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The Restless Tribe (Or, How the Dreamwalkers Came to Be)

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Long ago, when men lived in bands and the pyramids were only a figment of someone’s imagination, there lived a tribe of people who were restless. They ached to move from place to place, and no place they went could they call home. They never stayed in one place for more than one night, and even when other bands stopped moving during the winter, this particular tribe kept moving.

Finally, word spread around to other villages, and one by one shamans came to offer advice.

“Walk into the mountains!” cried the first medicine man. “Surely trying to walk up such a high altitude will discourage you from wanting to go anywhere again!”

So, the tribe walked to the first mountain they saw and walked up and up and down and down until finally, they were on the other side of the mountain. It was a scary climb and their calves ached, but they still felt the stirring in their gut- that need to go someplace else.

The second medicine man in a passing band gestured toward the ground with his staff and bellowed, “Go, my friends, into the deepest cave you can find. Surely, the darkness of the cave will hold the cure to your restlessness if the sky did not.”

So, the tribe found the biggest cave they could find and ventured in. the walls drew in around them and bats screeched within the damp, dark depths. While this scared many of them, the tribe walked until they could walk no more in the cave and then walked back out with no cure. The restlessness still hung around them.

The third medicine man was waiting outside of the cave. “Listen here and I will tell you how to cure your wanderlust that the others could not. Walk in the direction where the sun comes up everyday until you can go no farther. Then, and only then, fall asleep upon the ground. The curse that plagues your tribe will be cured by morning.”

The headman, tired and frustrated, cried, “Why should we listen to you? Neither the sky nor the ground has helped our curse! What makes you think sleeping shall?!”

The shaman took the accusations with patience. When the headman was finished, he simply replied, “A spirit whispered this to me when I called to ask for a cure. It was a good spirit.”

The headman glared, “Bah! A spirit can no more be good than it can be evil. Spirits are spirits, doing things for their own good or whichever shaman controls them. What makes this spirit different from the others?!”

The medicine man smiled, “The spirit was one of the great ancestors, the ancestors that first came to this land and gave it love. This particular ancestor gave the world night and day, declaring that even perfection needed rest. It knows your curse, and it knows your cure.”

The tribe was alight with energy at this admission, and the headman was humbled that such a high being had given them advice. He immediately switched tones, “Please tell me the instructions again, so I may know without a doubt what to do for my band.”

The medicine repeated his instructions, adding, “It is very important that you do not sleep until you have reached your destination. The spirit had told me that if you sleep before you reach your spot, you shall never wake up.” And with that last bit of advice, the medicine man disappeared into the wind.

So, the tribe began their quest in the direction of the rising sun. They walked through all types of weather and seasons went by, but none of them slept for fear of not waking up. Time flew by and soon three years had passed, and everyone could barely think. The men who hunted could barely catch any game for lack of concentration. The spirits around them helped this by sending them animals when they could not catch anything. The women gathered roots and berries, but no longer could think about which food was edible and which was poisonous. The spirits around them helped by only letting the edible food be able to be picked.

Finally, they had reached the sea and watched the sunrise. Going through the motions, they set up camp and without even thinking to get food, they all fell into a deep slumber that lasted three days.

The first day, no one dreamt at all, and no one felt anything. Their souls were weak and the curse that befell them loosened its grasp, believing them to be dead.

The second day, they dreamt inside their bodies, thinking of memories of long past and short past, remembering things they have forgotten. The curse was confused, and could not hold onto their souls as they grew. However, the curse would not leave, and it held tight to their mind, even if it could not hold their souls no longer.

The third day, their minds restless, they slipped into each other’s dreams. This was a place they have never been, and the day was spent walking or running in each others’ minds, never feeling exhausted or weary.

When they finally woke up, they did not feel the restlessness that plagued them. Their minds felt restless, but it was a different feeling that was good, not bad. Cheering, they kept this place as their home and never roamed again in this world, leaving their wanderlust in the dreamscape only.