Red (Chpt. 1 “The Dare”)

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”

-James Neil Hollingworth

The tribe of Mayeems lived in the eye of the universe in a world far more simplistic than ours, and yet their understanding of the world surpassed ours. The name Mayeem came from the native word roughly translated as water people. Redzuvinah, was the daughter of the chief of the Mayeem people. She had a petite, but athletic stature with caramel skin that complimented her hazel eyes. She had short Auburn and black hair and her beauty was undeniable. As a child, Red and her best friend Itan would sneak off to the forbidden terra cotta pond that was surrounded by the Terra cotta Mountains, filled with the singing 12 foot tall trees and green pastures. It was near the cave of leopards which were friendly unless you stepped out of your bounds.  However every living creature was believed to be connected to the spirit realm. One warm summers night after lunch; Red, Itan and friends of the nearby village called Meswakis (Red earth people) snuck off to the terra cotta pond. They and a few of their friends dared Red and itan to climb up to the Sirian forest and capture 10 qolums (1 cup) of the Sirian lily tears in a juju fruit. In return they would reveal the path to the waterfall of angels.  The water that dropped from the Sirian lilies could scorch the skin but if contained, was said to have endless possibilities only revealed in the waterfall of angels. The entrance to the Sirian forest sat on a ledge that was 50 feet above the leopards’ cove. Everyone knew that this would be impossible to climb up to and just as impossible to return from. However Red seen otherwise,”Itan what are you waiting for?” Itan replied with conviction,” I’m waiting to wake up from this nightmare!” All of their friends chuckled knowing they would win the dare, and would share the news to the surrounding villages. Red responded in an impatient tone, “Itan do you really want to give up the chance to see the waterfall of angels and lose all your respect!” “See that’s just it! I do have self-respect! I have respect to not kill myself and I respect my decision! The crowd laughed and egged them on with aggression. C’mon Itan! Red tugs on Itan’s arm making him follow her on the path to the leopards’ cove. The chants and laughs begin to fade in the distance as they get closer to the cove. Red stops after about a mile as Itan runs into her. She stoops down and traces her fingers through the dirt which has changed from a chestnut to a dark terra cotta color. She races up to the closest tree as Itan follows. Soon they begin free running through the trees.  They begin to approach the cove as the only leopards in sight are the cubs and their mother. Red whispers, “Siva.”

There is no time to waste; she jumps from the nearest tree that conveniently stretched itself out 10 feet away from the cove. With precision she jumps from the tree branch to the cove with ease. Itan who was a little huskier could jump with the same precision but like always was hesitant. Suddenly there was a cracking sound; Itan looks back as Red notices Siva, the leopard appeared with a Lepha (A deer-like creature) in his mouth. He approaches the cove and Red flees behind the raspberry bush on top of the cove. The cracking sound returns again but this time catches the attention of Siva, He begins to investigate. When Red notices she quickly shovels gravel and rocks into her pouch and rushes to the nearest tree on the left of the cove. She begins throwing the rocks at nearby branches and Siva’s attention is averted and runs toward Red to investigate. Itan with little hesitation jumps from the tree to the cove and almost immediately the branch slams to the ground. Siva roars and sniffs the fallen branch, Red signals Itan to climb up, and Itan manages to get 10 feet in the air right after smuggling raspberries into his pouch. Soon after the 2 cubs approach Siva wanting to play as another wanders towards Red. Red tries her best to blend but the cub cries out as soon as she is spotted. The Lioness begins to investigate but Siva runs over to the tree as Itan is about 25 feet in the air now. Red quickly jumps from the tree directly onto the wall, barely managing to hold on and escape the claws of the bloodthirsty leopard. Siva roars jumping onto the tree as the cubs and lioness swipe at Red directly beneath her.  Though there is hardly any grip she manages to climb up.  To her and Itans realization, the only way to get to each other is the same way they entered, or to meet each other at the Sirian lily forest.

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