Shadow of Time: The Lost Years - Jen Minkman - ebook
Opis

A young Navajo man goes on a vision quest to commune with the spirits and find out what his life path should be. Little does he know that his meeting with the Bear, his spirit guide, will change him for good and turn his life upside down. In fact, life has more years in store for him than he could have ever imagined...This is a companion novella to the Shadow of Time duology. Do not read if you haven't read the previous two books!

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Shadow of Time: The Lost Years

A Shadow of Time companion novella

Jen Minkman

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Translation: Berry Minkman

© 2015 by Jen Minkman

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Cover design by Jen Minkman

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All rights reserved. Apart from fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without the prior permission of the author. You are welcome to share this book with friends who might like to read it too, however.

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

1520 – 1598

1620 – 1693

1725 – 1801

Epilogue: Beyond the Veil

Acknowledgements

The Island Series – YA dystopian novellas | First book for FREE

1520 – 1598

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1534

I can feel the wind blowing across my face when I open my eyes again and find myself staring out over the plain. The mountain top I chose to accomplish my vision wake is now covered in darkness. For two days and nights I have been here, trying to find the vision that will give direction to my life. Now I know what that direction is, but I feel a certain reluctance. What Shash has shown me I still cannot completely comprehend.

The people who will come to this land from across the sea simply cannot be real. No people walking the earth can possibly think that they own the land. You cannot hold it and take it with you. Instead, the land holds you and leads you to places that, before, only existed in your mind. Can anybody claim to have the right to a sunset, a flowing river, a flying deer? I have hunted deer with my father, but how could I be so misguided as to think that it is my right to kill the animal? We are grateful to the creature for laying down its life for us, and we honor its memory by burning incense.

Peace. Before I went on my way to start my vision quest, the word kept coming up in my head while I was sitting in the ‘inipi’, the sweat lodge. Shash used the word, too. “You will be a peace leader,” he said. “True peace means balance, hózhó. Now that you share my powers, you can make sure that your people will know peace.”

I wonder if I can. What will they think of me when I return to the camp, to the group of hataalii? Where others can expect to become hunters, or singers, or tanners, I am going to trouble them with tales about men with hairy faces who may not even exist, and with whom I am supposed to make peace. I feel lonely, and I hope my father, one of the oldest hataalii of the camp, can help me deal with my vision. Perhaps he will send me away again to spend more time in the wilderness on my own because it seems I have not paid proper attention. When I see the first tents of the camp, I do not feel merely lonely – all of a sudden, I feel terribly old. The younger children with whom I played games only last weekend, and the boys with whom I made bets about how many deer our fathers and brothers would shoot, seem to be miles away from me. I am a grown-up now and ready to face real life – or I should be, at least.

I walk toward our tent. Happy to see me, the dog starts barking. My mother and little sister are sitting outside, scraping skins. I embrace my mother who is glad that I am back.

“Ya’at’eeh, shiyáázh,” she says and nods towards the tent.  “Nizhé’é, your father, is inside, waiting for you.”

“Have you been given a new name?” is the first question my father asks me. He looks up at me, eager to hear my words.

“Shash,” I answer, pointing to the spot that has magically appeared on my skin under the breast bone.

He smiles at me, full of pride. “A fine, proper power has been given to you, shiye’,” he says. “What is your task?”

I sigh. “That is what I would like to discuss with you and the others. I have had a mysterious vision.”

My father frowns. “Tonight we have a meeting with all the hataalii. There you can ask us what you want to know.” He clears his throat. “You are not supposed to tell us exactly what you have seen. Some things are for your eyes only.”

“I think that this is something that affects us all,” I remark.

The look in my father’s eyes becomes even more curious. “Then you can speak tonight,” he says. “We will meet when the sun has set and the moon is above Tsoodzil.”

Outside the tent I look towards Tsoodzil, the sacred mountain, and involuntarily my hand moves toward the ‘birthmark’ on my breast bone.

“Shash, help me tonight,” I pray silently. “Asdz Nádleehé, Changing Woman, give me enough wisdom to know what is the best thing to do.”

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“Shitsílí?”

I look into the face of my elder brother Gaagii. Today, he has joined my uncle and the other hunters, and he looks tired but contented. Gaagii is the fastest man on foot in our clan – when he runs at top speed he can run as fast as the deer that the men hunt and everyone is happy that he has developed into a worthy member of our camp.

“Aoo’, shínaaí?” I ask.  I move aside, so that Gaagii can sit next to me on the rock beside the river, where I have gone to think. The skin of his upper body is decorated with paint shaped like the footprints of a bear to give him extra power during the hunt. I smile. Gaagii, too, invokes the power of Shash.

“What did you tell them?” He means the council that I addressed last night. “They treat you – differently.”

Just for a moment it sounds as if he is jealous, but when I look aside, I see only a look of concern in his eyes. He does not understand what has changed, and, indeed, I do not completely understand it myself.

Aditsan, the oldest hataalii of the camp, had listened attentively to my story yesterday and silenced the others when they wanted to interrupt me.

“I have seen you during my own vision quest,” he’d said at last. “You have been announced. You are the person who will protect our people through the centuries, although I was never told what the danger is that will threaten us.”

“Have you really seen me during your vision wake?” I’d asked in awe.

Aditsan had nodded, a smile playing around his lips. “At the time, the council thought that I was crazy, but I have always remembered what my task is – to guide you. I have waited for you.”

The others had remained silent, looking at me in disbelief.

Now I am officially an apprentice of our senior hataalii, and I have been given a strange kind of upper status. My family do not understand anything of the sudden respect that is shown to me, except my father. The council decided not to make it known to others, and keep my task a secret for the time being.

“Do not worry, shínaaí,” I say putting my hand on his shoulder. “I am still your brother. I just look at life from a different perspective now. That is all.”

Now that I hear myself speaking I realize that it is true: I can feel the power of my totem animal flowing through my body, expanding my view of the world around me. I will need that broader view to be able to understand the enemy that is approaching our land. Understanding is what I want to achieve more than anything, as it is only through understanding the alien culture of the intruders that I will be able to achieve peace.

“What have you seen?” Gaaghi insists.

I stare ahead of me, my eyes fixed on the horizon. “A man with fair skin and a hairy face, who thinks he was made in the image of God.”

Gaagii grins. “That is impossible. God is everywhere, in everything around us.”

“This man does not know that,” I continue in a soft voice. “He thinks that he must own the world, that the animals and plants that live in it are his, that power can be gained by making other people afraid, and that he knows best how people should live.”

The smile dies in Gaagii’s face. “How frightening,” he says quietly. “Do you think that this man would also come and hunt our brothers the deer, who feed and sustain us?”

I close my eyes, remembering the images of slaughtered buffalos bleeding to death, their hides cut from their bodies, their flesh rotting in the hot air under the fierce sun...deer, scared and disoriented, running through woods where trees are felled en masse, where dark liquids seep into the ground and poison the animals, the water full of damaging toxins that do their destructive work without anybody being able to stop it.

“Perhaps,” I answer just as quietly.

‘I can scarcely believe it,” says my elder brother. “Is that hairy-faced man a messenger of the chindi?”

“No,” I say, shaking my head. “He is a man like us. A man with a different perspective on life, a man who knows no limits, who has no sense of hózhó. A victim of a society where the people in power put too much pressure on simple folk.”

“Such a man will destroy himself before he has a chance to harm us,” Gaagii says disdainfully. “He is no threat to us.”

I say nothing. There is nothing more to be said about the subject, for there is nothing more that I know. I have struggled myself with the absurdity of what I have seen. I had no wish to believe it, but I knew it was the truth. That evening, when I fall asleep on my yucca fibre mat, I pray that I am wrong. But the dreams that torment me night after night from that day onwards do not allow me any freedom to run away from what I have been shown. I have made a choice that cannot be revoked.

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1539

“What is the origin of war?” I ask Aditsan, my mentor and teacher. “Why do the men in my dreams and visions always fight each other?”

We are sitting together on the sacred mountain, peering into the red light of the setting sun. The previous night I had another alarming dream, and I wanted to know why I find the image that I have of the people that will invade our country so disturbing. Not only do I see them waging war, but I see a kind of empty hatred and fear in their eyes that I have never yet seen in the eyes of any of my brothers. At the same time I see their obsession, a desire for more that never stops. Why? I wish I had better understanding. My teacher listens to me and asks me questions that help me see things more clearly. I have all the knowledge I need inside me already, but I do not always know how to access it.

“Peace,” says Aditsan quietly, “is living in harmony, is finding a balance. When we look at our brothers and the holy animals that live around us, we learn from them that most conflicts are resolved without a fight. The bear and the eagle, the antelope and the deer, the coyote and the raven – they protect their young, their territories and their food supplies, and every one of them knows their place.” He stops and his eyes fill with tears as he still stares into the sun. “We lose hózhó when we no longer know our place. Then war will come and there can no longer be peace.”

“The white man does not know his place,” I mutter. “He thinks he is God, or at least that he has been created in his image.”

“Why does he think that? “Aditsan quietly asks. “Can you see that, shitsói?”

I try to concentrate on the images that I have started to see ever more clearly over the years.

“The white man is under great pressure,” I conclude. “His people continue to grow in number. He needs more space and all other creatures in the world have to make way, because he thinks that God has chosen him above all others. The white people across the sea are afraid of going hungry, afraid of not having enough, so they need ever more.”

“Why are they coming here?”Aditsan wants to know.

“To spread their vision. It is their holy mission.”

“How can they spread their vision when it is based on mistaken ideas?”

I shudder. “Everyone has to become like them,” I whisper. “It is only then that they feel safe. They are afraid. They think that rising above Mother Earth has given them power, but now they live in a world that feels alien to them, where nobody looks after them. They are like wanderers in their own land, disconnected from their roots.”

“How can people who are so weak harm us?” Aditsan remarks, an exact echo of the words spoken by my brother years ago. “They sound to me more like fools than fierce conquerors.”

“Fools are the most dangerous. There is no reasoning with a fool,” I answer and heave a deep sigh. “I do not know. I wish I could go and look for them and learn more about them...maybe, I could teach them something.”

“When will they come? “ I can hear the old hataalii at my side asking himself. I am not sure the question is really meant for me or that he expects me to remain silent, because I cannot answer him.

I say nothing, but together we make our way to the path that leads us from the top of the mountain down to the camp that we made last month. It is situated near a small wood by a shallow lake.

“I thank you for your questions and advice, shicheii,” I say gratefully, when we are back at my tent. It is completely dark by now, but above us there is the half moon.

“My task is to prepare you, shitsoí,” is his reply and he puts a hand on my shoulder. “As long as it is needed.”

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When I enter the tent, the family of Nanebah, my childhood girlfriend, are talking with my parents and my younger sister.

“Are you back, shínaaí?” asks Kai, my sister.

“As you can see,” I grin. “Or do you think you are dreaming?”

“I may have dreamt then that I just ate the last piece of roasted rabbit meat,” she teases and puts out her tongue.

I look at Kai, disappointed. “Really?” I say, feeling sorry for myself.

She smiles at me. “I am only teasing. Sorry, shínaaí,” she says, and brings me a piece of meat on a skewer and a drinking bag of water sweetened with fruit juice.

I sit down beside Nanebah, who is helping my mother weave a cotton cloth. The light of the flickering fire illuminates her dimpled cheeks when she smiles at me.

“So, have you been on the mountain again?” she asks. “Have you helped the hataalii pray for big herds of deer and buffalo?”

Nanebah always sounds as if she is secretly poking fun at me and somehow that feels refreshing. She is the only childhood friend who still treats me the same since my vision quest.

“They are coming this way,” I answer drily, before sinking my teeth into a piece of meat. “Nobody can ignore my call.”

She smiles and moves a little bit closer.

Okay, maybe she does not treat me quite the same. I understand why she and her family visit us more and more often in our tent. But I am not sure I am ready for that. There is too much anxiety in my body, coupled with a sense that greater things are awaiting me.

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1540

“You are sure that those men had a different skin color and had hairy faces?” My heart is beating fast and I look into the face of the man of the nearby Ashiwi tribe, who has come to our camp to trade maize flour and cotton for buffalo meat and stone tools. We call him Naalyehe Yasidahi, the trader. He is an old acquaintance of my father’s and has traded with our clan for many years, because he lives in a village near Tsoodzil. He has just told me that on his way to our camp he met a strange group of men, which he had chosen to hide from.

“They looked so different from normal people,” says the trader, his eyes wide with surprise.” I have never seen such men. The leader looked weather-beaten and the people on foot that followed him seemed to be more afraid of him than respectful. There were also a few men who were riding animals I have never seen before. Their bodies were shaped like deer or antelope, but they were much bigger and had no antlers.”