While Naofa and Eagna entertain the strangers from the Land of Caves, trying to make sense of Rith’s frightening dreams, Eolas and Laoch make their way into the land where mystery lives. Even as they approach the village of Espera, the inhabitants within are excitedly preparing to greet their long awaited visitors….
Eolas and Laoch made their final approach toward the quiet village; but as they neared, they saw that their quest for answers was only just beginning. There was, indeed, a cloud of smoke billowing up into the sky; but this was not the enigma which had summoned them from their own lands. Was this really all there was to the sign? Neither of them was ready to accept such an idea; and their doubts were put to rest as they got nearer to the village. Against the clear blue sky behind the the outline of buildings, rose the steady, continuous black curls of smoke that had urged them to make their journey. But this smoke was obviously not coming from the village where,already, things were coming to life.
Someone in the village spotted the strangers making their way across the grasslands and the entrance was filling with busy figures, moving in lines, with an occasional stray that bustled around the others before getting back into place. The entire scene reminded Loach of ants on a hill after it was poked with a stick. Eolas couldn’t make out much detail at first glance; but as they got closer, the black ants morphed into human figures. The fluid movement of their bodies, accompanied by the abundance of long, flowing hair, suggested there were many females in this village. Eolas and Loach exchanged a curious look, having shared the same thought. They wondered where all the males were-out hunting? Or hiding in the shadows, poised to protect their village. Both scanned the horizon, looking in all directions, as they moved on with caution. Their plan was to enter casually, lest they be thought a threat in some way. They had no idea what these humans knew of them or of anything outside of their own life in the village.
Laoch moved in slow circles as they continued their approach, scanning the line of trees that edged the grasslands. Eolas kept his eyes trained on the fringes of the village, and he detected no movement there or in the tall grasses that lay ahead. “There is no way to know the thought of this tribe, so we will enter their homeland with friendship.” Eolas grasped his bow. “And we must keep our weapons out of sight.”
The simple statement made sense to Laoch, although he would be sure to keep a firm grip on his bag of arrows, always at the ready for launching. Both of them shifted their bows to their backs and tried to look relaxed, ignoring the pounding of their pulses as they drew nearer this land of humans they had never met and knew nothing about.
Ella was beating on the Spirit Mother’s door with no concern for disturbing her as she normally would have felt. Cheers had gone up the instant the dark figures were spotted making their way over the grasses. “Mother, They are coming! They are coming!” Ella’s heart was pounding, her excitement nearly too great to contain; and she lost all sense of reason in that moment. Why did La Palabra not answer? She raised her fists to pound on the door again when it opened, causing Ella to tumble, embarrassed, into the arms of a fully dressed and ready Palabra. She caught Ella by the arm and helped the female to steady herself. The look of awe shining in Ella’s eyes amused La Palabra. She could never be cross with Ella. This one was special and her work with the young female was really only just beginning.
The Spirit Mother stepped through the doorway, clothed in full celebration dress, clutching her incense pipe in one hand, along with the string of animal teeth she would shake to call forth the spirits of their land. Her drum was tucked under the other arm. Every soul who shared in the celebration would carry an instrument similar to hers or a whistling pipe made from hollowed wood or stone. Each participant would add their special sound to the chorus of song they would raise to Great Spirit. Mother was wearing her most serious look and any of the others wouldn’t have seen the corners of her mouth twitching in her attempt to hide the excitement she felt in her own heart on this occasion. But Ella saw it and smiled warmly at her.
La Palabra made her way down the steps, her long, leather tunic dragging across the wood, making a soft, sweeping sound. Her raven locks had been braided and looped in rings on top of her head, fastened with hand-carved wooden picks. Lastly, she tucked in the ceremonial feathers, one from each bird represented by the Eternal Realm. There was that of the pure white dove, another from the brown, spotted night bird, and the last in the plume was Ella’s very favorite. This magnificent feather had all the colors of the great arch in the sky, the shades of many birds all together, although no creature who bore such a feather had ever been seen by those in the tribe. When Ella asked Mother where she found such a treasure her response had been merely a wink. Ella thought she may never understand the greatness of the Spirit Mother, but the mystery of her essence was what made the wise female so special to the young one. As she descended the steps, the finely adorned female reminded Ella of a giant, bizarre bird herself. Ella’s eyes were drawn to a soft leather strip tumbling down from the feather cluster and lying over one very ample breast. Her breath caught in her throat at the sight of the large teeth which hung on the end, clicking against each other as La Palabra moved. These once belonged to a wolf that roamed the hills and grasslands near their village, hunting by night. The call of night stalker could be heard drifting on the winds in the dusky evening after sunset; and all in the tribe were careful to return to the safety of their village before the beasts began to prowl. No wolf had ever entered their village, but their hunting prowess was known and revered; and the villagers had seen the spoils of their work.
Once, a female in the tribe stayed too long picking herbs and found herself many steps from the edge of the village with the sun quickly falling behind the black mountains. It was then that the dark wolf came to stand between her and the village, pacing and snarling at the tender child, streams of saliva slipping from the corners of its wide mouth in its desire to taste her sweet flesh. In terror she dropped her basket of herbs and tried to scream; but when the hungry beast’s eyes met hers, it held her transfixed within its gaze. Later, she told her friends how the wolf’s eyes glowed like ember, then turned red and dark as blood! None of the others really believed her, but Mother Palabra did. This frightened one told how she, knowing she was trapped and likely doomed, began to call out to Great Spirit to save her. In her heart she plead, over and over. Neither did it surprise Palabra when the young one told them how the great beast finally lowered its head and stepped aside, reluctantly allowing the desperate child to pass. But it never took its awful eyes off of her body. She was too frightened to turn her back on those eyes to run away. Instead she crept to the village, backwards, keeping her eyes upon it with every step she took, watching it fade from view as she retreated. She heard the voices of its family in the distance, crying out for their share; but the leader of this pack was not to have Una Tonto for its meal, nor would they. The wolf crept behind her at a safe distance, sneering and growling as she backed away and into the safety of the village. The others watched as she approached, saw the wolf in the distance; and as they closed in around to comfort her, she slumped to the ground. She would not sleep well for many nights.
When they asked their Mother why the Wolf spared Tonto, Palabra told them that the beast was just the physical form of dark spirit, that which hides within our souls. She warned that it stalks every soul, waiting for moments of fear and weakness, for that is when it would strike. She reminded them to be watchful and to never turn their backs on the stalking beast. In this way it would not be able to take them unawares. Still, she said, they must never despise the beast; for it would be a great ally when the time for stalking became necessary. It was a sacred mystery that one must keep within control. Some in the tribe understood La Palabra’s wisdom, while others just whispered that she was out of her mind. Yet all would heed the warning to be inside the village before the black cloak of night closed in around it.
Afterward, Mother Palabra sent Ella with two of the best hunters in the tribe to hunt and kill one of the wolves, to remind them of their place on Domhan. What a celebration there had been that night! They ate its flesh and drank the blood to know its Essence and be as one with its spirit. The beast’s skin was hung at the entrance to the village with a pair of bright red eyes splashed on its hide as a warning to dark Spirit. “We will be watching too,” it said. Ella thought they shouldn’t have done the killing since Wolf had spared their foolish female. She had to admit that no other beast had come anywhere near one of them since the hunt-and the warning.
She was pulled from her memories by Palabra’s voice, “Ella! Come!” Ella looked up to see the Mother quite a distance ahead of her, already motioning for the rest of the tribe to gather with her at the entrance to the village. The visitors were now merely a few paces away; and Palabra was thrilled to see the bright colors of Eolas’ headdress; for it was an affirmation to her Shaman’s heart that the visions were real and the promise was true. The Light Ones had come at last to show them their place in this dream of life.
to be continued…..
Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate it. And I would love to know your thoughts, ideas or suggestions.
Love and Light,