The Prince of House Vladd
Copyright © 2011, 2015 by Arthur
Copyright © 2011, 2015 by Arthur
Two weeks had passed since the attempted surveillance, Peter and his people had been busy making arrangements in case they were attacked. News broadcasts carried more and more disturbing news as President Carabine began to put his own plans into action. At first it was aimed only at the red necks and those who wanted a purity of the races.
President Carabine had stood up in the Congressional House and demanded that those who were truly Christian should rise up and destroy all heathens, impure blood lines, also, all and any who showed signs of devil worship, he was God’s messenger and, as he held aloft his white covered copy of the bible with the large red cross on its front cover, he demanded that all those that would not follow Gods will should be banished to the fiery pits of hell where they could live their lives amid the smell of brimstone and putrescence which was all they deserved.
This speech was broadcast on all channels and many of the religious denominations ran to join his cause, the radicals made good work of the fiery speech and set about to form small groups that could go around the country looking for those that displeased or ignored Gods will and the will of President Carabine.
Peter set all his plans in motion, all his accounts were moved off shore, any buildings not in use were disposed of; all his assets were made ready for a time when he would have to leave with his people for a safer place. It had been an easy task to combine the needs of his people and those of South America; even to the south they could see what was going to happen to their Northern cousins, this was a return to the days of the crusades and the inquisitions of old, even the recent memories of Hitler did not deter the men who wanted the whole country to return to Christian ways.
Only a small number of the Vaga houses wanted to stay, of these, Peter put his old friend Jake to work in reinforcing their buildings as best they could, the first signs of Carabine’s pogrom were in the southern states, small bands of the so called ‘true believers’ began to hunt anyone who was different, Moslems were one of the first targets, then it spread to the smaller ethnic groups, slowly the groundswell grew, the Police made only token efforts to stop the pockets of trouble but most were under orders to leave well enough alone.
Within two months of Carabine’s fiery outburst there were larger and larger communities joining the battle to protect all the Christians values that the good book laid out, Mosques, Synagogues, and small country chapels that held services for African Americans, all came under the attacks of the True Believers.
Most attacks were carried out under darkness but slowly, from the first burnings of houses of worship it did not take long before the first of the attacks on the peoples them selves began, Imam, Rabbi, and Pastors were all becoming fair game, by the end of the second month, anyone who was different was under threat and so, the fires grew.
Peter along with the other Council members, began to evacuate as many of the folk as they could, using every private plane they could lay their hands on, they sent their folk southward to prepared sites, all the Council had agreed to be the last to leave apart from the Vaga that wanted to stay
All movements were done quietly, each plane load left from different airports under the guise of vacation trips or business trips, many, such as the Avians, took their own way in the dark of night, others travelled by car or bus, slowly the long held centres of the folk emptied, mostly it was not noticed by anyone as in a country of 250 million, 10,000 were hardly noticed.
Peter had had no other visits from the snoops, the story had been leaked about five men being overcome by a den of snakes during their mating season, the men had accidently stumbled into the dry river bed in the night while out hunting and had not realised where they were before the snakes had bitten them all, Peter smiled at the cover-up by Carabine’s spin doctors.
When the first attack came on House Vaga, Peter asked Torson if he would reconsider moving but the head of the house said he had no other home and his family was still here, he had to stay, Peter could only wish him good luck and set about making his own people safe, finally he knew it was time to leave, there had been a number of surveillance missions by the authorities as well as militia groups of cross wielding fanatics.
The first of the riots started in Harlem, the streets became the scene of pitched battles between ethnic groups, each trying to maintain their own superiority, the Police were practically useless as the numbers swarming into the streets were to great for them to turn back or control, at last, this was what Carabine had been waiting for, within days, every city had troops on the streets, all those serving overseas were recalled to help in quelling the uprisings, on the evening of the 4th of July, President Carabine declared a state of emergency, the country was now under Martial Law, it was time for Peter and his people to move to their new homes.
As the announcement of Martial Law was made, Peter set into motion his plans for his staff to be evacuated, only his own personal guards along with Swiftwing and Quetz would travel in a car, it had been Quetz idea, he had asked and almost begged Peter to take him to Houston Texas, he had insisted he had to go there before leaving the country, Peter, mindful of the words he had heard, decided to follow the boys request, it would be more dangerous than flying but the boy was insistent.
The large limo pulled out of the gateway for what could be the last time, although Peter and his friends well knew that they would outlive any plans Carabine had and had a good chance to return sometime in the future when Carabine’s influence waned and he was finally deposed but the way things were going that could be some time to come.
In the front of the limo sat Levi, Caleb and Jason, in the rear were Mbeda and Sin Yu along with Swiftwing and Peter, little Quetz was curled up on Swiftwing’s lap, he was asleep only minutes after the limo pulled out of the empty compound, the gates were closed for the last time and they set out southward.
Three times they had to stop before sunrise so that Sin Yu, Steven and Mbeda could get inside for the daylight hours but finally they arrived out the outskirts of Houston, they had two hours before sunrise and Peter instructed that they should find a small Motel to stay in until they were ready to leave for the border and safety.
As the sun rose, Quetz began to get nervous, when Peter asked him what was wrong, the little boy went into one of his funny states, his eyes glazed over and his skin began to shine again, the older teen voice came from his small mouth.
''“My lord, you must take the boy to the fountain in the middle of the park, his destiny awaits there”''
As suddenly as it had come, the glazed look disappeared and Quetz was back to his normal self.
“Are we going out now Daddy P?”
“Yes Quetz, just wait for your Daddy S to change and get ready then we can go.”
Quetz sat quietly while Swiftwing showered and changed his clothes, the three night walkers were well protected by Levi as they slept in a darkened bedroom, Caleb would drive the limo for the others, Caleb went out to the reception office and looked for a map of the city, it didn’t take long for him to find the park with Houston’s famous walled fountain, it would take the best part of half an hour to get to it.
Caleb had been wrong, not realising that they would be in the middle of peak hour traffic, it took nearly the best part of an hour to reach the park, with consummate ease, Caleb parked the limo near the curb and waited inside while Peter, Swiftwing and Quetz got out and looked into the center of the park, the fountain was instantly recognisable although it looked more like a large wall of water resembling a true waterfall than a fountain, it was built in a large curve, the back wall was fronted with three arches on a red brick facing.
To one side of the small steps in front stood a man and a boy of about ten years old, the man was wearing a black leather jacket, jeans and a bright red shirt, he had one hand firmly on the boys shoulder and was busy looking around the people in the park, his eyes were covered with dark glasses and his demeanour was that of a hawk watching for its prey.
The moment Quetz saw the two people he went into a frenzy of tugging and pulling to try and get away from Peter. Peter pulled him easily beside him.
“What’s wrong Quetz? Take it easy.”
“It’s him, it’s him, let me go I want to go to him.”
“Who is it, what do you mean, It’s him?”
“Tezcatlipoca, my Tezca, he’s here, please let me go to him.”
Stunned by the boys insistence, Peter let go of his hand and walked quickly behind him as the small boy rushed towards the other boy, as he moved forward with Swiftwing by his side, Peter read the man and boy, what he saw was a surprise to him, as he looked the boy over he saw the very distinct features that confirmed his suspicions.
Quetz was now running full out, as he neared the other boy he jumped and almost knocked the boy over as he clasped his small thin legs and arms around the boys chest and waist and snuggled his blonde head into the dark boys neck, his small voice could barely be heard as he hung on with all his strength.
As Peter and Swiftwing got up to the strangers, the man stood up and glared angrily at the two teen looking boys as well as the small boy holding onto his nephew, these boys were not customers and he had little time to waste or he might miss a chance with some adult who liked his boys young, as he was about to bark out a challenge to the teens, the darker boy spoke first.
“Not a word, Romani, your folk still owe us allegiance.”
“Who?...who are you,... I owe no man allegiance save my own people.”
“I am Prince Vladd of the House of Vladd the Impaler, your people owe us allegiance, do you deny this, Romani?”
The man stood and looked at Peter, he then saw the fangs begin to appear from the teens lips, with instant recognition, the man went to one knee and held up his hand for Peter to take in a back handed grip, much like that used in arm wrestling, swiftly the man kissed the back of Peters hand, Peter then raised the mans hand to his own lips and did the same, as he kissed the back of the mans hand he bit lightly into the flesh and drew a few drops of the mans blood, the man never moved.
“My Lord, how may I serve you?”
“The boy, who is he?”
“My Nephew, my Lord.”
“And he is here to be sold by you, is that right?”
“Yes my Lord, it is all we have.”
“Where are your family?”
“We are living nearby, my Lord.”
“Do you know what is happening in this country now?”
“Yes my Lord, but what can we do?”
“Does the boy have a mark on his back?”
The man looked stunned at Peter’s question.
“Why, yes, my Lord, but how did you know about that?”
“How did he get it, Romani?”
“A client, my Lord, he took the boy for a week and when the boy came back he had the tattoo on his back, I must admit it is beautiful workmanship but it is a very strange design.”
“Let me look at it.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
The Romani turned to his nephew.
“Put the boy down Tesla and remove your shirt, let his Lordship see your design.”
Peter had to tell Quetz to let go of the boy before he could slowly, and with a certain amount of embarrassment, remove his tee shirt and turn around, what Peter saw was almost spectacular, across the boy’s shoulders and part way down his back was the most beautiful tattoo he had ever seen, the line work was very fine and detailed, the colours of red, yellow, blue and orange were clear and striking, it was obvious to anyone with a little knowledge that the figure on the boy’s back was from the ancient South American tribes, Peter, once he saw the tattoo now knew that it was of course Toltec, they had found the boy that would be part of Quetz life.
“The boy will come with us, you will be compensated with enough cash to return to your own country but don’t delay, this place is going to erupt very soon so get your family away.”
“Yes, my Lord, it shall be done, boy, you go with his Lordship, you are to obey him in all things, understand?”
The thin dark boy nodded his head and looked at Peter with a little fear in his eyes, it was all too strange, first a little boy jumps him and calls him names he didn’t understand, and now, his uncle is giving him away to a couple of teen boys forever, this was indeed a strange day in Tesla’s life, he began to wonder what he would have to do with these teens, he didn’t mind the old men, they looked after him well but, when he went with a younger guy they were really bad too him, Tesla looked at the odd couple again, there wasn’t much he could do about it for now, maybe he would get a chance to escape later before they hurt him too much.
Returning to the Limo the four sat in the back as Caleb drew away from the curb and turned towards their Motel, Tesla sat opposite the other three staring at the little boy as though mesmerised, suddenly, Quetz jumped to his feet and dived for Tesla’s lap as he landed he sat facing Tesla’s chest, without further delay he lent in and quickly sank his small canines into the boys upper shoulder close to his neck.
Instantly, Tesla went rigid, his eyes grew unfocussed and began to cloud over as his breathing stopped, before either Peter or Swiftwing could react, Tesla let out a joyful cry as he looked deeply into Quetz young face.
“Quetzalli, you found me, I’ve waited for ever and now you’re here.”
Tesla leant forward and planted a deep kiss on Quetz lips and pulled him tighter into the hug, Quetz sighed deeply and nestled into the warm arms of his long lost Tezcatlipoca, now they were whole again, the god of good and beauty with the god of war and destruction, the two halves of one whole, now there could be balance again.
Peter and Swiftwing could only sit and watch the two young boys, around them a force seemed to project calm and finality, it was time to move south, there was a lot of danger still around them and they would have to move fast now the two were together again after such a long time.
Peter studied the boy more closely as they drove towards the Motel, he had the typical high cheek bones and slightly slanted eyes of the Slavs, his skin was more eastern Mediterranean in its swarthiness, the eyes were dark and flashing as was his jet black hair that shone in the sunlight, his mouth was full and held a slight pout to the lips, the nose was straight and fine, he had the body of a typical adolescent but was in the first stages of beginning to fill out, the boy was, even to Peter’s eyes, quite good looking, he would never match his Swiftwing, but the boy was good looking and seemed the perfect opposite of Quetz’s pale blonde looks, as the two boys sat beside each other a light seemed to shine right through their skin, even now, Peter could see no aura around either boy.
That night they left Houston and drove southward towards the Mexican border, the country became more barren and desolate, vacant spaces showing large cacti and scrub bush were being seen more and more, Peter turned to look at Swiftwing as he heard a deep sigh from his mate.
“What is it, love?” Peter asked.
“It’s like coming home, but I’ve never been down here before, I was raised by my Grandfather up in Colorado as you know, but somehow this seems to be more of a home than it was there.”
“Could it be a lost memory from your people from before? I have heard the Apache inhabited a lot of the southern lands and they went right down into Mexico in the old days.”
“It could be; I’ll have to go out into the desert tomorrow and see if I can find a path to the past, I may be away all day and if I haven’t found the way I will have to stay out for the night as well.”
“Ok, I understand, we’ll be across the border in another two hours if nothing goes wrong, then we’ll have to find a place for the others during the sunlight hours, you take all the time you need, once we’re safe in Mexico we can take our time to the Yucatan.”
Swiftwing hugged his mate and rested his head on Peter’s shoulder as the Limo moved ever closer to the safety of the border, his eyes were on the two small boys that were now laying in each others arms as they slept the sleep of the innocent, like Peter, Swiftwing could still not see any aura around the two boys, this puzzled him as he had an advantage even over Peter, when it came to auras.
Swiftwing’s ancestors went back for thousands of years, most had been Shamans and now he was the last of his long line, his ability with birds and animals came from generations of listening to the Creator and all his or her small friends, the Eagle, the Raven, the Bear and Coyote along with many more, all things came from the Creator, even the special power that Swiftwing held within himself.
His Grandfather, Eagle Wing, had been the highest ranked Shaman of his time, as if a sudden bolt of lightening had hit him, Swiftwing saw in his minds eye, the life of the old Apache, the surrounding land became familiar as his mind saw through the mists of time until he could see figures in the mist, young men running fast over the rough terrain, they were dressed the same as Swiftwing preferred to be, breach-clout and moccasins with a loose shirt held at the waist by a beaded belt, their hair long and flowing under a head band of cloth, some carried spears, others bows, and some even carried ancient rifles as they glided over the ground in the way of spirit people, suddenly Swiftwing was brought back to the here and now as he felt a nudge from Peter.
“Wha...what is it?”
“The border, where have you been, you’ve been out of it for two hours?”
“I don’t know, it’s this land, it seemed to trigger something deep inside.”
“Well my love, let’s get this over with, it doesn’t look to busy and the border patrol look tired.”
The Limo pulled up at the border office and waited as three customs officers came towards the car, the officer in the lead was middle aged and looked as though he would rather be home in bed instead of out here working, Levi lowered the drivers window and waited for the officer, it was then that Peter realised he didn’t have a passport or any form of ID for the two young boys, how the hell had he forgotten something so valuable, he quickly leaned over to Sin Yu and explained what he would have to do and why, Sin Yu just nodded his head and surreptitiously eased the door open a crack.
As the door moved, one of the other officers saw it and started towards the rear door, his hand on the weapon by his side as he gave a small shout to the other two officers, immediately the other two also placed their hands on their side arms as they looked at the long limo, it was then they noticed the youth of the people inside, at this stage they had not been able to see the two small boys.
The older officer called to Levi.
“Step out of the car, Sir?”
With consummate ease and calm, Levi opened the door and stepped out.
“Put your hands on the roof of the vehicle Sir?”
Levi followed the instructions, a small smile on his face as he did so.
“Now, the rest of you get out of the vehicle one at a time and place your hands on the roof along side you buddy!”
Slowly, one by one, the others left the Limo until all but the two boys were outside, Peter began to turn around to ask why they were being treated this way when one of the younger officers grabbed him by the back of the neck and roughly pushed his face down onto the car roof, Sin Yu reacted in the only way he knew when his Prince was threatened.
In less than a second both young officers bodies were laying headless on the concrete pad, the older officer was staring at the wicked looking sword that had appeared from nowhere in the youths hands as the blood of his workmates flowed out onto the pad, he hadn’t even had time to draw his side arm before the sword was at his throat, suddenly a soft young voice was heard.
“Leave him Sin Yu.”
“Yes, my lord, as you wish.” Sin Yu said as he took a half step back from the last man.
Peter turned to the last officer, after quickly removing the mans side arm he spoke to him.
“I’m sorry this had to happen, my friend is a little over protective at times, we are going to Mexico, we want you to let us through and you won’t be harmed, we don’t have much time so the sooner you open the gate for us the sooner you can attend to you co-workers, again I am sorry for what happened.”
Stunned the officer could only obey the command, Caleb appeared with all the passports in his hand, taking the officer by the elbow, he led the man to the office and watched as the man stamped the exit visas, Caleb then returned to the Limo where the others had got back in and were waiting for him, as soon as he was seated Levi put the Limo into gear and they rolled through the now open gate and into Mexico.
One hundred metres away was the Mexican customs hut, outside were three bored and tired guards, as the Limo pulled to a halt, a young man stepped from the shadows, instantly, the boys saw his aura, he was a Vampire, he looked to be newly turned and his aura was still fresh and pale, he looked to be about sixteen, as the boy looked over the Limo and its occupants, his eyes settled on Sin Yu, suddenly he gave a broad smile at the other boy and slid his hand down his front in a familiar gesture.
Peter heard Sin Yu gulp and then he let a smile form on his lips as he looked the other Vampire over and a small blush, as much as a Vampire can blush, worked its way over his cheeks, Peter gave an artificial sounding cough and looked at the boy again.
“And who are you?”
“I am Angel, I am here to meet the Prince Vladd, and my sire wishes to extend his hospitality to him.”
“I am Prince Vladd, and who is your Sire, young one?”
“Don Pedro Santee, Senor.”
“Then thank you, we will accept his kind invitation, will you take us to him?”
The youth then talked rapidly to the border guards and the boys passports were quickly stamped and they along with Angel, left the border post, the drive took only half an hour and then they were driving through the tall adobe walls of a hacienda, Peter noticed there were few guards around the grounds, most were young looking as most Vampires were but their auras showed that many of them had been around for a long time.
Peter smiled at Angel, he had noticed that somehow, Angel had managed to sit next to Sin Yu and was trying to make sure his leg touched the other boy, Sin Yu looked to be a little embarrassed but made no attempt to stop the younger teen, Peter thought that maybe, just maybe, Sin Yu had found someone to take the place of his lost lover, Dmitri, he would have to wait and see how it developed before offering a place in his house for the young teen.
Standing at the top of the steps leading into the Hacienda was a young looking teen but his aura told Peter and the others that their host was well over six hundred years old although he looked no more than fourteen, his dark eyes were flashing with humour as he saw his guests arrive.
“Prince Vladd, welcome to my humble home.” The man said as the boys got out of the Limo, the fact that his boy Angel seemed glued to one of his visitor’s side did not go unnoticed by Don Pedro, his old mind began to work in its usual way, maybe there was a way to get into the Princes good graces if things went well with Angel.
Peter held out his hand to the Don.
“Thank you for having us, Don Pedro, but how did you know we were coming this way?”
“Ah, that wasn’t too hard, your friend Ramon Delgardo asked us all on the border to keep a watch for you and offer any assistance we could, he said you have a very special boy with you and he should be guarded at all costs.”
“I see, well it’s actually, two boys but we still are not sure what it’s all about yet.”
“Well again, welcome, please come inside, if any of your people are hungry, I have a cellar available for you if needed.”
Don Pedro led the new arrivals into his house and through to the lounge room, there he had them sit and take a rest from their travels, it was there he got his first look at the small sleeping boy in the Indians arms, another slightly older boy was hanging onto the Indians other hand, both boys seemed to stay very close to the Indian and the Prince.
Don Pedro set his house staff to preparing rooms for his guests as he sat and stared hard at the Indian, he was now sure that the boy was the consort of the Prince and that he was more than he seemed at first glance, his aura was a mixture of blue and green with the green being the strongest, it meant only one thing, the boy was or had been a Shaman, Don Pedro decided to try and learn more about this Prince of one of the oldest houses of the folk.
“My Lord, if I may ask, what is the reason for the sudden move of all your people southward?”
“Don Pedro, I’m sure you have been watching what has been going on in the states, we feel it’s time to move to safer ground, there’s going to be trouble there like never before, we’ve made plans and most of our people are already south.”
“Well My Lord, if there’s anything I can do, please ask; may I also ask about the Princes consort?”
“Swiftwing; why would you be interested in my partner; Don Pedro?”
“No offence intended My Lord, but as you know I have been around for a long time, in the past there were many Indians around here, your consort has the features of the Mescalero, we had a lot of trouble from them, there are still some descendants living high up in the Mesa south of here.”
Peter turned to Swiftwing, the look on his lovers face said it all, it was a cross between wonder and relief, it looked as though Swiftwing had finally found someone who might be able to fill in some of the gaps his Grandfather had left in his past history, Peter let Swiftwing take over.
“Don Pedro, what can you tell me of them?” Swiftwing asked the old Vampire.
“Well, I must stress that in those times, things were different, I am from the first true stock of Conquistadors that landed in the Americas, I was turned by a Vampire from further south, they were of the Toltec, since then I have watched and seen all the turmoil that has taken over this land. At first it was just an adventure and then it became a matter of survival, many of the Indian tribes around here were not happy to see us, at that time I was a bit of an outcast from my people, I soon became a pariah among my people when they saw I was not aging like them and that I was not seen during the daylight hours, I always volunteered for night duties. Soon they were getting older and I was still the same, when they cast me out, I spent weeks travelling around until I finally stumbled on a ceremony in the night, it was a group of Indians, they had the ability to change their appearance, they called themselves, Skin Walkers.”
The Don paused and looked at the young group, with a deep breath, he continued.
“They didn’t like it too much when I saw them but when they saw my fangs drop and my eyes change; they seemed to relax and continued on with their ceremony. As the sun got closer to rising I was desperate to find somewhere to hide, much to my surprise, one of the younger Skin Walkers took me to a small cave and gestured I should stay there for the daylight hours, he returned as the sun died and it was then they began to show me around the land. They were all Mescalero; they were a very proud and warlike people, great warriors and even better at living in harsh environments. Over the centuries, I saw them rise and fall as a nation, in the 1800’s some had to move away Northward, the pressure of civilisation was catching up to them, the new owners of these lands became known as Mexicans, most were a hybrid of Spanish and Indian, the old families became Dons and were said to be the true settlers, the Mescalero were seen as no more than a vermin and a hindrance, the settlers went out to eradicate them, they found it was not as easy as they thought.”
Again Don Pedro paused in his story, he could see the consort was fascinated by this slant on history and to have it related by someone who had lived through it brought a renewed hope that he would find some of his own people, Don Pedro continued.
“Over many years, long before Santana tried to invade Texas, the local tribes were subject to raids on their homes and tribes, slowly the tribes split up and disappeared into the mountains and arroyo of the barren lands, there they formed small tight knit fighting groups, they were a valiant and vicious fighter, not being fools, they knew they could not fight as others did with large numbers so they became the first true guerrillas, they raided both north and south of the border, some went off on their own and formed small mixed blood gangs of what the Mexican authorities called, Comanchero’s, these men were particularly vicious and unfortunately most Apache were painted with the same brush as the Comanchero. Now days there are only small pockets of the Mescalero left, most of them were assimilated into the Comanche and Sioux tribes and a few went further north, the ones who are still here are few and far between, and so, My Lord, that is the history of your consorts people, I though he might want to know what little I could pass on, we all like to find our past at some time in our lives.”
Peter nodded his understanding and watched as Swiftwing rose to his feet, while it had been a long night, Swiftwing wanted to go out and feel the land around him, he had to commune with the creator and find peace within himself, with a nod of understanding of Swiftwing’s needs, Peter watched as the boy left the room and went towards the front door, Don Pedro spoke to Peter.
“My Lord, I hope I have not upset your Consort, it was not my intent.”
“No Don Pedro, he has always wanted to know more about his past but had no one to ask, he needs time now to let his mind and body settle after all the news, I’m sure he will thank you when he has found his way.”
The Don nodded his understanding and then, with a gesture of a true host, asked if his guests would like to retire for the day, Peter’s guards were by now beginning to feel the effects of the nearing sunrise and were happy to take advantage of a dark place for the rest of the day, Peter also led the two boys too another room where they could rest, Swiftwing would be alright on his own, it was after all, his own land in a distant sort of way.
Swiftwing left the Hacienda behind as he walked out into the barren landscape, his head was full of feelings and thoughts as he made his way further and further into the nothingness, when he came to a high steep wall in a deep arroyo, something told him to climb, with his renewed abilities, the climb was not difficult although, had a normal person been watching it would have seemed impossible, once at the top of the arroyo he saw he was now on a large plateau, its stone jumbled surface was interspersed with small round cacti and creosote scrub, his sharp hearing could detect the sounds of the desert life around him.
Swiftwing stopped and looked around, something inside him told him to change into his true clothes, taking the small pack off his back that he had always kept close, he stripped naked and then reclothed himself in the small breach-clout and moccasins, next he pulled his single braid apart and rebound it into two separate braids letting one fall on each side of his shoulders, he then took his bead necklace and donned it then wrapped the beaded belt of his Grandfather around his waist, when he was finished he stood and looked towards the center of the escarpment, a large pile of huge rocks made up a separate mound and stood above the flatness of the surrounding landscape, Swiftwing moved in it’s direction as though something was pulling him there.
Swiftwing stood at the start of the huge rock pile, for several minutes he just stood and looked upward, there seemed to be no apparent path through the jumbled rocks but he stood and waited, something told him to stay where he was until it was time, time for what, he didn’t know so he just stood and stared at the rocks.
He had no idea of how long he stood and waited but the first sign of anything happening came to him almost as a shock, on a large flat rock, no more than a foot in front of his face, rose up a large Diamond Back Rattle snake, it’s head was centred in its coils but it was not being aggressive in any way, suddenly, beside the snake appeared a Bark Scorpion, the most deadly of all scorpions, not only was it deadly but this one was as big as his hand, it was very unusual to be such a size and Swiftwing could not remember ever hearing of one being so big, it raised up on its legs and looked as though it was being threatening, Swiftwing could not move, he watched as the Scorpion lowered itself back on the rock, it then circled three times and scuttled away towards the centre of the rocks, Swiftwing stood and watched, within seconds the Scorpion was back and followed the same ritual, on the third time, Swiftwing thought he understood.
Looking again at the coiled snake, Swiftwing decided to follow the strange acting Scorpion, he passed within inches of the Rattler and it made no move to attack, as he moved forward a small hidden path became apparent, with quick glimpses of the Scorpion he followed up the path until the Scorpion reared itself once again and disappeared from sight.
Swiftwing found himself in a small circle of stones, in the centre was the remains of an old fire, beside the fire was a very old and worn bead necklace along with a stone pipe, resting on the pipe, as though the wind had thrown them there, were two large tail feathers from an Eagle, Swiftwing felt a phantom hand pressing on his shoulders and so he sat on the ground in front of the fire pit.
Swiftwing closed his eyes and let the land around him fill him with strength, in his mind he heard old songs of those long passed into the realm of the Creator, Swiftwing let his mind and body become one with the land around him, the presence of the spirits of old were all around him, some with suspicion, others with a feeling of welcome, Swiftwing stayed without moving, this was a sacred place and he had been invited by the old ones to come and find his way.
Unknown to Swiftwing, the sun died and the night came in around him and still he sat and listened to the songs and stories of the old ones, twice more the sun rose and died and twice more the darkness surrounded him and the stories and songs continued, he saw himself standing on these rocks dressed as he now was but with an added long red shirt, a cloth band around his long black hair that held two large Eagle feathers, at his waist was a wide belt with a sharp knife and in his hands was an old musket, he was looking down at the far off arroyo and watching the thin line of blue coats from the north hunting for him, then, the image faded and he was still dressed the same but this time it was a large troop of Federales looking for him, the picture faded again and he was looking up at the stars above and the face of a warrior appeared to him and sang a death song before fading into the stars again.
On the fourth morning Swiftwing was brought back to the present with the sound of an old voice, as he opened his eyes he saw, sitting opposite him, an old man, his braids were tied the same as Swiftwing’s, his face was lined with the deep marks of age and knowledge, the hair was as white as snow and the face was of one who had seen and learnt much, the sharp dark eyes looked steadily at the young Shaman and the large beak of a nose drew in deep slow breathes.
“I see you, young Shaman.”
“I see you old Father.”
“The spirits have talked to you?”
“They have, old Father.”
“And did you find what you seek?”
“I have found much that I was seeking, old Father.”
“Then you may take up the necklace of all people, the pipe of dreaming and the Eagle feathers of bravery, wear them so all will know you are protected by the Creator, your future is long and dangerous but you walk with the old ones.”
Swiftwing looked at where the old man had been sitting and saw only a large Bark Scorpion scuttling away into a rocky crevice, without another though he carefully picked up the items from the ground and reverently placed them in his small pack, Swiftwing then rose and although he could feel the need to feed he turned from the circle and carefully made his way back to the beginning of the rock pile.
It was close to midday before he saw the gates of the Hacienda in the distance, with quickening steps he started into a quick jog and was soon at the gates, as he entered he saw Peter and the two boys waiting for him on the steps, Swiftwing smiled at his ever patient lover and the delight he saw on the two small boys faces.
Peter immediately detected Swiftwing’s need to feed, his lover had been gone for more than three days and, while he always worried a little for his lover, he also knew that Swiftwing had other things that needed doing that were just as important as his partner, Peter opened his arms to Swiftwing as both boys tried to take first place as well, Swiftwing hugged them all equally and then with a longing look at Peter, he said.
“I need to feed my love.”
“I know, Don Pedro has some men under the Hacienda, he’s sent one of his boys to get one for you, did you find everything you were looking for?”
“Yes, and much more, I’ll tell you about it later but for now I’m starving.”
Peter gave Swiftwing one more long hug and then let him go to feed, they had years to be together so there was no hurry to find out why his partner had been gone for so long, Peter took the two boys by the hand and led them back into the Hacienda, their other dad had returned and they were happy, they were also very hungry and there was no ice cream in the Hacienda.