Ali’s stomach knotted and she felt nauseous as she watched her hideous looking abductors. Fear was a cultured weapon of the Tagwa. The steeply angled foreheads, flattened from birth, made their heads look like a serpent’s and it made their eyes menacing.
The warriors wore black paint on their bodies and faces with white and red designs around their eyes. She had heard that before battle, they often chewed on beets or red paint to make their teeth and mouth look bloody.
One of the warriors took a small bowl and dipped it into the stream. Ali’s lips, tongue, and throat were dry. The cool water dripping from the bowl looked so good.
The warrior rose and took a drink from the bowl. Water ran down the corners of his mouth and dripped off his chin. He was larger than the other two. His long, black hair was pulled back and tied at the center of his deformed head making his head look like a fish with a long black tail.
Around his right eye he had painted a white circle, while red lines criss-crossed his other eye representing a star. The trunk of his body, his arms, and his legs had been scratched with a ceremonial, comb-like device called a kanuga. Crusted scabs lined the scratch marks where blood had once trickled to the surface. A ball player, Ali surmised.
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