x-posted to originalit and my journal
A warm wind blew south across the Plains of Barai, carrying the dusty smell of the wastelands to Chul`tak's nose and restlessly toying with his deep brown hair. He stood at the edge of the Marat`kun camp, staring into the slowly brightening grasslands. Far to the west, the waning crescent of Bara dipped slowly behind the mountains of Selaan, marking the end of the Calving moon and the last day of his childhood. As much as his mother had urged him to rest last night, he could as soon grasped the sun then slept. Today, he was to stand before the seven elders of his tribe, before his grandfather Kord One-arm himself, and proclaim his readiness to set forth on his spirit-quest.
Father would have been so proud, he thought as he touched the korba-feather amulet on his left arm. Only the chief hunter and his first-born son could wear the black feathers marked with three golden chevrons. His father, Mika Firestone, had been killed while protecting the bau herd from a pack kreth-wolf during the Frozen Moon, leaving the Marat`kun without a chief hunter until the great tribal moot at the end of the Traveling moon. Chul`tak fought back his tears as he thought a hunter should.I will honor his spirit today!
Footsteps that he recognized scuffed the grass behind him, but he did not turn. His sister's voice floated through the dark behind him. "Will you show me one last time how to throw the spear, Chul`tak?"
He sighed softly and turned to face her. Nemee was only 12, still a child but starting to flower into a young woman. Her body was slim and boyish, but she could heft a spear and throw it with accuracy that few boys her age could match. He stared into her almond-shaped eyes, deep brown like his, and smiled wryly. Their father had started that, breaking tradition and teaching both his children the ways of hunting, though women were not hunters. Mika Firestone firmly believed that all members of his tribe should be able to defend themselves from attack, and taught his family accordingly.
"What?" She said with a spreading grin on her cherub cheeks. "Are you afraid I'll outthrow you today?"
"Nemee, you know that the council doesn't approve of father's changes," he said slowly.
"Bau-dung, Chul'tak!" She stomped a moccasin-clad foot. "Those stuffy oldsters wouldn't know progress if it bit them in their sleeping rolls. Grandfather is eldest, his word carries the most weight, and you know he stood by father!"
Chul`tak stepped back from his sister's fiery outburst, holding his hands up in surrender. Although she only came up to his shoulder, she never hesitated to reinforce her opinions with a swift kick or punch. "Ok! You win, but only a few throws. I have to pack for my journey and be ready when the Elders call me."
Nemee smiled, an odd gleam in her eye. "Yes, you still need to get ready for your trek. I don't want to keep you from that."