My heart breaks because I understand now. I see too clearly.
The smoke was a sign after all. It was not just the sign of the fire of the bloody tears in our territory, it was a foretelling. It was warning us that the chief would die, it was warning us that the urgent need to burn our bodies was once again going to fall upon us. It was the sign of the end of peace. That another long night is to be upon us.
When mother told me what she saw she misunderstood. It was not that Little Chief would be the next Chief, it was that he would be one of our war leaders against the Walkers. Oh, how I wish she or I had seen the next Chief sooner. The Chief destined to be. Even Bael the Bard would be inspired by what he will face. Oh to have the freedom to tell everyone everything would be so nice, to tell them what I have seen and what I know will be but then they will feel they have no freedom or choice. I wonder now what freedom even is.
I think back to the bad feeling I had on the way to investigate the smoke. How could I think there was no knowledge of a curse upon our tribe. The answer lay in my arms last night. Yes, his grandmother was a deceitful hag, but I see where part of her story comes. We need to be one again. It is harder for the women in our tribe to conceive than it is for women of other tribes and yet the bloody tears seem to have so many running around. We simply lost our magic in our violent past, we lost us. Yes, we have those with gifts like Akule, but it is rare compared to who were and who we need to be for the great war before us. We are cursed with sick and weak children so often that do not make it to name day, we must not be splintered. By the old Gods I pray the skills I learned from the Maester and Old one will help once the curse is removed.
I also stand here and recall how sickened I felt at seeing the oath breaking kneelers. It was not just that they betrayed oaths, it is that they disregarded rules and traditions, that they put themselves above the whole and did not have faith and trust … much like some of my friends have acted today. The crone, I fear she knew some of what was to come and dreaded to tell the whole truth. She may even share an older medicine woman in my line, they did try to keep traditions, and she must have also seen. She had my blue eyes, the eye of Eir. She must have been so desperate and scared to get her grandson into place as a sub-chief, before it was too late for us all.
Mother did not even get to see the Chief off today. She is still in hiding with all our people and supplies, the ones meant as a gift to the Chief. If today continues how it has I do believe we may simply leave with all of these things and band with the tribe the crows said were already fighting the White. I feel guilt for these feelings; I know I love all of these people, even those I cannot stand I still love. My cubs. Do they not know I would have died to help them, to heal them? The healing they need is deeper though. May the old gods help us.
I still think the Chief was a Jack but when We All talked of killing him, and wondered if others had planned the same I was not sure of what I know now. Honovi does not even see, and that really hurts. Did we not all ponder why he would send us away in groups and wonder what the test was. It is so sad and funny. He said it plainly with the whole tribe around us. “And report directly back to me.” Well only two little chiefs did that. Even if the others came later, it was too late, they did not report directly. It is so simple, if one cannot obey, one cannot lead. And of the two who did as told only one now lives.
This was his way to control who would and would not be able to compete, only those who passed and Ishvan who passed by merit of the chiefs mouth. It was also symbolic of us all coming back together as one flock even after bad times, he actually gave us a gift, one that people cannot seem to see past themselves. Very Kneeler of them.
I do not understand why my friends and others, well other, feel I kept the chief from them. He himself said he would be there, right where he was, waiting for them. He was in the exact center of the camp, by the fire. I was lying near him should he need me, as I often do for anyone dying. Other people seemed to know they could come up, and they did so. I never asked anyone to leave, though I did suggest to the sub chief he get rest for his big day the night before. The only time we were even alone is when he wished to speak alone and then we went right back to the whole of the tribe, until it was time for his last walk to the lake. That was a very long walk.
I know that what I do I do for us all and I do for my friends, though they do not see it yet. I wish I had time to show Little Chief the cave, to tell the others of my last dreams, to explain every sign and omen. Everything is finally falling into place. Trying to simplify it did not work, as the talk with Little Chief showed clearly and that hurts so deeply. If Honovi, Akule, Attika, Beltibil, or any of my friends asked me do you have my back I would say yes and then ask how I can help. If they asked do you support me I would say yes without needing to know anything more than that they needed me. That is what friends do. They would never have to even ask “Please, trust me.”, and still be expected to go on. Perhaps I give my loyalty too freely to them. Perhaps my heart is too large.
Yes, we are free and proud but if free and proud means we treat death requests as nothing and tradition as If it were not there then this is not free, nor is it where I want to be. I will drink the kings cup before I see more fall apart and then fall to the Walkers. If we respect the wishes of the enemy, then why not the wishes of the Chief. I do hear Attika’s words ring in my head but where has the honor of last wishes gone, regardless of how one died? An enemy on the field would be respected, why not one in the field of leaders? I also hear those of Tali, and I simply could not stop to teach her the gifts of my family and that yes we can see the future. This has been known before but as often happens in daily life I feel I am not really there or seen.
Yes, part of me looks out and wishes I had hours to explain to them and part of me feels so betrayed, alone and humiliated that I … these thoughts do no good and only make me cry more. At least the people think the tears are for the dead.
I am glad that Mord did not report directly back. He is not a man, he is a puppet. We need a leader who thinks on his own and is not owned by a woman who, how did the whores across the wall say it, shell him. If a leader is owned it should be by claiming his heart, not rutting with tricks. If I stay I will be sure to talk to the new chief about this half man quarter chief. I almost regret stopping some of the others from ending this situation earlier, when they offered. I know she broke my mother’s heart and the hearts of many others whose only crime is not being as gifted as she is.
The weight of the necklace weighs heavy upon my flesh and my soul. I know the time is almost here and yet I do not want it to be. At least Mother knows to run with the goods if I am not heard back from or spied upon and seen to be safe. We need all of those supplies to go to great warriors, like the man in the cave. Like the man I held. I am trying to take deep breaths and remind myself that this is what I have trained my whole life for and that for now I am chief, though it is hard to feel that confidence when even your dear ones like Honovi fight with you and disrespect you to your face in a way they never would a chief. I stand all alone.
I may explain one last time about the necklace to everyone when I lay the rules of the battle. When I explain the Great Chief will wear the necklace. I raise my hand and touch the gem, I wonder if it is made out of the same blackness as the weapons, if it has the same power that I saw, read, know and remember, the power to kill the White, or if it simply protects the wearer from the white. In the old stories, the stories of when they were worn were a time much like we will soon face and I pray to the weir tree that it will protect Ishvan.
I know he wore it in my dream as we stood side by side killing the same monsters that were killed in the story in the cave, and know it was not by chance that that is where Beltibil lead us. He led us in part to our salvation. I know that those I call friends will be great leaders and have many warriors listen to them and follow them into our battles, if I can just keep their hides and heads upon them this day.
My mind wonders and I know this as I contemplate how the stories of Akule will resound throughout time for this day; if he will tell the tales of the day Ishvan reunited our people and began our path to victory against the long night, if he will tell of my death or if I will be forgotten in death as it feels I sometimes am in life.
I shake my head, bringing myself back to here and now. Gently I wipe the tears of pain and loneliness from my eyes as I look out upon my friends and my people and remind myself of things as I get ready to speak. I remind myself I am the chief; that though I do not always see, what I see is never wrong; and most importantly that I am Siljie Eir, The Great Blind Healer of the white line of Eir “The Blind” the old great wise woman whose crystal blue eyes foretold the end of many chiefs and the birth of many children, as mine now do.
So it was, so it is today, so it will be tomorrow.