Shadow of The Pale ManMature

Running Laughter sat idly by the stream as the gray rain continued to poor down. She ran her thin fingers through her long dark hair. She had once been called "little beauty" her fair skin and dark hair making her look much like a younger version of her mother. As the years came she proved to be a rather mischievous girl, always getting into trouble, but who could punish a girl with a face like hers?

She gathered water from the stream in her hands and poured in in her hair, the shining pearls of water sliding down her dark locks desperately clinging to to the lovely girl.

A few children splashed playfully down stream, but apart from them Running Laughter was alone. She enjoyed the solitude this spot had to offer. The tall reeds and grasses gave her privacy here, yet it was close enough to the village that she could hear the comings and goings of the people in the distance. She would come here to bathe, or to rest, or watch the sun reflect in the water.

"I was hoping to visit during one of your baths." Running Laughter looked up to see she was no longer alone.

Standing among the reeds across the little brook stood an incredibly tall young man. He stood taller than any other man in the tribe. He had intimidating broad shoulders yet, he was thin as like a skeleton. Despite his youth his head was bare of hair, save for the wispy beard. The most unsettling about this character was his constant grin, he always had his thin red lips stretched into a broad grin, showing off his crooked yellow teeth. He was pale as a ghost, which credited to his named. This was the man called Pale Giant. It was a name given mockingly, he certainly was tall enough to be a giant, but his thin frame made the title seem unfitting. Yet despite his joke of a name he always smiled, as if he himself thought it up.

"How are you my pretty one?" Pale Giant slowly made his way toward her, his long legs covering distance quickly.

Running Laughter sat there nervously. She did not want to run, yet she did. Pale Giant was known to be very clever and spiteful. Not one to make enemies with.

"How are you my pretty one?" He sat down next to the trembling girl, his smile broadening. "Does the rain have you cold? you are shaking?"

"I am well enough." Running Laughter answered plainly. The pale man snickered and sat there leering at her. It was rather unsettling.

"So Red Son is a man now, they are calling him 'Bear Killer'."

"You heard of his trial didn't you? He killed a bear with his bear hands." Running Laughter hoped such a tale would help to instill fear of her elder brother in this unwanted admirer. He just let out a cackle.

"Oh yes, he is quite the terror isn't he? An impressive kill indeed isn't it little one?" He picked a near by flower and offered it to the girl. "Flower for my flower?" He than let out an unnerving high pitched giggle.

They sat there a moment, Running laughter decided to try to make her move. "Well, I need to get this water to my mother." She said picking up one of the jars she had brought with her.

"Oh, I can help you with that my pretty one." His long pale fingers grasped the vessel from the girl as he picked the other up and tucked it beneath his long arm. "I follow you my little flower."

Nervously Running flower got up and began to make her way back to her tent.

***

Low Eyes sat in his usual place to the left of his tent entrance. Here he did much of his work, even how he sat carving a bit of horn into a comb for his wife or daughter. His gnarled old fingers working nimbly at his work. A man of his health had so little to offer, the least he could do was offer these gifts to those around him.

Low Eyes looked up to see his daughter approaching, a nervous look across her face as pale giant followed closely carrying some jars of water for her. It was not uncommon for men you follow girls home, it was something he would not want to have happen to his daughter. Red Son and Stone Jaw were both out leaving him the only chance of aid for his daughter.

"Hello father." Running Laughter squeaked nervously as she stopped hesitantly in front of her father. She knew there was little the old man could do to stop Pale Giant from bringing any harm to her. Maybe if she stopped to talk with him one of her brothers would arrive, though she did not want to anger Pale Giant.

"Greetings craftsman." Pale Giant walked past the old man and girl and entered the tent on his own. Low Eyes and Running laughter watched in confusion for a moment. The skeletal youth quickly emerged from the dwelling. "I left the water by the fire." His actions seemed harmless enough, yet that grin remained as if there was some strange joke of his that he was eagerly waiting to spring into action. Again he stood there for a few moments smiling in silence. "well good-bye craftsman, good-bye little flower." The alabaster suitor turned and made his way down the road, bringing a strange ending to the encounter.

"Are you all right my daughter? What happened?"

Running Laughter sat next to her father as she let out a long sigh. It was as if she had been holding her breath while watch some dangerous stunt. "He met me by the river. He said he wanted to help me bring these home."

"You were alone with him down by the water? Did he try to take you? What happened?" The old man was very anxious. If Pale Ghost and his daughter had lain together than she was no longer his daughter, she would be considered Pale Ghosts woman by the tribe.

"He did nothing. We just spoke for a while than we came here."

Low Eyes let out a sigh of relief, yet his daughter fidgeted with unease. "What is it my daughter?"

"The way he looks at me, he's always smiling like that, and he- I don't know. There is just something about him. He's a strange person father, he thinks strange thoughts." She began to cry as she clung to her father. "I don't want to be with him, there is something so strange about him."

Low Eyes sat there with his weeping daughter. His old hands rest on her back trying to offer comfort to his daughter. They were hands that could crafts tools, they had made weapons, and even jewelry. If only they could make comfort for his daughter.

The End

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