Legend of the White Tatanka | World Anvil - Isekai Codex

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Legend of the White Tatanka

Folk Tale of the Clay Giants

For as long as our people have struggled in the hills of the Cradle, so has existed the White Tatanka and the blessings that it brings. When those who struggle and are lost on their journey find there is no place else to turn, the White Tatanka appears to them, leading them along the path to what they desire most. This creature brings hope even in the darkest of places.
But the legend of the White Tatanka is not as simple as it seems. For one young man found the fabled beast, but his decisions and greed dictated his path, far away from the prosperity the Tatanka was leading him to. When the days grow long and the potential of a day is greatest, we storytellers share the happenings of the past so that others do not make this man’s fatal mistake.
Long before the council existed and the shamans were appointed by those that they led, a young man strove to gain a place of power in his tribe. He sought the current shaman’s daughter as a bride and wished one day to have the same power or more than the woman’s father had. The young man was strong, his burly size rivaled others and he competed well at the summer games, often winning the Vollan Rue. To those that saw his accomplishments, this young man had every right to one day become the shaman.
But the current shaman knew more about this young man than most. While the man was strong of body, his mind was weak, full of greed and the belief that he was entitled to power because of his strength. These beliefs and thoughts had no place in this people removed from the Giants. The young man only strove to place himself above others and look down upon the weak, a feeling that did not sit well with a shaman that remembered the days of the Hierarchy of the Giants and the treatment his people had faced.
So he set the young man an impossible task, to find a tatanka with hide white as snow and bring it back to the shaman. If the young man could complete this task, the shaman would grant his blessing over the marriage of his daughter and in time the young man would become the shaman of the tribe. No one had ever seen such a beast roam the hills so the shaman believed his position and daughter to be safe, but the young man would find a way.
The young man set out across the hills, traveling for days and days over the miles and miles of hills. He saw hundreds of tatanka, deep browns, dirty tans, all shades in between, but none had the pure coat he was hunting for. Soon, his supplies began to run out and his weapon began to dull from hunting. If he did not find the elusive white beast soon, he would have to turn back in defeat, something he refused to do. He continued for another week, surviving on the will of our people alone, but even the behemoth bodies of the clay giants give out when pushed too far.
He was awoken by a rough tongue across the face, his body sore and screaming as he jolted upright. Towering above him was a White Tatanka, its tongue rubbing the side of his face. The man jumped up, readying his weapon to strike and take the hide back to claim his prize. Before he could strike, the beast spoke.
“I am the White Tatanka, a blessing of the goddess Rerena. Those who have lost their path can be led forward by my hooves.”
The man laughed. He was far from lost. Before him stood the path to his future, he just needed to take the hide of the beast.
“Taking my hide will not bring you what you seek. If you follow me, I can bring you your heart’s desire, if you only trust in my judgment.”
The man thought for a moment, creating his plan. As he sat, a warm bowl of stew appeared next to him. The White Tatanka nudged it closer, telling the man to eat.
This changed things for the man. He had planned to just simply kill the beast here, take the hide, and head back to the village victorious. But if this creature was truly magical, then it could be used for food and safety over the miles back. With this plan in mind, the man happily ate, his destiny nearly at his fingertips.
The next morning, before the man could speak, the White Tatanka turned and started walking. Even as the man rushed to keep up, the beast continued its steady lope, ignoring the man as it went.
As they walked, the beast spoke of a journey, one long and arduous that made good men great and weak men strong. It spoke of how these men became shamans and led their people through the worst and the best of times. As the story continued, the man’s anger grew. It seemed that beast implied that he was not great nor strong, both of which were far from true. His accomplishments in the Vollan Rue had proven that, but the beast, much like the shaman, seemed to disagree.
For days they continued to travel, the beast continuing the story and the man’s anger growing. The magic of the beast manifested in food and drink when they stopped to rest, but magic meant little to the man. His anger was a fire burning deep and he would prove himself to all that had ever doubted him.
After nearly two weeks of travel, the beast stopped on top of the hill. The man stopped next to him, outraged that the village in the valley below was not where they had needed to go.
“Below you will find a village that holds the woman of your dreams. With her at your side, you will grow to become a man worthy of being the shaman of a village.”
The man laughed. There could be no truth in what the beast said. This was not his village, there was no woman who could make him worthy of a position that he should already have.
“Are you sure there is no truth in my words? The goddess offers a blessing of growth, yet you are so quick to turn away.”
With the beast’s words hanging in the air, his anger was triggered. He raised his weapon and smote the creature, its body crumpling under the weight of the mighty weapon. As he began the process of gathering the hide, he heard just a whisper of the beast’s voice.
His travels back to his village were swift, taking only a few days when it seemed like he had traveled for months. He presented himself to the shaman, ready to draw the hide from his pack and claim his prize. With all eyes on him, he drew the heavy hide from his bag, but the pristine white hide had turned a murky brown, hacked into pieces.
“I asked that you return with the hide of White Tatanka, and you bring me something that looks to have been skinned by a child! Do you think me a fool?”
The man tried to speak of the great beast he had traveled with, of the stories the creature had told, but with a wave of the shaman’s hand, the man was drug from the tent and tossed on the edge of the village.
He had been banished from this place, stripped of his titles and accomplishments. Now the power and strength he had meant little to our people. He was no longer allowed amongst us, having been driven out due to his greed.
The man was left to wander, nothing more than a beggar without a home. He shared his story, and how his greed had cost him everything. He told of the White Tatanka and stories the creature told, the blessings that it tried to give. Few believed the man throughout his lifetime, but on his deathbed, he told the story one last time. As the sun set and his life ended, a tatanka with a coat of pure white appeared on the hill overlooking his grave.
From then on, the warning story that the man told became a lesson for all of our people. The goddess Rerena requires growth of us all and that growth cannot be simply had. Struggles in our lives are necessary to find not only strength of body, but of our minds as well.
As we sit here tonight under the moon of Storybrook, what path would the White Tatanka lead you down? When you reach your destination, will you continue to walk the easy path of greed or will you continue down the difficult path of growth to your destiny?

This version of the Legend of the White Tatanka is a transcription of a recording taken during one of the Storybrook celebrations. This story was transcribed as part of the work completed by Story Telling of Olden Rarities of Yesteryear by their leader Mokan Dawnleader Elananathi.

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