Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Meeting

Farmers assimilated Hunter-Gatherers

Scandinavia, =/- 9000 years ago

Torg rested on the fencepost, regarding his work.  Two winters ago he, his wife and children, and his brothers with their families had found this lovely field.  It was surrounded by forested rolling hills, and a flowing stream to the north.  Turning slowly, Torg took it all in. There was a fine net across the stream, that provided fish for their supper. Three small sod and grass huts were clustered together in the eastern part of the field. Smoke rose from two of them at the moment. In the already worn dirt in front of the huts, three small children squealed and ran around.  To the south was a large area where he grew wheat and barley.  His woman and his oldest daughter were working there, removing stray grasses and ensuring the crop was growing well.  Another smooth area was left to grow grass for their two cows and twenty sheep. In front of Torg were two pens, the second of which he had just finished. The cows and sheep had been sharing the first one, now he could bring the sheep into the second pen during the summer nights.  In the cold season, the animals stayed in the huts with them, providing warmth and milk. Torg was satisfied for the moment.  Three days journey to the south was the village of his parents and his wife’s family.  Torg would be going down to get another cow and some more seeds for next year’s crops.  In time, this field would be full with his own small village.

While Torg was resting, looking over his homestead, he was being watched. Across the stream, hiding in the trees, Tuka looked on in anger and amazement.  For two seasons he and his small tribe had been going north, following the paths of the deer.  This season, they had headed west for a change. Tuka had remembered this large meadow. Deer had often come here in the early morning to feed, and drink from the fresh stream where he was now standing. Yet instead of deer, or any sign of them, he saw strange people, with odd growths coming from the ground. Also they had animals, just staying put, eating the grass.  Tuka didn’t know what any of this meant. All he knew at the moment was that there were no deer for his tribe to hunt and then eat.  Stunned, Tuka watched a while longer, then turned and went back to his camp.   The next day he took his eldest son, Toki, to watch again. On the way they caught a few birds and a rabbit.  When they arrived at the stream, Tuka pointed to the strange things coming up from the ground. When Toki looked, his eyes widened.  He also saw a girl, who might have been his own age, poking around in the grasses.  He couldn’t figure out what she was doing, but her long blond hair glowed in the sunlight.  A movement from his side caught Toki’s eye. His father was lifting his bow, ready to shoot one of the placid beasts eating in the field.  “Da, No!” he yelled and pulled on Tuka’s arm.  In anger, Tuka swung around and hit his face.  Blood flowed from Toki’s cheek. Sullenly, Toki glared at his father, then after quickly washing his face in the stream, he grabbed the birds and rabbit and ran across the cold shallow water to the meadow. 

Torg heard the sudden yell from across the stream. He stood up and stared, looking for the source of the voice. His daughter, Dari, also heard the noise and stopped pulling the stray grasses.  As they both watched a figure emerged from the shadows, running across the stream.  It was a youth, slightly older than Dari.  His brown hair was long and tousled.  He wore a well-worn leather tunic, with wet leggings wrapped around his slender yet strong legs.  As he stood there, holding out the strung birds, an older man came running up behind.  His brown hair had streaks of gray, and there was a scar running down his left cheek.  He spoke angrily to the younger man, trying to grab the birds from him.  Torg watched the exchange, then raised a hand.
“Come.” He said. “Come.” He indicated that the two should follow him.  Tuka began yelling again, gesturing for his son to follow him.  Torg stepped up to him, and put a hand on Tuka’s shoulder. Tuka shrugged it off.  Again Torg gestured for them both to follow.  Slowly Tuka and Toki walked behind him as he went toward the huts. Toki stared at Dari, who just stood there.

Torg called to his wife. “We have guests, bring some cheese and bread.”   Torg’s wife came outside, and looked at the strangers.  After regarding them for a moment she brought out several small loaves of fresh bread and a lump of cheese.  She held them out to the guests with a smile on her face.  Tuka just stared at her, but Toki shyly took a loaf.  He smelled it, felt it with his hands, licked it.  Dari couldn’t help but laugh. Red-faced, Toki dropped his hand.  Seeing his confusion, Dari took a loaf, and bit into it. She gestured for Toki to do the same. Toki sniffed the bread again, then tried biting it. He got a mouthful and began to chew. His eyes widened as he tasted bread for the first time.  Dari took the cheese from her mother, and took a piece and put it in her mouth. She held out the cheese to Toki.  He wrinkled his nose, smelling it.  Then he put a lump of it in his mouth.  After a moment he turned to his father, and in a rapid dialect unknown to Torg and his family, offered the bread and cheese to his father.

Tuka had had enough.  He didn’t want the odd looking and awful smelling food. He wanted to hunt his deer.  Rapidly he grabbed the strung birds they had collected that morning and walked back to the stream.  Just before he crossed it, he turned back and yelled angrily at Torg and his family, making angry gestures.  Toki frowned, and with evident sadness, turned and slowly followed his father.  Several times he looked back at Dari. Torg knew that look and harshly told Dari to go into the hut.

Over the next few moons, Toki stopped by the meadow.  He talked in his strange tongue, but after some time, he and Torg began to understand one another.  Toki told him that his father, Tuka, wanted to shoot his animals, as they looked to be easy hunting.  Torg answered that Tuka would be welcome to bread and cheese anytime, and meat from the sheep when they were slaughtered. Dari also learned to speak to Toki, and soon the two began teaching the other their way of life.  Dari began to understand how to follow game, and trap birds, while Toki learned how to get milk from a cow and what the strange grasses were.

Tuka went north to hunt by himself during the cooling season. He never returned. Toki suspected that he wanted to hunt by himself, and not be involved in the people who didn’t move.  As his tribe dwindled, Toki spent more and more time with Dari and her family.  In time, she became his wife, and he left the hunting life forever.

Many seasons later Torg hobbled out to the old fence he had built.  There were five more huts now, and more cows and sheep.  Toki had also caught some wild geese, and some of these were now tamed, providing eggs and feathers for the village.  Toki came out, with his youngest child on his shoulders.  Looking across the stream, he thought he saw the shape of an old man, but he couldn’t be sure.

The Runt

Another great idea submitted by the elusive P.W.  Creative changes and editing done by yours truly.

The Runt.

American Plains, +/- 10,000 years ago

Ura had dreamt of being a hunter of the Wolf Clan for all his young life.  As a little child, he had learned to shoot arrows and throw bolas.  At times an elder would take all the boys and teach them how to track animals. When they grew older, they learned to set traps, catching rabbits and birds. Ura excelled at all of this, but as the cold seasons came and went, Ura remained small.  After 14 cold seasons  he was three full hands shorter than the others of his age. 
The elders took this as a bad sign, and began to forbid Ura to hunt with them.  The white haired men said that a small hunter would bring small game, and the tribe would go hungry. So the elders refused to teach Ura anything more, including how to make knives or spears, the weapons of adults.  He was even forbidden to set traps or use his bow and bolas any more.  Shunned by all of the adult males, even his own father, he was forced to do women’s work.  The women tittered and laughed at him, giving him only the work that even the youngest children could do.
Ura bent his head down to hide his shame.  He did his simple errands quickly and quietly. When no one was looking, Ura would sneak off to watch and follow the other hunters and youths.  He learned to double back on his trips around the camp, then he would hide in the brush. In this way he watched the elders teach the other young males how to make the knife and spear point out of the shiny black stone. Whenever he could, he would sneak out to the place of black stones and practice making a knife and a spear.  It wasn’t long before he made a knife that would draw red with the slightest pressure, and a spear that was short and stout with a point that would pierce even the toughest hide.  Ura kept these prized possessions hidden from others, for he knew that only hunters of the clan were allowed to have them. He became so good at hiding and following that he began to practice on animals, until he was able to sneak within touching distance of the deer and antelope.
One day four of the youth were chosen to become new hunters for the Wolf Clan. They had each been trained by the other hunters in all of the skills denied to Ura, and were sent out to prove themselves. If they brought back a deer or antelope, they would be real hunters of the Wolf Clan. That night Ura snuck out, taking his precious knife and spear, to follow and watch.  Despite all the shunning, he still longed to be a true hunter of the Wolf Clan. Even in the dark Ura knew how to read the spore left behind by the hunters and other game. From a safe distance he watched them make camp and fire, while he hid in a thicket of thorny bushes for the night. The next morning Ura watched the young hunters spread out and follow the spore of a large deer. He watched as time and again the deer was able to see or sense the young hunters and run away to a safe distance.  Twice during the day Ura found himself within spear distance and once so close that he could have touched the deer.  Even so, the other young hunters never saw Ura.
Late that afternoon as Ura watched, it looked like one of the young hunters would finally have his chance.  As the young man was carefully aiming his spear, Ura saw movement behind the hunter in the tall grass. Watching it, Ura realized that it was one of the long toothed cats.  Ura’s mouth opened in surprise; this was a tale from those with white hair. No one had seen a long toothed cat in many many cold seasons.  Yet here was a huge yet skinny cat, quietly stalking the unsuspecting hunter.  Without stopping to think, Ura darted quickly to get close to the cat before it could attack the young hunter. When he was just four body lengths from the cat, he could sense that the animal was ready to pounce on the hunter.  Standing up, Ura yelled the Wolf Clan cry and threw his spear at the cat.  The cat moved so fast that the spear missed its mark and just caught the cat in the hind quarter. Snarling, the ferocious cat turned toward Ura and pounced.  Ura barely had time to pull his knife free when the cat was on him. Ura stabbed wildly and as fast as he could as he felt the weight of the cat fall on him.  Pain jolted through Ura as the claws dug into his arms, legs and chest. He could feel the cats hot breath on his face and points of intense pain on his head as the long teeth bit and tore his skin. The ferocious growl filled his ears until that was all he knew. Still Ura stabbed in and out as fast as he could until blackness took him.
The young hunter, who was called Unda, heard the cry and turned in time to see the great cat leap onto Ura. Unda ran as fast as he could towards the cat with spear ready, but when he arrived it was already over. The huge yet scrawny cat lay lifeless on top of Ura.  As Unda knelt beside the body of the cat, looking for Ura, the other three hunters came running to his aid. They rolled the cat off of Ura and saw Ura move.
 Unda said to the others “He still breathes!”  So the hunters lifted Ura and the body of the great cat and carried them both back to the clan. When they returned they told their story to everyone as the medicine man worked on Ura.  The women wailed and the hunters and elders were in awe of the cat that little Ura had killed.  The next morning the medicine man announced to the clan that Ura was awake but he would be taking the long sleep.
The clan leader went to the bed of grass where Ura lay and in a voice that all could hear stated, “Ura, you are a hunter of the Wolf Clan.”  He then laid his spear beside Ura. Turning to the village, he raised his hands up and proclaimed, “The Wolf Clan is now the Big Cat Clan!”
His father came next.  He knelt by his broken son, tears streaming down his face. “Ura, your body is small, but your spirit is large. I am sad I did not see this before.”  Ura smiled at his father.  His father then laid his spear next to Ura and his voice rough with grief cried, “My son Ura, is a hunter of the Big Cat Clan!”
The other hunters came to Ura’s side and one by one said ”Ura you are a hunter of the Big Cat Clan” and each laid his spear next to Ura.  Ura watched them all, as the day became whiter and warmer. A lone wolf came walking by the pile of spears, along with a quiet big cat, and by the light surrounding them, Ura knew it was time for him to leave.   Ura closed his eyes for the long sleep, his face smiling for he was now and always a hunter of the Big Cat Clan.
The weeping women of the Big Cat Clan wrapped him in the hide of the great cat that he had killed.  The hunters then took his body to the sacred place for those who slept the long sleep. They placed his body high on a platform made of the hunters spears and placed the skull of the great cat on his chest with the spear and knife that he had made by his side. Ura slept the long sleep, his spirit ever guarding the Big Cat Clan. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Mate

A post written by a dear friend known as P.W., with additions and changes from yours truly.

Southern Europe, +/- 35,000 ya 

Durak, the mammoth hunter, had been away from his tribe for nearly two moons.  During the recent cold time, a sickness had taken many people from his tribe, most of them women. Now, there were no women for him in his own village, so he must steal a woman from another tribe if he was to have a mate. Durak, and several other men had all left the tribe to search for other clans and villages that might have women. All the others had returned back to the tribe except for Durak. Finally he had found a village, far away in the warm lands.  These people were slender and tall, with hair the color of the sun. He was now lying in the tall grass on a ridge, looking down on a small village of the people with sun colored hair.. After watching these strange, tall people for three suns, he had decided  upon a young woman who had hair that looked like the sun as it rose in the morning..  He had seen her bathing with other women, cooking with them, but no man made company with her.  She slept and worked in the hut that was almost on the edge of the village.

Tonight was the night to get her; the moon was dark and a warm breeze blew in from the south.  These people were quiet at night, having no dogs or guards around the village; only a single man who occasionally added wood to the fire. As darkness fell he slowly worked his way into the village and into the hut. By the light of the small central fire in the hut, Durak could see the women were all asleep  Silently and quickly he gagged then bound first the wrists then the ankles of the sun-hair woman. Although she moaned and whimpered through the gag, the other women slept on.  She tried to hit Durak with her bound fists, and kick with her legs, but he was stronger.  Quickly he lifted her, and ducked out of the hut. Just as Durak was about to step into the safety of the surrounding forest he heard one of the old women shriek in rage, waking the whole village.   Despite his burden he ran, dodging the shapes of  fallen trees and boulders on the ground, hearing  the sound of men yelling and women screaming.  Suddenly he heard swishes in the air, and the thwack as the arrows hit the trees and land around him.  As he ran, trying to blend into the darkness, he felt a sharp prick in his upper left arm.  With a grunt of surprise and pain he ran faster, even as his burden began twisting and throwing her weight around.  He abruptly changed his course through the forest and slowed down . Soon he was rewarded by the sound of pursuit going in the wrong direction. Durak slowed to a walk and finally stopped as the first rays of sunlight began to break through the forest.  Only then did he notice that the arrow had only sliced the fleshy part of his upper arm. The woman had long since ceased to struggle. He laid her on the ground and saw that she was uninjured, she looked up at him in fear, hate and something else. Durak removed the bonds from the ankles and the gag from her mouth. He kept his hand ready to cover her mouth if she tried to call out, but she was quiet, glaring at him. So he reached down and gently rubbed her ankles where the bindings had cut deeply into her flesh and was rewarded with the sight of color returning to her feet. Durak raised the woman to her feet and motioned for her to follow, all the time watching for her to try and run, but she did not. She just lowered her head and followed as he lead the way.

By midday Durak had found a good place to sleep for a few hours near a small stream. For a while now he had felt dizzy at times. Even so, he kept an eye on his captive as she followed but not once did she try and run away. His arm was throbbing from the cut he had received from the arrow and when he looked down at the cut he noticed that it was still bleeding and also that there were red lines radiating out from the wound. He Knew that this was bad and without a skilled shaman he could become very ill or even die. He began to feel hotter than the warmth of the sun, yet shivering as sweat began pouring off his body. Durak went to the stream to wash the wound as best he could. As he bent down his vision blurred, his knees became week and he fell; try as he might he could not stand. The woman just stood and watched. As darkness filled Durak's eyes he thought he saw the woman approaching him and reach for his stone knife.

Lua woke up startled, there was a large hand over her mouth.  Before she could cry out a foul-tasting gag was placed in her mouth and tightly tied around her head.  As she tried to scream and fight, her wrists, then her ankles were bound. She realized that she could not fight whoever this was so she relaxed and waited. A large dark haired man lifted her up as if she weighed nothing and silently carried her out into the night. Then as the village came alive with the realization that she was missing , the man began to run as if he wasn’t even carrying her. She tried to throw him off balance, but he only held her tighter.  He ran at first at first and then walked with her all night and only stopped to rest as daylight began to show through the trees. When he put her down she thought that she would be killed if she fought. But the powerful stranger only removed the bonds from her feet and the gag from her mouth and gently rubbed life back into her numb tingling feet. He then motioned for her to follow, which she did. She saw the cut on his arm and knew that it had been made by a poisoned arrow from her tribe. Having worked with the shaman, she knew how to stop the poison.  There were certain plants, growing everywhere here in these woods that would heal him. Yet she walked on, watching him. While he had not hurt her, the powerful dark haired man had taken her from her village, her people.  She saw the wound on his arm turn a bright red, the lines spreading outward. She saw him wobbling as he walked. It wouldn't be long now, so she followed him and didn't run home...yet.

The sun was straight overhead when the large dark haired man stopped by a small stream to rest. As he bent to get water she watched him fall and struggle to rise. Lua walked over to the large man and took his stone knife. She worked the knife around until she could cut the bonds around her wrists. As she watched the man finally go to sleep, Lua took a drink from the stream and turned back into the forest to find her way back to her village. The man who tried to take her could stay in the stream and die. After a short time she started to think about the large dark haired man.  He had not really harmed her or threatened her. She recalled his face as he had rubbed her ankles.  There was something very gentle in his touch, in his sad brown eyes.  Without understanding why, she turned around and went back to him, picking the plants she would need as she went.  She soon found the dark haired man where she had left him. Grinding the plants she picked on a large stone, she mixed in some water and made a green, pleasant smelling paste. With a large leaf she covered the wound with the paste, tying it up with the remains of the cord that had bound her wrists.  Pulling the man further away from the stream, she placed him on his side, listening to his breathing.  It was slow, and the color on his face was very white.  Gathering dry twigs and branches, she found some fire-stones and soon she had a small but warm fire crackling.  Sitting beside the man, she pulled his dark hairy head onto her lap, and began humming a soft, simple song.

Monday, April 7, 2014


A requested story by a handsome man who once found an arrowhead. 

Cascade Mountains  +/- 500 ya

In three sun’s White Stone would be back in his village.  The sun and wind would be on his face. Here, now, he was in the cold white forest.  Behind him were the days of rain and covered skies. Why he had been chosen to take the furs to the big river villages was never truly answered. 

Two moons ago, White Stone had been told by the elders to take a rare buffalo skin and some beaded doe skins to the elders at big river village.  He was to bring back as much dried fish as he could carry and whichever baskets they would give him for this.

White Stone was not happy.  He wanted to stay in the sun and make his arrowheads and spearheads.  Sometimes the women would send their sons, asking for needles or scrapers to use for their work with the deerskins.

It was no use to argue with the elders. They had instructed him, and he done as required.  Two of the other young men were also upset by the decision, Red Dog and Black Feather had wanted to go.  As he left, heading toward the big water and setting sun, they had followed, taunting him.  Perhaps it was because these two had once raided a distance village to the south, returning with screaming women, that the elders kept them close.

White Stone was on his way home now.  While in the big river villages, one of the chief’s had offered him his daughter, if only he would stay.  White Stone had very much liked the girl, Shadow Hawk, but felt it his duty to return home to his own village.  The big river villages had given him some dried fish, but not much. And they had only one basket to spare this year.

White Stone knew the mountain he was climbing now.  It was at the very edge of his tribe’s travels, only when they hunted the big deer.  On the top of a small rise, he watched the sky and looked for signs of any activity.  It was silent.  White Stone continued on.

As he came down into a small valley, he suddenly heard a hawk screech.  The skies were empty, and the screech had sounded forced. Looking around he thought he saw a tree branch move, but after watching, all remained still.  White Stone stepped forward, and heard an unmistakable fllt just before he felt the incredible pain.

His left thigh was pierced with an arrow, the gray fletchings looking strangely familiar.  As he reached down to pull out the arrow another one just missed his ear, landing in the snow behind him.  White Stone stumbled and hobbled into the brush, crawling on his hands and knees.  From the sides of the mountain, he heard whoops and yells.  It was Red Dog and Black Feather.

The next few hours were a frigid nightmare of crawling through cold snow and mud. As it got dark he was able to hide behind a boulder.  Finally, off in the distance, he could see them light a small fire. Quietly, he crawled in the opposite direction. 

His leg was hurting terribly, and he had to get the arrow out.  As dawn approached, he found a rocky overhang.  Once under it, he collapsed and slept.  He woke late in the morning to silence, and his thigh throbbing.

Finding a few rocks and a few dried sticks he made a small fire. Using his flint blade, he cut off the protruding shaft of the arrow. He put that in his mouth.  Taking a deep breath through his nose, he pushed the arrow through his leg.

It took all his strength not to scream. The sharp arrowhead tore through muscle and skin, and the blood flowed freely.  When it finally came out he quickly put the wooden end into the fire while holding the bloody arrowhead.  A moment later, as the end glowed like a coal, he placed on the bleeding holes.  This time he did scream, and then fell back, unconscious.

It was getting dark when he awoke, the last rays of the sun shining into his face.  His leg hurt, but he didn’t feel any poison in it.  As he sat up, something cut his hand. Grimacing he picked it up.
It was the arrowhead that had gone into his leg.  Cleaning it off, he let out an oath.

The arrowhead was white, one he had made. Disgusted and angered by his tribe, he threw it onto the ground.

The next day, able to walk again, he began to make his way slowly back to Shadow Hawk.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Horse Woman

A rock shelter in southern France that has incredible friezes (wall carvings) of horses and bison.  A female figure was found buried in the shelter.
The Horse Woman
Dordogne, France +/- 15,000 ya
Eki woke with a start.  A light rain had begun to fall, and the outdoor fire sizzled. She got up quickly, pulling her thick deerskin robe around her shoulders.  The days were getting shorter and cooler, they had to hurry.

“Charo, Dayna, come!” she called, not waiting for them to catch up to her.  Soon enough she heard their footsteps on the well worn path they used almost daily.  Her mother’s mother and father had begun the carvings, and now she was trying to get it finished for the Long Nights that were coming.

Charo and Dayna, children of her sister, caught up to her.  They had the skill with the stone work, as had Eki.  Soon they were in the shelter and as Charo lit a small fire, Dayna passed out dried meat to chew.  In a moment, all three were at work, carving out the horses from the wall.

The horses were sacred to her people and to her family.  As long as she could remember, Eki had loved watching them run in the hills.  When the herd stopped to eat grass, she would creep closer, listening to their calls, watching them eat, seeing a mother nuzzle her baby.  Twice she had gotten close enough to touch one. The first time she was too frightened and let the horse leave.  The second time, she had gotten brave and petted its long smooth nose. After a couple strokes the horse tossed its head and trotted away. Eki had never dared touch one again, but the feeling of the horses warm breath and soft fur stayed with her always.

There was a tale that one of the old fathers had jumped on a horse’s back and died after falling to the ground.  Eki didn’t want to believe that…a person on a horse did not make any sense.

Yet the walls of the shelter had long called to her family. Slowly they would study the rock, see the horse or bison within, and carefully bring it out.  Dayna was especially good at seeing the horse faces, while Charo could smooth out the body beautifully.

The day turned darker and the rain fell harder.  Voices came up from below and Ako, Eki’s brother came up with his little boy.

“Eki Eki look! Dada gave me spears!” Eki smiled at the youngster, eagerly showing her his child-size spears, and also a bow and arrow set.  “Look!” he exclaimed, and carefully placed a tiny arrow with a small ivory point onto the bow.

“Ati! No, not in the shelter!” Ako shouted.  Startled, the boy turned around, and loosed the small arrow as he did so.  It hit Eki in the stomach.

“Aaah!” She grimaced, grabbing the small shaft and pulling it.  It came out, with blood, but not the point. That was still inside her, stinging.

“Eki! Eki, you’re hurt!” Ako ran to his sister, checking the wound through the small tear in her robe.

“I am good, Ako. Now, take this young man back to the huts and get him something to eat. We need to finish here. The Long Nights are coming.” His face pale, Ako left, pulling a screaming Ati by his ear.

Both Dayna and Charo came to her side. “I am good…get your horses done…”she waved them away. For awhile Eki thought she would be alright. The pain dulled and the bleeding slowed and stopped. She chipped carefully on the mane of a horse she had been working on for many days.

Suddenly she swayed, dizzy. The room was getting darker and colder, and her stomach was beginning to hurt badly.  The forms of Dayna and Charo swirled beside her, there were blurry lights and a large fire that hurt her eyes.

“The horse! The horse!” she cried, reaching out for its head.  Once more she felt the warm breath on her hand and the soft fur of  its long nose.  Silently, the horse bent down on its knees. Eki grabbed the long mane and pulled herself up to a sitting position.  The pain was less now, she would be fine. The fires burned behind her, making the horses in the wall run in the wind. She climbed onto the horses back and suddenly they were running, running through the valley, into the stars.

Far below in the shelter, Dayna, Charo, Ako and all the others cried over the silent still figure of Eki.  Ako buried her there, and in sadness and grief, they left the shelter as a shrine to the horse spirit of Eki.