Return To Manitou Island: Part 71
MANABOZHO BLINKED. THERE was a tense moment of silence as he and his brothers all stared at each other, then a shrill scream sliced through the air.
"'BOOOOZHOOOOO!!" Peepaukawiss shrieked, throwing his arms in the air and waving them like a chicken with its head cut off. "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S BEEN SO LONG!!" He promptly launched himself at Manabozho and threw his arms around him, squeezing him so hard that Manabozho's eyes looked ready to pop out. Puka started wailing aloud while the others grimaced at the sound.
"BABY BROTHER!! I MISSED YOU SOOOOO MUCH!! I THOUGHT ABOUT YOU EVERY DAY! TWO OR THREE TIMES A DAY EVEN! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE REALLY HERE!!"
Mudjikawiss scowled and stomped forward, grasping Puka by the scruff and pulling him off of Manabozho, who looked ready to asphyxiate on all the feathers. The big man dropped Puka on the ground beside him where he landed in a soggy sobbing heap, and gave Manabozho a critical glare. Manabozho managed to catch his breath and glance up at him and Mudjikawiss snorted.
"Still a weakling, just like always," he muttered, and stomped back to his place. Manabozho wordlessly watched him go, then his stare turned to the side as he noticed Wabasso. Charmian saw his eyes widen again, then looked at Wabasso herself. She saw the hopeful look on his face, and he took a hesitant step forward.
"Hello, 'Bozho," he said softly.
Manabozho just stared at him for a long while. Charmian noticed how Niskigwun and Marten were carefully watching everyone's reactions as well, practically holding their breath. An incredibly long moment passed in silence...and then Manabozho turned and walked away into the woods.
Charmian gawked at him, then quickly glanced back at Wabasso. His shoulders sank a little bit and his eyes clouded, though he rather looked as if he had expected this reaction. Mudjikawiss just snorted again, looking unconcerned; Puka's brow furrowed and his mouth opened as if he wished to speak, yet he said nothing, only looked hurt and blinked a few times. Niskigwun frowned and Marten scratched his head.
Charmian fiddled with the edge of her vest for a second before offering an awkward smile. "Excuse me," she mumbled, and hurried after him, leaving the others behind.
She had to jog several yards before spotting him, taking a small trail away through the trees. "Manabozho!" she called; when he didn't answer, she grew frustrated. "'Bozho! Hold on!"
That made him halt, and he turned around to glare at her. "What did you call me?" he demanded.
Charmian slowed to a stop, panting slightly and having to lean against a tree. "What...?" she asked, confused.
"What did you just call me?"
"I..." Charmian's brow furrowed. "You mean ''Bozho'?"
"DO NOT call me that!" Manabozho snapped. "The only one who can call me that is Noko! NO ONE else!"
"But, I only said that because your brothers--"
Manabozho clenched his fists and his eyes glowed slightly blue, making her cut herself off; she remembered his reaction near Glooskap's home. "Why did you bring them here?" he hissed in a whisper, as if they might overhear.
Charmian's brow furrowed even more. "Because--because I said I would. Remember what Glooskap said? You can't defeat Chakenapok without them. I thought maybe once you saw them, you--"
"I told you NOT to bring them here! I can do just fine without them! You thought I would see them and everything would be just fine? It ISN'T! The Island's done well enough without any of them--just with me!" He turned away from her, viciously slicing his hand through the air. "Get rid of them! Tell them to go back to where they came from since that's obviously more important than THIS is!"
Charmian clenched her own fists. "Hold on a minute! You wouldn't believe all the trouble I went to just to get them all here! I nearly got eaten by a bear and attacked by a plant and turned into a fish by a Nebanaubae, and that doesn't even BEGIN to mention what I had to do just to convince Mudjikawiss to come along! But I did it anyway, and they all came here! If they don't care about the Island, then explain to me why they came! I'm thinking maybe it's YOU who has the problem!"
Manabozho whirled around again and stormed toward her so abruptly that she gasped and scuttled backwards, falling over and scrabbling toward the base of a tree, which she clutched at as he towered over her, eyes flashing and feathers flaring. The lighting was such that he was a mere silhouette, but his eyes made her think so much of Mitchi Manitou that she swallowed hard.
"THEY are the ones who did not care about this Island back then, nor do they now!" he snarled. "THEY decided to leave! Did I ask them for ONE little thing, ever? I never asked them for ANYTHING and I won't start now! If they really wished to help they could have come back YEARS ago! I'm the only one who EVER cared! I'm the only one who WILL ever care! If you or Glooskap think that THEY will be the ones to help the Island, then you are both stupid!" And with this he whirled around once more and stomped off into the woods, the trees shaking around him.
Charmian let out her breath only after he had vanished from sight, and scowled slightly, making herself stop trembling. She pushed herself up, still holding onto the tree, and stared off in the direction he'd gone in with a perplexed look.
He talked about the Island just like it was his daughter. He thinks he's the only one who can really care about either--? Just because some others made a mistake and left--? Does he really believe that...?
Or is he not even talking about the Island at all...is this really all about him...?
Her thoughts drifted back to what Wabasso himself had said, not that long ago...
He feels things more than most people do...he's always been good at hiding his hurt...he could scream and roar loud enough to fell a tree, but I know he actually would have preferred crying to yelling...
And Manabozho's words from even earlier came into her mind...
GOOD people should NEVER leave anyone behind!...
Is that what this all is? The Michinimakinong, his brothers...they all left him...so this is what he does? Makes it about something else, so he doesn't have to admit how much it hurts...?
Has he been hurting all these years...?
A rustling noise came from the path behind her and she turned around to see Wabasso coming her way. He stopped and looked off in the direction Manabozho had gone in, then gave her a knowing glance.
"He is still angry, isn't he."
Charmian sighed. "I'm sorry I lied to you," she murmured. "I really thought that if he saw all of you here, he'd change his mind, and everything would be okay again...I didn't know he was so mad."
Wabasso's eyes softened. "Do not feel sorry," he said. "It's only what I expected...I would have been surprised if he were not still upset. He has always been that way."
"The thing is he has to get over this or else the Island is in trouble," Charmian continued, rubbing at her head. "If he cares about it so much, I don't understand why he can't just let it go."
"It has never been in him to ask others for help. He thinks that he can do anything on his own. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen...but I think he would rather make a fool of himself than ask for anyone's help."
"Well, he's going to need it this time." She paused when the trees started rustling again, the others appearing behind Wabasso. Puka carried Marten on his shoulder; his brow furrowed.
"So...he's gone?" he asked, perplexed. "We came all this way, and he's just left...?"
"Apparently he still has a few issues to work through," Charmian said tersely.
Mudjikawiss snorted. "He has always had issues! I told you to point me out to this Chakenapok and leave it to me. Then I can go home and I will never again have to deal with this mess!"
"It doesn't work that way!" Charmian snapped.
Puka wandered past her to peer into the woods, wringing his hands. "I never really meant any harm with any of those pranks I pulled!" he insisted. "It was all in good fun, truly...I hate that he's still so cross with me, after all this time..."
"It's not about you," Charmian reassured him; when he looked at her, she added, "Not completely." She turned around to face all of them. "Look...this is a long shot, but it's all I can think of. If there's any way you know of that you might have offended him in the past, do you think you could find it in you to apologize for that? Maybe that's what he wants to hear, before he'll even listen."
Wabasso and Puka both nodded immediately. "Of COURSE!" Puka exclaimed. "I'd apologize for ANYTHING I did that might have hurt poor little 'Bozho! Really, it was all intended in good fun--I never meant it to be anything other than funny!"
"I could do so," Wabasso said quietly.
"I haven't even DONE anything wrong!" Marten exclaimed. "And I could apologize!"
Niskigwun fiddled a little bit with his bow. "I do not feel I have wronged him just yet," he said in a somewhat annoyed-sounding voice. Then he sighed. "But I suppose I could offer something."
Silence. They all looked at Mudjikawiss.
The big man noticed their collective stare and blinked, startled to so suddenly be the focus of attention. Then his eyebrows went down and Charmian felt herself groaning mentally even before he spoke.
"NEVER!" he boomed. "I have never done ONE thing to offend that little flea! HE is the one who should be apologizing to ME for ever having to put up with him!"
Puka's lip stuck out. "That's just like you to say something like that about poor Baby Brother! Can't you ever say a nice thing about anybody just once--?" He squawked and dove behind Niskigwun when Mudjikawiss gave him a venomous glare, feathers flicking every which way.
"It's only one apology," Wabasso offered. "It cannot hurt to do it just once--"
Mudjikawiss let out a bellowing noise which made them all cringe backwards. "DO NOT TELL ME HOW TO TREAT THAT SPECK! I AM GLAD I DO NOT HAVE TO SPEAK WITH HIM! FOR ONCE HE SHOWS A LITTLE SENSE IN THAT THICK HEAD OF HIS! I WOULD BE PERFECTLY HAPPY TO LIVE THE REST OF MY LIFE WITHOUT EVER HEARING FROM ANY OF YOU!!" With this he turned around on his heel and started stomping away. Charmian held up her hand, trying to think of what to yell to convince him to stay, but as he passed Niskigwun, the Turtle Fairy ever-so-boredly flicked something at him, and Mudjikawiss had just enough time to glance down at his arm and say, "What--?" before vanishing in a puff of smoke.
Puka's and Wabasso's jaws dropped. Marten hissed and puffed up and Charmian gawked.
Niskigwun just dusted his hands. "Fire medicine," he said, even sounding bored. "He should return in a few hours."
Charmian let out her breath, remembering what had happened to Pakwa and Augwak. The others looked confused, but she almost felt like laughing for a change. "Serves him right! Maybe he'll have cooled off a little by then." She looked into the woods again and bit her lip. "I should try to catch up with him," she said. "Maybe if I keep calm I can get through..."
Puka and Wabasso looked dubious but offered no complaint. Charmian nudged her way through the thickening woods and had to pause to listen several times, but all she could hear was birds and the faint trickling of springs. After a moment or two she rolled her eyes and sighed.
"Apakwaanaajiin...? If you could lend me a hand...cripes, I keep forgetting about that."
She closed her eyes and furrowed her brow. It was as if an invisible trail extended from herself into the woods, and she frowned a bit on sensing it. For stalking off in such a rage, he hadn't covered his tracks very well; she knew Manabozho could have hidden from her easily, had he wished to. She opened her eyes and followed the invisible trail that had been mapped out, leaving the others behind.
The trees grew thicker so she had to duck and weave around them, grasping onto saplings to keep her balance as the slope grew steeper. After a few moments of this she heard another spring nearby, and sensed that the trail led there. When she brushed aside some weeds she saw it, bubbling out of a hunk of earth to fill a little rock-lined pool set into a small leveled-off bit of the slope, trees standing tall at its back; she dimly recognized this as a spring Silver Eagle Feather had once shown her, and Manabozho was crouched on the edge of it, back hunched and knees drawn up to his chest. His back was to her but she could see him trailing one finger through the water.
She sighed to herself and made her way over a fallen tree to reach him.
"You didn't go very far," she said, as if in conversation; she saw the dark look that settled on his face yet he didn't reply. She pushed herself up with her hands and sat down on the opposite edge of the spring, drawing her legs in under her. She peered into the water, which glinted in what little light filtered through from above.
"Look," she said after a moment or two of silence. "I know it's not what you wanted...but I went to a real lot of trouble to get them here. I just wish you'd recognize that, and at least try to work out whatever it is that's wrong between all of you. Jeez, it's not like I'm a family therapist."
"Why didn't you listen to me?" Manabozho asked; she blinked in surprise at the tone of his voice. It was no longer storming and angry, but plaintive, almost whiny. With as much as he complained, still she couldn't ever remember a time when she'd heard him whine. Her brow furrowed.
"Listen to you on what--?"
"On bringing them here. Why couldn't you listen to me just once? When it really matters?"
Charmian sighed. "Because if I listened to you this time, Manabozho, then the Island would be in big trouble. You don't want that, do you?"
"Don't you believe me?" He lifted his head and gave her a hurt look. "Don't you believe I could do it on my own? I taught you and everything--you don't believe I'm strong enough?"
She stared at him for a moment, uncertain how to reply, before sighing again and deciding to answer him in the most appropriate way. "I believe you're stronger than most people I know, 'Bozho," she said, and he didn't get angry about the name, "but no matter how strong you are, it doesn't mean you can do this on your own. Sometimes even strong people need help."
"But them?" He threw up his arms and let out a gusty sigh. "I would work better with that TREE RAT! They don't care about the Island like I do, so they can't help it. All they'll do is get in the way. You'd take Glooskap's word over mine? I thought you had some faith in me."
"I do," Charmian said. "And don't you try that guilt thing on me. The only reason I take Glooskap's word is because he's been through this before, and you haven't. It doesn't mean I think you're not up to this, but I think it'd be stupid to just rush into things on your own--take a look what happened to you! I thought I was going to have to throw you off of Arch Rock just to wake you up!"
"He caught me offguard," Manabozho groused. "I won't fall for that stupid trick again."
"He caught you because you were on your own, and ALL of you have to face him," Charmian insisted. "Remember what they say? One arrow alone breaks, but ten of them together?--they don't even bend. Do you want to break?"
Manabozho scowled. "I have always been better off without them! They should have left home SOONER! Then I wouldn't have had to deal with them whatsoever! I would rather be a broken arrow than have to deal with THEM again!"
Charmian opened her mouth to retort when a voice from behind them said, "We did not mean to upset you so much, Little Brother."
Both Charmian and Manabozho stiffened. They turned to peer behind them. Wabasso stood just behind the fallen tree, staring back. As soon as Manabozho saw him he scowled again and turned away to resolutely stare at the trees behind the spring. Charmian felt like reaching out and pushing him in it but Wabasso stepped carefully over the log and came their way, making her slip down from the side of the spring and retreat a few steps. Manabozho seemed to just hunch in on himself more and more as if to disappear altogether, when Wabasso put his hand on the edge of the spring, and Manabozho's feathers prickled like thorns. Charmian rolled her eyes at his sulkiness but Wabasso didn't seem to notice.
Wabasso looked down at the spring. "If I'd known how much it would hurt you," he said quietly, "then I would never have left you alone. I thought I did the right thing...I suppose I was wrong." He waited a long while but Manabozho didn't speak. "No matter how you feel about me, I would still wish to help you help the Island," Wabasso continued. "And then you need never speak to me again, if you want."
"Go back home," Manabozho muttered, startling them both. He didn't move aside from that. Wabasso tilted his head as if in question and he spoke up again. "Since wherever that is matters more than here does."
Wabasso furrowed his brow. "Why would you think this?" he asked. "That we do not care for the Island? We were born here."
"And it wasn't good enough for you to stay?" Finally Manabozho turned his head to glare at his older brother, and though he looked primarily angry, Charmian detected a hint of hurt in his eyes as well. "You were all I had!" he snapped. "Mudji left early, then Puka went away, and Mother and Father were never there--all I had was you and Noko. And then, you were gone! You did not even say goodbye to me! Noko had to tell me where you went! You cannot EVER know how that felt! You were the only one who stayed for me, and then you were gone! Without even an explanation why! I told myself it was my fault!"
A pained look flitted across Wabasso's face. "It was never your fault," he murmured; Manabozho leapt up from the spring and clenched his fists.
"As if I could have known that--? Not even a GOODBYE! The only one who has EVER been family to me is Noko. And I am the only family she has. I stayed with her, and she NEVER left me like all of you did! As far as I am concerned I do not have any brothers! Even this Chakenapok is closer to me than any of YOU ever will be!"
He whirled around toward the woods and started to stomp away. Wabasso opened his mouth; Charmian jumped forward and threw her arm out, thinking, Not AGAIN! "Manabozho--!"
They hardly took two steps before another voice wailed, "I didn't MEAN it, Baby Brother!!" This time when they looked back, it was Peepaukawiss who was climbing over the fallen tree, feathers sticking out every which way. Some of them got caught on the tree and he yelped and fell over it to land on the ground with a thud, quickly pushing himself up and dusting himself off. He looked up, lip quivering and eyes welling up as if ready to burst into tears.
Manabozho's dark look returned. "You, too?" he scowled.
Puka sniffled and rubbed at his nose. "I never meant any of those pranks but in good fun!" he cried. "If I'd known how much they bothered you--I would've played them on Mudji or 'Basso instead! If you're mad because of me, then I really didn't mean it...I thought you liked joking around..."
"That isn't it," Manabozho practically hissed through his teeth. He threw up his hands. "All of this time, and you have no idea! You can't leave for years and then come back and say you suddenly still care about this place! I am the ONLY one who can help the Island now! Go back home where you belong!"
"We've always cared for it here!" Puka protested, seeming more confused now than anything. Charmian picked up on what had happened--Manabozho had again switched the subject, from himself to the Island--but saw with some bit of hope that at least Wabasso seemed to understand. "We didn't leave because we hated it or anything--"
"Then WHY DID YOU GO?" Manabozho roared, making them jump back. He bared his teeth at them and Charmian started when she saw that his eyes were full of tears. "And in all those years, why did none of you ever come back?"
The other two blinked as if caught offguard. Puka's feathers lowered a little.
"You're angry about that...?" he asked.
"OF COURSE I AM!" Manabozho flung his arm out to the side. "You think I'd act like this over some STUPID JOKE?!"
Puka looked ready to take offense, but Wabasso jumped in front of him. "Mudji left long before you were even born," he said quickly. "He did come back to see you, a few times--but you know how he is. He always took after Father, and he wanted to be with him. That's why he left. It was not because of you, no matter what he says. And he has always treated every one of us like this, not only you. He simply wanted to learn Father's ways on his own."
Puka's brow furrowed again when Wabasso stepped aside. "I left because I wished to see places," he said. "I came back when you were born, Baby Brother--and I came back to play with you all the time!"
Manabozho gritted his teeth and crossed his arms. "I remember that much, at least."
"But I never left because I didn't care for the Island or for you! In fact, I..." He trailed off, hesitating a moment, before saying, "I thought you did not like having me around. The very last time we were together, you were so upset with me--I thought for sure you would bring the Crooked Tree down! Noko said perhaps I should leave you alone for a little while...and I didn't want to upset you like that, Baby Brother...so I thought maybe if I left for a little while, you wouldn't be so mad anymore, and then I just kind of got caught up in it and forgot to come back home..." His eyes welled up again and his voice rose to a quivery squeak. "If I'd known how much you missed us, Baby Brother, I'd have come back in a HEARTBEAT! ANYTHING for my little brother!" He put his hands to his eyes and let out an odd "EEEEEeeeeeEEEEEEeeeee!" sound like a monster cicada, making Charmian grimace and rub her head.
Manabozho glowered at the keening Puka for a moment, then turned to Wabasso, still glowering. Wabasso wilted a little under his stare and had to avert his eyes.
"And you?" Manabozho demanded. "What was so much more important that you never even told me goodbye? That you never once came back, not one time? Mudji and Puka even came back after they had gone--but you never did! You think I would believe any reason you give me--?"
Wabasso stared at the ground. "I do not ask you to believe me," he murmured. "But I did not leave because I did not care. I would never do such a thing to hurt you. I hope that you know that."
Manabozho snorted. "Like I said, I have any reason to believe that? How is it that you could leave without a word and never once come back, if you cared so much?"
Wabasso looked ready to shrink in on himself and disappear. He dug the toe of his moccasin into the soil. "I left because..." he started, then trailed off, then tried again. "...Because...I thought it would be best for you if I did."
Manabozho blinked; even Puka and Charmian lifted their heads to look at him in puzzlement. The surprise didn't stay on Manabozho's face for long before his scowl began to return.
"Best for me?" he snapped. "You'd have me believe you did this for me?"
Wabasso shifted his eyes to the side. "You grew up without anyone," he murmured. "Except Noko and me. Mudji, Puka, they both left to start their own lives, and I knew I would have to someday as well. Yet the thought of leaving you behind...it was almost more than I could bear. Mudji and Puka were gone before you were born, but I was always there for you, and you always followed behind me. You looked up to me so much. I knew that the day I should leave, it would break your heart. No one should ever have to feel this way."
Charmian stared at him as he spoke, her own brow furrowing slightly. She felt a tiny ache in her chest and turned to peer at Manabozho, yet he was still scowling.
"And so why did you make me feel this way?" he asked, voice hard and unpleasant.
Wabasso gave a small sigh. "You were young still," he said after a moment or two of silence. "I could have stayed with you until I thought you were ready to be on your own, or I could have left you then and there. I knew that if I waited, you would never be ready for me to leave. The older you grew, the more difficult it would be to say goodbye. And so...I gathered my belongings, and spoke with Noko, and left as you slept. You were still a boy. I knew it would hurt you...but I knew also that if you grew up with me always around you, you would never learn to live on your own, to rely on yourself. You never did anything before then without me near. And everywhere I went, you were my shadow. I never hated you for this, 'Bozho...but I knew you could not grow up like this, and hope to be on your own. I thought that if I left you then, it would make it easier for you later on. You would know how to be on your own and to think for yourself. You would be alone, but you would be stronger, too. This was all I ever intended when I left you."
Charmian stared hard at Manabozho as he listened; his resolve seemed to be just slightly wavering, but his eyes filled up again and it looked as if he bit his lip. He sucked in a breath and swiped his arm across his eyes angrily.
"If that's so," he cried, "then why didn't you even say goodbye?"
Wabasso met his eyes. "Because you would have followed me. You never would have let me go. And I never would have been able to leave if I had faced you like that. It was the only way." He paused, then lowered his eyes again. "I knew you would hate me for it...but I never knew how angry you would be. I always thought you would move past it, in time...if I had known how much it would really hurt you, maybe I would have done it differently." He lifted his head once more, and Charmian saw that his own eyes seemed glassy and wet. "I had only ever meant to do what I thought was best for you, 'Bozho."
Puka nodded briefly, drawing himself back into the conversation. "Me, too, Baby Brother."
Manabozho stared at a space somewhere between them, shoulders hitching slightly and fists clenched at his sides. His eyes welled up and his lip quivered, and Charmian thought of how he looked like nothing more than a sulky child, with his eyebrows drawn together and his posture stiff. After a few moments his head lowered a bit and he seemed to sniffle a few times, trying to will back the tears, then he turned and walked away back toward the woods. He practically dragged his feet now, however, and instead of storming off, he stopped at the edge of the clearing, fists still clenching and unclenching, like some little boy being sent to stand in the corner. Puka and Wabasso frowned uncertainly but Charmian merely sighed and walked toward him.
"Give me a minute," she said to them. They kept their place and she walked up to stand beside Manabozho. She peered up at him to see that he was rubbing furiously at his eyes.
Charmian frowned a bit. "Are you crying...?"
"Of course not!" he snapped, still rubbing and scowling now.
Charmian nodded. "Okay." She stood in silence beside him for a moment or two while he continued sniffling. "You know," she said after a while, "they went through a lot of trouble too, to get here, and that has to mean something."
"It means they're showoffs," Manabozho grumbled.
Charmian shrugged. "I think it means they still care about you. And they're still here, so it doesn't matter how angry you are." When he didn't reply to this she added, "You know...if you could forgive them, it'd make you look pretty strong."
He at last moved his hand just enough to peer at her warily, still scowling, though not as much as before. His look grew skeptical.
"Strong?" he said, as if not really believing her.
She nodded. "It takes a really strong person to forgive somebody who's hurt them." She paused, then turned. "I'd be impressed," she said, and started walking back toward the others.
She hadn't taken three steps before she heard him turning around as well and coming after her. She suppressed a smirk and managed to keep her face straight when he appeared beside her. Puka and Wabasso peered at him when he halted, clenching his fists and glaring between them ominously. He didn't meet their eyes.
"I..." he said, then faltered, feathers flaring; he scowled so much that it almost looked as if little stormclouds were hovering around him. "I f..." The others stared at him, ears pricked, and Manabozho looked as if he wanted to sink into the ground, or start uprooting trees with his bare hands. He bared his teeth, grinding them against each other, and at last turned his head to the side and just barely managed to grumble between his gritted teeth, "I...frgv...you."
Charmian blinked, impressed not only that he'd said it, but that he'd said the word without using any vowels. As soon as it was out of his mouth Puka was wailing already, launching himself at his brother and wrapping him in feathers.
"OOOOHHHHH I'M SO HAPPY, BABY BROTHER!! I'M SO HAPPY THAT YOU FORGIVE US! THAT YOU FORGIVE ME!!"
Just about the only thing Charmian could see of Manabozho now was his teeth as he bared them again, glinting out from between Puka's swarm of feathers. "Don't push it."
"I promise I'll NEVER pull such mean jokes on you AGAIN!" Puka cried, jerking him back and forth. "I never meant to put those acorns in your ears--and I never meant to put those quills under your seat--and I never, EVER meant to paint your pet birds with pitch..."
Manabozho's eyes goggled open. "You--" He twisted his head around to look Puka in the face. "You did that--?" he exclaimed.
Puka's own eyes opened and he pulled back a bit, blinking. "You...you mean...you didn't know that was me...?" he asked.
Charmian and Wabasso both cringed. Puka let go of his brother immediately when Manabozho's eyes went blue. "YOU DID THAT?!" he bellowed, and the leaves started whipping all around them. Puka quailed and started scuttling back toward the fallen tree, tripping on his feathers the whole way. Little flashes of light started crackling all around Manabozho as he stood in the middle of the small clearing, a howling storm of wind rising around him. Charmian and Wabasso edged toward Puka and they all gaped at him when his eyes flashed like lightning.
"THOSE WERE MY FAVORITE BIRDS!!" Manabozho roared.
Puka started stammering, but Wabasso and Charmian had already grabbed hold of his arms. "I think he needs some time to sit on that one," Charmian said hastily over the noise of all the wind; the others nodded, eyes gawking, and retreated as quickly as they could from the spring.