Saga of Bohok- Chapter 7

Chapter 7

They left before dawn. The light of the coming sun winked out the stars above them as they paddled the boat up the river. Kirso sat in the front of the canoe and set a furious pace for their rowing. It didn’t take Bohok long to figure out that Kirso was testing him.

Kirso had always been stronger than Bohok. When Bohok had been exiled Kirso could haul heavier nets than Bohok. He was a stronger rower than Bohok. He was a better wrestler than Bohok. When Bohok had been exiled Kirso was the better than Bohok at every skill the Fish-Eaters held high in esteem.

That, Bohok decided, was before he was exiled. He matched Kirso stroke for stroke and the canoe sped up the river. Bohok had fished hard, worked hard, fought hard to live all on his own all summer. He wasn’t weaker than Kirso anymore. He set his mind to his work and let the rhythm of the oars overtake him. He would not be the first one to break the pace, he would not tire first.

The canoe raced up the river. They flushed a bunch of ducks that had been sleeping in a calm stretch of water. The skein flew inches above the water, their wing tips touching the placid waters leaving pairs of rings expanding behind them. They flew just ahead of the boat daring Kirso and Bohok to catch them. Kirso gave a quick look back to Bohok before quickening their pace. They chased the ducks up the river until the flock finally veered off and headed up above the trees that hugged the banks of the river.

Bohok expected Kirso to slow. The ducks were gone but Kirso kept up the same pace. The muscles in Bohok’s arms were alight with pain but he swore to himself that he would not quit. Kirso stole a quick look over his shoulder. Bohok could see the same determination set in his eyes; Kirso wasn’t going to quit either.

The sun was well overhead when Bohok started to panic. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep this up. His body was screaming with pain. Each stroke was sheer agony. He knew that Kirso had to be feeling the same way. Nobody could row this long, this hard, and not be hurting. Bohok’s mind scrambled for a plan. He needed to end this contest and end it quickly.

Bohok stared at Kirso’s back as they paddled up the river; he saw the sweat pouring off it. He heard Kirso’s grunting with each stroke. He is almost done, he told himself, I just need to push him. With that thought Bohok increased his pace. Forcing himself to paddle even faster than before.

Kirso noticed the change immediately. He shot a furious look over his shoulder and matched Bohok’s new pace, then exceeded it.

Struggling to match Kirso, Bohok’s paddle just didn’t move fast enough. It seemed like Kirso was taking two strokes for every one that Bohok managed. Bohok shifted his grip on the paddle trying to get better leverage, he plunged it into the water and then, the water took it from his hands.

Bohok watched in horror as his paddle drifted away from the speeding canoe. Kirso kept paddling for several strokes before he noticed that Bohok had stopped.  He turned to see what had happened and a wicked smile crossed his face when he saw the paddle far down the river.

“I should have expected a Bug-Eater to drop his paddle.” He said with as much contempt as he could muster.

“It slipped.” Bohok said lamely. “Turn around.”

“What and waste half the day chasing a paddle downstream?” Kirso laughed. “In case you haven’t noticed we are about as far up the river as we are going to be able to paddle anyway. A true Fish-Eater knows the river. The currents get far too strong up ahead. We’ll beach here and start the walk.”

Bohok only nodded. He won’t go back because he knew that I almost had him beat and he doesn’t want to give me a second chance, he thought.

Kirso paddled the boat into the bank and they climbed out.  Bohok and Kirso hauled the boat up onto land and a good ways away from the river before flipping it over. Rainstorms and flash floods could wash a boat back into the river if it was right side up and then it would be gone forever. Kirso started piling up some large rocks around the bow and stern of the canoe to be double safe.

Bohok took out some dried salmon from his pack and sat down. The sun was almost at its zenith and he was hungry. He hadn’t had any properly dried fish in a long time, it was wonderful.

“Aren’t you going to help?” Kirso complained. His arms full of heavy rocks.

“Why should I?” Bohok laughed. “It’s not my boat, and a stupid Bug-Eater like me would probably do it all wrong anyway.”

“Probably.” Kirso nodded his agreement and kept placing rocks until the boat was completely surrounded.

Kirso pulled out some fish from his pack and sat across from Bohok. He ate in silence for a while then said, “So when are we going to do it?”

“What?” Bohok asked.

“Fight.” Kirso growled.

Bohok shrugged. “Now?”

“I figure I owe you one.” He made a fist. “Actually I owe you two. The way I see it we are going to end up fighting sooner or later on this trip.”

Bohok shrugged, his body was sore. He didn’t want to fight, but he knew it was inevitable. “You sure you want to fight me without all your friends to help you?”

“You sure you want to fight me in an honorable fight? You won’t get any sneaky punches.” Kirso stood up and assumed a wresting stance. He drew a line in the sand with his toe. “Cross it.”

Bohok stood and stretched his aching back. He twisted his arms in a circle, and tried to shake out the soreness. He walked up to the line and looked Kirso in the eye. “You ready?”

Kirso nodded and balled his hands into fists.

Bohok stepped across the line.

Kirso’s face suddenly went white with fear. He turned and started running away. Bohok laughed at him. “Come back here, coward!”

“Run!” Kirso yelled, not turning around. “Bear!”

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Published in: on February 4, 2010 at 9:48 pm  Comments Off on Saga of Bohok- Chapter 7  
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