The boy sat by the edge of the river, gently poking at the small fish near the shore with a stick. His mother was nearby, keeping a watchful eye on him. That did not concern the boy at all, because his attention was elsewhere. He watched the young woman as she talked among the fishers.
She was tall, and wore an old-tattered black wolf pelt over her right shoulder. The boy did not know what exactly they were talking about, but she fascinated him. There was something about her that drew the attention of others.
As a boy of only four, he didn’t really understand why she drew his attention, and he certainly did not have the vocabulary to put his questions in the worlds, so he just watched and tried his best to understand.
He watched the woman turn away from the fishers, and make her way up the river bank towards where the boy was sitting. He felt very excited as she drew closer, and started to squirm in anticipation. He rose to his feet to meet her, and she smiled at him and pat him on the head.
“Where are you going in such a hurry?” The wolf woman smiled down at him. He couldn’t help but return the smile in turn.
“To see you.” The boy said, with a huge smile on his face, and he reached his arms up towards her. The wolf woman turned towards the boy’s mother, and she nodded her approval.
The young woman swept the boy up into her arms, and spun him around. He laughed the whole time, and he imagined he was flying just like the Bird People.
When she finally set him back down, he was struggling to catch his breath. His laughter had taken all the wind from his lungs.
The wolf woman continued to smile down at him, and he looked back up at her.
“Can I be a hunter too?” The boy asked. The wolf woman flashed a smile at him, but as she looked down at the boy her smile grew cold.
While the boy could not see it, one of the Shadow people had appeared by her side.
“His ancestors are already calling him home. He will leave this world come the next winter.” The Shadow said.
The wolf woman continued the conversation in her mind.
“No! You cannot take him. We have lost too many of the young already.” The wolf woman said.
“I wish I could help you, but this has already been decided. There is much more he can do with ancestors of your people. There is little I can do to change that.” The Shadow said.
“But he is so young.” The woman protested.
“That cannot be helped. For what little comfort I can offer, know that he will be a great man in another world.” The Shadow said, and then turned and vanished.
“Why are you sad?” The boy asked. The woman panicked for a moment, and then reached up to touch her check. Her hand was wet when she pulled it away.
“I am not sad! I am happy that you are so beautiful in the sun!” The woman said. She had lied, and she knew it.
The boy didn’t know it though, and he beamed with pride.
“Momma, I am bu..tiuful.” The boy struggled to say the long word. Both of the older women laughed.
“Would you like to hear a story, little one?” The wolf woman said. She had learned many stories over the years, as many as her father could teach her.
She had learned more from the People.
“Yes!” The little boy beamed, as he sat down by the river, and the woman sat next to him.
“Do you know where the fish come from?” The woman said. She chuckled as the boy’s eyebrows wrinkled as he tried to figure it out.
“From the water!” The boy exclaimed,
“Yes, but where do the waters come from?” The woman said. She hoped he would get this one too.
“Ummm. From the ground?” The boy said. She knew that some of it did, but it wasn’t the answer she wanted.
“Where does the rain come from?” The woman asked. The boy caught on immediately.
“From the sky!” The boy continued to beam. The woman thought he was a smart little boy. She was pained by the sadness in her heart, knowing that this boy would not grow to ask all the questions that filled his young mind.
At least, not in this world.
“That is right, the water comes from the sky. In days long past, the world was hot and not a good place to live for anyone except the Fire People.
As others wanted to live here too, they had to find a way to cool the world. That is why the Water People came down from the sky. They came in great numbers, and fell like sheets on the hot world. This made the Fire People a little unhappy, and so they went underground to escape the rain.
But the world was cooled all the same, and the air and the earth formed up as the Water People came down upon the world. So many of the Water People came to the world that they covered most of it. The came down from the mountains in mighty rivers, and made their way all the way to the Great Waters.” The woman said.
“Fish! Look a fish!” The boy said, having turned his attention to the river. The woman smiled.
“That’s right. The Water People loved the Fish People, and they decided to give them a home in all the waters. That is why there are fish in the water.” The woman said.
This is another short one, as I really wasn’t sure where to go with this one. It is another version of the origin story that I first created at the beginning of this series. More than that though, it is also a story of otherworldly things, and the concept of Death, here represented by some formless Shadow person. In truth in my animistic worldview death can be a pretty complicated thing. I have touched upon this a little in my piece here.
In addition, it is also a continuation of my last story. The wolf woman is the young girl in the last story, and she now wears the tattered Old Wolf fur. She is still young in this story, but has already gained a reputation among her people. In no small way, she is the shamaness in this tale, the story-teller. I felt it was fitting since I drew upon the Mal’ta-Buryet Culture for my last story, and since that is the rightful place of the Mal’ta boy, I felt it was fitting to continue that arc.
All that being said, I think I will take this story in a little bit of a different direction as we move on in this series. One thing I don’t want it to become is just a rehash of the same kind of story line over and over again. Though, I am not sure quite how I will do that just yet.
Thanks for reading!