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Cave of Sorrows
The Tabeguache tell of their creation by the hand of the Creator on the slopes of the sacred mountain Tava. At the foot of this mountain was the Spirit Garden and a cave that was home to the Manitou of the Wind. All this land and the land surrounding it was home to the Tabeguache. At least it was their home until it was taken from them.
~ * ~
Soaring Eagle stood in the valley at the base of the path leading up to the cave and the home to the Manitou of the Wind. This was as far as any of the Tabeguache were allowed to approach the sacred cave—and only he, as the tribal Poowagudt was allowed into the sacred valley.
Today he was seeking counsel from the Manitou of the Wind, hoping to find a way to protect his people from the coming storm he had seen in his visions. A storm that grew as more and more of the invaders moved deeper into the Tabeguache’s land. Unfortunately, there was only silence from the cave. Soaring Eagle turned to leave.
The Poowagudt looked up to see a young woman standing just outside the sacred valley entrance.
“A large band of Komatchia have been spotted. They are riding with the blue coat cavalry and are painted for war.”
Soaring Eagle nodded. Now he understood why the Manitou had not spoken to him. The storm was already upon them. There was no way to stop it.
~ * ~
“So where are we?” Kelli asked.
“I’m not sure.” Lucas glanced around at the trees and rock walls that surrounded the small canyon they were standing in. “We were supposed to be in Colorado in what was once the United States of America on Earth.”
Kelli frowned. “I know where we were supposed to be you idiot—where are we?”
Lucas shook his head. “I’m not sure, but I think we’re in the right area.” He paused, then pointed to an area to his right. “That looks like an old trail. Let’s check it out.”
Kelli nodded and took the lead as she picked her way through the scrub pine and underbrush.
Lucas followed his partner up the overgrown switchback trail. It led to the rim of the canyon. The area had been abandoned for several centuries. Mankind had spread out among the stars and had all but completely abandoned their home. Now, several groups had come back looking for places where they could settle. Mankind was coming home.
The climb took considerable time. The trail had washed out in places. Lucas was surprised any portion of the path remained, but realized even though they were well below the tree line, damage done to the grasses and soil, by those who once walked this path when humans were still living on Earth, could take millennia to recover. He knew there were places farther up the mountains where wagon ruts would still be part of the landscape well past the time these were finally worn away. “So where are we?” Lucas asked.
“We’re supposed to be in Colorado,” Kelli said, shaking her head.
A soft breeze blew over them and Lucas froze as he let the cool air wrap itself around him. A low moan accompanied it and he laughed as Kelli spun around looking for the source of the sound.
“Looking for ghosts?” he asked.
“This is a wild place,” she said as if that was the only answer that was needed.
“Wild place? Most of the Earth is now a wild place, Kelli.”
“I’m not talking about those places that were the first to be abandoned. I’m talking about a truly wild place. A place where the Earth has reclaimed what once was.”
Lucas shook his head. Kelli had been his partner for several years. He still didn’t understand her. He had always accepted her spiritual side, yet it seemed to be taking over more and more of her thinking.
Wild places, or at least what was commonly thought of as wild places, were the places which had been abandoned first when the population had started dropping and people began leaving Earth. Most of those who had decided to not leave had moved to the larger cities.
Places once crowded became more moderately populated. Those who would have been expected to stay in places like this had been some of the first to go off planet in search of adventure and new lands.
“Probably the wind blowing across the mouth of that cave.” Lucas pointed to a dark area with a stone arch outlining it. He glanced up at the darkening sky.
“Since we don’t appear to be near a remaining city, perhaps we can shelter there for the night,” Kelli said.