The Conduit - A Legend of the Tribe, Pt 4 (A Serial for Newsletter Subscribers ONLY)


So many questions and Miathe could ask none of them in his strigine form, which presented a brand new problem, far more immediate than the creature beneath Nocturne River or the beaconing source of magic at the outsider's cabin. There was one person he could speak to without words, and Sig was in Asanwa, the winds carrying the news of Jess's pregnancy across the forest in a joyous call. It was one place Miathe could never go again, his spirit bound to the land of the dead warriors. Which meant he was going to have to tell Matchetehew. If the new Misignwa would listen without killing him on the spot as a spy.
It wasn't far off the mark, though. Miathe had been sent to spy on the new Misignwa and the developments on the mountain for the Great Wolf, but death had made him brave. The loss of Hurit had made him determined. He was going to learn the truth of the game Kokumthena and Moroc were playing and to do that, he would need allies.
Unfortunately, Matchetehew was even less trusting than his twin.
Miathe circled the rocky outcropping over the bend in the river finally lighting on a jagged chunk of limestone above the opening to Matchetehew's den. Whatever chaos Moroc sought to wreak.. whatever Kokumthena's design in killing his sister, Miathe would get no further without help. That solidified his resolution and his mouth opened in a shriek, his body growing, feathers submerging beneath tawnly skin that stretched over thickening muscle, his human form emerging from the body he shared with the owl spirit to stand at the mouth of the den, golden eyes darting nervously. Just do it. He can only kill you again. Speak, eninubaki. Speak or stay silent in these injustices. His sister's revelation came back to him on a haunting wind and when his voice lit into the entrance of the den, it was with a booming determination that would not back down, no matter the consequence he earned.
"Misignwa Pituka Sekewi! I come seeking the guardian of the river!"
The air around him hummed, a buzzing magic that shook his bones from his feet to the top of his head and he felt his answer before he saw Matchetehew, the Misignwa filling the entrance to his den in a tower of brute strength and quiet violence his upbringing did little to temper.
"Thought I felt a dead man..." Matchetehew growled, his muscles tensed beneath inked skin that flexed, readying to attack. "You ain't supposed to be here, bird. I watched you die. You should be with your sister." Glowing amber eyes narrowed as his own eninubaki jetted from the depths of the den with a cracking squawk, coming to rest on Matchetehew's shoulder. The raven hopped, its eyes watching Miathe with a silent accusation.
"Don't seem right to me either, Waapake. Seems to me, a man comes back from the dead, he had help doin' it. And ain't none of the spirits around here ever done anything that didn't come back to bite us all in the ass."
Miathe swallowed, meeting Matchetehew's eyes. "I have seen Hurit. She is why I'm here. Your uncle,...Moroc has forced me from my place with her. I come seeking your help."
"Boy, bein' dead's made you fucking stupid. If he brought you back, I'll be damned if I'm helpin' you with whatever shitstorm he's brewin' this time." Matchetehew's fingers flexed, talons curving from his fingertips in a clear threat that Miathe didn't miss. He took a step back, but he didn't run. He couldn't. Or the truth of Hurit's death would go hidden in the pattern of Kokumthena's blanket.
"He sent me to spy on you. He plays games with all of us. Hurit, me... you.. I will not play this time, Misignwa. I come because I have seen something in the river. I have sensed something in the woods and if he has called another demon forth to challege the pattern, it is YOUR duty as guardian to face it. I would stand with you as I stood with your brother. I would end this, Misignwa."
Matchetehew bared his teeth, his canines dropping from his gums with a low, bass growl.
"I ain't no Misignwa. You got the wrong twin, bird."
"You are Misignwa, like your brother. Sig is not here now. You are the guardian here. Or would you turn your back and hide in your cave as you always have?" Miathe tensed, but he'd just as well have been made of paper for all it mattered. Matchetehew charged at him with a feral roar, tackling him into the rocky hillside with such force that the stone against his spine gave in a grinding crack.
"I HIDE FROM NOTHING!" Matchetehew bellowed, his claws a hair's breadth from the eninubaki's throat. Miathe waited for the pain... for the nothingness that would bring him back to Hurit, but it didn't come.
Instead, Matchetehew dropped him back to his feet, straightening back to his towering height and rolling his shoulders as the raven returned to him in a flutter of inky feathers.
"Fine." Matchetehew's eyes narrowed. "We'll pretend you're tellin' the truth. For now. I'll go check on this boogeyman you saw in the river. But if I don't find nothin'... if I find out this is another one of Moroc's bullshit tricks, you're goin' back to the land of the dead hog-tied in your own intenstines. We clear, bird?"
Miathe's eyes narrowed. "We are. But if you go to the river and you see what I saw. You feel the strange magic in the holler, then you let me join in this fight. I will no longer stand by and follow orders while they play with our destiny, Misignwa. I would see us make our own pattern in the blanket."
Matchetehew narrowed his eyes and nodded, extending his arm. Miathe clapped the Misignwa's forearm in a warrior's shake, hoping Matchetehew didn't notice the way his hand trembled.
"I can see why Sig liked you, bird."
"And I can see why he liked you, Misignwa."
"Don't think I envy you, though."
Miathe's brows drew, confused. "I do not understand, Matchetehew."
Matchetehew grinned, his lips twisted deviously. "I ain't the one that's gotta tell my brother you're still alive."

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