They never figured out exactly what had happened the night that Heart of a Jaguar died so gruesomely. The idea that was advanced and finally accepted was that human sacrifice was necessary to appease the spirits and within a decade the practice of child sacrifice was an annual affair. This gave the tribe a sense of security, and thus creativity flourished. Creativity is easily extinguished by fear, but by this atrocious act of sacrifice, the spirits entered into a pact of protection with the tribe. In fact, the spirits began to mentor the tribe and teach them unknown miracles. Their cultivation and hunting methods improved and the population flourished for twenty years. And then...
Watches the Clouds was 12 at the time. He was the only offspring from his parents, Dawn of Spring (who died giving birth), and Night Wind, who presently shared his sex with Dawn of Spring's sister, Watertalker. Watches the Clouds had missed his mother his whole life. The tribe couldn't understand this as he couldn't possibly remember his mother. But Watches the Clouds did know his mother. She visited him in his dreams nearly every night where they spoke in hushed loving tones. He wanted to be with her, or for her to be with him, to touch and smell her physically. His was a heart of want and desire, unsquelched by the admonitions of others. Where the other young tribesmen were thriving in the social obligations in the village, Watches the Clouds was becoming more withdrawn, solitary, and morose.
As summer was giving way to fall, the young Watches the Clouds told his mother that he was coming to see her. She smiled and loved him and said gently, "Not yet." It was with this impression that he woke up, three days before the annual sacrifice would take place. The decision of who would be sacrificed was left to the elders in the tribe, who practiced ritual ceremony to divine the best candidate. Watches the Clouds went to the house of the elders that morning and informed them that he would like to be the person sacrificed. The elders thanked him for his bravery but gently rebuffed him, saying only, "It is possible." The more Watches the Clouds thought about it that day, the more his sense of urgency mounted and his thinking became jagged, and disconnected. His mind lit upon the fruit from the plant that makes one crazy. That was it, he thought, "I will see my mother tonight" he said. He left the settlement and wandered into the hills in search of the fruit from the plant which makes one crazy.
In the late afternoon, he came upon a clump of berries hanging from a bush near a trickle of a stream. They looked like sweet miracle fruit, but he wasn't sure so he picked one of the berries and put it in his mouth and began to chew. The incredible bitterness of the berry made him spit it out nearly immediately and he knelt down and cupped his hands to drink from the stream and rinse out the bad taste. He took the clump of berries and placed it in his sack fashioned from the hide of a mountain goat he had killed the year before (his first). As he began his journey back to the village, Watches the Clouds started getting dizzy.
His mind became befuddled and confused and he sat down on a large flat rock overlooking the valley with the village below. He heard his mother's voice, distant but real. "Fly," she seemed to be saying. Watches the Clouds didn't understand what was happening to his eyes, the whole world seemed to be composed of vines, rippling and vibrating. "Fly," his mother's voice said, louder and more clearly. An eagle flew past and rippled the vines as it went. Watches the Clouds could actually feel the ripples move past him. "Turn your heart, over and again," his mother said, "Like a rock tumbling down the river, turn your heart and fly." Watches the clouds felt the center of his love for his mother and began to turn it inside him. He couldn't see his heart, but he could see ripples emanating from his torso. "Faster," she whispered. He imagined his heart, his love, turning and turning faster and faster. "Look down," his mother whispered again. When Watches the Clouds looked down, he saw that he was nearly a foot off the ground, and as he gasped in surprise, his heart stopped turning and he fell briskly onto the rock. But, this time there was no fire.
Watches the Clouds stayed on the rock overlooking the village for hours practicing his newfound ability to hover, and he was learning how to move forward and backward and from side to side. It took a good amount of concentration, and distractions were problematic. He hovered back to the village never more than a few feet off the ground. When he arrived, he began walking, not sure how to go about revealing this strange and magical skill. Just before arriving home, he ran into one of the elders. "Good news, " he said to Watches the Clouds, "You got your wish, you've been selected for the sacrifice."