The dense forest gave way to a moist clearing of grass, small bushes and gentle ferns along the river.
The clearing was sloped gently toward Long Man and protected by a wall of tall pine trees which reached to the sky and shielded the community from all but the foulest weather.
The town itself formed a giant circle surrounding the tcokofa, or townhouse, a plaza and chungke yard. The plaza and tcokofa served as a gathering place, particularly for important community meetings.
It was to the tcokfa that Timpoochee and Cornstalk dashed directly - only to find their news had already preceded them.
People were scurrying about as if preparing for a celebration - or battle. The designated warriors were running from their houses armed with spears and arrows. Women and small children were hurrying from the cornfields, all arms filled with sweet white corn.
Timpoochee spotted his father, the leader who the people called, Yufala, maching toward the town’s river landing. He was decorated in the mantles beholding his station in the town - a breechcloth of bright blue like the thief-bird, a coat of fox fur and the ceremonial head dress of eagle feathers.
The town’s soldiers fell in line behind him as the boys came running to catch up.
“What is it, father?” Timpoochee shouted. “Is it from the upper world? Is it Utkena? Do we have to fight?”
Wiser from talks with others around Shaconage, Yufala suspected he knew exactly what it was and also knew his community would have to face it sooner or later.
“It is human made,” Yufala said. “It is a boat. It will be white men. From a different world.”