“But how will I know them?” Vernon asked, worried.

“You will know them,” James said, firm but gentle. “They are like none you have ever seen before.”


“Look.” James swept his arm across the vertical rock wall of the canyon in which they camped. “Study these drawings. The drawings of the Ancient Ones, the Anasazi. They have faded much in just the years I have known them; they must have been beautiful, detailed things when first they were made. But if you keep them in memory, you will know the Beloved Twins when you see them.”

Vernon stared at the ancient paintings, trying to affix their details in his memory. All were tall; some had broad bodies, others narrow. All had two protrusions, like insect antennae, or fox ears, or mushrooms, on the top of the head. They all had two prominent arms, but not all appeared to have feet. Some seemed to have tails like snakes instead. In their current condition, and to Vernon's untrained eye, it was impossible to tell whether they were coming or going, although none of them were painted in profile. He returned his attention to his teacher.

“What if they don't come?” he continued his anxious train of thought.

“...They will come.” But Vernon had caught the hesitation, the uncertainty in his master's voice.

“Will they both come?” Vernon wondered. “Áhaiyúta and Mátsailéma?”

“Not necessarily,” James murmured, as at last the hint of a smile came to his tanned, wizened face. “They are busy, and they often follow the starry entrails of Átahsaia across the sky, the grey, ugly demon who once ate our people, to ensure that he does not somehow regenerate. They protect us still.”

“From what?”

A full smile finally cracked the dark, weathered skin. “Ah, that is what you are here to find out!” James said. “Now, you have been through the preparation, a special medicine preparation I have made sure was as complete as possible, and tomorrow is what the white men call the solstice. It is an important time ― a time of vision. You have a few hours before sundown; just sufficient to climb to the peak yonder.” He pointed at the mountaintop at the head of the canyon. “You are as ready as you will ever be, and as ready as I can make you. Go. I will await you here, however long it takes. You will know when your quest is ended.”

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