TITLE: Demon's Seed
GENRES: Fantasy, drama, mythology.
SUMMARY: Once in a while, the underdog triumphs...by strange means...
WRITING STATUS: Completed.
WRITING DATE: Circa 2002.
LENGTH: 3500+ words.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Mild adult themes.
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. Please see "Daughter Of The Demon" for the prequel to this story. I thought it would be interesting to check up on Silver Eagle Feather again once she'd grown a bit. Followup stories to this are "Stranger In A Strange Land," "Rainbowbringer," and "Winter Born."
BY NOW, HE knew every trail she took through the woods--every path she followed, what time of the day it was by how the shadows fell around the trees, and how long it took her to get back home. She always went into the woods alone, as if unafraid of anything that lived out there. He suspected she was. Who was he to warn her otherwise? Right now, he was glad that she was so alone.
He hid behind the trees today and watched as the girl wandered past. She was barely eleven years old or so, yet already she was beautiful, with her shiny black hair in a braid and her strange green eyes. She stared at the ground as she walked by, not because she was dejected, but because that was how she usually walked...keeping her eyes upon something nobody else might even notice. He didn't care what it might be, so long as she didn't notice him.
He placed his hand against one of the trees and tensed himself for when she was just beyond his place of hiding. They were too far away from the camp for anyone to hear her should she make a noise. Still, he had to take every precaution he could.
The young girl went by him, unnoticing, and continued down the trail, still staring at the ground, dangling her basket over her shoulder in a childish manner. He tensed again and then leapt agilely out of the bushes without making a sound, landing on the trail not too far behind her. He saw her stop and lift her head, but didn't give her the chance to do anything more. Within seconds he had grabbed her up from the trail, stifling her startled yell with a hand clamped over her mouth. Her eyes went wide with surprise or fear--he didn't know which, and didn't care. She couldn't scream now, and so the rest of this would be easy. He knew many of the others in the camp were superstitious of the girl; perhaps they wouldn't even miss her once he returned, and she did not.
She seemed to realize what was going on as soon as he started pulling her toward the bushes, and let out a muffled sound and started kicking her legs. He made the mistake of letting go of her waist to grab at them to hold them still; his hand slipped just enough for her to sink her teeth into it, and he nearly cried out himself. He should've known the brat would try something like that. He let go of her instead, and she fell to the ground with a thud. Gasping, she scrambled back to her feet and started to shout. "Grandfa--!"
He hissed again and grabbed her by her braid, yanking her back with a yelp. Again he covered her mouth and dragged her toward the bushes, struggling and kicking.
"Knock it off, brat!" he growled. "You want me to make this even more painful?"
He heard her growl in response, and the sound startled him, coming from such a young child. Later, he supposed he should have taken it as a warning. At the time, however, the thought didn't cross his mind. She let up her struggles, and he used this opportunity to push her to the ground. She glowered up at him with those strange green eyes while he started to pull at his clothing and her own. He narrowed his own eyes at her.
"Finally learned how to keep quiet? No wonder none of them like you. Feral little brat!"
In response--her eyes glowed. He hesitated just long enough to gawk before something powerful struck him in the breast, knocking him back into the air. At the same time it felt as if someone had rammed a red-hot poker into his groin; he screamed and fell with a crash into the undergrowth, curling in on himself in agony. Tears sprang to his eyes and he wheezed for breath.
He could barely hear a rustling sound, and managed to open one eye to see the girl scramble to her feet, pulling at her dress. She went running, her moccasins making slapping noises against the ground, crying out as she went. "Grandfather! Grandfather...!"
He didn't bother to chase after her. Instead, his eyes glazed over and he slipped into merciful unconsciousness.
"It is about time someone caught that dog in the act. Perhaps now you will be forced to do something about it!" The old medicine man, Two Owls, spat on the ground, narrowing his eyes with an ugly look. "It is only unfortunate he picked my granddaughter to try this out upon. Or perhaps I should say fortunate! She is the only one so far who could fight him off!"
The other men gathered in the wigwam murmured and muttered according to their moods, nodding and shaking their heads at each other. After a moment of this, different responses, some in response to responses, floated into the air.
"You do remember she is not your real granddaughter, do you not, Two Owls? I doubt she gets any of that medicine from you!"
"How can we even be certain what she says is true? I know the man in question. He is a decent member of our tribe. He always brings down the most deer during the hunt."
"How can you even say this? Did you not see the bruises upon her? There is no doubt something happened within the woods..."
"Perhaps her TRUE father came back for her!" With that remark, a few nervous chuckles arose, though nobody liked the thought much.
"Could she even have been able to fight him off...?"
Two Owls scowled. "This is hardly the case. She fought off one of our own! This she could very well do. Which is good, for her!"
"She wounded him severely," one of the elders replied. "He is still in great pain even now that he's being treated, little thanks to you."
The old medicine man's scowl grew darker. "You would not even allow him near me! This is my fault?"
"As if we would trust you with him when it is your child he has supposedly attacked?" The elder waved his hand. "I do not mean to insult you, Brother, but of the two of them, he is the one who has been more greatly hurt, and she is the one who has escaped harm. I hardly feel you need fear him now."
"Surely this is not the first time he has tried to force himself--upon a child! And you sit and tell me that what she rightly did in defense was too great a punishment? For that dog?" The old man spat again. "Then this is what I say! Speak up! I know you all despise her. What you call her when you think I cannot hear. You think I am deaf? She hears you just fine. I am lucky she is such a strong child, else she would return home sobbing night after night with the way you all talk about her! As if she is the one to blame for her parentage! As far as things go I am now her family. If you speak poorly of her, then you speak poorly of me!"
"Whatever the case, Two Owls, the demon is her true father." This came from Yellow Turtle, who sat at the head of the gathering. Everyone fell silent to hear him speak, and spoke up again only once they realized he was finished.
"This is true, Two Owls; what say you of that?"
"The demon always claims his own, doesn't he, Two Owls? Then who is to say she will not end up like him?"
The old medicine man flung his hands into the air. "Idiots! Fools! I am surrounded by them! What respect I had for you all is gone. In my mind it is because of her parentage that she is still alive to tell us this! And now you will use the fact that she survived unharmed against her? Does this dispute the fact that this dog tried to do what he did? If this is so, then tell me, and I will gladly pack her up with me and leave." He sat down. "I will no longer share the pipe with a tribe that believes my granddaughter would be better off raped and dead."
The men started talking anew, louder now. Most protested his comments, but the nervous looks upon their faces were clear. Two Owls's lip curled back and he shouted to be heard above the din.
"And if ANY of you make your decision based upon fear of her, then the result will be just the same! I will not stay and have you continue to treat her as some monster! She is a little girl and nothing more. I am sickened of this constant talk about her! As if we cannot hear!"
"Two Owls," Yellow Turtle said, and the group quieted again. "I am certain not all of us believe your granddaughter to be like her father. I myself see her just as you yourself do. If you could not care for her, I would gladly take her into my own household." The others now fell silent and many averted their eyes as if ashamed. "But you cannot claim she is a girl, and nothing more. When we both know the truth. There is more to her, and we all know this. The fact that she was able to do as she did today is proof of this. No little girl should be able to inflict that sort of injury, and escape untouched."
Two Owls lifted his head. "Then you do not contest that she was attacked? That this dog got only what he deserved? I will not rest if this is his only punishment, either! If I were her, I would gladly have killed him." He glowered at the door, as if the man in question stood right there.
Yellow Turtle sighed. "As soon as we have ascertained that the story cannot be questioned," he said. "Then punishment may be granted. Please, tell us again. What exactly she told you."
"She was merely going about the woods, as she often does. And this dog leapt out at her. Tried to drag her back into the trees. The manitous know what he would have done to her if she hadn't fought him off. Tell me this! Have any other children gone missing? Perhaps we have been wrong to blame the demon for everything. Perhaps our own demon is a little closer to home!"
"We are here to discover if he attacked your Silver Eagle Feather," Yellow Turtle warned. "Not to accuse of other deeds that cannot be known. Continue with your story; I could not hear it all the first time, the babble was so loud."
"She told me that he pushed her down, but then she felt a warmth go through her, some medicine. It drove him off. Knocked him a good one where it counts, too. Only too bad it didn't do more than that. I should like for him to never father any children, lest he treat them the same way! And then she came running straight back here. This is all."
"He tells a different story," another one of the men cut in. "He said that he found her wandering in the woods and attempted to help her back home. That's when she unleashed that bad medicine of hers on him, just like she was the demon himself! Then she went running off, laughing!"
"There is something dangerous about such a child," another added, and several more nodded in concurrence.
Before Two Owls could retort the doorflap pushed aside and the younger medicine man of the tribe, Stick-In-The-Dirt, climbed inside. The others looked at him and then turned back to their meeting, and he sat down in the far corner, so as not to be seen. Yellow Turtle craned his neck to address him.
"Brother Stick. How is he? Will he recover?"
Stick-In-The-Dirt coughed and stood up. "The injury is not too great. Only a bruise, but a painful one. He may have to refrain from...certain activities...for a time..." the group chuckled quietly "...but aside from this, I would say the greater wound is to his pride. He has suffered no great loss."
Two Owls jerked his finger at the door. "Then I ask you all that you hand him over to me! This is only right. I will let my Little Feather determine what sort of punishment he should receive!"
"We have yet to even find out if this story is true!" someone groused, and the talking started again. Yellow Turtle had to wave his hands and shout a few times before it quieted enough for him to speak.
"Brother Stick! You know the girl. Do you believe her story? Or do you think she lies?" When a mutter arose he scowled at the gathering. "I will hear what Stick-In-The-Dirt has to say, and then I will make my own decision. I cannot make any of you agree with me, but either way, we will reach some decision before any of us leave this lodge." He turned back to the medicine man. "Well?"
The medicine man bowed his head meekly. "I...I have spoken with her also, and I have no reason to doubt her story, Grandfather. She bears bruises upon her arms, and she seemed genuinely concerned. I do not know everything that happened while she was in the woods. But I do not believe she would lie."
"That demon half of her," someone muttered. "Bad medicine, all of it! You cannot trust that kind."
"WHAT kind?" Two Owls bellowed, making them shrink back, and Stick-In-The-Dirt raised his hand.
"I am one who has every reason to detest the demon for what he has done to me, yet still I have no fear of the girl. I trust Two Owls, and she has been raised right. She would not hurt any of us nor lie about this."
There were a few more mutters, but Yellow Turtle nodded slowly. "Thank you, Brother Stick. You may take a seat again." Stick-In-The-Dirt reseated himself and the old man looked to the others. "I have made up my mind. In the time I have known her, neither have I known Silver Eagle Feather to lie. She has always borne the responsibility for her own actions, and has shown much wisdom for a child her age. I do not care from where she may get what powers she has. This day, perhaps they have served her well. If only all of our children were so blessed to defend themselves, then we would know little heartache. Once he who attacked her has recovered himself, he should be turned over to Two Owls for punishment. This is my opinion. What say all of you about this?"
More muttering. One of the men looked at Two Owls.
"What do you intend to do to him, Two Owls? Surely not kill him?"
"Why not?" the old medicine man grumbled. "It is only what he deserves."
"Do you truly not think this is a little harsh?"
"Nothing is too harsh, for what he tried to do!" Another spat. "Fine then. I would dislike to have anyone's blood upon my or my Little Feather's hands anyway. Personally I would much prefer to cut off that with which he would have accomplished his goal!"
Several of the men turned a queasy color. Two Owls added, "Yet the punishment is my granddaughter's decision to make, and not my own. I only fear she will be more lenient than I, unfortunately. She has always had a soft spot, even for dogs," and the men nodded at each other.
"Very well," the one who had asked the question said. "I have no argument, so long as he is not killed. Hand him over to Two Owls."
"Hand him to Two Owls," the others echoed, nodding. "Let the girl decide his punishment."
Stick-In-The-Dirt, still seated in the corner, appeared to relax. Two Owls gave a short nod and settled himself. Yellow Turtle followed suit and picked up his pipe.
"We agree then. This is good. I had not wanted this to remain unresolved. If he is able to stand on his own feet in the morning, then he will be handed over to Two Owls. Two Owls, I hope you and your granddaughter may reach a solution that is fitting for everyone, and that such troubles will plague you no further in the future."
The group murmured in agreement, and Two Owls let out his breath as the pipe was passed around.
It was dark by the time Two Owls managed to make it home, back to his own wigwam. When he pushed the flap aside he found the fire had almost burned itself out, leaving only a few dull coals; he sighed and nudged them around with a stick, reaching down to pull off one moccasin as he did so. There was a slight noise and another glow appeared at the other side of the room, two small green lights, peering up at him. He pretended not to see them at first, as he built up the fire a bit and sat down to take off his other moccasin.
The girl lying on the pallet across from him rolled over and pushed herself up onto her elbows, watching him for a moment. He still didn't speak to her, though he knew she was awake. She rested her head against her hands.
"Did I get you in trouble?"
"Hm?" Two Owls said; then, "Of course not! Of course you did not, little one. The only one getting trouble is the one who deserves it most. I am glad you told me of this today, Little Feather. Not all your age would be so brave. Come morning, he will get what is coming to him. I will let you decide what is most fitting."
She tilted her head as if puzzled. Two Owls stood and went to the side of the room, rubbing an ache out of his knee. He fished about in his pouch before finding what he was looking for. He turned back to her and held up a single feather, long and sleek and shining in the firelight. He smiled at her when she looked at it, and went to her bedside.
"The chief is supposed to oversee this...yet I do not think he will mind too much if I give it to you right now, as I think he would agree with me. We do not normally give out the eagle feather to our girls, as it's the symbol of bravery, which we give to our boys." He stooped and carefully tied the feather into her hair so it hung at the side of her face. "But today I think you were much braver than even many of our little boys are. Here is your first feather, little one. I only wish it were silver, then you would truly have lived up to your name."
A smile spread across her face, and he smiled back on seeing it. She cupped the long feather in her hand, then her look became serious again and she peered up at him.
"You said that I'm supposed to decide what happens to him?"
Two Owls nodded. "As you are the one he offended. I have plenty of my own ideas as for what I should like to do, but I will leave the decision to you. I feel you are old enough to decide. You have any ideas for a fitting punishment for this man?"
Silver Eagle Feather's lip stuck out and she stared gravely off into space for a moment, as if concentrating. Then she looked up at him again.
"I'm tired. Can I decide in the morning?"
Two Owls blinked with surprise. Then he smiled again, widely, and sat down beside her, chuckling, and scooped her up into his arms for a hug.
"Of course you can. I do forget sometimes! You are still a child!" He deposited her back onto her pallet and pulled the blankets up around her. "Now get your rest so your mind will be clear. Here, hopefully you will have no nightmares." He picked up her dreamcatcher and tied it up over her pallet. "Sleep well, Little Feather."
"Goodnight, Grandfather." He saw her yawn and snuggle under the blankets, careful not to crush her feather, before he turned back to the fire. It wasn't too long before she fell asleep, and he was relieved that it came so easily for her. He'd feared it might not, after today.
That didn't mean that it would come just as easily for him. With a sigh he fetched his own pipe but didn't smoke it, instead sitting down by the fire and turning it over and over in his hands, every so often glancing over at her as if to make certain she was all right. He was tired after the long meeting, but didn't feel like closing his eyes lest he not like what he see. Some days, he was grateful she seemed much older than any of the rest of them.
He yawned and set the pipe aside, rubbing one tired eye as he stared at his granddaughter's still form. Tonight was going to be a long night.