"The most precious gift was taken from us. The love I had for my brother. The love he had for you. The love you had for him was ripped out of our lives. This is the man who has done it. Tonight we are going to take back a life, for the life he has taken!" Paw whispers.
Numbness washes over Kiowa and drowns his fear. A small flame ignites in his heart. He looks at Moon Beam, who seems to nod. The confirmation from his demigod fans the rising flames of rage.
"I stole this power from him." Paw pats a bundle of furs wrapped around the golden lance. "I hoped he would again be a man. The white buffalo was a sign to me that he would be here," Paw whispers. "I am glad you are here with me, Nephew. I want you to see me use this."
The rage swells and shows in Kiowa's blazing eyes. He hears his uncle's words, but his mind is elsewhere. A gust of wind whispers, "Avenge me."
Across the prairie, Black Bear encourages his hunters. "Where the white buffalo is, great magic follows. If she is not killed and sacrificed to the Sun God, she will lead the buffalo away until our people starve out. We must kill her and put to death the man of magic who has brought her here."
"Ai hay!" the Cheyenne hunters shout in agreement, pursuing the white buffalo with fierce whooping cries.
Kiowa's predatory gaze fixes on Chief Black Bear. The fire turns to lava, coursing through his heart and blazing through his veins. His jaw clenches and his hands tighten into fists. Now he understands why Paw has brought him to this place season after season. It wasn't to observe the buffalo but to find Chief Black Bear.
The Kiowa warriors stalk the Cheyenne as they would the buffalo, with slow, steady motions. They stay a safe distance away. They watch. They listen. They pray for justice.
"A warrior should kill at least one buffalo before he kills a man. But I have sworn an oath to kill Chief Black Bear, and I will not betray my brother now. Your father's legs carried me here, and I will follow their tracks back to camp. I will need your hands, Nephew."
"What will we do then?" Makes Trouble asks.
"Summon a war party."
"They are bound to have dogs. What will we do if we wake them?"
"Then both of you will be warriors tonight."
Paw's words fall on deaf ears.
Rage explodes inside Kiowa and forces him to his feet. With zero regard for Paw or Makes Trouble, Kiowa exposes their concealed position. He removes his buffalo hide and lets his russet chest and tawny deer-hide pants stand out in stark contrast to his green prairie surroundings. The buffalo stir at the sight of him and scamper off.
"Turn your horse around and look at my face, Chief Black Bear. My heart is full of fire! My hands turn to fury. I wear the mask of death. Come! Receive it!"
Black Bear and his hunting party are so engrossed in their hunt that they don't even notice the lone warrior. They simply pursue the herd.
Black Bear skillfully rides alongside a sprinting bull. His horsemanship is unmatched. He lifts a long spear and thrusts. His warriors fire arrows. They each take turns. The hunters know their attacks won't drop the beast. For this reason, they taunt, tease, and run the buffalo to keep its heart beating and pumping the life force out of the open wounds.
The bull staggers, drops to its knees, releases one loud bellow, and falls to its side. Black Bear thrusts his spear deep into the beast's heart. For the chief, the death blow is the greatest honor.
Kiowa releases his rage in one loud war cry. "AAAHHH-HHHOOO!"
One of the Cheyenne warriors hears the high-pitched wail. He scans the horizon and spots Kiowa. The brave halts his horse by pulling on the reins. With a swift jerk of the reins, he makes a sharp turn and points out Kiowa's distant tiny frame. He cries out to Chief Black Bear, halting the hunt's momentum.
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Kiowa and Anoki lock hands and stare into each other's eyes. They listen intently to Onendah, the medicine man, officiate their wedding. "Yours is a forbidden love. Because you are from a war tribe, Kiowa, your people will not let you marry this pea...