“Good morning Mother!” chimed my twin and I in perfect sync. Our mother turned to us and gave a suspicious look.
“Hmmm…and what are you two up to?” she asked.
“Nothing. I, uh….I was only…” stuttered out Ratonhnhakè:ton.
“Come play with us! The others have gone hunting and we are bored,” said Kanen’tò:kon popping into the doorway of our home. Mother turned to us as we slowly crept outside, giving us a warning look.
“Go on. But do not venture beyond the valley,” she said. We nodded and with huge grins we tore off towards the village’s gate.
“This way!” Kahente shouted as we ran.
“Stay out of the mud! It took me days to wash the stains from your clothes!” called out one of the other’s mother. “No better than beasts…” she mumbled as she kept sweeping.
“Be home by sunset!” called our mother from the hut.
“Yes mom!” we called back.
“Take care, children, that you do not leave the valley,” said the sentry as we finally made it outside the walls of our small village.
“Maybe we should head back…” said one of the boys.
“They say there are wolves out here,” Kahente muttered.
“And strange men who shoot fire from their hands!” I whispered excitedly. I had always been the strange one of the village. The elders say I take after my mom with my fascination with the white men who came from across the waters. The men who lived in stone villages…filled with victims that were taken from the woods. Finally we arrived at our usual playing spot atop the rocks. We were high up enough that we could see the roofs of the village but we were not yet out of the valley.
“What should we play?” asked my brother. He was usually the leader of the group, teaching us new games and showing us how to climb and track.
“Hide and seek?” Kanen’tò:kon suggested as he picked up a small group of sticks. We each drew one seeing who would have the shortest and be ‘it’. Naturally it was Ratonhnhakè:ton who just so happened to be the best seeker of us.
“You’re it!” I shouted as he turned around and began to count. I tore off into the foliage, careful to tread lightly but also move quickly enough to get to my hiding spot. I quickly found the best tree to hide in and scaled it. I hid back in the leaves and stilled when I head Ratonhnhakè:ton call out one hundred. I heard the other twins giggling as they hid in the nearby pile of fallen branches and leaves. It didn’t take long for my brother to come running across my path with two boys following him. I steadied my breathing even though I wanted to laugh so hard at my brother being totally unaware of me. He easily found the twins and then he tore off looking for me. It took about ten minutes I think for him to finally give up.
“Skenandoa! I give up you can come out now!” called out Ratonhnhakè:ton . I giggled as I shuffled down the convenient footholds in the tree. I had always been good at getting up in trees, but not coming down. When I was about five feet off the ground I missed my footing and tumbled to the ground, scraping my knee as I went.
“Khe'kén:'a!” cried Ratonhnhakè:ton. I gently helped me to stand, my knee was bleeding slightly and I had a small scratch on my forehead, nothing serious but he had always been a bit protective.
“Are you alright? Can you walk? How many fingers am I holding up?” he asked quickly. I put his arm down and shrugged him off.
“I’m fine! You don’t have to be so worried,” I said as I limped around trying to just how bad I had hurt myself. After a couple minutes of adjusting I was able to walk just fine, so we decided to play another quick round. This time when we picked, Kanen’tò:kon was the seeker. We each ran off in a different direction, and Ratonhnhakè:ton had decided that we should hide together so I could show him all the good spots. I led him to a leaf pile that was on the edge of the boundaries but still well within the valley. I told him to hide there while I hide in the nearby bush. Just as we were about to tuck down into our spots a man in a red coat appeared and tossed my brother out of the pile. He got up to run but another man appeared with a gun while a third tripped him. I got up to shout at them to let him go, but one more man was behind me. He grabbed my hair and drug me out into the open.
I cried out as pain laced through my scalp and I clawed at the man’s hands, desperately trying to pry them off. But he was too strong.
“You look…familiar. Where have I seen you before?” asked the man who tripped my brother as he rolled him over. He had long black hair swept back in a ponytail, a mustache and foreboding, stormy grey eyes. My brother spat in the man’s eye, in an act of defiance.
“That wasn’t very nice,” said the man right before grabbing Ratonhnhakè:ton in a vice like hold.
“Let me go!” shouted my brother. I squirmed in my captor’s arms, the need to help my brother overwhelming me.
“Listen to that, he knows English. Smart for a savage,” said my captor.
“Spirited too!” said the man holding my dragging my brother. He lifted Ratonhnhakè:ton up and held him by his neck against the tree. My brother writhed in the man’s grasp, but the foreigner only squeezed harder.
“We have questions for your elders. Only tell us where your village is ,boy, and you and your friend can go,” he continued.
“Best do as he asks, child,” said the man in the red coat in a gentler tone.
“I could snap your neck you know. A little more pressure and pop! The sad little flame of your life is extinguished. You are a nothing. A speck of dust. You – and all your ilk. Living in the dirt like animals, oblivious to the true ways of the world. The wiser among you recognize the shape of the future. They throw themselves at our feet and beg mercy. But not you, it seems. No…you cling desperately to your ways. Too ignorant to know your folly. But I am not unkind,” he said before dropping my gasping brother to the ground.
“And so I spare you, that you may carry word to your people. Let them know the sooner we are given what we seek, the sooner we will return your friend here? A fair trade, is it not?” asked the man. He turned toward me and nodded to my captor.
“What…is your…name?” asked my brother, stuttering.
“Charles Lee. Why do you ask?” said Lee, bending down with a chuckle.
“So I can find you,” said my brother with a murderous glare. I shared a look with my brother, both of us knew we would not be able to stop them taking me, no matter how hard we fought.
“I look forward to it,” he said before walking away and gesturing to the man in the red. The man took his weapon and hit my brother on the head who instantly fell and closed his eyes.
“Ratonhnhakè:ton!” I screamed, trying to get to my brother and see if he was alright. My captor just tsked and pulled on my hair harder. I screamed in agony and stopped fighting. The man holding me tossed me over his shoulder and trekked down the hill. I didn’t fight him, not wanting to be made to suffer even more.
“That’s a good girl, you keep quiet now,” he said. We made our way slowly down the valley and I soon realized we were heading toward the village. I began to struggle then, knowing it probably wasn’t a smart idea, but I just couldn’t let them hurt my people.
“Stop strugglin’ ya little brat! Else you’ll end up just like your friend back there!” said my captor as he adjusted to my moving. I didn’t stop though, knowing I had to get free to warn the others.
“I think she is telling us something, we may not need the boy after all. The village is near, her reaction is evidence enough,” said Lee, looking into my eyes with a vicious grin. Next thing I knew there was a pain in the back of my head and all I saw after that was darkness.
I slowly peeled open my eyes only to close them again as they were assaulted by a bright light. After a minute I slowly opened them again, adjusting to the light. I groaned as I felt a sharp pain in my head.
“You’re awake. I’m glad,” said a man with a deep, smooth voice. I turned to my left and saw a different man form the one in the group who kidnapped me. I didn’t say anything as I glared at him and turned away. I looked at the room around me, seeing that it was a fancy white man’s room. It was dressed in materials that were not animal skins.
“Don’t be like that dear. Charles told me how he found you in the burning remains of your village as he went to speak with your elders,” said the man softly. I turned my head sharply at the mention of my village burning, knowing it had not been like that when we left.
“You lie!” I shouted in my native language.
“I assure you my dear I do not. He did say you have been hit by something and that you may suffer memory loss,” said the man in my language. My eyes widened, thinking he would not have been able to understand me I was surprised when he did.
“How do you know my language?” I asked suspiciously.
“I met a woman of your tribe a long time ago. She helped me with some things. My name is Haytham Kenway, what is yours?” asked Haytham.
“Why should I tell you?”
“Well, it is common curtesy to tell someone your name when they have told you theirs,” he replied with a slight smirk.
“Skenandoa,” I muttered.
“That is a lovely name. No doubt named after the river?” he asked. I just softly nodded my head and turned back away. Unwilling to say more. I heard Haytham sigh and the scrape of his chair as he stood.
“I am sure you must be hungry and thirsty, I will send someone to bring you some food and drink,” said Haytham as he slowly walked to the door and closed it. I turned back to see if he had truly gone and thankfully he was. I pushed back the bed covers and tried to get out of the bed but I gasped and fell as soon as I put pressure on my injured knee. Maybe it was worse than I thought. I looked at my body and say bandages wrapped around my knee and felt some wrapped around my head. I tried to get up but I couldn’t so I just dropped painfully back onto the floor. I waited for what seemed like forever, stuck in a pile on the ground till I heard a knock on the door. I stayed quiet, hoping that maybe whoever it was would think I was asleep. However, it was for nothing as soon after I heard the sweeping of cloth on the floor as whoever it was walked in. From the gentle gait I could tell it wasn’t Haytham, but most likely one of his maids. The lady slowly walked into the room and when she saw me on the floor she set the tray she was carrying down and gently helped me up. She tsked me as she sat me down onto the bed and tucked me back in under the covers.
“You shouldn’t be trying to get up just yet dear, your leg isn’t healed enough for you to be walking around,” she shunned as she turned to get the food she brought for me. She handed me the bowl of soup and I sniffed it before hesitantly taking a sip. Realizing that it wasn’t poisoned I gulped it down. The lady took the bowl back and chided me for eating it too quickly, saying I would ‘get an upset stomach’. She handed me a glass of water and this I drank slower, to appease her. She smiled when I handed the cup back and pulled the covers up to my chin.“You get some rest now dear, you’ve had a trying day,” she said. She blew out the candle and closed the door behind her. I laid down and closed my eyes, falling asleep almost instantly.