The following is the entire first chapter from Two Small Stones:

Chapter 1: The Beginning

Dapa Tunik was only twenty-six years old when it happened; twenty-six and his wife was twenty-one, and the life inside of her was nearing seven months.  Raffie, the village spiritual leader, believed that Carika, his wife, was going to give birth to a strong boy on the night before the full moon.  Dapa Tunik, however, believed that the old man could not be more wrong; he knew his sweet tender wife, with her silky black hair that always smelled of sweet grapefruits and her light soft skin, had a little girl growing within her.   He knew it like he had never known anything before; and as Carika showered him with sweet kisses every night, he could hardly believe the incredible joy that welled up inside him.  His wife that he had held, treasured, protected, and doted upon for the past four years was going to bring into this world an angel.  He was going to be given another being of radiant beauty and everlasting tenderness – a tenderness that was still somewhat a mystery to Tunik.

He was going to be a father.  He did not care that Raffie seemed intent that they produce a healthy boy.  Raffie constantly reminded him that a first-born son meant long life and prosperity, but it all sounded like utter nonsense to Tunik.  He knew that the baby to be born would be special; that she would bring peace to the people such as they had never felt before; and in Tunik’s mind, peace was much more important than long life and prosperity.

It was the night before the new moon and Dapa Tunik had just settled down for the night.  Carika was removing her jewellery delicately and humming softly to herself.  He watched her in the soft glow of their dying fire as she walked slowly over to him.  Her silhouette was still graceful and beautiful to him even though she had a rather larger belly than she did seven months ago.  She eased herself down beside him and a wave of her wonderful scent rushed over his nostrils; he breathed it in.

“I love you, my dear Carika.”

“And I love you, Dapa Tunik.”

He felt her warm body pressed close to his, closed his eyes, and became lost in thoughts of her, and the new little girl on the way.  Reality slipped into semi-consciousness, and then he was asleep.

Tunik dreamed of swimming through beautiful waterfalls, the water rushing around him playfully.  He dove deep into the water and resurfaced to bright sunshine.  He swam and swam until darkness fell and then, suddenly, someone was shouting at him from the bank…

“Tunik!  Wake up, Tunik!”  It was Carika speaking frantically to him and tugging on his arm.  She was not standing on the bank of a river and he was not swimming; they were in their small home and the heavy cover of the night sky was still hanging around them.

“What is it?  Is it the baby?”  Tunik looked into his wife’s fear-filled eyes and then gazed frantically at her abdomen.

Carika grabbed his arm and shook her head urgently at him, “No, no.  Come on, Tunik, we have to go NOW!”

Without a second thought, Tunik jumped out of bed, flung his fur cape over his shoulders, and swung his bow and quiver over his left shoulder.  He grabbed a spear in his right hand.  It was only then that he realised there was screaming coming from outside, and that his small home was shaking in a violent wind.  He looked at his wife’s wide eyes and comprehension dawned on him.

“A storm?”

His wife nodded; it was all she could manage at the moment.

“Then, come quickly, we make our way to the shelters. Leave anything we do not need.”  With that Tunik dropped his spear, grabbed his wife’s hand and began to tug her towards the door.

She ran behind him silently but he felt a tremble in her hand.

The scene outside was that of complete chaos and horror.  Small fires were burning here and there and people were running everywhere.  Screams tore through the wind as the village people scrambled to get away from the shoreline, which was racked with waves so large Tunik did not believe it was possible.  The wind was so strong that even though Tunik ran as fast as he could he moved as slow as if he were walking.

Tunik dodged around plants and small animals that were being carried away in the wind and began shouting at the top of his voice to the people, “THIS WAY, FOLLOW ME!  WE MAKE FOR THE CAVES!”

At these words everyone in close proximity turned to follow Tunik and he heard them shouting the message out as far as they could.  Where was the chief when his people were in mortal peril? Tunik continued to pull his wife forward with one hand and with the other he pushed the people around him in the direction of the caves.  The wind was getting stronger and he could hear the mighty ocean swelling angrily.  They were only 50 feet from the caves now; he could see their welcoming outline.  He pushed himself harder but suddenly he felt Carika’s hand weaken and slip slightly from his grasp.  He turned to her and found that her face was pale and wet and her breathing was coming hard.

“Tunik…I can’t go…I can’t run…the baby…” Carika’s eyes rolled back and Tunik felt her hand go limp.

He looked down at his wife in horror as she lost consciousness.  Tunik looked around him and saw that the people all around him were streaming to the caves; a few of them had already reached the base of the entrance.  The screams were intensifying, especially from the direction of the village where people were still running for their lives.  Tunik bent over his wife to try to revive her but she just lay limp in his arms.  Panic gripping his chest and he heaved her over his shoulder and set out at a run towards the caves again.

With the extra weight on his shoulders his balance was compromised and he was blown off his feet every few steps.  The wind’s gusts were now so strong he could barely see the outline of the caves ahead and he could hear nothing but it’s howling.  He was lost in a dark wind that blew debris and water all around him; trees were being uprooted thirty feet behind him.  His shoulders screamed in protest with the weight of his wife as he fell to his knees again.  His legs were begging him to stop, to lie down and die, but he kept his thoughts focused on the shelter ahead of him; the only way to survive was to keep going.  “Keep going” he told himself over and over again.

Wind rushed by his ears, making him cringe in pain at its force.  He ran a few feet, stumbled, and got back up, over and over again.  “Just put one foot in front of the other.  Keep going…”  He grit his teeth angrily.

Just when he thought he the wind would take him for good he felt his feet reach hard stone.  With a last jolt of energy, Tunik bolted his body upwards and found the mouth of the cave.  He immediately felt the wind stop and relief washed over his entire body.  He had made it.  They had made it.  He fell over, exhausted, and laid his wife down as gently as his tired muscles would allow.

“Tunik!  And Carika!  They are here!  That makes half the village here, and half in the other cave.  Chief Mustawan has counted…all are here…save one.”

It was Dal Dion speaking, a young and enthusiastic man who had just recently joined the hunting team.  Tunik looked up at him, and saw that his face was strained.  He looked around at the other dark faces in the cave and saw they were all terrified and exhausted.

“Carika needs some help.”  He said simply.  He was not a healer, and was deathly afraid of doing anything that might hurt Carika or the life inside her.  No one seemed to move.  “Come on!”  His voice boomed and echoed in the dark space.  “She lost consciousness along the way, but she’ll be fine, she just needs some help!”  He looked around at the people huddled near the walls of the caves in rage.  Why were they all just standing there?  Why didn’t they help?

He felt a small warm hand press against his shoulder.  It was Nano-Tea, Carika’s closest friend in the village.  There were tears in her eyes.  “I am sorry Tunik.  We have already looked at her.  We have seen…she is dead.”

Dead?  Tunik felt his heart explode inside his chest and his head became clogged, impairing thought.  He ran over to Carika, throwing Nano-Tea’s hand out of the way.  He had to prove to them how stupid they all were.  He would show them that his precious Carika was just napping for a bit.  She always looked so beautiful when she was sleeping, and Tunik loved to be the one to wake her up, to watch those dazzling eyes open and stare into his face with such dedication and love…and it would be the same this time.  It was going to be like all those times. These people were all stupid, they did not realize how much Carika liked to nap and be woken up by him…he would do it…

But even as he approached he knew there was something wrong about the way Carkia was laying on the ground.  Her head was lolled off to one side and her arm was bent at a strange angle.  A wet substance clung to her face and made a puddle around her head…her chest was not raising and falling…

He knelt down beside her, pushing away anyone in close proximity, tears streaming down his face now.  He touched her face, her soft skin and ran his fingers through her hair that always smelled like a summer day.  Then his hand came to the side of her head and his fingers slipped into a warm, gooey hole.  He brought back his hand slowly and realization crushed into him.

She had been hit in the head with the flying debris on the way to the cave.  She had died even before he could bring her inside, and now blood was drying over her wonderful face that had smiled at him.  He wiped her face with his cape and then laid down his head on her chest and cried.  He cried harder than he had ever cried before.  If the wind was still blowing and the waves were still crashing he did not know and he did not care. All that mattered in the world was that his wife, his precious jewel, his companion, his wife with her warm body, soft skin, delicate words, and love more real than anything in the world, was gone.  Silence seemed to suffocate Tunik, a silence as he had never known it.  It was like the world had stopped, like everything around him had frozen in time to leave him, Tunik, sobbing over a dead body.

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