The Last Shaman





At last Ravenhawk made his way to the base of the towering mesa, his legs
felt like lead and his breathing was a little unsteady from the long and
dangerous climb back to where the horses waited his return.

Finally on level ground, the long climb down over and done, Ravenhawk
looked about him as he caught his breath, the two horse looked up from the
small patch of grass they had been feeding on and gave him a welcoming
snicker as they both walked towards him.

Ravenhawk slowly walked to the shallow pool and drank deeply, his stomach
rumbled with hunger as he had not fed in five days and only the small sips
of water each morning had kept him going on his long vigil.

After washing his face and hands with the cooling water from the pool,
Ravenhawk redonned his scant clothing, took up his bow and coup stick then
mounted the Pinto, it was time to return home, he had much to talk over
with his Grandfather.

The long ride home was taken at a fast walk, both horses side by side as
the small group made its way through the rolling prairie grass and along
the old dry river bed, it would be late afternoon before he caught site of
the old cabin that he called home, around the trio was a strange and
unsettling quiet, it took Ravenhawk over an hour to realise things were not
as they should be.

It was two hours later that the first sign that everything was not right
came to him, standing in his path were the shimmering shapes of two of the
guardians, an unsettling sense of fear ran through Ravenhawk's young body
as he spied the silent pair standing in his path, immediately Ravenhawk
began his chant of recognition and respect, with his knees he brought the
Pinto to a halt and waited for the Guardians to make their choice.

Much to his surprise, Ravenhawk watched as the two shimmering figures
looked deeply at him then disappeared into thin air, Ravenhawk breathed
deeply and nudged the Pinto forward, he had to admit he had been scared and
hesitant when he had spied the two figures, no one, not even a Medicine
Elder, fooled with or tempted the Guardians.

Another hour passed after the unsettling sign and then Ravenhawk saw
something that made him sit up and take notice of his surroundings,
standing right in his path was a white Heron, it had one wing drooping down
as though it was injured, its dark eyes were watching every move the trio
made, as they got closer, the Heron seemed to take a few limping steps
towards them, it then stopped, looked, and with an agility that seemed
other worldly, it took to the air with one mighty sweep of its long white
wings and flew to the North and out of sight.

Ravenhawk may have been young, he was also not fully trained as a Medicine
Man, he was also only a half breed and added to that he was a two spirit
boy but he was not ignorant of what he had just seen in the two
visitations, had he known what he was going to see later in the day he
would probably have thought twice about hurrying home but the two sightings
had given him pause for thought.

The Guardians were either interpreted as a warning or they could be a
protection, that much was clear but, the sighting of the Heron pretending
to be injured raised real concern, the heron was the signature appearance
of the Great Mother, the one who kept order over the Earth, to see her
embodied as he had could only mean one thing, danger or destruction.

Ravenhawk was now concerned, as he quickened their pace to a slow canter
and began to think of short cuts back to the house, it was two hours later
and only one more to the house that the third sign came and this one could
not be ignored nor mistaken.

He had been working his way homeward at a steady pace, the sun was now well
past the meridian when he saw it diving towards him, the Great Eagle dove
low and then began to turn in circles directly above his head and no higher
than a hundred feet, it was turning anticlockwise, a sure sign of undoing,
after completing three circles, the Eagle screamed then rose and flew to
the North, another sign that it was the finish of something large, the
North gate was the mark of the beginning and the end and everything today
had signalled the end, Ravenhawk hurried the Pinto towards home.

On the reservation the people did not live cheek by jowl but they were not
so far away from each other that they could not sometimes see or hear what
was going on at another home.

As Ravenhawk drew close enough to see his house, the sudden quietness got
to him, he should have been able to hear the yelling and laughter of small
children or at least some sound of loud voices, even the sound of a radio
or TV could not be heard, it was unsettling.

Ravenhawk rode up to the front of the house, when he saw the closed door at
this hour of the day he well knew something was wrong and the stillness
gave him more to think about.

Ravenhawk slid from the back of the horse and looked around, the old house
looked as though it had been abandoned some time ago but he knew that could
not be true, it was then that the faint sweet but sickly smell hit him and
it was coming from inside the house.

Ravenhawk dropped his weapons and Medicine bag on the ground as the ran
towards the closed doors, without a warning yell of arrival, Ravenhawk
opened the door and ran inside, he was struck by the now strong smell of
death as he breached the doorway and saw the tableau in the front room.

The four major men in his life were all slumped over the dinner table,
partially eaten food on the plates were at least two days old, the heavy
smell of death filled every corner of the old house, even then, Ravenhawk
knew he would not be able to live in the house ever again , but first he
had his duty to do.

Somehow holding back the tears that threatened to break out, Ravenhawk set
about the job he had to do, each body had to be washed and prepared for
their final trip through the mists to stand at the side of the Creator, for
a boy as young and slight as Ravenhawk, it was not an easy task but he
refused to give in to the thought of getting help from others.

Ravenhawk worked hard well into the night, when he had finished, he looked
over what he had done, each Uncle and his Grandfather were now laid out in
their finest beaded war shirts, leggings, moccasins and head dress, each
held an item of power he had placed in their hands, only the very old and
powerful Calumet of his Grandfather was left out, this had been promised to
Ravenhawk and would go with him when he left this place.

Ravenhawk went out onto the front stoop, he carried his Uncles large drum
even though he was by no means an expert with it but it seemed the right
thing to do this time, sitting on the stoop cross legged, Ravenhawk began
the beat and then the chant for the carrying of souls through the mist, he
was not sure if his family had had time to sing their death sings but hoped
his song would still help them on their final journey.

The early morning sun found him still sitting on the stoop alone, even with
the drumming and chanting, there had been no one coming to see what was
going on, Ravenhawk thought this was strange but he had other duties to

His next task after the song ended was to get the four bodies to the burial
ground, for this he went and got two of his Uncles horses and hitched them
to the old wagon that they used around the small acreage, again it was a
final struggle to get all four men, dressed in their finest onto the wagon.

After an hour he had completed the task, he had now not eaten for six days
but this was far more important, and still no one had shown themselves at
this time of mourning for an Elder, Ravenhawk took up the reins and urged
the wagon forward, in an hour he would be at the burial ground.

As the wagon and its grizzly cargo creaked along the worn dirt road,
Ravenhawk tried to sing the death songs of the four men or as much as he
could remember of them as he rode to the
burial ground, it was there he saw why no others had come.

Standing on the outside of the confines of the burial ground were a number
of others, on the ground before them were the bodies of more than half of
the community and those standing around looked to also be very ill, none of
them would enter the grounds as they did not know the songs of protection
from the spirits.

Ravenhawk stopped the wagon and looked at those who were left, the soft
crooning voice of the few remaining women sounded hollow in the still air,
Ravenhawk got down off the wagon and went to the oldest looking man, he was
about mid forties.

"Why do you wait, it is time to bury those who have passed?"

"We have no Elders left, there is no one to sing the songs and we cannot
enter the grounds without the chant of protection."

"Then I will call the chant and sing the songs."

The face of the man looked doubtfully at the half caste teen, the once
proud and inscrutable face of the Lakota warrior was now lined and aged
like an old man, he was also looking ill with sweat on his brow and his
hands trembled, his eyes were blood shot and he shook with a fever as he
stood watching Ravenhawk's reaction.

"You are too young and we have not agreed to your heritage or ability to
sing the songs of the Elders."

"Then who will do it? I must do it for my Grandfather and Uncles, if you
wish to bury your dead then you may join with me, if not I will do it

For Ravenhawk it was the end of the discussion, he began to unload the four
blanket wrapped bodies one by one, once on the ground he began the first
chant of protection as he walked onto the burial ground, he carried only
his Medicine bag over his shoulder as he made his way to the central ring
of stones at the centre of the grounds.

Once there he set about making a small fire with the pile of old wood left
for just that purpose, as the fire grew, he began the songs for the dead
while he sprinkled the sacred Ghost Sage and then tobacco on the small
flames, the smoke carrying the words of the song high into the air so that
Creator could receive them.

When the songs were over, Ravenhawk looked around for the poles he would
need to make the platforms for his four family members, much to his
surprise, those he had left outside the grounds were now at work
constructing the platforms, many were made large enough for more than one
body to be placed upon them, Ravenhawk set about his own task but he then
saw two of the women began to carry poles over to him.

Ravenhawk along with those who were left and able, constructed one tall
platform for his Grandfather and then three shorter ones for his Uncles, it
took all his strength to help place the four bodies on the platforms, once
all the others were also placed he began the last song as he paid homage to
the dead while standing over the dying fire, using more sage, tobacco and a
special blend of Kinikinik he sent the final prayers to the Sky Father,
Earth Mother and Creator so that the spirits of the dead would find an easy
passage through the mists.

High above the scene below flew four Golden Eagles; they circled time after
time directly above the burial grounds as those below began to drift back
to what was left of their lives, only Ravenhawk would live to see three
more days.

On his return home, Ravenhawk set about gathering what he thought he would
need, taking everything out to the old barn, Ravenhawk took a last look at
the house he had known as his only home, after spreading kerosene around
the building he set it alight, the loud crackling of the flames and the
heat from the fire as it devoured the dry wood could be felt as far away as
the doors of the barn.

Ravenhawk now had only one thought in mind, tonight he would fast and sing
more songs and, when the sun rose he would release all the horses belonging
to his Grandfather and Uncles so they could run free for the rest of their
lives, in the barn he began to sort out everything he had carried there, if
he was to leave this place he would have to decide what he would need, but
first he had to find some answers to what had happened.

The next morning Ravenhawk realised he had not eaten now for seven days,
while his mind was not on food he knew his body desperately need it, to
this end he set about making a large breakfast, how he got through
yesterday was a mystery to him, he had to have been working on pure will
power as he went through what he need to do.

After his heavy breakfast, Ravenhawk started to go through everything he
had removed from the house last night, much of what he had he would not be
able to take with him when he moved, it was time to think about his future
but first he had to find out what was going on.

Ravenhawk called for the Pinto, he would ride into town and see why all his
family had died and what was happening to the others of the tribe, as yet
he did not feel ill or sick, something was not right.

At a steady canter, Ravenhawk made the small town in good time, when he
entered the main street he knew that it was already too late, the stench of
death was everywhere and he could plainly see a few of the dead had fallen
in the street, the town echoed to his Pinto's footsteps as he went deeper,
there were no sounds or movements anywhere.

Once at the centre of the town, Ravenhawk pulled the Pinto to a halt and
sat to look around, ravens had already found the easy source of food and
were attacking the few bodies lying out in the open, he had little doubt
that larger animals would also make use of the easy meals during the coming
night, if they had not already done so.

Ravenhawk looked around, there was little he could do and he was about to
return to his home when a thought caught him, if he had to travel a long
way away he would need some things, there was no way the Creator would have
let all of humanity die, if this was so then he would have to look to his
own protection at some stage.

Turning his head around he finally spied the sports goods store, what he
would need would be in there, Ravenhawk kneed the Pinto towards the dark
doorway of the store, he had already deduced that the animals seemed to
have not been subject to the mysterious disease, at least he would be able
to live off the land.

Ravenhawk went to the door, much to his surprise it was unlocked, he then
spied the old man Mr. Simpkins lying on the floor, he was obviously dead,
he pushed open the door and entered the shadowy store, the lights had not
been put on and the daylight barely entered the painted windows.

Ravenhawk began to look around for what he might need, first would be a
means of hunting and defence, to this end he selected a short 30-30
carbine, next he went in search of the ammunition, as he did so he saw a
good quality bow hanging on the back wall, it was a top quality recurve, it
would be better than his own hand made one although he would take that with
him as well, he would also have his Uncles 44-40 Winchester.

The next item he selected was a good hunting knife, while his own was good,
it would do no harm to have a second one for emergencies, after another
look around the only thing he thought about taking was a good sleeping bag
then he paused, he would have his Grandfathers buffalo hide, that was a far
better and harder wearing cover than the nylon bag.

The next item he took were a few boxes of fire starters, he knew he could
start a fire with just about anything but why make it harder if he had only
wet wood, Ravenhawk was not so stupid that he would not use what the
Whiteman had created, the only item now was a pack that could be used on
the Appaloosa, after a short time of consideration, Ravenhawk selected
three packs, when he got back home he would alter two of them to fit the
horse, the other he would carry himself.

At last Ravenhawk left the silent town, his new goods were a little awkward
to carry alone on the Pinto but he persevered, he was thankful when he
finally caught sight of the top of the barn, he was nearly home, he had
decided on two days to sort out what he should take and what he would hide
away for some other time, as yet he had not seen another human being.

Ravenhawk was pleased to get back to the barn, the weight of the boxes of
ammunition in the pack were pulling on his slim shoulders, he got to the
ground and, after dropping the pack inside, he stretched and uttered a
small groan as the kinks worked themselves out of his aching back, the
Pinto wander off to join the Appaloosa nearby.

Ravenhawk began to ready a meal, he would have to build his strength over
the next two days for the trip into the unknown future, he began by firing
up the old potbelly stove kept in the barn for winter warmth, it was a
little rusty but usable, once it was alight he began to put together a
solid meal from the stores he had taken from the old house before he fired

As the sun set in the West, Ravenhawk went through the large amount he had
taken from the house until he came across the thick well tanned buffalo
hide his Grandfather had had for many years, there was no sign of wear or
deterioration on the large thick hide, it would do for many years to come,
he laid it out on the floor of the barn over a thick carpet of dry hay, it
would make a good bed after the long days he had already had.

Ravenhawk was so deep in sleep he didn't even hear the two horses come into
the barn where they selected a place for themselves and settled down to
sleep, both were side by side as they had been since being foals.

The next morning found Ravenhawk stripping the two larger packs of their
frames, with a heavy sack needle he began to alter their straps so he could
lay them over the back of the Appaloosa with a girth strap around its belly
to hold them in place, next he sewed on three long straps to hold the
rolled up hide and tie his Uncles rifle with, the rifle was held in its own
hand made deer skin scabbard with a long fringe down one side.

For his new rifle he made a leather strap to go over his shoulder, the new
bow would hang on the Appaloosa along with the rifle, the large bundle of
machine made arrows he tied and they would go on the Appaloosa as well, his
own bow and handmade arrows would be in his quiver over his shoulder and
the bow he would carry in his hands.

Over the next two days he worked relentlessly, the items of his forebears
he had to find a hiding place, to this end he dug deeply into the floor of
the barn and buried everything he could not take, his own supplies would
only consist of flour, salt, sugar and cooking grease, there was also still
a large amount of dried meat in the old smoke house, he would take as much
as he could carry.

All he had to decide now was which direction to go to find a new life when
he left in the coming morning, Ravenhawk thought about it long and hard
and, as the night rolled on and he was about to lay his head down, he
finally decided to go South and West, there was more open land in that
direction and less chance of finding trouble he could not handle, he laid
his head down and was fast asleep before the two horse came in to join him.

The sun had barely risen over the horizon when he was up and about, as he
fitted the revamped packs onto the Appaloosa the horse hardly moved, while
the horse refused to be ridden, it did not mind carrying whatever Ravenhawk
put on its back, no one else could get close to the horse, even his old
Grandfather, a man with the reputation of calming even the wildest of
animals, could not get near the horse, only Ravenhawk was allowed to touch
or be near the Appaloosa.

After two hours he was ready to leave, he had rolled up his deer skin
clothes and was now wearing jeans and a thick shirt but still wore his long
moccasins, the two packs were nicely balanced on the Appaloosa and the hide
was neatly rolled up with the new bow and rifle strapped tightly beside it
as it rested on top.

Ravenhawk had the Pinto kneel so he could mount with the heavy pack on his
back, it carried most of his spare clothes as well as cooking utensils and
extra ammunition, in the long side pocket he had carefully place the old
Calumet, he had put extra padding around it so it would not get damaged,
it's importance was too great to let it be damaged or destroyed by

The sun was three hours old when he finally set out to the South West, he
would follow this line until he felt he should go another way, the West
Coast was two thousand miles away over the mighty Rockies, it would be a
long and lonely trip if he made it at all.

One day ran into another as Ravenhawk travelled the open and barren
prairie, sometimes he wondered if anyone had survived and he was still not
sure why he had not caught the disease that had taken everyone else.

He travelled all day only stopping for a quick meal at midday and, close to
evening, he looked for a safe place to sleep, there had been a marked
increase in wild animals, now that there were so few humans around they had
little fear of showing themselves during the day or out in the open.

Ravenhawk had been travelling for more than ten days when he saw something
that made him pause, about five miles ahead he could see a number of large
birds circling, it could mean anything, a dead animal or an injured one or
maybe even an injured human, Ravenhawk felt he had to go to investigate,
something was pulling him in that direction.

Not being one to ignore things that had no explanation, Ravenhawk turned
the Pinto towards the high circling birds, from the shape of their wings he
thought they were Buzzards a common carrion bird on the plains, both horses
seemed to understand something was different and they went willingly

As he had thought, Ravenhawk spied something laying on the ground amongst
the taller grass, it looked like a person but it was hard to tell as he was
still a little far off, Ravenhawk kneed the Pinto into a faster pace.

Five minutes later and Ravenhawk was looking down at the thin body of what
looked like a dead young teen, his clothes were in rags and he looked as
though he had not eaten in a long time, as he watched the body he thought
he saw a small movement of the back muscles, as he sat and watched he then
heard a soft low groan from the body, Ravenhawk quickly slid off the Pinto
and stepped closer.

The boy on the ground must have felt something was close to him as he
coughed and tried to roll onto his back, his breathing was elevated and
there was a smell of fear in the clean air, the teen rolled right over and
stared up at Ravenhawk with fear filled eyes, he lifted his hand then let
it fall by his side, there was little he could do if the person standing
above him wanted his life or anything else he had.

Antonio Bevan collapsed back onto the ground, he was done, he had nothing
left, how the virus had missed him he would never know but the sight of all
those others dropping down dead around him had left him empty and alone.

He had survived the last two weeks by sometimes finding a farm house with a
little food that was edible, he had purposely stayed well away from towns
because he didn't know if the virus was still active in them, somehow he
had found himself way out here on the plains, it was not long before he was
too hungry and thirsty to go on and had laid down and waited for the end to

As a last ditch attempt to survive, Antonio tried to stand once again in a
final attempt to fight off the man standing over him but he had nothing
left and he slumped down to wait for his last few seconds, in a way it
would be a relief from the torment he had gone through up until now.

Ravenhawk looked at the teen, he was thin and dirty but Ravenhawk was
beginning to like what he could see, the teen looked to be about the same
height, his hair was dark like Ravenhawk's and the eyes were deep brown,
his skin was lightly tanned and he looked to be perhaps of Hispanic origin
sometime in his past.

He watched as the teen fell back to the ground, he looked to be on his last
strength, Ravenhawk slipped the pack off then went to the Appaloosa and
relieved it of the other packs, unrolling the thick warm hide, he carried
it back to lay beside the teen, next he rolled the teen onto the hide and
wrapped the rest around him.

Taking the small water bottle from his own pack he began to dribble water
over the chapped lips and finally getting a little to enter the teens
mouth, the teen opened his eyes and tried to smile his thanks but was too
weak, he lay his head back and was fast asleep before Ravenhawk could get a
word out of him.

Looking around, Ravenhawk decided it was as good a place to camp as any
other, letting the two horse wander away to feed, he began to set up a
small camp so he could watch over the teen now sleeping peacefully under
the thick hide, Ravenhawk thought he would have to sleep close to the fire
this night, he did not want to disturb the teen when there was no reason,
the weather was warm and the location looked safe.

As he sat watching the sleeping teen, Ravenhawk began to think things
through, if the teen wanted to stay with him he would not object, even if
it was only for the company, the loneliness of the last ten days had
effected Ravenhawk and he was wanting some company, this teen was just the
right type, if he stayed Ravenhawk would have to go out and find a new
horse for the teen, there was no way the Appaloosa would let anyone ride

Ravenhawk found the Appaloosa an enigma, he could pat him and sing songs to
him, the horse would willingly carry his packs and also defend the small
group but he could not be ridden even by Ravenhawk, he would have to leave
the teen here in the small camp and go in search of a new horse for him if
the teen wanted to stay together.

Ravenhawk stayed crouched over the small fire all night long, sometimes he
dozed lightly and awoke whenever he heard a small groan coming from the
pile of buffalo skin where the teen slept solidly, during the night he
heard no sounds of wild animals, it was as though they were protected by
some unseen power, as morning dawned, Ravenhawk stretched his tired limbs
and looked over towards the still sleeping teen, it was time to ready
something to eat.

The sun had been up in the sky for more than an hour when the teen finally
opened his eyes, Ravenhawk had the fire built up enough to cook some of the
food he had trapped the previous day, the fresh rabbit along with a few
small eggs he had collected, went towards a good breakfast, taking the tin
plate from the side of the fire, Ravenhawk offered it to the still sleepy

Not surprisingly, the plate was empty before Ravenhawk had started to eat
his own food; all that remained now was for the teen to be cleaned up and
dressed in some better clothes than the rags he was wearing at the present.

Ravenhawk scraped the last of the food from the pan onto the teen's plate,
he was in more need than Ravenhawk was, next he offered his small water
bottle and watched as it was nearly drained in seconds, the teen was in a
bad way by the look of it and Ravenhawk had all the skills needed to look
after him, as yet both teens had barely said a word.

Antonio looked at his saviour, it was plainly obvious the teen opposite him
was a Native American and Antonio was a little scared of him although all
his life he had had a fascination with the true people of this land, how
did he talk to him, did the boy understand English, was he really friendly
or just helping him for his own ends, Antonio was in a quandary, what did
he say, finally he settled on what little he knew, or thought he knew.

"Ahh...uhm...ah, How."

Ravenhawk almost broke into laughter but kept his face impassive, did this
teen really think that was how they greeted each other, Ravenhawk thought
he would play a little joke on the teen.

"How what?"


"You said How, so I ask you, how what?"

"I...I thought that was how you said hello."

Ravenhawk could hold back his laughter no longer, after almost crying with
mirth, he looked at the teen and decided to put his confusion at rest.

"That is not how we greet each other, the right way is like this, lift your
right hand and the words are simply, Aho, if you wish to make it a little
more formal then you can add these words, Matak-ye-asin, it means, under
the eyes of the ancestors but Aho is enough, how do they call you?"

"Call me?"

Yes, your name that was given to you?"

"Oh...oh yes, my name is Antonio Bevan, what is yours?"

"I am called Ravenhawk of the Lakota."

"Lakota, who are they, I don't think I have heard that name before and I've
read a lot on Native Americans in school."

"The Lakota were called Sioux but I am not a full blood, my mother was
Chiricahua Apache so I am a half blood in their eyes."

"Oh, Apache, I know about them."

"Do you, what do you know?"

"Well I've read all the books about them."

"Ha, then you have a lot to learn, the books were written mostly by the
Whiteman and only from his side, perhaps you would like to learn the real

"Yes I think I would, how do I go about it?"

"Stay with me and learn like I did, as we move you will learn things the
Whiteman never knew about, that is if you want to go with me?"

Antonio looked at the teen, he certainly had a mysterious pull towards the
boy and he was not doing any good on his own, he needed someone that could
keep him alive and the last ten days of being alone had made him more aware
that he needed a good friend.

"Yes, I would like that if you will let me go with you."

"Good, then it is settled, we will travel together like friends and
brothers, first though, I need to go and find you a horse, you can ride?"

"Not very well and I was only a little kid when I did, I'm from the city,
there is not much use for horses there."

"Ok, I will go and find a gentle horse for you, you must stay here, my
Appaloosa will stay to defend you, do not worry, I may be away for a number
of days but you will be safe as long as you stay here."

"Could I not ride the grey horse?"

"The Appaloosa, no, no one rides him, he is a free spirit and only follows
because he wants to, he will protect you, can you cook and light a fire?"

"The fire, yes but cooking, I don't think so, perhaps boil water but that
is all."

"Ok then, in my pack is a large amount of Jerky, just chew on that when you
get hungry, when I return we will find a place for you to wash and I have
some better clothes for you to wear when you are clean."

"Thank you Ravenhawk, but tell me, why are you doing this?"

"Because you are alone and also I like you; that you are not a Whiteman
also helps." Antonio saw the smile spread across the lips of Ravenhawk and
realised he was joking.

"Well my Father was White but my Mother was half Puerto Rican."

"Then you are not White, now stay here, I must find you a horse and it may
take a few days, can you shoot?"

"I've never tried, why?"

Ravenhawk turned and took the 30-30 from his shoulder, he showed it to
Antonio and then jacked the lever to load it, he did this slowly so Antonio
could see everything he was doing.

"You should not have to use it but I would feel better if you kept it close
while I was gone, I can take the other rifle, when I am close on my return,
I will fire one single shot into the air to let you know it is me, please
do not shoot me when I come back, it might make me angry or dead."

Again Antonio saw the smile on Ravenhawk's lips as he took the carbine in
his hands and watched as Ravenhawk took a longer rifle from a very nicely
decorated deer skin scabbard that had been resting against one of the large
packs on the ground.

Ravenhawk gathered up the rifle and then slung his bow and quiver over his
shoulder and called the Pinto, of course the Appaloosa also walked over and
stood waiting, Ravenhawk went close to the Appaloosa and asked it to watch
over Antonio and the camp then jumped up on the Pinto.

"Aren't you taking some food with you?"

"No, you will need it, I can find what I need as I go, remember, I will
fire a single shot when I am close, stay near the camp, do not wander

Ravenhawk turned the Pinto with his knees and headed to the north, he
thought he had a better chance of finding a new horse in that direction, he
had not seen any but he had a feeling that was the direction he needed to

It was not long before Ravenhawk was out of sight and Antonio again felt
the loneliness around him, if it was not for the silent Appaloosa close by
he would have thought he was left to the vagaries of the plains but the
horse did seem to understand that the teen needed him and stayed close.

Ravenhawk rode for two days before he found any sign, it looked to be four
horses together, not really a herd but enough for what Ravenhawk wanted,
what was even better was that the signs showed the horses to be shod, they
were already broken, this would save a lot of time, he began his tracking,
thankful for the long lessons he had spent with Uncle number two.

As the signs grew fresher, he could now tell they were only hours in front
of him, he settled back on the Pinto and tried to think of where they would
go, they were in no hurry and seemed to be just wandering along, eating
when they were hungry, the only thing they would need to stay close to was
water, in the distance he saw the faint green smudge of trees, it had to be
a water course.

Half an hour later and Ravenhawk was working his way silently through the
thin willow trees that bordered a small stream, he could hear the faint
snickering and snuffling of horses close by, the Pinto had picked up its
ears but also seemed to know that he had to move slowly and quietly.

Slowly the duo came out of the trees and onto the stream bank, there only a
few feet away were the four horses drinking from the clean clear water,
Ravenhawk lay down along the back of the Pinto and urged it slowly forward,
as though reading Ravenhawk's mind, the Pinto stepped lightly into the
group of four horses without trouble, they all looked at the strange horse
with its lump on the back and went back to drinking.

Ravenhawk had already selected which of them he would take for Antonio, a
smaller Bay gelding still had a halter, it was this one he had marked as a
good horse for his new friend.

Slowly and with the patience only a good hunter could train himself to
have, Ravenhawk drew close to the Bay gelding, using a soft voice he began
to sing quietly to the horse, as he did so he reached out with one hand and
easily attached his lariat to the halter, rising up from his lying
position, he turned the Pinto and led the Bay away from the group, it
followed as though it had little or no fear.

With his capture in hand, Ravenhawk began the long journey back to where he
had left Antonio under the care of the Appaloosa, not having to worry about
going slow to track, Ravenhawk made better time back towards the waiting
camp, he crested the rise before the camp only one and a half days later,
the Bay gelding still in tow and seemingly happy to have a human around.

As soon as he spotted the rising smoke from the camp fire, Ravenhawk took
his Uncles rifle from across his knees and fired a single shot into the
air, as he came up over the last rise he could see the smaller figure of
Antonio standing close to the Appaloosa, one hand shading his eyes and the
other was waving towards Ravenhawk.

The pair of horses with the rider came at the camp in a canter, the
Appaloosa threw its head back and whinnied a call to the Pinto as it tossed
its head up and down in greeting, Ravenhawk pulled the two horse to a stop
as he slid from the back of the Pinto and smiled at Antonio, the teen
looked more rested even though he was still dressed in rags that had once
been very fashionable clothes and his body was still covered in dirt and
now grass from the prairie camp.

"Aho Antonio."

"Uhm, Aho Ravenhawk." Antonio replied hesitantly.

"Here is your horse, we will eat now and I will rest, tomorrow we go to
find water for you to wash, did you have any trouble while I was gone?"

"None, the Appaloosa guarded me very well; nothing came close to the camp."

"That's good, we can stay one more night then it is time to move on."

"Uhm, Ravenhawk, I don't really know how to ride, what do I do?"

"Let me eat and drink then I will introduce you to your horse, he is gentle
and is already broken, you will have little trouble."

To make sure the new gelding did not get it into his head to stray,
Ravenhawk fashioned a hobble from his lariat, next he sat by the small
dying fire and ate then drank some of the remaining water, as he did so,
Antonio watched every move, he felt a strange attachment to the teen, it
was more than just about being saved by him, his nether regions also were
responding to the closeness of his new friend.

Ravenhawk noticed the looks he was getting from Antonio but he kept his
face impassive and continued with his meal, there would be plenty of time
for the two of them to get to know each other in the days to come, his own
body was also responding in much the same way as his friends.

Once he had finished his meal, Ravenhawk rose and gestured for Antonio to
walk close beside him as he went to the new horse, whispering soft words as
he moved closer, Ravenhawk took Antonio's hand and gently laid in on the
neck of the Bay.

"Just pet him on the neck lightly and talk to him in a soft voice; the
words don't matter, it is the tone of your voice he will listen too, stay
calm and make him your friend."

Ravenhawk watched as Antonio followed his instructions, although he was a
little nervous, and it showed at first in his unsteady voice, the Bay
seemed to understand that the human meant no harm, the Bay stretched out
its neck so the human could rub and pat it better, the human had good hands
and a soothing voice, the Bay dropped its head in a sign of acceptance.

When Ravenhawk saw the head go down he told Antonio to go closer and hug
the horse but keep taking to it, it was soon apparent that the horse had
accepted Antonio, next he had to get the inexperienced teen up on the
horse, it proved easier than expected, showing Antonio how to crook one
leg, he helped with a lift and push to get Antonio up on the horses back,
the horse barely flickered as Antonio's weight came down on its back.

"Uhm, Ravenhawk, what about a saddle and bridle, how will I control the
horse and stay on its back?"

"You are already sitting on the horse, you do not need a saddle and no
horse should have those steel bits in their mouth, if a horse likes you it
does not need all those things to control it, you must trust it and it will
trust you."

"But without a saddle I will fall off."

"So? If you fall off you just get back on, it is not a problem."

"But, but the horse might run away."

"Not if he trusts you and you trust him, if you fall off he will stop and
wait for you to get back on, do not worry so much, he needs you just as you
need him, horses are very intelligent animals, you have made friends now,
he will watch over you just as my horses watch over me, trust me and you
will see."

"Well ok, but if he runs away and leaves me in the dirt it will be all your

Ravenhawk looked and smiled at Antonio, his new friend was certainly a city
boy, he would have to show and teach him so much or they would have
problems along the way.

"Ok my Brother, slide back down here, we will remove the hobbles and you
can lead the horse around by the halter, just tie the shorter length of
rope to the halter, just walk around, after a little, throw the lead rope
over your shoulder and release it from your hand, let the horse decide if
it wants to follow you, if he does then he has made up his mind to stay
with you."

"And if he doesn't?"

"Then you will be walking for a long time."

Ravenhawk laughed at his joke, he could already tell the horse was
comfortable with Antonio, the teen would have little trouble, Ravenhawk
went over to his large packs and sat on the ground as he watched Antonio
lead the horse in a circle, eventually he dropped the lead rope over his
shoulders and released his hands from it, the Bay just continued to follow
him around, it was a good match, Ravenhawk decided.

That night Ravenhawk once again slept by the small fire and Antonio slept
in the warm buffalo hide blanket, in the morning it was time to get things
ready to move, Antonio watched as Ravenhawk called his two horses, he
noticed that his new Bay came along as well, all three horses seemed to be
happy with each other.

Ravenhawk made Antonio watch how he settled and fixed the two large packs
and rolled buffalo hide on the Appaloosa, he then helped Antonio to mount
the Bay and threw himself up on the Pinto, Ravenhawk had cut his own horse
blanket in half to make two pads so that Antonio would not have to be too
uncomfortable, the teen would take some time to get used to riding bare

Ravenhawk turned the horses South West again, Winter was not far away and
he wanted to be somewhere that was not frozen over, he had estimated he
would have two months to find a place to stay for the winter, as yet he had
not seen anywhere suitable but he would keep looking, he also now had
Antonio to watch out for, the teen would need new clothes and some other
things, they could not eat out of one plate forever.

It was early on the second day when they finally came to a small stream
that had what looked like a deeper hole in the middle, it was a good place
to wash, Antonio's smell had only got worse as they travelled, it was time
for Ravenhawk to see what was under all the grime, his own groin had been
giving him signals he had not had before and he was sure that Antonio felt
the same by the looks he gave Ravenhawk when he thought the boy was not
watching him.

Ravenhawk had no hesitation in stripping off naked and diving into the
clean fresh water, the first shock of the cold water made him gasp but he
soon got used to the temperature and began to wash himself, Antonio, being
a city boy was not so sure about nakedness, after a little coaxing by
Ravenhawk and the promise not to look, Antonio stripped and quickly jumped
in the water to hide his boy bits.

Ravenhawk took note that Antonio was underweight, that and that his skin
had not seen the sun in a long time, he still had that faint tan colour
which was a natural part of his heritage but he need some sun to give him a
healthy tanned look, he also badly need feeding and bulking up to hide the
ribs showing plainly on his torso, Ravenhawk would soon take care of all

Ravenhawk had taken a large bar of soap from his personal pack, using a
piece of torn tee shirt, he offered it to Antonio so he could wash away the
built up grime of so many days without washing, slowly what Ravenhawk saw
as the beauty of Antonio began to make itself seen under the grime, taking
a chance, Ravenhawk reached for the wash cloth and began to rub the dirt
from Antonio's back and shoulders.

When he felt Ravenhawk begin to wash his back, Antonio had to place his two
hands under the water to keep his hardening boyhood from showing, a faint
flush of pink coloured his cheeks as the soft hands worked on his back, it
got only worse when the thin strong fingers of Ravenhawk began to work on
his hair and scalp, suddenly Antonio felt something hard poking into his
back or to be more precise, into his crack, Antonio shuddered at the

Ravenhawk had not planned to wash the teens hair it had just naturally
happened and now his boyhood was hard and touching the softer skin of
Antonio's buns, even in the cold water, the feel of Antonio's skin was warm
and alluring, Ravenhawk had to shake his head to bring himself back out of
the place he had begun to dream in, dropping his hands from Antonio he
suddenly dived under the water to break the spell he had been under,
Antonio followed suit.

It was a few silent minutes before the teens could look at each other,
their embarrassment at their first touch was still fresh in their minds,
even though both had wanted to go on, neither wanted to make the first move
but both acknowledged that the first fence had been broken, it was now a
matter of when and where and who got up the courage first.

Ravenhawk was first to leave the water, naked as the day he was born, he
strode out of the small river and went to dress in clean clothes, he
decided to dress as he often did at home, his breechclout, leggings and
deer skin shirt along with is calf length moccasins, for Antonio he got out
his last pair of jeans and flannel shirt, Antonio's sneakers were beyond
wearing, the sweaty smell alone made them useless, Ravenhawk pulled out his
spare moccasins, he would have to show Antonio how to put them on.

Slowly Antonio came out of the water, his hands covering his boyhood, even
as cold as the water was he was still hard and erect, the embarrassment
showing on his face as he looked at the clean clothes waiting for him, how
would he put them on without letting his bits be seen by Ravenhawk, he
finally came to the point where he decided he had little option, besides,
was it so hard to let the boy he really liked see his bits, perhaps not.

Once dressed, Antonio found it strange to be wearing jeans without
underwear, the roughness of the denim worked on his tender parts, it did
not help to make his boyhood go soft, as he sat on the ground and watched
as Ravenhawk showed him how to fasten the long moccasins, Antonio began to
think about sleeping arrangements, Ravenhawk could not continue to sleep
out by the fire while he had the comfort of the thick buffalo hide blanket,
there had to be a time when they would have to share it.

Ravenhawk looked at Antonio now that he was clean and better dressed, his
body was reacting and he then knew this was the boy he had waited for, it
would now only be a matter of finding the right time to mention his
feelings, Ravenhawk thought Antonio would have to let his hair grow longer,
the short city look did not suit him, he would tell Antonio what he thought
when they stopped in the evening to make camp.

Antonio watched as Ravenhawk tried to plait his long black hair, taking a
chance, Antonio offered to do the plaiting for Ravenhawk, much to his
delight, Ravenhawk let his hair go and turned around so Antonio could reach
it, the act of plaiting the teens hair did not help the rigid hardness in
Antonio's jeans, the long black hair was soft under his touch, it was like
having an erotic episode, little did he know he was having the same effect
on Ravenhawk.



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