Pachu'a

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


After a child disappears from the mountaintop tribe, Miwok tasks himself with finding those responsible and putting an end to his people's fear.



Shadastorm120 - The One That Binds Us short story contest. Word Count: 3241

Submitted: November 20, 2017

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Submitted: November 20, 2017

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Pachu’a

Misu! Misu! Where are you, my child?”

Miwok jolted up from his bed of goat and buffalo hides. The dull sunrise slipped through the open entrance of the thatched home. He rubbed his eyes, sat in silence as a buzz of tribesmen gathered in the alleys outside.

Na?” a quiet voice said.

“I’m here, my taawa.” Miwok rolled from underneath his blankets. He eased across the dim room, knelt at his daughter’s side. He combed through her soft black hair and cradled her round baby face. “Don’t worry, Nirvelli.”

“What happening?” Nirvelli asked.

“Go back to sleep. I’ll go check.”

“I don’t like this place. I don’t wanna stay here.” Nirvelli latched onto her father. She planted her face against his chest, hugged him close. “I think of momma.”

“I know, I know. Hey, look at me.” Miwok lifted her chin.

Nirvelli puckered her lips, eyes became glassy.

“Regardless how it sounds outside right now,” Miwok said, “we’re safer here with the tribe. You’re safer here.”

Nirvelli inhaled a shaky breath, nodded.

“It’ll get easier once we settle back in.” Miwok kissed her head. “Now, you get some sleep, okay? I’ll be right outside.”

Nirvelli wiped the tears from her eyes. She lay to her side, hands clasped under her cheek.

Miwok hesitated. His gaze lingered upon his baby girl. He smiled and brushed the bangs from her face.

***

Miwok stepped out of his oval home. The structure made from wood, straw, and sugar cane leaf. The orange sun just began to rise over the horizon, shining upon the mountaintop tribe. Large landforms, covered in rich vegetation, surrounded the area. Streams snaked through the valley of mountains, and an abundant waterfall flowed down a cliff across from their village. The peak of their mountain was flattened, and round thatched homes cluttered the area. Intersecting footpaths weaved through the thriving community. A few huts down, Miwok observed the crowd.

How odd,” a voice said at his side, “being your first night back.”

Miwok recognized the voice of his chieftain, Chowilawu, but he never acknowledged him. His eyes stayed on the clutter of tribesmen.

“Same time as last year,” Chowilawu said.

That comment triggered a reaction from Miwok. He shot a glance to the chief. The elder appeared strong, young. His long hair danced in the breeze. Miwok looked back to the commotion. “I see the year has been nice to you.”

“Water.” Chowilawu pointed to the faint wrinkles on his face. “It’s something I’m sure you lacked on your long walk of sorrow.”

“I was looking for answers.”

“…and came back with nothing. I had the answers all along. The valley tribe.”

The crowd split in two, clearing an area for the grieving mother. Tears streaked down her fresh face. Upon seeing the chieftain, she hurried and fell at his feet. “Chowilawu, the valley has taken my baby. They have taken Misu.”

They’re jealous of our higher positioning, our water,” a tribesmen shouted.

We should finish them,” another said with his nose in the air. “After all, they are just ants, scurrying beneath us.”

“They took my daughter. We fought back,” Chowilawu said. “They take another. It’s war now.”

“You attacked them?” Miwok palmed his face. “What… have you done?”

“Stand, Kawailani.” Chowilawu helped the woman to her feet, embraced her. Kawailani shed tears on his shoulder as he turned his attention to Miwok. “I did what any great chief would do to protect his people.”

“You should’ve waited on me. I’m the one that leads them into battl—”

“They killed your wife, my daughter!” Chowilawu said. “Did you think we were going to wait on you before getting revenge? No. You no longer lead my warriors. Not when you’re afraid of revenge—”

“The valley is weak. They barely have enough as it is.” Miwok searched the faces in the crowd for an objector. “Anyone, do you believe the valley climbed these mountains, feeble and malnourished because of the state we’ve left them, and stole our loved ones from underneath our noses? You believe that?”

“Have you no anger for your wife’s death,” Chowilawu asked, “no regret for not protecting her?”

“You have lost your way—”

“And, you have lost my daughter!” Spittle flew from Chowilawu’s lips. The chief gained his composure, wiped his mouth. “It’s either you or them. So, which is it?”

Miwok massaged his eyes. “It’s—”

The ground rumbled, and out of thin air appeared a large watery portal. The oval anomaly rippled inches above the ground. Fingers pushed through and clutched each side of the bubble as though opening flaps. A woman stepped out and hopped down to the footpath. She wore a dark gothic-style dress. She had skin as pale as the moon, hair as dark as night.

The crowd bunched together in fear. Even Miwok took a step back.

“Who are you?” Chowilawu wrapped Kawailani in his arms. “Why are you here?”

“I am Dawn,” the woman said. “And, I mean you no harm.”

“Are you a spirit?” Miwok asked.

“Not necessarily.” Dawn started closer, but the tribe stirred. She stopped, surrendered her palms. “I’m a traveler so to speak. I jump from place to place, life to life, story to story. And, now, I jump here,” her eyes singled out Miwok, “to help you find what you’re looking for.”

Why should we trust you?” a man shouted from the back. “How do we know you’re not the one killing our people?”

“Because I know who is,” Dawn said. “And, I can prove it.”

“The valley people are the monsters.” Chowilawu’s voice boomed above the mutters.

Dawn shook her head. “Afraid not.”

“It could be a trap.” Kawailani looked up to the chief, nervously wadded his raw hide top in her fist.

Dawn laughed, shrugged. “Could be.”

“So, who is it?” Miwok inched forward. “Who’s doing this to our people?”

“I believe you’re aware of the legend, ummm, oh, what is it?” Dawn thought. “The Pachu’a, that’s right.”

The tribe shared confused glances.

Chowilawu released Kawailani, stepped forward. “Those ridiculous legends died many moons ago.”

“You might’ve gotten rid of the stories,” Dawn said, “but the water serpent still exists.”

Chowilawu scoffed, waved away her claim. “If anything, she’s helping the valley.”

Dawn examined him with a squint. She then wheeled to Miwok. “Did you tell these people what happened that night, that night your wife died?”

Miwok didn’t respond. He just stared at her, matching her unwavering gaze.

“That might stop your tribe from a war if they knew the truth. If that’s really what you want?” Dawn feigned sadness by poking out her bottom lip. “But, oh, you’d rather preserve her honor, right?”

Miwok’s brows creased, eyes emitted heat.

“You never told th—Well! Let me tell then.” Dawn spun to the tribe. “You see, he woke up next to a wet compression of his wife—”

Miwok shook his head. “Stop…”

“It’s alright.” Dawn’s eyes searched his broken body language. “You followed the trail of water to a cliff. Did you not?”

Miwok flexed his jaw.

“There, she stood at the edge. Her long hair slicked to her head, clothes drenched as though she’d just gone for a midnight swim.”

“Stop.”

“She didn’t look like she wanted to jump, did she? Face contorting in sadness and all.”

“Stop!” Miwok charged her. He thrust his arm forward to snatch her throat, but his hand crashed into a hard invisible surface. His knuckles popped, wrist rolled. Pain shot up his elbow. He cradled his hand and glared at the mysterious woman.

“Tisk, tisk.” Dawn wagged her finger. “But, awww, she didn’t commit suicide after all. That’s what really hurt, right? The thought she’d rather throw herself off than to live with you. Tell me, did the walk of sorrow really ease anything?”

“Why?” Miwok asked in a defeated whisper. “Why did Pachu’a kill her?”

“I’m not here to give you the whole story, only to guide. You have to finish it with the choices you make,” Dawn said. “But, if you ask me, not a bad trade for this paradise. A life a year? Meh. You take from Pachu’a everyday, from his long spindly reach throughout these mountains. You bathe in his waterfall.”

“Water gives us life,” Miwok said. “He gains nothing from killing us.”

“Something is being gained,” Dawn said.

“Where is it?” Miwok scowled. “Pachu’a. Where is it?”

“Ah! Well, the water serpent you’ll find in a cave behind the waterfall. It’ll lead to an underground lake.” Dawn pirouetted back to her liquid portal. She stuck her hands in, opening the flap. “That’s the serpent’s lair.”

“Wait,” Miwok said. “You’re not coming?”

“I’m busy, busy, busy little bee. You’re not the only story that needs me.” Dawn winked at the warrior. She jumped back inside, disappearing into thin air. The watery window melted, dripped to the ground like rain.

Na,” a sweet little voice called.

Miwok turned to find his daughter, Nirvelli, in the doorway of their home. He nodded to her, forced a smile. “Everything is okay, my taawa.”

***

Miwok hiked down the slippery stones of the giant waterfall. A cool mist hung in the air. He jumped down to the base, a crevice above the loud thrashing water. He followed a slithering stone walkway just out of reach of the strong downpour. Once out from under the waterfall, he collapsed at the foot of the cave. He whipped his wet hair back, shivered. His hand trembled as he removed a torch from inside his leather satchel—hickory bark stuffed with broom sedge. He kept his eyes forward on the dark cave while scratching two stones together. He caught a spark and lit the torch.

Other than the thundering crash of water outside, the cave was quiet, vacant. The rocky roof dripped. His flame glinted off the shiny, sky-blue stalactites.

Miwok gripped the war club on his hip—a wooden shaft with a symmetrical stone head bound with raw hide. Although he didn’t draw it from his waistband, his hand squeezed the handle, preparing for a quick attack. The further he went, the tighter the walls closed-in around him, almost brushing his shoulders. The path finally ended at a small tunnel. He crouched, stuck his torch inside. The tunnel didn’t appear but a few feet in length. He sighed, and with the fire leading the way, he crawled through on his elbows.

The cave opened up to a grand dome enclosure. Sparkling blue stalactites decorated the ceiling and floor. Tunnels encircled the rocky oval room. Four calm streams connected at the center, forming a lake. The clear water shimmered like diamonds.

Miwok smacked his lips. His thirst became insatiable. He wagged his head, fighting the urge to run for the water.

There was a splash.

Miwok froze. He removed his war club, stretched his torch toward the lake. “Show yourself, Pachu’a.”

A wave swept against the rocks at Miwok’s feet, but a smooth voice came forth, “Are you really here to kill me, warrior? Can I offer you a drink instead?”

“No.” Miwok zeroed-in on the lake. Just below the crystal surface, he spotted a bright blue orb which resembled the stalactites on the wall. “I have come to save my tribe.”

“Your tribe?” Pachu’a asked with a gargling hiss. “Your tribe is the one causing all the battles.”

“How do you know this?”

“My reach is long warrior,” Pachu’a said. “Everyone who drinks from my streams tells stories.”

“What do they say?” Miwok asked.

“It’s not necessarily what they say. It’s what they do.”

Miwok stood silent, listened.

“You’re tribe is safe in the mountain tops, living on a cloud in paradise,” Pachu’a said. “But, they want more.”

Miwok shuffled, cracked his neck.

“I give them all the water they need, pure, fresh from my stream. But, again, they want more,” Pachu’a said. “They attack the valley for more.”

“I didn’t want that!”

“Your tribe did, the ones you’re trying to save,” Pachu’a replied sharply. “When will it end?’ I ask. When will your tribe be happy?”

“My tribe attacked the valley because of you!” Miwok said. “Chief thought they killed my wife. But it was you! And for what, huh, from drinking from your streams?”

“Oh, oh you… it’s almost adorable how clueless you really are. I don’t take lives for drinking from my streams. That’s free. But, there must be a price paid for drinking from here, my core.”

Miwok cocked his head, scrunched his brows.

“Like I said you’re tribe is spoiled, unsatisfied. They always want more.”

“And, what do you give them?”

“Eternity”

“And, m-my wife,” Miwok stammered, “the little girl, Misu?”

“Ask your people,” Pachu’a said. “To give life, I have to take life. Ask the father, the mother, why their lives mean more than their children.”

“Chowilawu. Kawailani…” Miwok’s eyes drifted to the ground in recollection.

Water gives us life,” Miwok said. “He gains nothing from killing us.”

Something is being gained,” Dawn replied.

Miwok recalled the conversation with Chowilawu.

I see the year has been nice to you,” Miwok said.

Water.” Chowilawu pointed to the faint wrinkles on his face. “It’s something I’m sure you lacked on your long walk of sorrow.”

“And Kawailani’s spectacle this morning…” Miwok’s face tensed in anger. “They wanted to blame the valley, give the tribe reason to take over all.”

“I am not the monster you’re looking for.”

“You killed my wife,” Miwok said through clenched teeth “You killed Misu, a little girl!”

“They were bargained.”

“Only something evil would accept a deal like that.”

“You kill me and then what? Who will give your people water?” Pachu’a asked. “This mountain will run dry with my death. This paradise will be lost.”

Miwok raised his glower to the water serpent. “Maybe valley life wouldn’t be so bad.”

The lake bubbled, waves sloshed. Pachu’a busted through the surface, perched up like a snake. He was a whirlwind of water, a funnel, with the blue orb glowing in his belly. Pachu’a targeted Miwok and struck.

Miwok gripped his war club, spun on his knee in a full circle, and smacked the serpent with the stone barrel. Water splashed the rocky wall like blood. Pachu’a continued, however, roughly hosing Miwok to the hard floor. His war club flew from his hand. The strong force shoved him against the wall. The intense water pressure started to drown him. He kicked, flailed his arms, and by happen stance, punched the blue orb from the belly of Pachu’a.

The liquid serpent slithered to the orb and rolled it back into the clear lake. The surface settled. The water darkened. Pachu’a appeared to be swimming away, deeper into the dark depths.

Miwok collapsed to his hands and knees, gasping for air. He looked up, spotted his war club against the far wall. He stood, ripped off his drenched raw hide shirt, and hurried to his weapon. “Pachu’a, we’re not finished yet!”

The lake began to tremble. The surface brightened with a sky-blue hue.

Miwok picked his club up. He faced the lake, took a readied stance. “Come on…”

The water became more turbulent.

Miwok rocked with anticipation. “Come on.”

The choppy waves splashed over the stone floor.

“Come on, Pachu’a!” Miwok yelled, veins popping from his neck. “Come on!”

Pachu’a exploded from the lake, showering the entire enclosure. The water serpent postured up and shot toward Miwok in a great, powerful funnel.

Miwok squeezed the club with both hands. His wet hair hung in front of his face. His muscles twitched with anticipation. He reared back, but as Pachu’a collided into him, he faked his swing and dodged the attack.

Pachu’a crashed against the wall with force, shaking the interior. Stalactites broke free and crumbled into the lake. Loose rock and pebbles bounced across the slippery stone bed. The impact was so powerful it knocked the orb free. The bright piece rolled on the floor. Pachu’a whipped around, slithered after it.

Miwok gathered himself. He spotted the orb slipping back toward the lake. Without hesitation, he dove into a forward roll, planted his feet, and tomahawked the orb with his war club. The stone barrel cracked the orb and froze. Ice crawled down toward his hands. Before it could reach him, Miwok hammered the frozen weapon against the rocks. The orb shattered into pieces.

“Nooooooo…” The whirlwind of water, that was Pachu’a, fell apart and splashed against the ground. The lake started to separate, empty. The current pushed back down the four connecting streams.

Miwok crashed to his knees. He watched with a heavy breath as the water left the cave, the mountain, and the tribe.

***

Miwok made his way home at a feverish pace. The waterfall dripped its last remnants as he hurried out of the cave. Muddy cutouts scarred the ground where streams use to run alongside the mountain. But, he paid no mind to the lost paradise. With what he knew now, the tribe ruined it a long time ago.

At the footpath, in front of his thatched home, stood Chowilawu and Kawailani. The tribe backed them, shoulder to shoulder. All appeared worried; a buzz of murmurs filled the air.

Miwok’s eyes were dead set on his chief. He marched toward him, not hiding any intent.

Chowilawu glared back, withdrew an arrow-head knife from his waistband. “What have you done to us? Where is the water?”

“You had your own child murdered,” Miwok said, “my wife!”

Chowilawu thrust the blade at Miwok, but Miwok dodged the attack with a side-step. He snagged the chief’s wrist, twisted until he released the weapon. Chowilawu growled in pain. Miwok threw two quick punches to the chieftain’s nose, caving the bone into his skull. Blood streamed down Chowilawu’s chin as he crumpled to the ground, convulsing.

The tribesmen gasped.

Miwok snatched the arrow-head knife from the ground, spun around. He stabbed the weapon at Kawailani, but as the blade neared her throat, he saw movement out of his peripheral. He stopped just in time. The sharp tip poked her skin, drawing a bead of blood. Miwok looked to the little girl standing in the doorway of his home. His glare softened. “My taawa…”

Nirvelli looked stunned, frightened. Her eyes were wide, mouth slightly agape.

Miwok released his hold on Kawailani. He whipped his wrist, slinging Chowilawu’s blood from his knuckles. “Pachu’a is dead,” Miwok said to the tribe. “But, he wasn’t the only monster. The wendigo of this paradise has possessed you all.”

Kawailani trembled in fear, her breaths shaky and fast.

“Thank me because I have freed you of your greed and gluttonous spirits.” Miwok clutched Kawailani’s chin. “And you? Enjoy your eternity, knowing it’ll never be as good as it once was.”

What are we to do?” a voice asked.

“We start remembering what it’s like to be thankful.” Miwok glanced to his daughter, Nirvelli. He flashed a smile. “My taawa, go pack your bags. This paradise is over.”

 

 

 

 


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