The Ruetoohto tribe was known for its peaceful nature. Recent ambushes from a neighboring tribe had made them wary and they were alert for danger.
They had seen the tall, hairy man several nights before. He wore red hides draped over his shoulders, and carried a sword as tall as a man.
His walk was not that of a horseman, but of one that walked comfortably in the forest.
The men watched, weapons ready, but not in a threatening way. Their guest was obviously wary as he approached, and it was undeniable that he was deadly.
The outsider raised his hand and made the sign for a trade. He rolled out a blanket and displayed his wares.
The red hides were unknown to the Ruetoohto as anything other than a legend.
The entire village gathered. Pequin hides! They stared in disbelief. The distant Heron tribe sang songs of them, but that was long ago.
Several children were curious at the dark, grotesque man and touched his face. It was unlike anything the youth had seen.
A tenderness broke from the stranger’s hard eyes and he smiled.
Instantly, he snapped, shooing the children away. The warriors raised their weapons in alarm and an elder motioned them down.
There was no familiar language among them save smatterings of the Heron tongue, but the all familiar word was muttered by the warriors.
Now it was the visitor that brandished his weapon. It was obvious the word was offensive to him. The air, thick with tension, was broken again by the voice of the elder.
He raised his hand, then spoke. “It is not yenaldooshi. He is a man, not a shapeshifter. Nor is he a sasquatch.”
The villagers laughed and the outsider looked to be measuring the situation as he apparently did not understand them.
“I know what he is. He was bitten and is sick. When I was a young child, my best friend was bitten. He grew hair and howled at the moon. His face grew misshapen and the warriors drowned him in a creek because they feared him. His mother died of sorrow.”
Other elders in the tribe squirmed in discomfort at his words.
The elder continued.
“This is a man who trades with us is fearsome, but is not here to harm us. I elect after we trade, we allow this man to stay for the night and be on his way.”