Read The Last Sundancer Online
Authors: Karah Quinney
THE LAST SUNDANCER
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Copyright © 2012 KARAH QUINNEY
All rights reserved
The Last Sundancer
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual or fictional events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Published in the United States by Kennedy Publishing.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The Last Sundancer
: a novel/Karah Quinney.
Cover Art: www.brookegillette.weebly.com
itles by Karah Quinney:
The Whale Hunter
THE LAST SUNDANCER
LEGEND OF THE SUNDANCER –
Thousands of years ago
in the land
of sand and elusive canyons…
The first thing that the boy felt when he awoke w
as the absence of his brother. Kaichen opened his eyes and took in his surroundings.
Above him was the wide open sky. In the
distance, he could make out the peaks of the red rock canyons. Kaichen felt his eyes burn with the yearning to return to his village but he quickly pushed all feeling aside.
Grandfather seemed to sense the moment when Kaichen
cast his thoughts toward home. A swift blow from Grandfather’s walking stick would come soon after Kaichen showed any weakness. He had learned how to mask his feelings behind a face that was expressionless and devoid of any emotion.
The night before
, Grandfather had taken them to a sacred place. He built a fire and burned aromatic dried grasses as he spoke to them of their purpose. Kaichen felt his stomach flutter with unease as he remembered Grandfather’s words.
“You were born to fulfill a special purpose.” Grandfather’s eyes were vacant and misty, looking off into the distance. The boys sat with their legs crossed and their heads raised, they were watchful and alert.
“Your father was a great man and one of you will follow in his footsteps. Our people need your help. You must fulfill that which you have been born to do.” A fit of weeping had overcome Grandfather as he wiped his tears away.
“Grandfather, why do you weep?” Kaichen had found the bravery needed to ask after his grandfather’s welfare but he immediately wished that he had remained silent.
Grandfather’s eyes grew hard and angry. “Do not interrupt the ritual that I hold sacred!”
Kaichen felt his right hand grow numb and it was only then that he realized that he clasped his twin brother’s hand so tightly
that he had lost all feeling. Before he could issue an apology, Grandfather started to mumble and then to chant. Both boys remained silent.
, men of great power came to our village. They fell upon us like insects upon a lush field. They took captive our men, women and children. I was amongst those that were taken. We toiled in the burning sun under the hand of a cruel master. Our lives were forsaken, our hope was lost.”
Kaichen and Siada grew tense as Grandfather stared at the
m with knowing, probing eyes. They knew better than to look away as he continued his inspection.
Kaichen felt the vibrations from his brother’s trembling form and he knew that he shook just as much as Siada. They had every reason to know fear.
Both boys watched as their grandfather bowed his head low until his chin reached his chest. They took in the sight of his weathered face and white hair, which had been tied into two plaits. He wore one feather over his right ear as a sign of prominence and his status as a hunter. The sound of a night bird interrupted their grandfather’s musings and he slowly lifted his head.
“The people of our village are fools. They think that they are safe within the protected place of the red rock walls. They know nothing! We are not safe, we will never be safe until you stand in the place of your father and fulfill your purpose!” Grandfather’s shouting was fearsome and white flecks of spittle flew from his mouth
. He gnashed his teeth and stared hard at the two boys that watched him from across the fire. “Mark my words, one day our enemy will come and they will take all that you hold dear if you do not stand and fight.”
“What did they do to you, Grandfather?
” Kaichen did not ask the question because he wanted to, but he did so because he knew the consequences for remaining silent when a response was required.
“I was beaten night and day, because I was too weak and feeble to be of much use to the men that had claimed us as slaves. I served as an amusement to them. I carry the lash of their whip upon my back even now.” Their grandfather’s head snapped up and his eyes were dark and wide as he
was drawn back into the past.
Kaichen and Siada breathed a sigh of relief as their grandfather stared with vacant eyes and his focus turned inward, to the aching place of the spirit.
A sound in the distance caught Kaichen’s attention, bringing his mind spinning to the present. The noise that he heard did not come from the animals of the land or from falling rock. Kaichen was not fooled. He knew in his heart that an enemy had drawn near.
he realized that Grandfather had been right. Those that hunted them had finally found them and they would not hesitate to cause harm.
If they were discovered they would all be
killed. But first, they would be tortured in unimaginable ways. Grandfather had promised them that it was so. Each day, they walked with thirst upon their lips as they hid from their enemies.
repeatedly tested their skill and knowledge of the land and when his eyes became distant and far away, both boys would tremble in fear. Next, the blows would come and the beatings seemed to go on forever. Yesterday, Siada had been hurt badly. Grandfather did not seem to notice or care. Often, he would fall into a stupor and stare off into the distance.
During the bad times
, they knew better than to make a move but yesterday had been different. Siada had cried and cried and he would not cease. Kaichen promised his twin that they would find a way to escape. They could no longer remain with their grandfather, not after yesterday.
Kaichen knew that their enemies sought to do them harm, but it could not be worse than surviving
day by day without enough water to quench their thirst. Grandfather said that one of them was the Sundancer. Kaichen knew that it was not him. He hated the sun and the burning light that never ceased.
Siada had not spoken in several
days. Not even when grandfather beat him, not even when grandfather begged him to speak. Kaichen knew that Siada’s words were locked away. It was the only way that Siada had learned to stop begging for their mother.
The sound of shuffling footsteps brought his mind back to the present.
Instinct made Kaichen roll to his side just as a blow from above landed in the place where he had been. Grandfather stood over him. His face was a mask of hatred and confusion. Kaichen waited.
Either his grandfather would strike again or he would expect Kaichen to flee. It was always
the same and the only difference was that Siada was not at his side. Kaichen searched his surroundings for some sign of his brother.
They had sworn to stay
together and they had sworn in blood that they would flee but Kaichen did not see any sign of his brother’s presence.
“Quickly! Move quickly
! Our enemies have drawn near and now they will devour us.” Grandfather reached down and jerked Kaichen to his feet.
The boy knew better than to protest, even as he felt his arm stretch under his grandfather’s strength. Kaichen knew that his grandfather was still strong, even though his hair was white and h
is face was wreathed with age.
’s body was made of bone and muscle, there was no fat on his thin frame. They had very little food and sometimes none at all. Grandfather did not hunt often and he did not allow Kaichen or Siada to hunt alone. They were never allowed out of his eyesight.