The Obsidian Goblet
Father Leonard Wolf sat in his red leather armchair in the small library of Wish House. He was getting comfortable to study a dust-covered tome on the polished table to his right. The book was bound in a material similar to leather, but different in texture. A small gas lamp also seated on the table beside him lit the room. It gave out just enough light for him to make out the faded letters on the front of the book, as he picked it up in his bony hands. The gold-lettered title glimmered in the lamplight: "Lost Memories."
A flash of lightning lit up the room, and Leonard looked out the window to see another flash revealing the path down to the lake. It seemed that a storm was coming to Wish House. 'Looks like a bad one. It's the sort of night that a legend is born,' the priest thought to himself before busying himself with his studies again.
He did not get far into the book, before the sounds of little feet were heard running in his direction. He put the book down and was about to get up to see what the racket was about, when the library door burst open and a few children ran in, shouting his name. They huddled close to him.
"Father Wolf, the Devil is coming, the Devil is coming! Help us Father Wolf!"
The priest gently took the children by the shoulders. He bent down to their level and talked in a low tone.
"Calm down, children, calm down. It's only the storm. It will be over soon. Go back to your dorms, it's long past your bed time."
The littlest child shook his head frantically and just ran to Father Wolf's chair, where he curled up in a ball with his thumb in his mouth. The rest of the children did not take long to follow the little boy's example, and they too gathered around the chair.
A girl with long blonde hair and bright blue eyes stroked the head of the little boy curled up on the chair.
"Shhh, be still, Walter." She looked up at Father Wolf. "Daddy, it's too scary up there. Will you read to us until the storm has passed? Please …"
Wolf laughed. "Alright sweetie. How can I say no to a look like that? You have your mother's eyes, no doubt about that. I could never refuse her either. God rest her soul."
He walked over to the window in the corner and drew the heavy red curtains shut. He made his way through the small audience and picked up Walter to set him down. Claudia took him into her arms and sat with him. An idea occurred to Wolf: 'I can get some work done and settle the kids at the same time.'
"Let's see, where is it? … Ah, here we are." He looked down at his eager audience and addressed them as if they were all his own children. "Alright, settle down. I have just the tale to help you through this storm, but as soon I have finished, you must all promise to go to bed, and no more nonsense. Understood?"
The children nodded with big grins.
Wolf smiled warmly at them, "Good. Then I will begin. This is a very special book that, normally, only the grown ups can look at. But I will give you a little taste of what you have to look forward to. If there's anything you don't understand, just stop me and ask, OK?
This story is called "The Obsidian Goblet" or "The Magical Black Cup to you. It begins a long time ago, when the cowboys and Indians still lived on this land. There was a great war at the time. As you know, in war there are no good sides. The two sides in this war had different colours. One side wore grey and the other side wore blue. The blues wanted to change the way people lived and create a free world by their standards. The greys wanted things to stay the same, as they were happy with their lives. These two sides did not like each other, and so they went to war. Each side believed that they were right, and in the end, the blues won. What isn't told is that often the Indian tribes were caught in the middle of this war. Our story is about one of the tribes that settled here long before your great, great, great granddads and grandmas came to stay.
This is a sacred land that was blessed by an old shaman, who woke the spirits from their sleep before he died on Toluca Peak. The spirits came to love the tribe as the tribe loved the spirits. The shaman taught his people how to respect the land and the spirits, so that they could be taken care of in turn. Those that did not obey the spirits suffered great pain … Yes, Vincent, what's wrong?"
Vincent took his hand down. "Sorry Father. What's a shaman?"
Wolf rested his head back on the chair. "Well, you see, a shaman is the name for an Indian holy man. He's like a minister. He is connected to the spirits of the land and brings good fortunes to the tribe, who in turn respect him as a voice for the spirits. He can also warn the tribe of the spirits' anger and helps the tribe in many other ways. For example, he can be a doctor as well. Does that answer your question, Vincent?"
Vincent nodded. "Yes Father. Thank you."
Wolf waved his hand dismissively, "Don't mention it, my boy. A curious mind is a sign of intelligence. Now, where was I? Ah yes, the shaman. The shaman also set trials to have the new chief of the tribe prove himself. Our story takes place when a man known as Black Bear was chief. He had a large family and as such came from a long line of chiefs. He was a proud and strong warrior that had overcome many hard trials. It was on the fifth summer of his leadership that the trouble started.
The tale tells that it was going to be a good harvest that year. The chief was preparing a hunt for his son's birthday feast on the day that the shooting started.
"My son," the chief said, "It is a proud day for me to see you become a man. When you come back from the Shaman's test, I shall have a great feast ready in your honour as the next chief to take my place when I am gone. May the spirits guide you in your quest."
The shaman, known as Wise Mountain Eagle, came out of the forest and walked over to Chief Black Bear and his son. He had a solemn look on his face, "It is time for you to meet with the spirits, young one. I have spoken with them and they are ready to see you now. I can take you to the meeting place, but after that, you must face your task alone."
The young man nodded and went to get his hunting gear. The shaman stopped him, shaking his head, "You will only upset the spirits. You must go without your weapons. This is a test for the spirit, not the knife or the bow. Come now, it is time to go."
Black Bear watched until they disappeared in the forest, before he gathered the rest of the hunters.
Some of the tribe were out finding wood, some stayed to make preparations in the camp, and the rest were out in the field gathering vegetables or hunting in the forest. It was a foggy day, and a light rain had just started to fall. Maybe the spirits knew what was going to happen and shed tears of pity. Who knows?
When the shooting started, the warning quickly went into effect. An army of men in grey were moving north to meet an army of men in blue, and it was only a matter of time before they ran into each other. Unfortunately for the tribe, the blues and the greys met on the cornfields of Toluca Lake. Black Bear was hunting deep in the forest when the piercing noise of gunshots and screaming started.
The chief and his hunters ran as fast and as quietly as they could. When they reached the camp, they did not see any battle taking place. Everyone there was panicky, but the screams did not come from here. A young squaw, who was attending to one of the campfires, pointed in the direction of the fields, too traumatised to speak. The chief looked closer and saw bloodstains on the girl's dress and face.
The sight of this girl urged the hunters to reach the fields as fast as they could. A thick fog had descended and covered the field when they got there. The green stalks were streaked with dashes of red and the smell of gunpowder permeated the air. It was clear that the panicked soldiers had fired on anything that moved. There were dead everywhere. The men were saddened and angered all at once, when they came across the cold, dead bodies of a mother and daughter clinging to each other. The chief recognised them to be the wife and child of his best warrior, Hawk Eyes. He patted the man on the shoulder.
"Should we see the devils, you shall have the honour of drawing first blood."
The soldier muttered sorrowful thanks before resuming his search for a clue as to where his family's killers had gone. His search was not in vain, as he soon made out heavy boot prints leading away from the field. "Black Bear, come quickly. I have found the enemy's footprints."
Black Bear came over to Hawk Eyes and studied the trail. "Yes, and by the look of it, they took several of our tribe as prisoners. I swear they will pay with their lives, every last one of them."
Hawk Eyes seemed satisfied with this answer. "They are headed north. Follow me; they can't be too far away."
As they trekked their way through the forest ahead, it became apparent that the devils were fighting amongst themselves. This maddened the chief. 'We weren't even their true enemy, yet still they kill us. Spirits help us avenge our people.'
However, the spirits were busy. The young son of the chief was discussing what he knew of the world with them, and how things had improved within the tribe. He was camped out in a clearing with a large stone, which had countless different inscriptions on its grey surface." Father Leonard Wolf paused to sip the cup of tea on the table beside him.
"What is it, my child?" said Wolf, seeing Walter Sullivan with his hand raised.
The brown-haired boy took his hand down and asked: "The stone in the clearing – is that the Mother Stone we saw in the forest?"
Father Wolf nodded. "Of course it is, Walter and on a still day when it's really quiet you can still hear the spirits whispering if you listen really, really hard." Walter's face lit up
"You mean I can talk to my Mom?" Father Wolf looked thoughtful and shrugged.
"Yes. I suppose it's possible. Well, back to the story.
The chief's son did not notice a snake crawl up to the fire he sat beside. Suddenly, the snake announced its presence with a loud hiss. The boy did not move as the snake wound its way up his back and around his neck. He had no fear, as he thought that this was another trial.
To his surprise, the snake spoke through him. It was his voice talking, although it was not a voluntary action. His voice had a slight lisp to it when the snake spoke through him.
"Sire, your faithful servant has returned. I have terrible news to report. Our people have come under attack from strange men. Many were killed, some have been captured. Your chosen leader has taken his finest warriors to avenge the fallen."
A voice sounded from the stone. It wasn't exactly one voice; it sounded more like a thousand different voices speaking as one. "You are sure?"
The snake made the boy nod his head.
The voice of the stone sighed: "Very well. We must help them, although I do not see this ending well. You know what must be done. Leave the boy. We will instruct him." The snake obliged and slid to the dusty ground, apparently waiting for something.
It was not long before a grating sound was heard from within the stone. The boy watched in wonder, as the runes started floating across the stone and came together to form a tiny hole. The boy approached the odd sight, and as he drew closer, a yellow, flickering light appeared at the end of the hole. The boy shrunk back when a shadow moved across it, blotting out the light.
At that moment, a grey hand thrust itself out of the hole. It was clutching something in its withered palm. As the boy drew nearer again, he could see that the hand held a black, shiny cup. The boy reached out to touch it, but the snake hissed loudly to prevent him from doing so. It kept hissing as it started to wrap itself around the base of the goblet. The boy's jaw dropped when the serpent's flesh changed its colour to that of the goblet, shrinking and wrapping itself tighter around the stem. The hissing suddenly stopped. With a creaking noise, the snake became the same material as the goblet.
"Take it and bring it to your master. He will know what to do with it. Now go with haste, Running Wolf. We are sorry that your first day as a man has to be so hard for you to bear," said the spirit of the stone.
Running Wolf banished fear from his heart as he picked up the goblet. "I will live up to my name and your faith in me. I will not let you or my tribe down. Thank you for your help."
Running Wolf quickly made his way back to the shaman. The old man stood waiting for the boy and smiled when he saw the kid running towards him. "Welcome back, Running Wolf."
Running Wolf looked puzzled. "How did you know my name?"
The shaman started walking back towards the camp. "Who do you think suggested the name? The spirits agreed with my choice."
Running Wolf sped up to keep pace with Wise Mountain Eagle. "Wait! The spirits told me to give this to you. They said you would know what to do with it." The boy handed the goblet over to the old man.
As the shaman examined the cup more closely, his face turned pale. "So, the time has finally come. I am sorry that it came so soon for you. Come on, there is much to be done. Your father can only fight for so long. We need to get help to give him a fighting chance."
Meanwhile, Chief Black Bear waited anxiously for his scout, Swift Wing, to return. They had found the camp along the shores of Toluca Lake a short while ago. A soft rustle in the bushes nearby signalled Swift Wing's return. The scout quickly made his way to the left side of Black Bear; Hawk Eyes was on his right.
"Bad news, Black Bear. The white men in the blue clothes are crazy. They are beating and killing the white men in the grey clothes. If they treat their own kind like this, what are they going to do to our kind? I do not like the way they look at Moonbeam. I fear for her life."
Hawk Eyes spoke up: "At least you have someone to fear for, my brother. I have no fear left."
Black Bear silenced him: "Hawk Eyes, I know you have lost much, but you must keep in mind that others have lost much as well. This is a time when we must be mindful of how to attack these monsters. Swift Wing, what sort of defences does their camp have?"
Swift Wing cleared a space on the ground and started to draw in the dirt, outlining a sketch of the fort.
"I think they are expecting us. They have a ten man guard posted on the top of this wall." He pointed to the wall they were headed towards.
"There may be more out in the forest. If there were, then they were too far away for me to see them. There are still many in the middle of the fort. Our people are being held in a large cell towards the back. I have been in such a place before, so I think I can help them escape. All I need are a couple of men to cover me, while the rest create a distraction."
Black Bear patted the scout on the back. "You have the wisdom of a shaman. All right men, here's the plan: Small Crow and I will go with Swift Wing to free what's left of our people. In the meantime, Hawk Eyes will lead the rest of you in an attack on the west wall of the fort. This will be a simple hit-and-run diversion. Leave none alive. It is clear that these white men have no mercy. We shall respond in kind. May the spirits guide your aim. Stay strong, brothers, and we shall live to see the end of this enemy."
Hawk Eyes took the men and silently slipped into the depths of the forest. Black Bear travelled to a suitable vantage point with Swift Wing and Small Crow, waiting for the attack to begin.
Running Wolf hurried to the middle of the Toluca field, a large bundle of firewood in his arms and a small bunch of white flowers tied to his belt. Wise Mountain Eagle was busy lighting the pile of wood that the boy had already gathered. He quickly fanned the flames until he had a good blaze going. When Running Wolf reached the shaman, he set the wood on the ground and stood there, resting his hands on his knees and gasping for air. He was exhausted from the run, as the flowers mainly grew in a particular spot near the lake, which happened to be quite a distance from the field.
The shaman took the wood and threw it onto the fire. "Did you bring them?"
The boy nodded and handed the flowers over to the shaman.
The shaman looked closely at them and smiled. "Ah, good. They are in great condition. These should do fine. Go, collect the bodies and arrange them in a circle around this fire. After that, you should keep your distance. It's going to get a little hard to breathe in this area once I'm done. After this ceremony, I will be gone on a long journey, one which I will probably not return from. I have taught you all I needed to. You will grow up to be a great Chief some day. Until that day, I need you to take my place and ask the spirits for guidance. Now, go get the bodies ready."
Running Wolf nodded. He knew that there was no point in arguing, since the shaman was much wiser. Soon, the bodies were gathered as Wise Mountain Eagle had ordered. Running Wolf wiped the sweat off his brow and sat down a good distance away from the fire. He was sad to see the shaman go, but he knew that the old one would not do this without good reason.
Wise Mountain Eagle crushed the flowers and mixed them with lake water in the obsidian goblet, until the cup contained a milky-white liquid. Once this was done, he threw the liquid onto the fire, which instantly let crimson smoke rise from the tongues of its flames. Mountain Eagle began to walk around the bodies, sprinkling the remainder of the white liquid onto their mouths, noses and eyes. Finally, he started to dance around the grotesque arrangement. He seemed to be chanting in a strange language, alien to his native tongue: "Sire delaeh eb dna esidarap ydobme. Esidarap ot htaed morf. Htaed ot dertah morf. Dertah ot nis morf."
Running Wolf watched with fascination, as the red cloud spread out to cover the shaman and the bodies.
Private Benjamin Tiller watched the quiet forest from the northern wall of Fort Bradshaw. The higher ups were scared of some sort of major attack from the natives. His unit had only been there long enough to establish the fort. He was part of the front line of protection for a group of settlers that were being relocated after losing their homes in the war. There had been no trouble until a week ago, when a small confederate outpost was discovered near the lake by the scouting unit. From then on, the defences were quickly set up, and an attack was planned to rid the area of any confederate troops.
Ben had never seen any of the natives except for the ones the troops had brought back as prisoners. From what he had heard about the cornfield massacre, he doubted there were any more left. Another thing that annoyed him even more than waiting for a non-existent attack was that they were keeping the enemy alive. Again, it was down to the decisions of the higher ups, although George from the cells had said that it had something to do with a large untapped gold reserve, hidden somewhere in the area. Apparently, the confederates had got wind of it as well and had set up a makeshift mineshaft somewhere in order to reach it. Although, of course, they were all denying it, claiming that it was a coalmine and that they had no idea about the gold. It was obvious that the natives were being kept alive to see if they had any information about the gold. Ben, however, didn't see how they could know anything about it, as there were reports from the scouting parties that the tribe made a habit of talking to a big rock. Ben figured they had to be crazy.
Suddenly, Ben turned his head round towards the west wall, as he was sure he had seen a glint of light out of the corner of his eye. It was the last light that he would ever see again, as an arrow flew into his eye and pierced his brain.
Hawk Eyes smiled grimly and knocked another arrow to his bow. "Spirits, guide my aim," he chanted. He swiftly drew his arm back, took aim and released, taking another soldier down.
By now, the Fort was in utter chaos. All the soldiers made their way to the west wall and ducked down behind it. They fired blindly into the dense brush of the forest, desperately hoping to hit something, but all that they could hit were trees.
The order was given to assemble a troop to advance and flush out the enemy, while a few remained behind to snipe at them. The hunters pulled back into the forest once they saw the troop advancing towards them. Black Bear watched with grim satisfaction, as the fort was now open to him and his men. They snuck down the side of the hill.
"Swift Wing, take care of the prisoners. Small Crow and I will dispatch their best shots. Go, and may the spirits give us victory today."
The two warriors nodded and slunk inside the fort. Black Bear climbed up the nearest ladder and threw his tomahawk towards the middle of the five snipers left. It struck the man in the back, slicing through his spine killing him instantly. By the time the others were alerted to their opponent's presence, he had slit the throat of another soldier.
With only three remaining, they raised their rifles to shoot the chief. Small Crow yelled and diverted their attention, giving Black Bear enough time to stab another one in the belly before grabbing him and using the dying man as a human shield. Small Crow tossed the soldier nearest him over the side of the fort. The last remaining soldier shot his comrade in the head whilst aiming for Black Bear. Small Crow snuck up behind the soldier and slit his throat. Black Bear dropped the corpse and thanked Small Crow.
But before they could congratulate themselves, a fearful scream came from the other side of the fort. The two raced down the ladders and were about to enter the cells, when the door opened and Swift Wing burst out. He looked very pale, as if he had just faced his darkest fear.
"He killed them. He killed them all. Quickly, follow me."
They all went inside and were paralysed by the sight of the gory cells. Blood and lumps of flesh were smeared out over every inch of the room. One sole survivor was huddled in the corner, rocking back and forth. He clutched a sharp, broken table leg. Fresh blood covered his greyish skin. He had clearly gone crazy.
Black Bear clenched his fist in anger.
"Leave him and burn it down. Burn this whole place down, so that the spirits themselves can see it and take vengeance on those that have wronged us."
His two warriors nodded and left to make preparations.
Running Wolf made it to the fort just in time to hear the screams. He saw his father and another warrior descend into the fort. Suddenly, the brush behind him rustled. "Stay silent," Running Wolf whispered. "Wise Mountain Eagle did not sacrifice himself just for you to waste your second chance of life. Hide yourself on the side of the hill. I will call you when you are needed. I am going to see my father to tell him what has happened."
Numerous heads behind him nodded and obeyed. The beings started digging into the ground in order to hide themselves under it. Running Wolf headed down to the fort and arrived in time to see his father, Swift Wing and Small Crow come out of a large cabin. The two warriors greeted Running Wolf and then ran off. The chief looked grim and sorrowful.
"Father, I have come back from the trial and I have mixed news to give you." He spent the next ten minutes explaining to Black Bear what had taken place. Black Bear was saddened to hear of the shaman's death and amazed at the news of the army.
Small Crow returned with firewood. "Where is Swift Wing? I thought he was with you," Black Bear said.
Small Crow tilted his head back. "He said he had found something that would help us more than firewood."
Swift Wing opened a door near the entrance of the fort. He was carrying a white bag of gunpowder over his shoulder. "That he has, Small Crow, that he has. Enough of the white men's powerful black sand to blow this accursed place away."
Black Bear nodded. "Do it."
Meanwhile, things had not gone to plan for Hawk Eyes. The soldiers had found his group through sheer blind luck. He had to lead them away from the fort to give Black Bear a fighting chance.
"There's one!" A shot rang out and a sharp pain plunged into Hawk Eyes' back.
"That's the last of them. Let's get back to the fort. We need to send word to the settlers to tell them it's safe to come down from the mountain camp now. Hopkins, you go. It won't be long before dark, so hurry." A young soldier obeyed and ran off in the direction of the mountain.
As Hawk Eyes lay on the ground, bleeding to death, he prayed to the spirits that he could come back in a form that would kill these men like a bloodthirsty swarm of insects. Hatred filled the dying warrior, as he watched the troop head back to the fort with him being unable to stop them. The anger soon faded along with his vision, darkness taking him away from the light of life. His weak voice trailed off: "This is only the beginning. I will return and you will know my wrath …"
Small Crow carried the last sack of gunpowder to the corner foundation post of the fort. Every other support structure had been covered. Unfortunately, the last one happened to be in the fort's toilets. He tried holding his nose, but it was impossible to keep out the stench.
A solitary candle and a shaft of light from the outside wall dimly lit the room. Curiosity got the better of Small Crow, and as he looked through the peephole, he noticed movement in the distance. 'Must be the hunters coming back from the raid … Hold on, that was a blue coat! The devils are back.'
Small Crow sprinted out of the room. He saw no sign of the others outside. A sense of desperation gripped him. He walked to the front entrance and cautiously looked around outside. A door opened behind him, and three disturbed-looking warriors appeared. "Thank the spirits," Small Crow said, a wave of relief washing over him. "I thought you had all been taken. What happened?"
Black Bear answered: "We spoke to the devil in the cage. There were traces of the lake flower in his food. He thinks we are monsters. The white flower must be a poison to the white man. I would even think it was funny, if I hadn't seen what he had done because of it. Why must the white man tamper with things he was never meant to use?"
"He serves as a warning," said Running Wolf. "His whole race shows us what could happen if we meddle with the affairs of the spirits."
Swift Wing nodded solemnly. "Spoken like a true shaman. Wise Mountain Eagle really did live up to his name by choosing you."
Small Crow looked very agitated. "I hate to break up such a tender moment, but the blue coats are -" A gunshot sounded, and a bullet pierced Small Crow's neck. Blood spurted out, soaking the three men in front of him. They ran for cover. Once in the shadows, Running Wolf looked for the blue coats. He caught sight of them on the ridge, where they carefully made their way down the hill. At that moment, Running Wolf knew what had to be done. "Grab them. Now!" he shouted.
The troop of men yelled in shock, as hundreds of arms reached up from the ground to grab them. The soldiers were even more astonished to find that bullets would not stop the vice-like hands from clutching onto their legs. The bony fingers clawed at their victims, using them to pull the rest of their bodies out of the ground. Once the faces were visible, fear struck deep into the hearts of the soldiers. They knew these enemies, and they knew that they had died on the fields of Toluca Lake.
Running Wolf shouted to the undead army: "Bring the heartless devils here!"
One by one, the soldiers were brought into the fort. The place still reeked of bloodshed.
"Put them into the cage you will find in that building," Running Wolf ordered.
The jailers that had joined the troop were now the most fervent strugglers, as they knew the horror that awaited them in that cell. When they heard the screaming already coming from the large shed, their fight became all the more urgent. The three warriors stood solemnly and watched the strange procession.
Suddenly, one of the jailers broke free and took out his pistol. He aimed and fired at Running Wolf's heart, figuring that the ghosts would disappear once their leader was dead.
Black Bear watched in horror as his son fell to his knees, a look of grim acceptance on his face. Black Bear grabbed the injured boy, hoisted him over his shoulder and started running towards the lake.
"Stay here and make sure that they are all killed," he called back to the two warriors. They nodded intent on keeping their promise.
The jailer ran from the ghosts, evading their attempts to capture him. He kept shooting at Running Wolf, but ended up misfiring his last shot as a ghost tackled him. The shot zipped by Small Crow's ear and straight into the bag of gunpowder he had left outside the toilets. The warriors raised their hands to their faces in a vain attempt to protect themselves, as billowing flames washed over them, instantly burning the flesh off their bones. The blast propelled Black Bear onto the hillside, the force of the landing knocking him out.
When he regained consciousness, Black Bear looked around in panic. The fort was in ruins; its ashes still falling from the sky like pitch-black snowflakes. Running Wolf lay beside him. The young boy's body was devoid of all motion and warmth. For the first time in years, Black Bear wept.
'I wept with joy when he was born and I weep now that he is dead. It was too soon for him to go. He had just earned his name. The spirits will hear of this.' He picked up his son's body and carried it to the sacred stone in the forest. After setting the corpse beside the stone, Black Bear left quickly. He had to make it to Toluca Peak, the sacred place where he had earned his name.
The Chief ran back to his camp in order to get provisions for the journey. When he reached the camp, he found the traumatised girl from the fields dead. She had drowned herself in one of the boiling pots at the centre of the village. The chief was gripped by a deep sense of loneliness, as he realised that he was the only one of his tribe left alive.
He quickly packed and made his way up the mountainside. It took about two days for him to reach the summit. A large stone altar lay at the top, waiting for him, just as it had been the last time he'd made this journey. A beautiful view of the land stretched out before him. The magical forests, the enigmatic lake, the shadowy valleys …
Black Bear noticed none of it. The only thing he saw right now was the stone table. He sat down and concentrated on contacting the spirits. He ripped up his jacket and beat at his chest with grief. "Why have you taken him?" he yelled. "Why could you not have taken an old man like me instead of a young boy like him?"
An eagle's cry was heard from far above the clouds. A beam of light shot through the cloud and illuminated the stone table. Black Bear tried to look up, but the light blinded him. A strange shadow circled on the ground. As soon as it reached the altar, the light vanished as quickly as it had appeared. Black Bear looked up to see an eagle circling down from the clouds. It held something in its talons – a black goblet.
With its majestic wings still spread, it landed on the table, placing the goblet on the stone surface before hopping aside. Light pierced the clouds again, but it was more focused this time. The eagle hopped into the light and gave out a sharp cry as it started to change form. The brown feathers became a buckskin dress, the talons became feet, and the head attained a human face with a bright, loving smile. In the blink of an eye, the bird had transformed into the most beautiful squaw that the chief had ever seen. She had bright red eyes and long, flowing, white hair. She sat down on the table, picked the goblet up and studied it.
"We did not take him," she said, a melodic quality to her voice.
"What is your name?" Black Bear asked.
"My name is Xuchilbara," she answered. "I have many other names. I am the red god, I am redeemer and destroyer, I am the spirit of this area, but you may call me Claudia. And, as I said, we did not take him. However, if your grief is sincere, take this black chalice and pick the white acacia flowers that perpetually grow by the lake. If you use them properly, we might let you see him once more."
The chief smiled and took the chalice. "Until this day, I did not know what this flower was called, and yet I shall never call it by its true name. I shall always know it as White Claudia, my happiness, my salvation."
Claudia let out a laughter, which sounded more like soothing birdsong than a human voice. "I shall wait here for your return. Go, the spirits are with you."
The Chief ran as fast as his weakened legs could carry him. When he reached the side of the lake, he frantically searched for the white flowers. During a sunny day, the area would have been a place of outstanding beauty. Right now, however, it was overcast with sinister shadows. He eventually found the flowers growing on a grassy bank.
He grabbed a flower and wondered what the maiden had meant by 'using them properly'. It was then that the chief nearly dropped the ritual items with surprise, as the snake on the goblet spoke up: "I can assist you in this. Take the flower and mix it in the cup with the pure water of Toluca's depths. Then return to the maiden and follow her advice to receive salvation."
The Chief thanked the snake and proceeded to swim out to a deep part of Toluca Lake. He filled a skin with the cool water and swam back to shore."
Father Leonard Wolf put the book down for a second. Vincent looked up at him: "Why stop now, Father? The story hasn't ended."
Wolf looked over his glasses at the child. "No, but I am tired. I just need a moment to get my focus back. When you read for too long, the words start to become blurry and you'll make mistakes. We can't have that, now can we?"
The little boy looked at the floor. "I guess not."
Wolf picked up the book again. "This next part describes the ceremony in poetry form, as the detailed version is found in another book that was written by the same author. A man named Roger Widmark. He has done so much for the order in terms of recording old legends and ceremonies. He wrote this, and the book of the Crimson Ceremony. There is more to his tale, but I will tell you all a little later. Where was I? Oh yes. The ceremony poem." Father Wolf cleared his throat and began reading again.
"Upon the hill where the light descended
The Beast intoned his song
With words of blood
Drops of mist
And the vessel of night
The grave became an open field
The people wept in fear and joy at the reunion
But my faith in the salvation of Xuchilbara did not waver.
When it was over, Claudia lay on the table and closed her eyes.
"Go and see your son. He waits for you by the sacred stone. I need to rest for a while."
The chief immediately obeyed Claudia's command. To his joy, Running Wolf was indeed waiting for him. However, the boy had changed. A hole still pierced his heart, and his eyes were completely white, although he did not seem blind. "My son, I cannot tell you how glad I am to see you alive!" Black Bear embraced his son. Running Wolf's skin was still ice-cold, as he had been dead until a few moments ago.
A rustle behind them signified movement in the dense forest brush. They both turned to face the unseen presence …
… and found nothing. A silvery voice spoke from the stone: "Your grief was indeed sincere, as the power of the love you have for your tribe has not only brought back your son, but it has also resurrected the people from your tribe whose bodies have not been destroyed by fire. Those of the tribe that were purified by flames have found a home for their spirits in the land around you. In the grass, in the trees, in the air … Your people are everywhere, and should you need help, they will manipulate the elements of nature itself to aid you."
A tear of joy mixed with the specks of blood on Black Bear's face. "This gift is almost too much to bear. How can I possibly repay you for this great deed?"
The voice laughed. "I ask but two things. Firstly, I want you to tell your people about me. As you can see, my powers are great, but I need believers to sustain it. Your shamans in the past knew and worshipped me, and in return I gave them wisdom and power. Those that believe and worship me can also receive such power when they call upon my name. I am the one that told your shamans how to get the best harvest from the land. I am the one who informed them when and where an enemy would try to strike, and if it came to battle, I gave them advice that won them the wars that you fought. Unfortunately, not everything can be seen or prevented, but I have the power to overcome death, so even that is not a barrier. I have hidden you from the world outside for so long, until the white men found this place by accident. If you worship me, I shall ensure that you and your family will go unharmed and live as long as my power can sustain you. So it is in your best interest to serve me, and gather more to serve me as well.
Secondly, in the distant future, a traveller will come, asking many questions about what took place here. I need you to tell him exactly what happened. He is to become one of my principal disciples that will spread the good news over the earth. Do this for me, and great wisdom, power and long life will be yours for as long as you remain here to preserve this sacred land."
The chief and his son both agreed to these terms and found them merciful, considering all that this spirit had done for them.
Soon afterwards, settlers came and were believed to have stolen the land. But in reality, God created another land for her faithful followers: Paradise. Only the old chief and his son stayed behind, waiting for the traveller whilst telling more and more people about God. As the population of Silent Hill grew, so did the people worshipping God.
During one particularly good season, a young advertising executive turned writer, Roger Widmark, came to the town to investigate the legends in order to satisfy his own curiosity. He was a man without purpose in life. He knew that he was being drawn to something and trusted fate to bring him to it. In time, he came to Silent Hill, and during his stay there he was called to the forest. Inside the forest, he came across Black Bear and Running Wolf. They took him into their home and told him all they could when he asked questions about the town and its strange legends. He decided to record the astonishing answers before they were lost to the oblivion of time. Over the years, he wrote the books of Lost Memories and Crimson Ceremony. He also wrote tourist-brochures in order to bring more people to Silent Hill and to God."
Father Wolf closed the book and put it down on the table beside him. "Well, that's the story of the obsidian goblet. If you, like Roger, want to know more, then in time I can teach you. Until that time comes, I can see the storm has passed and it is time for you all to go to bed. Go on now, God will protect you from any bad dreams."
Walter rubbed his eyes and yawned. Vincent took Bob and Walter by the hand and led them back to their rooms. Alessa and Claudia thanked Wolf and hugged him before going back to their rooms.
Alone in the library, Wolf drew the curtains aside from the window and stared out towards the forest, where a dim orange glow could be seen. "Goodnight Black Bear, goodnight Running Wolf. May you and your stories live on for many more years to come."
Wolf pulled the curtains shut, picked up the small gas lamp and went to his own room for a peaceful night's sleep. Tomorrow, he had a few questions to ask the pair.
As the light faded from the library, a crimson glow started to rise over Toluca Peak.