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Rated: E · Short Story · Drama · #2225235
A father tells his son a story of how the Horse Speakers and Wolf Speakers became enemies.
Earlier that morning our band decamped and after walking north and west, then at midday we stopped to raise our tents. My father told me to mount my horse and ride with him. We traveled up to the crest of a hill, and that’s when we saw the mighty Kilmay Rī, and the Thornwood that stood between us and the ice-capped mountains.

“You must never come close to the Thornwood, never!” he said sternly.

“Why?” I asked. “What lies in the Thornwood?”

“The Thornwood is where the protection of the Black Horse ends, and the realm of the White Wolf’s begins. You must never go there, Naras, do you understand?”

I urged my horse forward a few steps. “Are there people there?” I asked.

“Not now that I know of, but there is another tribe that lives past the Thornwood in the mountains. They do not live in the Thornwood, but often they pass through it. If you see them, do not go forward and greet them. If they come close to you, string your arrow and shoot them. You are not to speak with them. Their shamans twist a dark smoke against us, this is why you must avoid them when you can, and kill them when you must.”

I turned back and faced him. “What tribe are they?”

“They call themselves the Wolf Speakers,” he answered.

“If they twist the black smoke against us, they must hate us. Why do they hate us, Father?”

He turned his horse back. “Let us return to our kinsfolk, and I will tell you.”

As we slowly approached the camp, he told me the story. “Many, many years ago, their ancestors and ours went to war against each other. They settled south and west of Salmon Speaker Country, in the lowlands just at the edge of the Central Plateau. They settled in the plains next to the rivers, and a few went even further west beyond that. Thus they entered our lands, and so we attacked them to drive them out.

“The war we fought was short, but hard, and many warriors on both sides returned to the Turħatūman. Our ancestors mastered the plains, which they could not win, but they mastered the rivers with their war canoes, which we could not fight. But some of the ones who had settled in the plains to the south were cut off from their kinsfolk and could not rejoin them. We gave chase to them on our horses, and we cut many of them down, but a few escaped and evaded us. They traveled during the night without any torches, and they hid during the day in some of the grassy pockets that lie concealed in the Plateau. Thus we did not see them, and we could not find them, and so they continued their flight this way until they reached the Thornwood. When they entered the Thornwood, that is when their shamans twisted their smoke against us, and the trees grew thick and sprouted thorns and spikes. They did this so that our horses could not enter, and from this barrier they made for themselves, they could enter and hide and shoot us with their arrows and cut us down with their swords. And when the war ended, they continued west, into the snowy country of the Kilmay Rī.

“This is why we do not enter the Thornwood.”

We continued in silence, but every now and then I would turn my head back and look at the hill that blocked our view of the Thornwood. Then I asked him:

“You said they settled past Salmon Speaker Country. Were they enemies of the Salmon Speakers too?”

My father looked at me gravely. “My son, the Salmon Speakers and the Wolf Speakers are of one blood, and one heart. They are brothers to each other.”
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