THE LAST SHAMAN
When the great Eagle had finally disappeared far up into the sky, Joseph was sure he felt the barrier that had been holding him, seemingly disappear.
Joseph rose to his feet and tentively made his way down to the small sleeping figure of Little Bear. Joseph saw not only the sleeping figure of Little Bear but, lying on the curled up form of the boy was a single large and almost perfect Eagle feather.
Joseph could not believe his eyes as he looked down at the large feather. Joseph bent down to look closer; there was something strange about the feather.
As he looked, Joseph saw what had caught his eye; at the very tip of the quill was a small spot of bright red blood and at the tip of the feather was what looked to be a natural and perfect V cut in the very centre.
Joseph had no hesitation in recognising the meaning of this gift from the Creator. In his mind, Joseph saw what he had to do while he waited for Little Bear to recover from his dancing.
Joseph began the prayers for the Eagle; until the prayers were said and he got a sign, no one could touch the gifted feather. Although it was lying on the boy, Joseph knew it was not meant for him; this was the feather of a chief and peacemaker.
After all the prayers were said, Joseph carefully took up the solitary feather; taking out his knife he began to carefully cut a fine notch in the stem about two inches from the tip. Taking great care not to disfigure the tip with the small red blood spot on it; Joseph shaved the notch until it was a thin sliver.
With even more care, Joseph turned the tip back until he could safely push it into the hollow centre of the quill. Once it was done, Joseph looked at his handiwork. The tip with the spot of blood was now safely protected by the quill; it also now formed a small loop at the end.
Joseph took out some fine red cloth from his small pack; with great care he began to bind it around the white of the quill until he was able to tie it off. Joseph looked at the results of his work, he was happy and now had only one thing more to do.
Glancing at the still sleeping figure of Little Bear; Joseph rose and moved towards the nearby trees, he had to find the right tree for the next part.
Joseph selected a strong looking Spruce; before he did anything he began a prayer to the Guardian of the Forest to ask permission to take a branch for his use.
Joseph felt a gust of wind rise from behind him, it was as though he was being watched; in such a sacred feeling place, Joseph thought it may well be true.
As he stood and finished his prayer, Joseph heard a loud cracking above his head. Joseph jumped back just as a large thick branch broke free from the spruce; looking down at it, Joseph saw that it was the perfect one for what he wanted to do.
Joseph set about working on the thick branch after he said his prayer of thanks to the Guardian. First he took a long strip of bark; carefully peeling it back from the wood. The next step was to cut through the branch at the right length; with both jobs done, Joseph carried his parts back to the centre of the glade; Little Bear was still fast asleep.
Joseph now cut eight short pieces from the fringe on his moccasins, these he took to the edge of the small stream where he dug a shallow hole. Once the hole filled with water, Joseph set the eight lengths in it and went back to his other work.
The solid piece of wood he started on first. After easily splitting the bare wood, he began to shape the length of branch until he had the long thin slat; once that was done he set it aside and began on the long strip of bark.
First he worked to smooth and dry the outer side, when there were no more rough spots, he turned it over. Joseph looked carefully at the inner bark. The sap oozed a little but he soon started work on it with some sand from the small stream. Joseph added water when he thought it was needed until the inner bark was clean and the sap had mainly stopped.
The next step was to use his knife to bore eight holes on each side; once that was done, Joseph folded the bark with the inner side on the outside; the smooth outer bark was now inside. With this complete, he placed the thin strip of new wood in the pocket he had formed. Joseph set about tying the eight strips from his moccasin fringe through the holes and trapping the wooden wedge inside.
The fringe strips were now wet and easy to tie tightly; once that was done, Joseph set it in the sun to dry; as the strips of leather dried they would tighten and close the small pocket tight.
Joseph went to look at Little Bear. The boy was still sleeping and so Joseph settled down to wait. It was later in the afternoon when Joseph awoke from the light doze he had been in; Little Bear was standing over him with a smile on his face.
"Hello little one, did you have a good sleep?"
"Yes, did you come to see me play?"
"Well I came to find you; everyone was worried when you disappeared."
"I didn't disappear; I came here to play and dance."
"Perhaps not little one, but you didn't tell anyone about it and they worried."
"Oh, I didn't think about that. Do you think Poppa will be mad at me?"
"I don't think so; perhaps he might be a little angry but not too much."
"Oh, Ok; do you think we should go home now?"
"Yes, I think we should; it's been a long time and they will be worried."
Joseph noticed Little Bear look down at the now mostly dried bark pocket and the large Eagle Feather beside it.
"That's a special gift for your Poppa Raven."
"Where did you get it?"
"Well it was a gift from the Father."
"Oh really? Did Poppa Tanka come and visit?"
"Oh yes, he's my other Poppa, he comes to talk lots of times."
Joseph decided it was better not to continue with this line of conversation; it looked as though it may be headed in a direction he was not comfortable with.
Joseph began to collect everything so they could head home; he had no real idea how long they had been away but, at a guess he thought it may have been at least two days.
Little Bear watched as Joseph pulled the strip of wood from the small bark pocket; next he took the beautiful Eagle feather and carefully placed it inside the bark; it would protect the feather until it was presented to Ravenhawk.
Joseph gathered up everything and took Little Bear by the hand; it was going to be a long walk back to the clearing and it was already getting late. Joseph knew that if he wanted to get back in time he would probably have to carry Little Bear for the last few miles.
Ravenhawk felt that he was no longer alone; opening his eyes he saw a faint outline of someone standing over him. In the glare of the sunlight, he could not make out the face on the person above him.
A hand reached behind his head and he felt the touch of metal on his lips; next he felt the soft coolness of water dribbling into his parched mouth.
After a few sips, the water bottle was taken away and Ravenhawk smelt fresh bread; as he looked up he saw the smiling face of Navajo. The teen was kneeling beside Ravenhawk with water and food beside him.
It was tradition that said no one could talk to the vision seeker before his dreams were interpreted by an Elder; Navajo was keeping to tradition.
Silently the young Teen went about seeing to Ravenhawk's needs and slowly Ravenhawk began to feel better. Ravenhawk had no need to query why or how Navajo found him; he was there and that did not need an answer.
It was early afternoon when Ravenhawk felt well enough to return home; he had his answers and his mission ahead had been set out for him. Ravenhawk slowly followed Navajo down the small cliff face. At the bottom of the small cliff stood his Pinto and Navajo's Paint.
It took little time to gather everything and begin the journey home; Navajo rode silently behind Ravenhawk as they turned westward and back towards the clearing.
The ride back was faster than the one Ravenhawk took to find his vision place. Navajo directed him with gestures as to a more direct route; the young teen did not want to break the Tradition of silence.
It was late in the evening when they topped the ridge behind the clearing; below them they could see the lights of the clearing. Navajo rode ahead until he was looking through the trees at the scene below. Lifting his head high, Navajo sent out a long and very loud ululation to warn the people below they were arriving.
Ten minutes later and they were riding into the clearing; everyone was out to watch his return. Antonio was the first to run up; as he was about to talk, Navajo lifted up his hand to stop him.
Navajo slid from his horse and said to Antonio.
"We must not speak to the vision seeker until he has told his vision to the Elders and had time to send thanks from the sweat lodge."
From behind the two boys, Ravenhawk did not speak, instead he directed his footsteps to the waiting sweat lodge; he would learn later that Lazy Rider had cleaned it ready for him.
This part was not for a sweat but only to give thanks to Creator and the Ancestors for their help and protection. When he finally left the sweat lodge, only about five minutes had passed. Ravenhawk turned to Antonio and the others who were waiting to see him and spoke for the first time.
"We have no Elders; the Ancestors have told me that we must now make new laws for this new time. Firstly I would like to eat, and then we must all meet."
Consuela was busy in her kitchen; although everyone had just finished their meal, they did not want to leave Ravenhawk alone; he had been gone for some time and their interest was piqued.
While Ravenhawk was sitting comfortably at a table waiting for his food, Little Bear rushed up and wrapped his thin arms around him.
"Hello little one, what have you been up to?"
"I went dancing and playing; Poppa Toni was a bit mad at me though."
"Why was he mad at you, little one?"
"Well...uhm... I forgot to tell him I was going."
"To the place."
Ravenhawk thought it was like pulling teeth to get the full story out of Little Bear.
"Poppa Tanka's place." Little Bear made it sound as though everyone should know where that was.
Ravenhawk looked up at Antonio as he sat on the other side of the table. Just then, Consuela arrived with a heaped plate of hot food and placed in front of Ravenhawk; she looked at the half starved boy and said one word.
Consuela turned and went back to her kitchen. Ravenhawk set about the meal, he had not forgotten Little Bears story, but his stomach needed more food; a large glass of water was placed in front of him.
Ravenhawk looked up at Antonio between mouthfuls.
"What's Little Bear been up to?"
"He went away early one morning and forgot to tell anyone; we tried finding him until finally Joseph went out to track him. They were away for three days; they only got back last night. The little fellow was fast asleep in Joseph's arms when they got here."
"Has he told you anything about his little journey?"
"Nothing except he was safe because this Poppa Tanka was watching over him. All I can get is he had to go so he could learn to dance properly."
"Well he's back all safe now. I'll ask Joseph about it later. There's just so much going on it's hard to keep track of it all. We need to have a meeting with everyone here. When I finish eating can you send someone over to the ranch house for the others?"
"Yes, I'll get someone on their way now."
"Has Liam returned yet?"
"No, not yet; he should not be too far away."
"Ok good, I'll give you all a quick update then the rest when he gets back as some of it concerns him as well."
Antonio nodded and then went to find someone to get the boys from the ranch. Ravenhawk ate everything off the plate and, if it had not been for the tight feeling around his waist, he might have asked for more.
It was another half an hour before the three boys from the new ranch arrived; Ravenhawk looked up at them and smiled as they came through the door.
Each of the three went to congratulate Ravenhawk on his return then found somewhere to sit as Ravenhawk got ready to speak. There was silence in the large dining room as Ravenhawk rose to his feet and looked around.
"I have spoken with the spirits of my Ancestors and they have told me I should take up the mantel of Chief as you wish me too. There is also more but we will have to wait for the others to return as it also concerns them. For now we should make ready and do what we can to celebrate the event once they arrive."
Ravenhawk sat down and watched as the others began to smile and chat; it seemed that now they had a leader and things were slowly going to go back to something resembling normal. Ravenhawk felt himself yawn widely as the last days began to catch up with him, it was time to get some rest.
The preparations for the celebration were put in the capable hands of Joseph and Navajo. It was two days later when they all heard the sound of approaching engines; Liam had returned.
It was a surprise for those gathered in the clearing as the first SUV appeared through the trees; what was more of surprise were the extra three people sitting inside.
One look and Joseph leant in close to Ravenhawk and whispered.
Ravenhawk looked closer at the SUV and had to smile at the comment.
"I don't think so, Brother; he looks far too young and that was a long time ago."
"Still, Brother, he looks like one."
When the SUV pulled to a halt and the other vehicles began to find a place to park; Ravenhawk and those gathered around, watched as the newcomers got out of the vehicle and looked around the clearing.
The newcomers looked strange to some; the boy was about seventeen but looked younger. He looked to be over six feet tall and his skin was as black as the night. Next to the boy were two girls; one obviously the sister of the boy and the other was a slender blonde white girl.
Dean got out of the SUV and was quickly joined by Karl from a small 5 ton truck; on the back of the truck were bundles of what looked to be plastic pipes. They were stacked high and even looked a little unstable but Karl had got them all home.
Liam Junior and Philippe soon had the large big rigs parked where Liam Senior wanted them; there appeared to be a large haul in both of them. Liam senior was driving a fuel tanker; it too was parked tidily beside the others from before.
All the travellers looked tired and ready for a long rest; everyone was red eyed and looked as though they had not slept in some time.
Liam Senior joined the trio of newcomers and said something to them; he then turned to those watching and began the introductions.
"Folks, these are some new friends we met on the road back home. They were broken down about two days from here and had nowhere to go so I invited them to come and see if they like it here. The tall one is Fenton Granger, next to him is his sister Felicia and next to her is her school friend Melissa Hope; I hope you will make them welcome. Right, now where is the food?"
It seemed as though everyone was holding their breath until Liam spoke; suddenly there was a titter of laughter and everyone relaxed and began to welcome the new ones.
Gorge was the first of the little ones to walk up to the tall teen. Looking the teen up and down, he said.
"You're a long way up there, can I grow that big?"
The small boys heavily accented words brought a smile to the new teen; he bent down close to Gorge and said.
"Maybe, if you listen to your mother and eat all your vegetables."
"Ok, Ok, I can do that." Gorge replied as he reached out for the teens hand and began to lead him towards the dining hall followed closely by the boy's sister and friend.
Consuela had done her usual magic, helped ably by a hard working Samuel. The tables were well heaped with food and soon, everyone was eating lunch and the conversation soon went to the upcoming celebration.
It was at this time that Liam senior found out what was going on. Ravenhawk decided it was a good time to divulge the rest of his vision; it was time to form the council.