Waiting For His ReturnbyTony155©
The village was quiet except for the rain that pounded relentlessly upon the earth. The wolves, who had been so vociferous the previous two nights, had slunk away into hiding, happy to be dry. They, too, were quiet.
The rain came down harder as The Great Spirit was crying for their loss. That is what they believed. Most of the village had been repaired, but their hearts would mend only with the passing of time. They had come out of the north in the dead of night to deliver their blow. The Pawnee, the hated Pawnee. The destruction they left in their wake was devastating. One hour after their cowardly attack started, twenty-four Shawnee, including two children and one woman lay dead. Countless others were injured, some more severely than others.
No one knew why the Pawnee came. They never seemed to need a reason. Except for furs, skins, and hunting equipment, the Shawnee had nothing to offer from pillaging. It was senseless and stupid, but the Pawnee didn't let that stand in their way from wreaking havoc whenever they showed their faces. As soon as it was clear they would not win the battle, they turned tail and ran.
They wept, mourned, and buried their dead. Within their hearts burned the taste for revenge, but their Chief, Blue River, wanted to wait. He knew they would be expecting a counter attack, but he would wait. The discussion in the meeting lodge was long and sometimes heated. Many of the younger males, hot tempered and impetuous, sought to track the Pawnee war party immediately, but Blue River stood his ground.
"We must heal before considering war," he said. "I wish to punish them as you do, but we will wait, and then they will cry as we do." There were murmurs of grumbles and acceptance, but Blue River had quelled most of their fears. There would be revenge and they would pay for their despicable act.
Now, weeks later, the war party had left and Snow Bird lay in her wigwam weeping. Her beloved Red Sky was gone to fight. He had been appointed by Blue River to lead a band of fifty warriors to avenge their loss. Her grief and her loss was real. She had lost a brother in the attack and now her husband was gone, gone to face the Pawnee once again. He had fought bravely and killed four or five during the last struggle, protecting Snow Bird and countless others. Would he come back to her and if he did, would he be alive?
Red Sky shivered as he tried to sleep in the relentless downpour. Fear shook him to his bones, fear of the attack they would start the next day and fear he would never see Snow Bird again. His thoughts turned to the night before the war party left. Snow Bird lay crying in his arms under the blankets and deer skin, her naked body pressed against him. Begging him to love her one last time before he left, Red Sky settled between her legs and pressed into her. Their eyes locked and neither said a word as he started to rock and began to love her. Snow Bird wrapped her lags around his torso and clung to him, opening herself to him and accepting him as she had done so many times over the past three years.
Red Sky brushed the rain from his eyes, or was it the sadness that escaped them? He had seen the river of tears flow from her eyes when they finished. Was he weak to be doing the same? He didn't think so. He had fought with the strength of many men and gained respect from Blue River and the other Shawnee in the village. To be given a war party was quite an honor for one so young, considering he was only twenty.
Sleep continued to escape him as the rain never stopped pelting him. He looked to the north and thought of the scouting party he had sent ahead. He expected them to return soon and he expected good news. Sentries were posted around the camp they had set up and he would have to replace them soon. Two hours was all the time he wanted them to be out in the rain. There were others who would replace them. They would rest and go out at another time.
Snow Bird refused to release him when it was time to go. She cried and grabbed at his blouse when he rose from their bed. He let her continue until he had enough of her immaturity. Didn't she know he was scared too? Didn't she know he hated battles and did not enjoy killing other men? He fought because he had to. He killed because he had to. It was the Shawnee way. They were basically a peace loving people, but they fought when it was necessary. It was now necessary. They simply could not let the Pawnee continue to attack them without retaliation.
"Snow Bird," he said as gently as possible, "you must let go now. It's time." His brown eyes were sad as he stared into hers. Her hand left his sleeve and touched his face. For one so young, his face showed the lines of a warrior much older. She knew he would go far in their village, perhaps even become chief one day...if he lived.
She leaned forward and kissed him before she let him go. She followed him outside to where the families of the other men had gathered. Snow Bird put up a brave front and smiled as she watched her husband disappear into the forest on horseback. As the other women would do upon returning to their homes, Snow Bird fell to her knees and cried.
A few hours later, Red Sky awoke to the sounds of his men returning. The rain had lightened, but a fine mist had taken it's place. He met them at the edge of their camp, three sturdy, experienced men who knew the area as well as their own village.
"What did you see?" he asked the first.
"It is good, Red Sky," Running Deer replied. "All is quiet. They are not expecting us. We did not have any difficulty getting near."
Red Sky smiled. Blue River had been right to wait.
When she was able to sleep, Snow Bird did nothing but dream about her husband. They were sweet and peaceful, for which she was thankful. She didn't think she could stand the thought of a bad dream or premonition at that time. It had happened before. Within the first year of their marriage, Snow Bird became pregnant. All was well for the first four months. One night, she dreamt of an empty baby bed and knew that her baby would not live. A few weeks later, she began to bleed heavily and lost the baby. They had not become pregnant since and it was feared throughout the village that she would be unable to have children.
She wanted to give Red Sky a child in the worst way and it worried her that she could be barren. Although he never said anything about it to her, she knew he wondered when or if she would become pregnant again. It wasn't from lack of trying. Often was the time when they excused themselves early from a gathering, but if one went by their tent, you could hear the unmistakable sounds of lovemaking coming from within. It happened so often that it became a joke as to how early they would leave to be under the blankets.
Snow Bird loved the closeness they shared whenever they bedded. She never tired of his lovemaking, never tired of being filled by his large pole of muscle extending from his groin. He should have named "As Big As A Horse", she thought, smiling to herself. When she saw him naked for the first time, she almost fainted. She had never seen a naked man before, and at sixteen, it hadn't been long since she had discovered her own sexuality. She remembered scratching herself in her sleep and brushing her finger against her innermost thigh. The feeling scared her at first, but she didn't waste any time discovering that wonderful things happened if she kept moving her hand in that area. She didn't dare mention any of this to her mother or sisters, knowing that this was a taboo area and subject matter.
In the days approaching her wedding, her mother tried many veiled ways to prepare her for her first night as a wife. Nothing could have prepared her for her first night with Red Sky. The pain and the pleasure were equally memorable for their first night together. For the first couple weeks of their marriage, Snow Bird was sore before she became used to his size, but it was a reminder of their coupling and she smiled whenever she thought about it.
As she woke from her dream, she found her hand under her skirt rubbing herself and wishing it was Red Sky's large warm hand instead. Her mind wandered to their last night together and she longed to be held and touched by her husband again. She always hated it when he was away, whether it was for war or for hunting. She waited for him as patiently as possible, but would practically attack him upon his return. Snow Bird held her breath and tried to remain as quiet as possible as the spasms went through her. She knew it was wrong to do such things, especially with her husband away and facing danger, but she couldn't help it. It would be some time before she felt composed enough to venture out into the village.
She spent the day in her usual way, gathering firewood, tending crops, and cleaning clothes. The rain, which had drenched the earth into the morning, had gone and left them and the sun shone brightly in it's place. It was a warm late summer day, but Snow Bird could not enjoy it, the same being with the other wives of the village. Everyone was edgy and nervous, praying and hoping that their loved ones would return safely and soon.
Red Sky was laying under the stars as the rain had stopped and the black sky cleared. Stars were twinkling now and he marveled at the wonderment above him. Tired, but alert, his mind wandered back to Snow Bird. They had known each other throughout childhood, but it wasn't until his fourteenth year and her thirteenth that he noticed her, as a man would notice a woman. She gone from a chubby, nondescript girl to a lovely young woman almost overnight. Luckily for him, he had been friends with her and had been her companion throughout those awkward pre-teen years when the youth of the village would make fun of her. He defended her and challenged anyone to make fun of her in his presence. None ever did.
As she grew and developed, many young men of the village tried to attract her attention, but she had eyes only for Red Sky. No one else ever had a chance. She had many cruel memories of being teased by the other boys and she had not forgotten. Red Sky had never said an unkind word to her and was a true friend. By the fall of his sixteenth year and her fifteenth, it was plain and clear to everyone that they would be married. And it happened the next summer.
Of course, he was disappointed when she lost the baby and he blamed no one for the misfortune. He remained strong for her and they tried continuously to have another baby, but to no avail. He truly wished to have a son, but he didn't know if it would happen. He could be happy with Snow Bird without children, he knew that, but he thought a child would bring them closer, if that could be possible.
He smiled to himself at that last thought. He didn't know of any woman in the village who wanted to try to make a baby more than she. Sometimes, when he thought he was too tired to try, she would beg him, sometimes boldly touching him to get her point across. And who was he to refuse such a request? Demure and innocent outside of their wigwam, she was mischievous, devilish, and playful when they were alone. He missed her very much.
A streak of light caught his eye as he came out of his thoughts. Sitting up quickly, he witnessed streaks of light racing across the sky. A meteor shower. The spectacle lasted for minutes as all of the Shawnee in the camp looked on in wonderment and awe. Blue River would be pleased, Red Sky thought to himself. It was one of the best omens one could receive when undergoing such a task as they were. Red Sky smiled at their fortune and knew in his heart all would go well.
Blue River sat, smoking his pipe as he liked to do when he needed to think. He, too, had seen the fine display of light throughout the night and looked upon it as a good omen. He did not wish to send Red Sky and the other men to fight the Pawnee, but what choice did he have? This had been their third such attack within the year and it had been the most destructive. He did not understand their way of thinking and he did not wish to. He only wanted his small village to live in peace. But, that could not happen now. Too many people had died senselessly, including his own daughter and two grandchildren, scalped and desecrated by those savages. His blood boiled within his veins when he found them, along with their husband and father. Blue River raged within, but knew he must think sensibly and not rashly. He pushed aside his sorrow and his hatred and developed a plan of attack with Red Sky and other rational thinking men to enact their revenge and perhaps live in peace once again.
He was sure of their success now as he took a puff from his pipe, a gift from Black Feather years ago. He looked to the sky, put down his pipe and meditated, his arms outstretched as he chanted softly to himself. Although he had given them his blessing before they left, he continued to ask The Great Spirit, Meneto, to look upon them with favor and return them safely. He worried about them as he worried about everyone in his village. It was just another day, another crisis he had to think about. Nothing was easy in their life and the insanity of the Pawnee only added to it. He sat on the hill peacefully for a long time, enjoying the time to himself before he headed back to his den.
"Which way is the best for us, Running Deer?" Red Sky asked as they gathered the evening before their conflict.
"It will take us longer, but I think we should circle behind and use the coverage of the trees to shield us," he replied.
"And you?" Red Sky pointed to Little Turtle, "What do you think?"
"I agree with Running Deer," he replied. "It will take longer, but the coverage is better. We will have the advantage."
"And you," Red Sky pointed to Night Hawk, "what do you think we should do?" Red Sky knew Night Hawk was upset because he had not been chosen by Blue River to lead the party. He was quite a bit older than Red Sky, but had a temper that sometimes clouded his judgement. That is why Red Sky appointed him to the scouting party to help him feel important and to soothe his bruised psyche.
"I am more inclined to a direct attack," he replied. "But, everything you say is correct. We will be in less danger this way and we may be able to surprise them into a quick surrender."
Red Sky nodded in agreement. He was happy to find Night Hawk thinking rationally and in agreement with them. It was always better when everyone shared the same thoughts. "Good," he said, grasping Night Hawk's shoulder, "let's get some sleep and we will start early when the moon can still light the way for us."
With that, they bedded down for the night as the sentries stood guard, watching for anything suspicious that might come their way.
Snow Bird woke that morning full of fear and trepidation. She knew in her heart that her Red Sky had begun the battle and he would be in harm's way. Throughout the day, she tried to remain calm and not let her anxieties show as she went though her daily routine. As she blundered her way through her chores, her mind was constantly on her husband, wishing he was home and safe in her arms. She looked to the north, as she often did since he had left, and sighed heavily. Waiting for his return was harder than she thought it would be. This was, by far, the longest he had been gone and she didn't like it, didn't like it one bit.
She didn't care that she was supposed to be strong and brave and wait patiently for his return. Knowing it was the way of life she was expected to live made it no easier to accept. Maybe she was young and naive, but she knew of no other wife in the village who rejoiced when their husband left. Could she help it she was in love with him with all her heart, soul, and mind? Was she evil for wanting to try to make a baby with him many times when he returned? Her body ached for him, ached for his seed to be planted within her and making her breathless and full of shivers. She loved it when the shivers exploded within her and made her feel warm inside. Maybe, just maybe, the next time would be the time when a baby would start to grow within her. She clung to that thought as she continued her chores and desperately wished for his return.
They fanned out in small groups and made their way towards the Pawnee village. A few of the men stayed behind and tended the horses. Blue River had given Red Sky explicit instructions to not harm women or children unless their lives were at risk. His heart still mourned the loss of his daughter and grand children and he didn't wish for any more unnecessary deaths of innocent persons, even if they were Pawnee. Red Sky relayed these instructions to each leader of their group and made sure they understood it.
Red Sky was tense with fear and exhilaration as he stayed low and tried to keep track of everyone. He pushed his fear aside as was his custom and he pressed forward. They came upon a Pawnee standing guard just inside the forest that separated them from the village. Red Sky motioned everyone to stay still and hunker down as he stealthily moved forward, silent and unseen. He killed the warrior quickly, slitting his throat with his sharp knife before the man could even utter a whimper. He lay the lifeless man down softly on the wet earth and motioned for the rest of his men to follow.
They came upon two more guards in the forest and they met the same fate as their brother. Although Red Sky hated to kill, he was excellent at it. His lightning-quick reflexes, his cat-like balance, and his strength were the keys to his success. He would feel guilty about it for a few seconds before he would brush it aside and continue with the task at hand. It was at night, alone with his thoughts, that he would really think about what he did, contemplate his reasoning for it, and then justify it in his mind. He never felt guilty about it after that, for he knew it was a battle of survival and he wasn't ready to die yet.
They moved forward until they were but twenty or thirty yards from the edge of the forest boundary. This was where it was going to get a bit tricky. They would have to move quickly through the rest of forest and hope to take everyone by surprise. This was easier said than done because there could be more guards stationed between them and the village and the battle might start before they could get out of the forest. Led by Red Sky and Running Deer, they ran quickly through the rest of the forest with no resistance and headed to the village.
Running at a furious pace, they barely heard the cry of warning that came from within the village. How many he and his brothers killed that morning, Red Sky could never know. It all became a blur to him once it started as he took on one, two, and sometimes three fighters at once. He had never felt stronger or more invincible than at that time. Man after man fell before him from a crushing blow of his tomahawk or from a deadly slash from his knife. He never felt the sting of an opponent's knife as it cut through his leggings and made a slashing cut to his thigh muscle. A small pool of blood formed under the leather as he continued to make his way to den of the chief, the hated Chief Two Bears.
Before he got there, however, Little Turtle had snatched the old man from his den and dragged him out into the open. The fighting ceased momentarily as Little Turtle held a large knife to the man's throat for all to see. The women of the village kept their children inside the wigwams and could only hope for the end to come soon.
"Tell your men to put their weapons down," Red Sky commanded, still oblivious to the wound.Although their dialects were different, they were able to understand each other without too much difficulty. The old man was silent. "Tell them!" Red Sky thundered, as Little Turtle cut the chief's skin slightly, causing a thin, ribbon-like trail of blood to trickle down his leathery throat.