The child was clothed in rags that barely held on to the skinny frame, her arms and legs were pock-marked with bloody sores and sunburn. Her stringy hair was not tied behind her head in the traditional knot. The child crawled into the chamber of the High One, leaving thin trails of blood behind her.
“Master!” The girl called out, between sobs, “We got lost in the sandstorm. I was the only one who managed to escape... my mother was to be the token (sob), but I now hold the amulet.”
Indeed this pathetic child possessed the Toko Amuleta in her tight fist, her shaky arm raised to show the precious thing to the man in the high seat.
“What has happened that a Token has been offered me this day?” The man finally spoke, as if he had not noticed her presence before.
“The Sordes have taken village after village. My tribe has become nearly extinct, Master. We have no champion strong enough to send to the trials. The enemy has the advantage of us. We need your intervention, Master, please help us!” The girl who could barely lift her head up pleaded.
The old man nodded but frowned, “I understand. Our species is war-like. No matter how much we think we desire peace, it remains elusive. The Trials were created as an alternative to wholesale slaughters of the past, but it has become corrupted. The Sordes are much more powerful than your Doro tribe. They issue challenge after challenge and take village after village, because none of the other tribes are brave enough to object.”
The girl nodded.
The man sighed and said, “As for your tribe being unable to bring a worthy champion to meet these challenges, I must disagree.”
The girl was confused, “Master, I do not understand. My people are few and weak.”
The old man grinned, “There is one worthy Champion among them, child. You.”
She shook her head, “But I have offered myself as Token, Master, I am no longer a Doro, from now I am your property.”
“There is a precedent, it is long and complicated. I reject your offer of Tokenis. I will intervene to halt the challenges of the Sordes for the permitted interval. In the interim, you must be made healthy and trained for the Trials to come. You are the only hope for your tribe, child. This is the only answer I can give to the plea.”
The girl sat on the smooth rock floor of the torch-lit chamber quietly for a long moment. The High One raised the hood over his head but waited patiently for her answer.
“I accept, High One.” she said, it was barely more than a whisper.
“What is your name, Champion of the Doro?”
“I am called Cami, High One.”
“Champion Cami, you will be fed and rested tonight and you will be taken to a facility to start your training tomorrow. I will leave immediately to inform the Council of Sena of my intervention. They will not be happy, but it is within my legitimate power.” The man answered, as Cami became aware of four people entering the chamber.
“These are my faithful, once upon a time they too were offered as Tokens. They will help you.”
The High One sat in his appointed seat in the outdoor meeting site of the Sena. The representatives of Sordes were easy to find, they were jovial and mocking while the officials of the other tribes were quiet and stoic.
“Another day, another challenge!” The Sordes representative, Bolo Sendo, announced as he stepped to the floor to the cheers and laughs of his fellows.
The High One raised a hand, “There is an intervention.”
The Sordes representative tilted his head, there were already jeers and noises of outrage from the Sordes fellows “What is it?”
“I have invoked the eight section of the Law of the Champion. The Doro will be given time to develop their new champion, who is a child at present.” the High One announced.
“A child? How long are we expected to wait for this champion to be weaned and potty trained?” Bolo Sendo asked.
“For the full term.”
Shouts and jeers from the Sordes supporters rained down. The Sena of the other tribes were quiet but were whispering amongst themselves. Some of them seemed fearful that their tribe might be targeted by the Sordes now that the Doro had been given protection.
“This is outrageous, High One. Do not expect the support of Sordes at the next Sortition,” Bolo Sendo said with bitterness as he returned to his seat.
The Presider of the Sena finally interjected himself, “What is the meaning of this intervention, High One?”
“The meaning is not occluded, Presider,” The old man replied as he began walking down onto the floor of the Sena. “I see the situation as clear as anyone. The Trials have become corrupted.”
The members of the Sena made their disagreement known by saying “Non, non!” and pounding the floor once with their foot.
“I see the members of the Sena, so quiet when the Sordes abuse the Trials, have found their voices to oppose my intervention. You are all scared to oppose the challenges issued by the Sordes, lest you lose your far-flung villages to their wrath. Have you so little faith in your Champions?” The High One asked them, looking at each in the eye as he walked past.
'Non, Non!' stomp, stomp
He nodded, “I see very clearly, Presider, that the situation has become untenable. The Trials were never meant to be used as a way for one tribe to conquer and annihilate another. The Trials were supposed to stop that very thing from happening. Only the acquiescence of the frightened and cowed members of the Sena have made that possible.”
'Non! Non!” stomp, stomp
“Have you gone too far, High One?” The Presider asked, “Your own position could be imperiled by these words you speak.”
“In any case, Presider, the intervention stays. My impeachment or death does not repeal the order, it is inviolable,” the High One explained, “This is the law we have lived under for centuries, most of that time in peace. That peace has been threatened by aggression, but it is the scared who feed the peace to the beast, hoping it becomes sated before they become the next victim.”
'Non, Non!” stomp, stomp