Sunday, July 01, 2007

Crow River, Part 3: The Binding

Part 1 Here
Part 2 Here

Slaughter came that hot summer's day with a skin of ice. Despite the heat, frost rolled off the Wendigo and caused the bloody ground to steam. The braves stared in shock at the icy beast that was once a man. It stood ten feet tall with skin the color of winter sky. Cadaverously thin, each rib jutted from the thing's chest. At the end of each long, ropey arm it's hands ended in claws as long and sharp as a winter's night. To the braves, it's mouth looked too big for it's head and was filled with an impossible number of teeth. It's breath turned to frost as it exhaled each fetid breath.

With a roar it attacked the warriors.

Two hundred and fifty six braves died that day. The future of four tribes was lost to the claws and teeth of a nightmare from the dead of winter. The ground turned to a mud of dirt, blood and entrails. Where the Wendigo stepped this foul soil froze, trapping the men in place, ripe for harvest. The Wendigo feasted and all would have been consumed by it.

But, the river and the weather that had shielded it as a man now turned on this abomination. Blinding rain began to fall and lightning split the sky. Around the Wendigo this rain came as sleet, but slowly the heat of the summer rain began to cut into the Wendigo. It bellowed and then slew another ten warriors as it sensed itself weakening. "Flesh! I must eat flesh!" was the only thought in it's head as it whirled around in the rain looking for another to eat.

Through the rain a new enemy appeared to the Wendigo. His old Medicine Man stood across the river, chanting a prayer to the Great Sky God. In the man's upraised arms was a thin branch cut from an ash tree.

Bloodrage filled the Wendigo! No imaginary man in the sky would have power over him! He was the Great Chief, Slayer of All. The Winter Devourer!! Had he not just slain fifteen score warriors?! Swatting away those that still struck at his sides and back, the Wendigo entered the river. ALL WOULD BE EATEN!!

The Medicine Man entered the river from his side, still chanting and holding the stick overhead. He made it to the center of the river and stopped. Above the roar of the storm his chanting couldn't be heard, but above him lightning intensified. Trees exploded on both banks as they were hit. Thunder hit with the force of hammers. And the Wendigo came closer.

But it was having trouble. The water seemed to burn and tear as it flowed past. The Wendigo even stumbled once and when it broke back to the surface it had become smaller. With a whoop three braves rushed in to attack the weakened monster. But what does weakness mean when you are a beast? The three where slain as easily as the first.

Distracted by the three, the fourth struck and he struck with lightning!! The Medicine Man lept upon the monster's back, and with a final screaming prayer, thrust the ash stick high into the air.

The sky was split by lightning! It flowed down the ash rod, though the Medicine Man and into the beast. The storm winds howled along with the Wendigo. The Medicine Man screamed as he burned by the lightning he had called down! Those still alive on the shore were made blind by the flash and deaf by the thunder. They moaned and huddled as the storm's fury grew and grew!!

Then, broke.

As sight and hearing returned, the rain and wind dwindled down to a soft summer's sprinkle. Covered in gore, surrounded by carrion that was once their brothers, the last warriors could only stand dumbly and stare at the river. There was no sign of the Wendigo but on the far shore lay the blacked remains of a man, steaming in the light rain. Then the charred figure twiched and a moan escaped past burnt lips and shattered teeth. The stump of an arm flailed...

Seeing this, one of the braves rushed to cross the river to aid the shattered Medicine Man. Four steps into the water the warrior screamed and fell. Blood boiled up from the spot and slowly dispersed downstream. Silently, one of the remaining warriors nocked an arrow and with sure aim let it fly. The twitching of the charred man was stilled as the arrow peirced his skull.

The tribes left. In their haste the dead were left behind and became a feast for crows and wolves. The place was cursed and none would go to it willingly. The land remained empty of people until the white man came.

Here the Medicine Man stopped his tale. From the glow of the Indian's pipe my grandfather's grandfather watched the old man in silence, thinking about what he had heard. The combined might of four tribes were unable to kill the Wendigo. All they managed to do was weaken it and bind it to the Crow River...

To be continued...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fabulous! More More More!