Still more coming. Same bat time, same bat channel. I said it once a long time ago. Love you, Daniel. Love my children everybody.
I remember Seth and Toby helping me up the stairs. I remember getting my bed clothes and being laid down and covered up. The stove near us was lit and then the world just faded away. I don’t know what sort of rest Seth got when he took that horrible tasting opium. Mine was pretty good. I was about to stretch, but like Beau, I got muscle cramps in my calves, too. When I woke up, I felt I needed to stretch my leg out. A good stretch always helped, right? Not after strenuous exercising. It was as if the calf muscle snapped back, or worse lost the seal the ligaments had and snapped off. The first time that happened, I screamed from the pain so loud the guards came rushing in. The palace physician was almost called, but I told Christian and Ella who nodded, Christian nodded and smiled knowing what Jason’s training was like and that I had just started my training. He told Ella to go back to bed and told the guards what it was and they nodded and tried to hide their mirth. I liked them! Usually. Christian began rubbing and messaging my calf while he explained what happened and what I should do and what I should not do. I’d get those guards later. I didn’t get the guards. They were forgiven. I thought that was big of me at eleven years old.
Short story long, I know. I never had one in my back before and I wasn’t taking any chances. I moved carefully.
After moving slightly in my comfortable spot, I felt and heard a familiar movement beside me. Seth was moving easily in case I was still asleep. It was dark in our room. But that was normal. It was always dark because there were no windows. There was only the soft red light of the hot coals from the stove. Any other light came from lamps around the room. They were the typical lamps of the era. There were the shiny metal reflectors that increased the illumination really well. I had no clue of the time of day or night.
“You’re awake,” Seth stated his observation. It wasn’t a question. He was little more than a dark shadowy figure against a darker background. All except his eyes, they reflected what little light was there. “How are you feeling?”
I wasn’t sick, I was injured. How did I feel? I moved more because Seth was awake and wanted an answer, “I don’t know yet.” I said and then did a mental assessment. Whenever I had a Charlie Horse in the past, I always felt where the pain had been even after the pain stopped. Oh, you know what I mean if you ever had one and almost every Human has had one in their lives. I felt nothing! It had been on my left side and I had turned a lot to the right. That muscle had been used and over extended often when fighting Val and Beau. I twisted to the right lightly and felt nothing. “I don’t feel anything. I feel pretty good.” The usual me surfaced, “Where’s Beau?” I started to get up, but Seth pulled me back down and moved on top of me.
“Whoa, there. Ease it down, Babe.” Seth chuckled, “Ceto’s medicine may be still making you feel better and I’m glad, but I don’t think you’re ready to take on anybody yet. Besides, Beau’s asleep in bed like everybody else,” Seth said lightly in a happy tone. “It’s the middle of the night.”
“The middle of the night!?” I asked, alarmed. “I was told a few hours! How long was I out?”
Seth shrugged, “Six hours maybe. It’s been an exhausted trip up here. You’re tired.” Seth chuckled lightly, “Hell,we all are. Are you hungry? You missed dinner.” He waved across the room. “Someone brought us a tray. I only ate some, there’s enough for you if you want.”
“If it’s the middle of the night,” I said, “Why are YOU awake?” I challenged Seth.
Even in the dim light saw Seth’s smirk, “You need to ask?” He smiled, “Part of my soul was hurt. And do I ask you how long you stayed awake when I broke my foot? Even after I took that awful tasting stuff Ryan gave me.” He was opening his mouth and smacking it and sticking his tongue at the memory of the flavor. Then he smiled at me again, “The only difference is our roles are reversed.”
“Aw,” I said pleasantly, “You love me.”
“You know I do,” Seth said, “And I know you love me.”
I smiled, “You know I do.”
We could sleep later. I kissed him intensely which he returned with equal intensity and what we both had. Passion. A decade of love and loving and it hasn’t lost a thing. We knew what we wanted and how to get it. And you know what? My back didn’t hurt at all the whole time.
We were finishing dressing when our door opened and a young woman came in. She froze when she saw us.
Nothing wasn’t covered, but she looked away and in accented English she said, “Forgive, please. I think you with others,” She started to leave but stopped. “Why put on skins in dark?” She asked.
“There are no windows,” I said to her.
She smiled, “He not...show you?” She went and picked up a long thin metal pole with a small shaped tip and a curved handle on the other end. She stuck in a hole in the ceiling at the front of the room I hadn’t noticed. Because the rooms were interior rooms of this giant ball, the room was slightly resembling a pie slice with the pointy end cut off. She began turning the handle and began turning it. The smaller back of the room’s ceiling began to rise. As she did, sunshine began shining in the room. It was reflected sunshine, but sunshine. There were shiny metal plates up there that caught the rays of the sun and reflected it down in the room. The metal plates were positioned strategically to do that from an unknown source.
“A day of sun,” she said.
Yes, the sun did shine on rare days in winter, I was told. This must be one of them. I know I was staring at the ceiling and the reflected sunlight in amazement.
“It work day no sun,” she said and opened the door again.
I was feeling...less progressive as I did before. I still remembered my manners, “Thank you!”
She smiled and nodded, “You...welcome.”
“Damn, I hope this wasn’t designed by Wahkooha,” Seth said. He was amazed, too.
“Yeah,” I agreed, “I have GOT to know who designed and built this.”
Seth chuckled and looked at me, “Feeling like a poor cousin, are we?”
I waggled a nod and shake of my head, “Well, the uneducated cousin, yes.” I smirked at him, “And when have I EVER used the imperial form of the word we?”
Seth grinned, “I’m hungry. I hope Ceto has those lightly sweetened fried bread things. They are good with butter and fruit perseveres,” He shrugged, “She told us to ask. If she doesn’t, I will. Let’s go.” He said and headed to the door.
“Oh, no,” I said following him, “I love you to death, but you can’t avoid my question! I don’t say we like that, neither does Sam or Christian! Give me an example when I have.”
We were fine. It was our usual banter. It made us happy!
We walked in and saw everybody was there. And some others and gathered in circles around several low tables. What surprised me were several at one table, these men were Natives, but were paler than other Natives. One looked up at me and I saw his slanted eyes. There were several at that table that had the same complexion and eyes. I need to qualify that. These men were in their late teens to late twenties. That one that turned to me looked like he was fathered by a man from Japan. Others looked like their grandfathers were Japanese. Japanese ship captains dreaded coming here in fear of losing crewmen. They looked like they’d done it a while for several generations. They WERE members of a tribe. That is unless they changed what was done and let women serve on a ship. The sailors were men. Whether these Natives still practiced the temporary marriages. I doubt many Japanese wanted anything longer term than that. In Japan women walked behind their husbands and other gender rules. I didn’t see why. There were women that could do it, but in Japan?
I saw Dakotah and before I forgot, “There’s Dakotah. He knows pretty much everything about the tribes.” I pulled Seth behind me.
“Relax, Max,” Seth said as we got closer, “Someone else had to step down from his pedestal, too.”
My reply was an elbow in his gut. You know I could and would not ever hurt him. “Okay, out with it. This building is amazing! Please tell me Wahkooha didn’t design and build this.”
Dakotah looked at me with a crooked smile, “Well, you are mostly right.”
I wasn’t ready for that answer. I was almost sitting when he said that. I froze and looked at him. “Okay, explain my being a little bit wrong.” I said and sat.
Dakotah smiled at me. I clearly amused him.
“This is cutting edge design,” I said, waving my hands at the room we dined in. “My jaw nearly fell off when someone made our ceiling rise for some sunshine!”
“The design is by Byue,” Dakotah said. “He is of the Quinault Tribe. That’s a large tribe on our west coast.” He motioned toward the very table I saw the men that were of a mixed race were. “He, like you, is two spirited.”
Seth leaned in toward Chitto who sat on his other side, “That means he’s like Erik and me, right?” He whispered a little loud.
Chitto gave a slight nod, “Yes, but he is wedded to a…” he stopped, “Natives do not categorize genders, but the people from Europa gave it a name. Berdache. His spouse was born male, but dresses and acts as the female. That’s not you or Erik.”
Seth nodded, “I was just making sure. We have some Berdache in Royal Valley. That’s for women, too?”
Chitto nodded with a chuckle. Even Dakotah shook with a little laugh. “Byue is a gifted artist. There are those that claim his ability comes from the Spirits in the Spirit World.” He shrugged a little and waved off handedly, “After the tribes started coming together, Wahkooha saw what Byue could do and Wahkooha insisted on Byue to come up the design to have a place for people to come that was unlike anywhere on this world.”
“I think it certainly is,” I said.
Dakotah nodded, “I agree. Wahkooha never used a tool, but he assembled this place and some other buildings in See-ahisih...”
“But it just came together,” I looked at Demetrius and Dara. I then looked at Lukus who sat by Martha. They were married!
“Yes, but he had to use someone else to tell him how to put it together!” Lukus pointed out.
“Could he have blended three visions into one?” Demetrius added.
“Yes, but he hadn’t several centuries of experience,” Seth said casually. Ceto was passing by and Seth looked at her, “Pardon me, but did you make any of those slightly sweet fried bread things? They are delicious!”
Ceto pointed at our table, “Right next to your plate.”
Seth turned around and there was the steaming hot plate with the fruit preserves and butter beside it. He clapped his hands in anticipation and used tongs to put a couple on his plate. He reached for one with his hand, which he instantly dropped and shook his hand away from the fried bread, “Ow, they are still hot.” He told me. “Better let them cool.”
Seth and I were used to the there and then not there thing, and the opposite. Toby who sat by Val again didn’t react either. The others at our table who weren’t used to it, did. Dakotah’s eyes widened. He knew the plate hadn’t been there before, but he recovered quickly.
“So, you’ve dealt with Spirit construction before?” Dakotah asked.
“Yes,” I smiled, “Our home in Royal Valley was built by those three.” Demetrius, Dara, and Lukus waved at Dakotah.
“The story Cinderella and Prince Charming?” Dakotah asked. “Her Fairy Godmother?” Dara waved again. “The story of the Love Enchanted?”
“Love Enchanted?” Seth asked, “What’s that about?”
Dakotah looked unsure at that question, “Those two stories are connected. You haven’t heard it?”
“Not the one you have,” I said.
“Okay,” Dakotah shrugged. “It’s Prince Charming’s brother who goes off to find someone for himself like Prince Charming did. Prince Valere travels a long way and meets a man cursed and scarred by a wicked wizard. The wizard gave the man scars to make sure no one would want him. Prince Valere finds the man is a noble and honest man and was never affected the scars. They became friends but the Prince finds out the man is the lost son of the king and the wizard had done this so another man could become king. Prince Valere frees the man and returns him to his father, the king. The king offered the Prince anything in his kingdom as a reward. The Prince and the man with the scars fell in love. The Prince asked the king for permission to marry the man with the scars. It was within the king’s power to grant that. The two marry and love’s first kiss after it was announced, the scars vanish.”
Seth put perseveres on his bread, “At least they didn’t keep that other name. What sort of name is Cinderfella for a story?” He bit into the bread. He waved the bread at Ceto, “Thank you, Ceto. These are delicious!”
Seth was a happy man. He’d come so far from the first few years.
“Arthur was no wizard, but he was wicked and evil. He did give the scars,” I said to Dakotah. “The lack of names, it’s pretty accurate.”
“Which of us is Prince Valere?” Seth asked after he swallowed what he had in his mouth.
Dakotah shrugged, “It could be either of you. No kingdom is mentioned in either story.”
“Who cares,” Demetrius said, a bit anxious. “Is there a Fairy Godparent mentioned in it?”
Dakotah looked at Demetrius and shook his head, “No Fairy Godmother or father.”
“What!?” Demetrius balked indignantly.
“There was the wicked wizard,” Dakotah said unbothered. “That wasn’t any of you, was it?”
“Not wicked, at least,” Seth consented a little and grinned.
“Who do you think brought these two together!?” Demetrius asked.
I saw the corner of Dakotah’s mouth curl up just slightly, “Oh, there was the good sorcerer mentioned. He helped them.”
“That’s you, Demetrius.” I told him. ”It was a joke.”
Demetrius frowned, “Jokes are supposed to be funny.”
“And it was!” Seth said to Demetrius as the others at the table laughed.
“Valery?” Toby asked.
“No,” I smiled and spelled it out in sign language. “V a l e r e.” Then I explained with my voice, “It’s Latin.”
“Oh!” Toby nodded, “For valiant! Just like in the accounts with King Arthur.”
“It might all be fiction,” I said to him carefully.
He shrugged, “So? It’s exciting!”
“Yes, it is,” I agreed.
Dakotah leaned into me, “He went deaf recently?”
“He got Scarlet Fever at five or six months,” I said. “He’s been deaf ever since.” I saw his eyes widen again, “There’s no danger if you keep doing that. I’m sorry we keep giving you the reason to.”
“One of you had scars? What kind of scars?” Dakotah asked.
“From a fire when he was five years old,” I whispered. I mean I really whispered to just Dakotah. Even Toby couldn’t see my lips. “It was over the right side of his head and face. Also on his back, arm, and hand. He almost died.”
Dakotah schooled his eyes and eyebrows this time. “You can’t see it.”
“He’s come a long way in ten years,” I said. “I don’t want to remind him.”
Dakotah frowned, “I heard it said you cured him. Have you tried to cure Toby?”
“Why?” I asked. “He doesn’t know anything is wrong with him because there isn’t. He’s never mentioned a word about not being able to hear. Toby is a brilliant boy. He is smarter than many adults.”
“I realize that,” He nodded. “We have children who are deaf. Those that are born that way never learn to speak. Some who lose hearing later can speak a while, but lose the ability to be understood by most everyone. I’ve not known a child that young who begins to talk afterwards. Did it take long?”
I smiled, “Ask Toby. His brother and he worked on it about a year to surprise us just before our anniversary this past fall.”
“You didn’t know it?” Dakotah asked.
“Nope,” I said. “No clue.”
“You have the power of the Spirits as well,” Dakotah said.
“I used it,” I shrugged. “But, I didn’t know I could. Curing Seth’s scars...I didn’t know who did it.”
“I gather you are more…” Dakotah thought for a moment, “accustomed to things and people appearing and disappearing more than I am.”
I grinned, “I was told Natives were more accustomed to magic or the power of the Spirits than Pale-faces like us are.”
Dakotah chuckled, “Our exposure to the powers of the Spirits normally center around Vision Quests or speaking to our Animal Spirit Guides.” He cocked his head, “Have you managed to use the power again?”
I hesitated and thought of how to answer him. “I’m not really sure how to do it...I know great emotions are involved.” Then I began honestly, “I did when I needed to, but I never want to become dependent on it. I almost became dependent once.” I shook my head, “We had a problem to work on. I had gotten too used to talking to Demetrius...that became my first of action. We stopped fending for ourselves. It’s a trap.” I forced a chuckle out, “If I learned anything coming up here, we need to deal with our own problems.” I looked at Dakotah, “Did Wahkooha ever do anything without his magic?”
“At first,” Dakotah nodded, “Yes. He began using it more and more as the years progressed.”
I pointed at Dakotah, “And THAT, I promise not to do. I am not a god, nor will I ever believe I am one.” I shook my head, “Where did he get that? His father wasn’t like that.”
“You know that?”
I nodded and smiled, “I know because Wahkooha knew that. Wahkooha knew his father wouldn’t approve!”
Dakotah smiled, “No, he wouldn’t. He was a good man.”
“There were similarities between the Druids and Native cultures,” I said.
Dakotah gave a shrugging nod, “On many things, but not all.”
“If you two don’t quit gabbing,” Max said casually, “Don’t blame me if you’re not finished when the others get here.” He smiled and brought a spoonful of whatever in his mouth and began chewing happily. “This is good.”
I leaned in on the table and said, “I do NOT gab.” I growled. It would be a busy morning. A representative from every tribe was coming to make sure all the tribes were represented in tribal politics. The four largest tribes were the Yakama, Colville, Quintault, and the Spokane. In that order. The Quinault had a lot of their tribe members with the Japanese features. There were two other tribes that also had that, too. The Shoalwater and the Makah. Those four were on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It made sense that those Japanese ships made landfall there centuries ago and did so from that time on. I pointed at Max. “I gab as often as I use the imperial form of the word we, which is never.”
Every tribe would have an equal voice on matters. Was it fair to give a tribe of twenty the same voice as one in the hundreds? I don’t know, but it was the rules. No one questioned it. The total amounts of tribes were thirty something. Also, the Tribunal was gathering to answer the question about what to do with Wahkooha. Those grandmas weren’t pushovers. At the same time, they rarely executed anyone from their own tribe. At the same time, severe crime was rare. Nothing was owned, marriages were not necessarily long term or between just two people. Theft and jealousy didn’t happen. Even someone menatally ill isn’t viewed badly. Someone with a mental illness has part of that mind in the Spirit World and was a part of that world. Wahkooha was NOT mentally ill. (I would have to argue with that.) Thinking you are a god and begin to act like it? He had too much power. There had been no guidance by an adult with the power to show him. That is no excuse, but it is an explanation.
An hour or so later, people began gathering in the area we dined in. Most were male. There were three women and one young man who was about to begin adolescence. It would be next to impossible not to be able to leave him home alone. They were all introduced and their tribe was identified.
“And this is Kohona of the Samish Tribe,” Dakotah touched the “boy” on the shoulder. He raised his hand to her and said, “This is his Aunt Ayita.”
“In case you’re wondering,” Chitto said quietly to my ear. “Women can be in leadership roles as the two other women will be the one you hear are, but the Chief for the Samish is Kohona. Ayita is here to support Kohona. By language if nothing else, but his voice will be used.”
“How old is me?” I asked.
“Eleven,” Chitto answered and then added, “I think.”
“A job by birth?” I asked.
Chitto nodded, “He is their late chief’s son.”
I held my hand up, “Say no more. I understand.” Who here could possibly understand more that Seth and I did? To be honest, who could more than I did? I knew it all of my life.
I will also admit this. There has never been a quieter meeting about politics. It didn’t last but a few hours. Kohoma was very mature. I recognized the look.
The grandmothers arrived. There were twelve ranging from her sixty years of age and down to one fifty years of age. What they were here for was very serious. There were other Natives that were genuinely happy. All of these grandmothers were very somber. It was part of the job, I guess. They sat in a semicircle on the pillows on the floor. We gathered behind them. Dakotah and Chitto had not arrived.
It wasn’t too long before Chitto did arrive, but walked passed the Tribunal to us. He leaned forward over us and said, “This will be a little different than what you might expect.” He whispered. “There is no trial. No evidence to sift through or witness testimony to listen to.”
Why would there be? Everyone in town knew who Wahkooha claimed to be. Those same people knew what he’d done. This was to pass on judgement. No arbitrator for or witnesses against Wahkooha. Judgement wasn’t being forced on him. He earned it.
Chitto chuckled, “The many tribes speak many languages. The only language they all share is sign language.”
That was when Wahkooha was brought in by two young men. Wahkooha was being led to the center of the semicircle. Unlike someone brought in to be sentenced, Wahkooha was clean. In Creid, Blethos, and A’Dore who weren’t allowed to wash before any preceding. Without his power, Wahkooha was a defeated man. The erect shoulders and head normally held high were gone, Wahkooha’s shoulders slumped and his head hung low. That power was such a part of him and I saw that seemed to be all he was. I almost felt sorry for him. I said ALMOST. About as much as I felt for Deena. Almost.
A grandmother, the oldest of those twelve began signing. Chitto was just sitting there. I jabbed him lightly causing him to look up.
“Sorry,” Chitto hissed, shrugged and grinned. “I forgot. You don’t understand this Sign Language.” He pointed at the signing grandmother, “She said, we are supposed to come up with what to do with you.”
Another grandmother began signing, “We hold life as a gift and do not take life easily.”
“There is a concern that we can not put an end to your life,” another grandmother said.
How they divided up what was said seemed to be rehearsed. They didn’t interrupt.
“Banishment from the tribes was discussed,” yet another grandmother said.
“However misplaced,” a grandmother said, “someone could show you compassion and let you in.”
“It was suggested we send you out,” a grandmother waved at his body, “wearing what you have on now and given no supplies.”
“Minus one or perhaps both hands.”
“Perhaps one hand and one foot,” a grandmother suggested. “That would be a death sentence. The sun is out today, but will not be tomorrow.”
“You were given the power of the spirits,” A grandmother sighed, “And in the beginning, you helped us. Then you gave into greed. A true member of the people does not do that.”
“We give you a choice,” a grandmother said. “Do we execute? Or do we banish you to the cold without a hand and foot?”
Wahkooha gave a weepy shrug, “Kill me.”
“So be it,” the first grandmother said. “That will happen immediately.” She waved her hand at Dakotah, “Take him outside.”
I didn’t know where we were necessarily, but not on the street. And how did we end up with front row seats? Natives did not usually have swords. That was true until recently. But they didn’t behead him. A man I hadn’t seen pulled on the string of a bow as he pulled the string back, placed an arrow and took careful aim. Wahkooha didn’t look up. The archer released the arrow that flew directly into Wahkooha’s chest. Hitting his heart. Wahkooha fell lifelessly. Just to be sure, the same archer walked over and deeply cut Wahkooha from below one ear to the other on his neck. Wahkooha was now dead.