The Shaman’s story…….
Do you know what it is like to wake to invisible voice? There I was sleep-sleep sleeping, curled up with book and blanket – what? You ask how big-big shaman of Third Whisker does not have sleeping partner? Not even for to keep out the chill of stone walls? Ah, that is its own story, for another time — if, as my grandma-ma would say, Tomorrow misses us and I live to tell you tales.
Invisible voice. Spirit: I had spent a good-good day in the graveyards, finding books and shiny-shiny. One such was a large codex with page-page of spells and scripts. So full-full! I wanting to read it there. But old Mir’ Id’ Tus always pull-pull to finish. I find mark for book, so to find my page again. A book-book like this, you needs must have a marker, yes? Ha! Do I pick up nice-nice leaf? Small-small stick-twig? Do I find scrap of grave cloth for to mark the page? No! I to find bone. Dead bone marker for a dead book. Good, yes?
I read a saying once – act in haste, repeat in leisure. Oh, how true-true. Bone speak to me. Invisible voice. Spirit talk. Open my eyes and there’s spirit. A grandpa Kaiu for to speak with Te’Ka’Mok! Honorable, yes. Special, yes-yes. Raise fur on neck and pull tail in close, yes. I scary-scary of the grandpa. He speak and he know my name! My true name.
“Awake chosen of the Nezumi tribe! Awake and hear my story! Awake Te’Ka’Mok” (except he say my full name. Which I not share with the likes of you! Ha. Use name magics on me, powerful shaman healer of the Third Whisker? Unlikely.) I wake and listen. He old dead grandpa. One mucky-muck of Kaiu family. Speak like I servant. Pffft. Like he in front of Emperor or some such. He talk for long-long. I get it right away. Granddaughter fodder for to seal the treaty with Lion’s roar. Help her journey to the marriage bed. Simple. Simple thousand mile journey through forest, over mountain and down bog….. And he still talking!
“Yes! Te’Ka’Mok understand. Yes-yes. Escort, protect, heal, defend to the death. Meet noble Scorpion warrior and brave Lion embass – “
“There is more oh, noble ratling!” The spirit held up his hand. “Seek first for the Temple of Claw. It is a day’s journey south. There you – “
“Day journey for Nezumi legs, or long-long leg samurai? Hmm? And Claw? What claw? Tattered Ear know Lion Clan but Te’Ka’Mok not to suffer their wicked ways.” I gather the blanket about me like granny shawl. Fold my arms like stout ma-ma with silly children.
The spirit’s eyes got wide. “You will heed my words, oh holy shaman, most trusted of the Third Whisker. Do not try my patience!” He wag a finger at me. “You. Will. Go. Tomorrow.”
The next morning I look at bone and bone look back at me. I know it not a dream. I have to go to temple of Claw. Not alone, though! Ha. Old grandpa not say that. I decide to ask old Mir’ Id’ Tus to go. He brave-brave and knows the roadways.
Grandpa right. Day’s journey for fast, road-hungry Nezumi feet! Thanks to smart-smart Mir’ Id’ Tus, we go good, smooth, safe way. All time I thinking what I do there? And why go there? I help maiden, no problem. Spirit ask shaman and shaman say Yes! Maybe special weapon, book, potion at temple? How can Te’Ka’Mok ask for such? Who gives to Nezumi but other Nezumi, yes? I can take-take, sure. Quiet shadow scurry. But what?
Old Mir’ Id’ Tus say that he know temple. Filled with human and half human. Why fore we go? Strong shaman? No, not that he’s heard. Big-big spell? No. Maybe. Who knows? I ask finger bone. No answer. Might as well be just a bone.
We approach the temple at dusk. Tired feet, dusty feet, hungry bellies. I open my mouth to proclaim my holy status to gate guard. I expecting a fight. Why fore a human guard care about holy Nezumi?
“Hail! Human… man (I tried to keep question from voice but humans look alike and with clothes on, I have trouble.) I am holy shaman of Third Whisker tribe. I. Am. Te’Ka’Mok!” I brought my staff down to punctuate my words. To my surprise, he bow low. “We know of you, most holy Nezumi. Enter, you and your companion, and be welcome.”
I, Te’Ka’Mok, was left speechless. Luckily Mir’ Id’ Tus have mind enough to bow and grab my arm. “We will need hot water to bathe. And then to see the abbot. On holy business.” The guard bowed low. “His holiness has requested an audience with you.” I could see old Mir’ Id’ Tus falter. “Oh. Well. Very good. But first we must wash the dust from our feet.” He talk so good. All those years of life in Tattered Ear. My four years with tribe not doing much for my Common speech. Too many old-old scrolls in other language. Te’Ka’Mok speak better in dead tongues than living.
After tea and warm-warm water bath, we go see the abbot. He knows of him, the abbot. Good man. Holy man. Smart man. We enter his rooms. I get two surprises. Surprise one: there be old grandpa. And other – big human in armor. Boy? Girl? Not sure. But why abbot have company? Worried about my weapon prowess? And grandpa? Can abbot see him? I bow low. I have manners, you know.
“Thank you, your holiness for to see us.” And that was the best I could do, yes? Why I here? I don’t know! So I stop there. Nothing to say.
He raised me up with his hands. “Arise daughter. You are most welcome here. You are (and he paused with a smile) among friends.” His eyes moved to the corner where grandpa stood at rigid attention. I relax. I not know why I here, but maybe the abbot does.
I nodded, silent. Hoping that he would talk more. “I know that you are charged with a heavy burden, daughter and I have a gift to offer.” His hand waived to the armor.
“It, um, kinda big for me. But….” I brought my hands together. “Thank you, holy father.”
He chuckled. “She is a body guard for you.”
“Oh. Oh. Thank you, holy father. Do I need….?” I looked hard at grandpa in the corner.
“One never knows what might befall one on the road. And having Gami-Gami with you will, perhaps, keep the wolves at bay.” I could see grandpa nodding all solemn in the corner.
“Good. Yes. Thank you, father. Yes. Um, do I have to feed her? I don’t know much about humans….”
He smiled. “She is Hengeyokai and she will take care of herself.” He peered at her like a stern daddy. In turn, the Hengeyokai bowed at him. I turned to look at grandpa in the corner and he was gone. “OK. Right. We beg, holy father for shelter this night. We leave first thing.”
He nodded. “Indeed. Haste is wise. Your road is long.” He clapped his hands, bowed low and turned to kneel in prayer. We three were dismissed. Yes.