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Chapter 18: The Hovel

by Sheila L. Chingwa 4 months ago in Fantasy
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Wind Witch by Sheila L. Chingwa

Chapter 18: The Hovel
Photo by Mark Olsen on Unsplash

Ralph's large body shifted and Sarah's eyes opened to a wall of white fur. She tried to wiggle away from Ralph's heavy arm but she could not move the arm from her. Ralph's heaving chest rocked Sarah softly with each breath he took. With a snort and a rumbling snore, he woke himself up. He looked down his snout like nose to see Sarah's dark eyes looking up at him.

"Good morning Sarah," he said as he raised his arm to let the little girl loose. "I hope I didn't snore all night."

Sarah leaned up against the cave's wall, "If you did, I didn't notice. Thank you for keeping me warm. I slept alright."

"Good, we traveled a long way in the night. I'm getting old and too fat to keep doing things like that." Ralph tried to smile but Sarah only saw fangs exposed.

The yeti stretched out his legs with strained difficulty. One foot nearly hit Sarah as he stretched himself out but Sarah scooted out of the way of the massive foot that landed near her. Thick fur covered the top of his foot and the bottom was dark and leathery in appearance. Sarah looked up to her capturer.

"I was told not to fear you, but why did you take me away from the cabin?" Sarah walked closer to the beast.

"Jack had me watch over you. I have been sitting on top of the hill waiting and watching. Most of the time nothing significant happened then, I saw the spirit elders leave the crone's cabin and I knew something was going to happen. When the snow storm hit, I knew something was not right. The wind was not natural. You, young lady, need to get that anger under control. As I sat amongst the blowing and raging snow, I saw a white light heading toward the valley so I began to head down to the cabin. Then I heard my friends howling and the Wendigo's screech and I knew you were not safe. As I was running I saw the old one transform into her original shape and picked up speed. Then I saw the glow of the black arrow being placed in front of you and I knew I had to get you out of there." He shrugged.

Sarah pulled out the arrow from her coat and turned it over in her hand. There was no glow like the night before emitting from it but the blackness of the shaft and point seemed to catch scant rays of light and its surface seem to shift on its own. The long black shaft was cold to the touch but unbelievably smooth. The arrow point was well flinted to sharp edges and the feathers on the fletching were of a black swan.

"I do not know how to shoot a bow and arrow." she frowned as she continued to study the treasure.

The beast scoffed, "Have you ever tried?"

Sarah thought about that question for a moment. When she was little, she tried to shoot one with the boys. She remembered being chased away because she was a girl. She walked over to the beast and sat on his thigh.

"No, well I wanted to. I really wanted to learn but I was chastised by the men for doing so." She chewed on her lip slightly as she played with her thoughts. Her stomach growled in protest and she looked up to the beast with a smile. "I guess I am hungry."

"Yeah, I didn't think of that." he scratched on his belly fir and said, "I didn't grab food before I grabbed you." He shifted his body and Sarah got up off his log like limb. Ralph hoisted his massive haunches onto all four and proceeded to stand.

Ralph was so tall that his head hit an ice cycle that hung from the entrance of the cave. He rubbed his head as he bent over to exited. Sarah watched the beast's body turn one way and then his feet shuffled to the other direction. He stooped back down and entered the cave again.

"I don't smell anything cooking for miles. I guess we will have to wait until we get to the Hovel tonight. Now young lady, we have to find a way to get you there. It is a long walk and I think I better travel it in a trot or run. I can't carry you that far and you will not be able to keep up with me on foot. Stay here, I have an idea." said Ralph.

Once again the beast exited the cave and Sarah cold hear his large feet crunch through the snow. While he was gone, Sarah sat holding the arrow. She thought, "I am wind magic. The air is what this arrow rides on is a part of me. I guess I have something to learn. I don't even have a bow to shoot with. I don't understand why I should have this gift. She stood and began to pace the floor. I am just a kid. What is a kid going to do with such a thing?" Her thoughts ran wild with confusion.

Ralph called out to Sarah, "Come child, it is time to go."

Sarah walked through the entrance and out into the sun. The light was so bright that she covered her eyes to protect them. As her eyes adjusted, she saw a little birch bark hewn sled in front of her. White sheets of bark was lashed together with strains of Ralph's white fur. Thick white knots tied in a peculiar fashion was holding the bark together. He even had fashioned a hand hold on the sides for Sarah's to hold onto during the ride over the snow. Ralph yowled and his voice rang through the trees. On top of a hill, a white stag appeared and stood tall and proud. Puffs of frozen air poured from his nose as he trotted towards them. His fur was so white that he blended in perfectly with the snow and sun chasing after him.

The massive deer was white from head to foot except his eyes and a few spots on his nose. The eight point buck grew in size as it approached. When it stopped in front of Ralph, she could see the deer came up to Ralph's waist. His head and horns just cleared the yeti's shoulder and it's chest was bigger than a barrel. She listened to Ralph grunt phrases that she couldn't understand but it was obvious, the white buck understood everything he had said. Upon command the beast moved into place in front of the sleigh and Ralph attach fur like rope to the beast and the sled. Once his work was done, he told her to get into the sled. She ran her hand down the length of the deer as she approached the sled. The Deer snorted and looked at her with its dark eyes.

With a giant jolt, the deer and Ralph began to trot away from the cave and Sarah held on to the sides as best as she could. Sarah sat watching the beast and the deer take stride for stride over the snow. With each pull her head would pull back against the tree bark. At first, the cold air was refreshing but soon it began to bite at her exposed skin. She hunkered down into her jacket and tucked herself into a little ball.

Ralph called to the deer to stop because he could see the little one was cold. "You know, that bubble you made the other day to protect you from the wind will also protect you from the cold now. Make that bubble again and you will warm up in no time."

With a nod, Sarah began to concentrate on the air around her. The cold air began to move. Ralph watch the air as it toyed at the fir on the deer's tail and Ralph chuckled as his fur shifted in the blowing wind. Sarah sat in a moment of silence as she focused on pulling the air around her to form an air shield around her. Ralph stood in amazement as he watched a ball of air surround the child in an egg like fashion. She shifted in the sled and opened her eyes. All around her was a bubble of ice and snow stuck in patches on the shield. She smiled through the ice glass at the yeti. With a slap on the white deer's backside, they continued on their journey.

Sarah watched as the landscape slide by her. The pine trees were laden heavy with snow and the branches hung with its weight. There was no sign of habitation anywhere and soon she drifted off to sleep. There, in her dreams, she dreamed of her mother and her father as they laughed together as they worked. Her father, he was cleaning fish to smoke. Her mother worked on an ash basket carefully weaving a design. With a smile, Sarah woke with a moment of happiness. The first happy memory she had in a long time.

Next thing she knew was Ralph lifting her out of the little sleigh. He set her on the ground and held her until she steadied herself. She rubbed her eyes and tried to adjust her vision. As the sleep cleared, she watched the White stag run out of sight. With a tug on her jacket, Ralph led her to a wall of rock. With a melodic howling song, a small rumble began and a pebble or two fell to the ground as the wall opened to expose a cave. Ralph easily walked into the entrance of the cave and ascended down a lit cavern. She saw many shapes shifting in the distance and they were all shaped like Ralph.

"Were are we?" she said.

"We are at our Hovel. We winter here. In the summer months, we hunt and gather like your parents did." Ralph offered his large fur covered hand to Sarah. "Come with me. There are others whom you need to meet."

As the pair walked through the cave, she could see many corridors leading off in different directions. The chill in the air cooled her nose and she stopped to adjust her jacket to keep in her warmth. The path wound down into an a cavern and a wide stretch of water flowed lazily through the rocks. Ralph and Sarah followed a path that ran next to the river until a bridge came into view.

When the two approached the bridge, another yeti advanced upon the two. The yeti came at a dead run across the span of the river. Once he saw Ralph, he stopped and paused a moment and uttered an apology.

"Your honor, I am sorry to have approached in such a manner." Tyrone bowed and turned his head to look directly at Sarah. "There must be a good reason why you brought a human here."

"Stand Tyrone, and meet Sarah. The reason she is here is business of my own." His eyes leveled on his friend. "I believe you should follow us to the chambers. You need to witness the chain of events that are about to occur."

Tyrone stood and followed the pair to the chamber. "You know, she will remember nothing of this when you leave. So why risk her visit?"

"You need to be patient my friend. I do not want to tell the tale many times. All will be revealed all in time." Ralph scratched at his beard deep in thought.

Sarah watched the two beast talking to each other. All see heard was a series of grunts and growls coming from the two. Not one word she could understand, but she knew that Ralph was one of power. As Tyrone peered at her, she slowly backed into Ralph's leg and leaned close for safety. She had no idea what was happening.

"Look now, you scared her you big oaf." Ralph growled.

Ralph grabbed Sarah's hand and began to lead her across the stone bridge. Tyrone called another sentry from the side to take charge of the bridge. Soon, Sarah watched two smaller sentries take their guard at the bridge. As she passed the two yetis, they growled and she assumed they said hello. With a nod, they allowed her and her companions to pass.

The walls glistened in the torch's lights. Sarah could see gold strains in the rock and they grew in width as they traveled deeper into the earth. As they traveled, light grew and Ralph stopped just outside an opening. Light streamed a golden hue and Sarah's eyes danced with awe.

"Tyrone, Announce Miss Sarah and I." said Ralph.

Ralph and Sarah heard the announcement and Ralph entered into the room with Sarah by his side. Ralph kneeled and he gestured Sarah to do the same. She lowered her eyes and shifted her tired legs to the ground. In front of Sarah, was placed a medallion with a serpent on it.

"Put it on, you will be able to hear all we say." said Ralph.

Sarah picked up the medallion and felt the smoothness of the porcupine quills that formed the pictures. The features of the serpent showed a black fish like creature. Around it was framed white quills that was finished off by a cross hatched design. The fine workmanship made her smile. She remember others like this. She placed the medallion around her neck and the grunts and groans were transformed into words.

"My Lady Lashier and council." He rose to his feet and walked over to the wall were an etching was made. He looked at an hooded woman with a bow in her hand. The image was painted in white and was tinted with golden threads in her robe. In the archer's hand, was a black arrow like the one hidden inside her jacket. "I believe, she has returned." He said as he gestured to the picture then turned to the council.

Sarah peered at the picture on the wall. She never seen such beautiful work and the cave walls were decorated in similar paintings and carvings that she did not understand. Her eyes danced from picture to picture and recognized the serpent's image the was stationed over Lady Lashier's head.

"My dear Ralph," said Lady Lashier, "Why would you think that?"

Ralph walked back over to Sarah and said, "Little one, show them your treasure."

Sarah unzipped her jacket and pulled out the arrow and held it out into the room. The chamber members began to gasp and whispers were echoing through the room. Some of the Chamber members began to growl and some howled almost an angry sound. Sarah covered her ears and closed her eyes for fear was bearing in on her.

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the chamber, you are frightening the young one. COLLECT YOURSELVES AT ONCE!" Lady Lashier yelled to the others sitting in the circle.

Ralph lowered himself to the cave's floor and pulled her hands from her eyes, "Take the arrow and touch the picture with it."

Sarah looked around the room. Lady Lashier and the council members stared at her as she uncomfortably walked to the hieroglyph on the wall. She touched the arrow to the wall and retreated as the stone began to shift. A section of rock slid from beneath it baring its contents. In a hidden drawer laid a quiver and another black arrow. Sarah marveled at the intricacies of the leather work on the quiver. Black leather laced together with yeti fur.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the council, it is clear, the wind witch has returned." said Lady Lashier. "Take the treasure child. It is yours."

Sarah's eyes steadied on the treasure as she reached in to retrieve the gift. As her hand neared the quiver, it rose and bound itself to her. Straps of leather wrapped itself around the young girl. Straps tightened around her jacket and held itself close to her body. The two arrows began to glow. Sarah lifted both arrows in her hand and they levitated and took their place safely inside the shaft of the quiver. A slow steady glow of light emitted from the arrows, as if, they were celebrating their union. Sarah turned to face the council, her shadow cascaded over the council who was sitting silently watching the chain of events. Her eyes met theirs and all bowed their head in reverence.


About the author

Sheila L. Chingwa

Welcome to my world.

Welcome to my thoughts.

I am proud to be a Native American Elder born and raised in Northern Michigan. Thanks to my hard work I have a B.A. in Education and a Masters in Administration and Supervision in Education.

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