Jeptha’s visit to the Heron camp ended at nightfall. The elders were wary of him during parts of the month. They called him yenaldooshi, or skinwalker. The sky was dark and only a sliver of the moon was seen by the naked eye.
Ahusaka, who had originally welcomed Jeptha to the camp had apprehensions as well. He knew he had put Jeptha in a bad spot when he was courting Wispy Sapling.
Jeptha bore no hard feelings. Brother had told him to take his mind off of emotional pursuits and make a mark on the world. He would try.
Wispy didn’t love him anyways.
Jeptha had brought a journal to record his findings. He did not know what to write. His life was surrounded by regret, bitterness and longing for relationship.
As he left camp, he heard a rustling in the forest. Jeptha’s keen senses told him it was Wispy Sapling’s husband. He froze in place, knowing it was dark and he blended well with his surroundings.
Jeptha felt the slightest change in the air and stepped aside.
Jeptha spoke. “Wispy’s husband, your children will need a father.”
A dull thud caught Jeptha’s attention. Then pain. An arrow had struck him in the forearm.
Savagely, he rushed the warrior who threw his spear. It whistled over Jeptha’s head. A steel knife cleared a leather thong and Wispy Sapling’s husband began slashing wildly.
Jeptha was too fast for the warrior and bear hugged him, lifting him off of the ground. The arrow head snapped off of the shaft as he squeezed, causing the warrior to scream as it cut him.
Jeptha dropped him to the ground and pulled the arrow shaft out of his arm. “YOU ARE WEAK LITTLE MAN. AN ARROW POINT MAKES YOU SCREAM. I AM BEAST. YOU ARE NOT TASTY PREDATOR. YOU ARE SCARED MAN. I DID NOT KILL YOU WHEN YOU TOOK WISPY AND I WILL NOT KILL YOU NOW.
FLEE, LITTLE MAN.”
The Warrior fled.
Jeptha continued his journey and began to cry.
“WHY THEY HURT BEAST? NOT FAIR. BEAST GAVE HIM WISPY AND HE WANTED TO HURT ME.”
Jeptha whispered quietly,
“I am not yenaldooshi, I am broken man.”