years have passed since the fall of the Tashari Empire, and its
descendents have inherited a barren wasteland called by
largest of these bands was headed by Rei Hiloschen, and his name
was known and feared by all. The Marauders were loyal followers of
Yugashii, the god of war, and a Rei got his title through sheer
martial prowess. Often his band ransacked trader caravans on their
way to the
was night now, and Hiloschenís band was reveling in the spoils
of a successful raid. Fires flickered inside colorful tents, and
main bonfire blazed in the center of the encampment, reflecting
red-orange in the glimmering sand. Rei Hiloschen relaxed on
valuable furs, surrounded by sparkling jewels. The rest of the men
were in a wild, intoxicated frenzy.
girls ran about refilling drinks and serving food. Among them was
Tshushani, an orphan captured from the other tribe. Her name meant
Tumbleweed, for she was tossed about from tribe to tribe,
surviving on scraps of leftovers. She had no home to call her own,
and the only warm be she knew was in the arms of a drunken man.
Her whole life was a long string of abusive one-sided
relationships that she had to meekly endure.
today was different, for today she caught the eye of Rei Hiloschen
himself. He bade her get him a drink, and after he was done, made
her an offer she couldnít refuse. If she agreed to be his
servant girl, he would let her stay in his tent and eat from his
own table. There was no doubt in Tshushaniís mind of what she
would choose, and from then on, she lived in the Reiís
extravagant tent and knew no hunger.
were deemed inferior in Maraudean society. They were treated as
property and slaves, and a manís wealth was measured by the
number of wives he owned. But though the great Rei Hiloschen had
many secret mistresses, he only had one wife. Reina Shvarna had
substantial influence over her husband, mostly because she knew
things about him he hoped would never reach the ears of his
people. She did not approve of Hiloschen having a slave girl, and
made sure Tshushani knew she wasnít wanted.
The Reina was not appeased in the least, and threatened to disclose the Reiís darkest secrets to his tribe. Finally, Hiloschen gave in to her demands. The next day he threw Tshushani out of his tent, hurling insults and calling her a whore in public. As her punishment, she was violently raped by the men of the band and exiled from society under threat of death.
was left wandering the desert, all alone. Chances of survival for
a Maraudean outcast were slim, but after years of gathering wild
plants and searching for water, she knew where to dig for
underground springs, which plants were safe to eat, and where to
find an Oasis. At long last she found the
Tshushani thought sheíd get a warm welcome, she was wrong. The
peasants here already had their share of incidents with the
Marauders, and as soon as they saw her black hair, they attacked
her with pitchforks and torches. She barely made it out alive. The
next village was no different, and neither was the one after.
Tshushani lost hope of rejoining human society and continued
Copyright © 2003 by Yumeni