"Tar'airah has been with us for more than twenty years - she came to us in the spring of eighteen hundred and ninety, barely a child. We did not know her exact age, or date of birth, but we knew she was of Scottish decent, and that her mother's name was Clair Maclay."
While Tara sat mute barely listening to the quick summery of her life, Willow was entranced with every word that described the blonde's past.
"...on the night she was recovered, there were three others... all found... eventually dead..." Thea's voice became heavy, worn with the decades and pain she had witnessed. Yet, in all her years, she had never experienced so much anguish in one night, that is, not until this morning.
"Mama..." Tar' spoke softly. Willow turned and looked at the girl, who was silently tearing up. The redhead let her arms fall about the blonde's waist and arms, clutching her for love and comfort. Tar' raised her head and looked directly into the eyes of her surrogate grandmother and asked pointedly, "But who were the other two?"
"A man and another woman. The woman was one of the most beautiful creatures that ever lived in our tribe. She was also the best warrior the tribe had seen since it's founding... the first of our squadron leaders to raise up an army suitable to fight any oncoming threat," Thea spoke proudly nostalgic.
"Ranthia..." Tar'airah added in softly. She had heard of the woman more than once; she was a legend. The same that tragically died in battle. How though, had never been discussed, at least not around her. Tribe members who had known the glorious woman would hint at murder, glance awkwardly to the jungle's treetops and pretend she had been asking about the whether instead. Why, to this day, Tar' still didn't know. Eventually she gave up on investigating the issue as Caranthia already had it in for her - bringing up her mother's death was no way to win affection from the brunette.
Thea nodded in agreement, "Caranthia's mother," she clarified for Willow sitting, quizzically trying to decipher the names.
"Caranthia being the one that we had the run-in with earlier this evening..." the redhead speculated.
"But how did Ranthia die? Why was she even near my mother and her attacker?"
"The truth is, Tar' she was protecting you and your mother."
"She came, saw the lightning bursting within the air, knew the call for innocents in danger, crying out. She could always read the signs better than me..." Thea sighed inwardly, "but she did not wait... she did not wait for the others," the woman drew herself up, huffing, "She believed she could handle the disturbance on her own. And very easily, Ranthia should have..."
"But, arriving on the scene, it was too late for... your mother... not for you, though... so she fought... she fought him. And failed to win," Thea tactfully explained, "there will always be a fight, a moment for each warrior to loose their step, if only for a second. It seems Ranthia lost hers then, when most she needed it."
"So then what happened? How did... he die?" Willow was becoming morbidly curious in this tale-tell night over fifteen ago.
"Well, Ranthia's squad caught up with her..." Thea's eyes drew together, as if to explain the lingering sentence.
Silence enfolded the room.
Tar'airah's mind swam with thoughts and questions, but one would not be abated. Why? It didn't work out. Why was there a man attacking us in the first place? Who was he? She was already emotionally exhausted but wanted to press on. She had to know. She had to understand.
"There's something you're not telling me... again," Tara chose her words carefully so as to not scare Thea's confidence away, "...Something that I think you know would explain Caranthia' actions."
Willow saw the determination in Tara's eyes and then quickly looked to Thea, who flinched slightly at the words. The old woman stayed very still as the two young women looked at her. She was judging her next move. She broke her resolve and began with a chuckle.
"Honestly, Tar' you're too intelligent for your old grandmother." Willow's mouth dropped slightly at the admission. I'm not.
"The man... your mother's attacker?" Thea looked up into expectant eyes, "His name was Donald, Donald Maclay," she sighed, "he was your father."