We finally were able to escape the Chief's eyes for long enough to slip into the sacred dwelling...Thanks to Honani and his willingness to jump headfirst into a situation.
We were sitting by a very small and, what I thought was well concealed, fire. Honani was leaning up against a tree on the perimeter, making us more waterskins, when a quick shadow crossed the camp. All of us dropped down and grabbed whatever weapons were nearby. First thing I thought was that we were on some ancestral spirit ground by accident, and they didn't like it. I was quickly corrected when an arrow glanced off a tree branch three feet from Chumana's head. Honani dashed off into the darkness in the direction of the arrow.
Running Bear yelled at him to stop and tried to give chase, but was stopped in his tracks by another arrow lodging itself in his shoulder.
Arrows continued to bounce off of the ground and trees around us as Chumana and I tried to tend Running Bear's arm. Then, a pained howl and the arrows stopped.
Moments later Honani limped back into the firelight, a knife sticking out of his calf and blood staining the white stripe in his hair."He's unconscious. Now is our chance. Zia, how far?"
I said nothing, but motioned for everyone to grab as much of our supplies as they could carry. The site wasn't far...I'd been circling it for weeks looking for a way in past the Chief that wouldn't alert him to the spot, and bring his ill-intent into a sacred place.
We managed to get all but a few things that could be replaced...Twenty minutes later we descended the hidden ladder into one of Mesa Verde's treasured secrets.
So far the spirits seem to be okay with us residing here. I will speak with some one night soon, to discover more about their terms of our stay. Until I do this, we've been sleeping in what would have been a public-use area...no sense in angering someone by walking into their house like we own the place.
Now that we aren't running for our lives, I can interview Chumana and Honani more about their father's dealings...And continue to try to decipher this strange legend.