uilfr and Jacintha had been of the intention to go to Tobe for six weeks. He had sold his business to yet another Viking who had come to him in the night and spoke words of confirmation to him about the need of his profession at one of Arne Brynjolfs descendants on the Mountain of Golden Clouds.
By daybreak him and Jacintha were packed, the transaction had been made, and they stepped out on the streets of Los Angeles at first light. With them were four men and ten women. The ladies rode the horses at the rear, four of them riding with a child, with two of the men riding guard.
All the others were leading pack horses, all laden with supplies, weapons, items of trade, salt and some of the art by Golden Eagle. But the most precious item they had was in the head of Liulfr.
Within two weeks they were now on the mountain, the last leg of their journey. As of ten am, by the manner in which the white man knew the increments of day, the pace had been doubled. The party had stopped to have meat, pulling off the roadside by a hundred yards or so. The trip had been very leisurable up to this point.
Whilst eating, Liulfr suddenly sat perfectly erect and stated, "it just happened."
He was amazed at the timing, knowing the elders would be speaking with Tobe this evening. They would be at camp with Tobe and his family by sunup or close by on the morrow. Liulfrs' work would just be starting.
Few people knew about Liulfr. He was a master apothecary, and was a physician at trade. And, he was a master of the art of war; defense, offense, as well as strategy, and he would be Tobe's General. The other men were mercenaries, each skilled in fighting as well. They made up the bulk of the small army Tobe was to lead. At that point he was not even aware of the ready-made army nearly to him.
Two of the women were Liulfr's own wives; Jacintha and the second of his wives, Aldis. Two of the women each were wives of the remainder of the men. The troupe was quite large for the day having some thirty pack mules besides the horses ridden by the women. But it was needful that the group move their lodging to the place in which Tobe would become the leader.
The man who had come to Liulfr in the night spoke words of confirmation that no person knew save Liulfr. There would be a plenty of reinforcements with which to grow his army when needed. The battle would not engage for a little under a half year, but it would be one of ultimate importance.
The air was getting thinner and the horses were slowing a bit. But Liulfr did not worry, as he doubted not that they would be on time according unto the way the ancestors of Tobe were assembling the battle array.
Back in their hut, by this time Tobe is delirious with the heat of the infection, and he would come close to death. The ancestors still had somewhat to say to him, and he was not going to like what he was to be told. But, Tobe's integrity leaned toward the way of right versus wrong within a world as wicked as they come.
More and more battles between the whites and the Native Indians were being fought. But the Natives had little training in the type of warfare and weapons of the modern Cavalry.
Thousands of Indians were dying within these wars. In his subconscious state, he was suddenly carried away and was on the plains and standing behind a rock embuttment as the thunder of a million hooves rushed by in a mad cascade of black. Untold power was carried along as if being chased by some unseen predator, the dust roiling from their hooves.
Not familiar with the sounds of explosive weapons of this type, he was having a hard time trying to decipher what the sounds of thunder could be. He heard it time and again, it's sound echoing off the distant hills. Report after report in an endless chorale of thundering booms, each echoing off the hills.
He saw animal after animal fall from the perimeter of the huge sea of black mass trampling wide spreads of prairie grass. Why would that many animals be falling? He could well understand one, maybe two, but five hundred? A chill shook him as he saw a string of riders following the trail of the buffalo. They were shooting with huge bore fifty caliber rifles, bringing the buffalo down in record numbers.
Tobe rushed out to stop the men from the senseless and brutal killing of the animals. The buffalo were being left lying in the wake of their onslaught. He was screaming to stop, but they would not even turn in his direction. He saw a rider coming up and he stepped into the path of the charging horse to convince him to stop.
But the rider had no intention of stopping, and pulled his horse to the right to miss Tobe. Tobe jumped at the horse in a failed attempt to drag the rider from the horse. Another shot, another buffalo. Again and again and again. Then the riders were beyond him, still shooting . . . shooting . . . shooting . . .
The downed animals were not attended to; just left to ruin. Later there would be those who would skin the animals, again leaving the remains to rot, then the year following, after nothing but the skeletons were left, they would come again with wagons to gather the bones They would be stacked in mountainous piles, then loaded onto trains and shipped off to be used for the white mans' gain.
Tobe just stood staring at the wanton waste of the buffalo, some not dead as of yet, some still kicking in their last throes of death. As far as he could see in both directions, was a wide trail of dead buffalo. This must be accounted for. This must be stopped. These men must answer to the charges of slaughter of an untold number of the animal which meant survival to the Native Indian.
The thought struck home like the sharpest of dagger in Tobes' heart. He came away from there seeing an end to the vast oceans of buffalo that roamed this land. That which he had seen with his own eyes just a few years before. He had heard of the magnitude of numbers of these animals, the largest part of the realization not even comprehendable without a first hand experience.
But the thing that hurt him the worst was the one thought that was ringing over and over in his mind. "Control the food, you'll have control of the people." He could not even recall where he had heard that. But it caused the realization of what was really happening to come clear in his mind. No army could live without food.
Tobe worried this cause in his mind like a dog worries a bone. Several times he shouted out about the killing. Golden Eagle and Little Deer were becoming increasingly apprehensive over his delirium, of his physical downward trend. A little after sunrise in the morning, Golden Eagle suddenly stood up, listening, casting her head in numerous directions.
She walked outside and continued the same thing. Little Deer had come out and was listening as well. She spoke to Golden Eagle, "they've missed the turn. I'll go catch them."
Golden Eagle shook her head in confirmation and went back into the hut. Little Deer had bridled her horse and cut across the mountain to the east. She hoped to catch them before they entered the narrow path that went to the valley. It was extremely hard to turn a horse around, much less a loaded pack mule; and a train of loaded pack mules even more. Hopefully she would lead them back to the hut within the hour.
Tobe was sitting up when Golden Eagle entered the room. He was sitting there with eyes wide open, staring as if in shock. While he was up, she put some more medicine in him. He asked, "are they here?"
"They will be here within the hour" Golden Eagle responded wondering how he knew that since he'd been so mentally out of it all.
Tobe laid back down, and promptly drifted back into semi-consciosness. Within a couple of minutes he was yelling at this little village of his ancestors to "leave, the cavalry is coming to kill you. He could not get them to respond and heard the first thunderous reports of a small cannon named the Hotchkiss gun.
Then he heard the hooves of the horses, the hoots, the yells, the screams of the Cavalry as well as the Indians as the cavalry rode through the camps of previously disarmed Indians, shooting as fast as they could aim and pull the trigger.
Only at that scene for less than a minute, he was whisked to the final scene before he was roused from his delirium. The ancestors meant to make a lasting impression on him and they knew how to do it. At another massacre which happened before he was born, he saw the useless struggle of another Indian camp.
It was there he saw a face he remembered clearly and loved, as she struggled to get off the fire onto which she had so brutally been knocked. Finally she gained her footing, stood up straight with her back toward Tobe. Before limping away, she half turned and looked Tobe in the eye. It was his own mother at the time of disfigurement when her entire village had been killed.
In her eyes was confusion, pain, suffering which lingered for the rest of her life; questions as to why, how could people do this to another people, merciless killing of young and old, gender no difference.
Chills walked up his spine as he remembered her words speaking of the slaughter of thousands of innocent people, his ancestors . . . his people . . . .
A wave of men would ride through shooting, slashing with their sabres, firing their pistols until empty while another wave prepared, then they too, would barrel through the camp, now killing those trying to help the wounded. Now reloaded, the first wave would ride through the camp again. They did this again and again, wave after wave. Many Indians were down, some were trying to fight with a knife. One had caught the horse coming at him in the throat feeling the spray of blood as the jugular was cut with his knife slashing it deeply.
The horse stumbled instantly throwing the rider. The brave was on him and had stabbed him a couple of times, then was blasted forward as a .50 caliber buffalo gun tore through his back blowing the bulk of his heart out the front through the massive hole in his chest.
He saw the useless killing of a once peaceful people, witnessed it firsthand. It tore his heart from his chest to see his people, his ancestors, his blood massacred in such a brutal fashion. He had barely gotten a view of the place when he was again carried to another scene. This one was at a place called Wounded Knee.
Tobe looked around at the camp, he saw Indians lying all over in all kinds of positions, left to rot where they fell like the buffalo. He would not recognize the scene because it was a year in the future. But he had heard of a Lacota Indian chief by the name of Bigfoot. The last scene he saw was the chief frozen in the snow.
He was sickened by the sight. Some of the village of people had been herded into a boxed draw with the cavalry sitting on horses firing into the group. He saw them fall in the snow. He saw the soldiers laughing at the sight and started to attack one on the horse closest to him. The man turned and looked straight at him with a snarl of a grin, and it was one he had seen before.
He was looking right into the eyes of none else than Tom Ramsey. Now, he wore the uniform of Captain, with dragoon and a sword which was bloody along with his hands. Tobe was confused as to how a Captain gets bloody sitting astride of his horse. Tom looked down at his side and there hung a scalp, the scalp of the Indian who was shot in the back while trying to kill the soldier.
It was Tom Ramsey who had shot him, then dismounted and took the scalp. Tobe then looked around and saw soldiers walking through the camp. One tepee was still standing, and heard a woman scream when a man walked in on her. He could hear the sounds of the slaps, the laugh and the ugly grunts of the man as he fulfilled his animalistic desires, then saw him walking out buckling the belt of his trousers. The woman would scream no more. Again, it was Tom Ramsey.
Tobe began to retch, and heard voices with whom he was familiar. Golden Eagles voice came from somewhere out in the grey mist in which he floated. Then he heard another voice; it was the voice of Liulfr. Liulfr was kneeling beside him and on the other side Jacintha was removing his blood and sweat soaked bandages, then pulling stuff from a bag and applying it to his wounds with new bandages.
Out again. He was feeling the effort of wanting, trying to go to Golden Eagle, but one of his ancestors said, "at the place of the man in the mountain is where you'll fight the Captain . . ." Suddenly, he was in the room with his family. Liulfr and Jacintha, Golden Eagle, Little Deer . . . his family.
Liulfr held a bottle out to Tobe and sternly said "drink this, you're going to need it. Drink it all and keep it down. You've got to have it to give you the strength to right the wrongs you've just witnessed."
Tobe upped the bottle and drank the entirety of it in one gulp. He made an ugly face, fought through the involuntary urges to retch, then lay back. Within a couple of minutes he was out.
Liulfr was working on him at a furious pace, Jacintha by his side administering the bandages, washing and cleansing his wounds with a wicked smelling liquid she called alcohol, Golden Eagle watched for a few moments and decided to get some fresh air and see about the children and speak with Little Deer.
"Did you see Loping Wolf last night?" she said as she came up on her sitting in the shade by the pool where Tobe had saved her life twice.
"Yes, I saw him. He was speaking to Tobe, and told him he would live, but he only had one more chance in which to prove himself. If he didn't get it right this next time, he would die in the midst of that battle and it would not be death of a hero."
"Do you know what it all means?" asked Golden Eagle.
"Not all of it, but enough to know he's been chosen to lead an army in a great battle for his people."
"You reported that he would live. Is there anything else of which I should be told?" she inquired.
"There is another infection setting up in the leg that was so severely damaged from the bear attack. He limps on it but is still able to walk on it. But at least he can walk. If Liulfr can not stop that infection, he will have to remove the leg from just below the knee."
Golden Eagle sat feeling the weight and the dread on her shoulders. The feeling of dread encompassed a full circle of emotions; joy, sadness, satisfaction, depression sorrow. . . From the depths of her heart came a question that she had no idea of its origins; "who are his people?"
Tobe himself was not a pure bloodline. Neither was she. But their parents had been until they married the spouse to whom they'd sired Tobe and herself. Again the question rang in her mind: "Who are his people?" The answer eluded her and perhaps she could pose the question to Liulfr. At the moment though, all that mattered to her was the health of Tobe.
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