Hidua is Dead
Yichimet, October 6, 2006
Yichimet puffed on his pipe and the peacebloom smoke curled
through the air. When he exhaled, the smoke from his breath blew
through the wafting strings and made shapes and swirls in the air
of the inn. He recognized some of the shapes, but did not Name
them so they would have no power over him. He was not hunting on
Tomorrow's Path. He blew harder to ward away the signs.
He stood up and left the small room, stepping into the busy
streets of Orgrimmar. He had been sleeping here for a few weeks,
away from the strong winds and strong glares of Thunder Bluff.
The elevation assured the first. His Grimtotem pride assured the
second. In Orgrimmar, though, he was another face among many
faces. He had spent little time here before. The feeling of
loneliness was a small stone in his hoof--something that
shouldn't have been more than a minor annoyance, but made him
Nearly as soon as he left the inn a hawk owl swooped down from
one of the rooftops, hooting loudly. Yichimet barely had time to
put out his wrist for Swallows Rats Whole to grasp. Hidua's bird,
Yichimet thought. Tied to the leg was a small, thick scrap of
skin with ink scribbles on it. The message was short:
It is time to come home, Clouded Eyes. Hidua is dead.
The handwriting was Conshomek's. Yichimet Clouded-Eyes-Sees would
go home, would walk the path of the Sorcerer, would face his
tribe-brother Conshomek. His teacher was dead. He could not avoid
the hunter who had been stalking him through the grasses.
* * *
In two days he was standing beside Conshomek in front of the
Elders' Fire, the circle of old shu'halo watching the two.
Feathers were tied with leather strips around his horns and arms.
The air was filled with smoke of all kinds: the mountain
silversage burnt for cleansing, the peacebloom passed in the
pipe, the mageroyal to invite the Spirits. Yichimet breathed
deeply and felt calm and sad.
“When the Sorcerer dies, his spirit is but a spirit,” Rewsha
Heart-Too-Fast said, his old eyes drooping as if sleep was coming
over him. “He walks the crevasses and the spires and slowly he
becomes one with the Spirits.”
“He looks to the East for direction,” Ahwe Split-Finger said.
“He looks to the North for peace,” Neshaminock Face-Dyed-Deep
“He looks to the West for his destination,” Seeram Coyote-Tongue
“He looks to the South at us,” Rewsha said.
Rewsha passed a bowl of skyserpent liver around. Last in the
circle, Yichimet took the bowl from Conshomek’s hands and ate his
share, then puffed on the pipe when it came to him.
“Mu’sha’s eye keep us straight,” Rewsha prayed.
Yichimet prepared for the Vision Hunt.
It is a Vision not like others. He is himself, he walks on his
hooves, he knows who he is and where he is and what he is.
In the distance he sees a giant tree, which is his teacher.
His teacher is standing beside him with a stag-skull for a head.
From the branches of his antlers hang feathers, a demon-hand, a
smoothly polished stone, a braided twist of white hair.
His teacher hands him an apple and says “You have always been my
food, my son,” and when their hands touch a storm is frozen in
Together they say the words “You know what I must do” and Hidua
pulls a moon from Yichimet’s chest while Yichimet puts his
fingers in the eyeholes of the skull and tears it from the body.
“You will hold her safe while I find these things,” Yichimet
Hidua’s pool-deep eyes close slowly, open slowly. “Snowfeather is
here,” he says, and swallows the moon past his flat-toothed
“The truth is I will not find them,” Yichimet says as he pulls
the strings from the antlers. “The truth is she is only mine.”
“The bullfrog sings from the valley, the owl from the tree. You
will never be alone again.”
Yichimet has a stag-skull for a head, and ringing wood-chimes in
his hands. A giant tree is on the horizon, and it is his teacher,
and through its branches shines the moon, and it is his lover.
Yichimet woke suddenly in the night, the fire burned low, the
other old bulls and Conshomek still Hunting the Vision. He
reached for his neck and felt the familiar cool crescent moon
against his matted fur, dangling from a rawhide twist he had made
just days after Snowfeather’s passing. A coyote howled through
the ravines, the sound ghostly. He was unafraid of the things he
saw, but he could now feel his loneliness like a woven cloak
thrown around his body. His was the Lone Path. He knew that now.
He pulled out his pipe and packed peacebloom, then lit it with a
twig that had missed the fire. He drew deeply and blew out the
smoke, watching the first pass for a sign. The Wing over the
Head. Not necessarily a bad sign, but a potent warning to watch
the skies. He blew again. This was harder to make out. As it
whirled away, he decided it was The Falling Bone-tipped Spear. A
strange sign to see here, among his friends, where the land could
not be split among them. He blew again. The Injured Ear, a
warning to think hard on the Signs from his Vision of Hidua and
the Tree. One final cloud to read before he had looked all ways,
and it was the clearest: The Harpy’s Heart, either a victory song
or a Sign of defeat.
He pulled his bedroll underneath his head as he lay back down to
sleep the night away. Above him, the moon silently closed her eye
on her way down.
The feeling of his body in the physical world, however, kept him
awake for some time, as it always did after he walked the Spirit
Path. The others around him moaned or snorted at odd times too,
and Yichimet found himself staring at the sky, unable to sleep,
thinking about the Vision and what it meant.
His heart ached from things he had buried for months: his love of
Snowfeather and her death, his feeling of betrayal at Hidua’s
hands, his loneliness as he walked the lands away from his tribe.
As the wind howled through the chasms of the Thousand Needles,
his spirit was purged of its sun-bleached feeling, but he now
felt the loss of the two he loved most in this world even more
keenly. Hidua was dead, and though his spirit would soon walk
with the Spirits, and though Yichimet would soon have his
teacher’s watchful gaze on him always, the grief boiled up.
When it had finished coursing through his body and had settled
like a stone again in his heart, he rolled over and looked at
Conshomek, who still sat upright, staring at the fire. His mouth
moved but Yichimet could not make out the words; he was still on
the Vision Hunt. He remembered the first time Conshomek, tall,
young and quiet, had come to sit around the fire with him and
Hidua. In his eyes was the pride Yichimet remembered at his own
first sitting, when he had left his parents tent at the
Sorcerer’s urging to follow the path that Hidua set before him.
By the time Conshomek came to share the fire, Yichimet had walked
the Spirit Path with Hidua several times. The first was the
terrible vision of The Great Tree dropping demon-fruit that grew
into world-wrecking beings of hate, and when he had gained his
name known only to the Grimtotem, though in orcish it meant
“Clouded Eyes Sees,” and a few of the Horde he trusted knew that
much. When Conshomek came to sit with them, Yichimet already knew
how to pull lightning from the air, and use the earth’s power to
concuss an enemy, and had learned to put the elemental spirits
into a totem. Yichimet had not thought of him as a rival for the
title of Sorcerer then, when he wanted so badly to please Hidua.
Now Yichimet was not sure he even wanted to follow Hidua’s path.
Conshomek muttered something lowly and snorted, and Yichimet
turned away again to stare at the sky. He thought of the
direction in which his Vision pointed him, the four directions he
would seek: the things that hung from the antlers that had
sprouted from stag-Hidua. Something so clear in a Vision must
have clarity in the Waking Path, too, and so he remembered:
feathers, hand, stone, hair. Feathers, hand, stone, hair.
As he fell asleep, feathers, hand, stone, hair.
Tales of Old.