Tribal

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1. Discovery

Swiftly, Omari seemed to float over the tangled undergrowth, as if it had been replace by a concrete pavement. He trod silently and surely, making sure no stray twigs got underneath his bare feet and snapped. They were around here, somewhere, he could tell. He had inherited that skill from his Dad, the Great Warrior Roshan. Roshan could spot a catch and shoot it before the untrained eye had even noticed the the wet human footprints imprinted into the wet mud. Wait... Human footprints? Omari started to panic... Not again. Why had they come back? That's why the jungle had been so quiet, those clumsy scientists or explorers or whatever they were had scared all the hunt away. Omari's tribe, the Moga, hadn't eaten in days... And now there was no food to be found. Great. He picked up his bow from the soggy floor and headed back to the Moga camp, catchless, yet again.

***

"Father!" Omari screamed as he ran into the small shack he and his family called home. Well, compared to the other shacks in the camp, Great Warrior Roshan's family had one of the biggest, secondly only to the Kanye, the Great Chief.

"What is it, child?" Roshan bellowed back to his son, "Can't you see I am in a meeting?" Hardly a meeting, Omari thought to himself. Roshan sat in the centre of the shack with Warrior's Abel, Nassir and Salim, engaged in what looked like a game of Thacks. "And where is the hunt?"

"Well..l...err, didn't catch anything," Omari stuttered out. Something about his father made him so nervous. More nervous than the time he accidentally awoke a sleeping tiger and just managed to get back to the protection of the Moga Warriors before he lost an arm. It wasn't like Omari was a bad son or anything. No, any warrior in the tribe would kill to have a son like him. A son who could shoot a catch from fifty feet away, who could run all the way to the neighbouring settlement and back whilst carrying two pails of water and a son who was about to be married to Great Chief Kanye's eldest daughter, Nahla.

"What?!" Roshan bellowed as he stood up and backed Omari into the corner of the shack, "Child, do you realise how hungry we are?"

Damn. He was really mad now. "I know... I know," he finally stammered out, "But they're back."

Roshan instantly backed away and joined the, now stood, band of Warriors. "Who? Child, who is back?"

"The English."

Roshan exchanged a few quick glances with the other Warriors before springing into action, grabbing his spear, shield and bow from the make shift shelf they lay on.

"Abel, Nassir," He shouted from the back of the shack, "Alert the other Warriors. Salim, make sure the women and children are protected. Omari, you come with me."

***

Alone, Nahla was sat in a corner of her family's shack when Omari and Great Warrior Roshan appeared at the entrance.

"Where is your father, Nahla?" Roshan tried to speak calmly, but Nahla could sense a slight essence of urgency and despair in his rough voice.

"Umm...I don't know," Nahla answered as she stood up and walked towards the father and son. "I think he took the twins down to the water hole."

Roshan cursed under his breath, but it was still loud enough for the two children to hear, "Ok, well I better go find him. Omari stay here with Nahla."

Roshan disappeared out of the shack and suddenly an awkward silence emerged between Nahla and Omari. Nahla sat back down in the corner of the room and beckoned Omari to sit next to her.

"So," Nahla started, trying to break the ice, "How are you?"

Omari couldn't help but smile. Nahla had been his best friend for many years, when they were younger, and it seemed funny to him they now had to resort to small-talk to get through even the shortest amount of time they were left on their own, which was hardly ever since Omari started Warrior training two summers ago. They had grown apart. And it was strange seeing as they were nearly inseparable as young children and infants. Born in the same summer, they had grown up with each other every step of the way and living two shacks away from each other made it inevitable they would end up best friends.

"I'm good," he answered finally. Strange. It seemed only months ago that he wouldn't have stopped there, but carried on, complained about the lack of catch in the jungle, told her all about training and explained his new plan to get at Kwame, Warrior Salim's pain in the ass son.

A thick blanket of awkwardness filled the shack as they both trod around the elephant that stood, right in the middle of the room. Nahla didn't know what to say next. Why did they have to be forced to get married? It made every little moment they spent together so strange and unfamiliar, like neither one of them wanted to actually be there. Sure, Nahla loved Omari, and Omari loved Nahla, but not like that. No, it was more like the love and inseparable bond two siblings shared, only stronger.

"Look, Omari," she started, deciding it would be better to address the issue there and then. "I know this whole marriage thing is a pain, but can we please ignore it? We're fourteen, after all, we can still be children.

For the first time since he couldn't remember, Omari looked straight at Nahla and took in every detail of her beautiful face. She had the same, gorgeous, chocolate-brown complexion she had as a child, the same deep, dark eyes, the same silky, black hair, the same beauty marks in the same places they always had been, so why did she seem so... Different? But he didn't want everything to go even more awkward than it already was and answered, "Sure, we can ignore it. You'll never guess what happened in training the other day..."

And it was just that one, simple answer that changed the atmosphere in the room from a cold, awkward silence into a warm and happy place, completely kicking the elephant out of the room. It seemed that they didn't stop talking until Roshan returned with Great Chief Kanye and his 7 year old, fraternal twins Ajamu and Kalila. Roshan ordered Omari out of the shack, handing him his bow and arrow quiver and told him to lead the half of the warriors to where he saw the footprints, whilst the others stayed behind, ready for the English men's imminent arrival.

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