The Chief Pt. 02 Ch. 05byamicus©
The ladies of the Guards, including Rahseeta and the twin daughters of Domohaas, who were not, swept into the Chief's lodge. As his mother gave directions, the women brought in extra chairs and stands and food and drink for the meeting of the Chiefs.
They began to arrive at mid-sun so as to complete the meeting and return to their villages before the sun was gone.
Sahjeed Deeda greeted each as they arrived. They washed the trail dust off and took chairs and accepted drinks from the ladies. By custom, the last to enter was First Chief of all the People.
First Chief Beedawat had grown old without grace. He was in pain and cranky and easily irritated. He growled as he took a cold drink and waved his arms at the other Chiefs in an offhand greeting.
The noisy and sometimes rowdy conversations came to an end and it grew silent. The women left the room.
Beedawat looked around counting on his fingers, "Two hands and one and one," he grunted, "Have we lost another?"
"My son and his People," grunted Chief Brohdaak, "they wanted to hunt and travel and see new places. They left two hands ago toward the setting sun. Some of his People came here, it is said."
The First Chief had an edge to his voice, "Sahjeed Deeda, your village grows as all others lose People. Why is that?"
Sahjeed looked at the First Chief, "We turn no one away unless they have done a crime, but they must work and provide for themselves and give service to the village. It was once that way with all the People, First Chief."
The First Chief grunted loudly, "It is said you have had trouble here, Sahjeed."
"We have, it has been resolved," said Sahjeed.
"Your Seers live outside the village, it is said they look upon you with great anger."
"They are not above the ways of the People, First Chief, they took without giving; they treated many of the People very badly. When they serve the People as they should, they can perhaps return." Sahjeed was uneasy at the questions.
First Chief Beedawat groaned as he pulled his knee up and rubbed his foot, "I am no longer young. It is painful to rise from sleeping; I had to be carried to this meeting. From now on the meetings will be held in my village. I will travel no more.
"When I became First Chief, many, many seasons ago, the People were happy. The traveled from village to village to visit family, there was plenty to eat; they kept their lodges neat and clean inside and out.
"Now, entire villages pack up and leave. They cut all the wood, they hunt the game until there was none and they move on to a new place. Many people are unhappy. They move from village to village, looking for something, I know not what. There used to be many hands of villages, now we are barely two hands. Every village has fewer people...."
"People stay in my village!" shouted Brohdaak, "We have plenty of wood and enough food for all. My People do not complain, they....'
"Your People are slaves!" said a voice equally loud, "They stay only because you have fenced them in and patrol with armed guards...."
"How dare you speak to me with that voice!!" shouted Brohdaak as he rose from his chair, "I will...."
"You will what, Brohdaak? I am Galawaand, Chief of my People, I am not a slave; I am not a woman or a child you can push around. Step forward, I will break your loud mouth and they can carry you back to your happy village!"
"Quiet, Quiet! Sit down, both of you!" snarled the First Chief, "What kind of leaders are you to argue at a Chief's meeting. It is unheard of! Sit down!"
When it was quiet again the First Chief struggled to his feet, "You can see, and you know that the People have lost their way. Even our Legends have lost their power. The best of the Seers cannot say where our future lies.
"I came to this meeting with some hope. I thought perhaps those in this village had a path that we could all follow. They do not. Sahjeed Deeda for all his reputation has killed his own People and thrown his wise men into the forest. Would you say otherwise, Sahjeed Deeda?"
The room grew silent, even sounds of breathing quieted and they waited.
Sahjeed Deeda did not rise immediately and when he did it was slowly. He looked from face to face, "Not very long ago I faced a group of my People who had taken a wrong path. I did as my father would have done, as I was taught to do.
"I brought those guilty before the People to have a reckoning. Because I did not know the evil I faced I nearly lost my life. Had I not tripped and fallen backwards, out of reach, I would not be here with you.
"I too, feel that something is very wrong with our People. First Chief Beedawat speaks truth. I do not know what the People should do. I do not have a way that they can follow.
"I will share with you a waking dream I had: I saw a large village, with many, many people. It was alongside the frozen river of our legends and an ice covered mountain reached into the sky toward the rising sun.
"It is possible I will take those of my People who wish to go and search for the village I dreamed about. I have not shared this thought before this time. I may not do as I have said. I do not know. I have spoken."
Only the First Chief Beedawat and Chief Galawaand who had silenced Chief Brohdaak stayed as the meeting broke up.
"Sahjeed Deeda," said the First Chief, "If I had your youth and your dream, I would take the People to the village you saw in the vision. There is another matter I thought to bring before all but it did not seem proper.
"You are nearest to the village of Suulumaag. He has not attended a Chief's meeting in nearly a season. I think he is too fat to travel, but he sends no one to represent him. I have rumors that several women have been lost from the village. They say perhaps to a bear or maybe a pack of wolves. I do not know.
"I also do not know why they have not taken care of the problem themselves. I was going to ask all the Chiefs for a few men each to send to Suulumaag's village and discover what is going on. As it has worked out, I cannot ask you to do this on your own."
The old man looked at Sahjeed with pleading and resignation in his eyes, "Do what you can, young Chief, I wish these were better times for us all."
Sahjeed and Galawaand who had stayed behind, watched as the old Chief made his way out of the room.
"I think I have never felt such sadness for my People," said Galawaand.
Sahjeed nodded his head slowly, "I am glad you stayed behind. I want to thank you for welcoming the two young people from my village. I trust they still do well?"
"Yes, Sahjeed, they do well, that is why I stayed. I was asked to tell you that the girl is not with child; at least not yet," he smiled, "They yearn for news of this village, they are a little homesick, I think." Galawaand paused, "I think there is much trouble in the village Beedawat asked you to visit. I have heard rumors of many bad things happening to the people there. If you decide to go, I will send some Guards with you."
"I have not thought on it, Galawaand, what are your feelings?"
"Several of my People have kin there, they are anxious to know who has fallen."
"Then I will send some men. How many would you think?" asked Sahjeed.
"Perhaps two hands, a hand from each of us. It should not be much trouble, a bear, some wolves," said Galawaand.
"When you send your men, have them bring the young couple for a visit with us."
"Good idea, my friend. In two suns or three, I want to give them some training."
The ladies of the Guard came shortly after Galawaand had left; the Chief's lodge was soon put back in order. Duulaat remained behind and Rahseeta surprised them both by asking to stay.
"Your mother is very tired, Sahjeed, I thought I would see if she needs anything."
"Thank you Rahseeta, that is very thoughtful of you."
"I heard shouting, my Chief, I was concerned and on the deck, ready," said First Guard, "The meeting did not go well?"
Sahjeed Deeda slumped into a chair on the deck, "Worse than you could ever imagine, Duulaat, much worse."
The Chief described what had happened.
Rahseeta returned to hear the last part of Sahjeed's recapitulation.
"Are you really thinking of moving the People to the frozen river?" she asked.
"Who will you send to the fat Chief's village? Asked Duulaat.
"I will speak to the People next sun, late," said Sahjeed Deeda.