Deep in the desert, there was a slave girl. She was an ill-bought good, tucked away to be forgotten.
They’d made something to cover her face and black hair. An intricate covering that revealed green eyes, with good luck coins draped down her face.
In the divided tent, they’d carved out a fire pit and food storage, the other servants worked here.
It always clattered with sounds as women prepped the flat bread on flat traveling stones over fire pits. They spoke a language she didn’t know.
Those who weren’t cooking, drank hot tea full of desert spices...
Dani could see the strange loom. It magically created intricate rugs to sell along the trade route.
The first few days, she wasn’t allowed to leave her spot. The only escape was when the tent emptied out in the evening, everyone flooding down to the fires. Her Mistress tethered her to the entrance.
Perhaps so she wouldn’t escape or to protect the tent with her bad luck. Bad luck could be good luck if no other family would draw near, risking the spread of her filth.
She kept her head bent as her fingers, dirty, trailed in the sand...
The mistress only stopping to brush out Dani’s work with a slippered foot. The men filled the main entrance.
“Casting another curse?” She demanded. Her blue stripped robes and scarves swept passed Dani in the wind. Grabbing her by the scruff of the neck, she dragged her through the passage of the tent.
But this time, it was passed the other serving women and family to the main part of the tent. Here men, including the Mistress’s husband sat waiting. He was a tall man in soft brown burnoose.
Dani collapsed before him, face down.
“I stand here to beat the jinn of bad luck from this child,” he said. “But what must be done must be done to protect us." Looking up ,she saw the hide strap in his fist.
Every night, the lash landed on her back...
She was dumped her off next to a woman in the serving part of the tent a frail looking crinkling woman with a scar down her chin.
“Master Tarrik says she is to fetch water with you in the morning,” the mistress commanded. The dark eyed woman looked up with hooded eyes and gave a nod.
The next day, before the first grey lights peaked over the dunes, the crinkly woman woke her with a jab of a staff. “Up.”
She was small compared to the woman, just cresting her waist and the robes were much too long and wide for her.
They crossed to a pair of camels tethered with others. These monstrosities were new to Dani. Big gaping mauls that protested the tug of their lead rope.
“Your name?” Dani managed to ask in her broken Chanzuu. “Myah,” she replied, making the sign against evil .
There were other women gathering camels with them and soon they were making, a long train to the lone well. They took turns, talking amongst each other.
A secret romance between two young kids or the fiery abuse of a husband and how the the tribe tribe’s leaders should step.
This new woman, blinded in one eye, kept looking to Dani as if she were something hideous. She tucked herself behind Myah, waiting for their turn at the well.
“Get the skins from the camels,” Myah commanded, so Dani went to the cranky camel. Her camel made a quick snap at her, but she deftly escaped to grab the skin-colored sacks.
Jogging back to Myah, she handed them to her, but Myah shook her head. “I’m showing you.”
She taught Dani how to hang and tie the sacks on the well. Then, Dani dropped the water skin into the dark pit below. That was the easy part, pulling water from the well was not.
She pulled with all her weight until finally the rough hewn rope began to slip in her fingers, dragging welts with them.
With a quick flick of her wrist, Myah caught the rope and helped her. “We must never lose a bag, little one.
”Pulling it out, she tied it so Dani could see how she did it and tied it to the end of a stick. “We have a few more to go.”
Myah put two to a rod for Dani and slipped it over her shoulders. Her knees shook, but she managed to stay on her feet. Myah had four on her rod. They made their way back to their camels.
Her chest worked like bellows by the time they reached the camels. Myah put the bags on the camel and they walked back to the line.
There was no rush it seemed for two more trips. Dani was so happy when it was finally finished, but then Myah held a bag out to her.
“What?” Dani asked. “For the camel?”
“You need strength to carry water. We don’t always have the camel. If they get hurt we carry the water ourselves. ”
Dani looked to the dune that she would have to crest to make it back to camp.Tears formed in her eyes as she looked back to Myah.
“Save those tears for the desert hag, Tani,” Myah snapped. Her hooded eyes crinkling in amusement. “It won’t be so bad. I believe in you."
Dani strengthened her knees and promised herself she would try and she did...
This was life. She’d forgotten to count the days long ago. She didn’t know how long she’d lived among these people, the Txoria.
Perhaps it was because their skins were darker and they spoke their Chanzuu tongue.
She dreamt of green trees that never ended and empty meadows full of lush grasses and shaggy ponies in the deep of the night.
She imagined the children dreamed of their thin-boned wild stallions of the desert and the never ending red-orange landscape.
They moved from one site to another, along ancient caravan paths under stars as numerous as the sand. They moved away from her country to a land full of mystery.
It was a place where bad luck could be good luck if they treated it properly. If they covered it with coins and black robes....