High Plains Warrior Novel: Prequel
Spirit Wolf and Shadow Path are sequential novels
that chronicle the life of a Great Plains Snake warrior named Lion Hunter. This novel, Crow Child, is a collection of short and novella sized works that tell the story of Lion Hunter's early years as Little Turtle, in the Wolf Ridge band. It is a prequel to the two listed novels.
Each tale in this novel tells its own separate story, but all involve pivotal moments in the life of the young Native American who will grow up to be the warrior Lion Hunter, of the two subsequent High Plains Warrior novels.
The Stories of Crow Child:
1. In The Path, Little Turtle , at 5, is taught the sacred value of his people.
2. In Pasture Boy, Little Turtle, at 11, is left stranded in the wilderness, to live or die.
3. In Savage Reprisal, Little Turtle, at 12, is cauth-up in the violent deaths of his two uncles.
4. In Sacred Bundle, a delusional vision foretells a a dark future for 13 year-old Little Turtle.
5. In Turtle and the Lion, Little Turtle, at 14, is relentlessly stalked by an enraged mountain lion. 6. In Banished, Lion Hunter, at 15, witnesses a calamity that will alter his life forever.
A teaser from "Sacred Bundle"
Courage is not of the spirit world: it is an instrument of survival among real men, survival for the whole of one’s people. If a man’s heart looks coldly upon the needs of his people so shall courage look coldly upon him.
Words of the Holy Man
Crow On The Ridge
Lightening crashed through the blackness, its jagged fingers crackling over the sacred bundle dangling from Tall Rabbit’s lodge pole. He awoke standing, body quivering, nostrils filled with the smell of singed buffalo hide.
Arms outstretched and eyes straining to penetrate the night’s pitchy curtain, he stood frozen while the after-silence crashed in around him. At length he gulped a rush of air, holding it in, straining to divine some shadowed clue to help him identify the menace that had invaded his teepee. After long moments he took three more quick breaths then froze again. Still nothing. He resumed breathing shallowly, his hearing defied by the thunderous pounding of his heart.
When no attack came, confusion began nudging his terror aside. Still, he sensed urgency, and maybe desperation. Whatever it was seemed to be suspended in the blackness at the center of his teepee, above the flat stone upon which he kept the fractured and aging horse skull that was his personal totem.
With a start, he remembered Owl Friend’s sacred bundle. In his mind he saw the dead warrior chief’s amulet dangling from the lodge-pole where he left it before dropping off into the fitful sleep that preceded the terror of his awaking. His memory pictured the tiny buckskin pouch dangling in the dingy glow of dying fire embers, and a second fit of shivering swept over him.
He had climbed the tree and robbed Owl Friend’s death cradle. More memories of the trespass descended upon him in a rush of mental images. In the early morning darkness, well after last light of the waning moon, he snatched the talisman from the chest of the dead warrior then scurried back to his squalid teepee near the center of the Wolf Ridge village.
There, kneeling amid the rubble that littered his teepee’s earthen floor, he chanted before the fetish through both day and night. He neither ate nor drank, desperately hoping to evoke from the potent talisman some token of the previous owner's bravery—to summon forth some measure of personal courage he could take before his people, and, at long last, win their respect. But his exhausted body eventually claimed its due and Tall Rabbit, still without sign, had dropped into fitful sleep.
However long ago that had been, it was not now. Now, his mouth was dry and black fear gnawed at the pit of his stomach. Something else was there in the darkness, something besides the medicine bag. He swallowed hard, trembling, waiting.
It began at the spot where Tall Rabbit knew the talisman to be hanging—a speck of light emerging from the surrounding darkness. So pale he would not have noticed had his senses not been straining to penetrate the night’s blackness. From dim glow to shimmering form, the apparition grew, an eerie vision suspended above the shadowed outline of his totem. It was a running beast, far off, tiny, but growing as it raced at breakneck speed toward him. Violent dust clouds engulfed its pounding hooves. And as the beast thing came on, its ghostly pallor spread, seeding the surrounding darkness with ominous spirit shades that reeled about the soot stained skins of his wretched lodge.
Plunging out of the darkness the beast vision materialized into a white pony, legs churning, hooves pounding at the swirling shadows beneath. Red froth streaked backwards from the animal’s nostrils flecking albino shoulders with its crimson stain. The din of its arrival landed upon him with the rumbling fury of a great storm. And Tall Rabbit, shaking hands clapped over his ears, stumbled backward, away from its onslaught until he found himself cringing against the teepee’s hide covering.
Not until the horse stumbled to a halt before him, did Tall Rabbit realize how badly it had been faltering. There, standing splay legged to keep its feet, the poor beast sagged, chest heaving, each blowing breath bringing a new spatter of frothy blood to its chest. With effort, the animal lifted its head, sorrowful eyes speaking its agony.
“Hear me…. Tall Rabbit,” the vision gasped. “I am Ghost Pony, runner of the spirit winds. Upon my back the spirits of real men are carried to the world behind this one. In your sleep vision you have seen lightening, the light that leaps between the spirit world and Mother Earth. It is an omen. The pony’s breathing was less labored now, still blood dribbled. “You have violated the sacredness of a great warrior’s burial place, stolen the kernel of his spirit so that he can not now ride me on his journey to the Spirit World. I have seen this wrong with my own eyes. How can this be, Tall Rabbit? You live among the Wolf Ridge people.”