I’m back in the woods, back between the towering, living trees, their outstretched arms a welcome departure from the stark shininess of the humans’ city. How could anyone prefer such sterility to the teeming life of the forest? Even as I think this, the feel of the woods I’m within is not as wild as those of my kitten-hood, no doubt a byproduct of their proximity to the human apartments. I guess I’ll just have to go a bit deeper. My body elongates as I pick up speed, zig-zagging through the trees and leaping over the undergrowth that attempts to impede my movement in vain. Startled birds scatter from their perches at my passing, but these tempting little morsels are unnecessary after my meal made of the delicious water-dweller, the strong taste of which is still upon my tongue. I pause once I’ve passed far enough into the wilderness for my liking and look around. Though I can sense activity, much of it is either subdued or far away. Nothing much happens during the day anyhow, so I decide to take a nap ’til nighttime. I pick a tree and scale it until I find a spot suitable for slumber. Locking my claws into the tree-skin, I close my eyes, wrap my tail ‘round myself, and it’s not long before I pass into sleep.
“It has been good to know you, no matter how short-lived it was,” Kaga chuckles to himself.
They both raise their weapons, Kaga holding the spear with both hands outward at an angle and Atlat with the sword in one hand. As the ogres get nearer Kaga and Atlat charge at them, yelling.
Go on →
“I can die happy. I’ve annoyed many over the years but this is the first time in memory that I’ve pissed off a spirit.” As the neck untwists, blood is smeared in a streaked band around Cameahwait’s head. Coyote stands as it wobbles on the still twig-sized neck, the once smooth face a storm of angry creases and wrinkles. Cameahwait glowers at Coyote, its eyes burning white hot beneath its hat-like brow. Its breath becomes heavier and each one comes at longer intervals, and it begins to puff up again. Coyote backflips away from it, eyes from behind the mask pointing at its mouth. But no more viscous blood comes forth from its maw. Instead, Cameahwait grows in size, increasing outwards from its core, where a heart would be, and its lower half sinks into the ground, until only its chest and arms are visible. As it grows, it absorbs the doppelgängers that have been milling about while it fought Coyote. It towers over him, face in shadow, sword and staff extending up into the black sky, two eyes shining like distant suns. He holds the now immense sword out, the flat of the blade facing down. As it falls towards Coyote’s head he dashes away from the giant spirit, making a line towards where he threw his axe. The area around him gets darker as Cameahwait moves towards him and he does not look back as he runs. He reaches his axe and picks it up, spinning around to face the titan.
“You’re not the only one who can change sizes!” As he says this, the axe begins to grow, and continues to do so until the haft is as big as a tree trunk and the blade more like a piece off a cliff face rather than a shaped piece of stone. His fingers can no longer curl around it but splay out, clutching it on either side of the ridged wood. It rises up until it is level with Cameahwait’s chest, forty feet in the air. He lifts it back over his shoulder, muscles and tendons in his arms and hands standing out. Cameahwait’s eyes raise from looking down at him and follow its movement, which is faster than would be expected for something being lifted by a person a twentieth the size of the weapon. It raises its sword to block the swing while also bringing the staff around to the front and pointing it down at Coyote. But as it begins to glow just as the axe shatters the spectral blade. Its shards drag sheets of red through the air as they fall and fade away. The blood streams down but evaporates before it hits the ground.
Go on →
As Coyote runs, the ground begins to slope down and the trees grow thicker, forcing him to slow his pace down. There are no more patches of sun to follow, just shade and shadows. Still, Coyote smiles as he walks, peering around the trees and looking all around him, even walking backwards at times. He reaches the trough of the valley. The ground is spongy and lush with different clover and fungi. The trees here are more gnarly than straight and their bark is patchy, showing rotten wood rife with insects crawling from one blanket of bark to the next. The ground is moist beneath his bare feet and with each step he sinks into the muck.
“Lovely.” He narrows his eyes at the yielding terrain. “And still no sign of this spirit. Perhaps it only comes out at a certain time of day?” Shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head, he continues onwards. The ground gets more and more waterlogged as he goes along until he finally reaches a swamp at the very bottom, trees growing up out of the water. Mosquitoes buzz through the air but do not land on coyote, and a snake swimming through the water makes a beeline away from where he stands on the squishy shore.
Go on →
The longhouse is bustling with activity as everyone passes food around, baskets of vegetables, leathers filled with steaming meats. Smoke drifts around the ceiling. Even from outside the chatter of voices is clear, and one outside could hold conversation with the entire village if not for the walls in between. The chief sits in the very back, red, orange, and green lines criss-crossing the tan robe wrapped around him, laughing with one of the hunters.
“Nahiossi, if I have to hear one more tale of you almost shooting one of your men, I swear by the Great Mystery I’m going to take your bow away from you and snap it in half!”
“Good, I need a new one! This one must be warped, it shoots arrows sideways down, right at their asses!” He holds his arms up, drawing one back as if shooting an arrow.
“Almost shooting? He actually hit me! Look, the arrow’s still in there!” A man to the right of the chief stands up and bends over, hitting the chief in the face with the arrow sticking out his rear. The chief sputters as the feathers brush him. He and the hunter look over at the man with the stuck bottom, mouths open and foreheads wrinkled.
Go on →