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Ghost That Walks

A warrior great, I am,
    Known as "The Ghost That Walks".
My equal is not known,
    And jet-black are my lock.
My enemies all fear
    The magic, mine is great.
Falling before my might
    And pass into death's gate.
Of coup I've counted much,
    In wars I've touched my foes.
My courage, great and fierce,
    Each man in their camp knows.

Hunting for the Puma,
    My strength with him I'll test.
The lion who rules the hills
    I fully plan to best.
Patiently stalking him,
    I watch for his spoor here.
My fierce and silent prey
    Readily can appear.
I drift from tree to tree,
    In open spaces lie.
Unseen, I am a ghost
    Listening for his cry.

When I shall find this cat,
    His pelt will be my prize
Returning to my tribe
    Before the warriors' eyes.
I'll tell them such a tale
    Of how I won the fray,
Armed with a hunting knife
   Alone. I'll take the day!
This feat of manhood 
    Long purposed in my heart
Will ready me for war.
    Greatness will be my part!

My knife is in my belt
    And ready close at hand
With bravery it was won
    Alone I made my stand.
The white eyes at the camp
    Were skilled in trackers' art,
I crept into their camp
    And toward my prey did start.
I took him unawares,
    And did silently slay.
I left there with this knife,
    The same I use today.

A breeze about me blows
    Which cleanses me inside.
I know that in these hills
    My brother cat can't hide.
Although he mest be slain
    To make my magic strong
I'll honor him in tales,
    With those, my tribal throng.
Aha! I see his track.
    The slopes up there are steep.
And now the hunt begins...
     In hunting grounds he'll sleep.

Invisibly I move,
    Alert for any sound
Or sight of my large foe,
    His shadow on the ground.
My insides are as fire,
    My mind cold as the snow.
Moving up the ravine,
    My movements silent, slow.
Ahead I hear a purr,
    The rumble in his breast.
The time is drawing near
    For this, my combat test.

He sits there and he waits
    As if he knows my name.
His eyes are wide and bright,
    He'll see my flesh to maim.
Drawing my killing blade,
    Edge up, holding it low,
I'm crouched and moving in,
    Moving both sure and slow!
Warily moves the cat,
    His muscles hard as steel.
His claws are sharpened knives,
    His fury's hot and real.

"Greetings,  my brother cat!
    For you I feel no hate.
My magic needs your blood.
    This combat is our fate.
So let the gods be pleased
    With what we do today,
With this our fateful fight
    As we each seek our prey!"
Moving now in to him,
    I've set my mind for pain.
Before this contest ends,
    I'll feel it yet again!

His voice splitting the air,
    Taut muscles bunch...he springs!
He is a lightning flash,
    Through the air his cry rings.
Leaping, I roll aside, 
    His claws cutting the air.
My blade is quick and keen,
    Missing by just a hair!
With speed as quick as thought
    Spinning, I lunge again.
He's caught quite unaware!
    I'm a strong man of men!

My razor-knife cuts long,
    A slit along his thigh.
In rage twirling about,
    The hills echo his cry.
In fury dropping down,
    He lightly scrapes my back.
Dodging with desperate speed,
    At his side I hack!
The blood of both our wounds
    Mixes as round we fight.
We stab, and hack and slash,
    Testing each others' might.

Clinging to his strong back,
    My legs about him hold.
Rolling, he twists and claws,
    My mind is icy cold!
My muscles, sore, cry out
    As down my knife descends.
He vainly tries to slash,
    On strength my fate depends.
His life-blood flowing free,
    Mingles with that of mine.
We are blood brothers now,
    A potent magic sign.

At last he starts to slow,
    His great strength running out.
And still now at his end,
    He tries to twist about!
His fierceness knows no bounds,
    Respect for him is great.
he was an able foe
    Who met a noble fate.
On shaky legs I rise,
    Fatigue in every limb.
My body scarred and red,
    The lasting marks from him.

And now my vic'try's sure,
    My brother's life has fled.
His breath has been cut short,
    His slit eyes flat and dead.
Cutting now his strong heart
    Out of his still-warm breast...
In it the strength abides
    With which he met each test.
Eating it while still fresh,
    Unspoiled by any flame.
His strength becomes my own,
    I'll not remain the same.

With my task complete,
    In weariness I go
leaving the way I came.
    My body is tired so!
When the sun has gone
    Above me left to right
A weakness strikes my flesh
    Which even I can't fight.
The cat had claws and teeth
    Both tainted with past prey,
Which transferred its disease
    Into my flesh this day!

A fever strikes my head,
    At first i'm cold!
Sore illness from those teeth
    Making my flesh feel old.
My body's wracked with shakes,
    I must now find a place
In which to heal myself,
    Corruption I will face.
I find the place I know,
    A bears' den, long unused.
Up close are trees and brush,
    My mind feels strange...confused.

I'm fighting through the fog
    Which seems to fill my mind.
I grab my blood-stained knife.
    Some firewood I'll find.
Weak and pain-wracked now
    I've cut a load of wood.
It's stacked inside the cave.
    A fire will feel so good!
I've also cut a bowl
    From birch bark for my fire.
I'll make in it a tea
    Of herbs before I tire.

As long as fire remains 
    Below the water line
My cup of bark will work
    To make hot tea just fine.
Crumbling healing herbs,
    Strong magic I invoke.
Their scent bathing my mind,
    The fire's coals I stoke.
My wounds are cleaned with care,
    And from the tea I drink.
My head is filled with clouds,
    Falling asleep...can't think.

I wake up...where am I?
    Oh, yes, it all returns.
My fire is almost out,
    Stoking it up, it burns.
Making more healing tea,
    I use it in and out.
A rabbit trap is made,
    I need food, without doubt.
I set my trap of twigs
    In brush not far away, 
A fearful weakness plagues
    Me yet again today.

The passage of the sun
    Brings rabbit for my meal.
Although a welcome sight,
    Still hunger pangs I feel.
Finishing up the hare,
    I keep the rabbits' pelt.
I do not waste a thing,
    Tucking it in my belt.
With herbs and magic plants
    I make a scented smoke.
Sitting within its breath,
    Great Spirit I invoke.

I've gained a little strength
    Through healing ways I know.
With traps I caught some game,
    Some small improvements show.
The herbs of health I find,
    For strengthening my flesh.
The weakness fading still,
    leaves my mind feeling fresh.
Using rites of magic,
    Upon my gods I call.
Their wisdom and great power
    Can triumph over all.

Today the gods have smiled,
    A deer my path did cross.
I killed him with my knife,
    Slashing him straight across.
I'm feating on hot steaks,
    Eating my body's fill.
The buck gives me new life,
    That fell before my will.
I feel the strength begin
    To seep into me slow,
Knowing the time has come
    For travel, sure and slow.

With my full deerskin pack
    I'll make my way back home.
Walking, I take my time,
    Treading on springy loam.
When I reach my people,
   The tale that I will share
About my brother cat
    Will make strong men beware.
I'll tell of how the gods
    Showed favor to me here,
In mercy sparing life,
    By giving up that deer.


Light a shuck back home....

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