Rational Animals by K.A. M’Lady
René Descartes defined the first man as “the thinker”— presuming that man is the one who thinks, which fits the definition of man given by Aristotle as a “rational animal,” which is also the basis for Homo sapiens. However, by the late 11th century, restricted use of man, in the sense of “adult male” only began to occur in late Old English; the word formerly expressing the male sex – wer. The use of the word had died out by 1300 AD (but survives in e.g. in the form of were-wolf, and were-gild.) So one might ask, where do you find anything rational in an animal?
When constructing the background for my story, Rational Animals, I chose a setting where the landscape was rugged and beautiful; wild, and untouched, for the most part, by man. A place where wolves reigned supreme. But to do so, I had to know the history of the wolf and the history of the land they were introduced to. This brought me to many points of reference regarding the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone after their species had mostly died out. As well as the peoples that have lived and hunted those wild lands for a millennia, until the white-man settled there and made their mark upon the Great Valley known as Yellowstone.
There is beauty, grace, mystery and myth to be found in every history. How those stories are told and passed down may change from generation to generation. One telling may not be the same as the one that has gone before. Perhaps it is what we find believable that sets us apart from other creatures. Or, perhaps it is in the telling and how we perceive the broader scope of history that makes us the thinker. The rational animals that Descartes describes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Author K.A. M’Lady lives a few stone throws from corn fields, chaos and congestion; all lying on the outskirts of the many burbs of Chicago. KA M'lady spends her days calculating life expectancies, mortality and the certainty of death and taxes while in her free time the dead wander freely, buy shoes, homes, the occasional odd business or two and, if you even think of charging them too much in taxes…well, let’s just say the tax man may never come back. But if he does he might just shamble a bit. An All Romance eBooks bestselling author, K.A. M'lady's work has been described as scary, descriptive, beautiful, dark, frightening, prosaic, addictive, sexy and believable. She loves to read paranormal romances, watching horror movies, westerns on Sundays with her husband, playing fetch with her pocket beagle, Chevy and buying weird shoes. Her friends call her eccentric, her family refuses to comment. She’s been lost in the world of fiction since she was a small child, and frankly, never wants to be found—at least not any time soon. “Myth and magic builds dreams and inspirations – and in an insane world, it is our dreams that spark the revolution of change. No matter which world is being conquered. Within our dreams – all things are possible.”
For the first time in nearly seventy years, wolf song can be heard throughout the great valley of Yellowstone. But as the chill December winds gather, something dark, powerful, and mystical stalks the valley, and Toren Crushing has become its prey.
Renee Faroque is a shaman’s granddaughter—a child of the great Crow Indians. She has learned great knowledge from her dream walks with her ancestors. But has she learned enough to save herself and the beautiful stranger from the ancient evil that abides within?
Kin to the wolf and brother to man,
Inside ~ Every man holds a darkness
~ Rational Animals ~
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When I was a little girl, my grandfather called me She-lish-ga or Chick-a-de for the morning chick that sings after a night of long dreams. He would always ask me of my journeys and tell me to sing for him. Sing of our ancestors and the Spirits in the Sky.
Tonight I smelled the lingering sweetness of honeysuckle and the rich pungent aroma of pine smoke clinging to every breath I inhaled as it swirled through my mind, loitering like a childhood secret that only my grandfather and I shared. I knew in the dusty wasteland between sleep and dreams that I’d left the warmth of my bed and the peace of my dreams far behind.
My sight was soon filled with the morning mist and the smoke of my grandfather’s pipe—peppermint and tobacco enveloped me as I opened my eyes to the world beyond. I waited for what he had to show me.
“Wake, child,” I heard him say in the voice that reminded me of water upon rocks and dark earth, rich like red clay.
“I am here, Grandfather,” I’d tell him. Then I’d take his proffered hand and we’d begin a journey deep into the forest. I’d have no idea where he was taking me, but then I was never afraid—for I’d been here before. Not to this place in the forest, but here to the spirit realm, on another journey, with the honor of having my grandfather as my guide.
Since the time I was but a small child, I had had these visions. I’d wake in the night at the hand of an ancestor, and we’d walk the great valley. Sometimes they’d tell me our history as the sun burned away the night and the earth came alive. Other times we simply walked through the foliage, the moon as our guide. Whatever the case, they always had something to show me, and I’d leave their realm much wiser than when I’d entered.
I’d learned many things on my journeys—the proper herbs for festering wounds, or the leaves for a sour stomach, what a person’s spirit animal was, and how to call a guardian. I learned the proper way to hunt a deer and how to track a bear. There was much my ancestors taught me and still so much I had to learn.
Unless the vision was of great importance, I had walked little in this realm with my grandfather. Tonight I was filled with uncertainty, unsure of what would follow.
“Here is where the Dark Spirit runs like a freed beast with devilry in his heart.” My grandfather spread his arm before him to show the white earth beyond. “He is old like the mountains and wise like the Great Mother Earth. But too long has his darkness ruled this valley. Too long has he fed on the innocence of man.”
“There was a time, long ago,” he stated as he brought me to a downed tree trunk overlooking the snow-covered valley below, “when he came and claimed our brother. Turned him, maddened him. Made him Yellow Wolf. Among the Crow he was called Hemene Moxmox, and he warred with the white man, and warred with himself—and still the Yellow Wolf died.”
“We thought that the Dark One died with him, but now, now we know it is the land that holds the Wyakin Powers and that the Dark Wolf has returned. He comes like a thief in the night—he is Heinmot Hihhih—White Lightning, and he seeks another to carry his pack. He seeks another to rule and bring suffering to the Nez Perce.”
“But I say no!” My grandfather fiercely pounded his fist in his hand. “No more will we be the Metis—the Landless Ones. No more will our lands bleed and our people suffer. To fight the beast and win you must first run with the beast. You Renee, my Chick-a-de, you have the power to stop this. You have the visions of your forefathers to guide you through this darkness. You hold the power to tame the Dark One. He was the first, and you have the power to make sure that he is the last.”