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северный ветер

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Jonathan Wilson & Haokah Lonewolf
https://i.imgur.com/kotqBYN.gif https://i.imgur.com/Yki0vBC.gif

Я твой на свете
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На всей планете
Не найдешь ты утешения в другом

[nick]Jonathan Wilson[/nick][icon]https://i.imgur.com/3MSIaME.gif[/icon][lz1]Jonathan Wilson, 45 <sup>y.o.</sup><br><b>dislikes:</b> spiritualists<br><b>likes:</b> <a href="">some angry shaman</a>[/lz1]



After a decent number of years spent debunking all sorts of spiritualists, psychics and mediums, Jonathan Wilson believed he has seen it all. There wasn’t an act that could surprise him anymore, because that’s all they ever were – just acts. Quite a boring mix of some sleight of hand, some careful cold reading, some quick thinking and a good amount of charisma seemed to be an ideal recipe for any crafty opportunist seeking to free believers of their pocket change. Of course, most of them did it just for the money and had no ill intent, which was somewhat redeeming, after all, Jonathan himself spent most of his youth working tirelessly with the same goal – making enough money not to be a burden to his family – however, some of them took it further. It took a different kind of charlatan to willingly use someone’s grief or general confusion in life to drain their client’s pockets fully, with no feelings of any shame about it. However, no matter how hard they tried, none of them managed to perfect their act enough to fool a very careful and skeptical viewer.

Someone like Jonathan.

Having earned enough to make a comfortable living for him and his daughter, Jonathan decided that he could dedicate some of his time to showing the world the truth about so-called mediums, each one of them claiming to be able to reach deceased relatives or loved ones with ease. For the right price, of course. And this price was never low.
It was the same story every time. Jonathan, normally in disguise to avoid suspicions, would visit one of these seances. For someone like Wilson – a person, who’s spent most of this life carefully perfecting his craft as a performer and illusionist, every little trick was as obvious as white thread used to bind together two black pieces of fabric. None of them managed to escape his careful gaze. At least, none yet.

He usually found his new “victim” by recommendation from one of his old colleagues or friends in this field. Some of them were believers, trying to prove to Jonathan their truth only to be disappointed time after time, some of them were fellow skeptics tired of seeing their shared craft used for such distasteful purposes. Either way, there was no shortage of candidates to investigate, and Wilson, always true to his ideals, usually preferred to go after those who scammed people out of the biggest amounts of money. Even with all the freedom that his current position provided him – he was now able to chose where and when to perform himself – he still had limited time and preferred to spend it with the most value.

However, sometimes he came across a case he couldn’t pass by not because of some utility, but because of interest.

Jonathan was having lunch with Theodore, who was not only his oldest and dearest friend, but also someone he started his career performing with, when he told Wilson of a person he heard about from another friend. This person wasn’t a medium or a spiritualist per se since he himself didn’t claim to be one, and overall he didn’t fit the usual description of someone in this line of work, but somehow he was becoming more and more well-know with the local crowd.

- They say he lives somewhere in the forest a few miles outside Albany, - explained Theodore, with such interest burning in his eyes that he looked a good twenty years younger than he really was. – And they say his power comes from visions, not from communicating with the dead or prescience like the most. I am told his is quite good at telling his visitors what they need to hear. And, furthermore, he is one of the Indians, can you believe it?

- I’ve seen many who claimed to be either Natives themselves or their descendants, - shrugged Jonathan while sipping his tea. – And each time I would find they were liars on both fronts – their powers and their ancestry. If these tribes do possess some knowledge we do not, they seem to be keeping it close. Let me guess – he is willing to share his unique ways for the right price?

- No, actually, this is where you are wrong, my friend, - laughed Theo. – Most of the time, he doesn’t even take the money they offer him.

This was the part that really piqued Jonathan’s interest.

A few days later, after saying goodbye to Lizzie and asking his assistant Fionn not to blow up his workshop (again), Jonathan was on his way upstate.
Albany in July was a miserable place to be and Wilson hoped to spend as little time here as possible, so soon after dropping his bags at a local hotel right off the main train station, he headed off in the direction his friend indicated for him. A good place to be, Jonathan thought, while trying to make his way through the dense vegetation of the forest. Out-of-the-way enough not to attract too much attention, but still close to the town full of greedy politicians practically begging for someone to part them with their thick wallets. Albany was probably Jonathan’s least liked city in all the state, and he always found it hard to believe that this city was named the state’s capital instead of his native New York.

July upstate was hot and sticky. Jonathan could feel his shirt becoming soaked with his own sweat under his light travel jacket. At least it wasn’t the south, he kept telling himself. Mosquitoes there were always a menace to him. Still, Jonathan would have much preferred to stay at home where cold waters of the Hudson River kept most of the city cool enough to escape this horrible, sticky heat.

If Jonathan were to be honest with himself, he didn’t really know what was he going to do once he reached the cabin he was looking for. Ask questions? Well, that’s a given. If this shaman didn’t ask people to pay most of the time, then there was no real reason for Jonathan to even investigate him. He wasn’t a monster, of course. Most of these fake spiritualists he let be and do their thing. He himself wasn’t completely sure what he was looking for deep in this forest.

Soon, Jonathan saw a small cabin he was searching for. It looked old, but fairly well-kept – it was clear that whoever lived here cared about it as well as they could. Still, the wood was dark and damaged in places, and the roof looked like it was thinning pretty much all over. There was a small fence encircling the house with some peculiar pattern carved into its surface. Jonathan came closer to take a look and realized that it was all carefully handmade. Whoever did this must have spent months on it. Was it the owner of this cabin, the shaman? An odd thing for a person of such occupation to do, Jonathan thought. They usually preferred spending time coming up with new tricks to look and sound more convincing rather than doing something actually useful.

Jonathan crossed the fence and stated walking towards the front door of the cabin, noticing a number of herbs growing all around the path. One of them in particular caught his eye – a fairly tall bush of light-violet flowers and powdery-white green leaves. Jonathan stopped in his tracks to sit down and take a closer look. Yes, just as he though, it was white sage – a favorite of mediums, which they used to ‘cleanse’ the room before a seance. The thing is, sage wasn’t native to this area, preferring must hotter and drier climates. Whoever planted it here must’ve spent a lot of time cultivating it in this forest, which was no easy feat. And for what use? Jonathan has heard that the practice originated from some native tribes, so was the person who lived here just following a part of their own culture, or were they just trying their best to fit in with the crowd?
Leaving familiar herbs behind, Jonathan continued to the door. There was a small, woven talisman hanging above it - another sign of the fact that the owner was good with his hands. Well, even if this shaman turns out to be just another charlatan trying to make a bank, at least they were fully committed to their craft.

Jonathan knocked on the door, however, there was no answer. To his surprise, the door opened as if on its own, showing a gentle darkness within the cabin, so Jonathan followed a wordless invitation with little hesitation.

As soon as he stepped over the threshold, it was almost as if he was transported to another world.

The first thing that hit him was the smell. A delicate scent of dried flowers and burnt herbs danced around his nose, making him want to breathe in deeper. There was a hint of a natural wood smell there too and something damp, but fresh, like soil soaked after the rain. Inside was cool, so unlike outside with its July heat. Jonathan felt as if a heavyweight was lifted off his shoulders. There was a small bunch of unfamiliar herbs burning on a clay plate nearby.

Jonathan felt as if he was expected here.

But no one knew he was coming. All of his colleagues and friends believed he went to the Midwest, though he was sure that none of them actually believed it, since Jonathan always lied about where he was going when heading to conduct an investigation. Only two people always knew where he was heading – his fifteen-year-old daughter and his assistant that has been around for so long that he might as well had been his own son. Both he trusted fully and equally, knowing they would never betray his trust and sabotage an investigation.

So, was this shaman able to predict the future, then? Did he know that he would have a visitor today? Jonathan doubted that very much.

- Good afternoon, - he called into the house, announcing his presence to whoever was inside. – Pardon me for this sudden visit, but I was hoping to meet the shaman people in town talk about, - continued Jonathan in his calm and collected voice that had long lost any trace of the fact that English wasn’t his mother tongue. – If it is a bad time, I can come back later, - finished Wilson, finally taking a few more steps into the cabin.

And this was when he saw him.

[nick]Jonathan Wilson[/nick][icon]https://i.imgur.com/3MSIaME.gif[/icon][lz1]Jonathan Wilson, 45 <sup>y.o.</sup><br><b>dislikes:</b> spiritualists<br><b>likes:</b> <a href="">some angry shaman</a>[/lz1]



There is nothing above Mother Nature.
The Lone Wolf knew it, as it seemed to be the only force that white people still had to conquer, and try as they might, they always failed, helpless and weakened before thick dark woods (so easy to lose your way there), cruel storming waters (there is no refuge from the depths of the sea once it decided to claim your fate), destructive winds forming into a tate tanka, or, as the whites called it, tornado (able to wipe out the entire village, no mercy to any living soul)... These people were foolish enough to believe they could own it, bend it to their will somehow, or completely destroy it if the Nature refuses to submit, just like they did with everything in their sight. They were good at this, too, the white men; good at bringing pain and destruction to everything they ever touched.
He knew a thing or two about the damage inflicted by a white man's hand.
But it was a long time ago. The Lone Wolf chose this secluded area for himself specifically because, unlike white men, he wasn't trying to fight against the Nature nor conquer it; for years and years of existence, his tribe learned how to work with Mother Nature, together, united, listen to her warnings and respect her feelings. He felt no threat from the forest full of wild animals and dangers a mortal man can be exposed to; he felt protected. He asked Mother Nature for a safe place and peace when he needed it most, and she took him in, covered him with leaves and trees and buffalo skins, let him stay here, hidden away from the world. It took time and efforts, but he built a house for himself, a place he called home since there was no better option for this name, and it served him to this day the best it could.
The best thing about the forest was its darkness and mystery. No person would come here for a walk, just because they didn't have anything better to do; if people came here, they came for a reason, and, considering how far from the white civilization it was located, they had a really good reason, too. These were white people who didn't pose any threat, the Lone Wolf knew it. Robbers and petty criminals would never show up here, because there was nothing useful for them to take, just wasn't worth the trouble, and white police, though suspicious of a native man living alone, without a tribe, kept their distance, too scared to mess with someone who, per local townsfolk's stories, possessed "powers". He always found it funny how white people could be both terribly curious and terribly cowardly, depending on what suited them best in the circumstances.
The reality was, the Lone Wolf possessed no powers, as the powers of the world didn't belong to humans. They belonged to wanagiyata, the world of spirits, and he simply had a skill of communication with the spirits, who, if they allowed it, gifted him with visions. The tricky part was to understand what the visions were trying to tell, as they could be very vague and confusing, so last night, when the Lone Wolf raised his chanupah and breathed in thick greyish smoke, filling his home with the scent of a mix of various plants and herbs, he was blessed with a vision that intrigued him like no other.
Someone was about to arrive at his doorstep, but this time it wasn't a desperate stranger looking for answers or consolation, no - it was a stranger looking for something else entirely. One thing the Lone Wolf knew for sure was that this stranger was going to change his life.
Maybe if he was a young white cowboy, he would be excited about something that looked like a good adventure, but with his story turned out the way it did, his life lived the way he did, the Lone Wolf certainly wasn't looking for adventures - he's had his share of that already. The most reasonable thing to do would be to shut his door and lock it, keep the stranger away, but the Lone Wolf could do no such thing. If the spirits chose to lead this stranger, whoever he was, to his doorstep, so be it. The spirits knew better. They never lead anyone here for no reason; all these people needed the Lone Wolf's help, one way or another, and if this stranger needed his help, too, he couldn't turn him away. Not that he cared so much for the stranger or his hypothetical problems, but by denying the fate the spirits chose for him, he would show great disrespect to them, and the Lone Wolf couldn't let that happen - after all, he lost literally everything that was ever dear to his heart, he didn't want to lose the spirits' favour, too.
The knock on the door came exactly when the Lone Wolf expected it to happen, breaking the silence with intrusive noises. He didn't hurry to greet the visitor, instead taking his time to make sure the protective izuyapi he was carving was finished and ready to receive the final blessing.
The voice echoed into the room, causing the Lone Wolf to hurry. He brought the carved figurine to his lips and whispered, as if he was talking to the figurine, whispering to its ear:
- Wakan Tanka kici un.
Then he turned around and calmly headed for the sounds of the voice, finally emerging into the stranger's view. The stranger looked just the way he sounded - a perfectly white man, pale skin, blue eyes, middle-aged, dressed in simple European clothes, but of good quality. He looked so alien here, but on the other hand, he didn't look wrong here, not like he wasn't supposed to be here - more like he ended up here by pure coincidence. The Lone Wolf knew it was no coincidence, though.
He didn't speak straight away, taking time to study the stranger with his intent stare, eyes so dark they were almost black, making it hard to distinguish the pupils from the iris, total darkness matching the colour of his hair, long and heavy, falling down his shoulders, down his back in raven-black strands. The stranger didn't look neither malevolent nor desperate, which was so different from the look of all white people the Lone Wolf previously knew. If anything, he looked a bit confused, as if he himself was wondering how and why he ended up here, as if he just wandered off the road and kept walking until he hit the door.
The Lone Wolf, never averting his gaze from the stranger's sky-blue eyes, finally spoke:
- Tanyan yahee, - his voice was low and deep, making it sound like it came from his chest, his very heart, - chante washte nape ciyuzapo.
The stranger's eyes looked empty, two pieces of crystals devoid of thought. Of course. White men never bother to learn a word in a native language. The Lone Wolf, who could speak (apart from his native tribe's Sioux) rather fluent English and some decent Dine (the native language of the woman he loved) and a portion of Comanche (then necessary for cooperation between the tribes), could never accept the fact how low white people thought of the tribes' cultures, like they were not worthy enough or something. Very white people thing.
- Welcome, stranger, - he switched to the white man's language, his fluency implied that he's been around white people enough to learn the language, but accent thick enough to show that, while being around them, he didn't talk much, - come.
It was only then that the Lone Wolf realized he was still holding the knife in one hand and the figurine in the other one. He hoped the knife didn't look too menacing. However, instead of putting it aside, he said:
- Don't let the blade scare you. Come.
He lead the stranger inside and gestured towards the table and a chair, waited for him to sit down and then also sat down, taking a place on the opposite side of the table. He put the figurine on the wooden surface of the table, still holding the knife.
- Give me your hand, stranger, - he reached out with his fingers, long and dark, his palm open as it froze mid-air, patiently waiting for the stranger to follow the instructions, - the hand that is closer to your heart.

[nick]The Lone Wolf[/nick][status]chante tinzah[/status][sign]Take me down to the river
Wash me clean in the water[/sign][lz1]UNKNOWN, ?? <sup>y.o.</sup><br><b>profession:</b> Sioux wichasha wakan<br><b>chante:</b> <a href="https://sacramentolife.ru/viewtopic.php?id=45996#p4541885">wasichu</a>[/lz1][icon]https://i.imgur.com/FtqqFQK.gif[/icon]

Отредактировано Anthony MacIntyre (2023-02-11 19:22:36)



And this was when he saw him.

Jonathan wasn’t easily impressed by any stretch of imagination. Quite the opposite was true, actually. It took a lot to make him take a second look at someone, and even more to capture his gaze. Having seen so much in his life, having been fortunate enough to do so, Jonathan knew that the only things that really caught his attention these days were some real, unmistakable truths, something akin to a rare beauty of sunrise, when the first ray of sunshine finally breaks the darkness of the night. These things were rare and even more precious because of this fact. Each one of them a true glimpse into how wonderful, how exceptional the world around them was.

As soon as Jonathan saw the dark gaze on his face, he felt this familiar feeling of having been touched by something too complex for a human mind to understand.

He was a self-proclaimed skeptic, someone who did not believe a single thing he saw without testing it, trying it, figuring out how it worked and learning about what made it real. Jonathan always had this urge to understand the world around, otherwise it seemed so chaotic, so random that it was impossible to stay anything with certainty. He had to develop a rational and calm mind at a young age, something which had served his well over the years. People who knew him best believed there was no room for wonder, no room for genuine belief in something bigger than one person inside that mind.

They were all wrong, though Jonathan never felt the need to prove them wrong. In his skepticism and rationality, he searched endlessly for something miraculous, something unexplainable, something, which could defy all logic and science. He knew there was some unknown in the world, bigger than any single person, hiding, waiting, biding its time before showing its face to everyone’s judgment and scrutiny.

There was something in the eyes of the person in front of him which made Jonathan shiver, even though he was still warm from the hot air outside. This exact wondrous thing, which made him stop and stare. He felt these black as the darkest night eyes looking at him and looking inside of him at the same time, as if the stranger was staring directly into Jonathan’s soul, searching each part and each corner for some unspoken answer. He didn’t even care about the fact that the man in front of him was holding a knife, not because he didn’t seem to be dangerous, but because Jonathan was so transfixed that nothing else mattered.

It took his a few second to be able to shake this feeling off, though it left a peculiar aftertaste at the back of his mind, some weird feeling that Wilson did not have a name for yet. It wasn’t unpleasant, though it did make his heart speed up for a few seconds, before calming back down to its usual pace. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter, Jonathan told himself. He had more pressing things to attend to.

Which was… what exactly? Why did he come here, really, why? Jonathan was beginning to realize that it felt almost as if he was led here by something, and now that he was finally at his destination, he was waiting for his whole world to be turned upside-down.

The stranger spoke in an unfamiliar language, his voice deep and velvety, filling every inch of space between them. Confused for a moment, Jonathan didn’t know how to respond. Even though the stranger’s voice was deep and had unmistakable presence, there was no aggression in it, making Jonathan once again think that somehow, by some oddity of fate, he was expected here today.

Whatever led him here must have warned the man in front of him too.

Noticing confusion on his face, the stranger switched to English to greet Jonathan, to which he was only able to nod and follow his lead to go further into the house, still somewhat transfixed by the very presence that this stranger had. If Wilson were to believe that things like auras were real, he would have said that this person had a very strong one.

- Pardon my sudden visit, - Jonathan apologized once again, sitting down. – I see you were in the middle of something, - he nodded at the knife the stranger was still holding. – Perhaps I should come back another time?

As soon as these words left Jonathan’s lips, he knew he didn’t want to leave. Something told him that if he got up and left right now, he would miss an opportunity to see something he has been looking for a long time.

- The name is Jonathan, - even though he preferred to give fake names while investigating, Wilson couldn’t bring himself to do so this time. Stretching his left arm forward as asked, he stared back, trying to guess what the man wanted from him hand.

[nick]Jonathan Wilson[/nick][icon]https://i.imgur.com/3MSIaME.gif[/icon][lz1]Jonathan Wilson, 45 <sup>y.o.</sup><br><b>dislikes:</b> spiritualists<br><b>likes:</b> <a href="https://sacramentolife.ru/viewtopic.php?id=45996#p4543047">some angry shaman</a>[/lz1]



The Lone Wolf remained calm and composed, contrary to the stranger, who was still asking himself a lot of questions. They were almost visible, thin lines of thoughts rushing through the stranger's mind. It amused the Lone Wolf to a certain extent. He also liked the sound of the stranger's voice, even though he didn't like the sound of English language; there were times when he actually hated it, despised it, but now got used to it over time since, with the world being as it was, had to use it in most conversations he had. It's been a while since he last spoke to anyone in Lakota, except for the spirits, of course. He wasn't even sure if this world still had any of his oyate, or he was the only one alive. Anyway, the Lone Wolf learned to be alone, completely ishna la, with the spirits, the wanagiyata and the Nature to keep him company. He hardly needed anyone else anymore. Or so he believed.
- Jonathan, - the Lone Wolf nodded to show the stranger - Jonathan - the information was noted. He didn't add any "nice to meet you" phrases, because he still wasn't quite sure how he felt about this whole situation, and the Lone Wolf wasn't the one to say things he didn't mean, he never understood this white men's "good manners" bullshit. What's good of their good manners when they carry pistols hidden under their shirts?
Jonathan, however, was clearly waiting for a more generous response, and, considering how obedient he was in following the Lone Wolf's instruction, he deserved to know the name. Not the full name, though - this information was a perfect secret, and the Lone Wolf had his reasons to keep it that way, but he could spare his tribal name. White men never took tribal names seriously, and for most people in town the Lone Wolf was only "the shaman people in town talk about".
He took Jonathan's hand with his fingers, gently, but firmly, and turned it so Jonathan's open palm would face the roof. He then used his other hand, the one with the knife, to draw the blade closer.
- My name is the Lone Wolf, - he spoke, focused on the blade rather than on Jonathan's face, - now don't move. It won't hurt... - he brought the blade to Jonathan's open palm and added, - ...much.
Now when the knife was closer to the both men's eyes, the symbols carved on the knife's hand were visible better, hinting on the purpose of the knife - it wasn't a typical tool you used to cut carrots, it was a mila waka, a sacred knife used for rituals and spiritual ceremonies. It's shard blade pierced Jonathan's skin, just a small cut, not deep enough to require medical assistance, not large enough to raise concerns, in fact, barely enough to draw blood, yet a few deep-red drops formed on the man's pale skin, a beautiful contrast, like berries on snow. The Lone Wolf put the knife away, quickly grabbed the izuyapi instead and turned Jonathan's palm upside down. The law of physics made its job; the tiny blood drops gathered into one heavy drop, shaped like a tear falling down one's cheek, and finally this drop broke away from the cut and fell down the figurine, staining its wooden surface with a little red spot.   
The Lone Wolf turned Jonathan's palm up again, put the figurine in it and whispered again:
- Wakan Tanka kici un.
He closed Jonathan's fingers around the figurine, making him hold it tight, looked him in the eye and spoke in a serious, steady voice:
- Keep it close. You need it.
That said, he finally let go of poor Jonathan's hand, allowing the white man to recover from the unexpected (and probably unwelcomed) experience. White people usually were very easily scared, of anything you can think of - animals, weapons, pain... The Lone Wolf knew there were much worse things in this world than being slightly poked with a mila waka, but he doubted Jonathan would appreciate his opinion. Therefore, he quietly got up from the chair, disappeared out of Jonathan's sight for a mere second and came back, holding a iyukite, a strip of cloth soaked in something. Sitting down on his chair again, the Lone Wolf gave this cloth piece to Jonathan:
- Put it on your hand. It will heal in no time.
The cloth smelled nice, a thick scent of herbs, a healing mixture, and this scent itself seemed soothing. The Lone Wolf was extremely good with herbs, and he knew some white men called it magic simply because they couldn't understand it, but, again, the Lone Wolf possessed no magic abilities. The Mother Nature did.
- Now tell me, Jonathan, - the Lone Wolf stared at him again, that white face with crystal-blue eyes, - why do you think the spirits lead you to my doorstep? What kind of help do you need from me?

[nick]The Lone Wolf[/nick][status]chante tinzah[/status][icon]https://i.imgur.com/FtqqFQK.gif[/icon][sign]Take me down to the river
Wash me clean in the water[/sign][lz1]UNKNOWN, ?? <sup>y.o.</sup><br><b>profession:</b> Sioux wichasha wakan<br><b>chante:</b> <a href="https://sacramentolife.ru/viewtopic.php?id=45996#p4541885">wasichu</a>[/lz1]



The touch on his hand felt gentle yet firm. Jonathan could feel the stranger’s long and strong fingers on his own, and he was surprised to discover that his touch felt warm and comforting in a way, even though his skin was rough and calloused. These were the hands of a person who knew how to work with them, which had skill, and all this only confirmed Jonathan’s earlier suspicions about the fact that everything here – everything in the house, outside, and the house itself – was made by the person in front of him. Well, even if he does turn out to be just another charlatan, at least he knows the value of hard work and persistence, Jonathan thought to himself.

When the stranger finally told him his name, Jonathan had to suppress a small laugh. He didn’t want to seem rude, of course, though some amusement might have still shown in his eyes, and he desperately hoped that this Lone Wolf won’t notice that. Jonathan was somewhat familiar with the Native’s naming traditions, though not in any detail, as he had travelled around the country enough to meet lots of different kinds of people. And this time, the name seemed too perfect, too fitting to be true, but Jonathan decided not to question this fact. After all, he regularly used a moniker to hide his own identity, so he was in no position to judge anyone who decided to do the same.

This train of thought was rudely interrupted by the feeling of sharp pain piercing his skin.

Jonathan didn’t flinch, just breathed out a little louder than usual at the feeling. Pain was a familiar thing to him and a usual companion to his experimentation, especially while he was working on a new trick or performance. Jonathan tested everything on himself and worked tirelessly to make sure everything was perfect, so no wonder he regularly ended up with scrapes, cuts and bruises. He nearly lost a finger once while testing a small contraption he came up with for one of his new tricks. The gears snapped in half, trapping his finger between, crushing and cutting. If not for his fast reaction, Jonathan would have been in a lot of trouble.

Still, this was all pain that he inflicted on himself, a necessary sacrifice to achieve perfection, but this was different. Jonathan stared at the Lone Wolf in shock and confusion, eyes big and round, mouth agape as the shaman went about collecting a drop of his blood. If Wilson were a believer in dark magic and such, he would have been worried, since blood was believed to have certain powerful properties. Unfortunately, Jonathan belief in the wonders of this world did not stretch this far.

This was the point where he questioned his own common sense, as coming to see this man was turning out to be a rather weird experience so far. And this was just the beginning. What’s next then? Are they going to sacrifice a goat to appease the spirits next? Or maybe go straight to proper bloodletting to feed the same spirits, lure them close to communicate with them? Somehow, Jonathan doubted that spirits would even want to feed on human blood if they were real. Souls felt a lot more like a good fit for such a meal, and Wilson was sure that he preferred his own well and intact, thank you very much.   
The Lone Wolf placed a small wooden figurine in Jonathan’s hand, now with a drop of his blood on its surface, slowly seeping into the wood’s grain and turning a brownish color.

- Need it? – Jonathan raised his eyebrows. – Hopefully not as a protection from other blades, because something tells me it won’t work, - he said sarcastically, as it seemed funny to him that this protection charm could keep him safe from cuts when to create it a cut was required.

Though, if Jonathan was honest with himself, his life wasn’t all too safe lately. When you go around exposing fakes and liars, ruining their schemes to take desperate people’s money, it tends to make these people angry. Fair enough, Jonathan though, he was becoming more and more of a menace to the spiritualists' community in this country, so no surprise that he’s been receiving threats as of late. What started only as one or two angry letters after a good case soon turned into death threats proper, with gruesome details and promises of endless pain in this world and the next.

Jonathan wasn’t worried about himself, though. He rarely went places where someone could corner and attack him, preferring to spend most of his time either travelling and performing or in his workshop preparing some new trick to blow everyone’s minds once again. Plus, his private life was kept hidden well enough that not many people even knew he had a daughter, since she never traveled with him anywhere. Of course, if he ever were to get even a faint hint that she could be a target of retribution, Jonathan had a plan to move her to his sister in Boston to keep her out of the way of anyone seeking justice. And, in Jonathan’s experience, people were usually too stupid to follow someone to another city or to even recognize that the person they were looking for was suddenly gone.

While the Lone Wolf disappeared somewhere further into the house, Jonathan looked down at the figurine in this hand. It was definitely supposed to be an animal, he thought, since it had something like four legs and a head with a longish nose. Still, the carving was too rough to really see what kind of animal it was supposed to be.

When the shaman returned with a nice smelling piece of cloth, Jonathan accepted it and wrapped it around his palm, even though the cut had already stopped bleeding on his own and only reminded of its existence with a bit of tingling feeling of pain. Jonathan didn’t say thank you, though, instead staring at the man again, squinting his eyes and tilting his head.

- No more blood needed from me? That's a surprise, – he said with a small laugh on his lips which didn’t quite reach his eyes. He was surprised that the man didn’t go into some long-winded story after this. – What kind of animal is it supposed to be anyway? I’m afraid I’m not any good at figuring these things out. – Jonathan looked down at his small charm before hiding it into one of the inside pockets. – There’s some… assistance I require, though I didn’t realize it before I came here… - Wilson was quiet for a moment, realizing that he finally found a real reason to be here, other than some curiosity. – To be honest, I didn’t come here thinking about it, I was just being curious. However, now I see that I might have found something I’ve been searching for a while, - Jonathan turned towards the Lone Wolf to look directly into his eyes, bright blue into these dark pieces of the night sky. – Say, do you ever leave this house? If I were to ask you to come with me, would you consider it? – he looked carefully, searching for an answer in the eyes. – There’s a person out there, pretending to have powers to communicate with the dead, using people’s grief for profit. And in any other situation I’d have no problem exposing them on my own, like I usually do, but this time it’s different, because they claim to be a Native. I don’t know which tribe yet, but, of course, I don’t have enough expertise to be able to see if they are just another liar or if they are a real deal because of some power that others do not possess. For a while I thought that I’d just have to leave this one and let it be, but now… - he paused – now I see that maybe I just need to bring in an expert, - with his story over, Jonathan relaxed in his chair, placing his right hand on top of his injured left. – So, if I were to ask you to help me, would you consider it? I can tell you more, of course, of me and my work, why I do these things, but I need to know if there’s a chance you’ll help me.

[nick]Jonathan Wilson[/nick][icon]https://i.imgur.com/3MSIaME.gif[/icon][lz1]Jonathan Wilson, 45 <sup>y.o.</sup><br><b>dislikes:</b> spiritualists<br><b>likes:</b> <a href="">some angry shaman</a>[/lz1]



Of course. You help a white man, and he'll laugh in your face. Sometimes the Lone Wolf felt like all white people were laughing, either in his face or behind his back, and maybe they were, and why would he expect this specific one to be any different? Just because he was destined to change his fate or something? Taku keyayash.
- No more blood, - he calmly assured Jonathan once the izuyapi disappeared in his pocket. He knew the white man didn't take it seriously, but at least he did what he was told: kept it close, and it was good enough. The Lone Wolf grinned a little, not a smile in any way, no; for a second he looked like an actual wolf baring his teeth in a silent roar. - You know what kind of animal it is. Try a bit harder. Use your imagination.
White people never take tribesmen seriously, which was their biggest mistake. They saw all Native Americans, regardless of their tribe, age or sex, as some primitive creatures, not quite like wild animals but certainly not humans either. Something completely devoid of all human feelings and emotions, devoid of mental struggles and pain, devoid of mind itself, of the ability to think. Sometimes it annoyed the Lone Wolf to the core, but he had to admit sometimes it played in his favour.
He managed to escape the white men's clutches a long time ago exactly for that reason: they didn't take him seriously. Didn't think of him as someone capable of fooling them. Someone capable of actually resisting the great white man's power.
And he proved all of them wrong.
When Jonathan finally started talking about the goal of his visit, the Lone Wolf's grin left his face. He was watching and listening, carefully, with all attention, because whether he liked it or not, he had to help this man to fulfill the spirits' will, and he'd rather deal with it sooner than later. However, the more Jonathan spoke, the more concerned the Lone Wolf was feeling. He didn't particularly fancied the idea of leaving his house, but it could be arranged, if the reason required it.
And, as it turned out, the reason did.
Of course, paying visits to the town (rarely, but still), the Lone Wolf met all kinds of people, including those who claimed to tell the future, talk to the dead, and so on. He knew they were fiction, fake, but didn't pay much attention to them - he tried to stay out of other people's business as much as he could, so they would stay out of his, too, and it was a good rule to live your life by. That said, he wasn't surprised to discover that somewhere out there existed yet another presumably fake fortune teller, by any means, but the fact that this unknown man claimed to use tribe culture for his own profit... it absolutely infuriated the Lone Wolf. Enraged him. His eyes turned ten shades darker then before, and his face twitched.
Haychun shneeyo...
- Liar, - the Lone Wolf said in a voice of calm confidence, - not you. That man you mentioned. If he is from a tribe, he should know that the powers of this world do not belong to any human, whatever nation he's from, whatever colour his skin is. The powers of the world only belong to Mother Nature, - he pointed at the cloth wrapped around Jonathan's hand, - and wanagiyata, the world of spirits. Only spirits possess the powers, and they can gift humans with visions if they feel generous to do so, but it always comes from the spirits, not from a human. Do you understand?
The Lone Wolf stared into Jonathan's eyes, hoping he sounded convincing enough for a white man to actually understand what he meant.
- Visions is the only connection between our world and the wanagiyata. If this man claims to communicate in any other way, he is a liar. I've had people asking me to let them speak with their diseased loved ones, but I cannot help them, and no one can.
If only there was a way... the Lone Wolf would spend hours talking to his own diseased loved one, but it was impossible. Hard as it is, once a human enters the afterlife, you must let them go. It's the only way. Let go and keep memories and guard their soul with a protective wanapin. No more conversations to hold.
And this tokah dares to use some tribe's culture for profit!.. The Lone Wolf didn't know which suggestion angered him more: that it was a white man impersonating a tribesman, or that he was a real tribesman using his own culture as a money tool to please the white people. Both options seemed disgusting.
- I'll help, - the Lone Wolf nodded. - If this is the reason spirits brought you here, I'll help. Where are we going? How far from here?
He took a deep breath to calm his emotions and tried to rationalize the situation. Jonathan was still a perfect stranger to him. He could be a disguised sheriff. Still, the Lone Wolf sensed no immediate danger from that man, and the visions about him weren't menacing or malevolent, just slightly unsettling, but whatever this was about, the man himself was not a source of danger. The Lone Wolf didn't always trust his judgement - he was just a mortal man, after all, and like any mortal being, he was capable of making mistakes, too, but he never doubted the spirits and the visions they gifted him with. The spirits were not mortal anymore, and therefore they were never wrong.
- I need to pack my belongings.
There wasn't much to pack, just basic spare clothes, spiritual possessions and weapons, of course - one can't be too careful. Being a Lakota Sioux, the Lone Wolf didn't have any documentation, and when he counted the money he owned, it was very little for a travel, but then, the Lone Wolf didn't need much because he learned to live without it. To live his life without the white men's laws.
He broke a few laws in his past, too.
But Jonathan didn't know about it and was never supposed to find out.
- Alright then. We leave at dawn.
In typical Lakota manner, the Lone Wolf never said "goodbye", as in his native language this word didn't even exist.
- I will see you again, Jonathan.
Toksha akhe wanchiyankin kte.

[nick]The Lone Wolf[/nick][status]chante tinzah[/status][icon]https://i.imgur.com/FtqqFQK.gif[/icon][sign]Take me down to the river
Wash me clean in the water[/sign][lz1]UNKNOWN, ?? <sup>y.o.</sup><br><b>profession:</b> Sioux wichasha wakan<br><b>chante:</b> <a href="https://sacramentolife.ru/viewtopic.php?id=45996#p4541885">wasichu</a>[/lz1]



Jonathan wasn’t sure whether to expect the Lone Wolf to accept his offer or not. He could see that the man was listening to him with a good amount of attention, which was always a good sign, though his face remained calm and collected, as if it was carved from a piece of wood by some skilled hand, just like Jonathan’s new good luck charm. His eyes, though, they were not as stoic as the rest of his face. Even in the relative darkness of the house, Wilson could see them slowly filling with anger. Not surprising, he thought, as the idea of someone impersonating a member of the tribe for their own selfish gain didn’t sit right with Jonathan either, and he wasn’t even a Native and had no right to be offended. When the Lone Wolf finally spoke, Wilson could hear notes of quiet fury in his voice. Confidence too, which crated an interesting combination. Jonathan could see very well that this was not the person you wanted to see in a bad mood or cross his path in any way.

- I’m yet to meet someone who claims they can communicate with the deceased who wasn’t a lair, - nodded Jonathan, agreeing that this person was most likely just that – another liar. – Though they seem to have many people convinced.

The idea of being able to talk to the dead was a comforting one, of course, and Jonathan couldn’t blame whose who looked for a way to get in touch with the ones they’ve lost. Even he participated in a séance genuinely once, hoping to contact his mother, who passed when Wilson was 24.

She died young and unexpectedly. A fever took her while Jonathan was off traveling and performing in a variety show, and since his sister and father didn’t know where to even send a letter to inform him, Wilson only found out what happened a month and a half after the funeral, when he finally came home. He could remember that moment very well even to this day: walking into the house in the afternoon hoping to smell his mother’s cullen skink – a type of soup she cooked every time Jonathan was due to come home – but instead he found the house quiet and cold, empty of her kind presence – the very thing which made Wilson want to come home.

Since then, he never truly felt anywhere at home. It was almost like his mother took something from this world, some of its warmth and comfort, and no matter how hard Jonathan tried, he couldn’t bring it back. His daughter and his assistant, who was almost like a son to him by now, were the closest he’s ever managed to reach to this feeling again, however, even with them close and happy, Wilson still felt some emptiness in his chest that refused to be filled by anything.

No wonder then, when he was invited to attend a séance by a friend, claiming his wife had the gift, Jonathan wanted to believe. And he tried to do that too. He shoved his regular cynicism to a far corner of his mind, hoping against all odds that this time he might finally feel his mother’s presence.

As soon as the séance started, the woman claimed that she could feel her with them and that she had a message for her still grieving son. Jonathan’s heart skipped a beat, full of hope and wonder, when she asked for a pen and paper and started to write this message. However, when he finally saw that piece of paper, his heart was instantly shattered. Sprawled across it in a neat handwriting were words of comfort and love, just what he always wished to hear from her once again, however, they were in English. Perfect English. A language his mother never spoke. She refused to learn it, in fact, sticking to her native Gaelic, saying that she might have abandoned her homeland, but she would never abandon the language of her ancestors.

From then on, Jonathan knew only one thing to be true about these mediums and spiritualists – they were all liars and charlatans.

He didn’t tell any of this to the Lone Wolf, of course. No one knew of the real reason Jonathan dedicated so much time to this line of work. Some things were supposed to remain a secret until a fitting person came along to be able to share them with you, and Jonathan never had that person.

- Thank you, - Jonathan nodded, when the Lone Wolf finally agreed to his offer. – He resides in Cleveland, it is a little less than a day's travel from New York by train. We will need to stop there for me to get my belonging, and then we can continue on.

Agreeing to head out at sunrise, Jonathan got up and left the strange house and an even stranger man who lived inside.

His new charm almost felt warm against the fabric of his clothes.

Setting out the next day, they reached New York by early afternoon. Jonathan barely had time to catch a coach to get to his house and back to the station before their train to Ohio was scheduled to leave. Grabbing things he usually took on investigations with him – a small suitcase with a spare of clothes and some notebooks for writing – he only had time for a quick word with his assistant before needing to head back out.

Wilson was lucky to be able to buy the last two sleeper compartments on this train, as he figured that his companion might prefer some privacy instead of his constant company. They were due to arrive in Cleveland in the morning, which left them with some spare time before attending one of the séances their target was hosting late at night. Right before midnight, in fact, as if there was something different about this time of day compared to others. After the train left the station, each of them went to their own compartments, as Jonathan needed to look over the notes he had about this person. They were brought some dinner a couple of hours later, after finishing which Jonathan grabbed a small flask of Scottish whisky he kept in his travel bag. Of course, it wasn’t really Scottish, as it was distilled somewhere upstate, but it was decent enough for his own father to have once liked it, and he was the only person Jonathan trusted on this account.

He knocked on the door of the compartment right next to his and opened the door when he heard the Lone Wolf’s voice asking him to come in.

- I wanted to tell you more about this person before we arrive, - he said, stepping inside and closing the door behind him. There was a small table on which Jonathan placed a couple of glasses he was carrying in one hand. – Do you drink? I have some decent whisky if you’d like, - Wilson sat down on a chair next to the table. – He calls himself Peechee, apparently he appeared more or less out of nowhere about a year ago and started making a name for himself. These days, he’s probably the most well-known spiritualist in Cleveland. And he claims to be from the Cree tribe, - finished Jonathan with the most interesting part of this whole thing. – Do you know much about them? I, unfortunately, was never lucky enough to meet a member, so I can’t say I know anything at all. So typical of a white man like me, isn’t it? – laughed Jonathan at himself and his ignorance.

Well, unlike most white man, he was at least aware of it.  

[nick]Jonathan Wilson[/nick][icon]https://i.imgur.com/3MSIaME.gif[/icon][lz1]Jonathan Wilson, 45 <sup>y.o.</sup><br><b>dislikes:</b> spiritualists<br><b>likes:</b> <a href="">some angry shaman</a>[/lz1]



The night was sleepless for the Lone Wolf. He didn't feel tired, though, as the upcoming quest the white man decided to take him on filled his blood with adrenaline, his body with energy and his mind with the thrill and alert of the unknown. The moonlight touched the sky, painting it black, forcefully fading away the victorian blue colours. The Lone Wolf loved this view, the moment when night took over daylight, and the great starway spilled itself across the darkness, millions of souls, gone but  not forgotten, shining from above. He knew the soul he still deeply cared for was there, too, guarding him, protecting his body in this world as he kept guarding her soul in the afterline. They would meet there one day. Reunite.
He raised his chanupah and inhaled the sweet scent of the burning herbs. The Lone Wolf knew better than throwing himself into complete oblivion, therefore he had to ask the spirits for a vision and hoped it would be granted. A smallest glimpse of what was to come.
The vision he received was pretty blurry, even blurrier than many of them before; he saw clouds of heavy fog, curled into a black ball, and something slithering inside it, something doing its very best to stay hidden, unnoticed.
The vision was over quick, and once the Lone Wolf recovered from the ritual effects, he started packing his things. There wasn't much - just one bag, and he kept it light, as he was used to travelling on foot or horse.
Once they reached New York, however, as it turned out, Jonathan had a surprise for him.
- What the... - the Lone Wolf heard of trains, of course, but, spending his life in the plains and forests, never seen one before that day. A beast of metal made a loud roar approaching the station, and the Lone Wolf couldn't help twitching in discomfort, though he remained visibly calm and unbothered overall. The train was huge in size, able to accommodate a population of a small village, or at least it seemed so. People on the station dashed forward, hurrying to take their seats, and two men found themselves wrapped in the sea of moving waves of humans and their luggage. Elbows, shoulders and hard travel bags hit them from all directions, and they could hear quiet voices whispering curses under their breath.
The Lone Wolf was astonished. He could hardly believe that all these people were so willing to approach this metal monster, because he, on the contrary, was already thinking of letting Jonathan go alone and follow him the usual way, on a horse. Not that he was scared - after years of captivity and physical punishment he forgot the sense of fear altogether - but upon coming across a strange thing, he chose to stay cautious and on guard. You can never trust the world of white people.
- You're saying this is going to take us to Cleveland? - the Lone Wolf, voice full of suspicion, asked, frowning. - Are you sure it won't break down on the way? Since we left our horses, it would be a long walk.
Jonathan didn't sound convincing, but he looked convinced, and for now it was enough. They joined the queue, the Lone Wolf ignored the glances cast upon him from everyone around them. White people always did that whenever he was around, except, of course, the case when it was them who needed help from him, and even those who did preferred to seek his help alone, coming to his forest, so they are not seen together. No one wanted to be a laughing stock. Esoteric communities respected him somewhat, maybe, but average townsfolk - never. So, no one wanted any rumors.
Even now those unfortunate who ended up standing too close to him, tried their best to move away, as if he was sick with a highly contagious disease, as if his skin being dark meant it was also dirty, stained by unwashable filth. Someone behind them made a joke:
- What, Indians are civilized enough to take train rides?
The Lone Wolf turned his head and looked at the young red-haired man, who was laughing, clearly satisfied with his own sense of humour. Once his eyes met the Lone Wolf's dark stare,  his laughter abruptly stopped, the poor man almost choking on his words, his next joke stuck in his throat before he dared to make it. The Lone Wolf didn't say anything, instead staring at the man in silence, until he became red in cheeks and turned away, unable to withstand the penetrative gaze any longer.
Finally they got inside. The Lone Wolf was pleased to see that he had his own space there, as he expected to only see rows of chairs and benches. He liked his privacy, and in no time his bag disappeared together with its owner, like a wild animal taking shelter in its hole underground.
Being on a train was different from any other transportation he knew. When he walked, he could control his directions, pace, taking breaks whenever he felt like it; when he rode a horse, he had to be even more focused to control his way as well as the animal between his legs. Now he had no control at all, and to be honest, he didn't like it - trusting someone with the directions, with his life in a way. Anyway, there was nothing he could do about it, so he needed to find another task for himself, make another izuyapi, maybe? One can never have too much protection.
Rhythmic, precise moving of his hand, the sound of the sharp blade hitting wood calmed his nerves, and he lost track of time, concentrating on the process. The knock on the door interrupted him, making him raise his eyes from the carving.
- Come, - he shortly said, and Jonathan entered the space, closing the door behind him, locking them alone in a tight room.
The Lone Wolf watched Jonathan sitting down, almost as at the Lone Wolf's house not that long ago. When the man started talking, he stopped the wood-cutting motions, so the sounds did not interfere.
- Cree? That's interesting, - he replied, remembering the tribe. Oh yes, he knew quite a lot about them... and certainly he could tell a Cree from an imposter. He was about to confirm it, but Jonathan's last words made him chuckle in amusement. White people calling themselves white people - yes, that's new.
- Typical, yes, - the corner of the Lone Wolf's lips curved up in a slightest shade of a smile, - but you are lucky, because I indeed know the Cree very well. They are our neighbours... were our neighbours. - He suddenly looked back at the izuyapi, gently petting it with his fingertips. His eyes got dark and grim, with a thin shadow of sadness at the bottom.
- Before the white army came and took their land. I don't know how many of them are left, if any at all. Maybe they suffered the same fate as us. I don't know.
Come to think of it, he never met a Cree after these events, not in captivity, not after his escape. Did the white army destroy them just like his oyate? Do white men always destroy everything in their sight?
- I know a Cree when I see one, - the Lone Wolf changed the subject, - they have close connection with nature, like all people of the Great Plains. Their legends and beliefs mostly revolve around sacred animals. We just need to ask this spiritualist of yours a few questions.
The train came to a stop, and the Lone Wolf looked around in confusion. They can't be at the destination already, surely trains don't travel that fast?
A loud demanding knock echoed through the room, but before either of them could answer, the door opened without an invitation. A sheriff entered the space, making it even more tight.
- I received a report there was a suspicious person on the train, - the sheriff said, looking directly at the Lone Wolf. When the Lone Wolf said nothing, the sheriff looked down at the izuyapi and the blade in his hands.
- We do not allow weapons on board, - he didn't bother to add a "sir" or at least a "mister".
- It is not a weapon, - the Lone Wolf looked properly insulted and sounded properly frustrated, - it is a sacred blade. Its purpose is blessing, not violence.
- Yeah, yeah... - the sheriff shook his head, unimpressed. - Your name?
- The Lone Wolf, - he replied in a calm voice, but internally the Lone Wolf was tense as iron. He didn't trust white people authorities, not in the slightest.
- Yeah, that's not a name. I need your full name.
- It IS a name, - the Lone Wolf frowned, - the name given to me by my oyate.
The sheriff was losing both his temper and patience.
- Don't try to be smart with me! Give me your passport!
- I don't have one.
- How so? Confiscated? Are you in trouble with the law?
- According to your law, I can't be considered a citizen of the land I was born on.
Silence. No movement, no words, just heavy breathing and hard looks.
Finally, the sheriff turned to Jonathan:
- What about you? Do you have a passport?.. - his eyes caught the glimpse of Jonathan's pocket watch's chain. - ...sir?

[nick]The Lone Wolf[/nick][status]chante tinzah[/status][icon]https://i.imgur.com/FtqqFQK.gif[/icon][sign]Take me down to the river
Wash me clean in the water[/sign][lz1]UNKNOWN, ?? <sup>y.o.</sup><br><b>profession:</b> Sioux wichasha wakan<br><b>chante:</b> <a href="https://sacramentolife.ru/viewtopic.php?id=45996#p4541885">wasichu</a>[/lz1]

Отредактировано Anthony MacIntyre (2023-03-15 21:51:29)


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