The clearing was empty save for Green Willow and a
bunch of woodland creatures who came at Oueichi’s
request. Oueichi himself was perched on a boulder
next to a tree stump. Green Willow’s heart began to
beat wildly. She was dressed in her full ceremonial
garb. By instinct, she clutched her sacred necklace,
the one Winter Dove had given to her before she left
for the next world.
The wind carried voices. Tones and words that were
strange to her ears. The animals stood their ground
in the distance. Green Willow hid among thick bushes
and saw the pale skins. They wore metal and leather
and looked haggard. There were eight in number. By
appearance, they weren’t sinister as the stories went.
But they were still so different. Her heart fought
with her will to run, to flee for help. But she set
her jaw and raised her chin as she stepped out of the
brush upon seeing them approach. “Oi! Look here then!”
one of them said, his eyes as dark as coal, making his
wheat colored beard stand out. “A wee savage lass.”
He reached out to touch her face quickly, and Green
Willow bit at him. The white men laughed. “Savage
indeed!! If the spirit be as wild, let us hope her
flesh is too!!”, another yelled.
In an instant they all grabbed at her. Green Willow
fought as best as she could, even wounding a couple
of them with her flint knife. But she was subdued,
and when she struggled too much, the men decided to
chain her up. “She must be from inland. She’ll make
a nice gift for the cap’n! And it’s a good two day
hike to shore!!” the first one said with a laugh.
With those words, they began to set up camp. The
animals hovered at the edge of the clearing under
Oueichi’s watching eye, waiting for nightfall.
The fire crackled amidst the howl of a timberwolf
in the distance. The animals slowly made their way
into the campsite. All of the enemy soldiers were
fast asleep. Green Willow was not asleep, however.
Her hands and feet were bound with ropes, the chains
having been removed earlier. A timber beaver made
its way to her and chewed through the binding quickly.
In minutes she was totally free. As she stealthily
rose to a crouch, she saw that the invaders had all
drank themselves to sleep. One was far off, perhaps
to keep watch. Taking one of the feathers from her
necklace, she smeared some of her dried blood on its
tip and gave it to a rabbit. “run fast, little one,”
she breathed. The rabbit ran off in the direction of
“Come, we must hurry.” she said in a whisper to the
others. As they gathered around, Green Willow removed
a small pouch from her dress. Opening it, she removed
a handful of pieces of roots, greenish brown in color.
She laid some of it on the ground around her for the
animals to eat until there was one piece left. With a
slow pace, she began to chew it, grimacing at its
harsh taste. Everything in her life had been for this
moment. Tears ran down her face, but she was happy.
This, this must’ve been exactly how her mother went
to the Great Spirit, she thought. Her skin began
to toughen up. Her heartbeat slowed to a near crawl.
The animals began to change as well. Soon, they took
the form of saplings and kept on growing. A soft rumble
could be heard throughout the air. Green Willow felt
her arms stiffen as she held them out at her sides.
In minutes, her flesh became bark and her insides had
become nearly solidified wood. She could feel herself
growing taller and she looked at the wasichus
below. The clearing where the camp was had shrunk so
much that there was only a small circle left where
they had slept.
When the men awakened, they found themselves in the
midst of a thicket of trees which weren’t there before.
They stared in bewilderment at a huge tree that stood
exactly where Green Willow had been tied up. In its
hollow, Oueichi the owl rested there, his solemn golden
eyes fixated on the men. Their hearts filled with an
overwhelming sense of fear. “Sorcery!!!” “Evil!!” they
yelled. In haste, they gathered up their belongings
and rushed headlong through the forest. But they lost
their bearings and soon found themselves face to face
with a pack of wolves that had been a mile outside of
their original camp looking for food. Only one of the
original party ever made it back to the coast, and was
so starved and crazed that he succumbed aboard his ship.
His last words were, ‘the forest grew around us..the stars
CHANGED.’ In this way, the village was saved..and so was