Blistering heat slammed into Maku's back as he sat atop his horse. He felt free as a bird as the scorching air flew through his long, raven hair.
He hadn't realised he'd feel this way after his coming of age. He felt older, taller, braver, stronger - the ceremony had somehow aged him.
But inside Maku now burned the desire to keep his father's spirit alive. That was what he would have wanted. Maku would no longer be recluse and taciturn, he would retun with full front to daily life, and prove to the tribe that he was worthy to take his father's stead.
The buffalo ahead were grunting in terror as Maku and his fellows closed in on them like a scorpion's pincers. They hurtled away to the edge of the plain - a sheer stone bluff sinking fifty feet onto a sea of jagged rocks.
Boils of dust billowed off the plain as the herd were forced over the cliff, the clamouring and shoving of the ones behind sending the forerunners to their deaths. The buffalo died in their hundreds, squealing like pigs as they poured, like beans from a cup, over the cliff.
Maku clutched the necklace his father had worn. It was made from buffalo horn, into which Garamun had carved an elegant, powerful eagle's head.
Maku felt the contours of the beak as he contemplated his new adult name: Red Demon.
Ironic, really, considering what Nightsong had told him a few days ago.
Maku was jerked out of his reverie - not by the summons to gather the dead buffalo, but by a rather different noise.
Runners were yelling from about a half-mile away, the sound carried to them across the flat plain by a light summer breeze.
"Return to camp, return to camp! We are under attack!"
Maku nearly snorted with laughter - since when were they ever under attack? Everyone knew not to mess with their tribe - even the other Sioux.
But the runners sounded serious. Maku jabbed his heels into his horse and it jerked away from the edge of the cliff, followed swiftly by the rest of the riding party. Maku was already deep in thought, wondering if Nightsong's warning already had a basis in truth.