A/N: Here it is...finally...Chapter 10! Sorry it took so long, thank you to all of you who hung in there waiting. I'll try not to let it be so long before the next update! I'll be anxiously waiting to hear if the wait was worth it. (Yes, that was a shameless attempt to beg for reviews!) :)
Disclaimer: Nope...still don't own them but I won't tell if you don't!
She was a bit dubious as she pulled into the parking lot of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The building was beyond run down. The decline in the surrounding neighborhood had not spared this site. The outer walls were covered in graffiti, some racial, some gang signs, some just typical tagging. She parked her car in the lot off of Cass Avenue and double checked that she had locked the doors. Even with her arsenal already in place upon her person she was a bit nervous walking out here alone. It was one thing to face demons and vamps, which she could handle, but gang members…that was a whole different story. The rules got a lot more complicated when dealing with run of the mill human evil.
When she entered the building she was pleasantly surprised. Unlike the exterior, the inside of the building was meticulously, even lovingly, cared for. The walls in the main entrance were, unless she was mistaken, hand painted murals which she assumed depicted the different Native American tribes that had been indigenous to the area. She felt slightly ashamed that she couldn't identify them more readily.
Checking the directory on the wall she headed up to the third floor. The sign on the door read "Fox Indian Tribe" followed by "Chief Jacob Blackthorn". This was definitely the place. Raising her hand to knock on the door she was surprised to hear a strong male voice from within, "Come in. I've been waiting for you."
Hesitantly she turned the knob and opened the door. In her experience, having someone know that she was there before she had made her presence known was usually followed by some form of unfriendly encounter. As she entered the office she took note of her surroundings. The office was beautiful, soothing even. Earth tones surrounded her along with natural fibers and Native American artifacts which covered the walls. There was no typical desk or filing cabinets. In the center of the room was a gorgeous deer skin rug surrounded by pillows. The only acquiesce to the twenty-first century that she could see was the overhead lighting. Something about the room immediately put her at ease.
The man standing in front of the windows was like a vision out of an old western movie. He appeared to be in his late sixties or early seventies. The long straight hair that fell down his back was still black, though heavily lined with silver. His deep set eyes swirled with the colors of the sea. They regarded her from within a face lined by age and experience.
She couldn't help but admire the clothing the man wore. He stood before her in buckskin leggings, plain but for the intricately detailed beadwork down the outside of each leg and a beautiful deerskin shirt, beaded and dyed in shades of blue that went strikingly with his eyes. She couldn't help but notice the small leather medicine pouch that hung around his neck. The stitching of the armbands that encircled his still muscular biceps was intricate and she wondered if the symbols represented there had special meaning. Where she expected to see the typical flowing feather headdress that had been depicted in so many films instead she found a modest fox fur headpiece trimmed with more intricate stitching that appeared to match the symbols on his arm bands.
After a moment she realized that she was staring and blushed slightly as she attempted to cover her social misstep. "Chief Blackthorn, my name is –" before she could finish her thought the man stepped forward, raising one hand in greeting.
"Tah ho, be welcome. I know who you are. I have been waiting for you. You are a hunter. A strong spirit but one who is troubled. I know why you are here Tessa. Sit and speak with me of the war within your soul and the choices that have led you to my door."
Again she was slightly taken aback by his knowledge of her. She knew that he had a reputation as a highly regarded medicine man but she hadn't expected this.
"Thank you. I appreciate the welcome. How…how did you know my name? And how do you know about hunters?" She wanted to jump right to her questions about helping Dean but was unable to hold back her curiosity.
"The spirits speak highly of you. Please sit." He indicated the pillows on the floor as he eased himself down to sit upon the rug.
She joined him, finding the informality of the surroundings to be unexpectedly comfortable.
"There is much still for you to learn. Where do you think hunters come from? Did you think that your people were the first to face evil? My ancestors were fighting Baykok before the white man came to this land."
"Baykok? I'm not familiar with that name." She was finding herself mesmerized by the rich sounds of his voice. The man could make reading a grocery list sound like the most important story ever told.
"You may know him by other names…he has been known by many. Thantatos to the Greeks, Aeron to the Celts…but most commonly in this land he is known simply as Death. Every people have legends and stories detailing the destruction and slaughter attributable to Baykok. To my people he is the demon who comes for the strongest of warriors. He takes what he has no right to. There is no defense against his wrath. It is because of him that you come to me today."
"I don't understand. Why would you say that? You don't even know me." Tessa was beginning to get the feeling that she wasn't going to like where this conversation was going.
"Tessa, I know you very well. I have heard your soul screaming out on the wind as it blows through the trees at night. I know that you have seen great sadness and loss. I know that you seek redemption for one who cannot seek it for himself. But…forgive me; I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm old and I fear my tongue rushes ahead as if it fears that my body will cease before it can deliver its message."
"My people believe that the soul is an everlasting embodiment of all that we have seen and done. We believe that when the body passes back to the earth from which it came the soul wanders the earth until it finds its next vessel. Each soul has lived forever and will continue to do so…if allowed to do so. But, I'm afraid; there are ways in which the soul can be trapped. Cut off from its path. It is in this manner that your Dean has been trapped, yes?"
She could only nod in reply. She was afraid to trust herself to speak. The cold hands of fear had once again gripped her heart tightly. This man spoke of them as if he had known them for years. If he knew so much about them then there was a possibility that he could help them. She wanted so badly to believe that he could free Dean from the deal he had made but…she couldn't help but notice the deep sadness that she could see in his eyes.
"I am very sorry for your pain Tessa. For the pain that you have seen and suffered through and for the pain that I am afraid is yet to come. I know what it is to lose one's heart song. My love passed beyond this world more than ten years ago. But, unlike you, I know that once again our souls will meet and join. If, as the spirits have told me, Baykok has laid claim to your love's soul it is very unlikely that he will be able to slip the bonds that have been placed upon him."
She could feel her heart sink. Tears were threatening to slip from her eyes and she quickly blinked them back. She hadn't realized how much hope she had held out that she would be able to go to Dean, tell him that it would all be ok…that she had found a way out of this.
"You said very unlikely…you didn't say impossible. There is a way isn't there? You can help us. Just tell me what I have to do. No price is too high, I can't let this happen. You don't know Dean. You don't know the things he's done…the people he's helped…the reason he's in this mess in the first place. He's flawed…I know that. He has scars that even time may not heal but he's good and kind. He's strong and brave and would sacrifice anything for those he loves…has sacrificed everything for one he loves. Please, if there is any way to undo this I'm begging you to help me."
She could hear how pathetic and desperate she sounded but she didn't care. She meant every word. She would pay any price to save him. She clung desperately to that last glimmer of hope.
"I may be able to help you…it will not be easy and it may not succeed. Baykok is strong and many warriors have faced him only to fall at his feet. I can feel the strength in you. I know that to be the match for your soul Dean must possess a strength to match yours. Maybe, together… You will come to my home tomorrow, at sunset. There are things I must prepare if we are to attempt this." He handed her a piece of paper with a hand written address on it.
"You must remain strong Tessa. And be careful until we meet again. If Baykok knows that you are seeking to undo his hold he will not be pleased. He may send his arrows at your heart in order to protect his claim. His presence is very strong here."
"This was once a beautiful place. My people lived, hunted and died on this land. Even after the white man came and claimed our property the beauty of the earth would not be denied. Today…there is no more beauty here. Few of my people even remain to carry on our ways. Those that do remain have no understanding of the way of life that our ancestors forged here. The strength of the spirit of our tribe grows weaker each day. I'm afraid that soon we will not have the ability to help anyone…not even ourselves. It is good you came now, while there is still enough belief among us to at least try to help you."
She could hear the depths of sorrow he felt at the thought of the inevitable disappearance of his people. Again she felt the tears threaten to break free…this time for the loss of a people who wanted nothing more than to live their lives in peace. She couldn't believe it. These people, who had been decimated by strangers who held no regard for their humanity…these people, were still willing to do what they could to help her.
"This land has been destroyed. They have built up their city of concrete and iron. There is only anger and pain and hate left to fill all of the rooms that now occupy this place. Yes…Baykok is very strong here. This is now a breeding place for him and his kind. Be careful Tessa…be very careful."