Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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. 

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