Prologue

Salt Range

Wyoming Territory 1850

Alone he stood on a lonely windswept cliff, beseeching Maheo, the Cheyenne Great Spirit, to send him a vision. The young brave named Raven Wing faced the rising sun, his words easily slipping from his lips. He balanced his weight on the balls of his feet, perched precariously on the edge and raised his arms above his head. "Maheo'o, great mystery, send this humble brave your will."

He went through the preparations he needed to make, offering gifts of tobacco to the four winds, to Mother Earth and Grandfather Sun. He offered his hunger and thirst, for he would not eat or drink until the vision came. Taking a seat upon the rocky ground, his chanting and praying began.

"O' Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me! I am small and weak! I need your strength and wisdom! Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to your voice. Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people. Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every rock and leaf. I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy – myself. Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes. So when life fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you, without shame."

He picked up his knife and sliced his forearm open, offering his blood to the Great Spirit. Alone he sat day and night. His tongue swelled, touching the roof of his mouth while his belly rumbled for food. Delirium set in, but still he chanted his prayers to the Heavens above. His mind clouded over with pain and he shivered at the chill of the early spring night.

He stared at the glowing moon, with the prayer on his lips and before him silver shards of light spanned out before him. A large grey wolf that stalked his prey stared him in the eyes and howled. He knew the wolf would be his spirit guide. Then he saw himself astride a mighty black horse, charging vicariously into battle against his enemies. He witnessed a great battle with the bluecoats. Saddened, his spirit dream revealed to him visions of his people black-faced, the women cutting their braids off and slashing their arms in mourning. The sight of many death scaffolds and much grief made him bow his head, for he knew many of his people would die as a result of the bluecoat's treachery.

The wolf reappeared in his line of sight and led him to the next part of his dream. A sounds and sights of a waterfall captivated him. He watched in awe as a flame haired beauty bathed freely. Who was this woman? His heart told him this woman …this white woman… would be his.

Raven Wing opened his eyes as the vision faded. The scree of an eagle pierced the air as it swooped down from the sky and before him landed a small brightly colored bird that preened its feathers before flying away.

"I am Night Wolf," he declared with a triumphant nod. "Taa'evaho'neho."

Rising from his spot, he donned his breechcloth and moccasins. After stretching his aching limbs, he started the journey back to the valley that nestled his village. He needed to speak to his father, Chief Medicine Bull, and to Coyote, the tribal holy man.

After slaking his thirst and appeasing his aching belly on sweet cold water and venison stew, Night Wolf spoke to Coyote about the vision he was granted. Coyote, being quite wise despite his younger years, interpreted the spirit dream for him. Night Wolf would become a mighty warrior, capturing countless coup on his enemies' red and white alike. He would become a respected leader, bringing his people through many hardships.

Night Wolf questioned the holy man about the woman in the vision. Coyote shrugged and lifted his pipe for a smoke. Who was she? What effect would she have on his life? The spirits had not chosen to depart that knowledge upon him, but would reveal it when the time was right. The young brave nodded, taking to heart all that the shaman had said, despite his impatience. He knew to listen to Coyote, for the he truly was a wise man.