“Kydoime,” a voice sounded behind her. She opened one eye and looked over her shoulder to see Phaedra standing behind her.
“I’ve been looking all over for you,” Phaedra spoke.
“And now you have found me.” Kydoime closed her eyes again. “What is it?”
“The Sowgli are here. Vern is asking for you.”
The Sowgli? They had traveled a long way to Ligoran territory, but what was the reason? It had to be something important. “Do they come in peace?”
Phaedra shook her head. “That has yet to be determined, but it seems unlikely. Vern has brought his warriors.”
A smile played on Kydoime’s lips, and she turned around to face her friend. “Good.”
“Where is Kydoime? She has kept me waiting for far too long!”
“What is your reason for entering Ligoran land?” Tereis demanded from where she stood, completely ignoring his question. “You should have sent a messenger to alert of us your coming.”
Vern looked her up and down. “I don’t think that I should have to explain myself to the likes of you.”
Tereis’ eyes narrowed, and she gripped the dagger in her belt. “To the likes of me?” she echoed through gritted her teeth. “Sowgli scum, you’ll rue the day you—”
Her threat was interrupted by Kydoime’s entrance into the tent. Both the Sowgli and Ligorans inside dipped their heads to acknowledge her presence. “Vern, I apologize for the waiting,” she sat down across from him and offered the chief of the Sowgli tribe a warm smile. “You must know that we had not anticipated your arrival in these parts. To what do we owe the pleasure of this visit?”
The kindness in Kydoime’s voice partially melted Vern’s attitude away. He cleared his throat. “There has been a violation of our peace treaty. A Ligoran has hunted in Sowgli territory, killing many of the animals for sport.”
“How can you be so sure that it was a Ligoran who killed your animals?” Kydoime lifted a brow.
Vern gestured to one of his warriors, who handed him a piece of cloth. He thrust the fabric in front of Kydoime’s eyes. “Is this not the cloth typical of a Ligoran warrior, Kydoime?”
She couldn’t deny it; it was, in fact, part of Ligoran dress. “You are correct. It is our traditional garb.” Kydoime took the fabric from his grasp, turning it in her hands. “But how does this correlate to the killing of your animals?”
Vern pounded his fist on the arms of the chair in which he sat, jumping to his feet. “That piece of cloth is correlation enough! What is a Ligoran doing in Sowgli territory if not to hunt?”
“Sit down, Vern,” Kydoime replied calmly, a hidden edge present in her voice. “Restrain yourself.”
“We made a treaty, and you have broken it! It would behoove you to simply offer an apology!”
She stood slowly, wiping her hands on her dress. “And it would behoove you to lower your voice in my tent.”
Vern’s eyes flashed with anger. “How dare you speak to me in such a manner? Ligoran or not, you are still a woman. In my tribe, you would be slain for your insubordination!”
Within seconds, Kydoime had the sharp point of her spear pointed at Vern’s throat. “You are standing on Ligoran territory, Vern. You came unannounced to my grounds, bringing warriors along with you. You made unwarranted accusations. And now, you have disrespected me, the leader of this tribe, as well as the other ‘women’ standing outside of this tent. Ligoran rules dictate that I slit your throat and kill you dead.”
The chief of the Sowgli breathed heavily, his heart racing. “But?” his voice was high-pitched.
“This is your first transgression, and I, unlike others, am a rational being.” Kydoime laughed, pulling back her spear. She settled down in her seat again. “Today, I will spare your life as well as the lives of your warriors, those that are visible and those who are hidden around our camp, waiting for your word to ambush my people.”
Vern swallowed the lump in his throat. “Then we have no business left in Ligoran territory. I am glad this problem was resolved,” he said as he backed away towards the exit of the tent.
“I thank you for your time, Vern,” Kydoime’s smile returned to her lips. “I hope we will meet on better terms next time.”
He nodded and turned around quickly. “Good day, Kydoime.” The Sowgli disappeared from the tent.
“You should have killed him,” Tereis spat angrily. “The Sowgli scum dishonored us.”
“Needless bloodshed,” Kydoime shrugged.
Phaedra shook her head in mirth. “I don’t think he will return anytime soon. You soundly embarrassed him, Kydoime. But how did you know about the Sowgli hidden in the bushes outside?”
“The Sowgli travel in packs of at least twelve. Vern only had five men with him, so I made an educated guess,” she chuckled.
Tereis folded her arms across her chest. “What about the accusations? Do you really think that a Ligoran hunted in Sowgli territory?”
“That, we may never know,” Kydoime mused. She stood suddenly, looking to her peers. “I’m suddenly famished. Shall we?”