The Artifact (Book 2, Time Trilogy) (EDITING)

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Chapter Forty-Eight: The Medicine Woman

July 2023
Richmond City University
Richmond City, Virginia

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

Wahya was unnerved. The gorget hadn’t prevented the time warp from happening, as he and Morgan thought it would. And this time, not only was the pain excruciating, but his energy had been drained so badly that he’d actually passed out. He couldn’t remember ever passing out in his entire life, and this disturbs him greatly.

Thankful to the Great Spirit that Morgan had come just as he was collapsing, he’d also been relieved to see his new friend, James, upon opening his eyes again. Even Emory seemed changed, and any animosity that the previously smug man held before seems to have disappeared.

By the time the three of them got him to Morgan’s car, he knew just how serious this incident had been in their eyes. Once they arrived at their destination a short way from the Anthropology building, it didn’t take him long to realize that the office, decorated similarly to the lounge he’d waited in when he met James that first day, belonged to a healer of some kind. He’d wondered before if there were healers or shamans in this time. If it had been Morgan to appear in his time, he surely would have sought out the advice of his shaman immediately. Now that they’re here though, he’s a bit surprised Morgan hadn’t brought him before today. The medicine woman’s practice isn’t very far away from the lab. Perhaps she had been traveling and was not available until now, he thinks.

The medicine woman—Tracie—spoke with the other three for several minutes, as she visually took him in. It was apparent that they were seeking her advice. She should know more about talking with the spirits, Wahya reasons, so perhaps can tell them what’s happening. At least he hopes so, for he isn’t sure he can take another time warp like that again.

As the medicine woman directs him to her ceremony room, she motions for him to sit on the cushioned table in the very chilly, windowless room. Wahya does so without hesitation, noting the unusual, but colorful images showcasing interior parts of the body arranged on the four walls. Like his shaman’s ceremonial space, there is a distinct odor, slightly pungent, but nothing like the fragrant sage and herbs used in the medicinal rituals of his people.

The healer motions for him to remove his shirt, which he does, realizing that while she speaks Morgan’s language, there’s something familiar about her, though he can’t quite place it. Knowing not to question the methods of a shaman or medicine-man or -woman, Wahya watches with curiosity as the doctor presses the shiny silver end of her stethoscope to his chest, then he follows her visually aided instructions to breathe deeply. She does the same on his upper back, briefly touching the healing wound on his shoulder blade with her latex-gloved forefinger. It doesn’t hurt anymore, and when he doesn’t wince, she moves along. Using another instrument, she briefly shines an extremely bright light into his eyes, ears, and mouth. Seemingly satisfied with whatever she sees, she takes a small hammer and taps both his knees in turn. To Wahya’s surprise, this prompts his legs to unconsciously kick out in response, and an amazed smile forms on his lips.

Wahya is further mystified as the cuff from the blood pressure monitor squeezes his bicep, and he wishes he could ask her questions about her tools, even if it might be disrespectful in light of her powerful position and work with the spirits. Finally, she directs him to lay down on the table. Motioning to her own stomach, he understands that she’s going to inspect the area that’s ailed him. He nods, remaining silent as she tests various areas of his abdomen.

She watches his face for signs of discomfort. Feeling awkward about not being able to tell her how he feels or what happened, he finally tells her in Tsalagi, “No, it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

At his words, Dr. Fischer pauses, studying him momentarily, her brows crease as though he’d said something wrong, and Wahya wonders if he wasn’t supposed to speak while she works her medicine. But then she smiles gently and he relaxes again. She probably just hadn’t understood his language and he’s not in trouble for speaking after all. Helping him to sit again, the doctor begins reexamining the large shoulder blade wound from his escape from the Haudenosaunee braves. The sizable gash has since scabbed, along with the others.

She speaks again in Morgan’s language, as she notes the other, much smaller and even more healed cuts and bruises on his arms and torso. When she goes silent again, he decides to tell her about the wounds, figuring it wouldn’t hurt, even if she couldn’t understand him. “They are from a fight. I was outnumbered, so I jumped over a cliff and into some trees to escape. I scraped myself up on the branches.”

The medicine woman’s eyes go wide and she moves to stand in front of him. She looks him in the eye with consternation before putting her hands on her hips. “What did you just say?” she demands in English. Not knowing her words, he doesn’t reply, and she shakes her head, muttering to herself, “Wahya... Wolf! Adatlisvi? No… it can’t be!”

If Wahya thought the medicine woman seemed surprised when he spoke, it’s nothing compared to how surprised he is at her next words. In stilted Cherokee, the doctor asks, “Tsalagis hiwonisgi?”

Wahya sits up straighter, his blinking eyes even larger than hers. His heart races at the prospect. Could she really speak his language? Yet, he thinks, she is a medicine woman after all.

“Yes!” Wahya replies with more confidence. “I am of the Tsalagi People!”

Reverting to English, Tracie exclaims with further surprise. “Oh my God! What are you doing speaking Cherokee if you’re from Columbia?” Then, shaking her head, she returns to Wahya’s language with slow words. “Where are you from?”

Wahya swallows heavily. She truly does know his language, and not just vocabulary words. She’s spoken two sentences. Wahya pauses to focus his mind. It’s strange to be able to talk freely in his own tongue after almost a week of hearing nothing but English. Easing back into his native tongue, he explains. “My people were from the west, but a great sickness came and took many from my village. When winter ended, those of us who remained decided to move eastward to find another Tsalagi village to join with.”

The doctor’s face is wrought with concentration as she seems to be having difficulty putting all of Wahya’s words together. She interrupts in Tsalagi, “Slow down. I not speak the words good. I am Tsalagi also. I do not lived near the People for many years and not speak it much.”

A wave of hope surges through Wahya, and he can’t help the large smile that erupts with his joy. He wets his lips, sucking in air as tears threaten to form and his hands begin to shake. Tracie’s own smile grounds him as the familiarity of the language reminds him of home and family.

The doctor issues a lighthearted laugh before continuing in her slow Cherokee tongue. “You not speak English or Spanish?”

Wahya looks confused. He never learned the word for Morgan’s language, and doesn’t know what Spanish is at all. “No, I do not know those. But I can speak Algonquin and a little Haudenosaunee.”

Now it’s Tracie’s turn to be confused and she presses, “What country do you live?”

Wahya shakes his head in confusion, unsure of what a ‘country’ is.

Trying to reword the complicated question in Tsalagi, the doctor says, “This is the United States. Do you come from the United States?”

Again, Wahya doesn’t know what she’s asking, knowing only tribal lands and confederacies. He shakes his head with uncertainty.

He can tell she’s thinking hard on her words before speaking again, puzzlement filling her expression and readable through her shifting body language. Changing directions, she asks about his medical problem instead. “Your friends say you have bad pain in stomach and…” she struggles for the words, “fell asleep?”

“Yes,” Wahya confirms with a heavy nod. Hoping she can answer all his questions, he explains, “The pain in my stomach was very bad, but it is gone now. It is from a ‘time warp.’” He says the English words hoping they mean something to the medicine woman.

“‘Time warp?’ What this mean?” Tracies manages to get out.

Wahya describes the electricity and storm from the cliffside as best he can. Tracie’s apparent confusion throughout his tale is written all over her face, but soon changes as irritation and even anger clouds her features by the end. In English she exclaims, “Is this a joke? Who put you up to this?”

Wahya doesn’t understand her change in attitude, nor her words. With a sinking stomach, he simply sits still, wondering what went wrong when things were going so well. Worried that he did something, he finally asks, “What is wrong?”

With her lips pursed in anger, Tracie snaps back in Cherokee. “Stop. Tell me truth. No laugh.”

Wahya frowns, why would she think he wasn’t being honest? “I am telling you the truth, Medicine Woman. I have no reason to lie.” She doesn’t answer. So, he continues, needing to get everything off his chest now that he has a true outlet by which someone can understand him. “Five days ago I somehow traveled to your world through the wall in the place Morgan calls the ‘lab.’ My friends out there believe that I have traveled over one thousand years to your time. I am not sure how it happened, but I was being chased by Haudenosaunee braves because we were hunting on their land by mistake. I was separated from the rest and had to jump off a cliff to escape. That is how I got these wounds. But when I rolled down the hill, I appeared here. I met Morgan first, and then James and Emory. And I know Samantha, too. Morgan has let me stay at her dwelling for now, but I want to be able to go home to my people. Please, can you help me?”

Tracie doesn’t understand all of his words, but understands enough, her angry frown deepening. Tossing him his shirt, she curtly replies in Tsalagi, “Come. We are going to talk.”

Wahya jumps off the table, hurriedly pulling on his shirt as he follows behind the speedy doctor to the waiting room where Morgan, James, and Emory sit. Angrily grabbing the remote from the counter, Tracie turns off the screen and whirls around to face Wahya’s three wide-eyed friends. “I don’t know what kind of stunt this is, or why you would do such a thing, but you’re going to spill the beans. Otherwise, I call security and the Dean of the Anthropology Department.”

The trio looks at Wahya in bewilderment as he finishes pulling down his shirt, standing in front of the counter, his embarrassment and confusion creating knots in his stomach. He doesn’t know what he said wrong, but he once again feels left out now that the doctor is speaking English to the others. Worried, he’s sure he’s in trouble.

}}}-----> MORGAN <-----{{{

“What is this?” Dr. Fischer scowls at the three people in her waiting room.

“Is he okay?” Morgan is the first to speak.

“I don’t see anything wrong with him,” she replies irritably. “But your little Cherokee prank is a bit over the top.” Tracie looks at each one in turn, waiting for someone to fess up.

After a long moment, James finally starts. “Um, Dr. Fischer, I promise we’re not playing a prank. Our friend here just had an episode and we wanted to make sure that he’s okay. I swear.”

“Wait,” Emory interjects. “Did you say Cherokee prank?”

Everyone looks at him, and both Morgan and James glance at one another, realizing what the doctor had just said. No one had mentioned anything about Wahya being Cherokee. The three of them turn back to Tracie, waiting for her to respond to Emory’s question.

“Yes,” she retorts. “He speaks fluent Cherokee and swears he speaks no English or Spanish—only Algonquin and some Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois. That’s impossible nowadays.”

"You speak Cherokee?” James asks flabbergasted, completely ignoring everything else she’d just said.

“I am Cherokee! So, yes I know some!” she bites back. “Not perfectly or even fluently, but I was born and raised in Oklahoma and speak it with my grandparents who are fluent. But you all knew that. And Wahya, or whatever his name really is, probably speaks excellent English.”

Forcing her mind to catch up to speed, Morgan speaks up. “Actually, no. He’s picked up a few words, but he doesn’t know English. You can understand what he says?” Her apprehension is now replaced with hope. The doctor can help translate.

“Yes, I already said I speak Cherokee,” the doctor returns. “Some of his phrases are odd to me, but for the most part I understand the gist of what he’s saying.”

Morgan meets both James and Emory’s gazes, all three of them silently questioning if they should trust Dr. Fischer with the truth. Finally, Emory asks one more question, “What makes you think this is a prank—besides his not knowing English?”

Tracie clears her throat, choosing her words carefully. “Well, you said he was from Columbia. But he wouldn’t be from some remote tribe in South America speaking Cherokee.” She hesitates, and her frustration is apparent as she mutters to herself. “God, this is what I get for not being a better Cherokee woman and practicing my language.” Then to the group, “He was talking about some ‘time warp.’ He said those words in English. And how he was fighting some Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois guys and jumped off a hill or something and got scraped up before coming to the future through a wall. Something about a thousand years.”

James sighs, nodding at Morgan, “She can help us if we tell her.”

Morgan nods in agreement, knowing there’s no turning back now.

Turning to the doctor again, James gives her a weak smile. “Actually, it’s probably a little closer to two thousand years. You got some time?”

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

Tsalagis hiwonisgi? = Do you speak Tsalagi [Cherokee]?

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