The Last Shaman

                                                     By 

                                                  Arthur 

 
CHAPTER 7


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 though 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.


TBC.


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