Skan, Wi, Inyan and Maka are Superior Gods
They are also known as Creator, Chief God and Great Spirit
Four Gods, yet they are as one
They are mysterious
They are Wakan Tanka
The little girl danced and skipped along the shoreline of a deep blue lake. A small shallow finger of water trailed inland. She splashed through the water, sending glistening diamond-bright droplets flying around her.
Named after the stars in the night sky, Taya laughed and giggled. As she romped happily, her long blue-black hair flew around her head. Her legs were short and thin beneath her long, fringed doeskin dress, but her body held the promise of grace and beauty.
She breathed in the warm pine-scented air; her gaze absorbed the beauty of forest, sky and lake. Though she was young, she was a child of the land and, as such, she was at one with her world. A long shadow flew before her on the sandy soil. Taya ran, trying to catch it. She glanced over her shoulder and waved her hands at the magnificent white-headed eagle flying overhead.
The bird’s wingspan was double her size, and as it flew low along the shoreline, she spread her arms as wide as she could and broke out into excited shouts. “Miye kinyan! Miye kinyan!” I fly! I fly!
Rising high, the eagle cut across the lake. Taya stopped to wait for the bird to return. Once more, she took off running with her hands out to the sides, her gaze on the ground in front of her as her shadow and that of the eagle’s came together, spirits of bird and child joining, then separating as the eagle once again rose high into the sky.
Taya clapped her hands together and stood, face upturned, as the eagle made another pass, this time coming in low to brush one wingtip across the top of her head. It gave a shrill, high-pitched cry as it rose once again into the air.
“Ina.” When the bird took wing over the lake, she twirled in a tight circle, arms out, the fringe beneath them flying and waving with each movement. Dizzy, Taya dropped to the ground. Out over the lake, a second eagle joined the first. This one was slightly smaller, a male, and it gave chase to its mate.
Sighing wistfully, the little girl watched the pair of regal birds soar together, then dip down to drag their bright yellow talons over the surface of the lake then rise high. The sky was their throne, their cloaks made from the greens of the earth, lined with the shimmering gold of the setting sun, and edged with the silvery-white of the clouds.
The pair of eagles made a last sweeping flight over Taya, each tipping a tapered wingtip as though bidding her good night.“Miye kinyan,” she whispered as she stood to return home. With a happy grin on her face, Taya spread her arms wide and pretended that she, too, was flying as she ran across the deserted shoreline.
Eager anticipation settled deep inside her. Someday, she would fly. Strands of her silky blue-black hair swirled into her face, curtaining her vision. A sudden darkness that had nothing to do with the hair in her eyes made her come to an abrupt halt. She held herself still as she listened to the whispers that came to her on the breath of Tate, the Wind Spirit. Around her, the world seemed to pulse and vibrate, a warning that something was wrong. Instincts that came from more than just a child of the land hummed through her body and made her feel afraid.
She shoved her hair out of her face, her gaze locked onto the retreating pair of eagles. She opened her mouth to call them back, but before she could utter a sound, an arrow flew out from the thick canopy of leaves. The feathered shaft rose into the air and struck the smaller of the two birds. The eagle gave a shrill shriek, then plummeted like a stone. Shock sent Taya tumbling to her knees.
Around her, the world went oddly silent but for the anguished cry of the female eagle going into a blurring dive to chase her mate. A slow buzzing grew in Taya’s ears as her mind tried to reject what was happening. Before she could react, think, or even scream in denial, a second arrow zinged upward.
The arrow and bird crashed together, and the sharp arrowhead clove straight through feather, bone, and flesh. The arrow continued upward, then fell to the earth after the mortally wounded bird.
Taya screamed in terror, the sound shattering into fragments the beauty of pre-twilight. With each scream, the world came apart. The wind roared across the lake, churning and agitating the water, sending waves crashing to shore with enough force to shatter the smooth beauty of the shoreline.
Water parted around the little girl. Taya dug her fingers into the wet soil as though seeking to anchor herself to the earth. The wind struck the wall of forest with a fury that bent the tips of hundred-foot pines, cedar, and spruce, and ripped branches from trees and slapped cone-shaped fruit high into the air.
Far away, the sun dimmed for a heartbeat in time, then flared bright white, sending tongues of flames shooting across the seething clouds that boiled and gathered and swallowed the regal blues, golds and pinks of what had been a pretty, pastel sunset. Taya, unaware of the violence around her, continued to scream in shock and horror. Her eyes blazed with blue fire. Pain and fury shimmered deep in their depths and fueled the raging elements. A sudden slash of lightning followed by a crash of thunder spurred her into action. She stumbled to her feet and ran.
The howling wind devoured her cries for her mother and father. Lightning scored the sky, thunder drowned out all sound. Beneath her feet, the ground trembled. Animals in the forest scurried to safety, birds huddled together, their young tucked securely beneath their wings, but the child did not cower or hide from the Thunder Beings.
Taya ran along the twisting shoreline and did not slow when she saw a tall warrior step out from the cover of trees and brush, his attention focused on the gathering storm above his head. He didn’t see Taya, didn’t see her fall to her knees or hear her screams of outrage or see the fear in her eyes. The wind whipped and tore at the hunter’s braids, his clothing, and the quiver of arrows on his back. He pushed himself forward, fighting the storm. The air crackled with emotion and the beat of another sound—
The heavy pounding filled the air with the force of blows, and the hard and fierce tempo matched the furious elements. The eagles’ slayer glanced anxiously into the grove of trees as though debating whether to seek safety. After a brief moment of indecision, he leaned into the wind to go claim the prize of his hunt.
Behind him, Taya went sprawling twice more. Bright flashes of light illuminated the boiling mass of dark, angry clouds, and where forest and water met, the warrior stopped abruptly. When he knelt, Taya jumped onto his back and struck him with her fists.
“Hiya! No! Do not touch them,” she screamed, her voice thick with rage, pain, and fright. A loud crackle overhead drowned out her screams. The warrior whirled. Taya lost her grip and landed on the hard ground. She rolled onto her hands and knees, her gaze locked onto the slain bodies of two humans——a man and a woman.
The male had an arrow protruding from his heart; the female had a gaping hole in her chest. Blood ran in rivers down the man’s chest and created a dark, ugly stain on the woman’s soft, doeskin dress. Her mother and father. Taya’s heart shattered into tiny pieces, and tears of grief blurred her sight.
“Ina.” She cried, her fists tangled in her mother’s long, silky black hair. She turned to her father, brushed her trembling hands over his still face. His eyes were open but unable to see or hear his daughter’s grief.
“Ate.” She sobbed as she shook her father’s shoulders.
“Wake,” she pleaded. She rubbed her wet cheeks against her mother’s cold face and begged her to wake up, but neither woke, neither moved.
“What magic is this?” The warrior’s voice trembled as he grabbed the child by the arm.
Taya kicked, bit, and struck him with clenched fists. Screaming, filled with a rage she’d never before felt, she fought for her own survival. Even at her young age, she knew it was too late for her parents. Behind them, a tree burst into flame.
Startled, the warrior dropped her, giving Taya the opportunity to grab her mother’s knife.
At only six winters, she was perfectly capable of avenging the deaths of her parents. She whirled and charged the warrior, her hand held high, her voice shrill. “You killed them. You die.” Her heart pounded to the primitive rhythm of drums in the distance.
The warrior looked confused and frightened, but not of her. After all, she was just a child. He easily twisted the knife from her hand, then knocked her to one side as though she were nothing more than an annoying insect.
Taya felt herself flying. Flying like the birds. She landed hard, hitting her head on a rock. Pain pierced her head, then she rolled onto her back beside her dead mother. She stared up into the sky where flames scorched a path through dark clouds and bright white jagged bolts splintered the heavens.
Beneath her, the fury of Wakinyan, the Thunder Being, shook the earth. Though the world above her was on fire and the air around her chillingly cold, she was no longer afraid. Like her parents, she lay perfectly still. Like them, she would die and go to the spirit world. Perhaps there she could fly.
Like them. With them.
Taya welcomed the calm, soothing white light coming at her, surrounding her, bathing her. All went eerily silent but for the heavy beat of drums in the air. Even that faded into silence, and suddenly, she found herself floating above the bodies of her mother and father. As the world spun, taking her away from her parents, she watched the warrior grab the little girl named Taya and run.
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