At the end of the 12th day as we were making camp at twilight and the Ravens were at rest in the branches of a large birch tree, we heard drums in the distance: a steady hard, soft heartbeat.
“Do you hear that too?” Joshua asked me: his voice dropping to a whisper.
“Yes, of course. Where is it coming from?” I replied with a scowl on my face.
“There, to the West.” He pointed at the setting sun and then covered his mouth for the international sign for “Shut the eff up.”
I shrugged, then said under my breath: “That’s interesting” was all I could think to say.
“Should we check it out? Do some recon?” Joshua suggested using hand signs this time in complete silence.
“Most def.” I signed silently and grabbed my bow.
“Agreed!” Joshua signed back. We both nodded and left each other with a brotherly hug. “Listen for my ‘Caw, Caw.’” I whispered in his ear.
Joshua set off at a trot toward the South and I set off toward the North. We wanted to approach them and surprise them from the behind. Just like at home, as our Ancestors had done so many times before, we were going to attempt to count coup. In our village the most respected Warriors were those who had counted coup several times in battle or during raids for horses. For me it would be my first attempt in a real world situation. I was stoked: my palms sweating and my heart beating to match the drums I heard in the distance. My thoughts were dominated by the childhood games we had played that prepared us for the Warrior’s Way. Now was the time to bring those skills to fruition. I pictured in my mind the Vision Quest that all of us taken had before we became a Man and were given our Name. Mine was Coyotl: the Coyote. Then my thoughts fell on my brother Joshua who was Named the same Spring as me. He was called Mongwu, the Horned Owl: the straight man to my Coyote tendencies. However, Joshua sometimes seemed to raise more hell than I did or at least he caught it more often than me.
I forced myself to focus at the task at hand: controlling my breath as my Master had taught me in my youth. Reaching out with my five senses to discover my environment and the oncoming dangers. Then, I used my Third Eye to see the Unseen. A picture appeared in my head: Five women and three men in a clearing gathered around a large bonfire playing drums of different sizes and makes. The flow of sound entered my soul and brought about a Calm I had not felt since leaving home. I knew then I had nothing to Fear from these people. Finally, I sung my “Caw, caw” to Joshua and he replied that he had reached the same conclusion.
We both walked into the clearing with our arms held high as a universal sign of submission. I announced: “We heard the Heartbeat of your drums and are here to answer your Call of Peace.” The whole group looked up at me, but the hard, soft heartbeat did not falter.
“Greetings!” I tried to get their attention. “My name is Coyote. This is my brother Horned Owl.”
Still the Beat did not falter. At last the Crone of the group spoke and the Spell was broken: “Welcome, Coyote. Welcome Horned Owl. My name is Janet Olsen and we’ve been looking for y’all for a week. Nice to finally meet you both. Won’t you join us around the Fire? Would ya like a cup o’ joe?”
“Of course.” I replied. “Thank God. We ran out of coffee a days ago.”
“You’re welcome. Come sit.” She motioned to a couple of green folding camp chairs.
We both sat down with a sigh of relief. They were friends, not enemies. We were blessed.
Janet asked: “So you followed the Ravens to us?”
“Yes. We somehow knew that they would not lead us into Danger.” Joshua answered as his coffee cup was filled.
“Cream and sugar?” Asked a young African woman with an unfamiliar accent.
“No thank you.”
As my cup was filled Janet continued: “I’m sorry for my rudeness. It’s been so long since we’ve had guests. This is Thomasa our cook.” Pointing to the young lady pouring our coffee. “To your left is Opi Chi Chi: the first bird of Spring. She came to us only six weeks ago when we passed though St. Louis.”
“Hello, Opi Chi Chi.” We both got up to shake her hand.