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Aberrant: The Middle Children of History - Wistful Seasons

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She fell heavily onto piled furs, and sighed.

This week had been a long one. But then, so had most for the past... eight years? Has it really been almost eight years? The thought seemed somehow impossible, and yet as spring finally began giving way once more to summer, there was no disputing it. This will be the eighth summer since he died, the Lakota goddess known as Ptesan-Wi thought to herself. The eighth summer since Wakinyan was taken from his people. Taken from me.

All these years later, the memories of that day - long since restored from the cloud of pain that had obscured them for months afterward - were clear and crisp. Images seemed to overlay the elaborate tapestries on the wall of the cave they had called home together. No, not merely overlay; the figures depicted on the handwoven and beaded coverings came to life in Ptesan-Wi's mind, moving across the threads in vivid retelling of the tale.

She had been sick that day, down with an unlikely flu when Sheriff White-Elk had come. That flu, as unwelcome as it had been at the time, probably saved her life in the long run. With honeyed words, White-Elk had called Wakinyan away, used his sense of responsibility to fly off to deal with the latest flare-up in the age-old story of hatred between the white man and the red. She could feel through him as those mighty wings caught the breath of Wakan-Tanka, as he soared wild and free up into the heavens, gathering a mighty storm around him to show those who hate the meaning of fear.

And she felt when lances from the heavens crushed him to earth. Felt his struggle. Felt his death. And for the longest time, wanted to feel no more.

Something coppery trickled down her lip, and almost absently Ptesan-Wi called a rag over from across the cave, taking it in hand once it was within reach and blotting the line of blood that flowed from her nose. Even this long after, the memory of what she had felt from Wakinyan in his last moments were enough to physically hurt the empath. More than physically, she lamented as hot tears burned their way down her cheeks.

Gradually - a tiny bit faster than last time, which had been a tiny bit faster than the one before - the blood and tears stopped, and the living goddess of the Lakota people sighed once more. Despite the gains of the People over the past eight years, there was still so much left to do... so much for one lonely woman. But not too much for a goddess, Ptesan-Wi admonished herself, as she forced tired muscles to pull her body up once more. A small mirror hung not far away winked a reflection back to her. No longer was she the naïve girl who had begun this journey so long ago; the person who gazed back from the glass, the person with the deep brown eyes that even now shifted to glow softly with the azure blue of the Dakota sky, possessed the fullness of beautiful womanhood. "My People need me, need the White Buffalo Calf Woman to usher them into the Fifth World. And by Wakan-Tanka, that is what I will do."

Renewed from somewhere within, Ptesan-Wi walked out of the cave to face the coming summer.

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