There are stories everywhere that should be told.
This is one of them.
If it seems a little confusing don't worry.
When A Day in the Life comes out it will all make sense.
This is a story that my older brother told me before he moved away across the Western Mountains. He was very wise, my brother. He played with me and taught me to hunt. He showed me how to find food in the Winter, how to steal from the demons and how to tell good water from bad.
At night, after the singing was done, he would lie down with my sister and me and tell us stories until we went to sleep. Some of them were funny, like the time that Rabbit chased Viper up a tree to impress Rabbit Woman. Some of them are about our people, the Ó'kôhomeho, and our ancestor, the hero Ó'ôhóme. He told us about the Greater Men, the giant Ho'néheo'o who traveled in large bands and hunted us like animals. They were not clever enough to survive among the demon vo'êstaneo'o, so they are gone. Only a few live up in the mountains.
One of his best stories was the story of the Hótame Misty Blue.
The Elders say that a long time ago the Ho'néheo'o, the Hotäme and we Real People were one.
The Ho'néheo'o were proud and fierce. They ate their own pride and grew huge on it. Ó'ôhóme whom even the demons call clever helped us steal food from the five corners of the land. We became wise and can live anywhere. The Hotäme were offered food by the vo'êstaneo'o and became their slaves. The máhtáme mâsêhámâhta'sóoma or demon food took something from them so that they are like children inside no matter how long they live. And most of them are stupid. Some ate much of the magic food and became huge. Others ate only a little and shrunk to the size of newborn babies.
We know this story is true. To this day the Ho'néheo'o, the Ó'kôhomeho and even the ugliest Hotäme can have children together. Hotäme women can have eight or nine children at a time. But the Hotäme can not live like real people anymore. They depend on the demons for everything. Ó'ôhóme taught us to steal and live anywhere, so we can eat their food without losing our spirits. But we must be careful. Sometimes they leave poisoned meat for us to take.
Most Hotäme are easy to avoid. You should stay away from them. If you can not, then remember how to fight wisely as a team. Most of them are easy to kill that way. The clever ones are very dangerous. Since the eat the demons' food they do not have to find their own and can spend more time hunting us. It is good that most of them are very bad hunters.
Misty Blue was one of the very dangerous ones. He was the size of a small man, not like the Hotäme who live a few miles away and are as big as any five of us together. His hair was dark and light in patches, and his eyes were an unsettling pale blue. He was wise and patient and could understand the speech of the vo'êstaneo'o and of men. Misty Blue was as good a hunter as one of the Real People. He hunted everything from snakes and birds to deer and the tiny póesono, the little cougar demons that follow the vo'êstaneo'o. The only things he would not hunt were bear, badgers, the terrible Rogpóesono who dies and returns, and the herds of strangely altered buffalo the vo'êstaneo'o keep.
What was the Rogpóesono? That is a different story. Full grown vo'êstaneo'o acted like it was an evil ghost, and it feared nothing. It aided Misty Blue in many things. If you are very good I will tell you more tomorrow.
The vo'êstaneo'o castrate most of the Hotäme men and do something to the women so that they can not bear children. Misty Blue was an intact man. He had children among the slaves of far-flung vo'êstaneo'o clans and even by some of the women of the Ó'kôhomeho. He did not raise any of them, because that is not the way of the Hotäme. But he helped raise three of the young he-demons as they grew to adulthood. He taught them to stalk and to hunt, and they were better at it than most of their kind.
The oldest was strange even for a vo'êstane. He hunted at night. Unlike his litter-mates he did not hunt the Real People but enjoyed tricking us. Many times a hunter would think he heard a small animal only to see the hetane jump up and screech at him.
For a long time there was a truce between Misty Blue and our clan. We hunted on his land but did not take the demon buffalo or build homes inside his boundaries.
We had many years of mild winters and plentiful rain. There was food enough for everyone. New clans moved in. Families were large because almost all the children lived, grew up and had children of their own. There was no need for young men to travel far to find wives and places to live. There were more demons every year, but that did not matter. There was enough for everyone.
Then one year the winter was terrible, so cold that the Heávohe came out of the mountains. Game was scarce, and many died. That spring there was no rain and everyone was hungry. Children and Elders died. Young men and women stayed to care for their siblings long after they should have had families of their own.
Hunger makes people desperate. Desperate people do stupid things. Some hunted the demons' buffaloes. This was dangerous. They are strange to look at, but they are still huge and powerful. One day a group of starving men ate a demon hatchling. Then the vo'êstaneo'o killed us wherever they could find us. They killed us with fire and with strange magical weapons that roared and chattered. They hung our bodies from trees so that we could not sing the Mourning Ceremony for them. They killed nursing mothers with their children and men who had kept the truce.
Some of the Real People began to break the truce we had with Misty Blue. They began to kill póesono in front of his lodge and showed their knives to him. They said “Don't step outside the cave, Hotäme. We are many. You are one, and we can kill you.” Most Hotäme would have run away or cowered and bowed to us. Misty Blue just laughed and said “I am not afraid. Those were my póesono. This is my land. And you should have behaved. Now you will learn to fear the Hotäme.”
That was when Misty Blue began to hunt us like we were rabbits.
He was clever and wiser in the ways of the land than we had known. He found our hiding places and laid in ambush for us. He started killing single men. He killed brothers out hunting together. He tracked families for many miles. When he killed he brought the bodies back to lay at the feet of the vo'êstaneo'o. In better years we would have avoided him, but there was nowhere to go. Every day he would take another one of the Real People and destroy another family.
The Elders said we should stay away from Misty Blue. The young men and women wanted to kill him. Finally the Elders agreed.
Ó'ôhóme taught us to learn new things. A long time ago he stole the secrets of the Ho'néheo'o but warned us not to use them too often or the Ho'néheo'o spirits would be angry. But they are gone and will not return, so we have been using their tricks more and more. The Elders talked to each other and decided to use one of the most dangerous Ho'néheo'o magics.
For weeks they sang a special song. Everyone heard it for many days' journey around. People came in ones and twos. They came in groups. They traveled terrible distances to answer the call and become something the Ó'kôhomeho are not – a war band.
I told you that Misty Blue knew the speech of the Real People. As they arrived he stayed closer to his lodge. He didn't hunt. The Warriors, because that is what we had become for a little while, explored the boundaries and drove him closer to his home saying “Stay close to your masters, Hótame. Our babies will be weaned on your blood before we kill you!”
He grinned showing all his teeth and said “I see you, and I am not afraid! If you go away I will only kill a few of you. If you come closer you will be destroyed.”
Everyone thought this was what a man says to give himself courage and frighten his enemies. Only a few of the Oldest were uneasy. They did not trust the Ho'néheo'o magic that made the air taste of blood and bitter roots. But the time for talking was over, so they held their tongues.
One day there were enough Warriors. Dozens maybe hundreds of us surrounded the demons' cave that he guarded. The whole war band ran right past the vo'êstaneo'o in broad daylight to attack Misty Blue. He did not run. He charged screaming and got one before the rest of us were on him.
Then the air was full of thunder and fire shot from the demons' arms. Warriors died as wounds appeared on them from nowhere. The brave ones who stayed died in tens and dozens. Many who ran died. The last thing that my uncle's uncle saw as he looked back was Misty Blue. He was covered with terrible wounds and disemboweling a woman who ran too late. As we ran he yelled at us “Come back! I am Misty Blue and fear none of you!”
How many Warriors died? We don't know. The Ho'néheo'o magic had called them from far away. Every family lost someone. Some families lost everyone. It will be many years before we are frightened enough to use it again. And in a terrible way things were better. With so many of the Real People dead there was almost enough game for those who were left.
Misty Blue lived. But the magic had worked at least a little. He disappeared for a long time. When he returned he did not hunt us anymore to lay at the feet of the vo'êstaneo'o. We observed the truce and so did he. If some young hunter was not cautious or killed any of the demons' buffalo Misty Blue would lead a hetane, a male demon, to kill him.
Misty Blue lived many years. They say he lived twice almost twice as long as a man. Finally he was old and could barely walk. Then the oldest hetane he had raised took him from the lodge and killed him near the boundary of its land next to the territory of another clan of vo'êstaneo'o. A strange thing happened. The demon was singing a Mourning Song for Misty Blue when one of the young hetaneo'o of the neighboring clan pointed at him and began to laugh. In a moment the first demon had crossed into the other's territory and was about to kill him when an older mâsêhámâhta'sóoma arrived bristling with authority and curled his lip. We knew the clans were enemies, but the second demon, the one who had laughed, cowered and ran and was never seen again.
That is the story of Misty Blue. That is why we do not kill the demons, even hatchlings, and why we only take their animals when we are starving. The vo'êstaneo'o are dangerous. But we are the Ó'kôhomeho, the Real People. We are not as big or fierce as the Ho'néheo'o. We do not need to beg like children the way the Hotäme do. We are clever. We can live anywhere. Now go to sleep grandchildren.