Every Parent knows sometimes the greatest pleasure comes for seeing the world new again through a young ones eyes. Jessenia was enjoying the market day; it was late fall, the harvest was in; and as was the custom she had been gifted a purse of coppers by the Ara to take to market to share in the bounty of Anar.
Jessenia like nearly every woman of the Casade and it's surrounding lodges had come to the market to trade, hear news, just smell the place, Katira was nearly seven, and Jessenia thought she would bring her daughter along to her first market. Katira was amazed by the sights, the smells, the sound of the place. More than once a merchant would press an apple, pear or plum into her hand, which she would gladly gobble up. Sometimes Jessenia would repay the gift by purchasing a few more, sometimes she would pass the gift on to a minstrel, or bless them with a copper from her purse.
It was the Víspera del Lobo Madre, the Eve of the Wolf Mother, and the women of Anar celebrated the freshly gathered harvest with great joy, Praising the Ki with great praise, before she made her long annual walk though the valley of death called Kur; but today was not a day for contemplating death, but celebrating life, and the woman of Anar embraced the celebration. The air was filled with song, the market filled with dance and wine, and everywhere was the happy buzz of glad voices and hugging women.
In the midst of this glad gaggle, Katira spied the oddest woman, tall and silent she moved through the crowd almost like a shadow, never quite touching anyone; though she in no way communicated the least menace, Katira soon noticed how the other woman wordlessly slipped aside as she passed, often but not always touching their brow, their lips, their heart; the Blessing of the Ki, as silent woman stepped by them; sometimes she would return the favor, but not often; if she approached a merchant all others step aside and let her conduct her business first; and so it was easy of Katira to follow her movement through the crowd.
The tall woman had the most striking hair, close cropped bangs, that gave way to a sharp bob that carried her hair back to her shoulders, which melted into a river of tresses that flowed down her back. She wore a simple green dress, and dried flowers and a bright wreath of fresh fallen leaves in her hair; as did many of the woman; Strangely like and yet unlike her sisters.
Katira's curiosity soon found her voice, and tugging her Momma's had she said pointing, "Who is that Momma, who is she."
Jessenia took Katira's hand and returning it to her side said, "It's rude to point little one." Then she sank to one knee pulled her daughter close and said, "That is Engaria, she is a Paseanta de Cerca" A Fence Walker in the Murian Tongue; You noticed her hair?"
Only a Paseanta de Cerca can wear her hair cropped so, it says to all who see, She was born as the Red Star Rises, She is a Child of Marta; A protector of Anar."
"Why does everyone step aside for her mother?" Katira asked.
"It would be rude not too" her mother replied.
"Why?" asked the child.
"Momma-Ki has blessed us, the Murian People with Long lives; but to Walk the Fences of Anar, to keep the Palisade, that is a Dangerous life, and even if Engaria lives to a fine old age, she will loose many friends along that way. It is through the blood and by the efforts of those who fight the Granguerra that we live in peace; and so we honor them, we who have been promised the long life of the Ki step aside, and let those who have forgone that promise for our sakes go first; for while we cannot add one hour to the march of their days, we can at least not waste the time they have been given."
"I don't understand Momma"
"It's not important that you understand it all today child," her mother said, "You need only know Engaria has promised to protect us, and we, her sisters, honor that promise."
Katira smiled and looking back towards the Archer was surprised to find her just there, on one knee just inches from her tiny nose; Katira peeped.
Engaria laughed, kissed her brow, "You've the gaze of a hawk little one, I could feel you watch me from a mile way." She removed a feathered braid from her tresses and fastened it to Katira's hair, "Here little Hawk, these feathers came from our sister the Hawk, taken on the borders of Anar, treasure them as I do.
Jessenia blessed herself saying, "Thank you Lady."
"No Thank you, Thank you for bringing this sweet reminder of why we Walk the Long Walk to the Fete."
"Please Lady, return with me to my lodge, let us honor you with dinner this evening.
Engaria declined with a slight shake of her head, "No, I must return to the Palisade before nightfall, it is my place and my watch this night." and as suddenly as she appeared, she was gone, disappearing into the crowd as it flowed around her.
Standing over a fallen shield bearer Engaria desperately defended her fallen Guerrano with his own lance, the Gnoll she battled was larger, and stronger, than her, Thrice it drove its lance into hers after the manner of a quarter staff, seeking to driver her off it's victim by main strength; thrice she recoiled, trembled but stood her ground.
The Gnoll was larger, and stronger than Engaria and soon the battering would wear her out, but she was the faster, as the beast lunged forward the 4th time in it's blind rage she Whirled into the Murian Battle Dance, sweeping her unbalanced foe off its feet with the butt of the lance; Before the Chaos beast could draw another breath Engaria stepped over him, twirling the lance blade down. droving the point through its armor, as she howled, piercing the heart.
Three other Shield Bearers raced up scattering the troop of Gnolls.
"Gervasi Lives! get him to the Casade"
"What of you Lady?"
"We will hunt the Gnolls." The Gnolls had spilled Murian blood, and Engaria would not suffer them to live, she and her sisters hunted to troop through the night and dawn found them pulling their arrows from the last of the Chaos beasts before pushing its carcass into the Esa. As the Sun Rose red as blood, They Howled!!
Paseanta de Cerca: A Fence Walker, A Murian Archer.
Child of Marta Daughter of the Red Star. (Mars Demigod of War.)
Guerrano Comrade, literally War Brother.