RED RIVER DAYS
You can tell the surveyor he can use these fucking maps to wipe his fat English Ass.
Sarah’s mother translated her father’s firey sentiment for the Hudson Bay Company messenger while omitting some of the more inflammatory insults. His irate presence smothered the small cabin. Her father paced in erratic loops while he waited for his woman filter the muddled Cree and French protests. All Sarah could do was try to melt into the shadows beneath the harvest table. She was meek - quiet, and reflexively withered at the first signs of trouble.
You imperial idiots know nothing of our ways! You’re parceling out land like some damned checker board - with no regard for our access to waterways or our neighbors. LONG AND NARROW! A child could comprehend it!
Her father punctuated his point by throwing the charts into the messenger’s face. The company man remained silence a long, still moment before straightening his coat.
Madame, would you please inform your husband that I am not here to negotiate. The settlers will be arriving after the Spring thaw. They will be homesteading as per the the surveyors outline. Goodday.
The messenger would not make it out of the cabin’s threshold before Her father’s broad hand palmed the back of his head and brought his skull down against a beam’s edge with enough force to shatter his brow. His lanky body slumped to the ground, dead-eyed gaze rolling to meet that of Sarah’s.
The fate of her village was set in stone that frigid January eve. A Summer rebellion brought a string of petty victories, but striking down an Englishman seemed to invite a dozen more to take his place. The children were sent into the woods the night the hamlet finally fell. In the black of night, crowded in the underbrush, the children watched as their parents were gunned down and every standing building set on fire.
In the weeks that followed, the children wandered the woods. When on the cusp of starvation, an elderly Cree man crossed their path and invited the children to partake in a deer he had downed. The children greedily consumed the offering, only to awake the next morning with strange wounds and little memory of what happened the night before. To this day Sarah has no idea why the stranger passed on the wolf`s disease to the runaways. It may have been a misguided act of mercy. With no one to lead them through the first pains of transformation, many of them lost their minds to feral needs. Those that survived the first few harrowing months began to journey Southward.
The further they traveled, more feeble a connection Sarah felt to the daughter she once was. She’d sloughed off that fragile, helpless husk and beneath it found a thick and fearsome hide. She wanted for nothing more than to journey as far from her former self as possible.
COLD DESERT NIGHTS AND DANCE
Robert - the eldest of the troop - stole the lion’s share of their last take and headed east. Those who remained looked to Sarah now for leadership. She was of the mind that robbery was far too dangerous a racket for halfbreeds. The surviving five were each in possession of talents: Nat and Michelle could sing and dance, Thomas was practically born with a drum in hand and Bartholomew could make a flute sing. The pack became traveling entertainers, existing on the fringes of towns and outposts as they continued their southward trek.
At first, Sarah tried to make a show of her bow skills, but folks were far more comfortable with her playing the role of a soothsayer. She interpreted dreams and doled out fortunes, developing a knack for reading strangers. The pack made a precarious living this way for decades, but eventually Nat wanted more from Thom, and Michelle the same from Bart. They were ready to settle, have pups, but Sarah still had the wild in her heart. They parted ways on sad, but friendly terms.
A HUNTER AND A HOME
Life on the trails alone saw Sarah descend to the brink of ferality. She tracked game, swam, bathed in the sun, listened to the song of the birds. She could have likely carried on this solitary way for the remainder of her days were it not for the intervention of a hunter. It began with a bothersome feeling of being watched that would not abate. Then, she began to smell him in the air - only for a moment - and then it was if her never was.
It became apparent that something or someone was stalking her. The presence drove her out of her territories and into ones long claimed by others. Alone, starved, and sickly, she would have been an easy mark for the local wolves, but they welcomes her in as one of their own.
Happiness had never been without a grim, foreboding shadow. Sarah had to mourn her past life and the dire sense of urgency that came with every waking moment of desperation. The day was now about more than mere survival. For the first time in memory, she felt safe. She trusted. She laughed. She reveled in primal desire burning beneath her skin uninhibited and without remorse. No more a calculating, cagey, wounded creature. she was present in every moment they shared. Even when she began to drift into dark rumination - a touch, a scent, a smile was all that was needed to tether her to the present.
Life was effortless. Loving him was effortless.
As whispers of an inevitable war began to circulate, dreams of smoke, blood, and tongues unheard in decades penetrated her dreams. Restless nights drew on for weeks, and the nightmares continued, until one came unlike all others before. Fire engulfed wooden homesteads and autumn fields. The heat of it licked at her skin and tousled her hair. And then, he was there.
What she saw next sent her lurching forward in bed, slick with sweat and gasping for air. She knew what had to be done, and left without so much as a word to travel to the gates of their vampiric enemies.
What followed were the least proud moments in her life: negotiation, humiliation, sacrifice. As difficult as it all was to endure, Sarah genuinely believed in the promises of peace and mercy that followed. She had to believe. In good faith, she lead the vampires to their camps, knowing that in doing so her previous life would end. She had resigned to being hated, if only it meant her kin would survive to do so.
It took precious little time for the peace to unravel. Abraham, an elder who long accused her of being a dangerous outside influence on their pack leader’s mind, cut a quick course for her, hatchet in hand. She delivered an arrow to his thigh, and another above his heart when he readied to hurl the blade from the ground. Battle broke around them, and Sarah was up in arms against more of her kin than she could count, her hands stained with their blood. She and the vampires were driven out of her former territories. It was over.
She could not return home. And any reason to keep company with her enemies had perished with their paltry promises of peace. She readied herself to retreat into the wilderness, but hesitated. She was a fool, a traitor and a coward. Her life was forfeit, but it did not have to be without meaning. She would return to the vampires. She would subjugate and subordinate herself. She would wait, and bide her time in the hopes that one day, she could warn her former pack of a new war to come. This would be her penance.