A Bad Wind Rising
TITLE: A Bad Wind Rising
GENRES: Fantasy, thriller/suspense, mythology.
SUMMARY: Something evil arises near Devil's Lake...
WRITING STATUS: Completed.
WRITING DATE: Circa 2002.
LENGTH: 5400+ words.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Fantasy violence, mild adult language.
COPYRIGHT: This story and all characters, unless otherwise stated in the Disclaimers, are copyright © tehuti_88 and may not be used or distributed without permission. The reader is free to print out or download a copy of this story for offline reading as long as the author's copyright information remains upon it. Please do not distribute; if you wish to share this story, send a link to this page.
DISCLAIMERS: Ocryx and his "species" are © the Haunted Theatre of Mackinac Island. Certain characters are from Ojibwa mythology. Although aspects of this story are loosely based on Ojibwa mythology and culture, artistic license has been taken as this is a FANTASY story. Please take note that this story was written around 2002 and that my writing style and understanding of the mythology I created may have changed vastly in the meantime.
ADDITIONAL INFO: NA.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This short story ties in with the Manitou Island serials listed above; as such, it might not make much sense out of context. This is my "genesis" story for the Wendigo GeeBees on Manitou Island. Please see "Unleashed" for the immediate prequel to this story.
WATER AGAIN FILLED the Devil's Lake to the brim, dark and slaty and choppy as rock. The entire woods around the place seemed to have darkened with the presence of the One who dwelled within. If the natives had had any reason to stay clear of the site before, now that reason was only increased. Before, the story of the lake demon had been only a story. Now, they knew it was true.
With the rebirth of the lake, several long-dried springs around it burst into life again as well, their underground streams fed by the bottomless body of water. At the back of a small rocky cave upon the lakeshore, a stream started up from the side of the stone and trickled downwards toward the home of the demon. It struck a dusty outcropping just as the wind picked up, swirling the soil around in a dust devil for a moment before the moisture broke it apart and sent it away. The little globules of dirtied water rolled down the side of the rock toward the ground below.
The wind picked up again, beating against the little droplets, stirring up what dust was left, mixing the two together. It began to whistle, then whisper, then giggle. The dust devil arose anew, spinning and battering itself against the rock. Along with its crazy motions, a voice...many voices...seemed, faintly, to laugh.
Old Mother Manitou lifted her head from her stirring and her nostrils flared. She grimaced and turned away from the fire, hobbling to the side of the great stone room. Here she found a sprig of herb and tossed it into the flames, fanning it with her hand. The wind whistled around the holes and crevices in the rock and she glanced up, but could see nothing but the dark ceiling.
"You'd best stay out," she muttered. "Don't know what trouble you're looking for if you come in here."
The whistling and laughing faded. Old Mother Manitou looked down to realize she'd been brandishing a stick at the ceiling; with a snort she lowered it, leaning on it as she made her way to the door. She muttered a quick spell on the fire, to guard it against spreading, then pulled a fur off a wooden hook by the entrance. She draped this over her shoulders as she went out, keeping up a continuous stream of curses against whatever might lie beyond.
"You--you came! All this way--? At this hour? I haven't a place for you to sit! Please give me a moment!"
The old woman rolled her eyes and waved her hand as the medicine man scurried about the wigwam, pushing and sorting things every which way. Three small girls sat huddled in the corner, staring at her with large eyes, but she ignored them. Her host finally came back with a small stool, draped it with a fur, and gestured for her to sit. She did so with another grimace, and he sat down on the ground before her, his eyes anxious.
"You wouldn't come so far for no good reason," he said.
"Agh, you are stupid? The rock isn't too far from here at all. I've walked fully ten, twenty times that distance in the driving snow before, and made it unscathed. This was barely a hardship."
He flushed. "Still, you wouldn't have come without a reason. There is trouble?"
"Perhaps. Perhaps not. I came to give you a warning, just in case. There was something bad in the wind today. From near the lake."
Stick-In-The-Dirt shivered. "The...the demon, you mean...?"
Her mouth twitched. "No, fool, not the demon. Everything does not boil down to the demon. You must try to get him out of your head if only for a moment! There are far more important things to worry about sometimes, you know."
"But...he took my tribe from me. My wife." His face grew tense. "What could be worse than the demon?"
"Many things. I've told you. Be grateful you have that much left." She nodded at the three girls in the corner. "They are doing well, it appears?"
He glanced back at them, as if having forgotten they were even there. "Yes," he said quietly. "As well as they can do."
"There was something bad in the wind," Old Mother Manitou repeated herself, laying her stick across her knees, changing the subject before he could begin mourning anew. "No, not the demon, either. Something else. Something that wasn't there before."
"What is it?"
"If I knew, I'd tell you straight out. As it stands, I have not a clue. Except to say that it's bad medicine. And I don't recall ever sensing it before. Very strange. Unless it's something the demon cooked up--" his eyes began to grow anxious "--but I truly don't get that impression. It's too..."
He waited a moment for her to finish before prompting, "What?"
"Too chaotic." The old woman shrugged one bony shoulder, and adjusted her fur shawl. "That's all."
"Chaotic?" His brow furrowed. "You think this is a reason for the demon not to have created it--?"
"As cruel as he was, let me remind you the demon is not chaotic."
"He slaughtered our people! For no reason whatsoever! How can you say this is not chaotic?"
"As insane as it was, it was orderly. He had a goal in mind, you just couldn't see it. And has he bothered you since then?" When Stick-In-The-Dirt didn't reply she nodded sharply. "Didn't think so. I don't think the demon's behind any of this. Whatever this was, it was beyond control. Mad, almost. It came and left with the wind...ugly thing." Now she shivered, and drew her shawl close. He didn't seem to be reassured by her uncertainty.
"If you don't know what it is," he murmured, "then how do we know? How do we protect ourselves from it? You do believe it's dangerous--?"
"Oh, hardly a doubt; it has only to show how. I get the feeling it's not too intelligent though, so that might work for you."
"Where did it come from, this wind?"
"Near the lake is all I could tell. It carried a smell with it. The earth near the lake. A damp smell, too. Water and dust and wind. But mostly wind. A bad smell, all around." She shuffled one foot, forming a groove in the loose earth. "If you want to find out what it is, I'd suggest going to the source."
"Source--?" He paled. "The lake? I could hardly go there now! What with--"
"I told you, the demon's sleeping. No, not for ages like before, but he's taking his rest. He's already gotten it out of his system, whatever it was. Like I said you have more important things to worry about sometimes without worrying about that waterling!"
His fingers clenched. "It might be easy for you to tell me, but it's much more difficult for me to believe after what I saw."
"Everything you've seen, boy, I've seen a hundredfold. Remember, I've been around here a lot longer than you. The wind is cowardly; I'll send along some medicine to keep you safe along the way."
"And where am I supposed to go?"
"The springs, near the lake. I feel it came from there. Go and see and tell me what you find."
"Aye, aye, springs, just near the shore of the Great Water. They trickle down into the demon's lake. There are such springs all about the Island if you know where to look." She stood up and rubbed at her stiff back. "I'll keep an eye on the girls. You needn't be gone more than an hour at most, just there and back. See where on earth that wind came from and if it's still about."
Stick-In-The-Dirt stood as well, his face still drawn. "And what about the demon?" he whispered.
The old manitou let out a gusty sigh. "FORGET the demon! Your girls are safe. I'm here to keep an eye on your tribe, too. What more matters?"
He blinked. This seemed to steel him a bit, and he nodded and tilted his head respectfully. She nodded curtly in return and waved him to be gone. He fetched his own stick from near the wall, and his pack, moving back toward the girls to give each of them a kiss before leaving. Old Mother Manitou didn't watch him go; as frightened as he was, she knew he'd be back promptly.
The water trickled down toward the lake, as it had for a while now. It came from a crack in the back of a large rock formation at the edge of the woods. Stick-In-The-Dirt crept only as far as the treeline before stopping and crouching, looking about nervously. The lake was still and peaceful, but that didn't necessarily mean anything. It had been still and peaceful before the demon had awoken, also.
There wasn't much land between it and the trees, however, so as he passed by it he made certain to take a few rough crystals he'd dug up on his various walks about the Island, and tossed them into the water, then hurrying away into the trees again. According to the old stories, the creature had been a greedy one, and liked gems and jewels; he supposed it was better than nothing.
He made his way through the woods, up a steep rocky slope and down again toward the shore of the great lake surrounding the Island. Small waves splashed against the rocky shore but he was more intent on what was in the other direction. Turning back the way he'd come, he spotted the front of the rock formation, and took several steps to the side to see it better.
It was a cave of some sort, carved out of the rock. Seemingly small from the outside, he knew the way of caves on the Island, and knew that it could in fact be much bigger than it looked. He stepped carefully inside and started scouring about for an opening. He had a feeling that if he could discover the underground source of the spring, then perhaps he would have a clue as to what had arisen here. If Old Mother Manitou was right, whatever they were, they would have some sort of connection to this place, now.
Water and dust and wind.
Water, that trickled on the outside. Dust, he had seen all atop the rock, now dampened and scattered by the stream. Wind...that was the one thing missing...and probably what he was looking for.
He finally found a crevice in the rock, near the ceiling; biting his lip, he pulled himself up the craggy wall, worn smooth by the ancient action of the lake water. He had to bend backwards to reach the upper part of the cave, and risked falling to the ground; the fall wasn't a far one, but it would have been painful, the way he was hanging. He dropped his stick, seeing as he could no longer carry it, and slipped his fingers into the crack. It wasn't smooth like the rest of the cave; it was newer. Something had put this crack here, recently. He shivered and squeezed inside.
The fit was very tight, but just enough for him to pass through. It widened, just slightly, after a short bit, but he was still pretty much just propping himself between two rough walls. He didn't dare look down to see if below him there was the bottom of the crack, or...something else. He wouldn't have been able to tell very well, anyway; the further inside he crept, the darker it grew. He wished he'd brought some sort of light.
It was best not to attract their attention with a light, he told himself. He continued biting his lip and crawling inside.
The air in here was warm and stale and humid, spiked with dust; Stick-In-The-Dirt stifled a cough more than once, it was so difficult to breathe. And even though the walls of the crack spread wider here, still he felt more trapped than ever. How far back did this thing go? What was on the other end? And would he be able to escape so quickly if something were to happen?
As if in response to this last mental question, he felt it. Stroking as faintly as feathers against his arm, then vanishing. He shuddered when the chill breeze disappeared, his ears pricking at the distant whispering sound of the wind, somewhere far within the crack. He froze. The whispering had sounded strangely like...giggling.
Shivering, he forced himself to start creeping back the way he'd come. He gasped and started when the wind suddenly grew stronger, first blasting against him from within the crack--then attacking from behind him, pushing him forward. He clung to the rock desperately, but his fingers slipped, his nails gouging uselessly against the stone. He twisted himself to face the outside opening, only to find he couldn't see it anymore--the wind buffeted his eyes so hard that they blurred and stung. It was as if a tornado had slipped down into the rock, and was now both pushing and sucking him even deeper within.
Stick-In-The-Dirt let out a cry and scrabbled at the rock once more, to no avail. One foot broke loose part of the wall and then he was hurtling backwards, striking one elbow on the side so tendrils of pain shot up his arm, making it go numb. A few times he tried to grab again at something, anything, but the only thing he met was the wind--which was gusting and billowing and cackling by now, tugging at his limbs and his clothes. He yelled and tried to bat it away; it only laughed harder at his defiance, and then the walls disappeared, and Stick-In-The-Dirt gasped and started looking about himself wildly.
He couldn't see anything. A tiny crack of dim light where the crevice had been opened up before him, growing smaller and smaller. He couldn't understand what was happening until he felt the air rushing up at him and realized he was falling. He had just enough time to feel a surge of panic, before his back struck the ground--not nearly as hard as it should have, because of the wind partially supporting him--and then it was all around him once more, tearing and shrieking and always laughing. He struggled to his feet and flailed out at it blindly, while sliding one foot along the ground, hoping to find something--anything--that would tell him where he was and what he was up against.
His foot finally kicked against something hard--he bent quickly to retrieve it, to find it was a large smooth stone. He'd considered trying to light a piece of wood with the bit of flint he always carried upon him, but knew it would be useless, with the way the wind howled throughout--wherever he was. The stone would have to serve just as well. Clasping it tightly in both hands, he started muttering some words under his breath, tracing patterns against the ground with his foot. He had to duck and dodge the wind that battered against him, keeping himself from crying out; if he stopped reciting the spell now, it would be ruined. He was taking enough of a risk as it was, not having the proper materials about with which to do this--a flame of fire, a red feather, a piece of copper, anything that glowed or shone brilliantly. This would have to be good enough.
He had to struggle as he neared the end of the spell, as the wind appeared to catch on to what he was doing, and flung itself against him even more. The shrieking threatened to pierce his eardrums; he winced but forced himself to continue to the end, when he felt a slight spurt of warmth beneath his hands, then nothing; the stone reverted to its former coolness, yet the surface glinted, then flickered, then began to glow. Stick-In-The-Dirt gazed down at it as its glow grew in intensity, his heart rising. At least something had worked.
Realizing again his situation, he shook his head and lifted the stone up higher. He blinked into the darkness, which was now total darkness no more. His eyes grew.
He had fallen, as he'd thought, into a cave. A large, deep cave, with high steep walls and a curving ceiling lost in the darkness; the floor was coated in a thick layer of dust and sand possibly washed inside from the days when the lake had enveloped the Island. The walls were likewise smoothed by the past action of the lake, though they were still craggy and bumpy; he couldn't believe the size of the underground cavern compared to the tiny size of the outside entrance. He didn't have very long to observe all this, however. It was then that he heard a hissing above him, and his gaze darted upward to see what awaited him.
A shriek pierced through his ears. Stick-In-The-Dirt gasped and fell back as something--some creature--came flying down at him, all teeth and claws and bulging glaring eyes. It was as if its mouth were lined with porcupine needles! He hit the ground and rolled to the side to avoid it and it disappeared overhead, only to be replaced by another--and another. Glancing upwards, he saw now that the cavern was full of the bizarre things, each of them, although in flight, much taller than he was, their gangly arms and legs flailing. They were of different colors--some red, some green, some black or brown--but all bore the same pointed ears, round bald heads, and giant glassy eyes. They also bore the same pricking teeth and claws--Stick-In-The-Dirt rolled to the side again as a second one swiped at him, tearing a gouge in his shoulder. He bit his lip and stumbled to his feet.
They were all around him--whatever they were. They moved with the currents of wind, so he knew that these were what he'd been looking for. They cackled maniacally as they zoomed about, bouncing off the walls and coming back again. He found an old root sticking out of the wall and with a heave yanked it free, and started swinging at them. This only made them cackle all the more. One of them seized hold of the stick and he yelped when he was flung into the air, head over heels, landing with a thud at the other side of the room. He gasped for air, and instead got a face full of sand.
The creatures slowed in their crazy flying but continued laughing. Their laughter was as shrill and unpleasant as their looks. They cocked their heads at each other and started hissing. Stick-In-The-Dirt painfully pushed himself up onto his knees and tried to listen. He knew the speech of the wind, so he could understand what they were saying.
"He's a tasty-looking one, isn't he?"
"A mite on the scrawny side, but one can't be too picky nowadays!"
"I told you this place would be the perfect spot to find prey. Just watch them come dropping in like apples falling from a tree!"
Their cackling arose anew. Stick-In-The-Dirt trembled. Whatever they were, it was obvious what they intended...he scoured the back of his mind for any clue as to what they were, but came up with nothing. They saw him staring at them and grinned, their fanged mouths splitting open from ear to ear. They stood upon solid ground now and towered over him as they started coming closer, claws crooked.
"Hey now, fleshling! Interested in something?"
"Start a fire going. I tend to like my meat cooked!"
"Fah. I'm too hungry for that. I say we simply eat him RAW!"
They bared their teeth, fangs dripping and eyes glinting merrily. At the very least, Stick-In-The-Dirt thought, they were in a good humor. With that he bolted to his feet and raced back to the other side of the cave, launching himself at the wall and attempting to scrabble back up to the crevice. He slid and fell several times before realizing it was useless; the crack was too far up, and the walls were far too smooth. The creatures threw back their heads and laughed.
"Quick, hurry! The morsel's trying to get away!"
"Legs go to the one who catches him first!"
"I'll get him!"
Stick-In-The-Dirt panicked and turned away from the wall, running straight at the creatures. They barked with surprise, a few actually hurrying out of his way as he streamed past. There could be only one other way out of this place. The springs. They flowed from beneath the ground, hopefully somewhere within this very cave system. They emerged not far above the Devil's Lake...as much as he disliked the thought of facing that place again, he found it better than staying here and facing these demons.
They seemed to catch on to what he was up to, as they screamed and came rushing after him, some of them running stupidly, others taking to the air. Stick-In-The-Dirt ran into the wall with palms outspread, nearly falling over; he scurried to the left, running his fingers along the stone, praying for a crack to appear. He located one, but it was too small; so he continued scrabbling about, searching for another. His foot nearly slipped in a damp spot on the floor and he stopped and felt around, ducking a blow from one of the creatures. He glanced up, holding up the glowing stone and spotting a wide crevice several feet above his head. He just had to reach it, and perhaps he'd at least have a chance of getting out of here...
He stretched his arms up for it, but couldn't reach it. He jumped a few times, each time falling short. Then one of the creatures grabbed onto his ankle, another one tearing one of the feathers from his head, and that was all the prompting he needed. Dropping the stone, he leapt up at the crevice, gripping the edge before he could slip down again. He pulled himself up inside it with a cry, kicking the creature's hand away and propelling himself into the opening headfirst, immediately falling again.
He almost yelled, but clamped his mouth shut--his body jarred against the wall as he tumbled, and he didn't want to bite his tongue off. The crack led into a tunnel, apparently, that just went down and down and down. What if it just led to another cave? His worries grew. What if he ended up not at the source of the springs...but at the source of a fire...a cooking fire...built just for him? Those beings were of wind--he could feel a chill coming down after him, and knew they hadn't given him up just yet. He actually pushed against the wall with his hands, moving himself along faster--until he finally landed with a hard splash into a shallow pool.
He didn't take the time to figure out where he might be--it was water and not fire, which was good enough. He got to his feet and looked around, but the place was in pitch blackness--and he no longer had his glowstone. He only knew he had to go up, to reach the springs.
He bit his lip as he thought. Or might there be another way? There were also underground springs...that fed the lake, as the lake fed them. His lip started to bleed but he didn't even notice it, his fear was so great.
He didn't have any choice.
He ducked to the ground and started to feel along the bottom for any openings, paying careful attention to the way the water flowed. He could feel a slight current, and followed it to its source, sighing with relief when he discovered the opening was just big enough to fit through. A faint howling sound came from above and he scurried inside, hitting his head but shaking away the pain. He splashed along on hands and knees until the water grew deeper and came up to his chest, and then he knew he'd have to make a decision. Hopefully, the lake was not too far away now.
Sucking in a great breath, Stick-In-The-Dirt plunged his head under the water and pushed off, swimming up the tunnel.
He'd never swum in pitch blackness before--and this, plus the realization of where he was swimming toward, terrified him. He shut his eyes for a few moments and focused on the motion of his arms in the cramped tunnel. After a short while it opened up slightly, allowing him to move faster. He opened his eyes again and squinted about, but saw no light. How deep within the lake would it take him--if it took him to the lake--?
He didn't allow himself to think of this. With a start he found that the walls around him had apparently vanished entirely, and he kicked himself upwards. When his head didn't hit the roof he knew he'd exited the tunnel, into a larger body of water--and prayed to the spirits that it was the right body of water! Here it was just as dark, so all he could do was hope he was headed in the right direction.
He blinked his eyes furiously, his lungs starting to burn. Was it just him...? Or did it look lighter above than below? He kicked at the water and paddled his arms as hard as he could. The dim blue glow grew brighter, and he knew now that he'd gone the right way. Relief flooded through him as he neared the surface. So far, the demon himself hadn't come up after him--he begged whatever manitous might be watching over him for his luck to hold out.
The bright blue grew clear, and now he could see the sky and trees overhead. His insides felt ready to burst from the pressure; his head broke the surface and he gasped explosively and sputtered, coughing, not allowing his groaning muscles to rejuvenate themselves. Instead he paddled straight for shore, which wasn't that far away. Through bleary eyes he could see the stone formation rising off to his right; the leaves on the trees were almost still, so so far the creatures hadn't caught on to where he was. With a heave he pulled himself up out of the water and collapsed upon his back, panting for a moment or two, the only rest he would allow himself.
Still gasping weakly, Stick-In-The-Dirt pushed himself up, shaking all over. He dug into his pouch and brought out a few more crystals, standing and hurling them at the lake just as the wind began to pick up. He had disappeared into the woods by the time it started howling in rage, not even bothering to see if his offering had been appreciated or not.
Old Mother Manitou sat tapping her gnarled fingers against her knee. The bark door of the building tore open so abruptly that the three girls asleep in the corner sat up with a collective gasp, all piling onto each other like frightened pups. The old manitou cocked her head as Stick-In-The-Dirt stumbled in over the threshold, yanking the door shut behind him. He slid to the floor in a pathetic heap, his breathing ragged, clothes dripping and eyes gaping. One of the feathers he wore was missing.
The old woman's mouth twitched. "I take it you found it?"
Stick-In-The-Dirt couldn't reply. He started pulling at the door to make certain it was shut tightly.
Old Mother Manitou frowned. "Well? Did you find it or not?"
The medicine man could hardly even shake his head properly. His voice came out as thin as birchbark. "N...no...they f-found me."
"Well? What were they?"
"Wind...wind-things. Horrible wind-things! As tall as bears and as thin as sticks. With the eyes of owls and teeth like the quills of a porcupine!"
"Stop being so dramatic. Did you speak with them at all, or--?"
"Sp-speak with them? I hardly escaped with my life! They didn't want to speak with me! They wanted to EAT me!!"
Old Mother Manitou pursed her lips and nodded her head slowly. "Mm. Wendigoes, then."
"Wendigoes?" Stick-In-The-Dirt glanced at her with a confused look. A breeze knocked against the door and he gasped and scuttled toward the middle of the room, nearly setting his hand in the fire.
The old woman nodded again. "Windlings. I had heard of them, long ago, but they were rare even when I was a little girl and eventually they just seemed to die off. Cannibals, they are. They feast upon human flesh in order to survive. There were not quite so many of your kind back then, so perhaps that was why they all died off. They didn't have anything left to eat."
"So--so why are they back now?"
"Well, for one thing, there are more of you now. For another, it's damned hard to get rid of a windling for good. They're like a fungus that just keeps popping up no matter how many times you smush it. I noticed they smelled like dust. These particular Wendigoes I heard of...awful things...they were windlings, but whenever they were killed they turned into dust. I had hoped it would be a permanent thing..."
"How did they come back? What are they here for?"
"I'm guessing that lake had something to do with it. They smelled a bit like that awful water. Perhaps you're right and that demon did set them free!" Stick-In-The-Dirt shivered and she rolled her eyes. "That was merely a joke, boy. I doubt a creature such as himself would waste time on the GeeBees."
"GeeBees? This is what they're called?"
"Yes, yes, the GeeBees. A type of Wendigo. Tall and thin and always hungry. That's the one thing that can be said of them, they're always looking for something to eat. That's why they're so thin. They're a cursed race. Never able to put on any weight, never able to ever feel full. I heard they were very greedy to begin with, and Gitchi Manitou cursed them this way for their gluttony. Hoping to make a point. Instead they just became worse than ever. They're very stupid creatures. You are probably lucky you escaped, they are so chaotic."
The medicine man fingered the fringe on his clothing and stared at the floor with an anxious look. "And so...now they are back? And there's no way to deal with them...?"
"Short of trying to kill them all off again, no, there isn't, that I know of. Ach, don't let it get to you, it's just one more annoyance to deal with. I told you they're stupid; so long as they remain that way, you don't have much to fear. And I doubt they'll go learning much soon anyway." She leaned on her stick and rose painfully to her feet, starting to hobble toward the door. She paused as she did so and pursed her lips again.
"That is, unless..."
Stick-In-The-Dirt jerked his head back to look at her. "Unless--?" he prompted, more loudly than he'd intended. The girls in the corner stared with wide eyes.
Old Mother Manitou didn't reply for a moment. She frowned, then scowled, then shrugged and waved it off. She turned her head to look back at him.
"Oh...nothing. Hardly a thing. I was just about to say, you needn't fear them, unless they somehow get more intelligent...which I seriously doubt...or unless someone stronger than they are comes to lead them. That's all."
"S-stronger...?" Stick-In-The-Dirt's face went pale.
"Yes, yes. You know. A chief of some sort. Somebody more intelligent than they are. That would serve to organize them a bit, make them not so chaotic. Then, then perhaps you would have to worry. But I really don't see that happening anytime soon. They'll never have a leader. A smart GeeBee...that won't ever happen. Look to your girls and get a good night's rest." She turned away once more and pushed the door open, disappearing outside. The fire flared a bit in the breeze that wafted through, and Stick-In-The-Dirt stared at it.
"A chief? Of the GeeBees...?" he murmured, and the fire flickered again, the wind picking up outside. He could swear he heard it giggling insidiously just beyond the roof, and moved over toward his daughters to scoop them all close to him, staring upwards with anxious eyes.
Old Mother Manitou was probably right. Just as long as they remained disorganized and leaderless, they weren't much of a threat. He could fend them off, for his family.
Just as long as they remained disorganized, and leaderless...