It was a misty autumn afternoon, nearly evening. The sea sat calm, and the wind blew silently, unfeelable. Drops of dew clung to the needles of the trees: Cypress, Cedar, and Pine. Kenéil sat upon a boulder on a gravelly beach, gripping his spear and looking out to sea looking for signs of seals. He too felt the droplets embrace his fur, but he did not mind, his kind loved the water. His kind were the Kayéil Kushtaka, or Peaceful Otter People, in their tongue.
The Kayéil Kushtaka were a relatively new race in Anowara, only existing for the last millennia. Physically, they were similar to river otters, only they had opposable thumbs, stood and walked on two legs, had slightly shorter, slightly more human shaped torsos, limbs that were longer than their four legged brethren, but still shorter than a man’s, and human height. They were slender, but quite muscular, with small shoulders, and necks the width of their relatively small heads which added to their swiftness underwater. Their people did not have boats. Instead they caught fish by mouth or, for larger prey, by spear. That was precisely what Kanéil was using, a copper tipped spear that was a little longer than he was tall. He had not yet seen anything during his time surveying the water. Most of his kin would have been in the water, but he had trained his eyes to see surprisingly far, and he did not want to spook his quarry.
He soon noticed something in the distance. From where he stood it looked like large band of reds, blacks, browns, and even some blue. As it got closer, he realized what it was: a fleet of Kígáat canoes. The Kígáat were the tribe of men that the Kayéil’ Kushtaka shared the islands with, and the people they split off from many hundreds of years before. They continued to be as close as clan mates ever since the transformation of those who were split off, and have helped each other many times, in many ways, throughout their many years. Both people created ornate carvings of anything with a face on anything considered property. Their most iconic pieces were tall totem poles carved from whole cedar trees that served as family symbols, and often showed clan affiliation as well.
Something was very, very wrong with what he was seeing. These men were clearly warriors. They were clad in armor made of wooden strips on their torsos, large, solid wooden collars that covered everything from the base of their necks up to their eyes, solid carved wooden helmets, along with shin and shoulder padding. They were armed mainly with clubs, but some had also had long daggers made of slate, bone, copper, and even iron, as well as bows, dart throwers, and war picks.
This was a war party, a very large one, and this was as far west as anyone could go before hitting nothing but open ocean. Despite how nervous he was, he decided to investigate. He waded into the water and swam to the fleet with his spear at his side. Far too many thoughts raced through his mind. Were they going to attack his village? Why would they do such a thing?
He swam underneath one of the boats closest to the shore, clung to the bottom of it, and poked his head out of the water, attempting to eavesdrop while keeping out of the way of their paddles. He could hear a conversation between two of them, “I can’t believe this,” a young warrior said, “Why would they suddenly turn on us?”
“I don’t know,” said a slightly older sounding one, “but that fisherman seemed pretty sure of what he saw.”
“But aren’t they called Kayéil’ Kushtaka for a reason? They’re not killers. I don’t know any of them personally, but my cousins have said nothing but good things about them!”
“Every single one of the diplomats who went over to converse with them went missing.” The man paused for a moment. “Why are you even on this boat anyway?”
“My uncle forced me to go. ‘For the honor of our clan’ he said. I wish father had more say in the matter. Wait… shouldn’t we have expected an ambush by now?” The elder of the two then snapped his head right over the edge of the canoe. Kanéil wasn’t prepared in the slightest. Through the man’s visor, he saw his eyes widen. He managed to dive back down only barely missing a dagger that went into the side of the boat.
He had to warn his village.
He dove farther down to avoid detection. His whiskers twitched as an arrow shot into the water.
He had never swam so hard in his life.