The Artifact (Book 2, Time Trilogy)

All Rights Reserved ©

Summary

(MATURE, 18+) When a twist in TIME and one unique artifact causes love to collide... Cherokee Brave, Wahya, mysteriously leaps to the 21st century trying to escape murderous warriors on his tail, colliding smack dab into Morgan, the Collections Manager of the University Archaeology Department. }}}-----> * <-----{{{ The only connection to the brave's sudden appearance almost two-thousand years into the future seems to be a unique stone pendant - an artifact called the Gorget. }}}-----> * <-----{{{ With the help of fellow university staff members, James and Samantha Warner, who series readers will remember from “The Archaeologist,” Morgan must help Wahya navigate life in contemporary America. But will the burning passion that Morgan and Wahya find themselves caught up in get in the way of their ultimate destinies? }}}-----> * <-----{{{ ‘The Artifact’ is independent from its prequel, ‘The Archaeologist,’ though ‘The Archaeologist’ comes first chronologically. ‘The Archaeologist’ follows Samantha and James into Neolithic England, where they must solve a prophetic riddle to guide them 5,000 years back to the 21st century.

Status:
Complete
Chapters:
58
Rating:
5.0 9 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

}}}----> * <----{{{

The Time Trilogy:
~ The Archaeologist [complete]
~ The Artifact [complete]
~ The Time Traveler [work in progress]

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© All Rights Reserved.
This book is copyrighted by Gwen Thames.
Use of any part of this book without express permission from the author is prohibited.

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CHAPTER ONE: RUN, WAHYA

AD 215
The Forest
Eastern Piedmont Region, North America

}}}-----> WAHYA <-----{{{

Adatisvi Wahya’s muscles are taut as he sits on his heels, looking down the arrow of his readied bow. Another brave had signaled like a cawing crow, making the call that a deer had finally been spotted. Wahya calms his mind with steady breaths, his body frozen as he searches for signs of movement. Nothing. Nothing except for his friend, Inoli, who adjusts his own weapon, crouching behind a large tree.

Then, from out of nowhere, an arrow wizzes past Wahya, catching him off guard as it hits the undergrowth behind him. The animal in question was to the north according to the signals. No one should be shooting in this direction, he thinks. But before he can contemplate it further, a harrowing scream rouses the dense forest all around him. Someone’s hurt.

“Run, Wahya,” Inoli calls out, as he locks eyes with his panicked friend. “Haudenosaunee!”

As if answering the question before it could tumble from his lips, a Haudenosaunee battle cry pierces the air. Realization floods Wahya’s mind as his eyes go wide. We must have crossed onto Haudenosaunee land. Now, we are the hunted!

Both Wahya and Inoli leap from their positions, rushing away from whence the enemy tribe’s arrow came. Though he can’t see them, Wahya knows the others in their small band of Tsalagi warriors aren’t far behind.

Reaching the river, Wahya catches himself, digging his bare feet into the soil to prevent himself from propelling forward into the raging waters below. Further upstream, he sees young Aisvi Alisoqualvdi standing bewildered, cornered into the open onto an outcropping over the water.

Two Haudenosaunee braves rush towards Aisvi Alisoqualvdi. Jump, Wahya wills the boy to no avail. Standing like his ferocious animal namesake, the walking bear, fierce and broad for a boy of thirteen, it is apparent that his inexperience is getting the best of him.

Without hesitation, Wahya draws his bow, sending an arrow towards the older braves, whose bodies, painted in camouflaging earth-tones, give them an other-worldly appearance. He watches as his arrow flies, just missing the men intent on reaching the boy. They hesitate, looking in Wahya’s direction, then call out in the familiar language of the Tsalagi. “Over there! It came from over there. After him!”

Their use of his own tribal language confuses Wahya momentarily, for their hair and feathers are without doubt in the Haudenosaunee style. Tsalagi braves would not be dressed so, nor would they hunt their own clansmen. Then, the real concern hits him—he must run. They will be coming for him now.

“Jump, Alisoqualvdi!” Wahya yells, hoping his words carry over the water’s turbulence. But it’s too late. As Wahya begins to turn on his heels, the Haudenosaunee reach poor Alisoqualvdi. With stone knives drawn, the first one grabs hold of the boy, still frozen in fear, and without remorse, stabs him in the belly.

Wahya’s heart wrenches and his gut tightens as he takes off into the woods again. He had known the boy since he was but a baby, and had trained him on the bow when Alisoqualvdi was old enough to learn. In all of his twenty-seven years, Wahya had never witnessed anything so horrific. Death was no stranger to him, but cold-blooded murder was something else altogether.

Several minutes later, he heaves in steady breaths, and his heart thunders in his ears, as sweat drips into his eyes. The muscles in his thighs strain as he pushes onward. The humid woods, full of scrub brush and thickets beneath the towering, lanky pines, provide him with enough cover to evade the men now following not too far behind. Adept at running through woods similar to this all his life, Wahya easily gauges his steps over the unfamiliar terrain. To his dismay, he’s sure the men at his back know how to track prey just as well as he.

His throat is parched, and he knows he can only stop for a moment to take a drink from the small stream he considers crossing. As he leans over the shallow bank, his loose, raven black hair falls over his shoulders. The ends dip in the steady current before he tucks one side behind his ear. Taking in almost as much air as water in his cupped hands, he briefly closes his eyes, sucking in the cool, satisfying liquid.

Sitting still, he allows his eyes to roam the landscape around him, as his mind reviews the situation. No, I am not going to cross here. Instead, I will make it look like I did.

Wahya tramples onto the opposite bank, leaving one purposeful soggy footprint in the dirt. Then, brushing along the undergrowth in a masterful display of exhaustion and complacency, he moves further away from the gurgling stream. He tries to envision the steps the braves in search of him will be taking, as he leaves his false clues behind.

Stopping for a moment to catch his breath in pretense, he leans on a tree, spreading more footprints to be certain it looks like he’d been resting here. Proceeding onward, with more careful footsteps, he continues to leave an intentional trail, gradually picking up his usual stealth and hiding his presence as he moves along. Finally, he lessens the trail until it fades completely, hoping that the deceptive tracks he’s laid out will provide a believable story for the Haudenosaunee braves to follow.

Wanting to avoid leaving any evidence in the brush, he climbs a large tree, climbing out as far as he can in the branches, then jumping several feet away from where he’d climbed up. Picking his way further from his original trail, Wahya eventually backtracks to the stream. It’s difficult, slow work, and he only hopes there’s enough time before the braves catch up. Reaching the stream once more, Wahya descends to the ground and steps into the shallow water, happy to cool his feet. He stands still for a moment, taking in his surroundings and listening to the noises of the woods as he determines which direction he should go next.

The oppressive summer heat feels sticky on Wahya’s bare torso and heaving chest, broad with years of living off the land. Stooping, he splashes his sweat-soaked arms and front with the refreshing water, then rubs his face clean, pushing his waist length hair back. Finally, he washes his aching legs and thighs, ridding his tanned, red-toned skin of dirt up to the hem of his deerskin breechcloth.

Finally, deciding to head south, he follows the stream for a while before making his way back onto dry land, taking care to step lightly and not trample the grass. He feels good about this route, hoping that once the Haudenosaunee braves lose his tracks they will decide that he’s not worth their time and call off the hunt.

Several times after leaving the stream, he stops to listen. Hearing nothing but the birds in the trees, a squirrel foraging, and the ever so slight breeze in the treetops, he continues on. Pushing forward at a fast-paced walk, Wahya wonders what his people did to deserve so much bad luck. It had been almost a year now since the string of misfortunes hit his village with a vengeance, and there seemed to be no reprieve.

He lets out a long sigh, missing the stream for the water he thirsts for now. While he’s used to going long distances, he’s tired. Tired of traveling, and now tired of running away. As he slows to a walk, his frustrations get the better of him. With his eyes trained on the terrain ahead, his mind wanders. His heart pangs—not only for the more immediate loss of Alisoqualvdi at the river, but for the many losses that began this entire mess. His memory floats over his mother, the beautiful Ganohilvsv Woya, who had been one of the first plagued by the sudden sickness that swept through their moderately-sized village. It left Wahya, his father, and his maternal grandmother untouched, save for the sadness the plague had left in its wake. Only a mere twenty-five villagers remained by the end of the wave of illness that had lasted two full moons. Roughly three-quarters of the once thriving village had succumbed to the mysterious disease.

He shakes his head, wondering how they had collectively managed to struggle through this last winter. He knows they had no other choice but to pack up their possessions and start out in the spring to find another Tsalagi village to join with elsewhere. But now, four moons later, the weather has warmed with the beginning of summer, and the entire group has grown weary in both spirit and body. Their goal is to make it to the Big River before the middle of the hot season. Several Tsalagi villages are spread along the waterway, sustained with plentiful resources year-round. But Wahya supposes they must have grown complacent in their journey. How did we find ourselves within Haudenosaunee tribal land unawares?

Wahya’s jaw tightens, as thinks of how the news of Alisoqualvdi’s death will be brought to his poor mother. She had lost her husband with the sickness, and now has lost her only child. At least he died with honor, Wahya tells himself, trying to console his own sadness.

Pushing these disturbing thoughts away, and trying to refocus on the task at hand, Wahya takes a deep breath, centering himself once again. He continues through the brush, conjuring up the essence of his own namesake, the running wolf. His father had taught him to tune into the attributes that make wolves fierce fighters and loyal pack members, and to hone those skills within himself.

His spirits lift to see the setting sun begin to turn the sky above the heavily wooded horizon orange, darkening the woods even more. He repeats the mantra he’s said in his mind throughout the day once more. As the wolf is my guide, the night belongs to me, and when darkness makes others fumble, I use my other senses to find my way.

But now he knows he needs to find a place to hide for the night. Sustenance is the other priority, as thirst and hunger are making him too tired and weak, and more apt to be tracked. Even though he hasn’t caught any sign that they were still after him, or had discovered his deceptive backtracking, he knows he can’t be too careful. He hopes none of the warriors chasing him have a night predator for their animal guide. An owl or even a greedy raccoon could be bad luck for him.

Finishing the mantra, he continues to repeat in his mind, I am Adatlisvi Wahya. I will live up to my namesake, the running wolf, for just a while longer!

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Wahya breathes out heavily, winded and in pain, sucking in air through his teeth as his muscles constrict with the exertion he’d put them through for what seems like countless hours. Finding cover for the night in a hollowed-out embankment where the earth around several large tree roots had eroded, Wahya is left with just enough room to squeeze into. Covering the entrance with branches and brush, he hopes that even in the daylight it will be difficult for the Haudenosaunee to find him tucked into the hollow. In the dark, he knows it will be impossible.

Rest. Now I need to rest. Wahya hopes that the stitch in his side will dissipate soon and his head will clear. Grateful for the opportunity to stop, he quietly nibbles on some berries he’d found nearby when gathering cover for the makeshift shelter, careful to leave no signs that he’d snatched them from the bushes’ thin branches.

After a while, he takes out his travel pouch filled with dried deer meat and tears at the food with his teeth. Sighing with as much contentment as one could have at this moment, Wahya lies back against the cool earth and listens for any noises that do not belong to nature. Fingering the large stone piece fastened around his neck by a leather cord, he reflects back on the day it was given to him for luck by the mysterious traveler who’d passed through their land many, many moons ago.

Trying to keep himself alert, he pulls at the memories. It was easy to conjure up the scene. There he sat outside of his parents’ home around the campfire. I had fifteen years then. It does not seem like so many years have passed. His father had met the stranger coming back from a scouting party and welcomed him back to their fire to rest and fill his belly for a few days until he was ready to continue on his journey. Clutching the rough grained stone tighter in his fist, Wahya imagines the man with strange short hair. He’d been kind, asking him questions and spending time with him fishing and doing chores. Then the question that had always been at the back of his mind surfaces again. Why me? Why did he feel I deserved the stone?

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-- AUTHOR’S NOTE --

Hi Readers! Thanks for reading “The Artifact!” I welcome all comments and constructive feedback! I love interacting with my readers and other authors!

I wanted to note that this story, while fictitious, does include many factual details about the Native American Cherokee (Tsalagi) people and culture (historical and contemporary). All translated words were found via online Cherokee dictionaries, but as I am not a native speaker, I do hope that my translations are accurate. As the story progresses, you will probably pick up on a few words yourself, but I’ll add the ones I use to the bottom of the chapters they first appear in and again if I think you need reminders for those important to the continuing story.

Again, thanks for reading! ~Gwen

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CHEROKEE [TSALAGI] WORDS TO KNOW:
Adatlisvi Wahya = Running Wolf
*goes by Wahya (Wolf) for short

Aisvi Alisoqualvdi = Walking Bear
*the youth that was killed by the Haudenosaunee hunters

Ganohilvsv Woya = Flying Dove
*Wahya’s mother

Haudenosaunee = People of the Longhouse
*This is the original, native name for the tribe who is now referred to as the Iroquois. The name “Iroquois” is a French variant on a term for “snake” given these people by the Hurons. As Wahya lived prior to a European presence in the Americas, he would have referred to the Iroquois by their original name, Haudenosaunee.

Inoli = Badger
*Wahya’s best friend

Tsalagi = Cherokee
*“Cherokee” is the native Creek word for “people of different speech,” and was picked up by European newcomers. “Tsalagi” is the original name for the people contemporarily-known as the Cherokee.

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