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Cold. It is so cold. The white flurries that dance around me move so fast that I can’t get my eyes on one for more than a nanosecond. They are all different, gorgeous patterns. All pure
Following tracks, I slowly stalk the doe, whose life I would soon take. It is not just any deer though! It’s not brown! I gradually pull back my bow with an arrow that is ready to swiftly soar and strike the marvelous beauty. Ptang! My arrow hits its mark. I race toward the small dear. It is truly miraculous with its bright pink eyes and it’s straggly, short, pure white fur. Is the legend true about the albino deer? It is said that if you kill this really rambunctious rarity, you will become cursed. Yeah right! I snort. I rapidly bind the hoofed feet with tight rope, and start the horrendous trudge through the cavernous snow back to my village.
“Halfway there!” I muttered to the said- to- be- sacred albino deer. A solitary wolf howls. That sounds close! I promptly decide to gut the deer so I can get to the village faster. Swish! As my knife works quickly on the deer in experienced hands, the howling of the lonesome wolf grows progressively closer. Without delay, I wrap the meat in my attire and dash toward the village. With any luck, the wolf will stop to eat what’s left of the deer.
Alas, my luck left me. I can hear the wolf’s ragged panting as it follows me.
“Help… help!” I bellow to the stiff wooden gate. A man appears. He is very dark with black, cropped hair. He is wearing thick fur apparel and is carrying a large horn.
“What do you want? What is your purpose here?” he questions in a gruff baritone voice.
“Makeet, it is Tekquan! Let me in! There is a wolf behind me!” I screech.
“A Wolf…” Makeet states in disbelief. My next words were drowned by a sudden burst of sound. Squeeeeek!
As soon as the villagers hear the horn, they go into safety positions. The archers line up on the wall, the spearman get into position inside the barrier, the women and children flee toward the underground tunnel with a few warriors racing after them.
“Tekquan, jump!” shouts Makeet. The ravenous wolf would not let its prey get away so easily, though. Grrrarrrrr! It lunges at me and its teeth connect to my arm. A-yah-ai! He pulls me sharply backwards. I can smell his rancid breath as he opens his vicious jaws to make his kill. All I can see is the bottomless hole of his monstrous mouth.
Twang! The archers: Towit, Fugar, and Satio, all fire their arrows. Mhhhrr. The gray wolf falls over with a yelp. Bright red blood is seeping from its throat, side, and leg. Its black eyes, thick with hatred, slowly cloud over. The wolf heaves one last labored breath before it gives up and dies. Immediately, the villagers let out cries of triumph, mocking the wolf and yelling about how it had no chance. I lay there gasping, trying to stay conscious; however, I lose the fight. All I can hear is muted voices saying something I cannot understand. My vision is darkening, yet I can see people surrounding me.
When I wake up, I feel my arm and face wrapped in bandages. “Water…” I gasp.
Makeet galloped in: “Tekquan, you’re alive! Thank the Aki Spirits!”
I tried to smirk, but I grimaced instead. “Surly you know that the Aki Spirits are just a fable to scare young children, Makeet! Just like the stories of the Albino deer.” I chuckled at his ignorance.
“The Aki Spirits are not to be meddled with, Tekquan,” a new voice chided. Oh no! Not that old, so- called profit again! I turn my head toward the opening of the tent.
“Mother Juste, forgive me… I was only speaking my mind. I had no idea you were listening…” I tried to reason.
“I think it’s time for you to have a history lesson.” Mother Juste squawked. Great! Just what I need!
Mother Juste is the oldest, wisest villager in our tribe, but she can get really annoying. “But Mother, I’ve already learned this. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be a Tralsk now would I?” I said with great emphasis as I dragged the word, Tralsk, out.
“Just because you have graduated into being a warrior doesn’t mean you understand our ancestry. You are still an arrogant boy to me, Tekquan!” she hissed. “Long before you were born, or before I was even, the tribe of the Aki lived. They were full of life and had fun. That was before the white men came, however.” She continued in a strong vibrating voice, which drew everybody in the tent into the tale. “These men had boom-sticks which they used to kill our deer…”
“They didn’t pray for the deer, they just let its soul be lost forever in the forsaken woods of the spiritual realm…” I muttered, bored. Mother Juste gave me a withering look before continuing.
“Yes, that’s right, boy. One day, a doe gave birth to a pure white deer. It was a small doe. Our ancestors were fascinated by its purity and blessed it. They made sure that nobody touched it, especially the white men. The chant they used ensured the doe everlasting life as long as we bless her every year. Tiki,” she paused and took a long, rattled breath. “-Your direct ancestor- was tribe leader. He said if anybody harmed, or killed the albino doe, they would be cursed and turn into a gray wolf, the tribe’s worst enemy.”
She paused. “Makeet, fetch me water.” Makeet, who was listening intently to the story with hunger for knowledge in his eyes, fell over onto the floor in fright.
He stood up shaking himself a little bit and replied, “Yes ma’am, Mother Juste.” He soon returned with a wooden bucket. Mother Juste tilts the bucket towards her mouth and gulps water from it. I grimace at the sound of it. Does this woman have no manners?
“Now, where was I?” she inquired.
I groan inwardly, but just answered, “You were telling us about the curse of the gray wolf, Mother Juste.”
“Ah, that’s right boy! I was.” She cackled. “Anyways, anybody who harmed or killed the albino deer, they would…”
“Mother, you already said that,” I interrupt, my patience wearing thin.
“Shush boy. Stop interrupting me! I’m trying to concentrate!” She growled. “So they would turn into the gray wolf, which was, and still is, the tribe’s enemy.”
“Finally,” I grunt, unnoticed.
“In order to achieve this, however, Tiki had to gather all the tribe’s healers and seers. There were seven all together, three seers, three healers, and Tiki himself. They also had to give the doe a name. So, they went spirit hunting and found the doe’s spirit in the dream realm. They kindly told her their intentions and their needs. The doe told them her name and promised to be at the Aki village the next day to be blessed. The spirits all went back to their bodies. They made a chant using her name. The chant went like this,” Mother Juste took a deep breath. Her voice vibrates like a bowstring after it had been withdrawn.
“Spirits of all living things;
Protect the one known as Ping
Take this pure soul into you,
Let every year her age renew
If anybody dares to kill,
Curse them ‘till your will be fulfilled.”
Mother Juste closed her eyes as she let the words sink in. At last, she spoke in a voice that croaked as if it hadn’t been used in days, “Nobody knows why the spirits chose the gray wolf,”
“Perhaps because no sensible man likes the beast and would be mortified about turning into it?” I suggested tentatively.
“Hmm,” She considered this carefully. “Perhaps…” Mother Juste got up with the help of Makeet and they both left the tent.
When I woke up, I felt as though I would die. It’s been a week since mother Juste came and told me the legend of the albino deer, and I’ve been in bed since. “Ugh,” I moan as I slowly lift up my arm. My bandages had been taken off yesterday and I want to see if it looked any better. There was very little improvement. The angry, red, inflamed marks were swelling. The ooze had gone away and it doesn’t hurt as much. At least the infection has left.
Satio walks in and announces, “Quanto wishes to speak with you, Tekquan.” Great! The tribe leader wants to speak with me! More like the tribe leader wishes to lecture me! All I said was, “Ok, let him in.” Quanto walks in. “Hello, father…” I say in a forced voice. He is tan with furs covering him from head to toe, but the resemblance stops there. He is muscular and has deep brown eyes, with long, silky black hair, which has feathers carefully constructed to stay in it, the sign that he is chief. Quanto, as chief, has the hardest job in our tribe. That is why Quanto also has a deep baritone voice that can be friendly one second and hostile the next. Both leave little argument room.
I am scrawny, have bright blue eyes, and have cropped brown hair. I have a soprano voice that matches my figure. Quanto is brilliant, and I am not important.
“Hello. Tekquan, I have a job for you. I want you to look for Ping. She has not arrived yet for her blessing, and she might be late. I need somebody that isn’t needed in the ceremony.” I glance at him, fighting back tears. You just don’t cry in front of Quanto. He doesn’t think I’m important enough to go to the ceremony! “OK, I’ll do it, dad,” I state, my voice quivering. I silently curse myself, and sit a little straighter than before being careful not to slouch.
“Good. Take no weapons and don’t appear hostile. Tekquan, do not call me father anymore call me Quanto. At Sashi’s – your mother’s – funeral you were allowed to but no more. I have been far too lenient on you! If you continue to call me father, you shall be punished! Also, if you fail us, I will not call you my son. Now go!” he declares.
I bolt out of the village and search for the doe. I remember where the body is, so I run there. Hmm…I decide to dig through the coat of snow until I find Ping’s body. As I dig, I realize I am getting warmer. I look around. It’s definitely still snowing in bursts of flurries. It must be because I’m moving so fast. I’m getting really hungry, so I pick some berries and eat them. Yuck! I am about to go find something else to eat when I smell meat. I feel drawn to it, so I dig faster.
Finally, I reach it and start savagely tearing into it. About five minutes later, I look down. It’s Ping! I realize with a jolt. My stomach feels flipped upside down, and I am under the threat of vomiting when I can’t take any more. I turn around and charge back to the village.
“Ping is dead!” I bark to the wall. Makeet comes running to the wall.
“Wolf… Gray wolf! Everybody into safety positions,” he roars. Wolf? Where? I turn around in circles in search of it.
“There are no wolves, Makeet!” I whimper. Did I just make that sound? I look down and see furry paws. No! This isn’t real! I’m not a wolf! When the first arrow flies past my ear, I turn tail and flee. Where am I to go? I think in dismay. I run all day and all night. Eventually, I curl up in a hollow tree; exhausted, I fall asleep thinking: Cold. It is so cold.