THE LAST SHAMAN
Little Bears Dancers
The dining room was now filling; with the newcomers taking another of what was once a free table; the noise level grew and the little ones now had others to tell them stories.
During the meal, it came out that the two girls had been in their first year of nursing school; while they did not have the knowledge of doctors they had more medical knowledge than anyone else at the clearing.
It was quickly decided that the next building project would be a small clinic; medicines were no problem as they had collected quite a store for emergencies.
Fenton told them he was still at school and that it was just a small Technical Trade School where he was learning to be an electrician; they all felt he also would be good to have in their home even though he had been training on ways to make green electricity.
At the mention of the virus, everyone hushed as Felicia spoke for the first time; her news did not sound good and where she got her information from was never discussed, but she did seem to be very certain about its validity. At last here was an opportunity to find out why the world was so suddenly struck down.
"The first reports we received." She started. "Came from the doctors; as far as I can tell it was an unknown virus the government had been working on. Due to some mistake, the virus got free and went airborne; by the time they knew about it and started to prepare for inoculations; it had already mutated and turned back on them. There seemed to be no reason why some people got sick and yet it could miss others that were in the same room. From what little I could find out, it had been a military secret weapon; they did not know it could mutate or that it spread so fast. When we got notice at the school of medicine; it was already too late; of the four hundred teachers and students at the halls, Melissa and I were the only ones to walk away. Fenton's school was on the other side of the city; by the time we got there he and only four others were alive. Fenton was sick but not as badly as the others; they all died within hours; Fenton had a high fever then recovered. There were three hundred students and teachers at the trade school; only Fenton walked away."
Felicia fell silent as tears appeared in her eyes; it seemed that seven hundred young people had just disappeared within minutes because of some General wanting to play god; for those of the clearing it gave them some idea of why they were now here; there would never be any closure for those that were lost but now they had some idea of what happened.
After a short silence while everyone tried to put things back in order; Liam senior asked about his school training; the fact he had some little training in green energy systems may come in handy for them all. When Fenton and Liam had finished talking about his schooling and there was a pause in the many conversations. Ravenhawk rose and called for silence; there were things that needed to be said.
When everyone had quietened down; Ravenhawk stood and began.
"As you all know, you have asked me to stand as your chief; during my vision quest, I was told to agree to your wishes; however, there is one thing that must be for me to take up that position; I must work with a council of four. The spirits have decided who those four must be and I would share their names with you now. Unfortunately, if any of the four decide not to take their place beside me; then I will have to stand down as it is the Ancestors that have named them as councillors. Firstly, to my right hand shall sit Liam Senior; it is his wisdom that will keep the balance of my decisions. To the right hand of Liam will be the Warrior, Joseph Two Toes, as there is always a need for a Warrior in these times. On my left hand in the place of a peace keeper is to sit Navajo who will temper all thoughts of war with thoughts of peace. To the left of the peace keeper will sit Antonio; he will be the balance for us all and as all things need balance then his words will steady us. There is one final place; the spirits have said that Little Bear will sit in on council meetings; in the fullness of time he will take the place of Medicine Elder and Leader of the people of the Green Stone Clan."
Ravenhawk had paused for everyone to talk over what had been said, there was now only one more thing to discuss; as far as he knew there was no ceremony for naming a new chief but he wanted to make it something for the others to have meaning; to this end he called Joseph over and began to explain what he thought.
Joseph thought for a few seconds and then smiled, looking at Ravenhawk he said.
"I know just what to do Brother, leave it with me and the night after tomorrow we will have our celebration."
Ravenhawk clapped Joseph on the shoulder in thanks; now they had work to do to find accommodation for the three new comers; it was not as difficult as they thought it would be; Fenton was invited to join Joseph and Samuel until his own cabin could be built. The two girl friends were invited by Margret and Robert to do the same.
Ravenhawk did not let it go unnoticed that the three newcomers had left their own weapons in the SUV as a show of friendship; he smiled at the thoughtfulness of the trio; they would make a good addition to the new clan.
As Joseph moved away to find Samuel, he heard a call behind him.
"Aho Brother; I would speak with you."
Joseph turned around to see Lazy Rider walking towards him; Joseph smiled; as most now knew, Joseph's stern look hid a talent for jokes.
"Aho Comanche; have you lost your horse or were you hungry?"
"No Apache, my horse is safe unless a Chiricahua is near and starving."
"Then what would you speak of?"
"I would ask you for the use of your old Hogan, Navajo and I would like to leave the dining hall for eating; it is not polite to sleep where they work on food."
"For two people the Hogan is small and there is little in there now; perhaps you would both consider using my new cabin and join us until you have one of your own?"
"But I hear you are just recently joined; would your white Berdach not want his privacy at a time such as this?"
"You are now our brothers, he would welcome you as long as you can eat his cooking."
"Then I will accept for us both with our thanks; there is one other thing that needs to be said."
"Yes Brother, I am listening."
"I would go on the hunt with you; with two of us we should be able to keep meat on the tables for all. Navajo was to ask for a small patch of land to plant his corn; he has carried the last seeds of the Hopi corn since the bad times came; he would like to plant them now. He will have great need of their pollen before the summer is done. Who would he ask for the land?"
"There is no one to ask; this is all the land of the Great Mother and is free to use by those of the clan. All he has to do is find the place he wishes to plant the ancient corn and it is his to use. He may want to ask for help to build a fence around the garden; unlike his homelands; here there are many wild animals that would eat his corn before he can harvest it. I am sure there are many who would help him make the fence when he has found the land he wants."
"Then my thanks Brother, I will go and tell him and we will meet at your cabin shortly."
Joseph nodded and turned around just in time to see Samuel walk inside the cabin; the boy's arms were loaded with fresh vegetables from Manuel's garden; Joseph smiled as he watched the slender hips disappear into the new cabin; he sighed and then followed; his work to make a celebration for their new chief would have to wait for a little bit more.
Joseph looked around his new cabin; Samuel was busy at the bench readying food for dinner; their spare bedroom could go to Lazy Rider and Navajo. There was little effort to make an extra bed up in the main room for Fenton; Joseph almost smiled as he thought about the little family of five they had now; although he would have to remember to close their bedroom door each night.
Later that night; after Samuel had returned from his work in the main kitchen; the five new friends sat around the smaller table of the cabin to discuss the upcoming celebrations for Ravenhawk.
None of them had ever heard of a ceremony for making a chief but they wanted this to be something special; it was Ravenhawk that had held them altogether and they thought he deserved some recognition.
The planning went on into the night; while Fenton had little to say, he felt part of the small group as he was also included in the discussion.
It was close to midnight before they all went to their beds; everything had been decided and Joseph smiled widely even though he felt the lateness of the hour. The celebration was going to be a great party.
The next day turned out to be busy for everyone; Navajo went searching for his piece of land for his corn; Joseph and Lazy Rider went out looking for game for the celebration. The two Kelly's took to the hills to find the stream to make their water supply and plan the piping for the new homes.
Margret was happy to have two more girls around which also helped with the half day schooling of the youngest ones each morning. Ravenhawk and Antonio began to plan a small clinic to be built after the celebrations; after some thought, they decided to add a living quarters to the original plan; it would make it easier for the two girls who would run it.
The simple plan for the cabins was resurrected for Lazy Rider and Navajo, after some discussion with Fenton they also found a place he liked for his own cabin. The clearing was now becoming a small village although all the cabins were tucked away among the trees and barely noticeable from the open area.
The vehicle park was now well defined on one side of the clearing; the vehicles that needed storage were under the cover of lean-too's; when winter came they would have to find better covers for them.
Navajo finally found a good place to plant his corn; he wanted to get it into the ground quickly or he would run out of time; it was already at that time of summer where his planting may be touch and go. Navajo also needed to collect other things for the coming winter. The Lavender and Cedar Needles would be hard to find but he was sure they would be around in this fertile place; it would be much easier than back on his home lands.
Navajo called out a prayer before he began to mark out his corn lines; unlike the whites he did not dig up large areas of soil, instead he marked only the lines he would need and then began to open the fresh dark soil along those marked lines.
As he began work on the second line; Navajo felt someone watching him; looking over his shoulder, he saw Philippe and Manuel watching him prepare his ground.
Manuel lifted a hand in greeting and smiled as he called out.
"Can we help you with your planting, if you wish I can get the small back-hoe we use for our garden to help you?"
"Thank you, but I cannot use a machine for this corn; it is for the sacred pollen and there can be no metal used in its planting, as you can see; I use a wooden spade for turning the soil."
"Yes I can see now, well is there something we can help with; our own garden does not need anything done for now and we have time on our hands."
"The Warrior told me that I would need a fence to keep out the wild animals; perhaps you could offer some ideas on how to build one. In my homeland one was not needed, it was so dry that there were few animals to eat the corn."
"A good fence would be little trouble; my Nephew and I will go and collect long willow branches to make a good one for you. How much corn do you plan to plant?"
"I only have about two hundred kernels left; I will plant all of them. I really need the pollen and it is already late for planting; I only pray that there is time for the cobs to form for more seed next year, or this will be the last planting of the ancient corn.
Navajo watched as the pair turned and left, he was still a little surprised how everyone worked so well together. There had been so much death and destruction in the past two years that it was beginning to feel as though it was a good thing that the virus struck. In the past there was little chance of such a variety of different peoples ever coming together for mutual help.
Navajo turned back to his work; he still had five more lines to dig by hand and the old wooden spade did not cut as well as a steel one but he was not going to infect the corn by using metal now that he finally had a place to call his own.
It was well after midday when Navajo finished his preparations; he finally sat down under the shade of a tree and looked at his handiwork; the lines were straight and the soil looked dark and rich; he would have to leave it now for two days so the soil could settle; he would then begin planting.
Manuel and Philippe had been going back and forth and slowly building up a large pile of thin Willow branches; over the next day or so they would have enough to build the fence for the corn. For the next two days Navajo would help then gather and then build the fence.
As he sat and looked around; Navajo became aware of another presence; looking carefully to one side he saw the young white boy they all called, Little Bear. The boy was sitting cross legged alone on the far side of the long straight rows. Navajo could also make out that the boy appeared to be in some sort of trance.
Navajo watched silently as the boy sat and looked to somewhere far away from the here and now; had it been someone not familiar with the spirits, Navajo would have thought the little boy with the marks of the bear was a little simple but; Navajo knew better so he sat and watched.
Manuel and Philippe had come and gone twice as Little Bear sat and communed with his own thoughts, if that was what he was doing. Navajo sat still, it was not long before Little Bear got to his feet and began to strip off his few clothes; all except his small well worn breech cloth.
Navajo became entranced as he watched the little white boy begin to dance; there was no music except for what was in the little boys head. For Navajo it was like watching the very spirits become real; almost instantly he began to recognise the steps of the dance although they were from a time far older than anything Navajo could remember.
After watching for some time and, as Little Bear moved around the perimeter of the garden area; Navajo recognised the steps and movements of both the Heron Dance and his own peoples Corn Dance. All around the cleared garden space was silence; even Manuel and Philippe had stopped coming and going to watch the small boy dance.
Half way through the dance, Little Bear suddenly stopped; it was as though he was made of stone for a few seconds; after the long pause he began again but this time it was a different dance; now he was more like a raven as he short hopped and then bent down so his face was only inches from the ground.
As Navajo and the others watched, Little Bear became like a cheeky raven pecking at the ground for small bugs or other things. The dance went on for another ten minutes; Little Bear became more and more like a cheeky raven in his movements. The three watchers became enthralled by the little boy's actions; it was as though they were in fact watching a small white raven pecking along the newly turned earth lines.
When Little Bear reached the end of the last row, he gave a low bowing motion and then straightened up; looking at the three watchers, he gave his trade mark grin and then picked up his other clothes and walked away into the trees; he had not said a word to any of them.
The three men shook their heads in wonder; even now they were not sure they had seen what they saw. The silence in the small glade was suddenly interrupted by the far off raucous call of two ravens. The three men shook themselves to make sure they were in fact awake.
Manuel and Philippe returned to their work of gathering Willow branches, they worked in somewhat of a dream after witnessing the little boy's dance. Navajo walked to the rows, as he went down the lines; he subconsciously counted the small neat holes in the lines; each one was exactly a foot apart and the correct depth. At the end of the last line he had counted one hundred and ninety seven holes; two days later, as he planted the corn; he was to find it was the exact number of kernels in his pouch.
While he waited the two days for the ground to settle, Navajo along with Manuel and Philippe worked on the wicker fence, the fresh Willow branches easily bending to the right shape to form the hatch work. On the third day, Navajo planted his corn; with that done he was now free to search for the Lavender and Cedar Needles to complete his medicine bag for the upcoming ceremony of the corn blessing.
The ceremony for Ravenhawk was made into quite an event by Joseph. First he had Little Bear perform the Eagle Dance around the sacred circle.
Little Bear was dressed in his small beaded leggings, shirt and his ceremonial moccasins. On his head he had a stiff crest much like a Mohawk haircut; it was tied under his chin with a thin strip of leather and in his right hand was a two feather smudge fan. He began to perform the Eagle Dance; again the little boy seemed to take on the personification of the Great Spirit bird as he moved in a clock wise direction.
When his dance was over Little Bear entered the circle and, with the prayer of fire lighting accompanied by Robert and Peter on their drums to beat out the rhythm; Little Bear lit the central fire.
Everyone was at the ceremony; for those who did not understand the meaning there were those to help them. The community gathered around the outer edge of the sacred circle to watch as Ravenhawk and the four council members walked around the inside after entering from the western direction.
After four circuits to honour all four directions, they all stopped by the sacred fire that Little Bear was tending; it was time for Liam senior to step forward, he had been schooled by Joseph. Placing his hand on Ravenhawk's shoulder he began to tell everyone what was happening.
"We are all gathered here because it was your decision to ask Ravenhawk to be our official leader; those others of us here have been tasked with forming his council. You all know he has been given a task that far exceeds his years and we are lucky his own Grandfather got him ready for this time. We of the council also want him to lead us as our official Medicine Elder, even though he himself says he is not old enough. We have all seen what has happened to the world we knew; now is the time for new thoughts and new ways. Ravenhawk is the only one that still has the ability to contact the old spirits; I say he should take up the mantle of Medicine Elder as well as the Leader or Chief of our new clan. Is there anyone that would disagree with this decision?"
All the answer Liam got was a solid nodding of heads; most had seen enough to accept Ravenhawk as the leader of the clan and, with the addition of the council he now had a solid footing of advisors that they all respected.
After a short moment of silence, Liam continued.
"Then we all agree."
It was a statement and not a question; Liam laid a hand on Ravenhawk's shoulder and turned him around so he could see all the people around the outside of the circle before saying.
"Members of the Green Stone Clan and those we hope will join us; this is Chief Ravenhawk, all have agreed to his position, if there are those who would like to step forward to claim this title now is the time."
No one moved; as Liam took his hand from Ravenhawk's shoulder, Robert and Peter began to play their drums; the beat was light and it portrayed a good feeling for all those gathered around the circle. Ravenhawk was now officially Chief of the Green Stone Clan and also now carried the title of Medicine Elder as well.
There was only one final part to play; as he had been taught by Joseph; Little Bear stood up from the fire and approached Ravenhawk; in his small hands he carried the bark pocket with the single Eagle feather. Looking up at Ravenhawk he asked him to sit; Ravenhawk smiled at his adopted son and did as he was asked.
Little bear stood behind Ravenhawk and, with a small song Ravenhawk had never heard before; Little Bear removed the single Eagle Feather and began to plait it into a few strands of Ravenhawk's hair; the single feather would tell everyone that he had been selected as Chief.
When Little Bear had finished plaiting, he stood back; as he did so there came a loud high pitched screech from far above the clearing. As everyone looked up they could hear the flapping of mighty wings and from above the trees came the figure of a huge Golden Eagle.
The clearing became totally silent as the great bird swooped down towards Ravenhawk with its large sharp talons outstretched towards Ravenhawk; it appeared as though the great bird was about to attack the still sitting teen.
Ravenhawk stayed still; as the great bird drew closer he could see it carried something in its talons; when it was only feet from tearing out Ravenhawk's eyes with its sharp talons; the item it had carried fell from its claws and landed right in Ravenhawk's lap. The great Eagle then turned skyward and swooped above Ravenhawk as it put power into its huge wings; its talons barely scraping a few hairs on Ravenhawk's head.
When the Eagle had disappeared, Ravenhawk looked down at his lap; sitting on his legs was the green and red stone necklace that Little Bear had made a while ago; as he lifted the necklace to place around his neck, Ravenhawk felt his hands slightly tremble; this was a special gift from Creator to mark his new place in the clan. It was also recognition that the spirits were in full agreement.
The party continued well into the night; the next morning there would also be a few sore heads among the older ones. Liam Senior and Manuel still had a good supply of beer and tequila stashed away.
For more than a week everyone was busy; there were new cabins to build. There was also a more detailed plan for the water supply to be drawn up and Fenton had made a list of his needs to create both wind and water power.
By the end of the second week, the two new cabins were complete and the last finishing touches were being made to the clinic. Fenton had worked hard on running new wires for the cabins lighting. Even with the size of the large generator, there was not enough power to supply more than lighting for all the cabins.
Fenton had worked hard to simplify it all as much as he could. All cabins were heated or did their cooking with open fires or small gas bottle cookers; the only power used for anything other than lighting was for the freezers in the main dining room kitchen.
It was late in the day when Navajo first heard the high pitched whooping sound and then saw the two riders coming towards him. He had been at his garden and was slowly walking back to his new cabin in the trees. He had been amazed at how quickly his corn was growing, but now he had something else to fill his mind.
The riders were coming from the north; the one in the lead Navajo thought he recognised. Behind the leader was another rider but he had a travois attached to his horse; on the travois was what looked like another person or persons.
Navajo slipped the rifle from his shoulder; everyone carried a fire arm these days; even the two girls at the clinic had side arms. As the times got harder for others, there would be more need to keep a watch for trouble.
Navajo carried his rifle at the ready as he turned towards the two riders and their cargo. He was about a hundred metres away when he recognised for certain who they were.
The lead horse was being ridden by one of the Shoshone boys; he had a bloody bandage wrapped around his left calf. Behind the leader was one of the Cheyenne boys; he also had a bandage wrapped around his upper arm; Navajo ran towards them, they looked in a bad way and he did not want to waste time waiting for them.
When he came up to them, he could plainly see they were not doing too well.
"Aho Brothers, what happened?"
The Shoshone answered in a slightly weak voice.
"Aho Brother, we were ambushed yesterday afternoon; all the others are dead, we only managed to save Silas and Walks-slow but they are badly wounded."
"I will run ahead and warn the others, you try to get to the clearing as fast as you can so they can be looked at in the clinic."
The boy nodded and increased the pace slightly as Navajo turned and ran for the clearing; he did not stop to look at the two on the travois; he didn't have time for that. Running at full speed he would be in the clearing and at the clinic in ten minutes.
The hurried arrival of Navajo soon had those in the clearing looking up with concern. Most things in the new community were done at a sedate and casual pace; to see one of their own in such a hurry boded ill.
Navajo ran straight for where Ravenhawk and Joseph were sitting as they discussed the upcoming summer solstice ceremony; it was only a week away.
The two looked up at the red face of Navajo as he caught his breath. It took only seconds for Navajo to relate what he had seen and heard; within a minute there were six men on the run towards where Navajo had last seen the returnees from the north.
It was another thirty minutes before those four from the north were back safely in the camp; Felicia and Melissa were soon bent over the two seriously injured lying on the travois; the two horse-back riders were helped down by Joseph and Robert who had just arrived from his cabin.
Liam Senior made a little space around the travois for the two girls to work in undisturbed; it did not take a doctor to see that Silas was in a very bad way;
Silas had two rough bandages wrapped around him, one was around his chest from shoulder to the lower rib cage, it showed three dark red spots where blood had seeped through. By far the worst one as around his abdomen, it showed far more blood than the upper one.
The once well built and healthy looking Sioux now looked pale and drawn; he also had a raging fever. Liam saw the look of despair on the faces of the two young girls; everything pointed to Silas last few hours.
For Walks-slow it was not as bad; his bandage covered his brow but he was unconscious and did not respond to touch or sound; the teen was evidently in a coma induced by the bullet that had hit him in the temple; although fortunately for him it had been a deep but glancing shot.
Both the other boys; after an inspection by the girls; proved to have through and through wounds although they needed some rest and antibiotics before any infection was to set in.
The community wasted little time in finding places for all four to rest; the clinic had only three beds so two were allocated for Silas and Walks-slow; the two remaining boys said they would share the third bed for now.
No one asked any questions, there would be time for that when the boys were feeling better; for now their needs had to be met. Only Liam senior worried about what this could mean; Navajo had given him a very brief report on what the Shoshone boy had told him. Liam sighed as he watched the two young girls work on the two riders.