Gathering ethnographic data was a challenging endeavor even with a cooperative informant, but doubly so when the informant insisted on fondling your testicles to assess your worthiness as a man. Dr. Linnaeus scribbled in his notebook while the old shamaness reached between his legs and proceeded to manually inspect him. She grinned, muttered some cryptic words, and clucked her tongue in his ear. Her teeth were covered with the green paste of the b’kuk herb, which had a stimulating effect upon her. As humiliating as the ritual was, he had no other choice. She would not speak to him otherwise. She was an elder and a matriarch. A healer of body and mind. Revered in the community, she was allowed to do as she pleased. So, having no alternative, the professor stood still, stoically scribbling on his notebook as the old woman pinched, fondled, and squeezed.
“You want to know V’ara!” she said looking at him with her piercing green eyes. “You? A man?”
Innana was her name. She was one of three female religious practitioners in the village. Curiously, the three of them were sisters. They had refused to talk to him at first. It was taboo to share any knowledge with males, let alone outsiders, because in their worldview, the physical and metaphysical were closely intertwined. You couldn’t discuss one without discussing the other, and doing so left you vulnerable to 'wicked' action at a distance. The three women wanted nothing to do with his research. But a recent spat between the sisters gave Dr. Linnaeus the opportunity he needed. By emphasizing how much it would annoy her two siblings, he managed to convince Innana to meet with him and share her knowledge.
The professor tapped his heart. “I am a wise man among my people,” he said and waved his hand towards the horizon. ”Like you, I seek knowledge. I want to know about the stories of First Woman. You will teach me.”
“Ha!” She banged on the floor with her worn out but sturdy staff.
Dr. Linnaeus made a circular motion with his fingers and leaned towards her. “Teach me about the beginning.”
She laughed dryly and sat on a chair looking out the window. Her strong leathery body was marred with the scars of battles and the ravages of time. She murmured to herself then laughed softly as if recalling some distant memory.
“A valley of beauties!” she shouted and leaned against the window. “One and one and one. Sisters in the realms of light. Iron! Steel! Lightning forks!” she waved her staff through the open window. “The grand spheres of life! They grew, yes, they grew and scattered like spores across the wind. Glowing. Many, many, many. There! Woosh! Boom! They fall like ice and cover the land with living death...”
She looked up and raised her hands as if warding off some unseen danger. “Star warriors come with wicked magic.” She waved her hand towards the sky, and the evening light cast deep shadows on her wrinkled face.
“Another, another, another. Rain of fire! Then bbbbbbrrrooooom! Magic! Wicked magic! You see? All is known! All is together. V’ara sees all!”
The shamaness reached forward and grabbed the professor’s pen. She inspected it while muttering over and over the words, “wicked magic.”
He offered her the notebook. With a trembling hand, she reached forward and brought the golden nib in contact with the page. The carbonized ink spread across the parchment, creating a kaleidoscopic stream of images and symbols.
“AHH!” she opened her mouth in surprise as the page filled up with the wispy fragments of her consciousness. “Wicked magic!” She said and threw the pen on the floor.
Turning, she looked out the window. “One and one and one. They fall from the sky! Blood fills the sea,” she said waving her hand out the window. Turning, she pointed in the opposite direction, "eyes see from the mountains.” Then pounding the floor rhythmically with her staff, she said, "a heart beats in the abyss."
Mesmerized by the shamaness’ tale, he had failed to notice the girl standing in the doorway. She was one of the older kids that hung out at the research station pestering him and Esmeralda all day. Kirn was her name. She was a strong lass who was nearly as tall as he, her figure made even more imposing by the long spear in her hand. Her hair was flaming red and smeared with bright streaks of yellow, purple, and green. Dr. Linnaeus noticed that she wore a cup-less bra that was several sizes too small for her ample bosom.
“Why do you speak to this man?” she yelled at the old woman. “He belongs to the dark-skinned whore!”
The old woman chuckled and sat on her chair by the window. “The wind comes. The wind blows. The wind cannot be stopped,” she said in a voice that rustled like Autumn leaves. “The pieces come together! All in one. There is no division.”
“You must go!” Kirn said with her spear pointed at Dr. Linnaeus.
It was no use arguing with the brat, so began to gather his belongings.
The girl moved swiftly towards him and poked his chin with the tip of her spear, “you are nothing, sea-dog.”
Against his better judgment, he replied, “well, young lady, I like to think that being a sea-dog is not so bad at all.”
Her wild emerald eyes searched his. She pushed the the tip of her spear deeper until it pierced his skin.
Instinctively, he slapped the weapon from her hands and sent it rolling across the floor.
Her eyes widened in surprise and then narrowed. Baring her teeth, she clenched her fists and took a step towards him.
He fixed her with a steady gaze and made a deep grunting sound.
She hesitated, weighing her chances against him. Then thinking better of it, she turned and walked across the room to retrieve her spear.
"Go!" she yelled. "Get out!"
As he walked away from the hut, he looked back and saw the old woman sitting by the window, looking up at the moonlit sky. Beside her stood the girl, her face veiled in the shadows.