short story

Something Different

This is a myth I wrote as cultural background for my Ni’il Trilogy. Which means I ended up not using it. The myth comes from the fictional Sihketunnai tribe of Native Americans.

How Turtle Got his Shell
Legends of the Ni’il

At first there was only takin and Sunaktla, the Great Spirit, was in and of takin. Together with his sons He’eklaka, the Raven, and Ixtople, the Coyote, and his daughter, Puyalle, the Salmon, Sunaktla lived takin.

He’eklaka and Ixtaple were mischievous. As boys do everywhere, they enjoyed playing pranks on their sister, but Puyalle was strong and slippery and too quick. Many times their tricks were wasted on her and they became frustrated. They wanted someone to play with who couldn’t escape so often and so easily. They approached their father, Sunaktla, and asked him to make a playmate for them.

“You already have your sister and each other to play with,” he told them. “And the expanse of takin to play within. That is more than enough to amuse yourselves.”

They argued and pleaded, but their father would not change his mind.

He’eklaka and Ixtaple were not happy with their father’s decision. They thought it was unfair, but there was nothing they could do about it. Then Ixtaple had an idea. He and his brother waited until their father had fallen sound asleep, then he took one of He’eklaka’s feathers and began to tickle his father’s nose. After a time, Sunaktla sneezed and out sprang Wokani, the Turtle.

The brothers were overjoyed. This was exactly what they had longed for. Wokani was small and slow to move, and not nearly as strong as either of them. He was the perfect subject for their pranks and tricks. Unlike their sister, he would not be able to escape.

Sunaktle saw what his first sons had done and was not pleased. He immediately gave Wokani a shell fortress he could carry on his back. Whenever he grew tired of his brothers’ pranks, he could withdraw into the fortress where his brothers could not reach him, not matter how hard they tried.

Then he turned to his disobedient sons.

“I told you I would not create someone just for your entertainment,” he told them. “So you played a trick on me to get your way. So be it. From this time forward, it will be much more difficult for the two of you to play any of your tricks.”

When the brothers spoke to protest, they realized Sunaktla had changed their languages. He’eklaka could no longer understand anything Ixtaple said and Ixtaple could no longer understand anything He’eklaka said.

To this day the Raven and Coyote speak different languages and though they are often seen near each other, they seldom work together anymore to play their tricks.

And Wokani, the turtle, still has the shell Sunaktle gave him for his protection.


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