Email: [email protected] TOMB HUNTER The Adventures of Larra Court Episode 1 Larra’s African Adventure Chapter 3 Captured Larra cursed vehemently, using most unladylike language. She kept it up for almost a minute, and then stopped ashamedly. That sort of outburst wasn’t going to get her anywhere. She looked about her indecisively. What should she do? Following her fleeing expedition back the way they had come was an option, but not a good one. All of the safari’s equipment was strewn on the ground. Tents, food, ammunition, instruments, everything. It didn’t seem to make a hell of a lot of sense just to abandon it. On the other hand, she could not carry all of it herself. Perhaps she was going to have to put together a survival pack and head back. God, this was so humiliating! She had been laughed at back in Kampala when she had arrived and announced her intentions of leading an expedition into the heart of Africa. The experienced White hunters and guides had made it quite clear that the idea of an inexperienced young Englishwoman leading a safari into darkest Africa was quite mad, and they told her so. Their ridicule had made her all the more determined to prove them wrong. Now, it appeared that they were right. She was going to have to head home with her tail between her legs. Her thoughts were interrupted by the sudden return of Nancy, her maidservant. “Bad men Missy Larra,” the girl cried. “Bad Men!” Larra detected a stealthy movement at the edge of the clearing. She turned slowly. Was there something there? Slowly, she edged toward her rifle. Before she could reach it, however, a tall black warrior emerged from the forest. Laura froze. Before here stood an impressive figure. He was at least six and a half feet tall, with very broad shoulders and powerful arms. In his right hand he held a seven-foot spear tipped with a razor-edged spearpoint a foot long. On his left arm he carried a five-foot eye-shaped buffalo hide shield. On his head he wore two plumes of ostrich feathers. Almost instinctively Larra’s right hand moved toward her Browning .45, but she stayed her hand. She had no way of knowing whether the warrior was friendly or hostile. In spite of her vulnerable position she could not bring herself to fire on a man who had shown no overtly hostile intent. Nancy, however, screamed loudly and seized Larra’s legs. “Damn,” she thought. “I’ve got to start acting faster. This sort of indecision could cost me. Now I can’t move at all.” Suddenly, her peripheral vision detected another movement to her left. She turned her head and was startled to see a dozen more tall, black warriors step into the clearing. “Keep calm, Larra,” she told herself. “Keep calm.” She now realized just how poor her decision was. She would have felt much more comfortable with the Browning in her hand, but it was too late. There was movement all around her. From every side warriors emerged. Larra quickly realized that the sheer number of armed men meant instant death for her if she resisted. She stood quite calm and still, her arms at her side, but a dread cold filled her gut, causing her to shiver in spite of the forest’s oppressive heat. Nancy continued to clutch Larra’s legs and scream continuously. Suddenly one of the warriors leaped in front of Larra. His face was twisted into a hideous snarl. Dancing and screaming before her he dashed at her with his spear, thrusting it at her breast, only to stop just short and then pull back and repeat the performance. Larra willed herself not to move. Instinctively, she knew that her life depended upon it. Abruptly, the warrior’s frightening dance stopped as suddenly as it had begun. A huge man, several inches taller than any of the others, had interposed himself between Larra and her tormentor. He looked at her calmly and spoke to her in a language she did not understand. Uncomprehending, Larra shook her head. The man shrugged his massive shoulders and stepped to within two feet of her. Larra did not move. The man glared fiercely into her face and Larra returned his stare calmly. Then quite deliberately the warrior reached out and unclipped her gunbelt, removing the .45 and its holster from around her waist. He gave a sharp command and two warriors rushed forward and pulled her young maidservant way from her legs. The young girl screamed, but suddenly shut up after a barked command from the tall warrior. The two warriors who had seized her tied a length of rope around her neck and led her off into the forest. The tall warrior turned back to Larra. He grunted some sort of command and gestured in the direction that the warriors were leading her maidservant. With relief Larra realized that she was not to be tied. Either she was considered unlikely to run away or there was something about her that forbade such an indignity. The warriors moved in before her and behind her as she walked. They were so close that escape seemed like only a remote chance. Before her the seemingly random direction the warriors had taken turned out to be a well-marked trail. Larra’s party had marched right past it. Larra marched down the path, following her escorts. As they moved along the party began to become more separated, but they were still too close to chance a run for it. Such a large number of men pursuing her through the dense forest would be bound to run her down in only a few seconds. Still, she kept alert and constantly gazed about her. Perhaps somewhere along the trail she would have an opportunity to escape. Larra and her guards moved off steadily through the dense forest. The black warriors set a rapid pace and Larra found herself struggling to keep up. Nancy cried and begged to stop, but she was dragged along by the rope around her neck.. Larra also needed to stop soon. She was becoming dehydrated and desperately needed water. “Ridiculous!” she thought as she gasped for breath. “I’m in the middle of a rainforest and I can’t get any water.” She tried to slow down, but felt a sharp pressure in her back. The warrior behind her was pressing the point of his spear into her. A not so subtle hint that slowing down would not be accepted. Larra began to breathe hard. Her body was drenched in perspiration and sweat poured off her forehead into her eyes. Blinded by her own sweat, she stumbled down the path, her breath coming in gasps. Black spots started to dance in front of her eyes. She was beginning to black out. And then, quite abruptly, they stopped. Before her roared a torrent of water. A powerful stream surged across the path. Larra had been too dazed to hear it. She flung herself flat beside it and immersed her head in the cool river. She drank deeply, and then splashed her body with water. Her warrior escort was doing the same. She realized that despite their seeming toughness the warriors too had been in need of water. She removed her jacket and laid it beside her. Almost immediately one of the warriors picked it up. He seemed amused by it and studied it closely. He handed it to the warrior next to him who in turn passed it on to the next. It was apparent to Larra that he jacket was probably lost. That was too bad, because although the heat of the day was almost stifling, she had found that at night the temperature cooled off considerably. The warriors appeared ready to leave. The one dragging Nancy yanked on the rope, hauling Larra’s servant to her feet. Once again the ordeal of marching through the forest resumed. Larra would have liked to rest longer, but had no choice. She wondered at her chances. What was to be her fate? She had no idea what might to done to her by the warriors who surrounded her. So far she had not been harmed, but she could not be certain if their intentions were unfriendly or if they were merely reinforcing the fact that she had trespassed on their territory. Her expedition had been scattered. If anything happened to her would anyone ever learn of her fate? And if so would it be possible to rescue her? She doubted that she could count on anyone coming to look for her. If she was going to escape it was going to be entirely up to her. Resignedly, but still hopeful, she took her place amongst her captors and jogged down the forest trail.