Chapter 17 – She Should Not Be Here
Ayira abruptly entered Great Eagle’s teepee. Surprised, he quickly stood up. “You are bleeding. What happened to you?”
“Red Sun attacked me. She has been talking to the enemy tribe. She led them here so they could take me back to their leader. Little Sparrow saved me.”
“She is the traitor that Black Bear spoke of,” said Great Eagle.
“She is not the only one. There are some in Black Bear’s tribe as well.”
Great Eagle looked stunned as she continued, “I told your men where to find the bodies. I do not think they will find Red Sun, but she will come back when she is ready to face her son again...”
“Please sit down and I will tend to your wound.”
Ayira hesitantly sat down. As Great Eagle cleaned her wound, she anxiously said, “I think I found a way to change what is to happen, but I need you to let me go... Please. Before it is too late.”
“If I let you go, you will be captured and you will lead them to the men.”
Disgusted, Ayira said, “I would never do that to them – I would die before I do that.”
“But they almost took you. If it had not been for Little Sparrow, you would have been taken to their leader and led them to Chief Coyote.”
Ayira appeared sad and desperate as she said, “Please do not believe my father – I must leave now.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I – I cannot say.”
Great Eagle stared at her with concern, and then looked down in embarrassment. He said, “I am sorry for not trusting you... I am sorry from deep within my heart that I called you a coward.”
She sobbed as she said, “And I am sorry for not trusting you and your people. You all have done so much for me, and no matter what I do – it will not make up for what you all have done for me...”
“Just help them...”
Ayira slowly nodded and Great Eagle smiled. He covered her wound and they quickly got up and stepped outside.
One of the men walked up to Great Eagle and said, “We found the men’s bodies. Little Sparrow showed us. We also found bones of a woman, a baby, and a man.”
Great Eagle stared at Ayira, and she looked down, embarrassed. He replied, “Take her to the battle.”
“But Chief Coyote told us to keep her here. He will be angry if he finds out.”
Great Eagle stared at Ayira, and then said, “It must happen this way. I will speak to Chief Coyote. Just take her.”
The men seemed upset. Concerned, Great Eagle looked away. Ayira saw Tapiwa standing outside of his teepee and she walked over to him.
“Why are you here?” asked Ayira.
“They did not want me to go with them to the battle.”
She sadly thought to herself, and then asked, “Do you want to change your destiny?” Stunned, he hesitantly nodded.
“Then follow me.”
Ayira, Great Eagle, and Tapiwa walked toward the horses and Little Sparrow hurried up to them. Confused, he asked, “Where are you going?”
“We are going to the battle,” said Ayira.
Little Sparrow excitedly said, “Take me with you. My uncle said I was not ready, but I am. Ayira – you saw what I did... I can protect you?”
Great Eagle was about to speak, but Ayira stopped him. He nodded and started walking toward the horses again, leaving them alone.
“Please understand that I must go alone – you cannot go. You have to stay here and protect the village. More men might come back.”
“I am ready...”
Ayira smiled and said, “I know you are.”
“Is it true that you do not see me growing old? Does it mean I will die young?”
Stunned and embarrassed, she put her hand on his shoulder and said, “No – no. I was wrong, I am so sorry – I was wrong. You will be a great warrior – you will honor your father. I swear to you.”
Little Sparrow smiled proudly and walked her over to the horses. As they reached them, Ayira suddenly stopped with a scared look on her face. Little Sparrow grabbed her hand and pulled her toward her horse.
The horse was yellowish-brown, almost golden in color. She slowly approached it, and then softly patted its head.
Little Sparrow smiled, and then looked at Great Eagle and said, “She is scared of horses.”
“You should not be afraid. They are gentle animals,” said Great Eagle.
Ayira continued to softly pat her horse.
“Please be careful. Yellow Feather will never forgive me if something were to happen to you,” said Great Eagle.
She put her hand on Great Eagle’s shoulder and said, “Do not worry!”
She carefully mounted the horse and smiled at Great Eagle and Little Sparrow. Great
Eagle and Little Sparrow waved goodbye and they quickly rode off. Ayira nervously held onto the horse as they rode away.
The next day, Ayira and the men reached the top of a hill. They could see the battle happening down below in the valley.
Ayira looked sick. Tapiwa stared at her, puzzled, and asked, “You have not looked well since we left. What is wrong?”
Concerned, she said, “I do not know.” Then she thought quietly to herself.
They stared at the battlefield. As the men fought, sounds of multiple shots being fired, as well as screaming and yelling could be heard clearly from the battle below.
Ayira sadly looked at Tapiwa and said, “Die with honor and for your people.”
He stared at Ayira, stunned, and then slowly nodded. He then nervously looked down at the battlefield again. Disappointed, Ayira watched him, and then they quickly rode down the hill and into the fighting. Some of the men wrestled on the ground, while others shot or stabbed each other. She anxiously rode through the chaotic battlefield, searching for Yellow Feather and White Hawk, who were somewhere within the hundreds of men fighting and killing one another.
Scared, Ayira frantically looked around; finally, she recognized a man from her village. She said, “Spirit Wind... Where is Yellow Feather? Where is White Hawk?”
“Chief Coyote is wounded and White Hawk is with him. You must leave.”
“Where are they?”
He pointed behind her toward the tree line and she nodded. She continued her frantic search for the two men, riding swiftly through the maze of battling men until a group of fighters blocked her way. She watched the slaughter around her with a look of terror as tears streamed down her face.
An Indian from the enemy tribe saw Ayira and, for a brief moment, they both stared at each other. The man charged at her with a hatchet in his hand, and Ayira struggled to turn her horse around. As the man got closer to her, a spear pierced through his chest and he fell to the ground. Stunned, Ayira saw Zuberi standing a few feet away. He nodded at her, and she quickly nodded back at him.
The group of fighting men finally cleared out of her way, so she continued her frantic search, though she was distraught and confused.
There were gunshots and men screaming in pain all around her. Her horse started to get nervous, so she leaned forward and held its neck tightly to calm it down. Then she continued to hurry toward the tree line.
Somehow, through all of the noise and confusion, she heard her name. She looked around and saw Yellow Feather standing a few yards away. He looked upset, and he yelled her name again. She frantically looked at the men around him, but she was disappointed.
“Go back to the village – get out of here!” yelled Yellow Feather.
Ayira sadly looked at him, and then turned away, ignoring him. Though Yellow Feather appeared angry, she continued her search. When she looked back at the tree line, she saw White Hawk with Chief Coyote and a couple of their men.
Terrified, Yellow Feather yelled, “Ayira...”
She hurried toward White Hawk and Chief Coyote.
Then a man struck Yellow Feather in the face. He almost lost his balance but was able to quickly hit the man in his face as well. Then he stabbed the man in the abdomen with his knife. Chief Coyote was leaning against a tree, passed out, as White Hawk knelt beside him and tended to his father’s wounds.
Stunned to see Ayira, White Hawk said, “You should not be here.”
Worried, she looked at Chief Coyote and asked, “What is wrong with him?”
“He was shot in the leg... You must go.”
With a concerned look, she said, “I can’t...”
White Hawk looked scared as he stood up and asked, “Who is going to die? Is it my father?”
She stared at him, speechless, and then started to turn her horse around. He yelled, “Ayira – Ayira answer me, please!”
Ayira ignored him. Still desperately looking around, she finally recognized a man standing on the other side of the battlefield. She was surprised to see him giving orders to a group of men. He appeared to be the leader of the enemy tribe. His face was painted, half–black and half–red. She thought for a moment, and then remembered seeing him in her teepee and in the woods.
White Hawk stared at Ayira, puzzled, and then looked in the same direction that she did. He noticed her watching the leader.
“Ayira... What do you see?”
She glanced back at him, terrified, and rode off.
Yellow Feather yelled angrily to White Hawk, “Stop her – Stop her!”
White Hawk yelled out, “Ayira – Ayira!” as she quickly rode away, and then he called over one of his men and said, “Please stay with my father.”
He started running after Ayira with Yellow Feather close behind him.
The leader noticed Yellow Feather and White Hawk running after someone and soon saw Ayira riding toward him on her horse. Puzzled, he called his men over and pointed at her. White Hawk stared at the men she was riding toward and was scared.
“Ayira – stop – stop!” he yelled.
Still, on his horse, Tapiwa heard White Hawk yelling and saw Ayira riding toward the enemy men. One of the men knelt and pointed his rifle at her. Yellow Feather screamed to her, but she continued to ride toward the enemy. The rifleman shot her in her left shoulder and she almost fell off her horse when she grabbed her wound, but she quickly let go and, grabbed the horse’s mane. Although she was in pain, she continued to ride.
Tapiwa watched the chaos on the battlefield, and then looked at Ayira. He quickly rode off the field in terror. Yellow Feather jumped onto a horse and rode after Ayira. White Hawk worriedly watched but continued to chase her. When a man blocked his way, he pulled out his hatchet and they started to fight.
Blood trickled down Ayira’s arm and her face was flushed and pale. She continued to focus on the leader, painfully holding onto her horse with her wounded arm. She reached over to the horse’s flank and pulled out her spear with her right arm.
Yellow Feather’s horse could barely keep up with Ayira’s. He desperately yelled at Ayira, but she ignored him and focused on the leader. The leader looked at the rifleman who’d shot Ayira earlier and nodded. The rifleman knelt and aimed his weapon at her again. The leader stared at Ayira and she stared back; it was as if they were the only two people left on the battlefield. As she drew closer and closer, the rifleman fired another shot. Yellow Feather’s horse was startled and threw him off.
The rifleman shot her in the right thigh. White Hawk stopped and stared at Ayira, horrified. Then he began running again, but this time toward the leader and his men. The leader smirked as Ayira screamed in pain. With tears in her eyes, she painfully held onto her spear, and she looked very angry and determined. Though she tried to stay awake, she suddenly fell into a trancelike state, and could only stare at the leader. She finally threw her spear as hard as she could, but the leader quickly moved his head out of the way. The spear missed him by inches and he smiled.
The leader turned to see where the spear had landed but was stunned to find the spear floating right next to his head. His men watched in awe, amazed at what they saw. When White Hawk also saw the
floating spear, he stopped and stared, puzzled. The spear floated backward, then back in front of the leader again, and he was surprised to once more be face-to-face with the weapon. Ayira held onto her horse, still in the trancelike state, and then the spear quickly pierced the leader’s head, killing him.
His men fled in fear as Ayira closed her eyes and fell off her horse. Blood gushed from her wounds and she looked very pale and weak. Yellow Feather ran toward her, crying. She lay on the ground, unable to move, and she could barely breathe. She painfully turned her head but was terrified when she saw two enemy men riding toward her on horses. They got closer and closer, and Yellow Feather screamed out to them, but they continued to ride toward her. Ayira could only lay there, paralyzed, as she watched them gallop straight toward her. White Hawk picked up a revolver and shot at the men on the horses, but he missed.
Tears streamed down her face and she trembled with terror as the horses trampled her. White Hawk screamed in anger, unable to bear watching the horses crush Ayira; however, Yellow Feather threw his hatchet at one of the riders and he fell off his horse.
The other man stopped his horse and jumped off. He ran toward Yellow Feather with his knife. Enraged, Yellow Feather walked up to the man and blocked his attempt to stab him. Yellow Feather screamed in rage as he head-butted his attacker twice, breaking his nose, then White Hawk ran behind the man and slit his throat with a knife. White Hawk then walked over to the rider unhorsed by Yellow Feather’s hatchet and removed the weapon. Then he struck the man with the hatchet over and over again.
Yellow Feather stood a couple of feet away from Ayira, devastated. He could barely stand, so he knelt down and screamed in horror. He stood up with tears streaming down his face and slowly walked toward her. His mouth trembled and he held his breath, as he got closer to her.
He held back his tears and knelt down again. He was afraid to touch her. Her body was broken in many places and she bled profusely. Ayira could barely breathe, so she only took short breaths. Her eyes were open and, with tears streaming down her face, she stared at the clear blue sky above her.
Her breathing became even more short and faint. Suddenly, her mother appeared, standing over Ayira, smiling. Ayira’s eyes widened.
Yellow Feather’s voice trembled as he said, “My love...”
White Hawk, with tears in his eyes, sadly walked over to Yellow Feather and put his hand on Yellow Feather’s shoulder. White Hawk’s men surrounded them, guarding them as Yellow Feather cried hysterically. He grabbed her head with his hands and kissed her face. Ayira looked up at him and subtly smiled. Then she stopped breathing.
White Hawk sadly said, “The man that Ayira killed is the same man that was helping the soldiers. He scouted for tribes and helped the soldiers attack them and take their lands away... Yellow Feather, she did well; she helped us. It might have been the only way.”
Sobbing, Yellow Feather said, “I do not believe that... She knew what she was doing... Why did you leave me – why?”
He sat beside her, crying, as White Hawk sobbed and continued, “Cousin – you were right... You were all right – I am sorry.”