What happens when a young Shunkte girl comes to Earth and is attacked by a man? How does the young girl and the mans daughter end up in the hands of a Native American Tribe? And how does the girl's family find her? Did the Medicine Man of the tribe know what she was? And what ever happened to her medallion?
Chapt.1: Eternal Flame:
Eternal Flame was always curious. She was the most curios of all her siblings. You see, Eternal Flame, or Flame as her brother called her, had always wanted to go to Earth and see what it was like among the humans. With the ability to look human while walking among the people of Earth, she always felt that she was meant to be on Earth not hovering about it in the vastness that was space. But Eternal Flame knew better than to ask her father, who had gone to Earth many times. Her own brother had never wanted to go to Earth for fear that he wouldn't be able to come back to his people. But Eternal Flame wasn't scared that she couldn't get back. As long as she wore her medallion at all times and never let it out of her sight, she would be fine to travel to Earth, at least that was the way she saw it.
She had a rather large family, consisting of six sisters and ten brothers. She was the youngest in the family. Her sister's despised how her parents treated her and she could do no good for her brother's except one. Samuel was her knight in shining armor. He was her protector among her siblings. He would take ahold of her in the night and sing her to sleep when she was a little girl. When she got older, he would take her flying through the night sky. They would twinkle their way across the sky, being someone's wish down on Earth. But they never got to hear those wishes. Their mother and father always took care of the wishes that were sent to them.
Known as Shooting Stars, Eternal Flame and Samuel were the most frequent fliers. They were always shooting across the sky, trying to see who could win the race they were having. They knew that the white people called them Shooting Stars. But the Native Americans called them something else. It wasn't heard much because though it was our name, most of our kind had gotten used to being called Shooting Stars. Samuel and Eternal Flame liked their original name, the name the stars had always been called. It was a nice name and the Native Americans had it right.
Because as far as the Native Americans were concerned, if you could get on the good side of Shunkte, you would live happily for the remainder of your life in the heavens. It was the Shunkte who helped the spirits of the dead reach the Pathway In The Sky or the Eternal resting place of the Native Americans. And though a Shunkte escorted the spirit to the Pathway, they were not allowed to follow them unless it was there turn to die. Sure stars died all the time, but when a star is born and when it dies, it is done at a place of honor. The Indians had always been quite content with the Pathway being their place of eternal rest, but after some time they realized that the Shunkte escorted their dead to the Pathway In The Sky so why should they also not have a nice place to die. And thus many stars watched as loved ones joined the spirit they were escorting to the Pathway and never return.
Eternal Flame always wondered what her human body would look like on Earth. Though her parents told her she would be the most beautiful of the humans one day, they never told her what she would look like. So she was content to imagine what she would look like. She always imagined that she would have long flowing black or blue hair. She always liked the thought that she would have dark blue hair, something no white person ever would have. She knew that her eyes would be the color of the stars. She imagined that her physique would be thin and athletic like the women of the Indian tribes. She hoped that she looked like them, knowing that she would probably look like a white person.
But as curiosity goes, it only gives so much before you have to leave everything you know behind and venture out into the unknown. And that is exactly what Eternal Flame did. She told no one, not even Samuel, where she was going. Only that she needed to fly for a while to figure something out. Samuel knew how she could get and he let her go, telling their siblings not to follow or feel the wrath of him. Their siblings listened to Samuel because he was the oldest and they knew better than to argue for fear he would send them flying across the sky. So Eternal Flame was left to wander by herself.
She became a Shooting Star and decided to head for Earth. She knew that she might get into trouble when she left Earth to rejoin her family in the heavens but she was just too curious. And her curiosity got the best of her this time. She headed for a secluded area, out in the country and when she landed, she had feet for the first time. She looked down as her human body was formed. The light from her star fading into a dull brown dress. Her hair was indeed a dark blue and though she couldn't see her eyes, she knew that they were the color of the stars. She had no shoes on but she didn't seem to mind. And her medallion was around her neck, under her clothes where no one could find it unless they were looking. She felt free for the first time in her life and it felt good.
As she looked around at her new surroundings she got a funny feeling that she was being watched but when she turned to see who was behind her, she didn't see anyone. She shrugged it off and ran straight for the meadow that was stretching out in front of her. She held her hands up and twirled in circles, a smile plastered on her face. She was laughing and though that feeling of being watched was still close to her, she also knew that if whoever was watching her was going to hurt her they probably would have done so by now. She moved off, away from the meadow and towards what looked like a town but she couldn't be sure.
As I neared the end of the meadow, I saw the lights in the houses and knew that I shouldn't approach. I was a stranger in a land I had never been in and they would probably think it strange that a young girl was out and alone by herself. But it wasn't a town. It was a solitary house. I stayed near one of the building that smelled like it held animals. I knew that the white humans called these buildings barns so that was what I figured I was standing next to. As I turned to leave, I heard a branch breaking from off to my right and I froze. Big mistake. When he stepped out of the shadows I screamed and took off running. I knew better than to stay where someone might want to hurt me.
But the man was much faster than I was since he was used to his legs and the only real running I had ever done was across the night sky when I could fly as fast as a bird on its wings. He caught me too soon and pulled me to a stop. I still struggled with him till he slapped me hard across my face and I hit the ground. He turned me over, unconscious as I was, and my medallion fell out the side of the dress. He bent down and picked me up and headed for his house.
When I awoke, I was in the house next to what looked like a fire. My hands were tied together and my legs were bent under my body. But I already knew that something was wrong. When I tried to call out to Samuel for help, I couldn't. My medallion was laying on the table in the middle of the room instead of being around my neck where I had left it after becoming human in the meadow. It was no wonder I thought I was being watched. This man, whoever he was must have been watching me become human. He must have seen me fall to the Earth just so that he could poses whatever magic I had. Except that it wasn't magic, it was my way of life.
It was then that I realized that I wasn't alone in the room. She was sitting on the chair next to me with a bowl of water and what looked like a rag cloth. She dipped the cloth into the bowl, rung the cloth out and reached out her hand towards me. I pulled myself away from her as best as I could in the position I was in. I had never talked to a human before so it was new for me to see one up close and with such weird taste in clothes. I understood why I was wearing what I was wearing but what was this girl's excuse. Surely her father could afford better clothes for her than what she was wearing. And then it dawned on me. She wasn't on that chair of her own accord. Looking close enough to her I noticed that her left ankle was tied to the chair. She was in the same despair that I was, only I was pretty sure she was actually born on Earth.
A Confusing Situation:
Her name was Elisha and she didn't belong to him either. He had stolen her from her real parents and moved to a place they would never look. She only wanted to get home but knew the possibility of her getting home wasn't going to happen at all. He was both our captors and we were to work for him the remainder of our days. Or so we thought. He came back in after my face was cleaned of whatever dirt had been on it from where he had smacked me to the ground earlier in the day. He untied her and grabbed my arm, pulling me roughly up from where I had been sitting.
I eyed the medallion on the table and if I could just get to it, then I could get away from him as fast as he had taken me. But he moved me and Elisha away from the table and to the back of the cabin. He shoved us into a room, unbinding my hands in the process. He spoke to Elisha and then he was gone, slamming the door behind him as he went. My first move was for the door. I grabbed ahold of the handle and pulled as hard as I could but to no avail. Then I used what little power I had left without my medallion and summoned what little strength I had left and screamed, a loud high pitched scream that shook the walls of the cabin.
The scream was supposed to get the attention of anyone in a twenty mile radius of the house. And I suppose it worked but the saviors I thought to be coming were the wrong ones. The man didn't come back to the room after I was done screaming. Instead we heard another scream from the kitchen. It sounded like he was mad that I had scream and was mimicking me. I didn't scream again after that and went and sat next to Elisha who took my hand in hers and said that it would be alright, that it wasn't that bad and that we did get fed every now and then. I wanted to laugh. Fed? Stars didn't eat human food. Or did they? My parents never told me if, while they were on Earth, they ate human food or not so I did not know what to expect. Besides it wasn't like I was hungry or anything.
Chapt.3: Stealth Warriors:
Attack In The Night:
Eternal Flame's scream had been heard, just not by the people she had hoped would hear it. She had hoped her family would hear it from their places in the night sky but no luck there. Instead, a group of Indian warriors who were tasked with bringing white children from whatever cabin they could find back to the village heard the scream and had come to investigate. They saw the light and the man standing next to the kitchen window and they decided to act. If there were children inside the house then there was the possibility of captives as well. The door was already open so they just snuck as quietly as they could into the house and tomahawked the man standing in the kitchen till he was dead.
Eternal Flame was the first to wake having fallen asleep still holding Elisha's hand. Standing in the doorway was a man covered in what looked like war paint. She gently shook Elisha awake and helped her stand up. The warrior looked astonished when she smiled at him but the shock wore off as he escorted the two out of the room. Elisha was the first to see the man on the ground and without even thinking about it, both she and Eternal Star sighed with relief. They would finally be free and Elisha could go home. But home was not where the warriors were taking them and Elisha knew that. But could the Indians be as bad as living with the man or would it be better for them?
Eternal Flame looked at the table but the medallion was nowhere to be seen. She assumed that one of the warriors had grabbed it as a trophy and she knew that she was doomed to stay on Earth as long as she didn't have the medallion in her possession. They were marched outside and into the cold dark night. Eternal Flame still did not have any shoes on but at least Elisha did. One of the warriors stopped them and bent down to Eternal Flame's feet, flicking her to get her to lift them up. At first she didn't know what they wanted. Then Elisha pointed at the moccasins and she understood that she was getting some shoes to wear so she would not ruin the soles of her feet. She lifted each foot and the warrior put the moccasins on her feet.
And then they were off, running right alongside the warriors. It was easy for Elisha to keep up but for a star like Eternal Flame, running was new to her. She was used to flying across the sky not running on two feet. She soon started to fall behind. One of the warriors prodded her to keep up but she simply didn't have the strength. But it didn't seem to matter anyways since they were coming upon a river with what looked like a boat sitting on the shore. Elisha was hopeful almost immediately but Eternal Flame was just as confused as ever.
We stopped at the river for a small meal and though we were not offered food, Elisha told me that it was normal. That's when I noticed the medallion hanging around one of the warriors necks. Elisha saw me staring and finally had to ask why I was so interested in a ugly piece of junk. So I told her as much as she needed to know.
"I see you looking at that thing. Why do you stare so much at it? Even in the house you seemed to be enthralled by it? What meaning does a piece of junk like that hold to you?"
"His name was Mark."
"Well, Mark...he took it off me when he took me to the house. It belongs to me."
"Okay, but what importance is it to you?"
"It's...a family heirloom. It was my grandmothers." I said, not being able to tell her the truth for she would not understand.
"Well good luck getting it back. It belongs to him now."
"I need it back, it's the only way that I can get home."
"You mean if you're wearing it, you can somehow get home from here?"
"Yes, it has to do with the type of metal it is made out of. It would be hard to explain to you. I don't even know what kind of metal it is..."
We were going to continue but were silenced by one of the warriors. They stood up and looked at us so we stood up as well. They motioned that we were to get into the boat and with their help we climbed aboard, sitting in the middle. Two warriors got into the same boat as us and the rest got into another and they pushed off, heading downstream. Elisha put her hand behind her and I grabbed it. I had never been in a boat before so this was a new experience for me. In the two days I had been on Earth, I had been kidnapped by two peoples. One of them was someone I knew that I couldn't trust. The other was of a people I knew knew about my people, even had stories telling about how my people escorted the spirits of their dead to the Pathway In The Sky. So at least I knew that I was at least safe with these people. Elisha didn't seem so convinced.
We woke up sometime the next morning, having slept in the boats the entire night. We sat up and looked around and that's when we saw that we were coming upon a village. Elisha grabbed my hand and held tight. I on the other hand was trying to remember all of the languages I had learned over the many years of escorting the spirits to the Pathway. If I could communicate with these people then maybe I could tell them who I was and they would give me my medallion so that I could return to my people in the sky. But I knew that that was probably a slim chance.
The boats were beached and we were pulled from them onto the shore. Elisha held not only my hand but my arm as well, trying to keep us together. The villagers saw us but they also saw their warriors returning home safely after a successful invasion. We were pushed forward until we were standing in front of some huts and that feeling I'd had back in the meadow was back. So maybe it hadn't been Mark that had been spying on me when I first came to Earth; maybe it had been one of these people wondering why a Shunkte was coming to Earth.
They led us to a fire and sat us down. Elisha's shoes were taken from her and she was given a pair of moccasins. Since the moccasins I had been given were still good they let me keep them. The warrior that had had the medallion around his neck now took the medallion off and handed it to what looked like his chief. I started to clear my throat so that I could talk but a sharp jab in my ribs from Elisha told me not to say anything so I didn't. The chief started talking. I heard the word Shunkte and some other words I'm pretty sure described my people but I couldn't be sure. Women were moving about us, poking and prodding us. One woman grabbed a handful of my hair and looked closely at it before holding it up and saying something to the chief. Everyone was looking at me, including Elisha who finally saw my hair for the first time.
"Your hair, it's blue!"
"Yes, is that not what most human hair looks like?"
"You said human?"
"Yes, I did. Is that wrong?"
"Get away from me!"
Elisha shrieked and crawled away. I looked at her as if I had done something wrong. The chief saw the reaction and waved his hand. Elisha got to stay where she was but I was pulled away and put into a hut at the edge of camp. I was alone once again.
Chapt.4: A New Master:
Elisha was given to a family who had lost a daughter to the white's pox sickness. Through an interpreter she was told that she would stay here for the remainder of her life and be adopted by the tribe. She would get the chance to live as normal a life as she wanted and since she already had brown hair she would not have to hide her hair if any whites came along. I on the other hand was still in the hut I had been put in the day of our arrival, which had been over a week ago. Did they think me some kind of demon or something? I hadn't weakened though. On the contrary, since I had been born a star, I did not need to eat like most humans did. I could go an entire month without eating and be fine. Maybe that was why I was still in the same hut. Maybe because I didn't ask for food they feared me. Or maybe because my hair was a dark blue and nobody had ever seen my kind of hair before. Either way, I was starting to wish I was home.
I knew that I had a guard and every time I asked to leave to use the restroom I was followed. But every time I wanted to just look up at the stars, I was not allowed. I could sense that my family was searching for me and I longed to see them once again. I missed Samuel. I missed my parents. I even missed my annoying siblings. Did they miss me yet? Were they wondering where I was? Was Samuel looking frantically for his little Eternal Flame? Would I ever be accepted? All those questions ran through my head, yet I still did not eat. I was to ashamed to eat, too depressed. Did any of them see that I was slowly fading? That my light was slowly fading from my eyes? Was I to die on this rock and never see my beloved sky again?
The Medicine Man:
He came on the second week. I hadn't left the hut in nearly three days. I just lay there too depressed to do anything. I no longer cared what they did to me. It no longer mattered to me because I knew that my family couldn't find me. Without me wearing my medallion I was not able to tell them where I was and they were unable to locate me in the village. I was too weak to scream for their help and even if I did, I was too fearful that the Indians would silence me. He sat down next to me and peered at me. I turned my face to the side so he could not see my thoughts though I got the feeling that he already knew them.
"You do not have to be afraid little Shunkte. I know who and what you are."
I understood him. I looked over at him and noticed that same look he had given me when I had first stepped out of the boat two weeks ago. And I got that same feeling I had had when I first became human. Was he the one that had been watching me in the meadow when I had landed on Earth not three weeks ago.
"I understood you."
"All Shunkte can understand the languages of Earth. And they can even speak them."
"Is your chief going to kill me? Because of my hair?"
"No, he does not wish to kill you. He has seen like I have that you stare at the sky and the stars every time you are let out to use the restroom. He has asked me to talk to you. But I already knew what you were."
"That was you? I thought that that was the man that took me. I tried to run but he is used to his legs. I am used to flying above the sky, not running. I am still getting used to my human body."
"Perhaps it is best that you do not speak in such tones. I have convinced the chief to let me have you. You will not be my slave but I do need an assistant now as I am getting older. Would you do an old man the favor of helping him with what he needs to get done?"
"I would like to, but what will your people say?"
"They will understand that I have taken a slave, though I will not treat you like one. And we will talk to the chief later on about what you really are. Now what is your name?"
"My parents named me Eternal Flame, but my brother Samuel calls me Flame."
"Well what would you like me to call you?"
"I don't know. I feel I should have an Earth name but I do not really know any Earth names."
"Then Eternal Flame it is. Come now, we must get you into something more comfortable than what your starlight gave you for some clothes. My daughter will give you the necessary clothing you need to fit in. We will deal with your hair later on."
"Yes, I understand. Oh, what is it that I should call you?"
"You can call me Sitting Bear, since that is my name anyways."
"Thank you Sitting Bear, for taking pity on me."
"It is not pity that I do this. This is an honor my people have yet to understand. Maybe the storyteller will be persuaded to tell of your people at dinner tomorrow. But for now we must get you into something more comfortable."
Learning To Accept:
Sitting Bear and I left the hut I was given two weeks ago and headed for his hut. In all actuality, the hut was more like a lodge, meant for many people and families to live together as one family. We entered the hut together and though I stayed a little behind him, he gently pulled me to stand beside him. Elisha was sitting next to the fire, sewing something onto a piece of deerskin. When she looked up and saw me, she moved away as if I was something she wanted nothing to do with. Sitting Bear went into the next room and I stayed where he had left me. Elisha's new mother got up first and came to tut around me, lifting my hair and poking at my skinny body which had not deteriorated the entire time I had not eaten.
"How is it that she is still the same weight she was when she got here Sitting Bear? She looks the same to me."
"She is of a different people than the whites. In due time will you learn who she is and then you will understand why she looks the way she does."
"I still don't see why Chipmunk screamed to get away from her when they were first brought here."
"Eternal Flame, these are your new clothes, you can get dressed in that room over there and I will be here when you return. My daughter will put your hair in braids for you when you are done getting dressed. And it is probably best if you eat something. We can't have you collapsing of starvation now can we."
"Of course Sitting Bear. I will be back in a few minutes."
I left the room and changed into the clothes given to me. I still felt bare without my medallion but hoped that it would be returned to me soon. In the meantime, I could hear Sitting Bear start talking to Elisha's mother again.
"You gave her a celestial name? She does not deserve that name."
"It is the name she was born to. Her parents gave her the name when she was born. It is the name everyone shall use if you are to speak to her. And Chipmunk needs to learn to get over her fear for the girl. She is a blessing in disguise for our world as well as the white world. Do you not see it?"
"If you speak of her devil hair then yes we see it."
"Where is your husband tonight Snow Dove?"
"He is out hunting. He should be back later. I am teaching Chipmunk how to skin an animal when he does get back. Why do you ask?"
"Where is the medallion he took from Chipmunk's home?"
"He gave it to Chief Thorawaken. The girls would not need it anymore and it is just a useless piece of junk anyways. I heard that the Chief was thinking of trading it at the fort next time he went. He should get enough for it to feed our people for a while."
"Thank you for your information Snow Dove. Aw, Eternal Flame, you look very nice in that dress. Feel better?"
"I do, but I still feel bare without my medallion. Will I not be getting it back?"
"So it was your medallion that my husband took from that house. You will not need it here. You cannot run anyways. The warriors said you were not good at running."
"I was weak from my ordeal earlier that day. The man your husband killed to get to Elisha and me kidnapped both of us. So you see, the warriors did us a favor by killing him. Elisha didn't belong to him and neither did I. He beat us while we were in his care and if I hadn't screamed when I did, your warriors probably would have passed up the cabin all together and then we would still be there with him doing god knows what to us. If I were you, I would speak to Elisha about what he used to do to her. I was only there one day, but I got the feeling that she was there for much longer. He probably did worse to her than what you could do to her."
"He took the both of you? Why did you not tell me this Eternal Flame?"
"Snow Dove made me mad. I hardly ever get mad."
"Well enough is enough. You have upset Chipmunk. Come we need to get you settled in for the night and you need to get some food in you. My daughter will bring some food over when it is done being cooked. Thank you for the hospitality Snow Dove."
"You are always welcome Sitting Bear. She is not."
We left Snow Dove's lodge and went to Sitting Bear's lodge where I was shown to the bed that I was to call my own. Sitting Bear started the fire back up and sat down next to it signaling that I should do the same. When I was sitting he started talking again.
"My daughter, Flaming Star, was a gift from the Heavens just like you were. Only I doubt you meant to be taken by a man you didn't know your first day on Earth and then by a people you knew nothing about the same night. She came from the stars just like you did. I often talk about her people, the Shunkte, and tell her as much as I can about them. But now that you are here, she will want to learn as much as she can from you. She has always wanted to know what it is like to be a star."
"If she was born a star, why did she fall so young? Was she not strong enough?"
"From what I remember," Flaming Star said coming in, "My parents had just shown me how to fly like a Shooting Star and we were on our way back to the area we called home when something happened. I know that my parents were killed immediately but I fell to Earth. I am married now and have a young son. My husband was one of the warriors that took you from the cabin you were in."
"Well I ask that you thank him for me when you see him."
"We live here in the same lodge as my father. I am studying to be the next Medicine Woman of our people and my father could always use an extra pair of hands. Besides, we don't really talk about the Shunkte people much; they are a myth among our people, a legend."
"I know. As stars, my brother Samuel and I would often hang out over the many tribes of Earth and just watch. The whites were boring but the many Indian tribes that live here are and have always been interesting to us. I miss my family terribly but without the medallion there is no way for me to get home."
"I understand, but maybe it is best if you stay here for a while. Let your family continue to look for you but stay here. I am sure my father would be able to get the chief to give him the medallion. But it might take a little convincing."
"You mean have me show the tribe what I really am? I can only do that with the medallion and as soon as I have it on I will leave and go home."
"Not what I meant Eternal Flame, but the chief will learn that you have a celestial name, just like mine. My father will have to tell him that you were born to it. Chief Thorawaken will not be pleased that you have a celestial name and not have earned it."
"But my parents gave me that name on the day that I was born. As a star, even if a medallion is not around our necks, we still have some powers. I can stand in a fire and not get burned. I can hold fire in my hand and not get burned and I can shine as bright as a star. If that will help in letting them know that I am from the heavens then I will do it. But maybe it would be best if the storyteller told about my people before I gave an example."
"Well that's a story the tribe hasn't heard in a while. It shouldn't be that hard to convince her to speak about the Shunkte people. The children will want to hear about them anyways. The people are already talking about your blue hair so it shouldn't be that hard to convince them that you are what you say you are. But will you not try to at least like living here?"
"I will try. But this is something that I will have to get used to. I never had to eat anything before. When you are a star, you don't eat so there is no need to eat while you are here. When my parents visited Earth to fulfill the wishes of those that wished on the Shooting Stars, they never told me if they ate the food of humans or not."
"Best if you don't keep saying humans. People will think you are weird like that friend of yours when you first got here. Come, we should get some rest. It is only midday and we still have a long day's work ahead of us. My father has already fallen asleep."
We got up and helped Sitting Bear to his sleeping area and then said goodnight to each other and went to our separate beds. We slept for about an hour, well she slept but since I was a star there wasn't much sleeping in the night sky. Sure we still shone during the day but nobody could see us so we had fun any way we could. When it was time to head out for the dinner in the main lodge, we got her son and Sitting Bear up and then we all headed out together. It was nice to have someone that understood me to talk to. But would the rest of the tribe understand me as well as Flaming Star did?
We entered the main lodge together and since Sitting Bear was the Medicine Man to the village he held a place of honor next to the chief. Flaming Star sat next to him with her son and I sat next to him. Though the people looked at me and my hair they also noticed that I was talking their language and seemed to understand what Sitting Bear and Flaming Star were telling me. This intrigued them but they said nothing as Flaming Star and I got up to get some bowls of food for not only ourselves but also Sitting Bear and her husband who had shown up shortly after we arrived. I noticed Sitting Bear talking to Chief Thorawaken and an old woman but didn't ask what was going on. I assumed the old woman was the storyteller.
We went and sat back down and Flaming Star handed her husband some food and introduced me.
"Akacheta, this is Eternal Flame. She lives in my father's hut with us now. She will be able to help my father when you nor I can."
"Eternal Flame, that is a celestial name is it not? How did you come by that name?"
"My parents gave it to me on the day that I was born. Is it not a worthy name?"
"Most white parents give their children a white name, not an Indian name. My name means Fighter. You can call me either."
"The only white name I know is my brother Samuel and well now Elisha. All my friends and family back home have celestial names. But my parents were visiting and I guess heard the name Samuel and liked it so much that they named my oldest brother Samuel."
"This Samuel sounds like a nice man."
"I was the baby in the family and Samuel protected me from my other siblings. And up until now have never been parted from them."
"I'm sure they are not worrying too much. How big is your family back home?"
"I have six sister's and ten brother's. We are a big family and it keeps getting bigger."
"I bet. Must be why you decided to run away to us then."
We stopped talking as my face showed the horror of his statement. Besides everyone else was quieting down as well. The Storyteller was getting ready to speak.
The Storyteller, also known as History Talker, was standing on the other side of Chief Thorawaken. She waited for everyone to calm down before she started to talk. She started in on a story about how the Earth was made by Grandmother Turtle and how all the people on her were one. I tuned the story out knowing it had nothing to do with me and looked around at the villagers in the lodge. It was the main lodge which also meant that it was where almost all the council meetings were held. Everyone was looking at History Talker and listening to her speak. Well everyone that was except a few people in the back. They had seen me start to look at everyone and not really pay attention.
I noticed something was off about these people. They didn't seem to belong and yet they did belong. They looked Indian and as they looked at me I understood why they looked so different. They were stars, I could see it in their eyes. But it didn't seem to me that anyone else could see them. Flaming Star poked me and I looked over at her and she nodded that I was to pay attention. When I looked back, the Stars were gone and two regular Indians were standing in their places. Was I imagining that I was seeing Stars because I missed my own people?
Seeing The Medallion:
That's when I saw it. Chief Thorawaken was wearing it around his neck. He didn't seem to notice that I was looking at the medallion but Flaming Star did and she poked me again. When I looked at her the look in her eyes told me not to stare. But I used my eyes to point out the medallion around the Chief's neck and then she realized why I was staring. The Chief was wearing my medallion, the thing that would let me become a star once again. When Flaming Star fell to Earth, she probably hadn't been given her medallion yet so no one knew that she had fallen and since her parents were dead, there was no way anyone could have known otherwise.
I guess the Chief felt someone looking at him and though Flaming Star and I were looking back at History Talker, he still looked in our direction. We pretended that we had been listening the whole time and I would remind myself that I would need to ask Flaming Star what the story was about. But for now, the story seemed to be coming to an end and it looked like people were wanting to get back to their own lodges for the night.
A Story of The Shunkte:
I guess the disappointment showed on my face because the Chief stood up and said that another story would be told tonight. He sat back down and looked at me but said nothing as History Talker, after drinking some wine, began her second tale. This time I didn't have to pay attention but did anyways. I had never heard anyone talk about my people before now so it was something of an interest to me. I also noticed how Elisha was watching me as I tuned in to listen. She sensed that this was the reason the Chief had quieted everyone down again. And so the story began.
Long, long time ago, when father Sun and sister Moon were in competition with each other to see who the brightest was, a people known as the Shunkte were born. The Shunkte, who used to live on mother Earth, grew tired of their father and sister always fighting and they told the Great Spirit so. They asked the Great Spirit to make them equals in the sky. But what they didn't know was that Great Spirit had another plan. Yes he made father sun and sister moon equals, but he also pulled the Shunkte into the sky as well. The Shunkte became the stars we see in the night sky.
Now at first the Shunkte didn't like that they had been taken away from their homeland and were going to complain to Great Spirit. But one of their little daughters and one of their little sons found an upside to being in the sky. No longer did they have to run or walk anymore. Now they could fly across the sky, chasing one another without any care in the world. So the adults saw the gift that Great Spirit had given them and in return for this gift they made a promise. When one of the People dies down on mother Earth, the Shunkte guide the spirit to the Pathway In The Sky where they can live eternally in peace.
But as time went on, the spirits who lived along the Pathway In The Sky noticed that though the Shunkte died, they never had a place to spend eternity. So they spoke with Great Spirit and Great Spirit agreed with what they asked. So now, when a spirit goes to the Pathway In The Sky and it is time for one of the Shunkte to die, the Shunkte spirit travels the Pathway with the human spirit it is guiding to the Pathway In The Sky.
I tell this story now because I am told that there is a Shunkte among us tonight taken from her free stroll three weeks ago she now sits among us. She watches us and though some of us think she is a demon in disguise, she is really a celestial being in disguise. If you do not believe me, you can always ask Sitting Bull since he himself has raised one of the Shunkte since childhood.
History Talker stopped talking and the entire lodge looked at our group. Elisha looked at me as I was the closest and then she saw what she thought she had seen the night we were taken. She saw the stars in my eyes and she knew she had to say something. She pointed straight at me and in her best voice yelled.
"Shunkte! She is the Shunkte!"
Every head turned towards me but it's not like they could see anything. I had closed my eyes and used what little power I had and summoned my inner star. I knew that I was as bright as a star, but I also knew that using this much power would drain me of any life force I actually had left. I moved towards the fire pit and stood directly in the middle of the pit. The flames licked but did not burn. When I turned towards Chief Thorawaken, he understood what I wanted. I stepped out of the fire and tried to make it back to Sitting Bear and Flaming Star but I had no energy left. I collapsed on the ground. Flaming Star and her husband Akacheta were at my side first. Akacheta picked me up in his arms, nodded at Chief Thorawaken and then he and Flaming Star left the lodge with Sitting Bear behind them.
Chapt.6: They're Out There:
Breath & Life:
I woke on my sleeping platform in Sitting Bear's lodge three days later, except I didn't know that it had been three days. When I tried to sit up, Flaming Star stopped me saying that it was best that I just rest. She went out of the lodge and brought back Sitting Bear who had been outside for some reason.
"Ah, Eternal Flame you have woken up. How do you feel?"
"Weak. How long have I been asleep?"
"Three days. We did not know if you would wake up or not. Chief Thorawaken even came to see you. He agrees that you should get your medallion back but thinks that you need time in the village to live like one of the people before he gives it back. He says when it is time he will give the medallion back."
"Are you hungry sister?"
"It is better that I call you sister then use your name all the time. Besides, I never really had a sister growing up so this is new to me as well."
"Well then you may call me sister. And yes, I guess I could use something to eat."
"Oh no, you stay in bed. You are still too weak to be up and moving around. You drained much of your life force to show our people that you were a star. You still have much recovering to do before you can be up and about."
"I understand Sitting Bear. Is Elisha still mad at me?"
"You must also start calling her Chipmunk as that is her new name. And I don't think she is still mad at you. When you collapsed, though she told everyone you were a Shunkte, she still had concern in her eyes. Even her mother Snow Dove had a hard time keeping her sitting as Akacheta and Flaming Star brought you to our lodge. Snow Dove did bring her to see you while you were sleeping though. She had tears in her eyes. I think she sees now why you kept calling everyone 'human' and why your hair is a dark blue."
"So she has come to see me?"
"She is here every time her mother doesn't need her help working in the fields or mending something. She still has much to learn to become one of the People but at least she is willing to learn it. Most white children that come to us refuse to learn and though it takes a long time, they do understand why we took them in the first place. But we tend not to take children that are teenagers as it is easier to teach a young child than it is an almost grown child. You and Chipmunk are lucky that you have such a powerful scream."
"I've been meaning to ask you Sitting Bear, were you the one in the meadow watching me when I came to Earth to explore?"
"So you felt my prying eyes. I was wondering why a celestial being such as yourself wanted to come to mother Earth. But when I realized that you were still a child I seemed to understand. Now enough talk. Take some water and then get some rest. You still need to sleep, gain your strength back. It will be some time before you are able to leave this lodge without assistance."
We stopped talking and I fell asleep once more. Flaming Star went and got her son and set him to playing next to my sleeping platform while she mended some of his winter clothing.
Whilst I Sleep:
The dreams came fast, like it was if I wasn't even on Earth. Samuel was in the night sky, moving about, flying and searching. He was searching for his baby sister, wanting to find her and hoping that she was alright. He knew that their times as Shooting Stars were just games that we played; he hoped that I hadn't taken the game one step too far. I saw him looking for me, heard him calling my name and though I wanted to call out, for some reason, my tongue would not work.
When I looked down, I could see Flaming Star mending her son's winter clothing. But her son, Round One was looking up. He was not looking at my sleeping platform but up into the rafters of the lodge. He was looking straight at me as if he knew that I was searching for someone but couldn't find it. I got the feeling that Round One could see people while they were sleeping and dreaming. But as far as children go, Round One soon became tired of looking up and went back to playing with the wood balls his father had carved for him to play with.
As a Star, I knew nothing of sleeping. As a human, sleeping is what was asked of me so sleeping is what I did. Though after a while I was no longer sleeping, but I kept my eyes closed so that Flaming Star would not see that I was awake. I did open my eyes a sliver so that I could see what was going on around me. Flaming Star had put Round One to sleep in his cradle board and had moved the deerskin away from the lodge door so that the light could get in. She was now over by her bed. Akacheta was out hunting and she wanted to be refreshed when he got back. Sitting Bear was visiting with Chief Thorawaken about something. I waited another half hour before I decided to rise and go explore the village.
The Village At Dusk:
Nobody stopped me as I hesitantly left Sitting Bear's lodge. Most people were in their lodges eating dinner with their families and probably discussing the next day's agenda, though I knew that the People rarely planned anything out unless need be. I looked back only once but saw no one following me. I made my way out of the village and to the river I knew ran by. It was hard not to see myself as a Star anymore. When I made it to the river and then some, I sat down on a rock and then slid to the ground. Sitting Bear was right, I was still weak from my ordeal.
But it didn't matter. I needed to be alone for the time being so that I could think. Samuel had basically told me while I was sleeping that he would stop at nothing to find me, even if it meant coming to Earth to do so. I knew by my dream that our parents were already on Earth looking for me as were my aunts and uncles. Since Star's considered each other family, we had many aunts and uncles that we sometimes never saw and some that we saw all the time. But Samuel had also shown me that my siblings were looking for me as well. They were trying so hard to find me that they hadn't thought about the human aspect of it.
Maybe that was why my parents, aunts and uncles were on Earth trying to find me. They knew that I was a curious child and if I was in one of my moods I could get very far. But I don't think even my parents had realized just how far I had gotten. I knew that Indians didn't wish on Shooting Stars but saw them as spirits heading for the Pathway In The Sky so that meant that my parents weren't looking for me in any Indian village; they were only looking for me within the white communities. When I realized this, I sank to a new low. They would never find me if I didn't have my medallion around my neck. For it not only let a Shunkte leave Earth to be a Star again but it was also a tracking device. But it only worked if the Shunkte it belonged to was wearing it. Otherwise, the tracker lay dormant.
As I got up to go back to Sitting Bear's lodge, I felt very weak. I turned to head back to the village and had to stop to hold onto something. I saw Chipmunk heading for the river with a pot probably to get water but that's the last thing I saw. I felt my body tilting sideways and then I was on the ground. I don't know if Chipmunk saw me or not but I know that I cannot make it back to Sitting Bear's lodge without her help. Before I know it, she is by the river but she is not getting water. I hear the pot drop to the ground and break before I feel her hands on me. She helps me sit up against the rock and then looks into my eyes.
"Eternal Flame? What are you doing out here? Sitting Bear said you are still too weak to be out here by yourself."
"I needed to think and the lodge was beginning to get stuffy."
"Well I'm not going to leave you. I can't get you back to Sitting Bear's lodge all by myself. Besides, I broke Snow Dove's water pot. Do you think she'll be mad at me?"
"Why do you not call her mother?"
"She is not my mother yet silly. Oh how I've longed to talk to you. I'm sorry I freaked out on you. I didn't know how to react when you called people human. But now I understand. Are we still friends? I mean can a Shunkte be friends with a human?"
"I think they can and I am willing to still be your friend. Chipmunk? That's a very nice name."
"Not as beautiful as Eternal Flame is. You and Flaming Star must be ecstatic to be able to talk about your own kind without any reprimand."
"Snow Dove reprimands you for talking about the Shunkte?"
"She's says since they help the ancestors and the spirits make their journey to the Pathway that it would be a dishonor to them if we talked about them. But you don't seem to mind how they speak about your people."
"That's because I have never heard anyone talk about my people as if they were gods themselves. It's just weird to me like it's weird to everyone here that my hair is a dark blue color. I'm sorry I scared you when we first got here and that I upset you when Flaming Star helped me get dressed in your lodge."
"No, it's something that needed to be said and I'm better for it. It's helped me be more like my old self than the scared little girl I used to be."
"This is nice, being able to talk to you."
"Hey, if I hadn't found you, you'd still be out here lying face down in the mud. But it is getting late out. I don't want to leave you but I also want to get you back to Sitting Bear's lodge before it gets too dark."
"The we shall go. Get a stick to help me walk and I will drape an arm around your neck and we can walk that way."
"That's an excellent idea. Just one second."
As Chipmunk went about looking for a stick, Flaming Star had woken to find me gone and had come looking after dropping Round One at a neighbors lodge. When She saw Chipmunk looking for a stick she hurried up.
"Flaming Star, thank goodness. I could use your help."
"Have you seen Eternal Flame? She wasn't in her sleeping rack when I woke up from my nap to feed Round One."
"She's over here. I came to get water and found her lying on the bank. We were just about to try to get her up and back to Sitting Bear's lodge when you came around."
"Well then I will help you. Come on, my father will be back at our lodge any minute and I want her there so he sees that she is fine. Otherwise he'll organize the warriors into looking everywhere for her."
"I know what you mean. I think Snow Dove might be on the brink of doing that at this moment."
"It is good that you stayed with her. Oh thank goodness. Eternal Flame, you scared me when I woke to find you gone. What were you thinking?"
"I needed to think and the lodge was getting to stuffy to be in. I needed to get out."
"Well you should have woken me up. I would have gladly led you down here and let you think for a while. My father will be worried if he sees you gone when he gets back."
"I didn't mean to be gone as long as I was. I was meaning to be back before anyone woke up. But I lost track of time and when I tried to come back I lost my balance. That's when Chipmunk found me."
"Well at least you are using her new name." Flaming Star said as both she and Chipmunk grabbed an arm and helped me up and started to walk back into the village.
"She wasn't calling me Chipmunk?"
"No she kept calling you Elisha. I think it was as hard on her as it was on you and she had to go through it thinking you were still mad at her."
"I was never mad at you Eternal Flame, I just didn't know what to think or how to feel. Snow Dove said it takes time for someone to understand things like this. She let me come see you after Sitting Bear said it was okay. She couldn't keep me in that lodge anymore. She said that I was like a little child that always wanted to know something. But she says that you are welcome in her lodge any time now, now that she knows you are not a demon, just a little lost in this world."
"We'll be sure to thank her for me. Are we almost there yet?"
"Tired are we?"
"I'm thinking this wasn't such a good idea."
"You think? Next time you do this I think my father will kill us both."
"He really wouldn't do that would he sister?"
"You call each other sisters?" Chipmunk asked glad to see that Sitting Bear's lodge was coming into sight.
"We do, it's easier to call each other sisters than it is to use our names all the time."
"Oh I get it. Eternal Flame, you may also call me sister as I don't have any sisters here and Mark killed my family the day he took me from them."
"Well at least we will never have to deal with the likes of Mark again. He is gone from our lives for good."
We stopped talking as we neared the lodge. Akacheta had apparently picked Round One up from the neighbors lodge and come to look for us when he found both of our sleeping racks empty. Round One was in his arms.
"There you are. Rainbow Trout said you left in such a hurry, dropping Round One with her as if your legs were on fire and now I can see why. Chipmunk, why don't you take Round One and I will take ahold of Eternal Flame and help Flaming Star get her comfortable in her sleeping rack again."
Chipmunk took Round One and Akacheta picked me up and we all headed into Sitting Bear's lodge. Sitting Bear wasn't inside but I knew that he would hear about this little adventure I had taken. Chipmunk sat on the ground next to the fire with Round One cuddled in her arms. She watched as I was lain on the bed and then Flaming Star got about to make me as comfortable as possible. When they were done making her comfortable, they turned back to the fire and heated up some food. After passing it around, they sat down to talk.
"Chipmunk, you also are welcome here whenever you do not have to work with your mother in the fields. Eternal Flame will be in her sleeping rack for some time and it will be good for her to have a friend come and visit."
"And I would like that very much too." I said from my sleeping rack.
"I do have one question for you Eternal Flame. First of all, as a Star, did you ever have to use the bathroom? I mean, cause nobody ever sees you go to the bathroom here."
"No, and even while I was in that hut for the first two weeks the only reason I said I had to use the bathroom was so that I could see the stars. I could point out a few stars for you and tell you who they were and which family they belonged to. Take my family. We belong to the Draco Constellation. That's why there are so many of us in my family. Now my aunt Silver Acorn, her family makes up the big dipper and my uncle Bronze Acorn, his family makes up the little dipper."
"So you all make up these different constellations, but how does that help you when you are looking for your family?"
"The medallion can only help me when I am looking for my family. Not only does it have the capability of making me a star again, but it has a tracker in it."
"But if it has a tracker in it, why don't they know that you are already here?"
"Because the tracker only works when the Shunkte that the medallion was given to is wearing it. If a Shunkte isn't wearing the medallion then the tracker is dormant."
"Oh, well I guess that makes sense. Thank you for dinner Flaming Star. I should be getting back to Snow Dove's lodge. She'll wonder where I am since I was sent to the river to get water and I kind of broke the water pot when I found Eternal Star lying on the ground."
"It is alright Chipmunk. Little Feather saw you helping Flaming Star with Eternal Flame and ran back to the lodge to tell me what was going on. I am giving you permission to stay the night to make sure your friend really is okay. But I expect you to be back at the lodge by midday tomorrow as we have some things we need to do before your father returns from the hunt." Snow Dove said walking into the lodge with Sitting Bear. She had a smile on her face when she saw the two of us talking together.
"Thank you Snow Dove."
"You should be calling Snow Dove mother, not by her given name. I have Eternal Flame calling you Chipmunk instead of your English name."
"It is alright Sitting Bear. I told Chipmunk that she could call me Snow Dove until the adoption ceremony. After the ceremony she must call me mother but until then she can call me by my given name."
"As you wish Snow Dove." Chipmunk had a smile on her face but it fell when she saw my face.
"What is wrong sister?"
"I used to tell Samuel, my brother, everything that was happening in my life and now I am afraid that I will never see him again because I was so curious about Earth."
"But if you hadn't been curious about Earth, you would have never met me, you would have never screamed inside that room in the cabin, the warriors would have never found us and killed Mark, I would have never met Snow Dove and her family, and you would have never met Sitting Bear and learned his daughter was of the Shunkte clan. If you hadn't been curious, you never would have had this experience to tell your family if and when you decide to go home."
"I guess you're right. But it still pains me that Samuel might never see me again."
"You will see your brother again, do not worry Eternal Flame. And when your family does find you here, in this village, maybe they will all come down. With you here, I have often wondered if I had any other family in the heaven's other than my parents that were killed shortly before I fell to Earth. Maybe your family knows of any of my family." Flaming Star said with a small smile on her face.
"It would be nice to see you flying instead of walking. I think you would be a great flier. And who knows, your medallion might just be waiting for you to return to the heavens. But it would ultimately be your decision if you were to stay in the heavens or return to Earth to stay forever with your Indian family."
"I would most definitely want to return to Earth. I couldn't bare it if I couldn't be with my husband and child. They are mortal, and as a Shunkte, we have immortality, is that not true?"
"It is very true. Only from what I understand, any child born to a Shunkte automatically gets the blood of his or her mother or father. They would be immortal as well. You still look like you were in your early teens Flaming Star and that's what it means to be immortal. As a star, we stop growing when we hit our teen years. So though most of my siblings are older than me they still look like they did when they were teens, well at least their late teens."
"That just sounds weird. Why would we never grow out of our late teen years? I still feel myself growing old though not like Sitting Bear here."
"The rule was made after many of the Shunkte clan stopped growing in their late twenty years. Yes we are immortal but thanks to the Great Spirit, most of the kids will never make it to their mid to late twenty's, by looks I mean."
"Hm, that is something that I will have to learn to understand. But now, you must get some rest. Your excursion out today has left you extremely weak and you need to bring your energy back up."
"I know sister, I know."
The talking stopped and Snow Dove left the lodge to head back to her own lodge for the night. Dinner was eaten in silence and then Flaming Star made up a sleeping rack just above Eternal Flame so that the two friends could sleep near each other. Once Chipmunk was in the sleeping rack the rest of the lodge fell asleep rather quickly. It wouldn't be until a week later that any more talk of the Shunkte was brought up. And it would only happen because Flaming Star wanted to know who had visited Chief Thorawaken.
A week later and Eternal Flame was doing much better. She was, with the help of either Flaming Star or Chipmunk, allowed to wander around the village. Though she had to stop every now and then to regain her strength, she started to get to know some of the villagers and learn of who they were. It is said that when a Shunkte learns of the people of Earth from their point of view, it is hard to go back to the heavens that they were born in. She hoped that one day she could go back to her people and live in the heavens once again but with every passing day, it was looking like that life in the heavens was a thing of the past.
Shunkte [SH-unk-tay]: Human Star; the people who are the stars and have the ability to walk among the humans of Earth. They all have a medallion that they wear that allows them to leave Earth if they so wish. If the medallion is taken from them, they are enslaved to the one that has the medallion.
Akacheta: Fighter; actual meaning; actual Native American name.
Eternal Flame: Main character, born a Star she became curious of Earth and ventured down only to be kidnapped by first a mean white man and second Indian warriors. She it taken in by Sitting Bear and his family and eventually comes to love them like her own family.
Elisha/Chipmunk: Eternal Flame's best friend in the story. She was kidnapped first by a mean white man named 'Mark' and second by Indian warriors. She is adopted by Snow Dove and her husband as a daughter and decides to live among the people for the rest of her life.
Mark: The man that kidnapped both Elisha and Eternal Flame. He was killed by Snow Dove's husband when Eternal Flame & Elisha were taken as captives after his cabin was attacked in the middle of the night.
Sitting Bear: The Medicine Man on the tribe Elisha and Eternal Flame are taken captive by. He takes in Eternal Flame knowing that she is Shunkte. He soon learns just how much she knows about his people.
Snow Dove: Elisha/Chipmunk's new mother. She is weary of Eternal Flame at first until she sees what she really is. She lets Chipmunk be friends with Eternal Flame knowing that this is an opportunity that probably will never come again; a blessing in disguise.
Flaming Star: Sitting Bear's daughter who was born a Star. She fell from the sky when she was a very young star and was not given her medallion yet. She becomes a sister to Eternal Flame and they talk constantly about the heavens. She is given a medallion by Eternal Flame's family in the end and has the possibility of showing off her true colors.
Chief Thorawaken: The Chief of the village. He is given Eternal Flame's medallion upon the return of the raiding party. He is visited by Eternal Flame's parents who ask him to keep the medallion from her as long as he deems fit, that their daughter needs to learn to live among the humans for a spell.
Akacheta: Flaming Star's husband. He also was in the raiding party that took Elisha/Chipmunk and Eternal Flame from 'Mark's' cabin. He see's Eternal Flame like a sister just like Flaming Star does.
History Talker: The Storyteller of the village. She knows all history of the people and knows the stories that are told about the Shunkte, both Eternal Flame and Flaming Star's people.
Round One: The song of Flaming Star & Akacheta.
Little Feather: The younger brother of Chipmunk and son to Snow Dove and her husband.
Rainbow Trout: A neighbor of Sitting Bear's lodge who sometimes watches Round One and the other little ones while their parents are doing other things that need to be done. Sort of like an elderly babysitter.
Samuel: Eternal Flame's oldest brother and protector from her siblings. They used to do everything together and she would confide in him whenever she got the chance. They were inseparable. Eternal Flame & Samuel's family makes up the Draco constellation.
Silver Acorn: Eternal Flame's aunt; her family makes up the big dipper constellation.
Bronze Acorn: Eternal Flame's uncle; his family makes up the little dipper constellation.
Celestial Ocean: Eternal Flame's father.
Celestial River: Eternal Flame's mother.
Victory: Eternal Flame's new sister who was born after she left the heavens to explore Earth.