Be Careful What You Wish For

Chapter III

This story was a fun little experiment for me. My stories tend to run long because I put in so much description and what not, so I challenged myself to write a shorter story, experimenting with the format and prose as well. I hope you enjoy!

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Passion was one of the Great Spirit's many gifts to humankind. While it was considered a mainstay of youth by many, it was a gift that the Great Spirit intended for everyone. Passion for life, for one's craft, or for sex – the most obvious aspect of passion to many – it gave humans the capacity to enjoy, and gave them the drive to seek out such enjoyment.

But like any other blessing the Great Spirit gave, the evil spirits sought to corrupt this vital component of humans and cause strife with it. The woman called Loo-wit had been instrumental to their banishment so long ago, but through her wish, they would have their revenge.

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The tribes that lived at either side of the river felt that their own chief would make a better husband for Loo-wit. The wise woman had no allegiance to one tribe over the other, and she administered to the needs of both equally. Yet each tribe wanted Loo-wit to marry its leader, for it would give that group special distinction. Loo-wit was so renown that people from distant tribes would come to see her.

Like passion, pride could be corrupted, and Wy'east and Klickitat were encouraged by their men to claim Loo-wit as their own. The chiefs had always had an amicable relationship with one another, working together for the peaceful co-existence of their tribes. But the whispers of of the women reached the ears of their men. And so on the story passed from the men to their leaders.

At first, Klickitat and Wy'east took little notice of such stories, confident that the situation would easily be resolved. After all, their tribes had fought in the not-too-distant past, and neither of them cared for another war, especially over a woman. Loo-wit would not wish for anybody to fight over her, so for a time, the chiefs held their tongues and continued to woo Loo-wit even as the tension between the tribes escalated.

But the evil spirits were not content with this bickering as the two chiefs remained peaceable. Having sowed the seeds of strife between the two tribes, they focused on the leaders.

Wy'east and Klickitat were plagued by nightmares, and during the daytime, the evil spirits would follow them and whisper into their ears. At first, they were able to ignore the malicious words that were fed to them, but evil is ever-present and persistent. Such is its nature.

Before long, the bickering between the two tribes turned into outright quarreling, and the two chiefs no longer looked upon one another as brothers. The rift between the tribes grew ever wider, and quarrels escalated into outright violence over hunting or fishing grounds, which had once been shared freely. No longer did the women come together to exchange stories or share chores. Even the young ones became spiteful, picking fights with children from their rival tribe.

Klickitat and Wy'east were not blind to the strife between their peoples. More and more they heard the complaints of their tribes, and encouraged by the evil spirits, they instructed their warriors to take up arms.

Loo-wit liked Klickitat and Wy'east, and she could not choose one over the other. She was content to simply keep guard over the sacred fire and enjoy the company of her suitors. The evil spirits had been careful to avoid her, so she did not immediately become aware of the conflict. By the time the truth was revealed to her, it was too late.

Driven by the malice of the evil spirits, Wy'east and Klickitat led their men to the bridge that connected the tribes. Weapons sharpened and at the ready, the men charged at one another.

Loo-Wit tried to stop them, rushing between the advancing groups.

"Have we forgotten what happened before? Many of you are old enough to have seen the conflict that nearly destroyed your tribes! Are you so eager for such a terrible thing to happen again?"

Her words reached the ears of everybody, but the evil spirits had nurtured the seeds they had sown for so long that such words were difficult to listen to, especially for Wy'east and Klickitat. The evil spirits had been relentless, determined to have their revenge against Loo-Wit and the tribes for banishing them.

Ignoring the words of the woman they loved, the chiefs charged forward, their men following them into the heat of battle. Despite Loo-Wit's attempts to stop the battle, she witnessed all around her men attacking and slaughtering one another, their blood spilling onto the bridge.

The evil spirits rejoiced, dancing amongst the dead bodies and mocking Loo-wit's tears. She cried out to the Great Spirit for help, and he heard her.

He was furious about what he saw on the bridge. Long ago, he had decreed that no more blood would be spilled upon it, and the descendants of Tyee Sahale had disobeyed him. It also saddened him that humans could be so susceptible to evil spirits, but the gifts that were unique to them also came at great cost.

He sent down a great clap of thunder, destroying the bridge.

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The Great Spirit refused to allow the evil spirits the victory they sought, but he did not want to punish Wy'east or Klickitat, nor did he wish to take away the gift he had granted Loo-wit.

To cut off the conflict between the tribes, the Great Spirit destroyed the bridge, causing the rocks to spill down and the water to cascade over them.

Loo-wit was the only suitable guardian of the sacred flame, so the Great Spirit ensured that she would always be able to protect it by turning her into a great mountain, her white hair becoming the snow that capped it. The fire continued to burn within her, and Loo-wit remained ageless and beautiful, a majestic sight from afar.

Wy'east and Klickitat were also turned into mountains, one at either side of the woman they loved. They still quarreled once in a while, hurling rocks at one another or causing sheets of flame to spew forth.

Whenever such a fight happened, Loo-wit would become angry and spew forth her own fire to remind them of what had happened so long ago. The three mountains served as a reminder to what was left of the tribes to live in harmony, share their land, and keep their hearts pure.

It was said that whenever the people started to behave improperly, Loo-Wit would send a harsh reminder of past misdeeds by belching forth lava, ash and smoke, using the power the Great Spirit had entrusted to her, and there the trio remains to this day.

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After its destruction, the Great Bridge became known as the Cascades of the Columbia.

Loo-Wit is now known as Mount St. Helens, while Klickitat and Wy'east became known as Mount Adams and Mount Hood respectively. Some say that the eruption of St. Helens in 1980 was Loo-wit's reminder to the people of the Great Spirit's displeasure with their conduct. Who knows if the legend is true and Loo-wit sleeps, guarding the sacred flame to the end of time or if we might know of her displeasure soon?