Introduction: The Making of Quebec.
He sat in the stuffy air of the council chamber trying to ignore the heat. The building that housed the chamber had been built many years ago by his great grandfather. It was designed well, making the most of the heat to create a draft and thus bring some relief to the occupants. Still it was high summer and sweat beaded on not only his face. His father had sat where he sat now, in the chair reserved for the chief of chief and before him his grandfather and so on now for over five generations. Despite this there was always a war when the last chief died. A crisis of succession sparked by some lesser upstart chief who had spent too much time listening to the ravings of some irresponsible Shaman, hoping to improve his influence with a change of leadership. Sometimes they led their rebellions because they themselves had smoked the sacred pipes, or eaten the Shaman's acorns and met some of the spirits themselves. For whatever reason some chief always saw this as an opportunity to rebel and start a war, futile though it always seems to be.
Originally Posted by The AARthor
His mind dwelt on this problem pondering what he could do to make the transition easier for his own son. These thoughts rather naturally reminded him that he did not yet even have a heir. Oh there was that prophecy given to him at the ritual of his ascension by a female Shaman no less. His son would be a great leader and would see the Huron through peril to safety and greatness. Well 30 years and ten wives later found his faith in words derived from drug induced visions somewhat diminished. Of course he wasn't supposed to be thinking about this problem right now but it was the topic his mind wondered to whenever he was bored or someone was wasting his time. Right then he should have been paying attention to the dispute in council, some minor problem over hunting rights north of one of the lakes. In fact he had already decided who he would favour in what seemed to him to be a straight forward case. However, nothing was ever straight forward when dealing with this particular tribe. Still he managed to look attentive as his thoughts dwelt elsewhere and that was what was important. Make sure both parties felt they had been heard and they usually accepted his decisions, though with this clan in question he would need to remember he found against them when the next, inevitable, conflict came before him.
The problem of the succession would not be solved this afternoon but he thought back to his own fight for the chief of chiefs’ chair. His battle had been easier than his father's. His father was so incensed by the needless fighting that he decided, the first time in history, to further punish the rebellious tribe. He had every tenth man of workable age slaughtered and their wives and children driven off into the wilderness populated by the disorganised tribes around. Of course after a few years he had allowed the survivors back but the lesson had a profound effect. His own war of succession became more a show of arms, almost a ritual, than a fight. The two armies had drawn up ready to fight, his much larger than his opponents. The battle cries and chants had started and then the enemy chief walked forward and cast down his weapons. The rest of the opposing army followed suit and joyous relief flooded through the nation. Not a drop of blood spilt, it was miraculous. The celebrations were spontaneous and had lasted for days.
This is not how it would be if he did not have a son, the nation lacked any law or precedent for taking another's son, orphan or not, as your own and so he had little choice but to keep taking wives. The expense of keeping them all was now huge but despite the now sure knowledge that if there was a problem it was with him, he could not be seen to have given up even though he watched the political manoeuvrings of his opponents getting ready for a real war once he had passed on.
The council adjourned for the night and he left the chamber tired, concern still creased his brow as he worried about what would become of his nation. He went first to the refractory, certainly he'd have preferred eating in private but he wished to avoid his rooms for a little while longer. He ate without haste though his meal did not take long. He noticed the servants muttering and whispering to each other and he let out a long sigh. They probably thought he was avoiding who was in his chambers, which was in fact true. As he finished he prepared to retire he thought about his latest wife. She was as young as she was beautiful, daughter of the chief of the tribe his father had decimated, as were at least 2 others of his wives! He chuckled to himself as he made his way through the palace to his private rooms. One of the benefits of his situation, more wives means more political marriages. He had personal marriage alliances with almost all the tribes. However, this latest one was only just of age and he thought they must look a ridiculous pair; he was old now, wrinkled, tired and grey. Next to him she was young, vibrant and beautiful. He sighed once more as he arrived at his rooms. He went inside, knowing that despite being tired by the work of the day he still had the more exhausting work of the night to complete. Still he smiled as he found his beautiful wife, scantily clad in the bed, and lost himself in the pleasure of this particular duty.
Once he was done, or rather had been done to his wife's satisfaction, he was eventually able to lay his head down to rest. His breath deepened and he eventually drifted off to sleep. He’d have trouble sleeping if it weren't for the rigours of his marriage and he sank deeper into the night due to both his sexual satisfaction and his exhaustion.
He was in the council chamber, although he knew he was not. There was an odd hue to all he could see, as if there was smoke in the room or a light mist. This couldn't be the case though as fog and mist did not get thicker toward the edges of one's vision. He knew he was dreaming, or at least he was pretty certain he was but he'd never had a dream like this before. This was not one of those vivid almost real dreams, this felt more like an echo a memory. He recognised his younger self, up in the chair upon the dais, and he recognised many of those in attendance. A movement at the corner of his vision got his attention and to his surprise and confusion he saw a near disembodied head floating toward him. He steeled himself against the rising feeling of disquiet, fear if not quite terror, and realised the head was not disembodied but that the mist coalesced around it to hide it from view. This relieved him, for some unknown reason, and he was about to relax when he noticed that the head was in fact green or rather green skinned. The face was like none he had ever seen before, a woman of intense beauty, serene and her age? Well it was impossible to tell, her skin, apart from being green, gave no signs of having aged but the eyes held the look of the wisdom of eons. Yet there was a wild, untamed, feel to her features and a sense of harshness. A harshness that could extend to being deadly. Her face was the only thing not in the half-light, smokiness or fog. It was real and in way more real than any vivid dream that the ageing chief could remember. She looked him straight in the eye but did not speak.
"Who are you? What are you?" He stammered, he did not feel in danger but he did not feel safe either. "why am I here?"She did not speak directly to him yet he found he could hear words forming in his mind. I am the forest, revered disbeliever. Watch, remember and learn. He glanced about at the council chamber, all the actors, his younger self one of them, moved slowly as if time was flowing slowly. As he turned back toward the green woman he saw her retreating, getting further away leaving him. He felt a sudden inexplicable sense of loss and took an involuntary step toward her disappearing form. A smile light up her beautiful features for just a moment as she evaporated into the mist. Watch, remember and learn. The phrase reverberated through his mind as he turned back to the chamber to find time flowing as normal once again.
He watched and remembered, this was an important session, the one in which he had made administrative changes. As he watched he remembered all the arguments and debates of that day. He had refused to let the session end or adjourn until they had agreed. It had been started over the appointment of officials, those who ran his household, sent his messages, organised and administered the army. He had found the labyrinth of patronage impossible to navigate safely. He had made enemies in the past by appointing people he thought best qualified rather than those with powerful friends. He had had enough. His changes seemed to him reasonable and effective; a brilliant idea. When an official needed to be appointed the council of tribes would meet, with or without its head. Interested parties would inform the council of whom they preferred for the job and his or her preferred rate of pay. The council would then hear a speech for each hopeful. Then the session would be closed to the public and the chiefs would debate the candidates. Eventually they would decide whom they preferred, the hopeful with the least support would be struck off and the debates started again until there was only one man left. He would then appoint that person to the position. It was a hard sell and he watched as the room became heated, just as he remembered over the suggestion. Eventually a system was agreed upon, once the chiefs had realised that he really was not going to let them sleep, or eat until an agreement was had. As the council session closed, he wondered why 'The Forest' had wanted him to watch, remember and learn. How could he learn from something he had known of for so long? The mists arose and obscured his view and the rest of the night passed in normal sleep.
He awoke the next morning equally confused and unsure of what to do. He cancelled his schedule for the day, irritated by the problem before him. Later that day the council was due to meet without him to appoint someone to the recently vacated position of head huntsman, the last chap had overestimated his ability and had been gorged badly. Still confused and a little unbalanced by his dream he decided to preside over the meeting in person. The other chiefs were surprised he was there, he had not attended one for decades, and as he arrived he asked them all to continue as though he weren't there. He watched astonished. The procedure was more formal now than the one he had first created, the hopefuls given only a set period of time to speak and the debate on each one was also limited. To show support for a candidate, as the council called the hopefuls, the chiefs raised a hand when his name was called. The meeting lasted a mere hour and everyone seemed happy and content to abide by its decision. Watch, Remember and Learn echoed through his mind. He was unsure whether he was recalling his dream or whether he had heard those words repeated once again. This seriously troubled him. "Learn" he thought to himself and then realisation dawned, and as the council slowly filled out of the chamber he was seen with a board smile crossing his aged face. He did not know who 'The Forest' was or if the dream had been a creation of his own imagination, or from something outside of him, but it had given him an answer to his problem. As the last chief left the room he could hear the Chief of Chiefs laughing to himself in the room left empty behind him.
Eighteen months had passed since he had dreamt of Forest. Almost as soon as he decided what needed to be done he had realised that it would be a long hard struggle. The ‘Elective’ principle is what everyone now called the novel idea that had torn his country apart. He vividly remembered the day he called the council together to discuss the succession as he explained that bloodshed was no longer acceptable at each succession, and that he would not have his death be the cause of such a disaster. The silence had been palpable as he paused before explaining how the chief of chiefs was now to be decided. Naturally many of the chiefs were repelled by the idea. Many had been preparing for the struggle that would come upon his death and were not happy to hear how he planned to ruin it all. Others started to get more worried as they feared that this principal may one day filter down to the selection of each tribes own chief. He didn’t care one jot for that, all he wanted was for his country to no longer tear itself apart every time a new leader was needed. He adapted his plans then, anticipating that if elected for life another could undo his changes or that others would prepare to cause trouble at the end of a reign. Some tribes had not returned to the council chamber the next day and at that point he realised that there would be fighting. He managed to bind the remaining tribes to his cause by allowing them to change his plans and have input into the rules by which the nation would be run. Each tribe’s internal affairs would remain up to themselves and each term for Chief of Chiefs would last four years. At first they had hated such a short term but soon they realised that this meant more of them would stand a chance of a taste of power! Slowly some of the smaller tribes returned to the fold but the larger ones remained opposed and preparations were being made for war.
The Huron nation had a neighbour, the Iroquois. The Huron had always assumed the lead in this relationship, but with no further enemies, the relationship only really governed mutual aid in times of drought, famine and to contain or capture criminals. They saw a threat in this elective principle as much as the larger Huron tribes had, and they had threatened war. Facing such a dilemma he had agreed to break their nominal ties and give the Iroquois complete independence. This small price ensured the Iroquois would remain neutral in the coming civil war. This blatant bribery had driven him to distraction, but he had smiled through the gritted teeth and vowed that he would extract his vengeance on his opportunistic southern cousins.
With the war limited he felt confident he could win it. He had paid off most of his wives. He offered them each enough money to live very comfortably and freedom to remarry as they chose. All had jumped at the offer, except the latest. That sweet girl had been raised, almost from birth, to be his wife and provide him with an heir. She was insistent that she would not leave him, not until she had provided the heir, and thus tied her tribe to his and the throne, or he had established his precious ‘elective’ principle. He had to argue with her for weeks that if he did that she should be released. Of course he enjoyed the sex and attention of such a beautiful young bride, but he was embarrassed by the age difference and felt she should be married to man that could be with her for her whole life. However he thought of her that final morning and hoped he would live the day through to the evening. Returning to her warm body would be celebration enough for him, if this final day brought him victory. The enemy was arrayed in front of his line, ready to begin the battle. It seemed they had committed all their forces to their line, no clever moves. He had not expected any; they had shown no imagination during the main campaign and neither did they on this last day. He however had. Then the enemy gave a final roar and surged forward, as they crashed into his main line his own troops were being forced back. He smiled to himself. He watched as the line retreated behind him as he waited on the flank, just a few more yards to go. He took a deep breath and roared at the top of his voice. His legs moved of their own and he and his men with him burst suddenly from the undergrowth into the sunlight. As he closed the distance to his enemies he saw the other detachment explode from the copse across the battlefield from him, his enemy was out flanked and cut off. His opponents had just started to turn as they crashed into one another. The battle roared in his ears.
Singing roared in his ears. They drank because they were alive, they drank because they had won, they drank to remember the dead; they had drunk a lot! Celebrations had erupted everywhere over the camp and as messengers returned to the cities and towns the party started there also. Those who had found company in the camp followers or had brought their women with them were doing what any man who had been within an inch of his life wanted to do; to rut and rut and rut. He felt the same fire in his blood, and in his loins. He smiled as he thought about his last remaining wife, so young and beautiful, awaiting him in his tent. He watched some of the couples around him, sung another round of the old song and drunk another round with what remained of his command. Two dead, one wounded and three already in their beds left only him and his 3 oldest allies, his oldest drinking companions. “To bed!” he yelled as he threw away his cup, his three companions cheered and dragged him from his feet onto their shoulders and carried him to his tent. They deposited him outside and as he staggered through the flaps of the tent, their raucous cheers and dirty comments followed him.
His wife stood in front of him, a small smile on her face. She looked amazing her clothes hung to her perfect hips and her face was serene; a mischievous glint to her eyes. He took a step toward her and she stopped him with a slight shake of her head.
"Well my lord, I take it from your resultant state that you were victorious yet again this final time?”
He nodded dumbly, his lust shining in his eyes...
She laughed gently, “and I suppose you want to ravage me as you have after every victory?” she shyly avoided looking at him directly, she half turned and he could see the full length of her shapely legs.
He took a step forward lunging toward her...
“uh uh uh...” she teased, shaking her head and finger at him, stepping seductively backwards. “My Lord has won his war, and as he insisted this means I am now free to leave...”
He saw the twinkle in her eye, heard the seductive tone to her voice and he started toward her. “is that not what you wanted? For me to find a younger man, maybe there are some here in camp?”
She laughed as he reached her, his hands griping her, pulling her toward him.
His eyes met hers as he growled “Tomorrow....” and she giggled as they fell onto the bed.
He was dreaming again, he was sure of it. He was outside the tent, looking at it brought a smile to his face as he remembered the young body laying next to his inside. He chuckled to himself and called himself and old fool. He walked about the camp and as he approached the edge of the trees he noticed her once again: Forest. He could see her whole body this time and he was stunned. She was perfect, totally exotic, her green skin reflected the sunlight, and her eyes were like saucers. Her hair flowed moving in a wind he could not feel. He was mesmerised. He walked towards her, slowly as if hunting a doe, as if she may take flight at any moment. She giggled at his hesitancy. As he drew closer she smiled at him and he felt as though the sun had risen upon his soul for the first time. Once he was only a few steps from her she turned and walked toward the forest. He stood dumbfounded; her form stole his breath, not that he needed to breathe in a dream. The lines of her back and legs met with a perfect grace. It was odd how her green skin seemed to improve her appeal. She stopped and turned back toward him, that half smile on her face. She wanted him to follow her, and so he did. They made their way through the forest, he noticed it in a way he had never before, its beauty, its dangers, its serenity. Each twist of their path was etched into his mind, each step got quicker as he got more and more urgent to catch up to Forest herself. Oddly no matter how fast he got he could never catch her. Eventually he realised they were both running, well he was, his breath laboured and he struggled to move faster. She danced from step to step moving with more grace the faster they got. Suddenly they both burst through the undergrowth into a glade. The sun was dazzling, the dew reflecting and refracting its light. The aroma was clean and sweet the smells of the forest surrounding him. Forest slowed in the centre of the glade but he did not: he raced toward this exotic woman. He realised he was aroused, his desire for Forest coursed through his veins and he was shocked by the force of it. His lust possessed him and as he reached the green goddess in the centre of this hidden glade he did not hesitate for a moment their bodies fell into each other. He roared with frustration, lust and exhilaration as he felt her skin upon his.
He awoke on that instant, more aroused and frustrated than ever. His beautiful wife was still asleep, they had spent many hours ‘celebrating’ his victory and he did not believe it was possible that he could still feel so in need. That was when his heart broke. He looked down at his wife and realised that despite her beauty she now looked plain next to Forest, and he was glad that in the morning she would be leaving him. He tried to return to his dream, he wanted so badly to experience the fullness of it, but it was hours before exhaustion eventually over took him and he dreamt no more of Forest that night.
He awoke to find his wife already gone. He was immediately relieved, no tearful goodbyes, no last ditch attempts to convince him to let her stay. He stretched out and realised that desire still burned with in him. Forest’s face and body floated in front of vision. He rose, threw water of his head and face, dressed and left the tent.
Already the camp was in process of being broken down, the tents dismantled. He walked through the maelstrom of activity walking toward the tents for the wounded. It was his ritual after a battle. He hated the stench but he always forced himself to face the butcher’s bill and this final battle would be no different. He moved from bed to bed offering support and generally encouraging the wounded. Those not so gravely ill cheered up and congratulated him on the success of the battle. This morning’s visit was unusual, the deep seated feeling of desire, arousal and need made the rounds even harder to deal with. He was so disconcerted by it he cut the rounds short and started back through the camp, looking for the other council members. As he was walking back past his tent he felt a sudden surge in his insistent need. It stopped him in his tracks and confused he looked about. He was now getting seriously concerned with what was wrong with him. He surveyed the scene around him, his eyes swept passed the tents, the makeshift path created by the spaces between them, the grass and the trees. Something was very familiar about this part of wood. As his eyes scanned back across it he thought he saw her, Forest, just a glimpse of her. His eyes snapped back to the spot he thought he’d seen her. Recognition flashed in his mind, this was the part of the forest he had chased her through the night before, in his dreams. An insane resolve took him and his desire raged, his blood felt like molten rock in his veins. Almost in a trance he started toward the trees, retracing the steps of his dreams.
He had been walking for about an hour, following his instinct, going the way which seemed familiar; letting his desire and memory guide him. Suddenly he was startled by the sun as he broke through the undergrowth into the very same glade he had dreamed of the night before. He staggered about, glancing left and right, almost angry that Forest was not there and that was when he realised he was not alone. A single human shared the glade with. The Shamaness looked a mess, twigs where stuck in her hair, her face painted in odd pictograms, her skin sunburnt. Her eyes shone with a zeal that scared him but here she was and that could not be a co-incidence.
“You came” she said, her voice staccato, broken, her breathing fast and irregular. “The Kami she said you would come.”He had been aware that there was a growing rift between the Shamans, a schism almost. Most of the male Shamans were on onside and the female on the other. The distinction was not based on gender though. He knew this schism had men and women on both sides. More than that he had no idea what the differences were and the arguments. He learnt them now. The new group claimed they had learnt the truth. The Gods had called the first two humans, one male, one female, to help in the creation of paradise. Those humans performed a ritual by which they dipped a spear into the sea. The water dripped off the end and where it fell the great lakes appeared, to make a paradise in the Forest. These two had then made the Kami. The old Shamanist religion had been right to worship the spirits, but they had missed the importance of embracing all the myriad gods and their ancestors before them. This was where the current problem arose. The new religion embraced the use shrines and the old felt threatened and refused to listen. The Kami that they worshiped had become seduced over the long centuries and did not wish to share mans’ adoration with the ancestors and the myriad gods. He listened with growing interest and apprehension.
“Kami?” he shot back. He’d never been one to listen to the Shamans but he’d never heard of whatever this Kami is.
“The spirit you seek, is the Kami of the forest.”
Her eyes bore intently into his own, as if reading his thoughts. Trying to buy time to think he asked another question.
“Forest? Which forest?”
The woman, as ugly as a hag, laughed back at him. “The Forest” she giggled and cackled. “Much you need to learn, yes, much before you can meet her. Oh yes, meet her, you want to?” Her head cocked on one side as she asked. He couldn’t control himself, from the moment she had said ‘meet her’ she had control over him, total and complete control.
“Tell me what I need to know, woman, tell me quickly.” He growled. He walked over to her and sat cross-legged in front of her.
"You want to meet her now?” the hag grinned at him with a knowing smile. His desire reignited, embarrassingly so in front of such an ugly creature. “Yes, yes you do” she laughed. She held out her hand. She held a bowl, steaming and smelling vile. He took it tentatively. The old Shamans had offered him similar concoctions, so he may meet the spirits; he’d always refused but not today. “Drink, drink” the hag slurred and so he took a deep breath and sipped at the fluid. “ALL OF IT” the woman goaded, he drained the bowl.His vision blurred and then faded to black. It returned suddenly but there was a strange lightness to everything, and his vision flickered in a most disconcerting way. The hag was still there, giggling at him, then she looked over to his left and he followed her gaze. Forest stood in front of her, full bodied and lovely. He stood and as he did she walked toward him. As she came close he reached for her.
Ah, not yet, now you see me as I am, but I am still spirit and you man, we cannot touch like this. Her voice sounded like the rustle of leaves, the wind in trees, the sound of forest animals and was in his head not heard by his ears. It sounded wonderful. We will have a son you and I. She smiled at him. His mind raced, how could that be if they could not touch? You must agree to help us though, to help spread the truth of we Kami, first let me show you everything. Her eyes met his and suddenly in an instant he saw that it was all as the hag had said. In one moment the true history of the world flooded his vision, then he realised how powerful and special this green Kami, Forest, really was. Awestruck he nodded. He would spread the word, he would smite those that would not follow. Now for our child. The spirit smiled as she spoke and moved over to the hag. The woman got to her feet and the air shimmered as Forest seemed to walk into her. Briefly the two occupied the same space, a half toothless grin and lovely green smile one in the same. With a flash the hag vanished and Forests green skin darkened into the colour of the Shamaness’. He moved towards the possessed woman, his desire burnt all reason out of him. Their coupling was frantic and passionate. It went on for so long, they never spoke to each other during, too concerned with the job at hand but once and only once, just before his ultimate climax she looked him straight in the eye.
Our son she panted, You must call him Moridin The words echoed in his mind, and with that he bellowed with his release.
He was tired now. It had been years since he had shocked his world and married the ugly Shamaness who was carrying his child. He was old now, but his task was done. Here at the double celebration he knew his work was finally done. Today his son came of age; today the nation would be renamed. The religious war had dragged on for years, for the best part of a decade. The Huron tribes again had warred, the nation spilt over the question of whether spirits were Kami and the importance of Shrines. Now finally the nation could heal. The war had eventually enveloped the Iroquois, once it was realised that the Old Religion tribes looked to be losing, they had intervened. That had made the war last a decade rather than a few months. It had angered him but he was too old now for anger, or lust, or love even: a sad thought. Eventually after so much time, the two tribes had been almost united by conquest. The Iroquois had been allowed to keep a nominal independence, but their territory was small now. The renaming of the nation had been Forest’s idea, she believed it would help both Huron and Iroquois heal, and so to aid that healing Quebec had been born. The tribes represented in the council had been extended. The Iroquois tribes were being assimilated and allowed to participate in the elective system now in place. The other celebration was his son’s coming of age. Moridin was a gifted child, skilled in all the traits needed to lead a nation, his heritage being both human and Kami he would lead well. He had spoken to his son on many occasions as had his mother; his sons mind was filled with the forth coming struggles, visions of pale faced invaders coming from an endless body of water. These were Moridin’s concerns, the old man thought, his work was finally done. As the celebrations raged he went to his bed. In his tent the hag waited, smiling at him, he smiled back with genuine affection. Beside his bed he found the now familiar draft which let him talk and meet with Forest he drank it quickly. Forest was there. She smiled at him and sang to him. He knew what was happening and he felt no fear as she sang him to his final sleep. He smiled content with his life. He had fathered a nation, a religion and now a leader, sure Moridin would need to get and stay elected but he was sure his son would achieve this. He looked into the eyes of his beloved Kami. She stared back into him, Soon now my love, She cooed. Soon now we will both be spirit, do not fear, do not fight, sleep now and awake with me for forever. His eyes grew heavy and as they closed his breathing shallowed and then stopped. His spirit then gently rose from his body while outside, in the night, the party continued.