He's never seen one of the natives up so closely.
Thomas feels himself lower his newly smoking musket, clutching onto his injured side. It feels like a drumming sounds from inside his skull. The sky rains down in pastel-bright, dazzling leaves. He hears the wind.
Listen… you will understand… …
"Kocoum, don't," another native speaks up worriedly, in their own tongue as Kocoum grunts dismissively, picking up Thomas's lifeless body and carrying him onto his own shoulders. "This is forbidden… let the pale stranger die…"
"He's coming back with us to the village, to answer for our suffering," Kocoum argues.
Thomas would feel more frightened of his supposed capture, except he passes out quickly, lost to the swaying darkness. He violently wakes during morning-light, coughing and gasping, with a layer of water-dripping, healing plants on his open bloody wound made by Kocoum's tomahawk.
Kocoum, glistening with hot sweat to his dark brown skin, appears. He walks over him, crossing his arms and observing Thomas with sternness and a fainter curiosity. Very handsome, Thomas's woozy brain supplies as unhelpful as possible.
"Am I in your village?" Thomas mutters, wiping his eyes. Kocoum's frown deepens. "Whass'ppened?"
"I should have killed you."
"Why didn't you?"
Perhaps he's only inexperienced and a fool, but Thomas witnesses the other man stiffen up, his brows furrowing in thought instead of anger.
"Go back to your people," Kocoum orders lowly, yanking up the animal-skin flap. "Tell them our warriors defeated many invaders before. You will be the same as them—forgotten and worthless."
Something about this feels amiss, like a command has been blatantly disobeyed.
Thomas doesn't question it, climbing to his feet, gingerly keeping his balance and avoiding moving his waist. Perhaps there's still bandages stocked on the ship… along with ointments and tinctures…
"Fight with your heart," Kocoum's voice hovers in, as a dark brown hand grips onto Thomas's elbow.
… He would rather not fight.
Not at all.