There was a large, bad tempered man in our area simply known as Bear. Shaggy hair framed burning, accusatory eyes that pierced our tender souls from two meters above. Legs like tree trunks supported a tightly muscled core. He could heft and carry any deer after a hunt and was rumored to have spoken with Ksheera(1).

He was something of a legend to us younger men for three reasons.

First, he lived, or staked exclusive hunting claims, on a large mountain in the region. When he moved into the area, his mass and strength convinced the local animals to serve him instead of the ancestors of the area. They (famously reported as the bears and the birds)guarded his mountain paradise, warning him whenever a stranger entered there. The mountain was a rich, almost paradisaical hunting ground, reserved only for Bear.

Second, Bear did not live alone, but had a daughter. Her name translates roughly to Bird with Blue Eyes, or perhaps Blue Bird. She was also tall and strong, but most definitely feminine. So feminine, that young men would stop talking about spears and lions just to watch her walk by. So feminine that I felt very much at odds with sitting still. She left her mountain home often, to hunt, to gather, or to trade obsidian that she found calving from great clefts in the mountain. Her blue eyes, piercing but gentle, always made me lick my lips.

Many, many of us gave her much attention. We would trade away all our skins for obsidian that we didn’t need just to find a way to get a smile from her. Bird with Blue Eyes did not settle on any particular suitors, but seemed friendly. Impatient, we would ask why she would not listen to our lovely pipe music about our hunting prowess, or sit at our fire while we cooked something up for her. Why, we would ask, does she not choose a husband (2)? Sho would only laugh and point towards here mountain, to her father that would make a choice. Which takes us to the next point.

Third, Bear, under no circumstances would allow any man to marry his daughter. He killed the ones who were brave enough to march into his forbidden forest. The stupid animals would either attack the intruder, or Bear himself would pin them to the ground with a spear, crush them under an uprooted tree, or maybe blow on them and scare them to death. He would skin the poor victims, paint warnings on the hides, and hang them to dry on the frontiers of his mountain.

Yet, many tried to best him. They wanted his daughter as a wife, and especially his hunting ground. If a young hunter could kill Bear, the girl and kingdom would be his and he could became the new Bear. Since my young youth, when I newly became a hunter I watched many men try and all of them died. Bear was much too much of a bear to slay. Yet, we saw his daughter often in our villages and our encampments, always getting a new batch of dudes to fall in love and try their luck.

1. Ksheera, mythic messenger of trapped glacial water. Different from Ancestors or their animal messengers in that Ksheera was conceived as more of a force. She could only speak through brute force and those who would speak with her either died in the attempt or overpowered her, not an easy task when one realized she held the combined force of all the glaciers worldwide. Comparable to Nordic World Serpent.

2. It would behoove the reader at this point to consider how ludicrous this question really was for Ej’s people. While the female had final say as to who she would marry, it was here maternal uncle who should have been asked. In the absence of the uncle (krostick), the father would have been asked. If the father were absent, the brother, if the brother is absent, a medicine man would be asked, failing that the mother, the wet nurse, the man who brought meat to her the last Dark Day feast, the largest salmon of the year, any birch tree that was hit by lightning, or perhaps the ashes of a fire used to hollow out a canoe (canoes are quite erotic to Ej’s people). At no time was marriage to be discussed with the bride to be, as this was the usual method of negotiating prostitutes. ~STS

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