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Wolves of the Comancheria
Star Wolf, our shaman named me Wolf Shadow in my naming ceremony. My parents would not have held the ceremony, except he insisted—saying he had read the signs and I would be a great warrior. The only problem with this was—I was a girl. Girls were not raised to be warriors among the Numumu. However, he was the shaman—the only person in our clan whose voice carried more authority was the chief. After Star Wolf came the most respected of the warriors—my father—Stalking Wolf—who knew that to argue with the Shaman would cause him to lose honor within the clan and his position as war leader. So he did as he was told and stood there as Star Wolf lifted me in his hands, presenting me to the spirits and naming Wolf Shadow and proclaiming I would be a warrior.
The wolf was our totem, which was why every shaman carried the name Star Wolf. No child, other than the one destined to become the Shaman, was ever given a wolf name in their naming ceremony. To be named after the clan totem was an honor that had to be earned. Yet, here I was a girl child, a new born babe—I was to be given a wolf name in my naming ceremony and I was destined to be a warrior.
The winds swirled around my small body and the winter air grew even colder as several clouds blinded the moon from watching, what many in the clan thought to be heresy. Comanche women were strong and our enemies knew that to attack our camps, even if the warriors were not there, was folly. But they were not recognized warriors as I had been named. Even as the clouds covered the moon’s face, the stars remained bright. The brightest was the wolf star—the star of the shaman and of our clan.
~ * ~
When I was old enough to begin toddling after my mother, she took my hand and led me over to my father. “She may be only a girl child, but she was named a warrior by Star Wolf. She is your responsibility now. My father just glared down at me then nodded. He picked me up and carried me outside then whistled sharply. His horse, a tri-colored stallion trotted up and snorted.
“First lesson, ride.” He put me on the horse, stepped back and slapped the horse on the back.
I grabbed for the mane and held as tight as I could. It wasn’t enough. I came off the horse and fell to the ground. My head struck a rock and the last thing I remember was my father laughing.
~ * ~
I woke to find myself on a vast plain. I was no longer a child, but a woman grown and standing in front of me was a shadowy, spirit horse. A pack of spectral wolves surrounded both of us.
“Wolf Shadow, you were named and the wolf’s shadow you will be.”
I continued to stare at the horse, not understanding what was meant.
A silver fog surrounded me concealing the spirits and when it cleared, I was still on the ground, my father no longer laughing. Standing over me was a black horse with a shimmering gold mane and tail. The horse lowered his head and snorted softly in my face, then tapped me gently with his hoof urging me to get up. With some effort I pulled myself up and stood next to the horse. I patted the horse on the neck then stopped as I realized I was still in the body I had worn in the spirit world. No longer a young child, but a woman grown.
“The spirits have called Wolf Shadow to follow the path they have laid out for her,” Star Wolf said. I turned toward him and took a step back against the black horse. Star Wolf was kneeling next to the body of my child self. He looked up, turned toward me and nodded. “Let her be honored as the warrior she will be.”
“She is a child—not a warrior,” my father said. “She has earned no honors.” He took a step toward Star Wolf. “Let her be buried accordingly.”
The black bumped me with his nose and I climbed on his back. Let them argue about the disposition of my previous body, it would not matter. My spirit would not seek vengeance even if proper honors were not made.