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The Brave [Book 2, Time Trilogy] (EDITING)

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With murderous warriors on his tail, the last thing Cherokee brave Wahya expects is to leap into the 21st century, colliding smack dab into Morgan, the university's Archaeology Collections Manager. The only connection with Wahya's sudden appearance two-thousand years into the future, seems to be a unique stone artifact—a pendant given to him for luck years earlier. }}}-----> * <-----{{{ Morgan must help Wahya navigate life in contemporary America. But as love begins to blossom, uncertainty looms and decisions must be made. Will the burning passion the pair find themselves caught up in get in the way of their ultimate destinies? }}}-----> * <-----{{{ While "The Brave" is second in the Time Trilogy, readers do not need to read "The Archaeologist" first to understand this story.

4.8 2 reviews
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Awards and Prizes:

🥇 First Place in the Most Valuable Player Awards, Round 2, Action/Adventure Genre (2022)

🥈 Second Place in the Coalition Community Awards, Sci-Fi Genre (2020)

⭐️ Most Improved in the Green Exchange Awards (2022)

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The Time Trilogy:

~ The Archaeologist [complete]

~ The Brave [complete, editing]

~ The Time Traveler [work-in-progress]

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© All Rights Reserved.

This book is copyrighted by Gwen Thames.

Use of any part of this book without express permission from the author is prohibited.

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AD 215

The Forest

Eastern Piedmont Region, North America

}}}-----> WAHYA <-----{{{

Crouching in the thick brush, Adatlisvi Wahya steadies his undrawn bow and looks down the notched arrow, past the sharp stone tip. Hunger rumbles from the empty pit in his belly, while the dense foliage seems to gaze back at him in a heavy, mockery-filled silence. Irritation trickles into his being, brought on by the sweat seeping down his face and gnats buzzing angrily in his ear. Are the forest spirits so defiant, they would be unwilling to give up the whereabouts of the one deer the Tsalagi braves have come upon all morning?

With food reserves running lower than anticipated, there’s no doubt in Wahya’s mind the outcome of this kill will bring them one step closer to life or death. The scarcity of game in this foreign territory is yet another punch in the gut, his reminder that life hangs on the whim of nature and the Upper and Lower world spirits who govern it; and they haven’t been on his side—his people’s side—for several moons now.

Finally, the imitated caw of a crow rings out, much closer than the previous one. This is the signal he’s been waiting for. Taking practiced even breaths, Wahya calms his mind, in turn composing every part of his body for the task at hand. Drawing his bow back, he stills, while his gaze combs the landscape within the periphery of his vision for signs of movement. He waits. The gnats swarm his clammy, glistening skin. Yet, even the air remains stagnant for what seems like forever. Nothing. Nothing but Inoli shifting in the underwood nearby.

Cursed be the spirits. They do not care. Are we fools, splashing water over our bodies every morning and praying the words of the Water Ceremony, only for Unetlanvhi to condemn us to starvation with each passing day? Four moons later and we are all weary in both spirit and body. Grandmother and the other elders grow weaker every day, not to mention the littlest ones. This journey will be their death. We cannot shelter or fill our bellies on hope of new lands alone.

A loud whistle pierces the air, snapping Wahya back to attention as an arrow hits the undergrowth a mere three paces to his left. According to the signals, the deer is to the north—no one should be shooting in this direction. Then, a sudden harrowing and undeniably human scream rouses the forest around him, and he quickly rises from his position. Hunger succumbs to worry as he squints into the brush, looking for answers. Someone is hurt.

“Run, Wahya,” Inoli calls out.

Wahya locks eyes with his panicked friend.

“Haudenosaunee!” Inoli declares, straightening from his own kneeling position and nodding to the arrow penetrating the soft earth at an angle between them. Its impeccably styled brown feather fletching is apparent even at this distance.

Inoli taps Wahya’s shoulder, ready to leave, when an enemy battle cry emerges from the canopy above them, sending birds flying in panic. The shrill, echoing whoop sends a sharp chill down Wahya’s spine. Realization and dread course through his veins, while his heavy heartbeat deafens the sounds of nature. Reflexively, he clutches at the large stone piece fastened around his neck with a leather cord as he again scans the forest, desperate to know how they had managed to cross into Haudenosaunee land. But before he can make anything out in the absurdly lush greenery, angry voices and the growing sounds of unseen bodies crashing through the undergrowth erupt from whence the enemy’s arrow came.

“Over there! He went that way,” a singular and unfamiliar voice booms in Tsalagi. Followed by more whoops and shouts, Wahya shrinks inside as he counts what must be at least five individuals. What if this is more than a small hunting party? Have they stumbled close to a Haudenosaunee village?

“We must go.” Inoli tugs at Wahya once more, his expression stoic, though his eyes brim with a furtive fear Wahya isn’t accustomed to seeing in his usually composed and optimistic friend. Slipping away into the trees as though they were but a whisper of the wind, Wahya follows behind Inoli, their pace quick, yet careful as they pick their barefooted path through brambles and fallen branches.

The approaching braves pursue with rapid, heavy footsteps and voices too loud for evading and not conducive to hunting. The sticky summer heat doesn’t help the oppressive feeling at Wahya’s back, as their rampaging chase grows in volume—the Haudenosaunee are gaining on them. In an attempt to catch up with Inoli’s more lengthy strides, he leaps over a downed tree, then pushes through the boughs of a pair of scraggly bushes. He cringes at the noise the branches make and the tracks he knows he’s leaving behind.

A whoosh passes his ear and a streak of color catches the corner of his eye as another arrow speeds past his head, finding purchase in a dead tree trunk. Inoli, still running, glances back and Wahya knows they’re thinking the same thing. They need to separate to make it more difficult for their pursuers. He motions to the southeast, signaling for Inoli to go southwest. Yet, as he makes a beeline to break from their original course, a third arrow slices the air. Inoli is only an arms-length ahead, his sinewy arms pumping hard as he banks in the opposite direction. This is going to work—it must work.

Then Inoli’s smooth movements stilt. Wahya watches him spin, awkward and unhurried like an autumn leaf falling to the ground. There is no sound, yet as if it were himself, Wahya feels the thud of his friend’s body hitting the forest floor with a resounding finality. His foot catches Inoli’s outstretched leg, and the ground rises to meet him in slow motion. Time itself has slowed.

Wahya’s heart wrenches and he’s not sure if it’s the fall or dread pulling the air from his lungs. Scrambling to his knees in a swirl of dirt and leaves, he clamors to Inoli’s side. Bile and dismay gather in his stomach as dark crimson blood trickles from his friend’s lips, pooling in the dry earth below his cheek. The need to breathe is forgotten as Wahya frantically examines the site where the afflicting arrow punctures Inoli just below his shoulder blade. Blood oozes at an alarming rate from where the shaft is buried deep. The world spins above Wahya and the already stifling heat suffocates him as his shaking hands prob tentatively at the wound. What should he do? Is there time to pull the arrow out? Can he drag Inoli to safety?

Silently, Wahya rolls Inoli back just enough to look into his friend’s face. Spiraling into Inoli’s unseeing eyes Wahya is transported back to the muddy riverbank where they spent hours of their childhoods catching toads. To the forest near their village where they learned to shoot bows and knap stone tools with their fathers and the other men who had seemed so mighty and powerful in their youthful eyes. To the stone outcropping at the waterfall where they shared their adolescent dreams and talked about the lives they would lead when they were older. And finally, to the darkened earthen hut Wahya had called home not long ago, where they shared the pain and grief of lost loved ones—Wahya’s mother and Inoli’s wife, both overcome with illness.

A muted cry escapes his lips. In all his twenty-seven years, never has he witnessed anything so horrific. Death is no stranger—illness, old age, and tragic happenstance are all part of Tsalagi life. But heartless bloodshed for simply existing, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, is something else altogether.

But the time for anguish, for understanding ends as the enemy closes in. Nothing can be done now. Wahya’s vision is so blurred with grief and anger, he unseeingly lays Inoli back on his side, then closes his friend’s lifeless eyes. Rising to his feet, the weight of the Earth presses down upon him as he silently prays Inoli finds his way to the Upper World, though there’s no time for a proper ceremony.

Three figures appear in the near distance. Their faces, painted in camouflaging earth tones, make them seem as one with nature, not man. Out of breath, the braves stop in their tracks, staring as if they’re surprised to see him standing there. Tempted to fight them now, Wahya begins to reach for the bow slung across his back. In turn, one brave yanks a stone blade from the sheath at his waist, then squats into a fighting stance, ready to charge. Another notches an arrow on his ready bow. Behind them, twigs snap and leaves rustle as the rest of their party moves in. The apparent leader, with his dark red painted face and long feathered mohawk, commands in a grating voice that reverberates into Wahya’s soul. “After him!”

Dying at these men’s hands won’t avenge Inoli, nor any of the other braves they may have slaughtered already. So, Wahya does the only thing he can. Runs. Anger, sadness, and immense worry for his loved ones—everyone waiting at the makeshift camp for the men to return—fill him with the will to live. If only to lead the enemy away from the camp. Centering himself, his father’s ingrained teachings echo from the depths of his memory. He conjures up the essence of his own namesake, the running wolf, tuning into the attributes within himself that make wolves fierce fighters and loyal pack members.

Sleek and agile, he sprints through the brush, deftly jumping over small limbs and pushing off larger rocks. Air expels from his lungs in sync with each silent stride. More than adept at running through woodland similar to this, he gauges his steps with tactile precision over the unfamiliar terrain. The scrub brush and thickets beneath the towering lanky pines, provide him plenty of cover. Running with such powerful purpose, he’s never felt so swift. His ears and eyes pick up minute details, feeding him everything he needs to know about his surroundings and those who follow. He is no longer a man, but a spirit wolf, gliding through its sacred habitat.

He perseveres with steady resolve until the tranquility of the surrounding forest tells him his pursuers have fallen behind. Still, his heart thunders and sweat drips. The muscles in his thighs burn with fire as the sun journeys across the sky overhead, yet he pushes onward, though he slows. But everything has its limits and exertion takes its toll, parching his throat to soreness. Constant flashes of sunlight filtering through the thick foliage above have a trancelike effect as his instincts move him deeper into the woods, while he also ventures farther into the recesses of his mind.

His jaw tightens with white, hot anger. Inoli’s poor mother had lost her husband the previous year and her daughter-in-law with the sickness, and now her only child. Wahya tries to console his own anguish, reminding himself at least he died with honor. He lets out a long sigh. While he’s used to going long distances, he’s tired. Tired of traveling, and now tired of running away. His frustrations get the better of him. With his eyes trained on the terrain ahead, his heart pangs—not only for the more immediate loss of Inoli, but for the many losses that began this entire mess.

His memory floats over his beloved mother. Ganohilvsv Woya had been one of the first taken by the sudden and brutal sickness that persisted for two-moons as it swept through their moderately-sized village, taking roughly three-quarters of the once-thriving community. How it left him, his father, and his maternal grandmother untouched, save for the sadness in its wake, haunts him now as the familiar ache fills his chest. Even as they journey away from their problems, death follows.

Wincing, he finally halts, holding his knees as he catches his breath at the edge of a small stream. He can only stop for a moment. Careful not to leave prints he can’t cover quickly, he leans over the shallow bank, his loose, raven black hair falling over his shoulders. The ends dip in the steady current, so he tucks one side behind his ear. But as he reaches for the water, the dark red stains of blood, caked into his fingernails and smeared across his palms, stands out as a blatant reminder of his senseless pain. Anger and sorrow resurface anew as he studies his trembling fingers for a moment. A singular tear falls to the crystalline current below as Wahya feels shamed for berating the Great Spirit, Unetlanvhi, and the nature spirits earlier in the day. If ever there was a time to trust in their presence and go to the water, now was it. Sacred and purifying, his friend’s deceased body should have been cleaned with water, facilitating his spirit’s journey to the Upper World.

“I am sorry Inoli,” Wahya whispers, plunging his hands into the stream. As if in complete understanding and sympathy, the wet embrace of the water tugs and pulls away all Wahya has left of his friend in tiny red rivulets that soon disappear into the greater flow. Though not the ceremony Inoli deserves, it will have to suffice for now.

Wahya sighs deeply, unsure of what lies ahead. Stepping into the stream, he takes a moment to appreciate the crisp current on his sore feet. Still, the muggy heat sticks to his bare, reddish tanned torso and heaving chest, broad with years of living off the land. Stooping, he splashes his sweat-soaked arms and front, then rids his aching legs and thighs of dirt up to the hem of his deerskin breechcloth. Already taking too much time here, he hurries to rub his face clean, pushing his hair back with a long exhale, allowing a little of his anxiety to purge into the spiritually healing waters with an unspoken prayer.

Done, he sits back on his heels and focuses on calming his senses, allowing them to roam the landscape, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. A late afternoon breeze barely stirs the leaves high above, while mockingbirds twitter in harmonious song and squirrels chase one another in search of acorns. The Haudenosaunee’s brash pursuit is still inaudible. How long had it been so, he’s not sure. He sets his jaw and flares his nostrils in analytical concentration. Though he can’t be certain, the enemy braves could still be on the hunt. The sunlight makes the stream glint as he studies the flow and the damp banks on either side.

Bearing south in the calf-deep stream, he follows its path for a while before heading back onto dry land, taking care to step lightly and not trample the grass. Even with no indication the Haudenosaunee are near, it’s best to continue onward and hide overnight. If they still haven’t caught up by morning, he can assume they’ve determined he’s not worth their time and called off the hunt.

Pushing forward at a fast-paced walk, his spirits lift to see the setting sun turning the sky above the heavily wooded horizon orange, darkening the woods further. The brush and dimming woods quiet some with the coming evening. Soon, the daytime animals will prepare for sleep—a sign he needs to be in search of a resting place as well. It doesn’t take long to find cover for the night, tucked in a hollowed-out embankment where the earth around several large tree roots has eroded. With just enough room to squeeze into, Wahya covers the entrance with branches and brush, satisfied it will be impossible for the Haudenosaunee to discover him in the dark.

Winded and in pain, he sucks air in through his teeth. Now, with the lack of movement, his muscles constrict from the exertion he’d put them through all day. He rubs his thighs and stretches his calves, taking long, slow breaths in hopes the stitch in his side will dissipate soon and his head will clear. From his waist, he unhooks his travel pouch, pulling out a thin strip of dried deer meat. Tearing it with his teeth, he savors the salty, yet flavorful bite, sighing with as much contentment as one could have at this moment. Lying back against the cool earth, he listens for noises not belonging to nature. All is quiet. But the bold voice of the man leading the Haudenosaunee echoes in his memory, stirring a peculiar feeling in his gut.

Fingering the oblong, palm-sized pendant around his neck, he stares into the darkness, visualizing the day’s events. Again, the fierce warrior’s words resound in his mind. With sudden clarity, Wahya tenses, apprehension and confusion gnawing at him. The man had called out to his fellow tribesmen in the Tsalagi language, not in Haudenosaunee words. Wahya swallows the last of the thoroughly chewed jerky with a gulp, rubbing the stone between his fingers in deeper contemplation. The braves’ hair and feathers were without doubt in the Haudenosaunee style. Besides, Tsalagi braves would not hunt their own clansmen, he reasons. Yet, something about their dress and weapons feels out of place to him now, even for Haudenosaunee.

A yawn soon escapes as he continues to soothe the tension of the day away with the familiar feel of the gritty stone, and his ruminations weaken with the inability to answer the inexplicable mystery. Soon, his mind drifts to the stone itself and the day the mysterious traveler had given it to him for luck many moons ago. Trying to keep himself alert for a while longer, he pulls at the memories, but soon slips into a near-dream state of exhaustion.

In the shroud of darkness, he wonders where time has gone as his memories take him to the campfire outside his parents’ home. Fifteen-year-old Wahya basks in the sights and sounds of the village settling after a long day. His mother hums a gentle song as she stirs the delightful-smelling stew cooking on the coals. His father’s thundering voice carries through the rows of summer houses and over the din of children playing while they wait for supper. Wahya rises to meet his father, who, with a great grin, introduces the stranger to his wife. She smiles with loving pride as he explains, “Our guest is passing through on his journey to the north, and needs to replenish his supplies and rest for a few days. He helped us bring down a large, young buck today and has earned his fair share of the kill. Of course, I told him he will never taste meat prepared finer in all his travels once he has tasted yours.”

As sleep finally envelopes Wahya in its comforting embrace, he loosens his grip on the rough-grained stone. The kind, youthful man with strange, short hair and slightly less-tanned skin than anyone Wahya had ever seen emerges behind his closed eyelids, and he relaxes with the memories of better times. Still, the question always at the back of his mind resurfaces, and he murmurs at the edge of deep slumber, “Why me? Why did he feel I deserved the stone?”

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Hi Readers! Thanks for reading “The Brave!” I welcome all comments and constructive feedback! I love interacting with my readers and other authors!

I wanted to note that this story, while fictitious, does include many factual details about the Native American Cherokee (Tsalagi) people and culture (historical and contemporary). All translated words were found via online Cherokee dictionaries, but as I am not a native speaker, I do hope that my translations are accurate. As the story progresses, you will probably pick up on a few words yourself, but I’ll add the ones I use to the bottom of the chapters they first appear in and again if I think you need reminders for those important to the continuing story.

Again, thanks for reading! ~Gwen

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Adatlisvi Wahya = Running Wolf

*goes by Wahya (Wolf) for short

Ganohilvsv Woya = Flying Dove

*Wahya’s mother

Haudenosaunee = People of the Longhouse

*This is the original, native name for the tribe who is now referred to as the Iroquois. The name “Iroquois” is a French variant on a term for “snake” given these people by the Hurons. As Wahya lived prior to a European presence in the Americas, he would have referred to the Iroquois by their original name, Haudenosaunee.

Inoli = Badger

*Wahya’s best friend

Tsalagi = Cherokee

*“Cherokee” is the native Creek word for “people of different speech,” and was picked up by European newcomers. “Tsalagi” is the original name for the people contemporarily-known as the Cherokee.

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Stefanie: Absolut schönes Buch. Es hat tolle Charaktere und eine sehr schöne Geschichte. Der Autor hat es schön spannend und auch witzig geschrieben. Ich freue mich auf weitere Bücher.

gamer281: Auch dieser Teil ist dir super gelungen. Die totale Gefühlsachterbahn. Vielen lieben Dank.

ssassy1012: Good short story . Would have been greater if longer. And played out more.Can always add to it at a later time .

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Valentina: - me ha gustado como lleva la historia es rápido pero a la vez lento, y en si no encuentro fallas graves solo leves como a veces (yo creo por error del autorrector)las palabras no coinciden con lo que están contando. - se las recomendaría a mis amigas más cercanas porque son las únicas que conoce...

Audrey: Histoire ayant de l'action, des personnages charismatique et beaucoup d'amour

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Saloni Acharya: The whole series is so good. It’s like you can’t keep it down without reading it the whole way and then start the next one. Time flies and you don’t realise it’s late night and you have to go to sleep 😂. The characters are awesome with strong plots and love every couple. 😍🥰

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