The shaman rose majestically as she left the tepee.

"He's sleeping," she said quietly, as she pulled the flap to.

"Why have we not tried him for murder?" demanded a surly man waiting for her.

"Be quiet, Taman," snapped Nightsong, eyes burning with agitation. "The boy is in great distress."

"Well, of course he is, if he's tried and convicted," said Taman coldly. "I certainly wouldn't want the carrion feasting on my eyes."

"Don't try my patience!" Nightsong hissed, quelling her brother with a reproving gaze. "I have very good reasons for stepping in."

"You'd better," Taman pressed, an irritated frown on his face. "The tribe aren't going to like this. Soaring Eagle is dead, and the normal lines of justice aren't being fulfilled."

"I doubt they will ever understand," said Nightsong haughtily. "Maybe not even the boy."

Taman walked off, muttering imprecations under his breath. Nightsong turned away, unconcerned, to look across the plains basking in the blistering sun. Taman knew better than to argue with her for long.

But Taman and the tribe were the least of her worries.

"If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, Nightsong. He's too young to know."

She watched a soaring eagle in the distance as the words of its namesake were recalled to her.

"He's fifteen, Garamun. I think you're just resentful to pass on the standard."

"It's got nothing to do with that! I will tell him when he's ready."

Nightsong frowned angrily. Garamun had been strong in nearly every way - brave, cunning, a fearsome warrior - his only weakness was guarding the terrible knowledge he held within him from the one person who needed to know.

And now it fell on her. She alone had to pass the burden that had rested on his father's shoulders. And if that burden had made one of the most prolific leaders of the Sioux commit suicide, what would it do to a vulnerable fifteen-year-old boy?

Nightsong hesitated, her hand on the flap. She now knew exactly how Garamun had felt, as the weight of what she was about to tell Maku was made real to her. But she had no sympathy with the deceased chief - he had only made everything worse. She turned away, loath to disturb the boy in his fitful slumber.

The End

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