I used the Lakota Language in this book and some of the culture that I grew up in. I hope that everyone enjoys it.
Description: Wakangli is a sheltered young maiden. She ventures on a sea voyage with her father and stumbles into an adventure that changes her life. People try to use her gifts, but she is unwilling to give what they want.
I know something is following me.
I saw the shadows of someone flirting from tree to tree. Were they friend or foe? I shifted so a tree was at my back, I wasn’t taking any chances.
My arrow was already notched, the string pulled taut. When I saw another movement on my right I released it. I took a deep breath as I heard the thud of the arrow hitting home.
The buck that I had been hunting took one staggering step and crumpled to the ground. That took care of one of the shadows I saw, but what about the others. I searched the area through my lashes as I bent my head to study the buck.
The buck was huge, definitely weighing more than I did, most likely twice as much. I knew it was going to be hard to get him home by myself. I guess this is one of those moments that I would have to live with the consequences of my actions.
I was happy to have the buck, I just need to figure out a way to drag it back to the house.
My brother was miles away, hunting in the northern plains so his help was not an option. I preferred to hunt in the forest near our home. I guess this was just another thing that was different about us.
I was glad I didn’t miss the shot or my brother would never let me live it down. Not that I had missed a shot that close in a long time. Everything was a competition between us. Father would have been disappointed too, he expected the best from us.
I ran over to the buck and slit his neck to drain the blood. Then I pulled my arrow out. I laid my hand above the slit near his cheek.
“I am thankful, pikicila, older brother, for giving your life so I may live.”
I slit him from neck to rump and pulled out his insides. I kept the heart and liver, putting them back inside of him, so they would not get damaged.
I went to search for two young trees to make a travois to drag the buck home. I found two and used my sword to cut them down. I put tobacco down as an offering for the lives I took.
I dragged the trees back to the buck and laid them down beside him. I was happy I decided to bring my rope. I crossed the trees to make a triangle and then tied my rope around the spot where they met. I then draped the extra rope between the two trees so I would have a net to set his body on.
I grabbed his antlers and started to pull him onto my contraption. My muscles strained against the massive weight. I knew I could not have dragged him home any other way.
I heard a noise behind me. I started to glow as I dropped the antlers. I had my sword pointed at his throat before he took a step closer to me. I focused on calming myself down and my glow receded.
He looked comical and I knew I would not forget the look on his face anytime soon. He froze with one leg in the air and the other in tiptoe position. He started to shift for better balance, but it made the blade press deeper into his skin.
“Oh! Come on, Wakangli. I concede, you win. I told your brother this was not going to work.”
I held my sword steady, “What was not going to work, cousin?”
He huffed and started to raise his arms; I took a step closer, pressed my sword deeper and shook my head.
He growled, “Release me, wana!”
I laughed, “Or what?”
He started to grumble and mimic what my brother, “Iyatan said, ‘Sneak up on her and try to make her miss her shot. It will be easy to do.’"
His voice returned to normal, “Easy does not begin to describe how this was for you.”
I still held the sword against him while I reached back into my belt for my knife. I threw it toward the right of me into a tree right next to my other cousin’s head.
He flew to the ground and started shouting, “Holy Tatanka! Wakangli you could have hit me. We surrender.”
I laughed, “I wasn’t even close. Now what should I do with you two?” I looked to my younger cousin on the ground, “Tanagila, you will help drag the deer back.”
He stuttered in indignations, “Bbbbut . . . but. That’s not fair.”
I looked at my other cousin still posed and starting to sweat, “Wagnuka, you can take a turn.”
I lowered my sword and slid it in its sleeve. He lowered his head and stomped away. “No! No, fairy princess. I will not help.”
I hated when they called me that, it was what my father called me. It made me seem as if I were delicate, that was one thing I was not.
I walked over toward my knife and yanked it from the tree.
I could not meet Tanagila’s eyes, even though he kept trying to catch mine. I was keeping track of him so I would not accidently meet his gaze. We both stood next to the tree, watching as Wagnuka ran for home.
“I am sorry tree, I did not want to hurt you, but I think I would have been in more trouble with a hole in my cousin.”
I sent some of my energy into the tree and helped it heal. Then I turned toward Tanagila.
“What is the matter with him? Why is he so mad? I wasn’t going to hurt him and he knew it. I just like to make him sweat.”
“You know how he is, he takes things to the heart. He almost had you. You have to admit, he was almost upon you. It bothers him that he can never get the best of you.”
“I heard the crinkle of the leaves, it could have been anything, but I try to always stay on my guard. That is what father drills into my head every day."
He shrugged his shoulders as I continued, "You two should know that, father makes you train with him too. No hard feelings?”
“No hard feelings from me. I can’t speak for Wagnuka. You do make a habit of frustrating us most of the time.”
“Oh well, I guess I will have to deal with him sooner or later. Hopefully, later. You do have perfect timing; I needed some help to drag this home.
"It will go faster this way. If we take turns, we both won’t get so tired. When we get home I will make you a cake, after. . . .”
“Let’s go then,” Tanagila smiled and grabbed up the poles.
I knew that I had to wait a minute to talk again, nothing was going to get into his head after he heard cake. He had a one-track mind usually and most of the time it was pointed toward food.
“You do have to do something and you don’t have a choice.” I grinned wickedly at Tanagila. “You have to help me get back at Iyatan.”
He grinned, “With pleasure.”
The hike back to the house didn't take long with Tanagila and me working together. We passed the time planning our attack on Iyatan.
The hill going up to the house was going to be the end of me. My arms were burning and Tanagila was grinning as he pushed the travois while I dragged it. I yanked hard and landed on my butt. Tanagila laughed until he was on the ground next to me.
“Your face was amazing, the shock and indignation, it is just too bad no one else was around."
He looked around and then shrugged, " Maybe I can use it for blackmail at a later time.”
I lifted my end of the travois and glared at him.
Then I grinned at him, "Go ahead and try, we'll see what happens."
He started laughing again, “Okay, I am ready, don’t be so sensitive.”
We dragged the deer to the back of the house, where a table sat waiting. We use this table when we were preparing the animals for the pot. I grabbed a knife out of the box sitting under the table and started cutting it up.
Since my brother, our cousins and I were the main people to use the knives, it was considered our job to make sure they were clean and sharp. The table and knives always had to be ready for the next person to use. It was a dirty job, but I didn’t mind.
We knew no one would cut up the deer and haul it inside for us. We would receive no help because most of the hunters were gone. One of our rules is 'If you brought it to the house then you had to prepare it.'
The cook loved fresh meat, but she wanted it off the animal. She always got sad when she saw the animal’s faces. I felt for her, so all this work was worth it because she was a good cook.
Tanagila helped me carry the meat in the kitchen for the cook to deal with and then went to his room. I went back outside and stretched out the hide between rods that formed a square. The stretching rack was situated against the house. I could hear Tanagila singing as he cleaned up and my brain was screaming at me to make it stop. He meant well, but he could not carry a tone.
I grabbed a scraper out of the box and spent hours scraping it clean. Then I left it to dry in the sun, so it would be ready to bury in ashes.
While I was cleaning up the scraps, Tanagila tried to creep up behind me.
“Nice try, but you sound like a skunk running through the bushes. Are you sure you cleaned up, you smell like one too?
"Did you get what we need, Tanagila?”
“How did you know it was me? I could have been the enemy or Wagnuka.”
I threw a scrape at him and he screamed, “Hey! I'm clean.”
“You got clean too fast, Tanagila. I still need help to clean the table and knives. You know that we cannot leave it like this.”
“Fine I will help you, but if you put any of this stuff on me, I’m gone.”
“Let me see the bag and what you brought me, my favorite, most loved cousin.”
He grinned as he handed over the bag, “Flattery will not get you anywhere, cousin.”
I laughed as I opened the bag and found a drum stuffed in. We were going to scare a big headed hunter, he didn't know what was coming for him. I looked up and grinned.
I went to the stables and stepped up to the stall holding my horse, Wicahpi. I rubbed my hand down her white forehead and patted her neck. She was a beauty, with her full white body, silver mane and tail.
She was breed by an Elvin horse master from our continent, Tatowapa. The land of my birth was known for horses, sailing and the people that were the natives of the land. The wind was a constant companion on the island; maybe that is why sailing and merchants were the main income for our people. I am proud of my homeland.
I wanted to see the other continent called Aglapta, that was home to the other elves. I heard that it is a cold place where it rains constantly. This is where many of the storytellers born to our people are from. I wonder if I would like this place.
I opened the stall and walked Wicahpi out. I was going to jump on her back, but she stepped away from me.
“We are going to get Iyatan back and I need your help. Will you help me?”
Wicahpi shook her head back and forth sharply, then headed back for her stall.
“Iyokipi, you won’t get in trouble if we are caught. You will be back in your stall before the night comes fully.”
Wicahpi stopped and turned to look at me.
“Please! I will give you extra oats.”
Her head started to nod before I even finished speaking. I knew if she disagreed with what I was up to the best way to get her to help was to bribe her. The best way to bribe her was through her stomach and sometimes a good brushing.
“Thank you. Thank you so much. Now, we are going to the edge of the north forest. We need to go as fast as we can before Iyatan comes home.”
We sped across the land with Tanagila and Wagnuka behind us. Wagnuka glared daggers at me, making me wished he had stayed behind, but he still followed. We made it to the edge of the forest and spotted Iyatan’s horse. We led our horses behind a bend in the trees and headed into the plains.
We did not go very far out into the grasslands before we spotted Iyatan. Tanagila crawled over to me and handed me the drum. Then we stayed on the ground waiting.
Iyatan crept slowly toward us, keeping his eye on his target, a herd of buffalo. His back toward us, unaware of the scare he was about to receive. He stepped closer, but I waited until he was right in front of us. I sprung up pounding the drum.
My brother shot up into the air shouting and screaming, “Wakangli! How dare you!”
I started laughing.
I did not say anything and I motioned to Tanagila to wait and be quiet. I looked around, but did not see Wagnuka anywhere.
“Wakangli! I can’t believe you did that. You ruined the hunt.”
I felt the ground rumble and looked up to see the herd of buffalo that my brother had been stalking stampeding toward us. I grabbed at Tanagila’s shirt and ran for the trees. Iyatan didn’t have time to run and was caught in the middle of the herd. It seemed to take forever for the end of the herd to pass. Iyatan lay sprawled on ground not moving.
Tanagila ran up to him and ended up on his back with Iyatan leaning over him. Iyatan was glowering so much his blond hair seemed to have gained a red tint.
He was bleeding from his head and he curled in toward his stomach. I felt so guilty, I knew it was time for me to face him. I jumped and ran from the tree I was hiding in and came up behind him.
“Iyatan, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I am fine, no thanks to you. I used the earth to give me strength.”
“I’m sorry, your trick could have ended just as badly.”
“So play nice and I will. You know it was your fault, you started it.”
He turned toward me with murder in his eyes. He didn’t say anything, but spun away and started shuffling toward his horse. I yanked Tanagila to his feet and followed.
“Come on, Iyatan. It was a joke just like the joke you had Tanagila and Wagnuka play on me. It was fair and we did not mean for anyone to get hurt.”
“Fine! You win, Wakangli. I should not have played a trick on you.”
“Then stop pouting.”
“You cost me the hunt. Also my head and side hurts." He smiled in excitement, despite his anger and pain, "We need to hurry home, we sail in two days. That was a good trick though, you scared me."
He frowned, "You know if we did not have magic that would have ended me, right?”
“Niye? The almighty Iyatan. I did not think that it was possible. Thinking about it now, it was not the best idea I have ever had. I am glad you are okay, brother.”
I grinned and he grinned in response, he nodded his head. After I handed the drum to Tanagila, I walked to Iyatan’s side. Wagnuka seemed to have disappeared. I whistled for Wicahpi when we cleared the trees.
My horse didn't come when I whistled. She always came when I called even when she was mad at me. Tanagila’s horse was missing as well. The only horse still around was Pailepi, Iyatan’s charger. The ground was churned up around him and he was panting.
We tried to get near Pailepi, but he danced away from us and reared up.
We had to get Iyatan up on his horse.
I looked around one last time, “I wonder where Wagnuka went to?”
Iyatan sighed impatiently, “I don’t know, and right now I don’t care. We need to hurry to get back before father finds us gone.”
I laughed, “You didn’t tell father that you were going hunting either? We had better hurry than or else suffer some crazy punishment.”
We finally got Iyatan on Pailepi’s back and started the long trek home. We kept a steady pace, letting Iyatan carry the drum as we walked.
Iyatan had mischievousness flowing in his eyes as I looked at him, "What is it, Iyatan?"
Iyatan looked at me with innocence, "I could not find my sock this morning. I was wondering if you could help me find it when we get home? Please."
I groaned as the sock began to glow, there was nothing that I could do to stop it. Once someone mentioned something lost, my powers kick in. The sock pulled me toward it, wanting to be found.
When we reached the house, father was standing on the porch waiting. His arms were crossed over his barrel chest. I reached for the drum and held it in front of me like a shield of armor. I was aching to go get the sock. I forced myself to stay still to look at my father, after I sent a glare at Iyatan.
His booming voice echoing in my ears, “I heard a story of a drum disappearing minutes before my daughter, son and nephew vanish. I looked all over for you and all I find is Wagnuka sitting and packing for the voyage. What do you have to say for yourselves?”
I could not meet his eyes, “I borrowed the drum, and see here it is.”
My father’s eyes bulged with anger, “I am looking at it and am sorely disappointed. It took a long time to make that drum and so short of a time to destroy it.
"Tomorrow the three of you will tan hides and make drums. Then when we set sail, you can use your time to fix the drum and you will not help on the ship until it is done. Go clean up for supper.”
I bowed my head and went past my father; I knew when a battle was lost. The disappointment coming from his eyes was worse than the punishment.
I ran and grabbed my brother's sock. Then threw it in his face. I went to my room and thought about how much trouble my brother and cousin got into because of me.
I snuck out of my window and went to Wicahpi’s stall. She was pacing in agitation, but calmed a little when I walked in.
“Where did you go earlier? You left me out there and I had to walk back.”
She snorted and shook her head.
“I understand it was not your fault. What should I do?”
I laid my head on her neck and thought about what my father had said and how he looked. I absently filled Wicahpi’s grain bucket and placed it at her feet. I patted her neck as she bent her head to eat. She raised her head, nudged and then went back to eating.
My father was always talking about how he wanted me to be mature and show him I knew the meaning of responsibility. I would show him.
I went to my father in his study, one of my favorite places to lose myself. The smell of the fireplace and books was comforting. This was our spot. My brother and cousins hated coming in here unless it was for lessons, and then they left quickly. Sometimes I would curl in an armchair with a book while my father worked at his desk. We shared comfortable silence.
He sat at his desk as I peeked around the door. He filled his chair and it seemed to groan under his giant stature. He was a tall, strong man and he knew his size intimidated people. He looked up as I called.
“Ate, can I talk to you for a minute? It's about earlier.”
He stared up at me with solemn eyes, “Han.”
“It was my fault the drum was ruined. I do not think it fair Tanagila and Iyatan have to suffer. They really want to learn about the ship. I take full responsibility for the drum.”
My father’s booming laugh startled me, “If you want to take the punishment for them that's fine, but I know they had a guilty hand in the mischief too.”
“I want to take the punishment.”
“I see, well maybe they will owe you.”
“Ate,” I sighed, “that is not why I did it. You should know me better than that.”
My father winked at me, “I believe I know you very well, my mischievous fairy princess.”
He laughed again, “Call them in.”
I went to search for the boys and found them taking care of Iyatan’s head in the kitchen.
“Ate wants to see both of you.”
My words made them both jump. They followed me back into the study, heads bowed.
“Boys, I have some interesting news for you. You will not being partaking in the punishment of tanning hides or fixing drums. Wakangli has asked to do it alone.”
Their heads whipped up and stared at me with their mouths hanging open. I stared back with a blank face.
Iyatan turned his head slowly back to our father, “But . . . . but that . . . .”
My father held out his hand, silence fell quickly. “I did not command she do this, it is her choice. She will do the punishment and you both will help load the ships. You can go. Wakangli, wait one minute.”
The boys left and closed the door softly behind them. I turned toward my father and smiled. He held out his arms for a hug. I hugged him and he held me to his side as he talked.
“I am proud of you, you did a good thing.” I glowed with pleasure until he spoke again. “But you should probably get some sleep; it is going to be hard work tanning hides tomorrow.”
My shoulders slumped, “Okay.” I walked to the door slowly.
“Oh, and Wakangli.” I lifted my head to see the huge grin on his face, “I will make sure they have hot water ready for you when you are done. We don’t want you smelling like the tanning house when we travel. Don’t forget to pack.”
I stuck my tongue out at him and stomped to the door. His laughter followed me all the way to my room.
I was happy that we did not leave the day with us both angry. I was not looking forward to the punishment, but at least my heart felt lighter.
I went to sleep thinking about sailing.