I was allowed to rest in bed for three whole days, with lessons from Ailadas continuing. That helped me feel better. I was less bored.
Ailadas mentioned to me that Matthas had been sent out for more news and supplies. There had been a number of successful hunts by others so there was venison and wild goat on the menu now. The trained Mahid had found wild tubers, vegetables, and grains for us as well. The grains weren’t enough to make flour with, but at least gave the barley some more flavor. The other thing someone was supplying was mushrooms. Trust a Mahid to know what toxic mushrooms looked like… in this case, to avoid them.
I really didn’t want to get up, feeling my tiredness in every limb and was not anticipating tomorrow, when the medic said I could be out of bed again. I had my arm thrown over my eyes and not paying attention to the rising noise outside until Gannara cracked the door open and then stood still, looking out, as though someone had turned him to stone. I took my arm down because there were sounds coming from outside I never thought I’d hear Mahid make.
Then Gannara giggled. He’d turned his face in behind the door and pulled it all the way open so I could see. In the narrow frame of the door I could see four Mahid running in circles trying to corner a goat. It trailed a rope attached to a chunk of log that came up behind, tripped one of the Mahid, sending his feet flying straight up and him sprawling flat on his back.
Another lay on the ground one hand clutching his genitals, the other over his head as the goat, the log and the Mahid in pursuit trampled over him. Normally silent Mahid were yelling, shouting directions at one another.
There was a bucket being kicked around in the mess and another Mahid hit the ground falling over it. Boras Mahid grabbed the goat as it leaped into the air, by one leg and somehow it – she -- kicked him in the chest while she was in midair, twisting to almost evade Donaras. Almost, because she somehow caught him in the side of the head with her horns.
He fell to all fours, shaking his head, and the goat trotted off toward other goats that I realized were tied up to other trees. The log she was dragging hit Donaras where he was on all fours and checked her progress. She whirled around and stamped one front hoof, then both, half standing up on her hind legs. Two more Mahid, Iakobas and Rilas, who had been chasing her skidded to a stop. Donaras sat up from where he’d been knocked into the mud, scrubbing at his face.
I’d gotten up to see better, sitting up and putting my feet down. I had to giggle. I had to. She was facing them down! She stamped and stretched out her face toward them, long as a snake’s, but with the ears hanging down, and let out a long, long ‘bbbbbbbaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh’. Donaras, still sitting, hurled the muck he’d scraped off his face at the goat.
“Mahid!” 2nd Amitzas actually raised his voice at Donaras showing his frustration. “It is merely a goat. It is incapable of showing derision.”
“MMMMMAAAAAAAAAAAeeeAAAAAA!” 2nd Amitzas turned and strode toward the goat’s tether, seized it near the log, braced his feet and began hauling it toward himself.
Gannara whispered in my ear… “He shouldn’t do that.”
"Why shouldn't he do---" The goat’s neck stretched and her legs set, and all of a sudden she seemed to gain an enormous amount of weight. 2nd Amitzas suddenly stopped gaining any ground, the rope stretching tight between himself and the goat. I had to laugh even harder. None of the others moved from where they stood or crouched or sprawled. “Oh. My. Um, but Gannara, why shouldn't he --” I had both hands over my mouth trying to keep my laughter in but 2nd Amitzas didn't have a chance of hearing me, he was focused on the animal.
The women and Ilesias were watching across the partly open ground and he was jumping up and down, squealing “Goat! Goat! Goat!”
Gannara whispered in my ear… “Good cheer, Ilesias. Go, goat go!”
I pulled in a deep breath and held it. The détente out there couldn’t last. In a blink, the goat quit pulling and lunged forward toward 2nd Amitzas. Even as he staggered backward as the rope went slack, her forehead… her horns… hit him squarely in the genitals. I puffed my breath out sharply. Oh. She literally danced backward. He was on his feet for a frozen moment, then fell over like a tree chopped down, but without a sound, and he still didn’t show anything on his face. "That's why he shouldn't do that," I said. I felt Gannara nod.
The goat trotted over 2nd Amitzas, stepping daintily over him, as if he were a carpet for her tiny hooves. He rolled over, and up onto his knees, avoiding the log as she dragged it. Still on his knees, he pulled out his dart tube, raised it and somehow found the air, the puff, to shoot a dart into her retreating haunch.
She kept on going for a half dozen steps, staggered sideways one direction, then the other, then collapsed onto her front knees and toppled softly sideways. I could hear 2nd Amitzas’s voice, rasping harsh as he set one foot on the ground, set his elbow on the raised knee on that side and used it to lever himself up by it. “We… will… re-think this, Mahid.” The others had gotten up, bruised, bloodied and covered with mud, standing as if for inspection in the Marble Palace.
Gannara snickered. “Re-think it? Why not just send one of the women and Ilesias, posing as her kid, to buy milk from a local farmer?”
I turned to look at him. “Milk and cheese both. That’s brilliant!”
He looked at me as though I was dumb. “You Arkans. You just don’t credit women with any sense at all. And no one would think of a woman and child as part of your entourage.”
“Yeolis,” I snorted at him, as the Mahid began cleaning up the field of battle outside. “You think women can do anything… but there’s a milakraseye who could think her way around 2nd Amitzas before the first meal of the day.”
He laughed, surprised. “You know a milakraseye?” Then he turned his head as fresh noise came from outside. “You don’t think they just tried to milk another one, do you?”