Disclaimer & Notices
Copyright: I do not own The 100 and certain characters but the plot is all mine.
Notices: This story may have violence, language, and sexual content for a mature audience.
Summary: Based off artwork by Turtleduckie. Lexa’s warrior, Anya, has gone on a hunt and does not return by the end of the day. A worried Lexa decides to search for her warrior even though Anya has repeatedly taught her that caring comes with a price.
Started: January 14, 2016
Ended: January 14, 2016
Series: One Shot
I’ll Carry You Home Tonight
by Red Hope
Summer was madness this year. The heat was ugly. The breezes too soft. And the gods damn the mosquitoes. They were as nearly large as the pauna.
It was also constantly raining. There was rainfall at least once every seven days for two or three straight. Lexa was convinced that she and Anya were actually members of the Boat Clan rather than the Tree People. She had seriously considered building them a canoe, just in case the floods became any worse. Anya, her mentor for eight years now, told her it was silly and stupid.
And yet, Anya rarely had an argument against Lexa when they talked about the drenched crops around Tondc. Nothing could be done to aid the farmers, who suffered from the heavy rainfall this harvest. Not that there was any harvest to speak of lately. As a result, every warrior had become a hunter, including Anya and Lexa. Even though Lexa’s training included far more than just hunting, she had become a master at it in a short time.
But today, Anya had gone hunting alone and left Lexa to train with two other seconds. Lexa had argued that they should hunt in pairs rather than alone. Due to the increase in hunting, many of the animals spread out further and so did the hunters. It also meant more dangers. Of course, Anya refused Lexa’s offer and told her that her training to become a great leader was now lacking due to the hunts. There was nothing Lexa could do but nod and go train with the other seconds.
Anya had left at daybreak. It was now about two candlemarks before sunset and once the light was gone then traveling home was difficult, even for the finest warriors. Lexa had completed her training for today and was eating alone in her shared quarters. She should be mingling with the other seconds, but she was strangely seen as an outcast. Everybody treated her different, except for Anya.
At the age of ten, Lexa was placed in Anya’s callused hands. Now Lexa’s palms matched Anya’s own. Year after year, Lexa trained harder and pushed further than an average second. Anya only allowed for hardness, nothing soft. Recently, a few new citizens moved to Tondc and one of them had caught Lexa’s eye. Lexa had awkwardly struck up a conversation with the healer’s daughter.
Anya had caught Lexa spending her free time with Costia. Promptly Anya lectured Lexa about getting to close to others. There would always be a price to pay when relationships involved emotions. After that day, Lexa did her best to avoid the healer’s daughter, mostly. Like tonight, Lexa would consider going to see Costia because Anya was normally exhausted after a day long hunt.
However, Lexa sat alone in her shared quarters, eating her dinner, and worried about Anya’s whereabouts. With a glance over her shoulder, she warily eyed her mentor’s empty bed and the empty wood peg that would hold Anya’s quiver and bow. Lexa placed the dirty bowl down on the table and considered how long she should wait until it was long enough.
Truthfully, Anya would smack her for even thinking about going on a search. If Lexa actually went in search of her mentor then there would be repercussions too. Again, reminders about being soft rung between her ears. Lexa slouched and folded her bare arms. Her new bicep tattoo coiled around her muscles. For a few moments, Lexa sat in silence and with inner turmoil about what to do.
Lexa needed to wait, a little longer. She snatched the empty bowl off the table then stood up. She straightened out the old sword on her hip and quietly left the quarters. She made sure to close the door and continued through the building until she could return the bowl to the kitchen. She decided to go outside and maybe take a walk, near the healer’s hut.
Outside, the late afternoon was muggy, even with the sun so low. Lexa was always sweaty. Her tank tops offered only a little relief and constantly clung to her skin. She looked forward to winter. As Lexa strolled through the village, she scanned over the locals’ faces, which were filled with burnt frustration. Lexa understood and felt for the villagers, especially the farmers.
Eventually, Lexa made it to the healer’s hut, and she dared not go into the building. She instead pretended to be relaxing and sat on the steps of the blacksmith’s shop. When the door to the healer’s hut opened, Lexa lifted her head and gazed across the dirt street. She did her best to hide her excitement at seeing the healer’s daughter. She forbid her body to jump up, to rush over, and hug Costia. She was stoic, as ever.
Costia wandered across the street. She wore a short sleeve tunic that was dirty from today’s work, a few blood stains. Her black pants were damp too, but she hardly minded. Her sandals scraped against the ground. “Heya,” she greeted in Trigedasleng. “You know, the blacksmith went home today.”
Lexa peered up from her seat on the steps. She had her legs slightly spread. She had a thin smile at Costia’s attempt at Trigedasleng. She was getting better at it, Lexa admired. After a moment, she finally nodded and replied, “I did not come here for the smith.”
“Oh?” Costia teased. She took a seat beside the warrior in training. “Where is your warrior?” She went back to English. She had a soft smile because it was nice to see Lexa. But she lost it when Lexa peered over at her seriously.
“She should be back from the hunt,” Lexa replied.
Costia became grim. “She hunted today?” After Lexa’s curt nod, she looked at her own hands in her lap. She remembered the blood on them earlier even though she had washed them clean. “Many hunters were attacked by the pauna today.” She noticed how Lexa’s attention jerked to the healer’s hut. She hastily added, “Your warrior was not among them.”
Lexa hit a wall of emotions. She was relieved then instantly worried about her mentor. She finally made the right decision. One she should have made candlemarks ago. She jumped to her feet, and her boots pounded against the wood steps. But long fingers latched onto her hand.
“Where are you going?” Costia worriedly asked. She was on her feet too.
“I have to find Anya,” Lexa replied. She shook her head. “She is never gone this long.”
“But they are hunting further than before,” Costia reasoned.
“No.” Lexa turned to the healer’s daughter. “Anya would never be gone this long… kill or no kill.” She started going until Costia’s sweet voice called her name.
Costia approached the young warrior and offered, “Let me give you medical kit… in case she is hurt.”
Costia rushed off. She refused to belay Lexa any further from the search. She hurried into her father’s hut and ignored his inquiries. She promised to explain later. She dashed back outside with the kit in her hands. She unfurled the leather strap that was sown to the kit. “Here.” Costia reached around Lexa’s slim waist.
Lexa watched as the healer’s daughter buckled the kit into place. She was pleased with how easy it would be to carry it.
Costia lowered her hands after fitting the kit. She met green eyes that studied her with both appreciation and awe. “Be safe out there.”
Lexa wanted to hold Costia’s hands. Or maybe hold Costia in her arms. She could so easily kiss her, even a chaste one. However, Anya’s lecture flared in her head, and she stiffened at her body’s natural want. She took a step back and sincerely whispered, “Mochof.”
“Pro,” Costia returned. She watched the training warrior hurry through the village. “Leksa,” she murmured, sadly.
Lexa passed the village’s walls. She stood there, rooted for a beat, unsure about what direction to go. She recalled her mentor’s favorite locations to hunt. She would start there. But a glance at the sun reminded her just how soon it would be dark. She was better off finding Anya in the sunlight than dark, but it would only slow her down, not stop her. However, Lexa still needed to hurry. She reached to her side, unhooked her sheathed sword, and kept a tight grip on it. She left the village’s safety at a run.
The search for Anya became long and tiresome for Lexa due to the horrid weather. She had covered much ground, even daring to go close to the pauna’s territory. She heard the creature’s distant rumble a few times. But, Lexa refused to push her luck further. Anya was no fool and nor was Lexa.
She continued her search and only came to a stop by a creek. She was very thirsty and remembered a favorite resting spot that she and Anya spent time together. In the past, she and Anya had often taken a swim together. The creek’s cool water was a great relief. The idea of a swim even teased Lexa as she knelt beside the water’s edge.
Lexa was drinking water from her cupped hand. As she drank, she scanned the ground around herself. She was about to scoop more water when a distant impression in the soft ground caught her eye. Lexa shook the droplets off her hand as she hurried over to the clue. She smiled at seeing her warrior’s familiar boot imprint. It was a good start.
The next two imprints gave Lexa a sense of direction. Her mentor had gone upstream, perhaps to fish rather than hunt. She was unsure, but Lexa would follow. She tried being both speedy and careful, looking for more clues. Lexa was grateful she had become a good tracker and hunter.
Eventually, two more imprints gave Lexa more direction until she came to an old campfire. Lexa found no heat from the charcoal, and it made her worry. Anya had been here awhile ago. She stood up from the dead campfire and clutched the sword’s sheath more firmly. A tight frown drew across her lips.
More tracks led Lexa north. She become further worried because the sun was sneaking behind the trees, and she would have a larger challenge. Shortly, she would be upon a rock wall that was a part of the creek’s waterfall. Lexa pushed through some brush then slowed once she came upon a very large impression.
It was a pauna footprint, followed by other ones.
Lexa wrangled her panic, even when she saw Anya’s footprints too. She prayed that they happened at different times, very different times. She followed the prints and realized the pauna was on all fours. She was chasing prey. Lexa feared that the prey was Anya.
Coming out of the tree line, Lexa stood before the rock wall that made up the waterfall. She stared, wide eye, at the frantic boot prints by the rock wall. Lexa approached the wall, following the prints. She stood in front of the last set that clearly indicated what Anya did to escape the pauna. Lexa tilted her head back and stared in awe at the wall.
After a low curse, Lexa hooked the sword to her side then frantically climbed the wall. Her muscles in her arms and legs burned as she scaled the wall, like Anya had done. Beads of sweat rolled down her face and neck. Sometimes her feet or hands would slip, but the vines helped her go faster. Each heartbeat she grew closer to the top, her heart grew more frantic. Finally over the ledge, she climbed to her feet and located Anya’s footprints.
“No no no,” Lexa growled. She ran beside the heavy impressions that led her forward to a fight between human and pauna. Then Anya’s prints took Lexa back to the waterfall. Lexa skidded to a stop on the overlooking rock of the waterfall. She and Anya had sat here many times in the past and had countless talks that included lectures, stories, lessons, and sometimes memories. Today it was a nightmare.
Lexa gazed in horror at the falling water that had an orange hue from the sunset. She glanced over her shoulder at the sun’s last light. She shook her head and looked over the waterfall and creek below.
“Anya!” Lexa hollered. But her yell was drowned out by the fall’s rumble. Still, Lexa breathed deeper and yelled, “Anya!”
If Anya indeed went over the waterfall to escape the pauna then that meant she could by nearby. The fall itself was probably twelve paces straight down, into deep water. That was assuming the pauna did not go over the side and crush Anya. As Lexa twisted around from her spot, she studied the ground and realized it was very possible the pauna had gone over with Anya.
There was mud everywhere and the grass torn up. Under Lexa’s boots, the normally gray rock was now brown with dried mud. It was obvious that the pauna attacked Anya, slid, and taken them both over the waterfall.
“Skrish,” Lexa cursed low. She went back to the rock wall and hastened down it. However, her damp palms made it an extra challenge. She nearly lost her grip and would have fell halfway down. But she paused, took a few deep breaths, and recollection her emotions. She had to remain calm and think, rather than react. Anya had taught her many things, especially not to be driven by one’s emotions.
Lexa jumped off the wall once far enough down. She rushed to the shoreline. Earlier she failed to decipher that the pauna had come to shore on this side and limped away. All the tracks were mixed together, a messy story. But even from her spot on the edge, Lexa swore she made out prints on the opposite side.
A slight smile played on Lexa’s lips. She lost her smile but not her hope. She frantically undid the medical kit from her waist and rushed into the water. She kept the kit above water and swam to the other side. Several times the waterfall’s strength tried pushing her further downstream. But Lexa made it to the other side and found the boot prints she had seen earlier. She could tell by the impressions that Anya was hurt and weak.
In the last hope of light, Lexa entered the woods but did not have to go far before she discovered her mentor slumped against a tree. For a heartbeat, she stood there in shock that she had really found Anya, who was painted in soft orange sunlight. Lexa raced forward, fell to her knees, and touched her mentor.
“Anya?” Lexa touched her warrior’s pale cheek. She brought her hand down and pressed two fingertips against Anya’s pulse point. She dropped her head forward when she felt the soft thrum of a heartbeat. “Thank the gods.” Again, she attempted to rouse her mentor, but to no avail.
Anya moaned only once. Her head was loose. Bruises were all over her body and several cuts. Her blue pants were shredded from her fall into the water. Not to mention, her boots were long gone. Lexa guessed Anya had discarded them because of pain. But Lexa would not waste time looking for the boots.
It was nearly dark.
Lexa had to return to the village with Anya. It would be a trial, but Lexa refused to be weak, not when Anya needed her. With renewed determination, Lexa took off the medical kit and decided using the salve now was pointless. She would wait until they were across the river.
With the medical kit strapped across Anya’s shoulder, Lexa hooked her arms around her mentor. Gingerly, she stood up with Anya but stilled when her mentor moaned. Lexa sighed because her warrior remained unconscious. She returned to the creek and waded through it with her mentor. For the first time this season, she was glad it was summer so that they were not freezing in and out of the water.
Anya remained limp in her second’s strong arms. Her fingertips swirled through the water. She continued taking shallow breaths, her lips near Lexa’s neck. Shortly, she was placed back on the ground, against another tree.
Despite the dark, it was easy for Lexa to pick out the wounds on her mentor’s body. She hastened to clean them and put salve on them from the medical kit. Lexa then considered the best course of action on getting Anya back to the village. Long ago, she had well learned that to carry a heavy load it was best to do so on one’s back.
Curiously, Lexa twisted on her boots some and stared at the rock wall. She had a thoughtful look. She sprung up and went to the wall. With her sword, she cut a long piece of vine free. She sheathed her sword. On her short walk back to Anya, she ripped off the leaves until she was only left with the thick vine.
Anya never responded when Lexa lifted her arms. She remained unconscious while Lexa bound her wrists together. The bruises on her arms continued to darken, just like the night time.
Lexa finished binding her mentor’s wrists together. She hooked the medical kit across her waist. Then, she placed her back to Anya, knelt down, and reached behind. She barely managed to get Anya’s hooked arms over her head and around her neck. Lexa then hooked her own arms under Anya’s knees.
With great strength, Lexa slowly stood up but bent forward. She shrugged her entire upper body and hefted Anya’s weight more comfortably against her back and shoulders. Anya’s low groan gave her pause, but she knew her mentor was far gone right now.
After Lexa’s first step, Anya stirred briefly and leaned her head against her second’s own. She muttered something incoherent before she drifted off again.
Lexa took it as a promise for a heavy lecture. She imagined what choice words her mentor would have for her later. It would be worth every one. Many times Anya had been there for her when she began her training. Unlike a warrior, a second had a few opportunities to show weakness, but not their warrior. In spite of all Anya’s bravado, she had carried a badly injured and small Lexa from the training fields to see the healer. Other times, Anya curled up in bed next to her second and comforted Lexa all night. Those few gentle memories were very old, but they served to keep a soft spot deep in Lexa.
The dark walk back to Tondc was longer than if they were doing this at day. A camp was a brief consideration, but Lexa wanted them both to be in their own beds. Plus if the pauna was still active then their safest bet was Tondc. Lexa silently swore she would kill that beast for attacking her mentor.
Lexa took the shortest route. But she was mindful not to jounce her precious cargo. She had no idea what Anya had for other injuries. She suspected a cracked rib or two. Maybe a broken foot. One bruise below Anya’s calf tattoo looked very nasty. Perhaps it was just sprained.
Eventually, the smell of fire went under Lexa’s nose. She was very close to the village. She decided to follow her nose since it would lead her the quickest. She also picked up hints of horse. Lexa glanced once more at the stars above them, grateful for a clear night this time. Indeed she was headed in the right direction.
Lexa slowed her walk when her mentor murmured her name. She had a sad smile and whispered, “Sha?”
Anya blinked the dots away from her vision. Everything was fairly dark, and she realized it was night time. She had a befuddled look as she took in her situation. She was pressed firmly against her second’s muscular frame. “Chit?” she muttered in Trigedasleng.
Lexa tilted her head to the left, a slight view of her mentor’s lost profile. “You are safe,” she assured in Trigedasleng.
Anya dug up her last memories and slowly pieced together why she was getting a piggyback ride back home. She growled, “Joken pauna.”
Lexa bit back a smile at her mentor cursing the oversized beast.
Anya scanned her immediate surroundings and asked, “Where are we?”
“We are almost to Tondc,” Lexa promised. The village’s distant firelight started coming into view, and it gave her relief. However, she noticed how Anya’s head drooped against hers again. Lexa’s concerns over Anya filled her with more energy, to go faster.
“You came for… me,” Anya whispered. A hint of awe made her voice tremble. She was amazed by her second’s devotion.
Lexa nibbled on her lower lip. She noticed a slight edge to her mentor’s words, but she merely replied, “Sha.”
Anya’s eyelids had drifted down. She was in a lot of pain and exhausted, but her mind kept grasping at the fact her second tracked her, found her, and was bringing her home. Everybody knew the pauna was extremely dangerous and became bravery when food was scarce. Thanks to all the hunts, the pauna was desperate to eat any flesh, especially human.
Hunters and villagers knew it was best to steer clear of the beast. When she was on a rampage, as she was today, nobody was safe. Anya believed she had taught her second better than this. If Lexa started making decisions based on emotions then they would all pay, including Lexa. When Anya was well enough, she swore she would make Lexa pay Hell for being so ridiculous. Otherwise, Lexa would always be weak and only suffer.
With her last coherent thought, Anya mumbled, “You idiot.”
Lexa felt her mentor’s body become loose again. She paused and adjusted Anya’s weight against her back again. She better hooked her arms under Anya’s knees after the movement. She continued the rest of the trip to the village. She thought about Anya’s last words.
Lexa laughed, to herself and even at Anya. She decided it was just as ridiculous that Anya could care for her, but Lexa was not allowed to return the gift. Sometimes, Lexa could care less about customs and traditions for warriors, especially when it came to the few in her heart.
Anya, Lexa’s warrior, was worth the price.
“If you feel like falling again,” Lexa softly promised Anya, “I’ll carry you home again.”