From the day he was born, illness seemed to be attracted to him. That is why he was named Yanisin, Utic for heal me. Yanisin never received the typical communal care or close, personal admiration from the people of his tribe; his mother always kept him near their hut at the edge of town. For it seemed every time someone from the clan came to visit, or Yanisin went to go see someone, he came down with some other ailment
The Medicine Man of the Utic tribe had long exhausted his efforts and tried every kind of medicine and healing rite he thought might help. But Yanisin’s mother eventually kept even the Healer from visiting their hut because Yanisin was often left more ill at the end of a session than at he had been at the start.
Years passed and Yanisin grew older. He was forced to abstain from the custom of sweat lodge purification when he entered his tenth summer; the one time he had attempted to include himself in the rite his whole body was made to ache and he was left writhing for weeks. Drum lessons, too, were out of the question for in the middle of his first lesson he was reduced to coughing spasms that colored his hands with blood.
Indeed even within his own hut Yanisin was not free from anguish. His abdomen would cramp and he would fever regularly. The Utic Chief, long unable to walk on his own because of an illness he contracted from White Man, had never cast an eye upon Yanisin, but over the years the story of his suffering reached his ear through the gossiping women of the tribe.
They said that Yanisin was possessed, that he had bad blood, that his pain was a punishment for his mother’s having conceived him through bestiality. As hositilities between the Utic and Topia tribe nearby began to mount, it seemed the old women became increasingly creative with their stories about Yanisin. Most likely to keep themselves from thinking of their sons and husbands and brothers going to war against the formidable Topia warriors.
It wasn’t until Yanisin began showing signs of a “love disease” in his thirteenth summer that the Medicine Man came to the Chief in conference over the boy. The women of the tribe had of course been spreading the rumors of how he had contracted an affliction so inappropriate for his age, and one night the tribe’s Healer had been given a dream that answered for the years of Yanisin’s illnesses.
“ My Chief,” he had begun, “A dream came to me during my last sleep. In it was Yanisin and he was well. He was walking about our grounds and whenever he passed someone, his hands flashed like lightning and he moaned in pain. Thunder was heard, and his hurts would diminish, until he passed another tribesperson. He came lastly to see you, and immediately after giving you our greeting his hands exploded in light and he was stricken with lameness.”
Chief closed his eyes to take in the words his Shaman was telling him. “And what is it you take this to mean?”
“The spirits tell me that Yanisin draws pain from others the way we might draw blisters from the Poison Ivy plant.”
Nodding, Chief rocked slowly while he thought.
“And you have no medicine to treat Yanisin like we do our blisters?”
“None that is known either in our forest or Spirit World.”
As the Healer discussed this revelation with the Chief, Shalani, the tribe’s newest warrior happened by the Chief’s hut and listened in to the last half of their conversation
“It seems to me that if he were able to control the Power, he would be a great Healer” the Chief had commented.
“Indeed, that was my first waking thought as well. But Yanisin seems completely unable to control what he draws from whom, and suffers far too much of the pain he takes into himself for us to be able to honorably use his Power.”
“This is not something you can instruct him in?” inquired the Chief of his Shaman.
“I do not know where I would begin. This is something which I have never seen nor heard of before.”
“Indeed I must declare the same. Pray to Great Spirit for direction, and come to me if a Dream should give you any further insight.”
With that, the Healer agreed and bid the Chief well before exiting the hut. Shalani scurried around the back and into the nearby tree line so that he would not be noticed.