Massive poplar trees are the only things keeping the midsummer sun from baking me alive in my regalia. Buckskin, usually light and breathable—perfect for anything a Protector might get up to in the line of duty—becomes unwieldy and suffocating when you sew hundreds of white and purple shell beads, woven together in a series of intricate rectangles, across the chest. My ceremonial cape of grackle feathers doesn’t help, either. The little black birds look so cool and happy with their iridescent plumage, yet here I am sweltering under the heat their feathers capture. A beyond-the-grave joke the grackles play on a fancydancing Protector. I can hear their cackling now. I haven’t even put on my turkey feather headdress yet. Who knows what kind of tricks those phantom gobblers have in store for me?
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