The Spurs Tree was late. It was always the last one to show, and the Lightning Tree would surely say something. Emerging upon the Gathering Spot revealed that everyone else was, indeed, present already.
“You are late,” rumbled the Lightning Tree. “Did you lose your way?”
“Matter of fact, I did, after a fashion,” said the Spurs Tree, taking its place at the circle. “Several of the Moon Paths weren’t where I remembered, so I had to take a more circuitous route. I apologize, all.”
“Just glad everyone could make it,” offered the Cactus Tree.
“Enough,” spat the Scorpion Tree. “We were summoned.”
“After all this time since the last Gathering, you’re antsy to leave already?” asked the Antler Tree.
“The Scorpion Tree is correct,” affirmed the Lightning Tree. “We must review the case.”
“Everything’s right by me,” said the Scorpion Tree. “She proved herself the better predator when she gutted that rattler.”
“It swallowed a prairie dog before it died, but she cut the pup free,” confirmed the Antler Tree.
“The blood was spread on a tumbleweed and whisked away,” nodded the Cactus Tree.
“Her knife was quality steel,” grinned the Spurs Tree. “She didn’t forge it herself, but I’m willing to let that slide.”
“And she did it all on a blue moon that fell on the summer solstice,” intoned the Lightning Tree. “Very well. She has met the requirements of our sacraments. The Cactus Tree was the one to hear the girl’s request. Recount it now.”
“Well her husband was trying to keep some nasty men off their land, and they gave him a ball to the guts for his troubles. Got infected, and you can guess how that went. He died in agony, and she lost everything. Tragic, really.”
“Will we give her what she requested?” asked the Scorpion Tree.
“Surprised anyone remembered how to call a Gathering nowadays. Could be a while before we get another. May as well help her,” said the Spurs Tree.
“It is decided,” announced the Lightning Tree.
Wind whipped through branches as the five shuffled off on their respective paths, preparing to pour themselves into the vengeance of a widow who remembered the Old Ways.