Many Paths rose. Shadow Walker enfolded her in his strong arms and she returned the gesture. He stepped back, still holding both her hands in his and smiled as he spoke. “Come with me! I’ve got something to show you!”
Many Paths tilted her head to the side and frowned. “Can it wait? I’ve just been talking with She Who Saved Many Lives. I’ve got the work on setting up our meeting with the other tribes. So much needs to be done.” She sighed and bit her lip. “So much to do, but I’m not sure what comes next.”
Shadow Walker could see that she was concerned. He frowned sympathetically. Suddenly, Shadow Walker chuckled.
“What joke is this that brings laughter to your heart?” Asked Many Paths. “I’m serious. There’s much work to be done.”
“I never thought of this before, but — Many Tribes. Many Paths. You see? Just as you yourself think of many ways to do things — many more than most of us have patience for — so too do the various tribes try many paths of how to live.”
The eyes of Many Paths grew wide. “Yes! Of course! I never saw it before either! It’s just the same, in a way. Maybe that is a good way to explain it to the many tribes I hope to convene. It is in keeping with the wisdom of the tale of the Forgotten Field. We don’t necessarily have to agree on every path we take; we just have to be sure that we work together when we must.”
Shadow Walker laughed again. “That’s what I was thinking. Just because of your name.” Many Paths and Shadow Walker gazed into each other’s eyes for a moment and he squeezed her hands. After a pause, he continued. “But that is not what I came to tell you. Tu-Swift and Cat Eyes have discovered a book that has many recipes for making the kind of meeting that you wish to convene with the many tribes. You should come see for yourself!”
Many Paths frowned again. “How can that be?”
Shadow Walker smiled and now Many Paths smiled as well. She sensed that the sunny mood of Shadow Walker would not be clouded by her worry. But she looked at her mate askance. “I still don’t see how a book from long ago can be so well-suited to my current task at hand.”
“Come with me, love, and judge for yourself. It appears that you may not be the first person to think about how best to cooperate, after all.”
Many Paths snorted. “You will not be deterred I see, so yes, let’s go see this book you claim will help.”
Shadow Walker smiled again. “Yes! And, if I am wrong, and the book is useless, you and I will have a pleasant walk on a beautiful day and we’ll have a chance to see your brother and his friend, Cat Eyes.
Shadow Walker and Many Paths soon arrived at the hidden entryway that Trunk of Tree had accidentally discovered while stalking a deer. This hidden path connected the Veritas and the two sides of the snowy mountain. They arrived in the Village of the Veritas on the other side of the mountain. They were greeted warmly. Their kin on this side of the mountain felt fully committed to having a meeting with all the tribes.
Many Paths happened to spy a group of elders chatting excitedly. As she guessed, this signaled that the presence of Tu-Swift and Cat Eyes. Many of the Veritas on this side of the snowy mountain had now learned how to read the strange markings arranged in books. In the center of the group, she smiled to see her young brother, Tu-Swift. She called out his name and he smiled broadly and waved for her to come join the group. She noticed that though the group included many elders, there were also people of every age, even children of no more than six or seven summers. Gradually, the people so gathered noticed Many Paths and Shadow Walker approaching. Tu-Swift & Cat Eyes came out to greet them. Tu-Swift smiled broadly as he greeted her. “I see Shadow Walker brought you already! Come! Look what we’ve begun to read!” He held out one of the hundreds of books that had been recently discovered. At first glance, the book looked just like the others, but then she noticed that it had an elaborate symmetrical drawing on the cover.
Tu-Swift & Cat Eyes had become proficient at reading. He could hardly constrain himself as Many Paths sounded out the markings on the cover as she read the title aloud, “A Pattern Language for Collaboration and Cooperation.” Tu-Swift could not wait any longer so he began showing her the various chapters. “Look! It’s a whole book to help you with your meeting with the other tribes! Here, look! It is a whole book of recipes or patterns for helping people to better collaborate! Here’s one called ‘Who Speaks for Wolf.’ Another one: ‘The Rule of Six’ and here. Look! Another: ‘Small Successes Early.’
He showed her the pages one after another. Many Paths barely had time to read the titles before Tu-Swift jumped to the next one. There were dozens! Tu-Swift laughed. “Can you believe our good fortune? This should help us with the meeting, right?”
Many Paths hugged her brother and then smiled broadly at Shadow Walker as she assented.
“Yes. These — these Patterns — they seem that they would be a big help. But it will take me time to read these. I am not so swift at reading as you are brother. But thank you for finding these. Can I borrow this book until I have had time to read them all?”
Cat Eyes said, “Of course. But we have come up with another plan. See what you think. Tu-Swift and I will take turns reading them to you. You and Shadow Walker can listen and then we — and some number of interested Veritas should discuss each one before we go on to the next. We have to see which ones might best work for the meeting, but also for before the meeting and after the meeting. It’s clear from the book of Patterns that an effective meeting depends on what you do before the meeting begins and after as well, not just what happens during a meeting. What do you say?”
Many Paths let out a long slow breath. “I did not come prepared for such a thing. I thought we would go back this very day. That’s what Shadow Walker led me to believe.” She stared at her mate.
Shadow Walker’s good mood could not be dampened. He shook his head. “I had no inkling that Tu-Swift wanted us to stay for an extended discussion. I think it’s a good idea though. Here’s another. I will walk back and get whatever you need. We don’t both need to go.”
Tu-Swift interjected, “I have an even better idea. I’ve already read most of the book. Let Cat Eyes begin reading these Patterns to you and then you can discuss. Meanwhile, I’ll go back and get anything you really need although I can’t really imagine … we have everything you need right here, Many Paths.”
Many Paths shook her head. “Is your leg that well heeled already? Why not send someone … someone unhurt?”
Tu-Swift laughed. “You mean someone faster. There is no-one faster.”
Shadow Walker’s face finally managed its own frown. “That can’t be true. You surely can’t be the fastest runner here yet. You’re still on the mend.”
Tu-Swift smiled, “Ah, yes. I am still on the mend. But who said I would be running back?” His eyes twinkled.
Many Paths pursed her lips. “If you’re not running…. Ah! But you have continued to learn how to ride horses haven’t you?!”
Tu-Swift smiled at his sister and nodded vigorously. “Correct!”
Many Paths sighed. “You are amazing, dear brother. But you are right. I don’t really need anything. But the people should know.”
Cat Eyes said, “Some of the people here, including my parents, were going to visit later this afternoon for trade. They can take a message to your people.”
All agreed. Many Paths gave her message to and they all found comfortable places to sit. Tu-Swift began reading the first Pattern.