The sound of water dripping and the smell of wood smoke rose to meet his nose as the sun peaked thru the entrance of the cave he had chosen to rest in after all his work from last night. With a stretch and a yawn he stepped to the entrance to greet the sun rising and look out over the river and mountains to the East. Thirst and hunger seemed to be the first order of the day as he stood there taking deep breaths of the morning air.
His father Wahnehe had sent him in to the big rivers valley, the locals called it the Tennessee, to check on the movement of Buffalo and inform the local peoples about a family of settlers moving into their territory. More and More of the settlers from Europe seemed to be trying to move into this land to make a life for themselves after the war was won. He had seen this play out before farther North and to the East. The two people with different cultures tried to mix, some adapted and sort of mixed their ways of living off the land and others seemed hell bent on changing not only the land but its people to conform to the old ways they brought from their homelands to here. It never worked. Those that adapted survived. Those that didn’t died from disease, hunger or war.
It was a shame really, he thought as he just continued to look off the mountain at the river snaking by below, green water with a silver shine from the sun, slowly moving past. So much here for everyone, a balance that had been kept by his people long before any humans had stepped foot on this land. He wondered why a people who thought they where smarter than his kind could be so ignorant. He stepped out and figured it was enough thinking on future problems and decided to work on his current problem and that was the hunger that was churning in his stomach.
He knew he could take a deer, maybe some squirrels but he also knew the Creeks hunting camp was just below him and since he needed to speak with them anyway, he might as well take advantage of their hospitality and treat himself to some of their corn mash and deer meat that he could clearly smell coming on the wind with the smoke.
As he slowly made his way down the mountain to the camp that these people had used for generations to prepare for the Buffalo crossing the river near here, he did his usual way of walking into a camp. He paused just out of sight and looked around for a stout limb that had fallen in the early fall storms. He grabbed one that was about the size of his arm, which put it about six feet long and as big around as a human leg. With a strong swing, he smacked the giant red oak in front of him four times with a rhythmic swing.
He stood waiting as the echo faded away and smiled to himself as he heard the rustling in the camp just below him to his announcement of his presence. Of course he really wasn’t asking if he could walk in, after all this was his land and his fathers and his fathers before him. He thought for a minute to how old his Grandfather would be this year, he counted for a minute and thought it was about 640 summers this year. Yeah 640, because his dad just passed 320 summers even though He himself was only 60. Just a kid really, but at 8 feet and over 600 pounds, he was a big kid as he chuckled to himself. After giving those below a few minutes to prepare he made his way into the camp.
“Culsit my friend! Just in time to eat as usual!” The young hunter, whom he had known since he watched him come into this world twenty winters ago, ran up and greeted him.
“Swimming Duck! You runt, how are you little friend?” Culsit grinned.
“Good! We are just waiting on the Buffalo to come and start crossing.”
“Well, maybe another few days and they should be here. I passed them on my way down from Kentucky. Its a strong herd this fall, it looks like you will be able to feed yourselves for a long time.” Culsit replied as he sat down by the main fire and waited to eat.
“Well, with you coming and eating all our food in one sitting, I hope so!” Swimming Duck said with a laugh as he settled down next to Culsit to eat.
Culsit thought how strange it was that these people showed little fear of him and most counted him as a friend while a lot of the settlers that where moving in, thought of him as a monster and shot at him every chance they got. It actually made him chuckle, like they had a chance to hit him when they only saw him when he wanted them to. If they knew how many times he had crawled to within just feet of them while they worked to clear trees, they would realize he meant no harm and frankly would gladly help them survive in this new land. Oh well maybe with time they would come to see his people as harmless to them and actually stop trying to kill them.
“What brings you down to see us Culsit?” Duck asked as they ate.
“I’ve been sent to watch over a settler family that has plans to settle on the mountain above us to protect them because someone that will come from their line will have a lot to do in the future.” Culsit said between bites.
“You know, that might be a problem if they just take some of our land near our hunting grounds right?” Others around the fire mumbled about how they wouldn’t allow that to happen.
Culsit stopped eating and sat the bowl down and stood up.
“Listen, and listen carefully.” He said as he slowly looked down on all the men gathered around the fire with him. “You live here because my people allowed you to move here a long time ago. Don’t forget this. The same as we showed you kindness and the ways of the land in this area, you will do the same with this family. I will mark the boundaries of the land my Father has granted them with our usual tree falls and broken tree boundary marks. You will respect it or our friendship will not be on good standing if you don’t.” He finished in a calm voice all the while scanning from man to man to make sure they understood the importance of what he said.
“This family your father favors, you say someone comes from their line that is a great man, why? Why should we care when we have problems of our own right now, not in the future? The settlers to the North have already killed almost all the Elk off and the Buffalo herds get smaller and smaller every winter.” Duck replied.
Culsit sat back down and picked up his bowl again. He thought a minute before he decided how to answer. These men where his friends and he needed them to understand how important this was.
“Look Duck, I see what you are saying but you know my people see and know things that others don’t right?”
“Of course Culsit, there’s no denying that.” Duck said in earnest.
“Well, the warriors that will come from these people carries the warriors spirit from the GrandFather himself. One that will come will help put an end to the Ulunsutti forever.”
“This great warrior that is coming will actually defeat the snake people?” Everyone basically said at the same time around the fire.
“Yes, he will, not easily but he will with my help of course!” Culsit said with a laugh.
“How?” Duck asked.
“Duck, do your people know my ways? Can you move in the forest and night like I can?” Culsit asked in all seriousness.
“Well, no, how could we.”
“He will Duck! He will not only have the ability but he will be the only human we ever let truly learn from us and walk among us with respect and fear. Before you ask why, it is because of the gift that Grandfather is going to give him that will allow him to truly move like us. Think like us.” Culsit answered.
“When, will I have enough summers to see him?” Duck asked with excitement.
“No Duck you won’t but your descendants will. He will be the only human I call brother.”
“Brother! A real brother! I can’t believe it.” Duck exclaimed along with the others sitting around.
“Its the truth, until then help this family. You’ll find they learn quick and will be good friends to your people, but mark my words. A worse enemy you couldn’t have. They fought alongside my father to free this land from the Redcoats. Don’t think they don’t know how to survive.” Culsit answered. As he looked at all the warriors seated around the fire, he knew they all understood what he was trying to say and that they would indeed spread the work quickly. His job here was finished.
“I knew you would understand, spread the word, and welcome them in the spring.” Culsit said as he stood and placed the bowl near the fire.
“Off already my friend?” Duck asked.
“Yeah, I think I will slip down to the river and have a dip before it get to cold for even me.” Culsit said with a grin as he started walking into the trees again.
“I hope so! It was hard to eat with that wet dog smell siting right next to me.” Duck called after him.
Culsit just growled and within a few steps melted into the forest without a trace.