Since it seemed some of you liked chapter one and have asked for what I have written since I will post ch. 2. That is all I have written so far and I am deciding whether or not to continue the story.
Please remember this has not been edited as is purely from my head to paper so go easy on me. But let me know what you think.
Tactum woke with a start, sweat dripping off his brow despite the cold of the night air. The rain had stopped, and the thunder had moved on, but the sky was still void, and encased in clouds. Tactum sat up, and grabbed his amulet, a figurine of the great mother goddess, all members of the tribe possessed one, as they were carved by their mothers and given to them as a birthright. Tactum’ s was abnormally large, but then it fit his general size fairly enough.
He looked up, trying to find the light of the moon behind the clouds, but he could not. It was so utterly dark save for the life and light pouring out from the fire that one of the men was keeping alive.
“My Chief,” the man said, “Is everything alright?” He asked.
Tactum turned and looked at him, he wasn’t a young man, but he was not old either, a well experienced hunter whom Tactum and come to know well over the years, his name was Hermon, and he was very skilled at the aiming of his spear and rarely missed. This night he was the guard on duty. His vigilance is what protected the group of men for the night, they all trust him with their lives. He was a good man to trust. Mated with a fine women with three children, one with a daughter of his own, he had a growing and happy family. “All is alright,” Tactum responded, “just a bad dream”. Hermon nodded, offering some fresh fish to the large man who sat down beside him to partake. “Tomorrow is going to be an important day,” Tactum said, looking worrisome as he glanced at each of his men. Each of them put their trust and their lives in Tactum’s hands, and he would not fail them. Fate was fate, but he would do everything he could to protect and get his men home. Even if it cost him his own life.
A voice replied out of the darkness, “Yes Tactum, the great spirits will be watching, and they will be guarding us. We have made our offerings and placated the spirits. I have flown on the wings of the great owl and have seen our success tomorrow,”. Nanak spoke.
The rest of the men began to stir, and before Tactum even realized it, the sun was rising in the east, barely glowing over the great mountain range to their east. Within an hour all of them men were up and packed, ready to go. Today was the day, the day of the hunt and each man was as prepared as they were going to be.
Nanak spoke to each man individually, blessed them and gave them the protections of the spirits, when he came to Tactum he said, “It is time my leader, we are here to serve our people, and the spirits of our ancestors, at your command we go.”
Tactum climbed atop a large boulder, and faced his men. In a loud projecting voice he called to them. “You have all been with me since I became the leader of our tribe. You have all been loyal to the end and I trust each of you with my life, and the life of my family. Today is an auspicious day, and a dangerous day. We have beseeched the great caribou spirit, and our spiritual leader Nanak says the signs are good! So we move forward with our hunt, remember the plan and do not take any unneeded risks. Your life is more important than some meat”. He turned and stepped down from the boulder, using his spear for support.
The men all gathered around him, placing their hands somewhere upon him. They took a moment of silence, and then began chanting, in an old and ancient voice. The evoked the spirits, and called upon them for their aid, the began yipping and yelling, dancing around their chief raising and lowering their spears in a rhythmic matter. Then suddenly they all stopped, got in a single file line, and followed Tactum forward out of the little gully in which they spent the night.
The walked for a few hours, slowly and quietly following the tracks which became more and more clear. Soon they could see the end of the woods into a beautiful clearing. With green grass stretching knee high and wild flowers abound, bees bussing in the air, the men slowly made their way forward.
Then they saw them, the great and majestic caribou. The spirit animal of the tribe. Strong, independent and yet apart of, and integral to the general family unit. The caribou had been the leading food source for the tribe for as far back as the memories went. Each year they could be depended on, and they had never failed, and here they were again. Standing in the field before them, near a bristling brook was the herd.
Ten thousand strong they were, great and majestic beasts to the last of them. The goal of the hunt was to kill, and butcher as much meat as they could carry back on their backs. It didn’t take much, but their spears were thin, fast and agile. Meant to be thrown. The hides of the caribou are thick and hard to penetrate. It makes for a difficult, albeit worth it problem to overcome. It would take a few well placed spears to take down a buck. But that is why each hunter always carried around three spears with them, and each of them knew how to make more in the blink of an eye, given the right materials of course.
The men sat there in the grass, waiting and observing their prey. Looking to see for any weak links in the herd, be they young or elderly, but they were mostly kept in the middle of the mass of fur and flesh.
The meadow that they were in, was located at the bottom of a valley, at one end of the valley stood a mighty waterfall, blocking all travel inwards and outwards from the valley at that point. On the opposite side, the valley opened up and leveled out into a sea of beige grasses culminating in great plaines, speckled with the rare tree here or there. The men were in the middle of the valley. Where it was lush woodland and grassy meadows. Nears by there is a large lake that overtakes one with its beauty as they stumble out of the high mountains or woods upon it. But the men were not here for the scenery.
Tactum motioned for three of his men to go one direction, and three more in the other while he and three others went down the middle. So far they were down wind and the mighty beasts and no idea that they were there or what was about to happen. As they got closer the tension began to build.
Tactum knew that one of two things would happen when he and his men kept from the brushes. The caribou would either break formation and run for their lives, thinking of nothing but their individual lives, or they would stick together, placing the strongest on the outside of a ring of horns, and give a fight for their lives, and the lives of their offspring and mates. If he could get them to break and run, they could target animals individually to take down, and it was a much easier affair, but if they refused to flee it would become a battle of wills. And the hunters would be hard pressed to capture anything.
The men all took a collective deep breath, one last time before the plunge. Tactum raised his spear so that even over all tall grass everyone could see it. He stood abruptly, yelled and charged forward. Casting a spear into the great herd of beasts. His other men joined him, screaming and yelling as they came up, all throwing their first set of spears to hit or injure one of the animals.
At first they did not know what to do, caribou were running in all directions, one of them had already been taken down as they formed up their phalanx. You could see the spears sticking out of the backs of some of them, proclaiming them as future targets. But with them all on the same side now things would get a great deal more difficult for the hunters. Tactum gathered his men to reassess the situation, as they decided what to do the caribou carefully watched them from across the meadow. Their numbers filing deep into the woods behind.
The men knew that if they could scare just one of them out of formation there was a chance they would all break and make a run for it, leaving them wide open to attack. This is what they decided to do.
They searched their enemy, looking for any sign of weakness or opening that could be exploited. The wall of horns was intimidating, and the caribou knew how to use them. But suddenly, Rikoo shouted. “That one! That one there!” They all looked, and there at the far left of the herd was a single beast with a limp. it was obvious, it was barely putting any weight on its leg. Anyone who saw it could tell immediately. They knew what to do.
The men slowly began to head towards the injured caribou, slowly encircling it. The others started to snort, their breathe visible in the cold air. Hoofs started to beat against the ground and a dust rose in the air. On the count to three, the men through their spears in the direction of the injured animal. They did it. The animal fell to the ground with a loud thud and the herd scattered. Running in all directions, the men took them down and claimed victory!
Finally they were going to bring home well deserved and much needed meat back to their families.
Suddenly, as they congratulated each other and patted each other on the backs the ground wrenched and dropped below them, then tearing them to the side throwing them off their feet. In the distance, towards the east the mountains had changed, one of them was gone, and in its place a column of smoke larger than anything any of the men had ever seen before. As if there was a fire lit by the spirits themselves. There was a great sound, and all of the men, who had not already, fell to the ground. The earth shook again, and more ash spewed from where the great mountain top had been, it blocked out the great flame, and soon ash was falling upon them. The sky drew dark, as the men gathered together shivering in the absence of the sun.
In the distanced they could see red bolts of lightening spewing from the dark clouds in the distance. For some time none of the moved, or spoke. Here and there the ground would shake once more. Tactum looked on in astonishment, not sure what to say or do. Nanak was on his knees beseeching the spirits, but it was probably hose spirits cursing them now Tactum thought.
They could not tell whether it was day or night, as the great flame had disappeared from the sky much earlier than it usually did, and there was no moon to be seen, or stars, or anything. It was hard to see ten feet ahead of you the ash and pyroclastic material in the air were so thick. The men were coughing, choking even.
Tactum knew that he and his men could stay there no longer, they needed to get to clean air, they needed distance or high ground. He was not sure which he could provide first, and since the stars were veiled, they were of no help. The landscape was not the same as it was the morning before and he could barely tell where he was or in which direction he was facing.
“My brothers!” He called out. “We cannot stay here! We must gather what we can and try to make our way back to the village! And hope this plight has not made its way there!” The men agreed and began to pack up and gather their things, they were sure not to forget the meat either. They started back out just as they had come in, in the dark. But it was an unnatural dark, and as they continued on more and more of them began to cough and show signs of slowing.
Tactum was not sure if they would make it back to the village. The consistent shaking of the ground did not help to bolster their moral, and even he was close to cracking. But Kankut and his support kept him going. When one of the men, Ketel, fell to the ground, they decided it was time to make camp. They could not tell what time of day or night it was but they were all exhausted, and now some of them were sick. It was time to rest.