THE LAST SHAMAN
AUTHORS NOTE: This is a quick refresher of the characters involved, so that you may follow them a little easier.
JOSEPH TWO TOES
JOHN AND SAMUEL
TRISTAN AND MICHAEL
JAMES AND COLLIN
It was the hereditary skills learned from generations of hunter gatherers that alerted the sleeping Ravenhawk to an unknown presence in the bedroom; He was spooned in behind Antonio as he was every other night. It was the lightest of touches on his bare shoulder that brought him fully awake and ready to defend his Berdach.
Quickly adjusting to the darkness in the room, Ravenhawk made out the small figure of Little Bear. The boy was as usual, naked as the day he was born.
Ravenhawk looked around, it was still in the early hours of the morning; he reached up for the small boy and cuddled him onto his chest.
"What's the matter, little one?"
"Poppa Raven, they're coming."
"Who's coming, Little Bear?"
"Lots of men in black clothes; I don't like them, they're meanies."
"I won't let them hurt you, when will they come?"
"Very soon, we have to be careful of them, they're not nice men."
"Ok, Little Bear."
Just then Antonio also opened his eyes and looked at the small boy wrapped in Ravenhawk's arms.
"What's going on?"
"Little Bear says we are going to have some unwanted visitors."
"How can he know that?"
"You should know by now, he has guardians; we have to take notice."
"Fine but when and where?"
"I think very soon and right here in our home."
Ravenhawk stopped to think things through for a few minutes.
"Ok, Little Bear! I want you to go and get dressed in your play clothes; not your good ones for ceremony; when you have done that, go and find the other little ones and take them to Consuela's kitchen. Antonio, I want you to go and wake up Philippe and Liam, tell them to bring their weapons and come back here. I'll go and wake up Liam Senior and Manuel along with the others; come on let's go, I don't think we have much time."
As Ravenhawk stepped out of the main cabin, he was met with a very alert Joseph Two Toes; the Apache teen was dressed in only his normal leggings, moccasins and head band, in his hands he held his rifle and over his shoulder was the new recurve bow he had been practising with.
The meeting of the two hardly needed words, it was as though Joseph also knew something was going on; with nothing more than a nod to Ravenhawk, Joseph turned and headed for the thick trees on the east side of the clearing.
Ravenhawk checked his rifle and ammunition belt then slung his new compound bow over his shoulder; after alerting the others he would go to the western side of the clearing and disappear into its well covered darkness.
Once everyone had been alerted and given their places to hide and watch what went on, Ravenhawk headed for the cover of the western trees.
Robert, Margret and Peter were to be in the dining room with the little ones; Karl, Dean and Philippe were to take cover in the hide they had made some time ago for just such an occasion.
The hide had been designed by Liam Senior and consisted of a shallow trench that was then covered with brush and had a small stack of thick logs piled in front. The logs from a distance looked like a pile of fire wood set out for drying; it was an ideal hide.
Liam Junior took his place high on the roof of the mobile home, well hidden by the wind break on the roof; Liam Senior would act as the leader of the camp.
Manuel and Consuela would be with the small ones and Antonio in the well built dining room where they would be armed and ready but well hidden.
As Liam Senior leant against the thick front bumper of his mobile home, he contemplated the decision he had made about building the new dining room as solidly as they had; as these new events were showing, it had been a wise choice to make the new dining room as solid as an old fort.
Liam smiled to himself as he took another sip of hot coffee from the large mug in his left hand; in his right and canted over his shoulder, was the almost brand new M16; at his hip was his old trusty .45 automatic and in a shoulder holster was his back up Glock 9mm; Liam almost smiled as he felt a familiar buzz start deep down inside his belly.
As the early morning darkness began to give way to the faint greyness of dawn, the members of the Green Stone Clan heard the first faint echo's of a number of vehicle engines; they were not revving their engines hard, it was as though the drivers were trying to stay unheard in the early morning stillness.
As the muted sound of the vehicles approached closer, Liam heard the chattering call of a Blue Jay; Liam could not believe what he had just heard; he knew for a fact that this was not an area that had Blue Jays, as well as being far too early in the morning for such a bird; something clicked inside Liam's head and he smiled to himself as he heard an answering call from the opposite side of the clearing.
Liam took another sip from his refilled coffee mug; in his estimation, Consuela made the best damn coffee he had ever had anywhere in the world; it was a real early morning pick me up; sharp and just a hint of tartness but not bitter, just the thing to get the morning blood flowing.
Liam stayed leaning against the front of his trailer as he saw the faint outline of the first vehicle appear at the entrance to the clearing; using only his thumb, he took the rifle off safety but otherwise did not move, apart from taking another sip from the hot mug.
The first vehicle entered the clearing, it was followed closely by others; the vehicle turned out to be a dusty looking town car; behind it what looked like a medium sized limousine and that was followed by five more town cars. All the vehicles carried about five or six armed men and teens; at the rear of the small convoy came a converted school bus.
The bus had been repainted with mottled greens and all the windows were blacked out except for the driver's windscreen; the outline of one armed teen beside the bus driver was all that Liam could see.
The first car turned around in the clearing, its front bumper was just resting on the side of the sweat lodge; the limousine drove towards where Liam stood, it ignored the circle of stones and the sacred fire and instead drove over them without a thought; it parked with the left front tyre resting on the sacred fire pit; Liam did not realise that he frowned as he saw that.
The other cars spread out around the limousine; once they stopped all the doors opened and the men and teens spread out to cover the clearing; from the thick trees around the edge of the clearing, he heard the raucous call of two Ravens, one from each side; Liam smiled once again; Ravenhawk had once told him that his people used the call of the Raven as a sign of anger before a fight.
Liam watched as the rear door of the limousine opened; from the dark interior stepped a tall well built man; not as tall as Liam but very close; he was dressed all in black and wore a flat crowned black hat, white shirt with an old fashioned black string tie and highly polished black boots.
As the stranger looked around at the clearing, his face took on a look of satisfaction; to his eyes the older man was alone and outnumbered; this was going to be easier than he had thought.
"Good morning brother, I am Pastor Gerald, elder and leader of the congregation of the Righteous Brotherhood of Christ; we have come here today to return you to the true ways of god and help you return to the true morality of God's word; are there any others with you?"
The man's voice sounded full of certainty and a little stentorian, it echoed in the stillness of the early morning air; Liam ignored the question.
"I think you had best move on Pastor, there's nothing here for you or your people; your God had his chance before the virus and you know how that turned out; we have no need for your prayers now."
Liam had kept his voice neutral and soft, it was as though he was just having a casual conversation, he showed no tension or fear of the men gathered around the clearing.
Liam heard something behind him but did not turn around; he could not take the chance of moving his eyes away from the men gathered in the clearing; as he stood waiting for the Pastor to leave; a young voice came from the steps behind him.
"Go away, I don't like you; you're a Meany."
The horrified look that came over the Pastor's face as he saw the small boy clothed in native dress and holding a small bow with an arrow strung ready, only went to make him determined to have this clearing and all its buildings for his own.
"Is this what you are doing Sir? Turning god fearing little white boys into heathen savages; you should be ashamed of yourself; it would not surprise me if there was more going on here than just heathen ways. You must put down your weapon Sir, this is God's work."
The Pastor got no further as there was the sound of a small bow being released; everyone in the clearing, including Liam; got the surprise of their lives as a small arrow appeared in the Pastors thigh; before anyone could react, a scuffling sound came from behind Liam and he heard Antonio's voice speak to Little Bear.
"Inside now, let Poppa Kelly do the talking."
Little Bears reply was definitely not in the bible as he was carried back inside the dining room and the door closed behind them; Liam hid the smile as he watched the Pastor pull the arrow from his thigh; he had been lucky little Bear had used a straight practice arrow and not a hunting tip.
With the arrow pulled clear, one of the pastors men had run up and tied a strip bandage tightly around his thigh, it did not ease the look of anger on the Pastors face.
"I demand in the name of God that you lay down your weapon and stand aside, that child needs to be taught his place."
"I told you Pastor, there is nothing here for you; I will tell you this last time; leave now, these are the lands of the Green Stone Clan, you have already defiled sacred ground with your vehicles; do not make it any worse by threatening the son of one of our people."
"We will not leave here as long as you are letting young white boys be tempted by devil worshiping savages; for the last time, lay down your weapon or I will have my men take it from you."
"Your men? What's the matter Pastor, not man enough to come and take it yourself? Now leave."
The Pastor made a gesture with his hand, the ominous clicking of safeties and hammers rang around the clearing as each man got ready to do what the Pastor wanted them to do.
Liam let the M16 drop from his shoulder, with his left hand he carefully placed his now empty coffee mug on the bumper and let the rifle drop onto his free had; the barrel was pointed right at the Pastor.
"You do realise that you will be the first to fall if the shooting starts, don't you Pastor?"
The menace in Liam's voice left little doubt in anyone's mind that he would use the rifle now pointed at their leader; although outnumbered he still did not back down as the Pastor looked down the barrel of Liam's rifle.
Liam could see for the first time a flicker of fear in the Pastors eyes; but the man was now full of righteous indignation and could not back down in front of his men; he had superior numbers and was not going to give up on having the small clearing as his own personal home base.
"I am warning you for the last time Sir, put down your weapon and surrender in the name of the God almighty; what you are doing here is immoral and a mortal sin in His eyes."
"Pastor, firstly I am not a Sir; my name is Gunnery Sergeant Kelly, United States Marine Corp Retired; secondly, you and your people are not wanted or needed here; you can take your God somewhere else; this is the last chance you have to leave in peace."
The Pastor raised his hand as if he was going to signal his men to take Liam and finish the conversation; suddenly, in the stillness of the morning air came a faint zipping sound; from the rear of the group of men there was suddenly two loud cries.
Those closest to the cries turned around just in time to see two of their number fall forward; from their chest they showed the first inch of a steel arrow head; as they fell to the ground all those watching could plainly see the arrow sticking up from their backs.
In the stunned silence that followed, it seemed like hours passed although it was only seconds; suddenly the large group of armed men were looking around for targets; the Pastor dove for the ground but noticed that Liam was nowhere to be seen.
Two more arrows came from the darkness of the trees and hit two more men, it was the signal for those in the clearing to open fire; it was plainly obvious they had no real target and so just fired blindly into the trees and at the front of the log building ahead of them.
What at first should have been a simple fire fight that would be over in seconds, now turned out to be the biggest mistake they had so far made.
The fire seemed to come from everywhere; there was nowhere to hide that could not be in the line of fire; the newcomers had been caught out in the open while the defenders were well hidden and protected.
Only two teens had the forethought to dive into the strange round hut in the middle of the clearing; for some reason no bullets came there way and so they stayed tucked inside and out of the line of fire.
Men began to fall to the accurate fire from the well built and protected dining room, two shot guns and two smaller rifles were taking their toll; from the pile of logs close to the edge of the trees more shots were finding their targets; above the motor home and from underneath the chassis came the rapid fire of M16's and from each side of the clearing but well hidden in the trees, came more fire.
It was beginning to look like Custer's last stand, the newcomers had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide; the Pastor lay on the ground with his hands over his head; he made no attempt to join in the fighting.
In less than five minutes the fighting slowed down; from his place under the front axle of the motor home, Liam called out to the remainder of the once proud force.
"Lay down your weapons, you've lost enough men."
In the sudden silence that followed his call, only five men stood up, one had a badly bleeding arm and was helped by a young teen to stand; from the darkness of the sweat lodge, two rifles were thrown out followed by two scared looking young men.
Liam rolled out from his hiding place and stood to survey the remains of the battle, it was not a pretty sight; the Pastor made it up to his knees but Liam called out to him.
"Stay where you are Pastor, this is all your doing, you will be held before the council of the Green Stone Clan for your actions. For you others, you can leave if you want to, there will be no reprisals taken against men doing their duty as they see it."
Liam looked the rag tag group over; two of the men were older but the others were only in their late teens, they at least deserved another chance now that they did not have a raving idiot leading them. Liam selected what he thought was the oldest man among the survivors.
"Who do you have on the bus?"
"Some of our women and a few younger boys we found along the way." The man answered, there was still a little defiance in the man's voice but he knew better than to get on the wrong side of this group.
"Bring them all out here, those who want to stay will be welcome, the rest can move on; the decision will be theirs."
The door of the bus opened and the young teen carrying a shot gun stepped down; he laid the gun on the ground and raised his hands; next came the driver; he was a large overweight man and he stepped down with a grunt from the effort.
Following the first two came six women; two were in their forties; three looked to be in their late twenties or early thirties; the last was a girl of about twenty; once they were on the ground, Liam heard an unusual shuffling from inside the bus; as he watched he saw four young teens wearing handcuffs; one look was enough to get Liam angry all over again.
The four boys were wearing only a pair of dirty shorts; their legs, arms and bodies showed the signs of a bad beating; all of them had at least one black eye and most had split lips and bruised faces; a gasp of horror went up around the clearing.
Liam turned back to the older man.
"What's going on here?"
His voice showed his anger.
"The Pastor found them a while ago; all four of them are perverts; he said they had to work off their sins as slaves until they were given God's grace and became good moral Christians again."
The look on Liam's face was like thunder; his breathes came in short puffs as he tried to get a hold of his temper.
"Release them right now. Antonio! Take the boys inside and get them looked after by Consuela as soon as those fucking cuffs are off; you!" Leon pointed at the Pastor. "Is this your idea of a Christian world? For this alone you will not be leaving here with the others."
Liam looked up at the top of the motor home.
"Come on down Son, get some of those cable ties and put them on the Pastor; you guys that surrendered, you can take your bus and any car you want as well as your women and leave, if some of you want to stay it will be under our laws and will be for the council to decide."
Liam Junior had scurried down from his high perch and found a thick pair of cable ties, going to the Pastor he had little qualms about making them good and tight; the grunt of pain from the Pastor only made Liam Junior smile with satisfaction.
It was the look of fear on the Pastors face that made Liam Senior turn around; walking casually from the darkness of the trees, he saw Joseph and Ravenhawk chatting as they strode towards the large group; the carnage on the ground seemed to have little effect on them.
The first thing Joseph asked was.
"What shall we do with the dead, they do not deserve burial rights?"
"We'll make a common grave with the digger, perhaps the Pastor will want to say some words over them before the council hears his case." Liam Senior called to them.
"There will be no council hearing for that man, his penalty has already been decided by his actions." Ravenhawk told Liam and those around them.
"How do you mean Ravenhawk?" Leon asked
"Joseph has suggested we let his god decide his fate; I agree."
"Do I want to know how that will be done?" Liam asked again; the answer was simple.
Of the remainder of the original people that came into the clearing that morning, only the two teens that had taken shelter in the sweat lodge and the four boys now in the care of Consuela, decided they wanted to stay; the rest took two of the cars and the old school bus and left as fast as they could get out of the clearing.
Liam Senior sent his grandson to follow them at a distance, just to make sure they did not intend to try to return; with little ceremony, the Pastor was put in the hands of Joseph; after a thin nylon rope was tied around his neck, the Pastor was led away by the young Apache.
A long coil of nylon rope hung from Joseph's shoulder; in one hand he carried his new recurve bow and in the other, a lead rope for one of the horses; he moved quickly and silently and soon disappeared into the trees with his prisoner.
The two young men from the sweat lodge stood alone and in a state of nervousness; they knew they had been told they could stay; but what would the conditions of their stay be; the uncertainty only went to increase their nervousness.
The two new faces were just asked to muck in and help to bury the dead; they soon joined in; it was a grisly task but everyone helped except Consuela and the very young.
The task was made more difficult when they saw how young some of the dead were; their hatred of the Pastor increased with each body they piled on the old wagon. The clearing soon filled with the roar of the digger being started by Liam Senior; it had been decided to bury the attackers a good distance from the clearing.
Two hours later and everyone had returned from the grisly work; there was a very subdued aura around the small encampment now that they had seen lives taken for what looked like no reason at all.
It was six hours before Joseph returned accompanied only by the horse; as usual he was running beside the animal and not riding it; Ravenhawk thought it a little strange; didn't Joseph know how to ride?
"Aho Brother, are the Chiricahua afraid to ride a horse?" Ravenhawk called when he first saw Joseph, the smile on his face showed there was no intention other than a joke.
"Aho Brother, riding a horse only makes for fat Indios; your belly looks very round; son of the Lakota." Joseph replied with the same smile.
Ravenhawk ran his hands down his taut, well formed abs and rested them on his narrow hips.
"It would seem that my Chiricahua blood has saved me from that fate Brother, but your belly is also looking round; perhaps a little more exercise is needed?"
"That would only be true if I were a son of the Sioux."
By this time everyone had stopped to watch the play between the two; as Joseph came up beside Ravenhawk, they clasped hands and began to laugh at their little joke.
"What do we know of the new people, my Brother?" Joseph asked.
"We are about to ask them their story; it was better we used the time to bury the dead; come you must be hungry and we can listen to their story together."
Joseph let the horse go and watched as it walked over to join the other wagon horse by the small corral. Consuela had kept some hot food for Joseph and laid it on one of the tables while the others all gathered to listen to the two young men's story; the four injured teens were now resting peacefully on foldout beds near the warmth of the kitchen stove.
Ravenhawk took the lead; as was expected by the others in the camp; he looked at the two nervous young men and asked.
"So tell us why you would want to stay with us and why we would want to let you stay?"
The older of the two spoke first.
"My name is John, this is my younger brother Samuel; I...I don't know quite how to say this; we had to keep a secret from the Pastor but he was our only hope to survive, I... well, we...uhm, well; oh shit, I'll just say it; It's like, well...I like girls but Samuel doesn't; I had to try to protect him or he would have been given the same as those other boys. I'm glad you beat those guys; we just wanted to leave but they watched us all the time."
"Is that why you did not fire during the fight?" Ravenhawk asked them.
"I...we, thought it might be our only hope as long as you won; even hiding in that hut we could not believe that no one fired at us."
"The 'Hut' that you went too is our sweat lodge and is on sacred ground which your Pastor's car invaded; that was the reason we opened fire; do you or your brother have any skills that could be of use to us?"
"What sort of skills do you mean?"
"What were you doing before the virus attack?"
"I was second year at college; my brother was a senior at high-school; I don't know what we would be good at to help around here."
"Did you have any hobbies?"
"I liked to work on old cars but I'm no real mechanic; Samuel is more of a home body; he spent a lot of time in the kitchen with our mother; he's actually quite a good cook."
"Then there is much for both of you to do that will help us all; Consuela needs help in the kitchen if your brother would like that and there is always something that needs fixing and will probably need it more as time passes. There is one more thing; we are all clan members, we are all family, if you decide to stay we would expect you to be family and join our clan. There are some things that may seem unusual about what we do but we have all accepted things for what they are."
Ravenhawk looked at the other clan members one by one, getting a small nod from each one, he turned back to John.
"They all say you can stay with us if you want to; we will all help protect you but you must both promise to do the same for any of us if it is needed?"
"Yes...yes of course we would; Samuel, do we stay here, it looks safer than the Pastor's people?"
Samuel gave a shy nod and looked back down at the floor as he had been doing for most of the discussion.
"We thank you and would like to stay; is there somewhere we can sleep or stay?"
"We can put you in with someone else for now and build you your own cabin in a few days; the same for the other four boys over there, once they are fit they can decide what they want to do." Ravenhawk said.
John nodded his acceptance and then listened as Ravenhawk continued.
"What do you know of the four young ones?"
"Not a lot; the Pastor caught the two younger ones while they were still sleeping; they were in each other's arms and in the same sleeping bag; the Pastor went ape and had them beaten then and there; that's when he said they had to be enslaved to learn about God. The two older ones have only been with us for a week so I don't know a lot about them; Samuel used to sneak out at night to give them all a little extra food and help; he might be able to tell you more."
Ravenhawk turned to the downcast face of Samuel for an answer. Samuel's voice was soft and not much more than a whisper; much to everyone's surprise; Joseph got up from his seat then sat back down beside Samuel; laying one hand on Samuels right wrist, Joseph whispered something into Samuel's ear that no one else could hear.
Samuel immediately blushed but glanced at Joseph and gave a slight nod of his head. Samuel began again but this time his voice was stronger and more easily heard by everyone around the table.
"The two younger ones are called Tristan and Michael; they told me they had been...uhm...boy friends since grade school; the two older boys are Jim, or James and Collin; they are just good friends and have been best friends since preschool; Tristan and Michael are fourteen and the other two are sixteen. You will have to ask them anything more; we didn't have a lot of time to talk with the Pastor watching us all the time."
Everyone noticed Joseph pat Samuels hand as he finished telling his short story. Ravenhawk was the next to speak.
"Well the best we can do for a little while is set up some spare beds in here for you both; tomorrow we will get to work on a new cabin for you."
"Thank you; it'll be nice to have a real bed for a change."
By the time two extra beds were found and set up, everyone was ready for bed; tomorrow would be the start of the new cabin; everyone now had a firm plan in their heads of the cabins construction as they had now built enough of them to erect one in only a few days with everyone helping.
The next morning, when everyone arrived for breakfast, most were happy to see Samuel working alongside Consuela in the dining room; the other four boys were now on their feet but told not to work or spend too much energy until they had time to recover.
The three little ones would walk up to one of the boys and gently kiss a bruised spot and look up and smile at the boy concerned; the little one's explanation was simple.
"I just kiss it better."
There was still a very nervous look on the four teen's faces as they watched the gathering crowd; they were still not sure if they had arrived in a safe haven or were in for more of the Pastor's kind of justice.
It soon became evident that the new group that surrounded them was different but their treatment over the last weeks had made them extra wary; their haunted looks told the others it would all take time for the boys to feel safe once again.
After a filling breakfast, everyone except the injured teens; set about working on the first of the cabins; much to everyone's surprise, John asked that the first cabin completed should go to Tristan and Michael; he told them it was only fair that the two boyfriends had a safe place of their own first.
For the next four days; everyone worked long hard hours; while the building of a cabin was now almost a natural part of the new community, there was still the hard work of gathering everything needed for its construction.
The simple plan for a cabin had been a common agreed plan; for its foundations were a solid three foot high wall of river stones set together with a slurry of cement; the digging of the footings and construction of the boxing was done mainly by Liam Senior with the help of the small digger.
While the footings were being dug, everyone else went to the nearby river to collect stones and rocks, even the little ones helped with this onerous task; when enough had been collected the foundations were built; next came the split logs for the rest of the walls and the framing for the roof.
It became such a well run system that by the fourth day, the roof was being laid; it was a mix of thick plastic sheeting as an underlay over which were nailed wooden shingles; over the top of the whole, Liam Senior used the digger to lay a thick carpet of fresh sod.
Each cabin was placed inside the tree line; from the clearing you would only see glimpses of a cabin or the narrow track leading to one; although well hidden, each cabin was well within calling distance if the need arose; it left most of the open ground of the clearing for the heavier trucks and machinery they were starting to gather.
With the increase in numbers, water was going to be a problem if they did not look into it soon; it was Robert that suggested looking for the higher source of the nearby river and running pipes down to the clearing. At the moment the need for everyone to shower was becoming harder and harder; only the main cabin had the facilities; it was time to redesign the smaller cabins and use an add on for their own showers.
The general design of the cabin, with its front and rear doors left only one place for a wash room; the rear door led off the bedroom, it was here they began to design the add on for the shower once they had a better supply of water; the single well for the large cabin would not supply them all.
By the end of the week, the cabin was finished, the furniture was rudimentary but sturdy and serviceable; for Tristan and Michael it was like a palace after what they had had to endure at the hands of the Pastor and his men; for the others in the camp, the tears of gratitude from the two young teens was more than enough payment.
It was now time to look at the next cabin for the two long time best friends; no one had taken much notice that Samuel was often not seen around the building sight but was always present when kitchen duties were needed; his brother John was also strangely seen more often with Jim and Collin than with his own brother; the transition had been so casual that very few took notice until it came time for the building of the second cabin.
The only person not involved with the building program was Joseph, he was often out in the woods hunting, with so many new mouths to feed it was important to keep a good stock of fresh meat; Manuel and Philippe soon had a good garden supplying needed vegetables for the table.
At the planning session for the other cabin; everyone was surprised when John told them he would like to join Jim and Collin; when asked why, it was Jim that told them of their plans.
"Collin and I are from the rural part of a county; we've looked around and seen you have no steady supply of some of the basics; when we travelled with the Pastor we saw a lot of cattle roaming free; if we can find a good place we would like to set up a small farm; we can help supply milk and butter and if we can find out how to do it; we will also try to make some cheese; does anyone have any ideas where we should start it or if you think it's a good idea?"
Much to the boys relief, everyone at the table thought it a very good idea; Ravenhawk told them of the wide open area no more than half an hour's walk away, if they could conceal their new cabin back in the trees and build it with good protection, then the three boys could start their farm there.
The discussion went on until the first of the food arrived; everyone noticed that Justin and Michael were the last to arrive; the bright blushes on their faces told many a story of what they might have been doing in the new cabin to be late for dinner.
As dinner progressed, final plans were laid out; in the morning Ravenhawk would take the three older teens and show them the land he had been talking about; Liam Senior would start the collection of the materials to be transported to the place they picked out for the cabin when they got there.
After dinner; as he had on most nights, Ravenhawk sat with the little ones around him; they had looked upon the young teen as their story teller; most nights he would tell them a story from long ago before they went to their beds; tonight it was to be the story of the sun and the moon.
As Ravenhawk began the story, he noticed that Joseph had slipped out almost unseen by the others; Ravenhawk thought nothing of it at the time; everyone had got used to Joseph's ways and what appeared to be a need for a little solitary time.
The next morning, Ravenhawk joined the three older teens, as he was about to lead them to the area he thought would make a good place for them to start; Joseph appeared.
"Aho Brother, are you taking them to the pasture clearing?"
"Aho Brother, yes, I thought it had good pasture and the small stream will give them good water; will you walk with us?"
"Yes Brother, there is also something I would discuss with you."
"Then join us and we can talk of many things while we walk."
The small group started walking; Ravenhawk and Joseph were in the lead with the other three boys behind them; the three boys did not take long to notice something about the two boys in front; while some would have said the two boys were semi naked, to the three following they looked comfortable in their sparse native dress;
It was also noticeable that the pair moved almost without sound and seemed to glide over the rough ground with little effort, not even leaving a trace of where they had been whereas, the three behind sounded like bull elephants as they tried to follow.
"So Brother, what would you talk about?"
"I have noticed that everyone now holds you highly; I would suggest you take your rightful place as Elder of the Clan."
"As you know I cannot be an Elder, I am far too young for that title my Brother."
"I have given this much thought; this is a new time and we must accept new ways, you have shown me this in all your actions; also you are the only one with the training of the old ways to carry us forward; I would like to put it to the others?"
"I cannot say anything against it, but there is one thing I must do before accepting such a place; I must ask the Creator, we are all his reflection and it would not be right to take his desires lightly."
"Then you must ask him, we all need an Elder to lead us; it is the way."
The five walked along in silence, Ravenhawk was sure there was something else on Joseph's mind and that the conversation was more of an opener than the main thrust of his need to talk.
"You seem to be in deep thought, my Brother; is there something else that troubles you?"
"Yes Brother, I would ask your council."
"You are my Brother; you have my council at any time you wish.'
"I have one that catches my eye; I would like to provide a home of better build than my small hogan."
"That seems fair; you have been our hunter all the time you have been with us and yet never asked for anything for yourself; everyone in the Clan would be glad to build what you want. Does the one who catches your eye, know of this?"
"No, as yet I have not approached them; I have been trying to find a suitable gift to offer, but it is difficult to know what would make them think of me as their partner."
"You are asking me for an idea of the right gift and yet I do not know who has your eye?"
"Yes; I ask for your thoughts; what would you offer that would make the right person look at you with desire?"
"There are many gifts one could offer, but I would start with a good home and perhaps; as winter is not far off; something special to keep them warm on cold nights. As you come from the place of deserts you must think of the coldness of winter this far away from your home lands."
"Yes you are right; I will take your advice then approach them; these last days have been difficult, it is the first time my body has been taken by such feelings; even my dreams are filled with this person. When I am out hunting, I find myself walking around in a world of dreams and not watching the trails; it is very troubling for me."
They moved on in silence; each kept to their own thoughts; for the three teens following it had become a bit of a trek as they were not following the roads but cutting overland.
It was not much longer and they were standing on the edge of the wide open spaces where Liam had parked his motor home on his first day; where they stood was solid ground and higher up than the surrounding grass lands.
It did not take much for the three to decided this was the place they would start their little farm; with the cabin built for three placed back in the trees a little way, they would have a certain amount of protection but still have a full view of the land below them; it was a good place.
"This is perfect Ravenhawk; we would never have known about this place; we came from the other direction and never saw it; thank you."
"There is no need for thanks; we need people like you in the Clan as we will need your abilities to help feed those who come. Now is there anything else you would need?"
"Well there is one thing we need to settle in our minds."
"We need to know what happened to the Pastor; we need to know he can't return to harm us again."
Ravenhawk turned and looked at Joseph; Joseph nodded and waved them to follow him; it was going to be a long walk for the three teens, they were not used to using their legs for long journeys; Joseph started off at a slower but steady pace so the others could keep pace with he and Ravenhawk.
As time and distance passed; it became noticeable to the three followers that the pair in front were chatting, just as though this was a slow stroll in a park. For the three boys it was becoming a trial; their breathing was becoming laboured and their legs were beginning to burn; their heavy boots felt like lead weights on their feet.
Finally; after more than an hour; the five came to the edge of the grass lands and stood at the base of a low ridge; Ravenhawk looked up the incline and asked Joseph.
"So he is up there?"
"Yes, unless his god has watched over him and let him escape."
"Would that have been possible?"
"If his god is strong enough, he would have escaped by now."
"But you don't think so?"
Joseph looked at Ravenhawk and the other three boys; then smiled.
"I don't think so."
"Then let's go and see what his god has done for him." Ravenhawk said.
It took another thirty minutes of strenuous climb for the three boys, to Ravenhawk and Joseph it was just an uphill walk of little consequence.
When they finally arrived at the top of the ridge; the boys could see it ended in a deep and very steep ravine, what really caught their eyes was the strange device erected on the very edge and its grisly cargo.
"His god did not look favourably on him." Joseph said as he inspected his handy-work.
The other boys looked at the hanging figure of the long dead Pastor; he was strung up by his bound wrists and hanging out over the ravine by means of a triangle of poles that were supported by a strong rope tied back to a large boulder set in the ground.
The Pastors body was sunburnt almost to the stage of being a dried husk; there were marks of where crows and other carrion eaters had taken pieces from the naked body; what was very noticeable, even in the condition that the body was in; was that one leg had had the Achilles tendon cut; even if the Pastor had escaped he would not have been able to walk; that was assuming he survived the one hundred foot fall onto the rocks below.
"His god is not as strong as he thought." Joseph said again.
From behind, the three boys could only look in shock; but inside they also felt like true justice had been served on a vicious and slightly insane man.
"Are you going to just leave him there?" Collin asked.
Joseph's answer was almost considered flippant.
"His god will tend to him one day; now we have more important things to do."
"Like what?" Jim asked
"Build your cabin and find some cattle for your farm."
That seemed to be the last thought for the Pastor's fate as Joseph; followed by Ravenhawk, turned and led the way back down the ridge; it was a time for the living, the dead could look after themselves.