Cricket in the Meadow prayed all night that night. She sensed the young man was in great danger, and she was unable to rest. She stepped outside several times to look at the night sky, and was amazed at how many stars she could see. As she looked around the village, she saw other fires lit brightly, and other people were awake too, moving around, no doubt praying as well. Among them was the lodge of Holds the Fire. Cricket in the Meadow had tears well up in her eyes, so she closed them, and prayed for healing for their family.
Talking Eagle had just barely covered himself, in the pit with logs, when the fire started to grow dim. And then the wolves did come, quietly at first. They were sniffing the ground, and making soft growling noises. It was dark now, but he could plainly see them surrounding the pit and several got on top of the logs to look down at him through the cracks. They became angry, bared their teeth at him (which he could see in the moonlight), and began growling and snarling. They also looked for a way to get to him and around the logs. The logs were too heavy to move, so a few began digging around the pit. Talking Eagle was prepared for this though, and he jabbed at them with his arrows, and several times he drew blood. The animals yelled, ran around limping, but would eventually return madder than ever.
Several miles away the men built a fire to keep warm, and they took turns standing guard against wolves. They heard them in the distance howling, but could not see them. Every so often, when the guard could not stay awake any longer, he would wake up the next person. Without a lodge to protect them, the cold was intense, even with a fire. No one slept very well, and they spent most of their time shivering.
Talking Eagle was shivering, partly from the cold and partly from fear. The wolves spent hours breathing down at him, through the cracks, their drool dripping down the logs, and onto his blankets. They tried to dig, and he continued to poke and jab at them. They were everywhere at once, was he dreaming – having a nightmare? No they were real, their blood dripping from his arrows and their yelling was real for sure.
It was sometime just before dawn when Cricket in the Meadow had a vision. She saw two pieces of light hanging over the forest. They were not sunbeams or rays from the sun. They were two long pieces of light with a beginning and ending, just hanging there in the sky. They looked a lot like…well icicles. She knew it was a sign and sensed that Talking Eagle was between the two pieces of light. Would the men see the sign? She began praying that they would.
It was just before dawn when the wolves gave up the attack. It was the cold now, that was killing Talking Eagle, as he lay quietly in the pit. He shivered severely. His skin was growing pale, and his fingertips were turning blue. He was confused, but had enough presence of mind to sing the death song, that his mother had taught him. He was not at peace about dying, but he was trying to be. For the first time in his life – he prayed. Then he stopped singing, because he did not want the pit that he had dug, to be his grave.
When the men woke up at dawn, there was a discussion on which way they should go. All discussion stopped however when Standing on the Mountain stared at the sky awestruck. There were two long pieces of light hanging over the forest, each with a beginning and an end. They all looked at this miraculous sign, and then they looked at each other. Without speaking they quickly gathered their belongings. Bull Elk asked Two Wolves if he knew how to get there, and he said yes. At that, the men took off running towards the place where the pieces of light were.
Bull Elk took the lead, and could be heard yelling, “My son!”, “My son!”, “We must find my son!” The tears streaming down his face, froze to his skin as he ran. Once they were closer the two pieces of light went out, but they could smell a burning smell. Was it a fire? The eight men sprinted now as one, thundering through the otherwise quiet forest. They followed the smell to a clearing, and stopped dead in their tracks. There were signs of wolves everywhere, a lot of them. “The pit!”, yelled Bull Elk.
They sprang into action. Hawk in the Sky, and Wild Horse drew their bows and stood guard, watching the woods, while Seven Hawks removed the logs in an instant. There they found the boy, unconscious, and barely alive but breathing. Three men restarted the fire, while Talking Eagle was lifted out of the pit, and surrounded with layers of buffalo blankets. The young man was placed in the arms of his father, who sank to his knees, weeping.
A short time later the fire was roaring, and everyone was getting warmer. Life was coming back to Talking Eagle, but he was still pale, and he was showing signs of frostbite. While Standing on the Mountain made an herbal drink from melted snow, and herbs from a pouch he kept at his waist, it was decided to get the young man back to the village as quickly as possible. They would carry him, and not stop until they got there.
Two Wolves said, “Since we are not following his trail, we do not have to go through the thick brush” “There is another way around, which is longer but will take less time”. That is exactly what they needed. They made a sling from buffalo blankets. Talking Eagle woke up long enough to take the herbal drink, and to see his father. He managed a smile and fell back asleep.
They headed back to the village with Two Wolves leading the way. Seven Hawks carried the head of the sling, and Bull Elk carried the foot. They did not know it, but Talking Eagle was praying for the second time in his life, thankful that he was alive. The Creator was speaking to him that he would be safe now.
This was longer than normal – thanks for reading! Next week more on life in the village, and the restoration of Bull Elk’s family. Peace!
Writing © Copyright 2015, nicodemasplusthree