The Messenger

Over on More Odds than Ends was a single prompt: In the shadow of the hanged man was…  (Yes, I’m still lurk there from time to time.)

The Messenger

The Anitsiskwa speaker held out his arm for the returning messenger.  “Do you see anything good from these strangers?”

Raven gently wrapped his talons around the man’s wrist. “They will teach you new way to grow your crops and make clothes that last.  Some will call you friend.  But there is a price.”

 “Tell me, brother, what did you see?”

Raven cocked his head and looked from man to man.  His eyes gleamed as if with tears.

Slowly he started to speak.  “I flew over our land and saw the land torn asunder, with strange buildings that are not lodges or council house, rivers that run red as blood.  There was no place for me to land so I flew on to find a place rest.

“I found a small forest where one great oak stood.  In the boughs I saw my brother the owl.  He looked at me and clicked his beak, but did not speak.”  The men of the council shuddered at the death omen.  “Hanging from the branch was one of our mighty sons.  His body was bloated in death; his once long hair was torn and matted.”

The Anigilohi speaker flinched to hear one of the peace clan’s sons so described.

Raven turned to look at the Aniwodi and Anggatogewi speakers.  “In the shadow of the hanged man I saw a broken pot, its paint spilled over a withered potato plant.”  The two men hung their heads.

“Just beyond the shadow I saw a pair of deer, their necks twisted and broken.”  The Anikawi speaker began to quietly cry.

“Lying across them was a crippled panther whose blue eyes begged me for mercy. The Anisahoni speaker frowned but did not look away.

Raven turned to look at the Aniwahay leader.  “I saw a wolf tied and gagged, straining against his bonds but unable to come to the aid of his brethren.”  The war chief stared at Raven, his face still as stone but his filled with pain.

Raven turned back to the man who held up.  “I saw my brother Eagle hopping along the ground with broken wings.”

Fanning his wings Raven continued to speak.  “I left that place of death and flew across the mountains until I found a small village ravaged by fire.  There I saw the Seven Mothers with tears running down their faces.”

“I say the price is too high,” the Aniwahay leader waved his hand across the vista.  “We should kill them before they can kill us.”

The Anigilohi speaker shook his head.  “We are principled people; we do not kill without cause.  As of yet, they have done no harm.”

“What would you purpose?” Anikawi quietly asked.  “To do nothing means the end of our way of life.”

Anigilohi looked around the circle.  “First, we take this message to the Seven Mothers; tell them what Raven has seen.  Ask their thoughts.” 

Aniwodi raised his eyes and looked out across the mountain.  “Then I ask my clan to make medicine to make us stronger.  Even your warriors will need all of their mental and physical strength to stand against what is coming.”

Anitsiskwa sadly shook his head at Aniwayah.  “Raven has told us what will happen.  There is little we can do to stop it.”

Anigatogewi sighed.  “But we can prepare for it and do whatever we can to protect our people and our way of life.”

The seven clans of the Aniyunwiya.  (I opted to use an Anglicized version of the old names)

Blue (panther) [Anisahoni]

Long Hair [Anigilohi]

Bird [Anitsiskwa]

Paint [Aniwodi]

Deer [Anikawi]

Wild Potato [Anigatogewi]

Wolf [Aniwayah]

A little more information can be found here:

This was supposed to be a Halloweenish story, but my mind and muse don’t always want to go where everyone else is going.  After pondering for a few days, considering different approaches I got the idea to go with someone repeating a Vision, a warning of things coming.  Not long after that I remembered the art of Donald Vann, specifically a “series” depicting the arrival of pale strangers into Aniyunwiya lands. And I thought what could be more terrifying than learning that your people, your way of life, were about to be destroyed.

Shamans Council  – the speakers for the council sending out the messenger from what is now known as Clingman’s Dome.
Return of the Raven – the messenger bringing back the news of what is coming.

(Donald is now retired but here is a nice site to look at more of his work

Header Art cropped version of “She Speaks for her Clan” by Dorothy Sullivan

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is she-speaks-for-her-clan-d-sullivan-1.jpg
In order left to right:
Wolf, Wild Potato, Bird, Blue, Deer, Paint, Long Hair

I think Dorothy is still active.  I can’t find an on-line gallery that displays her work, but if you look up her name you can find many more example of her art.

Thanks for reading.


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