S’toh shook himself. Their father had declared a free day in the middle of the week, which was rare, and he was slowing them down with all his thinking. Picking up the pace slightly, he led his sisters on until they reached a crossroads. They stopped. “Where do you want to go?” he asked. “What do you want to do?” As the oldest he was used to being in charge. As Sothi’s brother, however, he was also used to his “authority” being questioned or completed disregarded.
Dropping her pack to the ground, Sothi placed her hands on her hips. “You mean you don’t know what we’re doing?”
“Yeah!” H’tsi chimed in. Her pack with the bow and quiver she let slide down her arm until it drifted gently to the dusty road.
Much as Sothi disliked S’toh’s being in charge, she had looked forward to having a sibling to be in charge of herself. So it was disconcerting that H’tsi proved to be downright bossy. Sothi ignored whatever she didn’t like, just as she did with S’toh. Sometimes, though, the sisters would join together. Then they were a very dangerous combination, because although Sothi was easygoing and not bossy at all, nor did she like being in charge, she was stubborn. Rocks in a river could be worn to smoothness before Sothi would change her mind.
Sothi was a frustrating opponent, but an unfailing ally. If ever he was in a battle, S’toh knew he wanted her at his side. She would never run. She would never desert him, even if all his army did.
H’tsi tapped her foot. “We’re waiting.” And of course H’tsi would be yelling at the army for being such cowards.
Sothi lightly smacked the back of her head. “Just because we are still waiting doesn’t mean you get smart.” Eyebrows climbing toward her hair, she turned to S’toh. “But she does have a point.”
S’toh dropped his own pack onto the dusty ground and stuck his hands on his hips, just as Sothi had done a moment ago. “You’re always complaining that I make all the decisions. Father gave us the day off. I thought I’d give you the day off, too.”
Probably it was H’tsi who giggled first. She was only just seven summers old, after all. Sothi wasted no time joining in, though.
S’toh leapt over his pack, reaching for his youngest sister. Who tore off running in the direction they had just come from, her laughter carrying over the dry flats. Grazers lifted their heads from the tall grass, exposing their positions. Sothi, who had dropped down to sit on her heels, waved the animals back to their business. “Don’t mind the strange children. They’ll tire themselves out soon enough.”
Most of the grazers went back to their work as if they understood her—or understood the nature of children. The jumpier ones, the skittish ones, quickly went searching for a new place to graze, however.