Charlie leaned back in her seat, listening to Professor Rifkin’s lecture about 19th century warfare between the American Army and The People. She had chosen this history class because she was curious about the American version of their shared history, and wanted to compare notes with what she had learned in high school, which she’d spent in the Lakota Confederacy.
The Battle of Wakpala took place in the late 1800s between the Santee tribe and the American Cavalry bent on infiltrating and establishing a foothold in Confederacy lands.
Charlie frowned as Dr. Rifkin described the events leading to the conflict, stating America’s pressing need for more land, and the numerous tense and occasionally violent encounters between American settlers and the native population, as the settlers tried to stake a claim in what they considered unoccupied land. It was definitely a one sided history, as it was implied that all the violence was on the part of the People, and that the People were unjust in refusing to let these people settle in their land.
The American government decided to send a Troop from the 7th Cavalry to defend settlers living along the agreed border. The cavalry soldiers, led by Captain Gary Thompson, pushed past the designated border, and a group of settlers followed, intending to stake a homestead. Dr. Rifkin went on to describe a chance meeting between a band of Lakota warriors and the aforementioned Troop at Wahnkala Creek at Wakpala, which rapidly disintegrated into an all-out battle.
“The entire encounter was a series of bad luck for the American troop,” Professor Rifkin proclaimed. “First, there was the initial encounter: in miles of empty land, 100 American soldiers ran into a band of 35 Lakota warriors. Then, the Americans lost nearly 50% of their number in the first exchange of fire. Even then, they rallied behind Captain Thompson, and began to advance across the Creek, pushing the warriors back from the banks. However, the soldiers lost their cohesion when a stray arrow hit Captain Thompson in the eye, knocking him from the saddle and killing him.”
She paused in the front of the room, where the image of said Captain Thomas was shown on the whiteboard, along with a few smaller pictures of the battle scene.
She continued, “The Lakota were galvanized and pushed back to the banks of the Creek, at which point the Americans broke ranks as they retreated to the border. The Lakota followed, finding the settlers and taking them hostage. This action forced the American government to the negotiating table to attempt to gain their release, and resulted in the Treaty of Wakpala, which banned settlers with American citizenship from gaining permission to homestead in the Lakota Confederacy until well into the 20th century.”
Professor Rifkin stopped in front of the room, and Charlie met her eyes as she scanned the students.
“Charlie, you look a bit perplexed. Any thing you’d like to bring up?”
Charlie blushed at being singled out. She was not the only student at GLU with native heritage, but she was the only one in this class.
She addressed the professor. “I’m just surprised. I was expecting more detail.”
One of her classmates scoffed, “What details? We came, we got our butts kicked. What more do you need to know?”
Charlie turned to look at the class. “Okay, how about the fact that the ‘warrior band’ was comprised of 6 adults and 30 youths ranging in age from 13 to 17? And that this ‘unoccupied land’ was basically a summer camp? That the American government intentionally sent troops into a camp of children with the intent of committing an atrocity? That the American government intentionally sent civilians behind said troops, knowing what would happen to them after the Cavalry murdered 30 children, in order to create an excuse to take further action?”
Silence filled the room. No one liked what they had just heard. It had too much truth to it.
Charlie turned back to the professor and continued. “I’m also surprised that the Lakota victory is dismissed as pure luck. The Lakota version of this event is definitely much richer. It seems to me that American history is very dismissive of The People’s ability to defend the border, even though any attempt to push the line has been stopped very decisively.”
Professor Rifkin leaned against the desk, gazing at Charlie. “You know the People’s side of this event,” she stated. Charlie nodded. “Have you ever been to the reenactment there? I’ve heard about it, but it’s difficult to get permission to observe it”
Charlie smiled. “I went to camp at Wakpala for 4 years, and I worked as a counselor for two years. I’ve been part of the reenactment.”
Staring intently at Charlie, the professor asked, “Would you share the tale with us?”
“Is this a formal request?”
Still staring intently, Professor Rifkin replied, “Yes.”
Charlie reached into her book bag, and took out a small rattle. She rose from her chair and moved to the desk at the front of the room. She looked to the back of the room where a few of the familiars were gathered. On his perch, Aldric stood at attention, and opened his massive wings as she took her position. Professor Rifkin watched wide eyed, and moved to take Charlie’s seat, leaving her the floor.
“Hear now the story of Little Crow, a youth of the Santee.” Charlie shook the rattle, and followed its rhythm into the story.
“Little Crow was born into a family of witches and showed the potential for great talent. Much was made of him as a child, and as he grew, he became bold and confident and a trifle arrogant, knowing he was the best of his tribe and would be a leader of his people.
Little Crow, at the age of 14, was chosen to participate in the Great Games between the tribes. He and other promising youths of the Santee were trained and taught by the most skilled and knowledgeable warriors and witches and soon came their turn to travel to Wakpala, the camp near the Eastern border of the People’s Nation. This is where the Great Games were held, and all of the selected teams were given the opportunity to train on the actual terrain.
The band of youth warriors numbered thirty between the ages of 14 and 17, and their six teachers consisted of Warriors both witch and ortho. During their two weeks at the camp, Little Crow excelled, winning the red feathers to decorate his hair, the only exception being in archery, where Wi-Sapa was always the champion. Little Crow, unaccustomed to losing anything, devised a working intended to give him the victory, but was found out by the Elders and his arrows were confiscated, and he was ashamed.”
Thus, on the 18th day of Canpásapa Wi, did the band of young warriors in training advance to the woods to test the skills they had learned, their teachers leading them to the creek where they would be tested.”
Charlie began to move, a slow dance accompanying the story. Aldric flew to the desk, holding his wings high as he landed.
“As the trainees approached the waters, the trees moved without wind, and the animals fell silent. The adult warriors moved the front, shielding the children, as soldiers of their sometimes enemy approached the creek from the opposite bank.
Teetonka of the adult warriors advanced to the water’s edge and called out to the invaders in their tongue. “What do you here, in the lands of the Lakota? You have strayed far from your camp and should return there immediately.”
On the other side of the table, Charlie knelt, as if aiming a gun.
“In response, the soldiers in blue, numbering nearly one hundred, opened fire, shooting down the Lakota warriors gathered at the creek’s bank.”
Aldric clapped his wings, producing a low rumble, startling the listeners. Charlie rose and continued to circle the desk.
“The Lakota youth were shocked as they watched their teachers fall to the unprovoked attack. And at this moment, Little Crow stepped forward, putting his feet on the path of destiny and greatness.
He ran to the fallen warriors and quickly noted that while there were severe injuries, none were dead. He pulled a bundle from Teetonka’s belt, and as his bonded landed on his shoulder, he activated the embedded spell, setting off the defense for the camp. However, such was the depth of his fear and the strength of his will, that his spell set off the defenses for not only the nearby camp, but for the entire eastern border, which was only a few miles away, putting the military forces of the People on alert and closing the border and the enemy’s line of retreat.
While the enemy was reloading their weapons, he shouted to his companions, still hidden in the trees. “All of you! Arm yourselves! Warriors with fire talent, direct your fire to the weapons of the enemy.”
He heard the enemy chief give the order to fire once more, and then the screams as the weapons misfired. At that time, the archers moved out of the trees and fired their arrows. The newly blooded warriors set new arrows to their bows, and fired again, striking the enemy again.”
Charlie drew and fired an invisible bow, then continued her slow dance around the desk.
“Little Crow focused on defense, as he had no arrows to fire. He crafted a shield of earth and air around the injured warriors to protect from stray bullets and arrows. From Teetonka’s belt he pulled more precast spells, these for healing, and began to apply them to the most grievous wounds. Most of the adults had several bullet wounds, but Little Crow only needed to keep the warriors alive until help arrived from the main camp.
During the lull between firing, he looked above the barrier, and saw that nearly half of the enemy were down, but the remaining soldiers were crossing the creek as their leader exhorted them.
Little Crow looked back to his band, and saw them frozen in place, despair showing in their faces as the enemy approached. As he stepped beyond the barrier, he heard the words of the enemy and understood them as he was trained in their language.
“Advance, soldiers. They are just a bunch of kids, and they’ve got no fight left in them. You are members of the US Cavalry and the best trained soldiers in the world. Soldiers, prepare arms.”
Little Crow felt himself taken by despair as he heard the man’s words. Then his bonded, a great black crow called Shota, landed on his shoulder and bit his ear, drawing blood. Thus did Little Crow’s mind clear and he realized that the worlds of the enemy were themselves a weapon, stealing hope and strength from the Santee youth, and feeding it to the soldiers who were about to set foot on their side of the creek.
He stepped back behind the barrier and at that moment, he saw his bundle of arrows, which had fallen loose when the adults were struck down. He grabbed them, pulling out an arrow and setting it to his bow.
He stepped out of the protection of the barrier and the enemy’s words struck as a blow, but Little Crow’s will did not falter, and he did not fall prey to the despair. Instead, he pulled the bow, looking to the enemy leader and meeting his eyes.
The enemy spoke directly to him. “Now Red Feathers, let’s have none of that. It’s a lost cause and will only end in your death. Lay down your weapon and surrender, as you have already lost.”
Little Crow stiffened as the enemy warrior’s words attacked his mind, but continued to draw the arrow back. He shouted at the enemy warrior, “Invader! THOKA! Red Feathers will be your death!”
Finally he shouted, ‘Wahkan, guide my arrow!’, and let the arrow fly.”
As she spoke Little Crow’s words, Charlie positioned her arms as if drawing a bow, a pointer she picked up from the desk in her right hand as the arrow. She released her “arrow”, throwing the stick towards the students at their desks.
“The arrow flew true, and pierced the enemy warrior’s eye, killing him.”
Her classmates nearly rioted as they watched the stick reverse course, and shoot towards the picture of Captain Thomas at the front of the room. The pointer hit the picture in the eye and stuck there, not falling.
Professor Rifkin stood and walked over to the picture, looking all around at the pointer in Captain Thomas’ eye. The class was in an uproar and it took a minute for her to get them to settle down.
Charlie smiled at the professor, and put a hand on Aldric’s head as he finally let his wings down.
“There’s more to the story, but it’s not really relevant. Once Capt. Thomas was dead, his forces fell apart and made a run for the border, which they couldn’t get through. The warriors from the camp followed them, found them and the prospective settlers and took them hostage.”
Professor Rifkin returned the smile. “Is Little Crow – that’s Kanghi Red Feather, isn’t it?”
“Little Crow did become known as Kanghi Red Feather. He took the name “Red Feather” when he became a diplomat to remind the American Government who they were dealing with.”
One of her classmates called out, “Charlie Redfeather. Are you related?”
Charlie grinned, “You bet. He was my grandfather, with a few greats in front of it. The spell he put on his arrows, even though he did it with the intent to cheat, is the pride of my family. That is the first spell that all of us who share his talent learn on our own. We always get caught trying to use it but it’s a kind of rite of passage now.”
Sid says: This is a glimpse into the alternate history of the Perfect Coven world. It’s rich and deep and diverse, and this glorious tidbit gives me so many more ideas…. I’m already trying to talk James and Mickie into doing a Perfect Coven historical series next. (Every time this happens, new PC books appear in Morpheus’s library….)
James says: I think Mickie has just upped the bar for our short story excerpts! This is an amazing story, and shows how much work we have been putting into building a coherent history for Perfect Coven Earth. We are trying to keep the majority of the world’s history in line with that of our own world, but adjusting events for what the presence of openly acknowledged and known witches would do to them. There will be more matters like this to come, not just from Mickie.