I’ve always spoken about this series in my interview and I’m very proud of it. I’ve got the first two already written and I’m working on finishing the third. Fate Reborn is the first book I’ve ever written in my life!
Ashat a three hundred and twenty five year old werewolf who’s lived three centuries in sorrow and torment after his family was killed by an enemy-Baku. The only way he is able to bear his long life is drinking himself into a drunken stupor, women and hunting down Baku. His world suddenly changes when he meets Merilee and he is finally able to love and be happy again.
Merilee is an eighteen year old girl who lost her family in a fire when she was five. However she isn’t too sure about that, her nightmares show her something very different to what her shrink has been telling her for thirteen years. She was raised by her two adoptive sisters Ann and Maria in an orphanage. She has a fear of letting people in and losing them. This fear makes her put up with an
obnoxious boyfriend Steve until she’s finally gets the courage to get rid of him.
She finally meets a man who she instantly has a crush on and ultimately falls in love with after their first night together.
But Merilee and Ashat have met before in the worst of situations.
Every story has a beggining… this is it….
The sun was at its highest again. It was picturesque as it stood on its lonesome in the cloudless beautiful blue sky. It rested above the water, shining hard its rays of light bouncing off the water.
If it had an ego, one would say it was showing off its power, its beauty, and its capability to make the world look so beautiful.
If Angakut, the spiritualist, heard anyone say that, he would have a fit!
Angakut was old and frail but very powerful and everyone was afraid of him. He had connections with the big guys; it would be dangerous to mess with him, and his appearance was also very intimidating.
He had long white hair that was held up with a long stick and red, white and black markings on his shriveled brown skin that symbolized his power and the favor the spirits had on him. His eyes were sunken and black, his ears pulled down with tiny black chunks of wood stuck in them.
“The sun is a heavenly being, the guardian of the day. It gives its best to its children when they deserve it. Do not mock his powers!” His harsh coarse voice filled Ashat’s head.
Then we must have done something right today, Ashat thought to himself.
Ashat stood still to take in the beauty of the earth, its sight and its scent. The summer had come with a lot of blessings; beautiful tall trees, green grass and cloudless blue skies. The lake seemed to sparkle as the sun rays touched its surface.
He dug his toes into the ground and rubbed the cold soft soil in between his toes.
The beauty mother earth had created was unspeakable, no creature, man or animal could disagree as they all benefit from her kindness.
But there was far more beauty than anything the world had ever seen calling out for him, Rosa. Ashat couldn’t help but smile, every part of him was more awake now than it was ten seconds ago.
“Ashat, will you stop daydreaming and hurry up! Your little brother’s blessing ceremony is about to begin!”
Rosa’s voice carried him to heights that could arouse the dead. Ashat became more aware of her body, as she stood there impatiently waiting for him to catch up. Her long black hair, still wet, complimented her light brown skin tone, hanging loosely around her face perfectly. Unlike most women in the tribe, she was slender and stood five feet eight inches tall. Her short brown dress was more like a second skin, as it clung to her, amplifying every curve and bump of her curvatious body. Her slit hazel eyes were hypnotizing and seemed more like gem stones that made her face even more alluring. Her soft rosy lips that curved to shape a perfect smile had always been ammunition no man could resist and every woman envied. That, and the fact that she was the chief’s only child.
“Okay, okay, hold your horses, I’m coming!” Ashat shouted back, as he followed her through the scattered trees and back to the village.
Ashat was in no hurry to go back home, he wanted to spend more time with Rosa. They had gone swimming in the far end of the Willow Lake, where it was covered with mass vegetation. It wasn’t too far from the village but far enough. They wanted some time alone, and they also didn’t want to be seen by anyone who may report them to the chief, if so, her movements would be restricted. She was not married yet and had to stay untouched until so, if her husband was to rule and live long. It was the ways and beliefs of their people and they had to obey it.
Chief Roa was the fiercest leader the Lakota tribe has ever had. The fact that by birth right he still would have been chief, played little part in the respect and fear people had for him. His act of courage and humility has been a bed time story for all children for the past forty decades. Many men had and still are trying to match up, some succeed, some die trying, others face the embarrassment and dishonor of failing miserably.
Wrestling a five hundred pound, seven foot bear, and praying for its spirit’s safe journey to its ancestors was harder than it sounded in the heroic stories. Ashat had the scares to prove it, and to think Chief Roa wrestled two.
Ashat, being the son of the great hunter, Kiyo, left little to no chance of failure. His father always prided himself in his sons’ courage, strength and oddly their looks too, seeing that they all took after him. Towering over six feet three, muscled body, with broad shoulders, chiseled chin, paralyzing smile- so his mother Tepeu always told them- and a stance that made men shake in fear. Dishonoring him would be like stabbing him in the back, a coward’s way of combat.
Come back without the beast’s skin riding on your shoulders with pride and you’ll fight me to the death!
Ashat’s mother always shivered at that phrase; one would expect it would get easier after hearing it with five of her sons already. Her wealth and respect came from the six strong sons she bore for Kiyo. If one of them was to fail they would be putting Tepeu in greater shame than their father.
So all she did all day, apart from cook, clean and tend to her sons was to pray that the Great Spirit would guide her sons and also spare her from the shame of failure and dishonor. Today she was at ease and full of pride, now that her sixth and last son, Akin, only nineteen, had evaded her husband’s clutches and done the family proud. He came back victorious and now a respected man, the blessing ceremony was in his honor.
The whole village had already assembled around the spiritual fire, in the middle of the compound. The tee-pees were spread out all facing the chief’s tall and bigger tee-pee that stood a few meters away from the spiritual fire.
Some of the tee-pees stood close to the trees opposite the forest- those were the hunters’ homes. Some were situated close to the lake shore which belonged to the fisher men and the rest were spread in the middle and around the village, those huts belonged to the warriors. But all the tee-pees were strategically positioned to form a small circle, leaving a huge space in the middle where all the festivities were carried out.
Ashat chose to build his tee-pee close to the lake. He loved the water; he spent every free hour he had in it. He has always been attached to it, that’s why his mother named him after it, Wakpa. She said he was as soothing as it was when it was calm and as ferocious as it was during a storm.
Customary every male child was named after an animal that symbolized their inner animal spirit but Tepeu had insisted on also naming her sons after nature. It was her way of honoring the great mother earth.
Akin stood between Angakut and their father. He stood at par with Kiyo, his chest pushed out, his head held high, and his face tight and somber. It seemed Ash was the only one who could see the pain he was trying to hide; Akin’s brown teary eyes told it all. Kiyo seemed too proud to notice, Tepeu’s pale, pain stricken face mirrored his pain on his behalf. She was standing a foot behind on Kiyo’s right and had a perfect view of his wounds; she could clearly see the bear’s claws on Akin’s back and thigh.
They had treated his wounds the best they could, but left them open for everyone to see. They were proof that he had waged battle and won, his marks of honor, along with the bear skin that was now draped on Kiyo’s shoulders.
Ashat was happy his brother was back alive. He moved to stand next to his other brothers’, behind their father. They had all assumed the stance Kiyo had, serious, intimidating and yet full of pride. They had all made it. A small chuckle escaped Ash’s lips. Like all of his brothers who went before him, Akin must be happy he didn’t have to fight Kiyo.
Better the bear than the beast.
Ashat looked around at the crowd that had gathered. Everyone was paying attention to what the spiritual leader was saying. Rosa stood behind Chief Roa, next to her mother.
She had taken after her mother, Saura, who still looked very attractive at her age. Rosa was so striking, even with the sickening look on her face. Ashat shut his mouth tight to stifle a laugh. He was astound at how a woman could look so beautiful and disgusted at the same time.
Ashat wasn’t the only one ogling at Rosa. Anger rose inside him and he could taste the bile in his mouth. His body tightened and his knuckles turned white as his hands were now in tight fists. The amusement disappeared immediately he saw Baku look at her possessively. Then Baku turned and looked at Ashat, his mouth curved into a wicked smile, with the look of a winner pasted on his face.
‘‘You haven’t won yet, asshole!’’Ashat mumbled to himself, apparently too loud as his brother gave him a questioning look before he turned back to the ceremony.
Rosa was the key player when it came to who held the power to rule the tribe once her father died. Her husband would be the next chief therefore her suitors were carefully selected. Angakut had to make sure that her husband would be better if not at equivalent to Chief Roa.
Ancestry, wealth, strength-spiritual and physical- and courage were all taken into account. After months of deliberation and analysis of a third of the people in the village, Baku and Ashat were now the final two in the race. Ashat wanted her because he loved her, Baku on the other hand wanted power, marrying the most beautiful woman in the village would just be an added bonus. Ashat’s body tightened even more at the thought of Rosa in that brute’s arms.
Baku was the first born son of the chief’s adviser, Wangwe. He was six feet two inches tall, had a wide body and a beautiful face. He had put himself on a pedestal higher than the rest of the men in the tribe. He hadn’t done anything that would permit him to carry an air of importance that the rest of the men hadn’t done. His family name, prestige and his father’s position were the only things that made him stand out. He treated many like dirt, not worthy of his attention. His own siblings’ feared him. They avoided him as much as they could just like most of the villagers. Some out of hate for what he done to his own brother, others didn’t want to be his source of amusement for the day, nor his next victim. He had hurt a lot of people, but the worst was when he disowned his own brother.
Eri could not defeat the bear, so he opted to save his life and run. Baku descended ferociously on his brother enraged at his weakness. He wanted Eri ostracized for the shame he had brought on his family. But the village elders wouldn’t allow it. They gave him another chance to redeem himself, which did not sit well with Baku and only enraged him further. But the damage had been done. That same night, Eri left the village; he could not stand his brother’s resentment and constant taunts towards him.
It has been four years since he left and no one knew of his whereabouts.
Any man that would treat his brother with such contempt, and betray the bond of blood and birth says a lot of what he would do to the rest of the tribe if he was given the power to do so. Chieftainship is such power that he did not deserve. Some supported him, but most didn’t pay much attention to him.
Baku had proven himself to be cold, disloyal, egotistic and self-centered. No one should be force to endure his personality, and Ashat, as sure as hell didn’t want Rosa anywhere near him.
“Ashat, what’s wrong?” Rosa stood next to him concern written all over her face. Ashat smiled as he turned to face her.
Ashat had drifted away from the village and was standing at the river bank, watching the guardian of the day go to sleep. He had drowned out all the noise that seemed to come alive now that Rosa had broken his line of thought.
The celebration was still going on. A huge feast had been laid out. Akin was enjoying the limelight, which he deservingly should. He was seated amongst the elders. The women folk laid down platter after platter of delicious dishes in front of him. He ate and drank as he watched the singing and dancing around the bon fire. It seemed he wasn’t in pain any more, or he could have been too drunk to notice.
Ashat didn’t want to admit it, but Baku’s attitude had unsettled him. Ashat thought marrying Rosa was a sure thing, but now he wasn’t so confident. All he could do was question the whole situation. What if the chief and Angakut thought Baku was a better match for Rosa? Will her father at least let her have some input in who she marries? Does love count so little in this decision?
Ashat leaned his head back and let out a cry of frustration. Startled, Rosa moved closer to him, with concern and panic written all over her face, “You didn’t answer me. What’s wrong?”
“Sorry I didn’t mean to frighten you, I was just thinking about us.”
“What about us?”
He didn’t want to tell her the turmoil he was in, but there was no one else he could confide in, “the harvest day is almost here, the day our fate will be decided…”
Alarm rose inside Ashat as he choked on his words. He would gladly face any danger, but he couldn’t face the fact that in a few days he might lose the love of his life.
Rosa walked up to him and placed her hand on his cheek. Ashat pressed his cheek into her palm taking in its soft warmth.
“Silly, who else do you think I would marry?” Ashat looked down at Rosa, clinging with hope to her every word. “Father will allow me my say, and I’ll pick….Baku!” Then she ran off laughing.
“That wasn’t in the least bit funny!” Ashat called out to her gnashing his teeth. The thought was tormenting enough, having her say it out loud made it worse.
“No, but the look on your face is!” She placed her hand over her belly and laughed louder.
Ashat stared at her, his temper eased away as quickly as it had come. The sound of her laughter was infectious, making all his worries disappeared. Laughing, Ashat ran after her.
But that little joy was cut short. They met Baku on the path; he was carrying something wrapped in banana leaves. He walked up to Rosa with an annoying smile on his face.
“Hallo Rosa, you are looking ever so exceptionally beautiful today. Here I got this for you.” He handed her the wrapped parcel.
“Thanks.” She said quickly taking the parcel from him. She stared up at Ashat trying to assess exactly how mad he had gotten over the last few seconds Baku was with them.
Ashat was very uncomfortable, shifting from one leg to the other trying hard to keep his anger at bay. He just wanted Baku gone, but the guy didn’t seem to be in any hurry to move on.
“I’m so lucky.” Baku added with a dreamy look.
“Why is that?” Ashat asked with a raised eye brow. He was getting impatient and very irritated by Baku’s cool collected manner.
“Well, I’m going to be basking in her beauty from sun rise to sun set. I can only imagine how you look naked…” He paused as he undressed Rosa with his eyes. “I won’t have to wait long to find out.”
That statement sent Ashat over the edge. He launched himself at Baku with all the fury that was boiling inside him. They were rolling on the ground both trying to get on top of the other, punching scratching and slapping; inflicting as much pain as they possibly could.
Rosa was screaming for them to stop but her efforts fell on deaf ears. She began calling the men around her to help stop the two men from killing each other. Most of the men just stood there watching amused by the fight and others were too scared to get involved.
Finally Ashat was on top. Before Baku could see it coming- he was busy blinking the dirt out of his eyes- Ashat put all his weight into it and punched him in the face, sending his head digging into the ground. Ashat lifted his fist to deliver another one but someone caught his hand and pulled him off.
Baku’s face was bleeding and it looked like it had been smashed in. The back of his head was also bleeding. He tried to stand up but he sunk back to the ground. He was dizzy and looked more like a drunken man.
Ashat was struggling to get out of the arm lock Nalu, his brother had him in. He wasn’t done with Baku, all the blood on his face and on the ground from the injuries he had already caused didn’t seem to deter his thirst to kill Baku. Two village men helped Baku up and took him to the healer.
Ashat was still seeing red. His fist was bleeding but he didn’t notice until a drop landed on his foot.
Nalu let him go and as he walked away, “Brother, pace your anger for mother’s sake. It would kill her if you were branded a murderer!”
Ashat nodded, taking in large deep breathes to calm himself.
Rosa quietly took his arm and led him to the lake. She wanted to try and calm him down. Ashat knew she had never seen him so angry and violent and it must have scared her.
“Would you please calm down? Why did you lose it like that?” Rosa scolded him.
Ashat pulled his hand out of hers and looked at her in disbelief. “Are you kidding me! Did you not hear what he said or do you consider that fluttery!”
Rosa stood at akimbo not amused by his snippy remark. She walked up to Ashat, pulled his bleeding hand, deliberately pressing the cuts on his fists and led him to the lake shore.
“Ouch! You don’t have to be rough!” Ashat complained as the pain in his hand stung.
Rosa said nothing. She pulled him down close to the water and kept her attention on nursing his knuckles.
Feeling embarrassed and guilty, Ashat put his free hand under her chin and gently turned her head to face him, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine, just don’t do that again.”
“Lose your temper like that. I… I’ve never seen that side of you before….and I never want to see it again. I watched what you did to Baku…. Just don’t okay?”
She looked at Ashat differently now, he couldn’t tell if it was fear or shock or something else, he just didn’t like it. He dropped his hand from her chin and lowered his head.
Ashat felt crushed and even more embarrassed, “I promise.”
“Thanks. And anyway, something good came out of it.”
Ashat looked up to meet her smiling face, and the look he loved so much was back- gentle loving dreamy look.
“What would that be?”
“I have a feeling Baku’s learnt how to be respectful to women, the hard way. The dent in his face will be a constant reminder!” They laughed, Rosa always found a silver lining in the worst of situations.
“The Mohawk tribe has decided they want to take our land by force. They no longer want to live with us peacefully as neighbors. We have fought alongside them against many enemies for many years. They were once our brothers, now they are our enemies, so we shall treat them as such!” A war cry pierced the cool air in response to the chief’s words.
This new occurrence had unsettled the planning and organization for the Harvest day celebrations, and also the blessing ceremony of the chief’s daughter and her future husband. No one knew if everything would be postponed or if it would happen sooner than scheduled. What they knew for sure was in a week’s time, they would battle their former allies until one of them submitted. The wait wouldn’t be long, everything would be revealed that night at the ceremony.
The warriors’ gathering was dismissed; most of the men went to spend time with their families others preferred to prepare their weapons. All spending as much time preparing for the unknown outcome of the battle, making the most of the time they had before that fateful day.
Ashat preferred to spend it with Rosa, but there was no chance of that. She had been taken by the women; they were preparing her for the blessing ceremony. Ashat’s belly did cartwheel; he was so nervous, anxious and going out of his mind. He needed to relax, so he opted to go swimming. The water was his second love and had always soothed him, no matter what was happening in his life, it had always been there for him. Ashat dived in and swam fast and hard, he would go as far as his body would allow it.
It had been three hours, and almost dusk when Ashat made his way out of the water. He walked into the village towards his tee-pee, he needed to prepare. Ashat couldn’t help but be amused by the stares and girly giggles that followed him as he walked. The girls had stopped what they were doing and watched him as he made his way down the path dripping wet. Ashat examined himself to see what had warranted the lustful looks and whispers.
Ashat’s long hair had gathered behind and was pasted on his back. The loin cloth was very wet and clung to his thick hard thighs. The water on his body had formed tinny streams on his abs, biceps and legs and more ran down his chest and belly. He was well built and six feet and four inches tall.
A smile ran across Ashat’s face exposing his teeth. He could swear he heard someone shriek in delight, which only made him laugh. Ashat wasn’t obsessed with himself, but today the attention boosted his self-esteem.
“Brother, it’s not good to tease the young girls. I don’t think their mothers’ will appreciate it.” Ashat’s eldest brother, Cano called out as he got nearer to his tee-pee. He was standing outside his hut holding his son in one arm and his wife in the other.
“Well they’ll have to take it up with our parents, they bore us this way. And anyway, isn’t that how you nabbed my sister-in-law?” Ashat teased back.
The question had made her turn pink with embarrassment; she was smiling and hiding her face. She took their son and left Ashat and Cano to talk.
Cano’s face was now somber and worried; the amusement had faded away fast. Ashat assumed the new mood was about the looming battle.
“Don’t worry brother, you will be back with your family once the battle is over, I’ll make sure of it.”
“It’s not that,” he answered coolly.
“Then what is it?” Ashat was a little worried.
“You are the third son of Kiyo the great hunter, next to marry. The thing is, will you marry the love of your life and be the next chief, or will you have to settle for one mother will choose for you?”
That thought made Ashat’s body shiver. All the anxiety slammed back into his chest. He could feel his legs give way beneath him. Before Ashat could sag any lower, Cano pulled him up and supported him, bewildered by his reaction.
“If I knew this would unnerve you so, I wouldn’t have tormented you with the thought.”
“I’ll die if I don’t have her.” The words slipped out of Ashat’s lips.
He wasn’t thinking about it, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to handle it if things didn’t go his way. The words seemed to shock Cano more than him. Cano leaned his head towards Ashat and whispered.
“I don’t see you lasting till tonight. You would have gone crazy by then, so I’ll put you out of your misery. Don’t say anything to anyone yet, not until tonight so act clueless.”
Ashat didn’t understand what he was saying; he was clueless and wasn’t even paying much attention to Cano anymore. Ashat waited for Cano to finish as he contemplated drowning himself in liquor to try and calm himself.
“I will always love you, protect you and respect you. I want you to know that I will always have your back, through thick and thin. You are my brother……and my chief….” He let the last three words hang as he held his breath, waiting for it to sink in.
His words hit Ashat like a ton of bricks. Ashat starred at him, wondering what he meant by that. Then it slowly sank in. He wasn’t sure what expression he had on his face but he knew it was a good one because his brother had a large smile pasted on his. Ashat wondered if he was playing one of his tricks on him again. But Cano wouldn’t dare, he knew how important this was to him.
Before Ashat could break out in a victory dance, Cano held his shoulders down and faced him.
“Father told me, he made me promise not to say a word to you. But the words you uttered frightened me. As your elder, I’m ordering you not to say a word, or act in any way that would suggest you know the councils’ decision before it is formally announced. Do you understand me or have you sunk too deep in bliss to understand what I’m saying?”
Ashat nodded his head in agreement. He couldn’t speak; the excitement was caught in his throat. Whether or not he knew this, Cano had made Ashat the happiest man on earth and had also saved his life.
Ashat couldn’t wait for night to come, when it would be official. Relief was flowing through him but he needed to be sure, unequivocally without a shadow of a doubt sure.
Ashat stood outside his tee-pee dressed and prepared. He and Baku had been painted with the symbols of the spirits and those of their animal brothers; the bear and the wolf. It was tradition and a requirement; it had to be shown that they had won the approval of the spirits. The final symbol, the chief’s symbol, the hawk’s image will be painted on the chosen one.
Ashat looked up at the beautiful moon, its light was shining bright and its stunning reflection danced in the water. He took that as a sign, the moon spirit would show him favor. Tonight his dreams would finally become a reality. He couldn’t help but imaging Rosa as his wife, happy with children of their own.
Ashat was a bit worried about not being capable of being the next chief, but he had no doubt that he would be a wonderful husband.
I’ll try my best. With the strength of the spirits and the support of my wife, I will be a good leader to my people. Ashat thought firmly to himself.
But, at the same time doubt crept into his mind, making him even more nervous. There was a possibility that what Kiyo heard was wrong.
Ashat clenched his fist hard on his forehead, Will this day end already!
“Brother, its time. Father and mother have already left. We decided to walk with you.”
Ashat turned to see all his brothers standing behind him. They had war paint all over their bodies, in the different colors of the earth. Ashat felt at ease, having the support of his brothers held him strong. He was ready, for any outcome.
The entire village was assembled around the fire in the middle of the compound. The warriors stood to the left of the chief and the council elders’ stood at his right. The children and women sat directly in front of him on the other side of the fire. Angakut was kneeling between the chief and the fire, chanting and singing. The chief advisor Wangwe, the head warrior and Kiyo stood closer to the chief than the rest of the warriors.
Ashat arrived with his brothers the same time Baku arrived with his entourage from the opposite side. The paint had covered the bruise he had sustained from Ashat’s beating but the cut on his eye brow and the swelling on his left temple were still very visible.
It had been a week since his beating; he had been on bed rest since, the blow had him in and out of consciousness for two days. His father wanted Ashat punished for what he did. Kiyo was more than proud of the beating his son had delivered, more so because he came out of it with just a scratch. That made him defend his son heatedly, going as far as challenging Wangwe to a fight to settle the dispute, Wangwe didn’t take.
His sons weren’t the only ones afraid to take on Kiyo in a fight. The elders dismissed it as peers partaking in normal manly rivalry. Wangwe wasn’t too happy about it, but he didn’t say another word on the matter. Kiyo on the other hand went home and happily congratulated his son on wiping the floor with Baku.
Angakut stood on his feet and called Ashat and Baku to stand before the fire. The two moved slowly and austerely. Baku however was a bit twitchy nervous as he stood next to Ashat. It seemed the beating was still fresh in his mind. But the cut look his father gave him immediately had him standing still with his chest out.
“We have come for the blessing ceremony of our warriors. After the next six moons, they will battle the Mohawk to defend our tribe. But before we do that, they need to know between the two, who they are to protect, who they are fighting for, who they will follow, who will be their future chief.” He paused as his gaze moved from Ash to Baku.
“We are here to find out, who will marry Rosa, the only child of Chief Roa Clearwater.”
Ashat was already feeling agitated and tense. Baku however was relaxed and his lips were lifted in a smile which he quickly wiped away.
“The next chief of the Lakota….” Angakut paused and looked at Ashat and then at Baku keenly. The suspense was slowly eating Ashat up, but Baku remained calm, “will be known after the battle. The battle to come is the spirit’s final test, who ever will come back alive with honor and victory, will be our next leader!”
This new development unsettled the elders and the chief. Ashat looked up, his face expressionless. He couldn’t believe it, he knew it was too soon to celebrate. He felt like a rag had been pulled from under him.
Baku looked to his father for an answer, he was confused, and everything seemed to have gone off script. Wangwe looked more annoyed than perplexed by this. He stomped towards Angakut with such ferocity, steam coming out of his ears.
“What is this? This is not what we discussed Angakut!”
“You will not question the spirits decision! You will do as they say! Do you dare challenge them and me?!” Angakut shouted with such finality, his eyes had bulged out and were red with anger.
The whole village went silent and stared at him. This was the first time he had raised his voice with such anger. It had such an impact that Wangwe stopped dead in his tracks, that and the staff that Angakut was holding two inches from his head.
Angakut turned to the two in front of him and asked them to join their fellow warriors. He then turned towards them and started chanting, as if he wasn’t about to knock Wangwe’s head off a few seconds ago.
Ashat walked away from the gathering. The blessings had been said and the celebrations had started. There was no other reason for him to stick around.
Cano rushed to his brother’s side, apologetic for the false hopes he had given him. “Brother, I’m sorry, I thought it was a sure thing. No one, not even father knew that would happen!”
“I guessed as much, Wangwe’s reaction told it all.” He turned and faced Cano, “But why is it Baku looked like he was the one who had been robbed? Wangwe wouldn’t have been so furious if I was the chosen one, he would have broken into song and dance at my misfortune…. Cano what the hell is going on?!” He wasn’t disappointed nor brooding any more, he was furious.
“Well this is a good thing, that is if Baku was the robbed one. Angakut wants the next chief to prove himself to the spirits, to all of us. You should take this as a challenge.”
“You are starting to sound like father. And any way, anyone can survive a battle, exactly how am I supposed to prove myself?”
“I can’t help you with that, but try brother, try. Do your best, your brothers will be there to help you. And another thing, those were father’s words, and I agree with him.”
Ashat gave his brother a weak smile, “I thought as much. What else did he say?”
“Hey, I can be insightful too. He said that this is also a challenge for him as a father and us as your brothers. He intends on doing his part, so are we. It’s up to you if we succeed, what do you say brother?”
Ashat was feeling better, reprieved, positive and confident. It meant a lot to have his family’s support. He would draw all the strength he needed from them, he would earn it, he would earn her, and his family will help him make sure of it.
“I always thought Baku hated me because Rosa was in love with me. Now I see that’s not the only reason, the loyalty and love the family of Kiyo has for each other is something he doesn’t and never will have. I’m in. we’ll win this battle, and Rosa.”
“That’s the spirit! Now we feast and make merry!” Cano had a wide grin on his face. He playfully pushed Ashat forward as they strutted back to the celebration.
The sky was filled with dark clouds, blocking out the sun completely. There was a cold chill in the air, and combined with fear and gloom, it hang heavily echoing the whole village’s emotions. D day was here and nature itself knew it.
The warriors gathered outside the village. It was time to leave; they all marched towards their fates, the unknown, death or a second chance in life. For Ashat he was matching towards Rosa, or death.
Ashat’s married brothers had an emotional goodbye with their families, and then they said their goodbyes to their parents. Tepeu tried her best not to cry, but in the end, the flood gates opened. It could be the last time she ever saw all her sons again, and it pained her. Kiyo too, surprisingly was emotional. He hugged all of them and told his sons how proud he was and that they were to make sure they all came back alive. Kiyo held Tepeu in his arms, supporting her and comforting her as their sons walked away.
Ashat couldn’t bring himself to say goodbye to Rosa. The danger and loss had become too real for him. He didn’t want tears, fear and worry to be their last moment together. He replayed the last night they had together over and over in his head.
“I can’t ask you not to go, but I’ll ask you to come back to me. Whether or not you prove yourself to the spirits doesn’t matter to me. If we have to, we’ll run away together, just make sure you come back to me, please!” She begged.
“We will do no such thing! I will do what the spirits expect of me, and I will come back to you and you won’t be able to get rid of me, ever.”
Ashat and Rosa spent the night in each others arms, not caring about anyone or anything else. It may have been the last time they would be together and they wanted to maximize on it. When dawn came, Ashat carried her back to her family tee-pee. Her mother was waiting for them. She didn’t say a word, tears danced in her eyes as she watched him lay Rosa on her straw bed. As Ashat turned to leave, Saura grabbed his arm and stopped him and uttered words that tightened his chest.
“Be safe, if you die, she will die with you. She is all I have, so make sure you come back alive and victorious. You must!” They were choked words but still urgent.
They both turned when Rosa made a distressed sound tossing her head, as tears streamed out her closed eyes and already stained cheeks. Saura ran to her daughter’s side and gathered her into her arms. She sang to Rosa as she rocked her. Ashat couldn’t watch them in anguish anymore; he ran out into the streams of sunlight.
The whole village was out now, they watched as the warriors walked towards death. Ashat turned to take a last look of his home. His breath caught when he saw her.
Rosa stood at the forefront, with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. Her mother moved to her and wrapped her arms around her and held her tight, that made Rosa bust into tears. She struggled to get loose, moving an inch forward with each effort, but her mother wasn’t letting go.
Ashat was tempted to run to her, but that would only make things worse, he turned and kept walking forward.
All these emotions began to stir inside Ashat, longing, hope, despair, anxiety, fear, courage, he could feel his skin crawl and his insides turn, he felt claustrophobic in his own skin, he felt like he was going to blow.
Ashat’s brothers moved back and walked with him. He walked between his elder brothers, the rest walked behind him. If he didn’t have them, he would be a heap of mess on the ground by now.
The warriors were divided into four groups, all positioned in different corners of the field. The group armed with arrows took the top of the hill, another group was hidden in the trees, the other two were on the ground, North and South, and they hoped their strategy would give them an advantage.
Cano had his younger brothers’ fight from a safe distance. Akin, who was still healing was up on the hill, Aru, the second last born, was up in the trees, Nalu, Cano and Ashat were on the ground. They would be the first to make contact. They were armed with spears, knives and machetes.
Baku was on the ground too. He had been glaring at Ashat ever since he saw Rosa’s reaction when they left the village. But he knew this wasn’t the time for their rivalry, they had to work together, watch each others’ backs, for the sake of their people. They would pick up where they left off when this was over, if they both survive.
A loud cry came from the hill, the Mohawk were coming and they were coming straight for them.
“This is it, may the spirits be with you, and may they have mercy on you, because they won’t.” The head warrior said right before he gave the cry to attack.
The second the Mohawk were in the field, arrows flew with direction and purpose, some with precision taking out as many of them as possible. Once they were done, those on the ground move in, attacking those left standing. The Lakota fought with everything they had, stabbing and decapitating as they moved forward. Cano and Nalu were in their element their eyes wide with a certain spark in them, tag teaming on some, watching each others backs as they moved. Sometimes Ashat thought they relished fighting.
Once the formation was broken Ashat and his brothers moved in a triangle, their backs to each other. They were pulled from it a couple of times, but they made sure they had one another in their eye view. It was helpful having their younger brothers watching over them from higher ground and the trees. The fight was bloody, hard and strenuous but they kept going.
Ashat was getting the hang of it, he understood his elder brothers and the elation they had, it wasn’t the relish of a fight, it was the adrenaline that ran through the body that they relished.
Close to four hours had past and it seemed they were winning, as the Mohawk were now withdrawing, they were out numbered and couldn’t take any more beating. As they were finishing off the remaining persistent ones, the groups from the trees and the hill came down to join those on the ground. Ashat was glad his younger brothers did not actively participate.
Ashat looked around the field, the ground was full of blood and the bodies of many courageous men. He was glad to see not many were one of them.
Akin and Aru were with Nalu and Cano admiring their wounds, sulking that they didn’t get a piece of the action. Relief and joy flowed through Ashat as he watched his brothers. He was glad they had all survived it, their mother would be ecstatic seeing them all, she might even pass out.
Aru’s suddenly looked pale, all the color had drained from his face. He was staring at Ashat, more like through him. Ashat couldn’t understand it; the battle was over, so why did he look so mortified? He crushed through his brothers and began running towards Ashat.
Ashat stopped and looked at him confused.
“Ashat look out!” Aru yelled running even faster.
Then his other brothers came running behind him.
“Turn around!” It was Akin this time.
Then it hit Ashat. He didn’t have time to think, he turned around to face what was coming. It was Baku, he was running towards him with a spear in his hand, ready to launch it.
Everything seemed to be in slow motion, Ashat waited for him to throw it before he could move to dodge it. Baku finally released it, and it went flying at Ashat, fast.
Ashat flipped, and move to his left to avert it.
Aru was now next to Ashat, he was standing in the spears path. There was no time to push him out of the way, it was coming too fast.
Ashat pushed himself, jumped in front of Aru and pushed him back a few feet, he didn’t want to chance Aru getting stabbed. Aru landed on the ground with a thud, in his brothers’ way. They stopped and stared at Ashat, with horror on their faces.
Ashat hadn’t felt the pain at first, but he felt it go through him. The spear head went in his back, under his right shoulder and out under his left rib cage. Ashat watched as the blood trickled down his abdomen.
Ashat raised his hand and held the part of the six inch spear that was sticking out of his torso. He sunk to his knees, in shock as the pain hit him like a ton of bricks. He could taste the blood in his mouth. He raised his hand and wiped it from his lips.
Ashat looked up at Aru; he was still on the ground, pale and in shock. Everything was swimming around Ashat, his vision became blurred. This was it, he was dying.
Ashat fell forward to the ground on his hands, struggling to breathe. All he could hear was Nalu’s angry voice. Through half closed eyes, he watched as Nalu rained hellish fists on Baku. In such a short time, Baku was red and bleeding all over. Aru pulled Ashat up and held him upright while Cano cut up the spear, shortening both ends.
Ashat was fading away fast, he tried to stay awake but he couldn’t. He was feeling cold, very cold. Ashat closed his eyes and all he saw was Rosa, her face, her smile, her beautiful eyes, her hair and body wet after a swim, her a sleep in his arms.
The yelling, shouts around Ashat started to sound more like whispers, a buzz in his ears. Rosa’s last words replayed in his head over and over again…
Just make sure you come back to me, please!
Please make sure you come back to me!
You have to come back to me!
This was the first promise Ashat would break, he couldn’t do anything about it. Death had come calling, and he couldn’t resist no matter how hard he tried. Ashat could see his mother crying, cursing Baku’s very existence. Rosa would be broken, inconsolable, angry, hating Ashat for not keeping his promise.
Ashat was crying, not because he was afraid of dying, but because he was going to miss a life with Rosa.
Their children, their life, their love.
The thought hurt him more than the spear stub inside him.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…” It came out as a whisper. Ashat fell on his side and waited, waited for the inevitable.
Akin pulled Nalu off Baku and spoke to him harsh and fast. They then ran towards Ashat. He could feel himself get lifted up high.
“Hold on brother, you’ll be fine, just hold on!” Those were the last words Ashat heard before he passed out.