Kenasa's Finding

April 4, 2008
By Sonja Winte, Mount Shasta, CA

“Beware the spirits of the Northern Woods! If you anger them, you will be cursed for this life, as well as the next. Once you encounter them, the spirits will never leave you alone. They will even go so far as to haunt your descendents if they feel your torture is not near enough retribution. Heed my warning, for you will not be given a second chance once you have disturbed the deadly spirits.”
Kenasa listened intently to the elderly woman’s words. All her life she had been warned of the horrific spirits in the Northern Woods. No one had been foolish enough to enter those forbidden woods, except for a few unfortunate individuals who always returned with a difference inside of them. It was as if the spirits had touched their souls and besmirched them. As a result, the people of Kenasa’s tribe were told the story of the spirits every season, to remind them of their evilness.
Each generation a person from the tribe was chosen to pass on the legend of the spirits. The responsibility was mainly kept within the women of one particular family. This family was thought to posses an enchantment and wisdom of the spirits. It was as if the spirits had chosen this family to keep their fellow tribe-mates at bay from their woods. These women were chosen primarily for their legendary wisdom and their ability to strike fear into those listening with the seriousness of the matter.
The elderly woman sharing her words of knowledge about the spirits was the current informer. However, she was moving on in years and was soon going to choose another to pass on her insight. This was to be her final telling.
Once the elderly woman finished, people left to continue on with their day. Kenasa began to do so as well, but she stopped after taking a few steps. She turned around and looked at the elderly woman.
“Grandmother?” she asked.
“Yes, my dear child?” the elderly woman responded. “What do you wish of me?”
“I, like my ancestors before me, will have the task of informing my tribe of the dangers of the spirits,” Kenasa said, staring into the woman’s face and then shifting her eyes to the ground.
“You are the chosen one of this generation. If I did not feel that you were capable, I would not have suggested you,” said the elderly woman as she lifted Kenasa’s chin. “The spirits have selected you! You should feel honored to have this responsibility.”
“I am, Grandmother; and yet, I have an odd feeling about my duties. I don’t know how to explain it, but it seems as if it will be worthless.” Kenasa grew silent and returned her gaze to the ground.
Several moments later, Kenasa asked, “Do you remember when you said the chosen sometimes receive a gift unlike any other? I believe I have received such a gift.”
Kenasa looked at her grandmother to see how she would respond. Upon seeing that she was continuing to listen regardless of this news, Kenasa explained herself. “At night, I dream of a little girl who walks along the riverbed as I follow her from afar. Suddenly a creature jumps from the water and chases her. She has nowhere to run, save for the woods fortified by the spirits. I run to follow her, but I awaken before I’m able to reach her.”
Overcome by a flood of nightmarish horror, Kenasa cried out, “Oh, Grandmother! This absolutely dreadful dream has haunted me ever since my choosing. Could this possibly be a gift from the spirits? Am I seeing the future, or are the spirits trying to tell me something…?”
The elderly woman put her hand on Kenasa’s shoulder and interrupted her. “Calm down, my child. Do not panic, for there is no sign of this happening. Even if your ‘vision’ is one of the spirits’ gifts, there is no need to worry.”
With a wavering voice, Kenasa replied, “Grandmother, is there any way another could be chosen to tell of the spirits? I do not wish to live with this burden any longer!” Kenasa looked as if she was on the verge of tears.
“No!” the elderly woman roared. “You have been chosen and must now remain loyal to your destiny. If the spirits wish to remove you, let it be.” The elderly woman had said these words strictly, although she had not intended to hurt Kenasa; regardless, they caused her to run in fear.
Kenasa did not return to her afternoon duties, but instead ventured to her hut. There, she cried herself to sleep….
Pant, pant. Kenasa began to run. “Wait little girl! Where are you going?”
The little girl didn’t even turn her head; instead she ran into the Northern Woods. Kenasa continued to follow her, tripping on hidden roots along the way. The next moment, something caught her….
Kenasa screamed and jumped from her cot. She ran to the corner of the hut to hide from her intruder. Her knees buckled and she began to cry again. “Whatever you do, make sure you kill me first. I have absolutely no desire to live any longer!”
After several awkward moments of silence, Kenasa looked up to see whom she had been talking to. There stood a little girl who looked rather familiar….
The girl turned around and ran out of the hut.
“Wait!” Kenasa yelled after her. Seeing that this did not hinder the little girl, Kenasa decided to follow.
Kenasa’s hair stood on end when she got outside. It was one of the coldest nights she had ever seen, but this didn’t bother her. She had to follow the girl and prevent her untimely fate.
Some moments later, Kenasa finally spotted the little girl again and continued to run after her. She soon noticed that the girl had reached the riverbed. Kenasa could hear the babbling of water as it coursed over countless pebbles and stones. Such a soothing sound could only mean one thing: “My dream…,” Kenasa whispered to herself.
Finally the girl began to show signs of slowing down. The two were near the point in Kenasa’s dream where the little girl was attacked.
Once again, Kenasa tried to stop the girl, but she failed to do so. Kenasa’s fear of being unable to save the little girl, and thus allowing her dream to come true, was overwhelming. She did not know how much longer she could go on.
The girl stopped at last, but then a great monster jumped from the river and carried her into the Northern Woods.
“No!” Kenasa yelled. She would fail to uphold her obligation of protecting the tribe if she couldn’t retrieve the little girl; however, it seemed as though there was nothing she could do.
Kenasa slipped in muddy puddles and tumbled on loose rocks as she followed the damp footprints that the creature had left behind. Kenasa was considering giving up, fearing that it was too late to reach the girl, but she soon saw that the monster had ceased running. Within the confines of a circular field surrounded by colossal trees, the creature dropped the unconscious little girl. She appeared to be unharmed, but Kenasa could not tell if she truly was.
The monster stared Kenasa down, daring her to come closer.
“Please, let me take her back to the village,” Kenasa pleaded. “Don’t kill her; if you must, take me instead.”
Then, in a bright flash of dazzling white light, the monster transformed into a semi-transparent figure of a man.
“Why do you wish to surrender your life in return for this girl’s?” questioned the spirit.
Kenasa mirrored the spirit’s firm gaze and spoke. “She is but a little girl and deserves to live.”
“You are young as well. Why is her life more important that yours?” the spirit continued to question.
“She has not even begun to live life; she is hardly six years of age. I at least have had a few years to experience life and its wonders.” Kenasa continued to stare resolutely into the spirit’s eyes, tempting him to question her further.
The spirit rose into the air, hovered toward her, and said, “Your death will not be necessary, Kenasa….”
Kenasa gasped at the mention of her name. “How…?”
The spirit interrupted Kenasa before she could finish her question. “Do not worry. I have been watching you for the past few weeks. I was the one who sent you your visions. This girl…,” the spirit tilted his head toward the child which he now held in his arms, “… is my little sister. She has been dead for one hundred and forty-seven years.”
Quite confused by this statement, Kenasa asked the man to explain.
“Decades ago there was a war between our tribe and another. One evening the enemy tribe made a surprise attack on ours. My father told me to take my sister into the Northern Woods and hide. I obeyed my father, as any son would. However, I soon discovered that I should not have done so, for some of the rival tribe members had been hiding there. Having no desire to bother with us, they decided to kill us. They caught me, but my sister got away. She ran toward the riverbed and fell in. Not knowing how to swim, she drowned.”
Kenasa raised her eyes to meet the man’s and gave him a look of sympathy. “I am truly sorry, but I still don’t understand what this has to do with me.”
The spirit floated back to the ground, and said, “My sister and I have been separated for one hundred and forty-seven years. During this time we were never able to return to each other and move on. In order to save my sister it was necessary for a living human being to willing give up his or her soul to free her spirit. Only then could we be allowed to rest for eternity. Every so often tribe members would wander near this area and come across my sister. However, after they saw me grab her, they became too frightened to follow after and help her. Out of rage I punished them by revealing the corruption of their souls.”
The man paused, struggling to continue. “When I saw how determined you were to help my sister, I questioned you until I was sure of your allegiance to her,” he finally began. “Due to your willingness to save another, you have saved my sister, as well as yourself. I will forever be in your gratitude; I thank you with all my heart.”
Kenasa was speechless. The emotion she felt was simply indescribable.
Seeing this, the spirit reassured her by saying, “Go, Kenasa! Tell your tribe of the spirits of the Northern Woods! It is your duty. By giving up your life for another, you have saved your tribe and its many generations that will come.”
Kenasa turned her head toward the village momentarily. She then turned back to the spirit, but saw that he was gone. Only the little girl remained.
She looked up at Kenasa and smiled; however, she did not linger.
Not once in her life had Kenasa thought she was capable of completing such a feat. With a grin on her face, Kenasa left to tell her grandmother of her encounter with the great spirits of the Northern Woods….

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