The Artifact (Book 2, Time Trilogy)

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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 instance disturbs him greatly.

Thankful to the Great Spirit that Morgan had come when she had as he was collapsing, he’d also been glad 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, for he surely would have sought out the advice of his shaman immediately had it been Morgan to appear in his time. Now that they’re here though, he’s a bit surprised Morgan hadn’t brought him before today, as the medicine woman’s practice wasn’t very far away from the lab. Perhaps, she had been traveling and was not available until now, he thinks.

The medicine woman - Tracie, she’d introduced herself to him - had spoken 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. 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, flat table in the very chilly, windowless room. Wahya does so without hesitation as he wonders again at the way the climate changes so drastically from indoors to outdoors, and even within different rooms of the same building.

She motions for him to remove his shirt, which he does, realizing that while she speaks Morgan’s language, there’s something that seems familiar to him, yet he can’t quite place it. Not one to question the methods of a shaman or medicine-man or -woman, Wahya allows the doctor to press the shiny silver end of her stethoscope to his chest and 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. Next, she uses another instrument to briefly shine 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, prompting his legs, to his surprise, to unconsciously jump in response.

Wahya is further mystified as the cuff from the blood pressure monitor squeezes his bicep, and he suddenly wishes he could ask her questions about her contraptions, even though that might be disrespectful in light of her powerful position and work with the spirits. Finally, she directs him to lay down on the table. She motions to her own stomach, expressing that she’s going to push on his abdomen, and Wahya nods his acknowledgment. She carefully watches his expression, as she tests various areas of his abdomen, none of which produce pain or any other odd effects to his relief.

“No, it doesn’t hurt anymore,” he tells her in Tsalagi, feeling awkward about not being able to tell her how he feels or what happened.

At his words, Dr. Fischer pauses, studying him momentarily as though he’d said something wrong, and he wonders if he wasn’t supposed to speak while she works her medicine. But when she smiles, he relaxes, sure that she simply hadn’t understood his language and that he isn’t in trouble for speaking after all. She helps him sit up again and begins reexamining the large shoulder blade wound from the fight with the Iroquois brave. The sizable gash has since scabbed, along with the others.

She speaks again in Morgan’s language, and he assumes she’s rhetorically asking how he got the wound, as she notes the other, much smaller and even more healed cuts and bruises on his arms and torso. Figuring it wouldn’t hurt, even if she couldn’t understand him, he proceeds to tell her. “They are from a fight. Then, I fell through some trees and scraped myself up on the branches.”

To his surprise, Dr. Fischer’s eyes go wide as she moves directly in front of him, looking him in the eye with consternation before putting her hands on her hips. “What did you just say?!” She demands in English. When he doesn’t reply right away, she shakes her head, muttering to herself, “Wahya... Wolf! Adatlisvi? No… it can’t be!”

If the medicine woman seemed surprised when Wahya spoke, it’s nothing compared to how surprised Wahya feels at her next words. In stilted Cherokee, the doctor asks, “Do you speak Tsalagi?”

Wahya sits up straighter, his blinking eyes even larger than hers, and his heart racing at the prospect, not expecting her to be able to talk to him in his own language. Yet again, 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. It’s strange to be able to talk freely in his own language after almost a week of hearing nothing but English, and he pauses to focus his mind, easing into his native tongue. “My people were from the West, but a great sickness came and took many of our family and friends. After the winter ended, what remained of us decided to move eastward to find another Tsalagi village to join with.”

The doctor seems to be having difficulty putting all of Wahya’s words together, and 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.”

Wahya can’t help the large smile that erupts with his joy, and Tracie soon follows suit, the familiarity of the language reminding both of home and family. The doctor laughs lightheartedly before continuing in her slow Cherokee tongue. “You not speak English or Spanish?”

Wahya looks confused, not knowing the word for Morgan’s language nor what Spanish is at all. “No, I do not know those. I 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, never having heard of the United States, and shakes his head with uncertainty.

Tracie decides that she’s probably speaking incorrectly, unable to get over the bizarre notion that a Cherokee man wouldn’t know English, and could only speak Tsalagi and a couple other nearly extinct Native American languages. 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 nods heavily. “The pain in my stomach was very bad, but it is gone now. It is from what Morgan calls a ‘time warp’?” He says the English words hoping they would mean something to the medicine woman, and gives her a hopeful look.

“‘Time warp’? What this mean?” She finally gets out.

Wahya describes the electricity and storm from the cliffside as best he can, noting Dr. Fischer’s apparent confusion. But her expression quickly changes as irritation and even anger clouds her features. In English she exclaims, “Is this a joke? Who put you up to this?”

Wahya, not understanding her change in attitude, nor her words, simply sits still, wondering what went wrong when things were going so well. Finally, he worriedly asks, “What is wrong?”

She replies in Cherokee quickly. “Stop playing. Tell me truth. No laugh.”

Now Wahya frowns, why would the medicine woman think he wasn’t being truthful? “I am telling you the truth, Medicine Woman. I have no reason to lie.”

She doesn’t answer, so he continues, needing to get it all off his chest while he knows someone can understand his speech. “I have come from over one thousand years ago, and came to your world through the wall in the place Morgan calls the ‘lab’ five days ago. I was being chased by Haudenosaunee braves because my group was 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 suddenly appeared here. I met Morgan first, and then James and Emory. And I know Samantha, too. Morgan has let me stay at her home 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 with her limited knowledge of the language, but understands enough, tossing him his shirt and curtly replying in Tsalagi with a frown, “Come. We are going to talk.”

Wahya jumps off the table, hurriedly pulling on his shirt as he follows the now-upset doctor out to the waiting room where Morgan, James, and Emory sit with the TV on. The doctor angrily grabs the remote from the counter, turning the screen off 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 three look at Wahya in bewilderment as he finishes pulling down his shirt and stands in front of the counter, facing everyone, a look of embarrassment and confusion on his face. He doesn’t know if he’d said something wrong, but he suddenly feels left out now that the doctor is talking English to the others. Is he in trouble, he worries?

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

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

“Is he okay?!” Morgan is the first to speak after Dr. Fischer’s outburst.

“I don’t see anything wrong with him,” she replies irritably. “But your little Cherokee prank is a bit over the top.” The doctor 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 in his direction, and both Morgan and James simultaneously realize what the doctor had said, no one having mentioned anything about Wahya being Cherokee. The trio turn to her, waiting for her to respond to Emory’s question.

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

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

“I am Cherokee - so I know some!” She replies unabashedly. “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.”

“Actually no,” Morgan replies simply. “He’s picked up a few words, but he doesn’t know English. You can understand what he says?!“Her apprehension is completely replaced with hope that the doctor can help translate, forgetting for the moment that they’re trying to not get anyone else involved if possible.

“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.”

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

Dr. Fischer clears her throat, not so sure she understood him completely. “Well, you said he was from Columbia. But he wouldn’t be from some remote tribe in South America speaking Cherokee.” She hesitates, questioning her own translation abilities and kicking herself mentally for not being a better Cherokee woman and practicing her language more often. “He was talking about some ‘time warp’ - he said it 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 some wall.”

James sighs, nodding at Morgan, knowing the cat’s out of the bag anyways and realizing that perhaps the doctor will be more beneficial to helping Wahya than they’ve been on their own, “Morgan, she can help us if we tell her.”

Morgan nods her agreement, knowing there was no turning back now. Turning to the doctor again, James gives her a weak smile. “You got some time?”

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