Blog Tour & Giveaway: Spirit Warriors: The Scarring by D.E.L. Connor
Spirit Warriors: The Scarring
Spirit Warriors Book # 2
By- D.E.L. Connor
Genre- YA Fantasy
Publication Date- July 21st
Published By- Booktrope Publishing
“One of us would finally end what had been started by the machayiwiw so many years ago. I would have to kill him. It was just that simple. I never thought I would want to kill anybody or anything, but maybe I never had anything worth killing for before.”
-Emmeline Rima Belrose, The Scarring (Spirit Warriors, Book 2)
In the majestic beauty of a Montana summer, Emme and her friends celebrate her near-drowning survival and their defeat of the powerful evil spirit, the machayiwiw. But even as they rejoice, things are amiss. Emme watches helplessly as her family divides, and her friends struggle to hold their relationship together. Worse yet, the love-of-her life, Charlie, announces that he will move back to the reservation, without Emme. Different nightmares take over and Emme realizes she must fight and kill—or watch those she loves be killed. Friends from the reservation reach out to Emme and show her what evil can steal from her. Emme believes that evil can never break her bond with the Spirit Warriors or the love she shares with Charlie. Or can it?
The next day after I got up and had breakfast, I rode Gus over to the Flying A ranch and to Archie’s house to check on Zephyr. I rode to the barn, and put Gus in one of the air-conditioned stalls. I walked to the shed where we had left Zephyr. Archie was coming out of the doorway. “How is Zephyr today?” I asked.
Archie shook his head. “Still in a lot of pain. I am keeping him sedated,” Archie replied.
“Can I see him? Please?” I begged Archie.
Archie looked at me. “You do realize that without Ollie, and racked with pain, that Zephyr could really hurt you?”
I looked at Archie. “No. He won’t hurt me.”
Archie looked back at me. “And just why do you think that?”
I looked at my feet. “Because I have the ability to talk to animals. But I think you have known that all along, haven’t you, Archie?”
Archie sighed. “Yes, I suspected it from the moment I saw you as a young child, after Gus had thrown you in the field. I could tell from the way that Gus interacted with you. You didn’t know how or what you were doing, but Gus did. I kind of knew then.”
I looked up at Archie. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Archie looked in my eyes. “It was not for me to tell you. You needed Charlie. Why do you think Charlie came to live with me?”
I looked at him with my brow furrowed. “Charlie came because his mother couldn’t care for him and the tribe was frightened of his powers.”
Archie nodded. “Yes, that is true, but the main reason he came was for you. From the time that child could first speak, he described you over and over. The pretty blonde girl with blue eyes and pale skin. The description never varied. He talked of nothing else but you. He asked everyone where you were, or how he could find you. I knew I had to bring him to you. I knew Charlie would be able to protect you and teach you about the powers I suspected you had.” Archie stopped and looked at me. I looked at the door. I had nothing more to say. I guess because I had already guessed most of what Archie had told me. It was liberating, though, to hear it said out loud.
I opened the door to the shed carefully and put my head around the corner. Zephyr was lying on a pile of blankets on the dirt floor in the corner of the shed. A trail of dirty sunlight from the window was shining on his body. He was curled in a ball with his bandaged leg poking out in front of him. His head lifted as I came in. “Zephyr,” I whispered. Zephyr’s eyes seemed large in his head and sad. Tears filled my eyes. “Oh, Zephyr, I’m so sorry.” I dropped on my knees in front of Zephyr. Zephyr sighed and laid his head in my lap. I stroked his head, talking to him, telling him how much we loved him and how he would be okay. At least, I thought I was talking to him until Ollie popped his head in the door. “Why are you yipping at Zephyr like a coyote?”
I looked up startled at him. “I wasn’t. I was just talking to him.”
Ollie shook his head. “No, you weren’t. You were yapping and yipping like a coyote.”
“I didn’t realize.” My voice trailed off as I stared at Zephyr’s head in my lap. Ollie walked over and I stood up as Ollie dropped to the ground. Zephyr made a snorting noise and nuzzled his head on Ollie’s lap and then went to sleep snoring softly.
Ollie looked at me. “Do you think he is getting better?”
I looked at Zephyr. “I think it is too soon to tell. He needs to rest and heal.” Ollie nodded.
We sat in the dimly lit shed watching Zephyr sleep.
“We are going to have to build him a dog run. We can’t keep him cooped up in this shed. When he gets better, he will need to be able to walk around and get exercise,” I explained to Ollie.
Ollie nodded. “Where should we build it?”
I pointed out the window. “I think building it right outside the shed door would be best. That way he can go back in and rest if he gets tired or the weather is bad. I’ll talk to Archie about it.” I turned to walk out the doorway and then turned back. “Ollie, you coming?”
Ollie shook his head. “I’m going to stay with Zephyr awhile. I have my tunes.” Ollie repositioned himself so his back was against the wall. He lifted up Zephyr’s limp drugged body and laid it across his lap. Ollie rested his hand on Zephyr’s big head. Ollie stuck his headphones in his ears and I heard him humming along with one of the songs. I quietly shut the door.
I found Archie in the house, sitting at the chrome-legged table drinking coffee. “Hey, Archie. What do you think about building a dog run for Zephyr next to the shed?”
Archie stirred his coffee. “I think we are going to have to do something for him. He can’t stay in the tiny shed for six weeks or more. I’ll get with Ernest and we’ll get it built. In the meantime, we have another problem.”
I looked at Archie with a questioning glance. “What problem?”
Archie reached over to pour more coffee in his cup. “What are we going to feed Zephyr? He can’t eat dog food. He needs fresh meat.” Archie looked at me.
“Where am I going to get fresh meat from?” I asked Archie.
Archie looked at me like I was stupid. “From outside. We have an overabundance of rabbits. You need the practice with your lance.”
I grimaced. “Rabbits are cute. I hate to kill them.”
Archie looked at me. “Zephyr has to eat or he won’t live. I will start weaning him off his pain medication tomorrow. You will need to bring him something to eat in the afternoon.” I nodded as I touched my knife.
I went home. I got home in time to have lunch with Dad. Lunch was nothing special, just sandwiches and chips. “So what are we doing this afternoon?” I asked Dad.
“I was thinking we could take the horses out and check the fence lines.”
I bugged my eyes at Dad and pretended to be surprised. Checking the fence line was just an excuse to ride the horses and goof off for the afternoon. We went outside to the barn. I re-saddled Gus and fed him an apple. Dad saddled up Jimbo. We walked them back across the pasture. I looked over at Dad. His face and arms were tanned. Dad tipped his hat back and looked at me. “What’s on your mind?”
I looked down at my saddle. “I was thinking about Mom and Ben,” I told him.
Dad sighed. “You know I miss them. I never wanted to be alone. I always dreamed of having a wife and a family and an incredibly talented daughter.” Dad had a smug look on his face as he looked over at me.
“You are so full of it, Dad.” I shook my head. I couldn’t look at him as I asked, “What if they don’t come back? What will we do?”
Dad and I rode quietly for several long moments. Gus snorted as the flies buzzed around his nose. Finally, Dad replied, “They will be back. They will, and we will be a family again.” I looked at the fence line and watched the yellow flowers sway in the warm breeze. I felt sad inside. Dad would never be able to handle Mom and Ben leaving. He would always think they would come back. I had to stay with him. He just wasn’t meant to be alone. I was different. I liked being alone. I liked the quietness of my thoughts and the sounds of the land around me. I wished Dad were more like me. I wish he could accept being alone. I tried to think of something to say that would help Dad, but I couldn’t think of anything that didn’t sound totally stupid or trite. We rode back to the house, both of us quiet.
That night I heard Dad up really late. I rolled over and it was almost three in the morning. I peeked out my door and I saw him pacing in the hallway. He walked up and down the hallway and into the living room and kitchen over and over. I slowly closed my door. I lay awake on my bed clutching the picture of Dad, Mom, Ben, Nana and me to my chest. I stared at the ceiling, listening to Dad pace. Finally at dawn, I heard Dad go to bed. I sat on the side of my bed. My window was open and a cool morning breeze stirred the white curtains. The breeze smelled like wet grass and dirt. I looked again at the picture of what had once been my family. I opened the back of the frame up, and I took the picture out of the frame. I tore Mom and Ben out of the picture and left Dad and Nana and myself in the picture. I put it back in the frame. I put the frame back on the shelf by my bed. That was better. I nodded to myself. “This is reality now,” I whispered. “I have to get used to it.”
I got dressed and walked out to the kitchen and fixed breakfast. I left Dad bacon and scrambled eggs on the stove. I let Mitzi in the house and I absently patted her head as I ate my breakfast. I cleaned up the kitchen. I grabbed my knife and my purse. I whistled at Mitzi. “Let’s go for a ride.” Mitzi bounded out the door and waited patiently while I opened the door to the grannie-mobile. Mitzi jumped in the passenger seat, and I rolled down the window on the passenger side. It made me happy to look at her. Mitzi looked like she was smiling. It was funny to me that dogs looked so happy when they got to hang their head out of a moving vehicle. I wonder what it felt like to them. I wondered if it felt like when Eros and I were flying. Like it was a total and complete sense of freedom.
We pulled into the Arrington place and I drove to Archie’s house. I got out of the car, let Mitzi out, and walked to the shed and opened the door. Mitzi ran off chasing butterflies by the bushes. Archie was crouched by Zephyr. Zephyr was trying to stand. Archie looked up at me. “I’m glad you’re here. We are going to need food faster than I thought. I stopped giving Zephyr pain medication late last night and he is getting hungry.” I nodded at Archie. “Okay, I’m on it.”
I walked out to the far edge of the field where the fence met the trees. I had seen lots of rabbits around here. I crouched in the bushes along the fence. I sat still listening and hearing all the animals around me. I heard the rabbits before I saw them. Several of them hopped out of the underbrush and started munching on the sweet grass close to the fences. One looked up with its little nose crinkling up and down. “I’m sorry, little rabbit.” I whispered. I slowly raised my arm and gripped my lance in my hand. I rose to my knees and sighted my lance behind the rabbit’s shoulder. I threw the lance and it raced for the rabbit. The blade hit him in the chest. I turned away. The only good thing was that he died instantly. I walked over and picked up the rabbit’s body by the hind feet. I wiped the blood off my lance in the grass. The rabbit was still warm.
The blood trailed after me as I carried the rabbit to Zephyr. When I got to the shed I carefully opened the door. Archie wasn’t around. I closed the door behind me. I walked over to Zephyr. Zephyr backed away from me on three legs. I laid the rabbit down and I backed up, watching Zephyr. “It’s for you. Eat it.” Zephyr crouched and grabbed the rabbit with his teeth and pulled it back into the corner. He tore into the rabbit. It looked like he was swallowing pieces of it whole. When he finished, he curled in a ball and went to sleep. I crept out of the shed. That would hold him for the day. He still had some of the rabbit left.
I walked outside. Ernest was building the support for the concrete base that would eventually become a dog run for Zephyr. He looked up as I approached and rested against his shovel. “Hey there, Em, I heard you drug home a huge coyote.”
I nodded. “Yes.”
Ernest went on. “You know there are people who don’t like coyotes and would kill him if they was to find out he was here. Especially a huge one like yours.”
I looked back at him. “Then they mustn’t find out. Please help me so they don’t find out.”
Ernest looked thoughtfully at the outline of the dog run. “We need to cover the sides and leave only the top open. We probably need to make it longer. As big as that coyote is, he will need more room to stretch his legs.”
I bounded over to Ernest and hugged him. “Thank you.”
Ernest just stood there. He didn’t try to hug me back. He turned facing the hills. “You know, my little girl would be around your age if she had lived. I think about her and my wife every day.” I saw Ernest raise his arm and I figured he was wiping his eyes. “It sucks to live when everything around you has died. It is my punishment. Susie, my wife, didn’t want to go out to eat that night. She didn’t want Emily out that late. I wanted to surprise Susie with an early anniversary gift. I bought her a new diamond wedding ring. When we got married, I didn’t have any money and I had to buy just a plain gold wedding band. Susie never complained about it, but I wanted her to have something beautiful to match her beauty. We went to the restaurant and I surprised her with the ring. Emily clapped her little hands and Susie put the ring on. The candlelight caught her eyes and made her face look like she was an angel. Susie leaned over the table and kissed me. She told me, ‘I will always love you. What did I ever do to deserve to have such a wonderful husband and father to our child? If I were to die tonight I would die happy.’” Ernest went on. “I thought at the time it was a funny thing to say. Turns out she did die that night. They both did. God is punishing me for my greediness. If I had just accepted the plain gold band. If I hadn’t pushed Susie to go out to eat that night. If I hadn’t done that, they would still be here.”
I stared at my boots, and then I looked at Ernest’s back. “Tell me about your wife.”
Ernest sighed. “She wasn’t very tall, and she had dark almost-black hair and grey eyes and a huge smile that lit up her face. She loved to take care of other people. She was going back to school to be a nurse. She loved birds and animals like you do, Emme. She loved the Eastern Bluebirds. There was one that had a nest every year in the cottonwood house by our house. She would climb up on a ladder and look at its nest. She loved that bird. The morning of Susie and Emily’s funeral, a big windstorm came through and it blew the nest out of the tree. The baby birds and the momma bird were all killed. I cut that damn cottonwood tree down. I just wish I knew if she was angry with me. I wish I knew if she and Emily are all right. I wish a neon sign would drop out of the sky that said, ‘They are happy.’”
My heart ached for Ernest. I closed my eyes and I felt myself floating above us. I looked carefully until I saw and heard an Eastern Bluebird mom and babies several hundred yards away. I called to it, whistling softly. It sounded like “Tu-a-wee.” The bird came to me. I asked her to land on the handle of Ernest’s shovel. The tiny little bird with its bright blue back, head, wings, and tail and white throat landed and stared at Ernest. Ernest gasped and slowly raised his head. I tweeted to it, telling her he would not hurt her.
Ernest gently touched the tiny bird. His index finger was as big as she was. She stood still as he stroked her. Ernest whispered, “I love you, Susie.” The bird laid its head against his finger and then it flew off and circled back around Ernest’s head one last time. Ernest never looked back at me. He picked up his shovel and walked off.
About the Author-
Della was born in South Dakota and raised in the vastness and beauty of Montana on a farm. When she longed for the big city life, she moved to Texas where she attended college and received a PhD in nursing. When not nursing people back to health you can find Della huddled over her Mac writing the stories that have occupied her mind for so many years, or traveling with her best friends, the NOLA’s, riding bikes across the Golden Gate bridge or exploring botanical gardens. She is the proud mother of a champion triathlete, two aging dogs and 1 grand-cat. Della has admittedly confessed to her coffee addiction and swears that her two hour coffee crawl while on vacation in Seattle –was the best two hours of her life!
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