After a few days with the Slow Fishers tribe, the other tribes started feeling restless. Exploring was in their blood and could not be denied for long.

Heena and her sister Dees had spent the days together, catching up and recounting yet again their old adventures. They decided their two tribes should travel together for a bit. Heena would show wise Bralla where the sacred places were so she could remember them for her maps. Dees’ tribe would show the others around some of the newer areas they had explored.

“What bothers you?” Dees asked after they had been hiking for part of the day away from the sea. “You have been very quiet.”

“I worry about Saska,” Heena admitted with a frown.

“Sister, you always worry too much. She is staying with the Slow Fishers, nothing will happen to her there.”

“It is not that she is in danger, but I worry that I give her too much responsibility.”

Dees scoffed. “She does not look unhappy to me.”

“What if she pushes herself too hard to please me?” Heena said, looking at her sister. “What if she thinks I expect too much from her?”

“I think you are being too protective.”

“Can a mother really be too protective?”

An uneasy silence fell between them, guarding them from going too close to the uncomfortable topics the both preferred to avoid. They continued for the rest of the day in silence. Near sunset, the two tribes stopped, set up camp, and shared a simple meal of dried fish and water.

“I’m sorry about before,” Dees said, finally breaking the silence between the two sisters.

Heena looked up and took a deep breath. “No, I understand. You might be right.”

“I see that Saska is happy. I don’t think there is a problem.”

“I still worry, though,” Heena said, her voice trembling.

“Because you are a good mother.” Dees embraced her sister. They sat together watching the sun set, then they went off to find their places for the night.


The next morning it was decided that they would run to the sacred place. Everyone gathered up their pack and set off in a long line. Heena lead the procession, following her senses and her memories of where the sacred places are. The fast pace meant that they would not be able to talk, so Heena had to choose a clear path and decide when to take breaks. She pushed the group far and fast, stopping after a while to make sure that all were okay. The sacred place was still a distance away, but they could cover that easily after a break.

“Heena,” the older voice came as Heena was leaning against a tree and drawing some strength. She looked up to see Bralla approach.

Heena stood up and frowned at herself. She had not gone to talk to the older woman before they had left. “It is good to see you, Bralla. I heard about Moun…”

“He rests now,” Bralla said with an edge sadness in her voice. “I miss him,” she admitted with a sorrowful sigh.

“Do not fear, he rests in a sacred place. He is at peace.”

“Yes. I remembered the place you had shown us before. Moun said he found the place beautiful, so we took him there.”

Heena remembered the place well. “By the stream in the mountains? With the field of flowers?”

Bralla smiled slightly. “Yes! I didn’t think you would remember.”

Heena laid a hand on Bralla’s shoulder. “I remember all the sacred places. They are important,” she said solemnly.

“I remember them, too. It is my job.”

“You do it well. Nobody can replace you,” Heena said while smiling at the older woman.

“Not true, Heena. Prin has been learning everything I know and remembering all the new places. She will replace me sometime.”

“Not for a long time, I hope!” Heena said. She was a bit taken aback by Bralla’s attitude; did losing Moun turn her thoughts so dark?

Bralla just nodded quietly and appeared to be lost in her own thoughts.

After the break, the group picked up their packs again to get ready for another bout of running. The sun was reaching the top of the sky by the time they stopped near a small cairn of stones near a copse of thin trees. Heena sat down her pack at her feet and breathed deeply. She could feel the sacred area, the energies flowing all around.

“We are here,” she announced. Many were already sitting down and catching their breath.

A young woman approached and waited patiently as Heena lost herself for a moment in the sacred place. She finally looked over and caught her breath. “Prin. right?”

“Yes,” the young woman smiled shyly. “This is the sacred place? The pile of stones….”

“Yes, that is the marker. I wish you could feel the essence of this place.” Heena inhaled deeply, the energy nearly intoxicating her.

“I feel… something. Perhaps it is more than just the fresh breeze from the distant sea.”

Heena smiled. “An explorer who can detect sacred places? That would be a blessing.”

Prin gave a quick laugh and smiled. “I am happy learning to be an explorer. I do not think I need more work!”

Heena laughed as well. “We value the work that you do. Learn well, Prin.”

Prin looked away bashfully, then said a quiet goodbye to Heena. She went to talk to Bralla and the two women, one old and one so very young, talked and pointed out different landmarks they could see from the area.

Heena watch them for a moment, then closed her eyes and lost herself as the sacred place washed over her once again.


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