Heeey... How did you know about that?"
"Oh, god. The trees! You stepped into the Sacred Seven!"
"What with a little bit of the how now?"
"The Sacred Seven," Tar'airah began hastily, "they were first planted with a ritual carving engraved on each seed, that's what you saw on the last one," she sighed inwardly at the idiocy of it all, "the intent was to catch all unwanted visitors, keep them confused and trapped until we noticed them there, caught them and then... um... disposed of them..." Tar'airah saw the visible horror on the redhead's face.
"Oh, no it wasn't supposed to catch you. Just those our kind find threatening..." Tar'airah encouraged the other girl to understand what she meant. After a moment it dawned on the redhead.
"Men. You're anti-men," Willow thought solemnly How sad. "So that's why all the guys ran screaming away! But, wait, I'm not a man," Willow said as if she too just found that out, "why did the trees attack me?!"
"Well, I think that's where Caranthia assumed a little too much. It seems the Trees were planted long ago and have become clothes-accustomed. They see pants, they see men," Tar'airah deduced, although, she was even questioning how much a tree actually saw, "at least, that's all that I can make of it for now..."
"You're not helping the old ego by telling me ancient enchanted trees mistook me for a bloke," Willow pouted, sticking out her lower lip in indignation.
Tar'airah never thought she saw anything more pitiful and cute at the same time. She giggled again, slightly and then apologized for the girl's misfortune.
"I'm sorry, but in the Trees' defense, you're not exactly looking supremely effeminate at the moment," Tar'airah said pointing at the dirtied although still beautiful, Tar'airah realized, face. She smiled slightly embarrassed at her attentiveness to the redhead.
Willow, however, after grabbing the smooth surface of the sword and seeing what she looked like, had a horrified expression on her face.
"A-a-are you okay?" the Amazon asked, concerned. She'd get back to whatever Caranthia's business was in this later. Right now she was more interested in the welfare of this adorable, albeit muddy, girl.
"My face, my hair... oh god. Mummy and daddy are going to never hear the end of this," She swore, putting the sword down, "I guess it wouldn't be too much trouble to wait for the rain to come and wash some of this off..." for some reason talking to this girl didn't seem to hard. All of a sudden it was as if they were old friends, reminiscing - not a warrior and victim talking post-almost-kill.
"Oh, no I can get you water!" Tar'airah said a little too quickly for her own liking.
Moron. Can you say Moron?
Willow didn't seem to mind, in fact, she was ecstatic at the idea.
"You can?? OH THANKYOU! THANKYOU! THANKYOU!" She said jumping up and down, whilst grabbing the blond in response. The close contact seemed to frighten the redhead, though.
Never been that close to another woman's... nevermind.
"Um... sorry, but that'd be great," Willow said sticking her tongue out between her teeth goofily. She could deal with being a goof. As long as she was no longer a threat that had to be killed by this woman, she was happy.
"Um... o-okay... I'll uh... just be... a minute..." Tar'airah said slowly comprehending that for a few moments she had been embraced very closely by this beautiful woman, "with... the getting... of the water f-f-for your f-face..."
Willow stood there, waiting and heard a splash of wood on water after a few minutes. Apparently her hut was located nearby some sort of water source.
"H-h-here you go," Tar'airah said handing the girl the welcome bucket of water.
Willow gratefully washed herself clean, uncaring of her pants and jacket getting wet - all that mattered right now was reinstating her femininity. Once fully cleansed, at least, to Willow's liking she stood up, smiling goofily.
"Thanks. That feels a whole lot better."
Goddess, if she wasn't beautiful before...
"So..." Willow didn't want to press the girl. She couldn't explain it, but she liked her, and wanted no part in the scaring away of her.
"So..." Tar'airah said, suddenly nervous.
Oh, god, you dork! You've scared her half to death and you think getting her water's going to make her love you all of a sudden??? Wait, love?! What the hell?
"I s-s-should ap-p-pologize, I-I..." she wanted to do this the right way, but couldn't begin to explain the intricate traditions of her culture. How would this wonderful, sweet girl ever understand she didn't mean to let this happen, that she didn't want this...?
Willow sat still on the bed - her infinite patience took control again. It seemed to come out so easily with this girl.
This gorgeous, beautiful, girl... Willow, stop! Stop! She's trying to explain why she was going to kill you, stop thinking of... other... things... especially those two other things...
Tar'airah stopped for a moment, regrouped and began once more, this time with confidence.
"I can't believe I put you through this, if I had known you were just an innocent wanderer, under Caranthia's control, I would have never... it's not my doing, it's our stupid traditions, and I wanted no part in it, but that witch made it seem like if I didn't then I'd be banished, and Thea would disown me and Goddess I would never have if I had known... I just wish that you'd trust me when I say I would never... will never... ah, Alahemia malacarthia!" Tar'airah huffed in exasperation finishing in what most Amazons would call more-than-four-lettered words. Tears began to roll down her cheeks again.
"Hey, hey, slow down," Willow said getting up again reaching out to the blonde.
Goddess how weak am I? Twice I demand the victim to take care of ME?!
"If it makes you feel any better, I can tell you didn't want to. And, hey! Bonus! You didn't," Willow said carefully, "which makes all the difference..."
Tar'airah scoffed at this, "But I was going to... I was going to just to please my sisters' pressure..."
"Wait, so you were forced to do it?"
"I was given a choice to stay with my family here, or be banished. The only way I could've stayed was by fulfilling one of our many lovely traditions-"
"By killing me?" Willow gulped.
"No, well, yes," Tar'airah said trying to explain.
It seemed so simple at first...
"It's complicated," she finished again.
"Well, there's this ritual battle for each coming of age amazon. The ritual consists with several tasks, like sparring events, spear throwing, survival tactics, etc. The final task though, is the hardest: The Seven Day Sacrament. You go through seven days, each day having a specific ritual with one other sister, and on the seventh day you fight to the death with her," Tar'airah finished lamely.
"That's..." Willow had no words for this one.
Apparently I've been tried.
"Barbaric? Horrific? Terrifying?" Tar'airah supplied.
"Well, I was going to go with 'bad' but yeah, those just about cover it."
"Yeah... I kind of ducked out of it the first time they tried to make me," Tar'airah sighed wistfully, "that didn't go down well with the sisters."
"I'm guessing they don't like pacifists," Willow's eyebrow quirked at this.
"They really don't," the blonde said with what Willow noticed was real fear I her eyes.
"So, what, Caranthia finds me and then tells you to kill me for kicks and giggles?"
"She kind of t-t-tricked me into killing you," Tar'airah said annoyedly, "She made you out to be a big, bad scary man...which leads me to believe she's not just gone and gotten confused over your gender. She said you disgraced one of the sisters," Tar'airah passed off the idea as almost laughable. When she saw the girl's averting glance, she then added, "you didn't did you?"
"Hey, it was merely to protect my pride! She yelled at me, after I was trying to say 'thank you' for picking me up. So I spat right at her face."
"You..." Tar'airah tried to let this sink in, "You, spat in Caranthia's face?"
"Yup," Willow said drawing out the word, utterly embarrassed.
Great, now you're more barbaric than her bitchy-amazon friend.
Laughter erupted in the small hut, and Willow realized that the other girl was laughing at her.
Then again, spitting might be the traditional way to propose in this world.
"Uh...are you okay? Was it something I said?" Willow asked nervously.
"No! No, it's just..." the girl fell into another round of hysterics.
"Well, I'm glad to have helped you in any way that I can. From now on, if there's any spitting to be done, let me know. I'll be your spittin' gal!" Willow said giggling slightly at the scene before her.
"Thank you, spittin' gal," Tar'airah said letting her laughter finally dive down, "But unfortunately that means Caranthia's either really blind or tried to pull something on the two of us. Either way, she's been lying to me. She also threatened me with banishment from here, from my home, if I didn't follow through."
"Why does she want you to kill some one so badly? Why would anyone want you to kill another amazon? Aren't you all sisterhoody?" Willow asked incredulously.
Tar'airah grinned at the words that this girl choose.
"Its partly tradition, and partly because she won't let go that I'm better at fighting than she is, and not a pure-blood," Tar'airah said. She knew this girl had had it in for her ever since they were kids and she called her a "malecratia," or roughly, 'bad-creation.'
"Well, I'm starting to prefer the non pure-bloods to the pure-bloods if you ask me," Willow said quirkily, "but you said there were seven days of rituals, and all this stuff you had to go through before killing someone. As far as I can tell I haven't been unconscious for seven days, although now that I think about it, that girl hit me pretty hard..."
She doesn't miss a beat, does she?
"Ah, well," Tar'airah teetered on this. How do you tell some one delicately you wanted to kill them sooner to get it over with? Willow noticed the girl's discomfort.
"I'm guessing you didn't like the wait, and the getting-to-know a person before you brutally hacked them to death," Willow concluded; it wasn't hard to figure.
Wow... she really doesn't miss a beat.
"Wow... uh, you hit it right on the nose," Tar'airah said apologetically.
"I'd do it too," Willow conceded.
"If I were forced to decide between being banished from all that I knew and killing I'd at least attempt to kill first," Willow said quietly.
Believe me, I know the feeling of being completely lost and separated from home...
"How can you be so incredibly understanding? I tried to kill you!-"
"Tried," Willow interjected, "you tried and you still didn't do it, you're not a heartless fiend," she said more forcefully, "if anything you should be proud that you survived so long in this kind of world with your morals intact."
"Yeah, I'm a real moral gal," Tar'airah huffed.
"Hey," Willow brought up her hand and cupped the other girl's chin, "I will not have you putting yourself down for not killing me. Personally I'm grateful for whatever part of you that exists and wishes me alive."
"Oh, no I'm not upset that I- I mean, all of me wants you alive!" Tar'airah exclaimed vehemently. "I mean, I don't regret what I've done."
"I know. Which is why you should be with the happy," Willow was dancing her happy dance inwardly at the admission that she was wanted alive by the girl, completely, and not just for shock-factor.
"Happy? Now I have to go through the Seven Day Sacrament and this time probably stay where I ran away to last time."
"Wait, hold on, you still have to go through with the seven day thingy? Why can't you just go 'no' to their go's?"
"Did you just ask me to go 'no go' to their go's?"
"Yes, I believe I did."
"Well that won't do with them. They'll banish me this time for sure, that is, if they're not in a killing mood," Tar'airah said glumly.
"I can help!"
"How can you, an outsider, and foreigner to the rules of an amazon tribe help?"
"I just can. See this face?" Willow pointed at her pointed expression.
"Yes, but I doubt you'll strike fear into my sisters. Maybe make them smile to death, but that's about it..." Tar'airah said out loud before she could stop it.
"No, you don't get it. R-e-s-o-l-v-e F-a-c-e," Willow spelled out, "It basically means I'm going to do everything in my power to help and you can't say no."
"Fine. Please, help me, oh grand and great, wait, what's your name?" Tar'airah asked embarrassed that after all this time she still didn't know the girl's name.
"Willow," the redhead breathed, "Willow H. Rosenberg, at your service."
"Wil-low," Tar'airah let the name roll off her tongue, and delighted in the taste.
What a beautiful name.
"What's yours?" Willow asked curiously.
"Hmm?" Tar'airah had been caught dreamily eating up Willow's name, "Oh, it's Tar'airah."
"Tar'airah? That sounds pretty. What's it mean?" Willow asked enjoying the girl's presence by the minute.
"Oh..." Willow's nose crinkled in disagreement, "Well, can I just call you Tara for short?"