Keshu the Black Fin, war hero and founder of the movement for an advanced Saxhleel society, started out as just another one of my many egg-brothers and egg-sisters. There wasn't anything overtly special about her when we were growing up in the village of Seekhat-Xol. Not that I could see, anyway. She played traditional games, ate traditional food, and learned to hunt and track and fight. I guess if Keshu excelled at anything, it was tracking and fighting. She took to these activities like a shap takes to water, out-performing the rest of us with an ease that was almost supernatural.
Keshu and I became friends almost from the moment we emerged from our eggs. We were inseparable. We played together, did our chores and attended our lessons together, growing up as all Saxhleel do. I suppose I began to notice something different about Keshu during this period. She had a passion for history that went beyond memorizing facts and numbers. She wanted to learn everything she could find out about the once-great Saxhleel civilization that existed before Duskfall. In this matter, she was an individual, much more independent and more free-thinking than the rest of her egg-siblings. In some ways, her fiery individualism frightened me.
I guess the Hist saw the same things that I noticed, for when she licked the Hist on our Naming Day, she was awarded with the name "Keshu," which literally means "Stands Apart." It was a strong name, a good name. The name of a crocodile in a lake of shap. Keshu accepted the name with dignity and honor. It fit her well.
To demonstrate that Keshu wasn't all dull history and fighting, let me tell you about an event from our early childhood. The egg-tender Julan-Nah was forever scolding us and driving us from the Xal-Uxith, the Sacred Nest, even though Keshu loved to play among the developing eggs. To teach the egg-tender a lesson, Keshu tracked and captured a young wamasu. She released it into the nest, assuming it would scare the egg-tender and provide us all with a good laugh. It did the trick, all right, but it also cracked three innocent and helpless eggs. Keshu was so mortified by the damage she had caused that she volunteered to assist the egg-tender for the entire cycle of the calendar.
Near the end of that cycle, the raj-deelith (literally, the elder teacher), Drameencin, arrived to instruct us in preparation for our rites of maturity. It was during this intensive period of lessons and training that Keshu's companions gathered around her. In addition to myself, Keshu attracted the attention of the powerful Vos-Huruk, the sly Tee-Wan, and the clever Xocin. Vos-Huruk was a mountain of a woman who was almost Keshu's equal in battle. Tee-Wan would develop into a thief and a spy. Xocin, on the other hand, enjoyed mixing alchemical tinctures and would go on to become a powerful mage. All would follow Keshu to war. All except me.
Throughout that season, our friendships deepened and Drameencin did everything in his power to prepare us for our maturity rites. But that is another tale entirely.