Chapter 1: The Hunt
Times, tough as they were, kept the overflowing fullness of moons hanging high in the sky, their rays illuminating the surface, as scents of berries and ways of heavy rain pouring down against mother natures gentle skin. It was with time that allowed the world to turn, a recurring pattern of unworldly structure.
Lands, in this structure, spreading like a canvas of colors, mapped out in the eyes of gods, that only a few or none can see under silent wonder of one’s own eyes and imagination. It was due late in the early morning, the cackling of off hand creatures and brewing winds gnawing at the life of the tribespeople.
A gentle settlement stood, where buildings in a variety of shapes and sizes, allowed trees to surround their high arched structures, sturdy and strong wood barked trees with roped vines clinging to one another, their duty in keeping the structures kept together. Tribespeople walked back and forth, their busy legs running around the village; arms full of fish-filled baskets, woven cloths and sharp-edged tools. Their breaths fogging up the surrounding air due to mother nature’s clear tears, which poured upon their faces down onto the earth below their shoeless feet, dirt clamping onto their nimble toes.
The villages unique song; of children yelling, women humming as they wash their clothes and the heavy grunts of men arriving back from a long hunt, making their way towards their homes and families. The song echoing off of the winds whistling rage as the downfall of rain punctured through the roofs of buildings alike, seeping through the small cracks and untouched surfaces.
Far out passed the village, beyond the mass of tall grass and withered down trees rose the great mountains the people knew as “The Great Peaks”. An area of high land which tribespeople dared not pass or seek after, for a variety of unholy and holy reasonings.
With this village, the people of Marmora scavenged for food and hunted when necessary, only for the safety of their people. For that many dangers roamed the land of Custodes; tales of saber-toothed lions pouncing at men and women as they devour them like starved dogs, loud shrills of fish-eyed birds gurgling clicks and whinnies with long-beaked snouts and wild dogs running with scorpion-like tails and rhino-like horns.
It was during these times where the howls of the creatures would travel with the winds to the ears of the Old Woman Tahita’ . One who the people praise and give loyalty too. Her outstretched and puffed up purple ears curled up in a little roll, where purple hair stood up in a messy tight fishtail. A strand of fur resting across the sides of her head, long looped earrings hanging from the left side of her ear and the hijab-like wrap covering the bottom half of her face.
Her chants reaching the women of the tribesmen people, soul and heart with every word, as she flicks her wrists around. Blue and red powder filling the air in a smoke-like gesture as the sand slipped between her fingers passing her purlicue.
The hut that she shares with the other women was occupied by a great many layers of hand-stitched wools and beads. Crystals lied in the middle of the hut as the women all bowed and danced for Tahita’, giving strength to their spiritual leader as her voice booms the ancient verse of time.
Amongst these women, hidden away behind an unfinished section of the tent, he peaks inside to view the gathering of few men, being that they are hunting, and a bountiful amount of women. This young boy, around the age of ten, whose name, Keith. Watches with eager fascination for this event, for that his future holds great importance and a specialty that the old woman Tahita’ will live to tell.
But as Keith continues to watch old woman Tahita’, he notices the figure of a slim young boy gathered in the middle of the hut, surrounded by the crystals Tahita’ uses for tellings and ceremonies. His tanned skin standing out between the other members of his tribe, messy brown hair tangled up in areas that seem almost unhealthy for that dirt covers the young male on every inch of skin. Though with all the dirt and grime, one thing seems to stick out between the rest of his features. Two colorful and bright blue orbs stared at his people, panic along with fear expressed through the beauty of his eyes.
Although once the boy shuffled a little and the dirt on his back fell, two pairs of wings like that of an insect, covered in colorful feathers expanded from his body. The bigger pair towered over him like that of a cloak, hiding him away from these strange people. The small pair rubbed against his sides almost shyly.
The tanned boy scans the room, his blue orbs landing on the charcoaled mess of hair that peaked through the tent. Lance. This blue-eyed beauties name was Lance.
Lance stares at Keith, curiosity, and wonder surrounding the two. The briefest of smiles etches itself onto Lance’s face, brown locks falling atop the two oceans before turning away.
Keith looks up at his father, who shares the same features as his son. His arm resting on the back of Keith’s neck as it’s wrapped around in a somewhat bit of a headlock. The jingle of a distinctive ivory bracelet resting on Keith’s shoulder.
Besides his father is Shiro, a man about the same age as his father, standing near to listen to the words of the old mother Tahita’. Shiro, as one can tell, is a fellow hunter for the Marmora tribe, he’s thoughtful, strong, leader-like, and most important to Keith, he’s brotherly.
He continues to watch mother Tahita’, his body shaking, growing more and more until…
Abruptly from unknown sources and powers of man, mother Tahita’ is thrown backwards, her back hitting the edge of the hut, open arms reaching for her in waves of panic and fear, where she whispers a great prophecy that’ll change the lives of her people.
She watches with grey fitted eyes, her mouth moving a mile a minute as she tells of the prophecy, waving her arms in powerful gestures, the people gasping as she chants out the words.
In her prophecy, she sees people, not like the one of our tribe, but of people who ride four-legged beasts, where men travel on these dark demons in a great number of size. The leader, who owns short darkened hair, a mask which covers the front of his eye, the other holding what seems to be a red orb, and his ears which face upwards towards the sky.
As the old woman Tahita’ explains the details of the four-legged demons, Lance, who stood in silence, began to tremor in the very presence of such a prophecy. Flashbacks etching through his mind, bodies from bloodshed flashing before his eyes as the screams of his people take control of his head, his heart beating fast in terror. The older people move forward, reaching the young boy in a way of comfort, the women surrounding old woman Tahita’ in a consoling embrace.
She continues her prophecy in a heap of comforting words, her voice hoarse and breathy, hair falling out of its fishtail. She looks at her people, a smile warming up their features.
“We shall not worry my children. A great hunter will one day arise, a warrior who will bestow this young man a love so strong that they’ll bear many children, for that the village will be their children. And this warrior will lead our people to a land that bears two suns and a beautiful morning dawn. And there, the Marmora will no longer go hungry and will share rejoice for the safety of our protector!”
Tahita’ with her nimble fingers points at the young boy, who’s panic barely started to wither, the prophecy only just now making the realization of him. The stuttering of his voice more prominent than the gentle voice of old woman Tahita’.
“M-me? Bear the children of the village with the great prophesied?”
My father and Shiro look at one another, the surprise of such a thing making notice on their features, their hands briefly run up and down against their own arms, before looking back to young Lance.
Mother Tahitas’ smile only grows with every second that passes, her beads bouncing around in great gestures, her hands reaching both sides of Lance’s cheeks.
“Yes, child. I mean you, you will one day be the crowned tribesmen of the great warrior.”
And old mother, with Lance’s cheeks, squeezed between her hands, smiled and looked at him with such pure joy, that the people, with their fear, were ready for the day of the great warrior to appear and prepare for the dawn of the four-legged demons.
As the year's pass, the people grow strong, still set with fear of the unknown, but ready for the gathering of hunters for the great hunt.
Long grass sways under the soft breeze. The moons full on both sides of the faint village, casting great shadows under the starry canvas of sky. A solitary figure, a body which over the years, became strong and powerful, a figure of a young man, hurrying through the grass, searching.
He stops before the edge of a ridge, where the light of the moon hits, making the small pond below glisten, his reflection showing two sharp blue eyes. We realize, with great hope, that the solitary figure was none other than the young boy Lance from the ceremony a great many of years ago, now a beautiful and handsome young man of seventeen.
He looks over the pond, cattails rustling from the frog's croaks and energetic jumps into the waters paleness, to see two figures sitting on the ridge opposite of him, their bodies being silhouetted by the pale light of the moons. He moves quickly towards them.
Keith, now eighteen, sits on a rock, carving out a piece of ivory with the blade his mother has given him. From the features of his face, we notice, that he’s the same boy from the ceremony, only now older. His jaw and cheekbones more pronounced, the shape of his eyes sharper compared to before, his lips now pink and plump, and his charcoal colored hair tied up into a semi-messy bun. With his blade and the piece of ivory, he’s working on a small bead-sized shark, which seems to almost be finished.
Pidge, a fourteen-year-old girl, whose bright, smart, and impatient, sits next to Keith, playing with the rounded edges of the cattails, watching as Keith creates the beaded shark.
“When do you think the Aquilie will arrive? I’ve heard they’d be here slightly earlier compared to other springs.”
Keith continues carving the beaded shark, his hair swaying softly with the wind, prominent scowl on his face.
“When they want to.”
Keith states as if it were obvious, his hands maneuvering around the finned corners of the shark.
“Why do they come later but decide to come early this spring?”
Keith shrugs before looking over at Pidge, hands gently cradling the small shark.
“Why not ask them when they decide to arrive. Maybe then you’ll get the answers you’re curious mind keeps coming up with?”
Keith finishes the carving, a smug but proud smile on his face. He then pulls out a necklace made of string similar to small sharks, a few crystals attached, and ties the newest addition to the set, completing the necklace.
“When do you think Shiro will let me join the hunt?”
Keith looks over at Pidge and laughs, hair almost completely out of its braid.
“When you decide to stop asking so many damn questions.”
The quiet of the situation grows, making it easy to hear the slowly approaching footsteps. Keith, slightly panicked, hides the necklace. Turning away to see Lance heading towards the calm gathering. Keith, with realization, notices the worry by the slight tilt of his eyebrow, his small cute pout, and the tangling of his fingers messing with the seams of his clothing. He puts down a small basket of goodies by Pidge before taking a seat.
“You hungry little sister?”
Pidge, without hesitation, begins to dig into the basket, looking for the fruit-like substance Lance makes when they have the luck of finding the Apiary fruit. Pidge mumbles a quick thanks, as she finds the jam and starts licking the edges of her fingers with the fruity concoction. Lance then gives Keith a look before walking off.
Keith, now getting up, necklace still hidden in the pockets of his outfit, follows Lance, speaking back towards Pidge, as he leaves.
“Keep watching alright Pidge?”
Pidge, mumbling, the slight side glance at Keith, before proceeding to raise her hand and waving Keith aside.
“Yeah sure. I know what I’m doing Keith.”
Lance walks through the tall grass with Keith following only a few steps behind. Keith, with hearts in his eyes, savors the moonlight view of Lance.
Feeling Keith’s eyes on him, he turns around, staring at the purples of his eyes, a smile filled with warmth and affection aimed at him, he laughs for a brief moment but must stop. Something was on his mind, something that’s been nicking at the corner of his mind for a small bit, something urgent.
“What’s wrong Lance?”
He quickly walks up to step with Lance, fleetingly letting his hand slide against Lance’s, a sympathetic, yet tender, warmth reaching up and grasping onto Lance’s rugged fingers.
“Tahita’. Old mother Tahita’ and Shiro were talking with one another in our hut, turns out that Shiro came to visit us about some things, that or mother Tahita’ had some things to say, things that I’ve overheard.”
“Shiro came to your hut?”
“Yeah. Old mother Tahita’ told Shiro that she believes he shouldn’t participate in this year's hunt, that Shiro shouldn’t be the one to slay the Aquilie when he comes.”
Keith, a little upset, stares at the ground, his face in bewilderment.
“She wants Arikara to prove himself so that he can claim me and I become his. She thinks of him as our greatest hunter and the bravest out of our warriors, thus wanting me to be his.”
Keith stops, his grip on Lance’s hands lost from the shock of it, he looks back at Lance, anger and frustration evident.
“Arikara? He doesn’t care for you, not like the way one should, Arikara cares only for the hunt.”
“He considers me a worthy man for a great hunter, someone who seems tough enough and beautiful enough, to be considered married towards, as if I were an object to be chosen as decor.”
With the argument awry we head back to our clever young woman, Pidge, still wolfing down the jams Lance brought in the basket. She doesn’t realize that behind her a giant, yet quiet, shadow appears, blotting out the stars that twinkle in rhythm to the chirping of crickets.
The shadow grows into a large silhouette, slowly approaching Pidge, it’s tusk great in size, caressing the smooth area of open skin on her back. She turns around, ever so calmly, to face up towards the Aquilie, a greatly sized creature with three large tusks strutting out from its forward, it’s wild blue fur waving around like waves in the cold of the night. It’s black eyes staring at Pidge with great strength and the many stories of its ancestry. Pidge, now fearful with her life, chokes on her food.
The Aquilie lets out a deep and raspy breath, following along the grassy trails its other members created when passing through the fields. But the sounds Pidge created while choking allows the creature to let a deep rumbling, a growth of a strengthful roar was released from the Aquilie’s vocal chords, making Pidge stumble back and lay against the muddy grounds of the pond.
Further ahead, not too far from Pidge, Keith and Lance stand, turning away to look at where the roar was released. Spotting Pidge trapped between the Aquilie and the ridge, they run with great speed, reaching for Pidge and distracting the creature from trampling themselves and Pidge.
Lance stood before the Aquilie, waving his arms in giant gestures, keeping the attention of the creature solely on him. His voice, known for being strong and spokesmen-like when it was useful, was used to yell at the creature. The creature, not knowing what was happening, began to head away towards a massive herd of Aquilia .
Before them stood about over a hundred animals. Each eating off of the grassy plain and drinking from the waters of mother nature's tears. The Aquilia has finally arrived! Lance looks over at Keith and Pidge in total awe, with similar thoughts, they all turn and make their ways down the slope and towards the village.
As the three of them run. Keith looks over to Pidge and yells.
“Go tell Shiro that the Aquilia has arrived!”
“Because I said so, now go!”
Lance looks over at his younger sister sharply. Pidge splitting off, running up the rocky ridge to Shiro’s hut.
The sky is now reaching a dark blue, clouds overhead blocking most of the sunlight that’s starting to rise. Pidge reaches Shiro’s hut, located the furthest at the highest peak of the village. Aquilia tusk line the entrance, grass clinging around the hut like a blanket, a forbidding sight to few but Pidge, who slows down, and enters the hut.
Inside, where the light doesn’t touch, hung from the ceiling; were blue furs from the Aquilia , talons from the Marina Birds, and long bones which stretched out like swords from Timberly Wolves and Accrylly Fish. Looking passed all the bones and furs, it seems that Shiro, busy as he always is, is nowhere in sight. Her eyes edge around the room, catching the attention to a distinctive, ivory-handled White Spear resting neatly against the wall.
Pidge, knowing its origins, is drawn to the spear, unable to keep herself from looking at it more closely. She starts to reach out for it, hand outstretched to touch what is said to be smooth white wood strong enough to pierce the heart of the great Aquilie, when a sound behind her makes her spin.
Shiro appears from behind her. The tired looking hunter making his way towards the White Spear, grabbing it from its resting place. His body already prepared and covered in paints used for the hunt.
“Th-the Aquilia have finally arrived.”
Shiro nods in understanding, already knowing of their arrival, due to his painted body and ready light armor.
“The whole valley is filled with them. Much more compared to the passed couple of years, they must’ve had a baby boom as of lately, because a great many seem to be teenagers.”
This has a surprising reaction from Shiro, a stern yet profound look on his face. He passes the girl, patting her on the back.
“You will be staying here Pidge, you’re not quite ready to go hunting just yet.”
“What! How come? You know fully well that I am capable of handling myself in battle, so you have no excuse there. And if it has anything to do with being a woman, then I know it’s wrong, because you aren’t against women hunting. So what is it?”
Shiro contemplates her answer for a second, his body resting against the beam of his door, foot lightly tapping away as his thoughts swim away. He sighs, pushing the dirt with the tip of his toe, brushing it up against the door to keep it in place.
“I don’t want to lose a precious sister. In allowing you to participate in this hunt, I’ll feel like I’d lose you, these creatures are powerful with their brute strength. Maybe if it were another time, another creature, I’d let you go.”
Pushing her hair aside, she stares at Shiro with wide eyes, the palms of her hands sweating from the tight squeeze of her hands. Her stare was angry, but, she was full of a loving understanding.
“I’d feel the same way with Matt.”
She pauses for a moment, looking at Shiro’s expression for any indication of him paying attention, before swallowing and continuing her short speech.
“So if it means I will have to skip this hunt, then so be it. Just know, next hunt, you and I are going to partner up and kick butt!”
A soft laugh, like a puff of air, leaves Shiro’s airwaves. Smiling warm and bright.
“Of course. Pidge.”
The sun, now high in the sky, clouds out of its way, was shining brightly down over the mountains peaks. Where the hunters were preparing for the hunt, standing with one another as they wait for Shiro. Checking their weapons; gathering their gear; putting on body paint; and practicing throwing their spears at a target made of Aquilia bones and hide.
There are a little over a dozen hunters, all of which are ready for the hunt and for Lance’s hand, some more willing than others. Keith is somewhat separate from the rest of the hunters, necklace hidden away with his mother's dagger, his stance tall as he wraps a bandage around the handle of his spear. Among the hunters:
Arikara, around Keith’s age, a very impose-looking, athletic, and in some ways a prick, that is at least in Keith’s opinion, man. His stance was strong, ready for battle at any moment, and a passionate burn in his eyes. His attitude held leadership, a voice strong enough to order every hunter on the field.
Then there was Meh’ Rah, a somewhat smaller hunter compared to Keith, who’s cocky in the right ways, lacks athleticism, but their strengths came in a quick and agile battle strategy when used on the field. They stood amongst the hunters filled with pride, no hint of any shame for loss or for a win, just there to prove themselves.
And lastly, was Mina, practically the same age as Keith, but more of a follower than anything. Their talents lead more for distractions, use of sticks and dirt, blinding creatures and wounding parts that’ll slow the creature down.
Thought if they all shared something in common with one another, it was that they were all focused in intent- for that this hunt they were all participating in was a serious situation.
Arikara proceeds to grab a spear and steps over to the target, the targets being a fair distance from the field and the village where everyone all stood. He waits as two hunters throw their spears, each of which hitting close to the white of the middle, but not quite on target. Their throws, as impressive as they weren’t that impressive, because his were better.
Arikara steps up and prepares to throw, stretching out the knicks and crannies in his bones, standing tall to express power. With his actions, most of the hunters turn to see his results, excitement in their eyes. Keith pointedly does not follow, the only look apparent, was the annoyance he usually expressed when it came to Arikara.
With almost everyone's attention on him, Arikara lets loose a stunning throw- the spearhead slamming into the dead center of the target, sinking much deeper than any of the other throws. His throw getting many positive ooh’s and ah’s as the other hunters patted his back in approval.
Keith glances over, crinkling his eyes in disgust. He goes back to finish the red marks of paint onto his face, lining red shaped crescents under his eyes. Meh’ Rah and Mina, with their gossip-filled exchanges, look at Keith with knowing gleams, exchanging a similar look with one another.
“I can see what’s going on in his eyes.”
“So can I, it looks like fear.”
They laugh lightly together, clutching onto each other as their giggles made way.
“He’s afraid Arikara will win his man today.”
“Perhaps he’ll run away, like his father has. Son of a traitor, son of a reject, the son whom of which never saw his father again.”
Keith bristles, sighing out a nervous breath. Arikara looks over, cupping his hands together before speaking sharply, authority in his voice and features.
“Mina, Meh’ Rah, be quiet. Now prepare your spears.”
Chastised, but still sharing a smile, they turn their attention to their spears, checking the bindings that hold the heads to the shafts.
Old mother Tahita’ and Lance decide to join the crowd at that moment, mother Tahita’ smiling with delight, for today is the day. While Lance, a little farther behind from mother Tahita’, hangs around with all the other young women.
As Lance laughs from something one of the women said, his gaze looks up and meets Keith’s, opposite sides of the gathered tribe, they lock eyes that intervene with the people. Lance sharing a passionate look that practically says ‘Good Luck’, as he joins mother Tahita’.
Old mother Tahita’ steps among the hunters, stopping in front of Arikara, who is tying a small wooden bowl to his waist. Mother Tahita’ murmurs a prayer, her ears twitching back and forth, her hijab-like cloth now resting peacefully on her chest, allowing her painted face to be revealed to the tribe. When she finishes off her prayer, she spits on Arikara.
Arikara expecting it to happen, still a bit off-put, smiles in thanks. He keeps himself from wiping off her spittle, and goes back to preparing his weapons, testing their strength.
Old mother Tahita’ moves on, blessing each individual hunter, with her murmuring her prayer, and spitting on them. One after another they submit to her actions, all a bit reluctantly, to her ministrations, but choosing otherwise to ignore.
Shiro walks into the camp, followed by Pidge and her brother Matt. Shiro, with paints of white covering majority of his body, blows into a carved ivory hunting whistle hanging around his neck, before stepping hip-to-hip with mother Tahita’.
She stops her chanting and smiles up at Shiro, with her genes being alien, she was still shorter than the average human half of the tribe members.
Shiro, with his whistle, walks into the middle of the circle, holding the White Spear. All eyes are now on Shiro.
“The Aquilie and his Aquilia are a great species, and we are but small, but yet, we still aim to kill him. We kill him because we hunt together, as one.”
His eyes wander across the faces of the hunters. He stops to look at Keith’s.
Shiro raises the White Spear into the air.
“Today, I will not be participating in piercing the heart of the Aquilie. One of you will drive the final blow…”
Shiro looks at all the hunters, and then, again, at Keith.
“One of you will claim the White Spear...”
Several of the hunters glance over at Lance. He looks only at Keith, confident in his accomplishments. Arikara, who stands closer to the targets, is not among the hunters who look at Lance.
“May the Ancient Fathers, and the spirits of the Aquilia , choose the best of you.”
He rams the White Spear deep into the ground, centered in the middle of the circle. The White Spear symbolizing the rising of the warrior and the true hunter of choosing.
Shiro turns and strides off, with the hunters close behind. The other members, with all their traditional habiliments, of the tribe, follow, to see them off on their hunt.
Keith lags behind from the rest as he stands with Lance. With a few nerves, he pulls out the necklace he carved only a few days prior, and hands it to him.
“I worked on this for a many of nights… many, many nights...”
He looks at the necklace, deeply moved as blood flows to his face.
“You are here…”
Lance touches his chest, a smile on his face.
“No matter who kills the Aquilie, you will always be here.”
He knows that he is overwhelmed. But he still gives him one last smile, turns, and hurries after the hunting party. Lance, looking at him as he leaves, clutches onto the necklace with much-needed strength.
With the sun's rays falling down upon the hunters, it was time for the hunt. Shapes appear between the high grass, gently swaying with the wind, the waters rustling along with ripples.
Shiro is in the lead, looking between his fellow hunters and the Aquilia , whom of which were feeding off of the plains, using their mouths to feed on nearby berry bushes and tree stalks.
The other hunters follow Shiro, crawling up the incline, hidden in the grass by their body paint, save for a few bright colors across their faces.
Going above the hunters, we see a large herd of Aquilia grazing in the open plain.
More than a hundred of them, from children to nearly dying Aquilia , protecting one another as they fed. The hunters, staring at one another, shared anxious looks. None of them having never seen a herd at such a large mass.
Looking ahead of the herd, passing a large rock, we see a female nursing her baby. To the side of them stood two other large Aquilia , possibly males, fighting with one another with their tusks.
After sizing up the situation, Shiro turns to the others and gives a hand signal. All of the other hunters follow his lead, as he moves forward towards the herd. The loud clanging of the two Aquilia clashing against one another, stepping with one another as if they were doing the tango.
With slow and agonizing steps, Keith immediately starts to move faster than the others, getting a bit ahead of the others as he steps closer to the Aquilia . Keeping a close eye on the two possible males claiming power against one another.
Shiro makes a bug-like clicking noise, almost like Cicadas, catching Keith’s attention and making him look at Shiro, away from the two males. Shiro motions for Keith to ease back with the hunters, to stay tighter with the advancing group.
Keith reluctantly slows down, glimpsing at the males and female, shaking his head in disapproval, and waits with the others, joining them, and pacing himself to stay with them.
The hunters advance on the herd, one group closer to Shiro, as the others wait on the opposite side of the group, waiting for their signal. Shiro leads his group closer to the herd, making the animals begin to stir, sensing a nearby threat by the scent of the hunters.
Shiro signals the other group to stop for a moment, moving his hand in a circling movement, telling the group to get into a curving row.
Shiro continues, alone, moving deeper and deeper into the heard, passing the two fighting males and the female Aquilia taking care of its young. He stops behind a graying Aquilia, standing very close to its hind legs, as the young Aquilia notices Shiro, curiosity in its eyes.
Shiro zeros in on a closer graying Aquilia , whose size is much greater compared to the previous old male, before he spots the lead bull, the Aquilie. Shiro carefully approaches, careful not to step on any stale grass or kicking aside any loose rocks. Sensing movement, the lead bull turns menacingly towards the approaching Shiro.
The other Aquilia , reacting to the lead bulls reaction, begin to turn as well, causing a domino effect with the rest of the herd. Everything briefly pauses for a moment, before all hell is believed to be released, each individual Aquilia begin to return back to their grazing, believing the noise to be nothing but the wind.
Shiro proceeds to creep closer to the Aquilie, using more careful steps in his approach.
The lead bull stops its grazing, stepping forward with its large feet. It raises its trunk-like nose high up into the air, sniffing the air as the animal makes a rumbling noise. The lead bull, with its glaring eyes, looks down towards Shiro, trying to spot him with its near-sighted eyes.
Keith eases forward a bit, clutching onto his spear, as he follows Shiro. Arikara, and some of the other hunters, note Keith’s movements. Not pleased with what he’s doing.
Suddenly, directly in front of the lead bull, Shiro leaps to his feet, waving his arms around, shouting wildly with high pitched calls and clicks.
The lead bulls feet tears at the ground, ripping up dirt as it moves in fearful strides. Moving its massive head back and forth, swinging its trunk in a swiping fashion.
Shiro stands his ground, clutching onto his spear, taking simple pacing steps. He moves closer to the lead bull, and thrusts the spear at the creature's face.
The Aquilia charges angrily. Shiro quickly rolls out of the way from its tusk, barely avoiding being trampled and penetrated.
Shiro blows his hunting whistle, alerting the other hunters.
At that signal, Keith and the other hunters leap to their feet, waving their arms and shouting.
The rest of the herd, now alerted, spooked and furious; snorts, trumpets, and squeals, some rearing up on their hind legs.
The herd charges after their leader with a sound like rolling thunder. Their trampling causing some of the hunters to lose their balance as they run alongside the creatures, waving their arms around towards a narrow valley. Far out into the distance, passed the herd of Aquilia , there’s a wide opening, which with due time we figure will lead into an increasingly narrow canyon.
Shiro joins the other hunters, running around, giving them a variety of different hand signals and gestures, deploying the hunters like the leader he is. All of the hunters form themselves into crescent-shaped groups, behind and to the sides of the running Aquilia , herding them together like shepherd dogs, directing the massive animals towards the canyon.
Keith runs alongside the Aquilia , forcing his legs to run at mass speeds in order to keep up with the frightened creatures, his position point side of the crescent. Keith, whose eyes are focused on the Aquilia , not the other hunters, quickened his pace, putting distance between himself and the others.
Shiro, although mainly focused on his companions and the Aquilia , notices Keith straying away from the others and calls out angrily to Keith, a subtle look being shared between the two. Shiro, after the short bit of eye contact, motions his body in a way that says ‘you better get your butt over here kid’, but try as he may, Shiro’s yelling goes unnoticed due to the thunderous sounds of the Aquilia . Distracting Keith from ever seeing Shiro’s signals of return.
Arikara, noticing the interaction, looks angrily at Keith, his grip tightening around his spear. Mina and Meh’ Rah, with the same look of anger, exchange knowing and annoyed looks with one another.
Picking up speed, enclosed in his own surrounding bubble, Keith gets further ahead from the other hunters. The wind, from the speed of the mammoth, blew angrily against his face, his hair flowing like the rushing river located a couple of miles from the village.
Keith, like the wind, has rushed passed some of the trailing Aquilia , causing some of them to veer to the outside of Keith, driving him in with the herd. Trapping him inside like a caged animal, although the irony of it was, in fact, the fact the cage itself was several animals.
Shiro watches this happen as he runs alongside the Aquilia , guiding some of the loose creatures back into the stampeding herd. He clenches his teeth in annoyance. His anger growing, but realizing there’s nothing he can do about it.
With Keith running among them, two of the Aquilia in the center of the herd are spooked and start to veer off, away from the mouth of the canyon.
Other Aquilia , brushing against one another, start to respond with the two spooked Aquilia , starting a chain reaction of Aquilia to start and steer away from the canyon.
Shiro sees the herd starting to change their direction due to Keith’s recklessness and groans, little brothers he swears under his breath. He looks over at Arikara, Mina, and Meh’ Rah, who tighten up on their side of the herd, yelling, driving the herd back toward the canyon mouth.
The lead bull passing the boulders that stood powerfully among the entrance of the canyon, the sun reaching over, as now every animal must choose the route it shall take.
Keith runs between the two massive creatures who want to squeeze between two of the giant stone boulders. They scrape the rock and their bodies crash against one another, some of the rocks falling behind as their bodies knocked against the sides of the canyon.
Keith’s only chance is to duck down and dive under one of the bodies of Aquilia stampeding by the other running Aquilia , in order to avoid being crushed and slapped in the face by rolling boulders. For a couple of endless seconds, he runs under the animal, its blue furs rubbing against his forehead, tickling his nose.
But when the Aquilia jumps over a smaller rock, which is too high for Keith, he has no chance other than to jump aside, tumbling to the ground, where he’s nearly crushed by the feet of the other Aquilia .
Arikara, Mina, and Meh’ Rah shoot him harsh looks as they pass by his limp body. Keith, pressing the palms of his hand against his forehead, groans out an angry squeal as he scrambles back onto his feet, but he has lost his lead.
Shiro looks over, angry, but relieved to see Keith alive as said Keith kicks the ground, making dirt rise up in great puffs of dust. Watching as he lets out his anger before he rushes back into a running position to try and regain some of his positions.
They continue to run, Keith now following behind the other hunters with clear agitation. A knowing smirk on Shiro’s face as he watches his brothers frustrations.
Several elder hunters pull on two ropes. The ropes are attached to two heavy stones which are dragged up the top of finger-like rocks which form a bottleneck in the canyon.
Pidge, nearby, studies the elders as they pull, estimating the likeliness of this plan working. Within seconds, she hears the stomping steps of the herd approaching, scrambling up the sloping side of the canyon, Pidge sees the head of the stampeding herd in the lead.
“ Aquilia up ahead! They are coming now!”
The old men from before double their efforts. Pidge continues to watch as the herd slowly head towards them, a devilish glint in her eyes.
“Hey, oldies! Take this!”
She looks at the elder closest to her before throwing up some sort of device, it’s rocky texture glowing slightly as it brushes against the rocky surface the elders stood on. She watches as he grabs the device with his rough hands, ogling at it before looking back at her.
“Just trust me! It’ll help us in the end so just go with it!”
The two men looked at each other before shrugging and going along with whatever she pleased. Pidge smirked, glad they didn’t ask her of anything and began to sit on one of the boulders lying around. Crossing her legs as she sat and watched the herd of Aquilia .
As the minutes passed, the lead bull has reached the mouth of the canyon, which is wide in the opening but narrows more and more as you continue to go through till you reach towards the other end.
The Aquilia’s bodies start to scrape along the jutting walls of the canyon. Much like they did with Keith as they ran for their lives filled with fear.
Further ahead, the old hunters await the herd with growing anticipation, holding the strange device Pidge lent them and the ropes. They crouch on top of the two stone figures, holding tightly to the rope, watching as the lead bull approaches.
They look down on the lead bull, which after a few moments pass them like the angry snarls of mother nature, thundering her sorrows to the world. Then group after group of animals do the exact same thing, raising an immense amount of dust clouds into the air. Fogging parts of the hunter's vision as they continued to run.
Pidge stands on her lookout point, and watches the spectacle of the thundering herd and the hunters driving them into the canyon.
The clouds of dust make it difficult for her to see and she strains to make out the end of the herd. When she is finally able to see that the last mammoth has passed, she starts to wave her arms furiously. Her hair bouncing along with her body as she signals the hunters that their prey is approaching the trap.
She looks up at the two elders crouched down atop the stone figures, cupping her hands together to yell at them.
“Make sure you get that device attached to the head of that their Aquilia , it should stick to it with no problem, just make sure that it gets attached to its head!”
They nod and look out to the Aquilia she’s pointing at. Watching as the last bull races towards the bottleneck. The last bull, the one Pidge pointed to before, is massive, nearly as formidable as its leader.
At Pidge’s signal, the old hunters push down the massive rocks on each side of the stone figures. One of them throwing the device towards the face of the Aquilia, hitting square between its three tusks.
A heavy net, which was buried in the ground, pulls up in front of the bull and catches him in full stride. The animal screams out in shock, the device which was thrown onto itself setting itself deeper into its trunk as the rope pushes into its skin.
The ropes stretch as the net barely contains the speed of the raging animal. For extra reinforcement the net is secured by other ropes which are also attached to the heavy stones; they too now dragged over the ground.
The bull slows down, lashing its trunk around as it is tangled in between some of the ropes.
Looking passed the bull, two other old hunters are hidden behind a rock, yanking another rope up off the ground. It catches the leg of the Aquilia , making the Aquilia finally go down with a terrifying roar.
The hunters run in, Arikara being in the lead. But Keith is still far behind, struggling to catch up to the others. The Aquilia grapples with the rope, lying on its side, entangled with the many layers of nets.
Arikara goes in first, ready to take the day’s glory. His spear raised, ready to throw at its target, Arikara moves in, boldly, but patiently, waiting for the perfect moment…
Arikara climbs onto a boulder to have a better line-of-sight of the exact point he needs to hit. The struggling of the Aquilia making such an ordeal harder to achieve, keeping Arikara from striking his target. The Aquilia’s flailing legs keeping in its way of its heart.
But then he throws…
His spear hitting the chest of the thrashing animal. A good throw, but because of the flailing of its legs and trunk, the throw was deflected, showing almost no damage to the creature. The wound only angering the beast more than debilitating it.
All the other young hunters now move in, spears ready to strike the Aquilia . A chance for them to prove their worth and slain the Aquilia.
When Keith finally arrives, he sees Meh’ Rah and Mina throw their spears, but their throws don’t do much harm to the creatures. Not much of a major shock in Keith’s opinion, but nevertheless it’s something he’d keep to himself, not wanting to agitate the hunters any more than he already has.
With that thought in mind, it is now Keith’s turn to prove his chance and move onto the creature before him.
But, as Keith prepares to throw, Pidge screams a warning.
Keith turns and sees Pidge waving her arms in panic. Then everybody turns to see what Pidge sees.
Keith, expecting to see one of the two males from earlier heading right towards them, is shocked to see that the female Aquilia from before, is running right towards them with her baby stampeding right behind her.
Keith and the other hunters quickly jump aside to avoid being trampled by the mother.
Storming through the bottleneck of the canyon, the mother animal crashes into the ropes and the net that is holding down the bull. Her baby racing passed the barrier, avoiding danger entirely.
With the force of the female, the ropes rip away from the rocks.
The baby Aquilia follows and nearly gets caught in the torn ropes, thinking it avoided all danger. The baby Aquilia squeals, the mother lets out a terrifying roar and grabs for its baby. Holding on to her young, she turns and runs after the herd until they are nearly out of sight completely.
The bull, now free of some of its ropes, struggles to get back onto its feet.
Keith moves in on the madly thrashing Aquilia , grabs a piece of the net, and pulls down. It’s a mad, nearly suicidal move, but one that aspires the other hunters.
Everybody grabs whatever end of the net they can reach. They delay the Aquilia for a moment, but they are no match for the gigantic animal which manages to get back onto its feet and starts to charge away, dragging all the hunters along as they cling to the net.
The Aquilia manages to gather up speed as it charges forward, swerving a bit to try and loosen the grasp on some of the hunters, its plan working as one by one the hunters begin to let go of the net. Some crashing into some of the surrounding boulders the Aquilia passes, letting out pained groans.
The Aquilia snickers as it hears the men groan in pain, moving its trunk triumphantly as it shears forward.
After a couple hundred of yards, only two hunters remain attached to the Aquilia - Keith and Arikara.
Arikara and Keith look at one another, a similar look of fear plastered on their faces. They continue their hold on the Aquilia , the beast trying its hardest to rid of them, gaining speed little by little as it moves forward.
The Aquilia turns, the net swings behind, and Arikara is smashed against the side of the canyon. Choking back air, he loses his grip on the net, his body tumbling to a stop as he watches Keith move farther away with the Aquilia .
Keith hangs on for another moment, his heart racing like the Aquilia as he’s being dragged against the ground, hitting bumps and crannies, he realizes that he, too, must let go. With a sigh, he lets go of his grip, then sees:
With pain wrapped around his wrist, he gawks at the rope as its tightly tangled around his hand.
He tries to set himself free, pulling at the rope as it burns his wrist, but sadly he cannot.
Shiro runs behind, stopping, watching as Keith and the Aquilia disappear behind a bend in the canyon.
Mina and Meh’ Rah appear by Shiro’s side a moment after Keith’s disappearance. Their breaths rushed and tired as they try and speak.
“That boy is going to get himself killed with his shenanigans!”
Shiro looks over at Mina, rubbing his forehead in agitation, a painstakingly bad headache growing as he watches the other hunters catch up.
“Go back, help those who’ve been hurt and return them to the village.”
Mina and Meh’ Rah nod their heads assuringly and run back toward the other hunters, grabbing the spears they dropped from letting go of the wild Aquilia . With them gone, Shiro starts to run after Keith and the Aquilia.
On the other side of the canyon, the canyon opens up into a wide expanse of Savannah. The high grass, higher than those at home, cushioning the rough ride as Keith proceeds to be dragged by the bull.
In the background we see the giant female and her baby join the rest of her herd, safe from the hunters but still agitated, slowing down once it approaches a safe surrounding area of other Aquilia .
Looking forward, Keith notices the Aquilia dragging him is bringing him right towards the edge of a steep cliff.
Struggling to free his hand from the net, he yells out at the Aquilia , angrily wiggling his hand as it starts to bleed.
The Aquilia which is still running forward, passes a rock, the net getting caught against its edges, allows the net to let loose. Keith, who’s exhausted, is finally released from the Aquilia’s grasp and rolls to a stop.
The Aquilia comes to an abrupt halt at the cliff’s edge, swinging around wildly from its near death. Keith, barely conscious, watches the creature with blurry eyes. Dazed and hurt, he struggles to get up.
The bull turns towards him, eyes looking tired, its body swinging back and forth as it tries to stay steady. It looks at the creature directly into his eyes, Keith, before it rears and bellows in anger and pain. Blaming Keith for all that has happened to it.
Keith continues to try and free himself from the net, the net still stuck to his wrist, covered in his blood.
The bull charges, thundering down on him. Unable to free his hand, Keith can only jump out of the Aquilia’s raging feet. The bull, unable to change its direction as quickly as Keith could, barely misses him by a hair.
Keith rolls over onto his knees, still struggling, the blood from his wrist trickling down his arms, staining the paints that covered his arm. The bull turns, dirt flying everywhere as it charges once more.
Keith, with a bit more of a push, finally manages to get his hand free from the rope. He jumps out of the way, tusk barely reaching him as the Aquilia passes him, again narrowly avoiding being killed.
As Keith scrambles to his feet, he sees three spears sticking out of the net. They’re the spears previously thrown by Mine, Meh’ Rah, and Arikara. Keith, worn down, rushes over to the spears and pulls each individual one from their cage, not even a moment before the bull turns towards him again.
This time, the bull does not charge immediately, but instead waits for its opponent to make a move. Keith and the Aquilia stand opposite of one another, neither moving, neither making any signs of life while the wind rustles their hair. One man against one Aquilia , impossible odds.
On a hill a distance away from Keith and the Aquilia , Shiro runs up to the crest from the other direction, the white spear being used as a sort of walking stick as he rests for a moment. He looks over to see Keith and the Aquilia , facing one another like prey and predator.
The Aquilia advances slowly, preparing its charge, briefly letting its body set its course. Keith looks up, holding the three spears, looking around for cover as he backs up away from the Aquilia . Nothing, other than a few flat rocks behind him.
The Aquilia charges, its eyes filled with vigor, racing towards Keith like a screaming train, smoke trailed hope falling behind.
Keith throws the first spear, a force to be reckoned with. It was a good throw, but it swiftly passes the Aquilia by a few inches, not even touching the Aquilia at all.
The Aquilia continues to charge forward, gaining speed as it passes yellow patched spots of grass.
He throws the second spear, a little bit more to the side compared to his other throw, but it hits the Aquilia in the upper leg.
The spear wasn’t affecting the Aquilia as it kept coming, the spear only aggravating it more, the steam of its anger like a fogged up sea, the only source of light that could be seen was its eyes.
He backs away, holding the last spear pointed upwards at the Aquilia . Without looking, he backs into a rock outcropping, and the butt of the spear becomes wedged between two rocks.
The Aquilia is nearly upon him, heavy body ready to crush him like a cake.
Keith, with fearful eyes and sweat filled hair, tries to free the spear, yelling profanities at every moment, but there is no longer time.
At a full run, the Aquilia hits the spear, which sinks deeper into its chest, slowly making its way in piercing its heart, but does not slow the momentum of the heavy beast.
Blood dribbles down the spear that is pierced into the chest of the Aquilia . Keith scrambles over some low rocks and dives between two of them. The blood of the Aquilia finding home on his face, staining his charcoal hair in red blotches.
The bull crashes down on top of the two rocks, and on Keith who lies between them. There is a strange rush of air, then silence.
Shiro stands on the hilltop, watching, astonished of what has just happened. Processing that his little brother was just crushed by the weight of an Aquilia . He sees the other hunters run in, getting to the collapsed animal.
Mina and Meh’ Rah are the first to arrive at the beast, watching it for any signs of life. Which there is none that one can see. They cautiously walk around the giant animal, seeing as the blood of the spear stains the blue, giving its fur almost a purple shade.
They hear a strange moaning, coming from the beast. Mina discovering a bloodied hand, sticking out from under the Aquilia , reaching out for any sort of help. He and Meh’ Rah grab it and begin to pull with all their strength, trying to avoid any more signs of harm to the reached out hand of its owner, as they pull out Keith from under the Aquilia .
Keith is dazed, covered in a thin coat of blood and dirt. Other hunters run in, yelling madly at each like teenagers, celebrating the kill. They surround Keith, jostling him in congratulations.
Pidge comes running, reaching Keith and jumping into his arms without any signs of hesitation, kissing his bloodied cheeks before slapping him on the sides of his head.
“You absolutely insane asshole! You killed an Aquilie all on your own...”
Keith looks over at the massive animal that laid dead on its side. Letting the fact that he killed the Aquilia alone sink in.
“No one has ever done that Keith.”
Keith looks up at Shiro, who still stands on the ride, watching as everything goes down.”
Arikara studies the scene wordlessly, in silent anguish. Then Arikara draws in his knife, steps over to the Aquilia , and slices into the neck of the animal. He catches the still warm blood in his small wooden bowl. Then he stands and presents it silently to Keith.
Keith stares into the bowl for a moment. He looks up again at where Shiro stands, but to his shock, Shiro is gone.
He looks over at the other hunters, grabs the bowl, and proceeds to drink down the bowl in one gulp and smiles exultantly, with teeth red from the Aquilia’s blood.
Pidge smiles at Keith, proud for his accomplishments, as she walks towards the Aquilia , taking a moment to search for her device before grabbing it once she’s found it. Blood covered it from the point to the lower bottom of the device, it continues to glow its greenish hue even when its stained with red.
She laughs, glad that her device worked, before walking along to catch up with Keith. Helping him as they begin to skin the beast of its parts, using the gift the mother has gifted them with and bringing them as sources of food and materials.
Keith and Pidge carry one of the Aquilia’s tusk, dragging it along them as meat hung from their shoulders, back towards the village. Keith now regaining his composure, smiling away his accomplishments, a slight hint of guilt of how he defeated the beast.
“One day I will carry the White spear, you watch and see.”
Keith laughs, lifting up the tusk to keep it from dragging anymore.
“I am sure you will.”
Pidge with a glint in her eyes smiles back. Holding her device under her right armpit.
“And with it, I will choose my own man or woman, it doesn’t matter to me, instead of having Old Mother Tahita’ choose for me. She would give me someone as brain-dead as you are in the morning.”
Keith has to smile at the girl. Even as she insults him, he can’t help but smile.
Lance stares at the hillside with great anticipation, the other women casually getting tasks done as he watches on ahead. His fingers nervously play with the necklace Keith gave him. He sees two figures appear, but can’t make out who they are.
The other members of the tribe, including Old Mother Tahita’, stop their task, steps up, and looks with him. Carrying their baskets, some carrying the young, while they all look at where Lance is looking.
Then, they can see that it’s Keith, and that he’s carrying an Aquilia tusk with Pidge right by his side. Lance starts running towards Keith and Pidge, cheering with delight.
The other tribe members exchange looks of surprise, which turns quickly into joy at the killing of the Aquilia . One by one they run after Lance, setting their baskets down and tightening their grips on the children.
Old Mother Tahita’ hangs back, watching thoughtfully, knowingly, troubled. She sees Lance and the rest of the tribe surround Keith, celebrating, escorting him towards the village. Different members giving Keith cheerful pats on the back, helping Pidge and the other hunters with the loads of meat and resources.
Lance stops, dancing towards Pidge with all the energy he has, and hugs her, squeezing her in the process. Letting out grunts of pain the tighter his grasp gets. He laughs and sets her down, messing up her hair in the process.
“How’d my little sis do? I bet you did great my little Pidgeon!”
She scoffed, fixing her hair as she pushed Lance aside, brushing the dirt off her body.
“Of course I did great. This is me we’re talking about, the brains of the group.”
“Right. How could I have forgotten?”
It’s dusk, the early stages of stars begin to appear, covering the sky in lucid clouds and warming colors; of reds, oranges, purples, and yellows from the falling sun.
High in the mountains, withered down by the heavy rains, the water glistens under the suns dying rays. A creamed-colored mountain antelope is grazing peacefully, stepping into muddied sections as it saunters along the natural path created from sedimentation.
Leaves crumble under steps, the antelope raising its head in surprise, flipping its ears back and forth, listening for what made the noise. Sensing nothing, it goes back to its grazing, flicking its tail as it eats.
It’s peaceful watching the animal, a quick and sudden swoosh flying through the air. The antelope goes down falling, an arrow having pierced through its neck. The muddied area below its carcass, slowly turning red, the clear waters of the rain turning pink in color.
Old Mother Tahita’ sits alone on a rock, her tail swaying from side to side, outside the Aquilia hunter’s camp. The sounds of celebration are heard from the village.
She watches the mountains, staring at them with wide open eyes, a trickle of blood runs down her nose and onto her hijab-like scarf, staining it a deeper red than it was before.
“Your dream is coming true.”
Old Mother Tahita’ doesn’t bother to turn around, keeping an eye on the pinnacle of rock. She nods an agreement, not even bothering to lie. Old mother Tahita’ is unsure of whether or not Shiro noticed the blood trickling down her face.
“I know. It should’ve been Arikara to have slain the Aquilia .”
“The Ancient Fathers have spoken. They know who should be chosen Tahita’, whether we agree on it or not, they have chosen.”
Neither one of them is happy about it, staring off at the mountains as Shiro takes a seat by Tahita’, grabbing her hand and wiping away the blood from her face. They hear the sounds of celebration increasing as the stars twinkle, the crackling of fire and dance being enjoyed and savored.
The tribe celebrates in high rejoice. Massive slabs of meat roast over the open fire, placed firmly in the middle of the celebration. Men dancing around to celebrate the killing of the Aquilia , a great respect for the animal and to mother nature's generous creations of life. Women and children work, happily stripping thin pieces of Aquilia flesh, putting them on drying racks that surround the fires.
A fermented brew is handed out, first to the children, then the women, and lastly the men. All of which a great number of the men are drunk, especially the hunters.
Keith sits in the middle of the celebration with Lance by his side, holding a small cup of the alcohol. Lance is overjoyed with the news of Keith’s slaying.
Keith takes a drink, then he sees, in the distance, Shiro, standing on the ridge, near the hut, watching. Lance notices Keith’s staring, looking at where he looks.
“Why does Shiro not celebrate with us?”
Keith looks at Shiro. The solitary, distant figure makes Keith uncomfortable. He takes another drink, and tries to shake off his uneasiness.
“Do not think of Shiro.”
He laughs, forgetting Shiro for a moment, and hugs Keith, who sees Shiro turn his back on the celebration, and enter his hut.
Nearby, Pidge regales some of the younger children with the tale of Keith’s bravery, although she does tell of embarrassing stories about him and the accomplishments she has achieved.
“...and then, one after another, they all let go of the net, and only Keith held on, his psychotic self…”
Lance hears, and tightens his hold on Keith’s arm. Keith, hearing the story, has another moment of discomfort as he listens to Pidge’s tale.
On the other side of the gathering, Arikara sits, drinking, watching as everyone celebrates around him. Mina and Meh’ Rah sit down next to him, sharing drinks with one another. Drunk as the dead. Together they all watch Keith.
“Look at him, he nearly drove the Aquilia away from the nets. He thinks of nobody but himself, always getting into trouble.”
Mina, taking another large gulp of her drink nods their head in agreement.
“It’s his blood. The father abandons us, and the son risks the hunt for a kill of his own.”
“It should have been one of us…”
Arikara turns and looks at Meh’ Rah coldly, shooting daggers at them. Meh’ Rah, knowing when to stop, backs down.
“It should have been Arikara.”
Mine and Meh’ Rah wait for Arikara to agree. Instead, Arikara snaps at them, speaking quietly but harshly.
“He has proven himself as none of us ever will.”
Meh’ Rah and Mina retreat, seeing that Arikara is not angry at Keith, but at himself and his fate.
“Do not speak against him, his path has been chosen, this is what he must deal with. Just like any of us would if it were us who’ve slain the Aquilia , now respect him for doing what the Fathers and Mother wanted him to do.”
Arikara takes the bowl of brew from Mine, and drinks it down. Then, with a smug look, he takes Meh’ Rah’s bowl, stands, and walks off into the darkness, unsteadily, to drink alone.
“That was my food…”
At the center of the gathering. Old Mother Tahita’ stands into the light of the fire, its flames reflecting in her eyes as she waits, claws sliding up and down her arms in a gentle pattern to calm herself down.
Keith shares a look with Lance, looking for any signs of discomfort, then finding none, he rises and walks off to Mother Tahita’, confidence bouncing off of him with every step.
“Old Mother, today I killed an Aquilia . I drove the final blow, piercing his heart. Today I will claim the White Spear, as well as claim Lance as my man.”
A moment passes, the whole tribe quiet as they wait for Mother Tahitas’ next move. She hesitates, shaking her head in displeasure.
She steps over to the White Spear, pulls it out from the ground, and hands it to Keith, still holding onto the spear.
She does this in a way, that the whole tribe realizes that Mother Tahita’ is not at all pleased with the results of the hunt, clear hesitation set in the stern curve of her lips, her tail not at all swaying as she walks. Her earrings dangle silently as she lets go of the White Spear, fingers rubbing against one another as she holds her hands together. Her ears are lowered in disappointment, but she gives him congratulations nevertheless.
Keith takes the spear and endures the muted congratulations of the tribe. Their sounds meaning nothing as he watches Mother Tahita’, who walks away and sits down in the shadows by the hut.
A bowl is filled and raised shakily to a mouth.
He takes some time to think, sitting away by a fire, smaller than the one in the center, but a little ways out from the groups of tribe members. Lance sits beside him and has to watch as Keith gets more and more drunk. He instinctively feels that there is something wrong with Keith, whose mind is somewhere out there.
“Don’t have too much.”
“Why not? We have to celebrate and give joy to Mother’s generous offering.”
He takes another deep gulp, some of the liquid missing his mouth and rolling down his chin, the droplets finding peace against his legs.
“Keith, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing is wrong!”
He immediately regrets the aggressive tone of his voice, sagging down, resting his head on Lance’s shoulder. But it is already too late.
“Then why do you sound so angry? You’ve been moodier than usual since you first saw Shiro.”
He doesn’t know how to answer, letting out gentle breathes. So he gets up, takes his White Spear and walks away. Worried and confused, Lance looks after him.
Keith walks away from the encampment. He stops, and looks back toward the glow of the fire. Warmth seeping through his body, alone, and feeling it, he looks up at the stars- the Big Dipper, the North Star. Guiding his fate, now and forever, the light of the star shining almost every night, but on nights that the clouds cover the sky.
He ponders around for a bit, stepping on leaves as he thinks, listening to the crackling noise they make under his feet. He turns, finally making a decision as he makes his way towards the ridge where Shiro’s hut, separate from the rest of the huts, stands.
The hut, having a darker aura at night, stands broadly, shadows passing as the moon reflects light onto its shrubbery. Inside, the moonlight passes through the gaps of the hut and makes jagged patterns on the walls and the floors. Shiro is sitting at the rear of the hut, silently thinking as his eyes are closed, facing upwards towards the ceiling.
He hears footsteps. Keith entering his hut, carrying the White Spear, waiting for Shiro to take notice of his appearance. Shiro waits for him to speak, seeing that he came to him.
“I did not drive the spear into the heart of the Aquilia .”
“I know this. The Ancient Fathers played with us wrongly today. Why are you here?”
Shiro looks over at Keith closely, seeing as Keith is eyeing the White Spear. He waits for Keith to start talking again.
“It matters to me what you think.”
“It matters more what you think Keith. What is it that you think, is it really me?”
“When my father left, I had nobody Shiro, no one treated me the same, nobody trusted me. All they saw was a boy who was abandoned by his father, to this day some of the tribespeople still hold a grudge against me for something I couldn’t control. Nobody but you!”
“Your father was impatient, a lot like you.”
“My father betrayed our people by leaving. Most importantly, he betrayed me by leaving me Shiro, I wasn’t even eleven Shiro, nothing but a child.”
“And you? Would you ever betray our people?”
Shiro waits. Standing up from his spot and walking over to Keith, wrapping his arms around him in a comforting hug.
“If I give up the White Spear, I give up Lance. How can I do such a thing if he means everything to me?”
Shiro considers Keith’s inner turmoil, his brother's breakdown happening right before his eyes.
“And have you earned him? Have you shown that you were worthy enough to have him and he have you? Was it truthful and, if not, would you feel comfortable living with that. Knowing that what you did wasn’t completely true to word.”
A long pause, silent but for the sounds of the village. Then, without any hesitation, Keith holds the White Spear out to Shiro.
“Here. Take it back… please…”
Shiro takes the spear, setting it against the wall.
“Until I have earned it… for real this time, I mean.”
Keith, now satisfied, the guilt falling off his shoulders, turns and walks out from Shiro’s hut. Shiro, guardedly pleased, watches him go.
Chapter 2: The Journey
Here's chapter 2 ya'll. I really need a beta reader xD and like this is the second complete chapter I actually have, I'm gonna try posting once a month. But I've been really impatient and really wanted to post this.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
With the spear gone, Keith is left with nothing but his thoughts, contemplating what will happen, now that he no longer has the spear, the husky air diving into his lungs like waves as his anxiety rises. Alcohol lingering, fires burning, smoke-filled breathes. The village continues to party, never knowing of the event that just happened.
Newfound guilt is now tingling his tongue, like a bunch of tiny pricks are poking the end of his tongue, and the flames from the fire is drying his throat so that it’s raspy and sore. What would Lance think about him returning the spear?
With little patience, Keith makes his way up the hill, passing rocks covered in paintings of strange creatures and living beings like he and his tribe. His fingers brushing against drawings his family drew before him, telling stories of hardships and chances.
Bunching his lips together, he lets out a warm gush of air, watching as the coolness of the night leaves smokey evidence of breath. Little bits of dimly lit firebugs roamed around in the air, shining against his gentle features. A dance of greens, blues, reds, and yellows to the sound of flutes and bangin’ drums from the village.
He stares at the paintings of his people, of his past. Eyeing the silhouettes of two hands, one big and the other small as it rests on its side, the cream-colored paint fading with time. He brushes the palm of his hand over the smaller form, hesitating for a moment before allowing himself to rest his hand against it.
“I’m so sorry Lance…”
A thick fog drifts overhead, the calming gray blending in with the outskirts of the mountain, dipping over a wave of muddied dunes. Vultures, great big birds with green-like feathers and raptor sized claws protruding from their feet, flap violent winds as they tear into the carcass of the slaughtered mammoth.
Blood filling their beaks as they fight for the remaining pieces of meat against one another, striking bones and shedding feathers as they battle. Their cawing continuing till they hear a sudden thud from behind them, startling them from their game, and dropping the pieces of carcass onto the ground. They flap their wings hurriedly, backing away from their meal, sensing that what they heard was a danger, and flying off.
A warrior approaches the carcass, stepping onto the bones and shattering them into a bunch of little pieces. Up close, the warrior shares a dark, grim-looking stare, his black eyes scanning the horizon, in the direction of the mammoth hunters’ camp. With a gruff, he sets forth on his path towards the village.
The sun continues to rise as color blooms over the horizon, morning setting in from a long night of celebrating. The warmth from the sun warms Keith as he leans against the rocks, looking up at the night sky, watching as the stars slowly disappear from his view. Calming sounds of resonance, a gentle hum surrounding him, a brief sound of heavy footsteps ruining his peace. He turns around to look at the interruption, seeing as Lance makes his way up the hill.
A short-lasting smile remains on Keith’s face as Lance approaches him. A blue cloak-like garment rests over his shoulders, his hair sprawled out in messy strands and his eyes dark from lack of sleep. His breath is somewhat shallow but the smile, yet tired or forced, remains.
Taking a quick step to sit next to Keith, Lance takes off his cloak, leaning his head against Keith’s shoulder. Letting out a laugh before sighing.
Fear builds up in Keith, an emotion that rarely comes up, deciding to torture him at this very moment. The silence continues to build, even with Lance trying to rub his back in gentle patterns to calm him down.
“I know there’s something wrong Keith, I can sense it. Something has been bothering you since last night, that and I haven’t seen you since you’ve left me. So I’m a little worried-”
“I have given the White Spear back to Shiro because I did not earn it, I’ve only measly had luck on my side and survived. I have done nothing to earn the spear or your heart.”
“I cannot claim you as mine Lance. I’ve done nothing to earn your hand and all I’ve done was go with a lie to satisfy my own needs and the people.”
“Why haven’t you earned my hand Keith? You have earned it long ago!”
“I did not kill it, Lance!”
“What do you mean you didn’t kill it? You held onto the ropes and proved yourself worthy of the White Spear by killing the Aquilia alone!”
Keith slams his fist against the dirt, yelling out in agony, tears flowing down his face.
“My hand was caught in the net Lance, I tried to let go just like everybody else, and the Aquilia only died because it rammed itself into my spear. I didn’t do nothing Lance…”
He holds onto his shaking body, almost like he’s trying to hide away from the world. Lance, grasping onto his cloak as tears ran down his face, his breathing growing shallower compared to before.
“You gave the White Spear away Keith. You gave me away…”
He reaches out towards Lance to touch him but he hesitates for a moment. Watching as he tries to pull away from his comfort, but he cannot, so he finds himself hugging Keith as his face is pressed into his neck. Letting messy tears and snot rub against him, although gross, in understanding.
“I cannot have the White Spear unless I earn it… and I cannot have you unless I am worthy of having you… even if you believe that I am.”
“We should be one, together…”
“And we will be… just, when it is right.”
He tries to process as much of the information in understanding as possible, but it is hard. He continues to cry, snuggling closer to Keith’s warming embrace. He sighs and looks up at the stars that can still be seen.
“Do you see that light? The one over there passed the horizons.”
Keith points at the North star that stood alone in the morning light. Lance sniffles, but moves to look where Keith is pointing before nodding.
“It doesn’t move across the sky like the others do. It stays there alone in the morning. With others during the night. But at some point, all the other lights go behind the mountains to continue their journey. But not that one. That one is always in the same place no matter when or where you look at it.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I have watched it for a great many of times, in fact almost every day of my life, I will sit down and watch the stars. Seeing as that one always chooses to be there. And like the light, I share the same idea.”
He doesn’t quite understand what he’s trying to say but nods nevertheless. Accepting Keith’s help as he stands and lifts Lance up with sad eyes.
“It will always be there, Lance-”
He turns to face Keith, a little bit of anger mixed in with his sadness.
“And yet, you gave up on me.”
“I gave you up, because of how I feel Lance. But know that this doesn’t mean I won’t stop trying, even if I haven’t proven myself this way. I will find a way to earn the hearts of the people and love you without the need of feeling guilty.”
He looks at Keith with sad eyes, but smiles, turning around to leave. For a moment it seems that Keith will stop him, but he lets him go.
Everyone except Old Mother Tahita’ is asleep, dreaming of warm summers and well-fed families, keeping away any dangers that’ll cause harm to the village. She sits beside what’s left of the burning flames, the flames dancing around in joyous sways. She takes the last sip from her bowl, droplets falling as she swallows, then gets to her feet, and heads for her hut, swaying a bit.
Old Mother Tahita’ enters the hut, bobbing along with tired steps, while she leans against the hut in order to stand. She looks aside with tired eyes at the beds in front of her- Pidge, her parents, and her brother in another bed sleeping dreamily under the hut, where sunlight finds itself inside.
The villagers all tired from the all-night party, now sleeping away throughout the day, no longer worrying about the dangers of the world for the mere moment.
She hears an unexpected sound from outside the hut, stepping out from her hut before she sees something very strange, something that she has only seen in her dreams. A shape appears from out of the fog, pushing aside lain out bowls and bones from the celebration. She sinks to her knees and starts to chant. Her tail hiding in between her legs and her ears splain out in fear.
Other members of the tribe startle awake, grabbing onto family members and familiar souvenirs. They stare out in disbelief, never believing that what was told would come true and face them.
To us, it is a man on a horseback, but to these people who know not much outside their home, filled with creatures they’d never seen and tales that have never been heard. They are terrified. The creature, the thing, that stands before them wears a strange mask, many patterns in grey’s and blue’s etched across the mask. Its coverings seeming to meld into the creature that the masked person rides, making them seem like one.
This is one of the many Commanders of Zarkon’s Galran Nation.
Next to him, more horseman appear from out of the fog. Purple-skinned men riding along black horse-like creatures with high arched bodies, their hair just a mane of skin and bones, their coral eyes staring ahead in a dream-like state, while their ribs protrude inside the skin of their chests, almost as if they were trying to escape from its prisons. The creatures clicked heavy hoarse breaths, communicating with one another, slamming their hooves into the ground as they hovered above the tribespeople.
They, along with the men, are under the control of Zarkon. A path that, unknown to the tribespeople, would end their peaceful lives and bring in a round of doom.
To the tribe, though, they are the vision of what has been feared ever since Lance has joined their tribe. A nightmare that kept them fevered and cautioned, to try and hope that such a case wouldn’t come true. Now too late. And instead now these people’s reality.
Mina wakes from her slumber, awoken by the panicked voices of her people. She grabs her spear in quick successions and runs out from her tent. She hurriedly makes her way, jumping in front of the strangers, but before she made much damage, a hard blow from the butt end of the Commanders spear drops her.
Arikara is next with his spear, fearing for Mina’s heaving form, but he too is hit savagely before he can reach for his weapon. A net is thrown over him, along with Mina, watching as she is then pulled away from her hut and family, yelling out in panic.
Crowds of people run around, helping those who’ve fallen while maintaining safety and looking for a ways of safety. But it was too hard, their bodies being trapped under thrown ropes as they are dragged away from their homes.
Inside of Mother Tahitas’ hut. Pidge’s mother wakes and frantically tries to help her family, her husband rushing out to help the warriors and the people. She looks outside and sees what is happening to her friends, the blood of close companions now spilled onto the grounds of their land. She ducks back in, heartbeat rushing in fear, and pushes Pidge under a stack of animal skins.
Matt standing before his mother, eyeing Pidge as she is hidden from sight, now stands to protect his mother in any way that he can.
“Do not breath Pidge, hide here my dear.”
She is in darkness for a moment, then looks out and sees her mother, a strained look on her face. Her brother right beside her, his hand upon her shoulder in a way of comfort. They stand together, watching as people one-by-one drop to the ground, warriors throwing and stabbing their spears into the creatures, but no damage is to come.
Pidge watches in disbelief as one of the Commanders troops steps into her home, his hand finding home across her mother's face as she is forced down onto the ground, blood trickling down her nose and dripping into a puddle of red.
Her brother tries fighting against the troop when she notices that the troop is a gruesome-looking man with a face disfigured by scars, but a beautiful mane of flowing white hair falls beneath his back. He is Lotor, the Commanders second in command due to his bloodline.
Pidge ducks back under the skins and watches through a tiny gap. Trembling with fear, she sees Lotor knock out her brother and search around the hut with a torchlight in hand. Lotor comes within inches of Pidge’s hiding place, then he turns, grabbing Matt and hoisting him up over his body, and walks out, throwing his burning torch back into the hut as he goes.
Pidge stares at the fire for a few long seconds, transfixed by the terror of the moment. Then, in a sudden move, she grabs one of the animal skins and throws it over the torch trying to suffocate the flames. Her cheeks glisten under the powers of the flames as tears stroll down her face, her family taken away from her and her mother knocked out into unconsciousness.
Lance walks slowly away from where Keith stays, making his way towards the village. His breathing is harsh, but with quick and easy breaths, he manages to calm himself down from that heart-wrenching conversation. Though it doesn’t last long because he hears screaming coming from the village. Great waves of fire surround the huts as they inhale the patches of grass. He watches as he runs towards the ridge, the screams of his people pitching against the roofs of the huts.
Lance’s face freezes in horror as he sees his people being slain and taken before him. Seeing the Aquilia hunter’s camp up in flames, no longer existing among their village, as it’s now becoming nothing but dust and ash. With confidence, he starts to run towards the village, hoping that he can help.
The warmth of the flames quickly rush towards him as he dodges under hangings, bowls still scattered everywhere as he passes. People scream with terror, begging for help as their families are being taken away.
He grabs onto an abandoned spear, the bottom half of it snapped off into two pieces, the edge no longer as sharp as it once was. But it’ll have to do, with that Lance continued to run after his people, pushing around several men from the children. Their hands gracefully holding onto strands of brown hair before the print of a foot met the surfaces of their faces.
“You will not lay a finger on them!”
Lance stands tall with the spear, his hands turning red from the sheer anger he holds before he moves. The spear passing through the air, making home against another, the clack of wood against wood as they begin their fight. The man stepping forward, no longer holding onto the little girl’s hair, and instead making his way towards Lance.
“What do we have here?”
“A good fight!”
With accurate precision, Lance swipes the spear, the bud end of the spear tearing the leather-made outfit of the demon. The man falls back, surprised, as the spear not only ruined his clothes but made itself comfortable by slicing the skin of his stomach. Clutching the wound, he rests, waiting for his breathing to slowly stop.
Lance looks around, seeing that the slave raiders have already rounded up about a dozen and a half of men and women.
The slave raiders are binding the captives, tying them together in pairs, with yokes fashioned out of lashed-together wooden staffs. The pairs of captives being roped into a line, roped together to the binders horses.
He looks back at the wounded soldier before him, the blood flowing from his stomach, slowly bleeding out and accepting his death.
Lance, still finding it hard to believe that his village is being attacked, turns around and moves forward. Trying to hide away from the raiders views, hiding behind burning huts, and making his way towards Old Mother’s hut.
The commander, busy with Lance’s people, notices Lance making his way towards the witches hut.
With horror at this apparition, he gallops towards Lance, making his way through the crowd of people.
Old Mother Tahita’, seeing him making his way towards Lance, throws herself between Lance and the commander.
“Please! Spare him, great demon-”
With a grimace, the Commander brutally kicks Old Mother Tahita’ in the face, her ears ringing in great pain as she holds her face, drool and blood sliding down her chin, her body falling limply onto the ground. Her growls are loud in warning, even when down, she continues to fight for her children, her people.
The Commander, with rope and a tool, ties Old Mother Tahita’ to one of the huts, close to a few of the burning huts. Sweat plastered down her face, her growls growing louder as they manhandle her, pulling her along like a freshly caught meal. Her tail swings wildly as she pounds it into the demon of a man, fur knotted with mud and blood, breathing harsh and rigid.
“You will not lay a finger on him!”
She struggled with the ropes, pulling on and off actions to try and loosen their grasp. Her hair falling into her face, covering and blending in with her blood and saliva.
“I’m warning you! You will meet your damned end you demons!”
She spat at one of the soldiers, blood hitting the shoes of one of them before she glared at them. Not a single look of shame on her features. The markings, which were covered by her cloth, now fully exposed to the soldiers in two jagged lines across her lips, a scar that’ll never leave.
“He is not a prize that will be stolen by the likes of you!”
Her breathing hesitates for a moment, allowing her to rest her head against the remains of the hut, her mouth is wide open as she looks up towards the sky. Her tongue sticking out to look the cut on her lip, she smirks, before a rumble of laughter escapes her. She looks over at the Commander, the yellow of her eyes staring straight into the Commander’s soul, piercing him like an arrow does an animal.
“Hmm, very well. Very well. Let your future have no mercy, for that this is your own doing. But know, oh demon, let it be known. That the wrath of hell will be brought down upon you, you will die-”
Before she could finish her sentence, one of the soldiers kicked her down again, allowing a stream of blood and spit to shoot from her mouth. A nasty blue bruise slowly making its way on her face, her left eye closed due to pain and her slight blindness.
With the task done, she remains silent, eyeing the demons as she watches them leave. Hatred filling every core of her body, along with pain and sorrow.
Lance watches as Mother Tahita’ slowly drags herself down, her body slumping against the hut, exhausted and bruised. She’s still breathing, but she’s tired and restrained from making any type of further movement. He follows the path of her face, eyeing the scars and the sweat that beads down, a harsh breath is released. From relief, fear, perhaps to catch his breath, whatever the case was he wasn’t sure.
But his thoughts are quickly interrupted when a hand grabs his chin, pulling him forward, where lips almost touch his. The others breath, sending chills down his back, warm and full of an atrocious stench. The man’s teeth gently sliding down his cheek in a gentle stroke, his breathing puffing out hastily as he chuckles. His hair smoothly sliding down from behind his shoulder and making itself noticeable atop his chest, a deep purple chest plate, a symbol engraved on it that represents power.
The man backs up, pulling his silvery-white hair up into a high ponytail, his light brown skin shimmering under the sun's rays like melted caramel. Purple lines aligned his body, along with his many scars. His eyes golden with specks of blue and purple irises, gazing at his people almost as if he were a feline.
“And who must this beauty be?”
It’s a peaceful silence before Keith hears anything, the birds clicking with one another while the wind whispers knowing secrets. The sounds of panicked creatures, their bodies scurrying away into burrows and further away from their village. Screams replacing that of which nature brings, quiet and faint but enough for Keith to hear.
He’s much further from the camp, the cliff’s edge facing towards the horizon, the sun high and bright in the sky. He steps to the edge of the cliff, the grasslands high with life, and looks in the direction of the camp.
With sharp and keen eyes, he sees the glimmer of fire through the thick fog. His heart rushes with panic, the faint glow of reds and oranges growing from the distance. The smell of burning wood making him nauseated. He holds his nose, trying to block as much of the smell as he can, and rushes down the hills path and towards the village.
His legs soar across the grasslands and cramp from the amount of running he does, tripping over rocks and logs alike, avoiding trampling on small creatures alike. He breathes with quick succession, smoke filling his lungs as he gets closer to the village.
Hopping over a fallen tree, he grabs onto the first thing he sees. A long thin stick, brown like chocolate, covered in moss and sap which is glued onto it like an octopus. It’s crooked and disfigured in shape, but it’ll have to do.
Every step he takes he grows closer to the violence before he sees the first burning hut. The flames rise high and reaches for the blue of the fogged sky, extending its warm hands for its mother's handle like a newborn does its mother. It dances around in terrifying anguish, screaming with color and destruction.
Keith approaches the perimeter of the camp, watching the flames rise with time, the smell of dead bodies is prominent, the slave raiders beginning to make their way out of the village, their roped captives stumbling behind the raiders’ horse-like creatures.
Keith doesn’t even slow down, racing into action without a thought, his airways being crushed by the amount of smoke reaching his system. He pulls out his stone hand blade and the stick he grabbed, and, as he passes one of the outlying huts, he grabs a spear from the side of a dead hunter, lying on the ground.
Then, suddenly, right before he decides to throw the stick as a distraction, reaching for the main part of the camp, he is tackled and brought to the ground. His face is being pressed into the dirt, saliva rolling down his chin as dirt enters his mouth.
He raises his blade, about to kill his attacker, then stops as he realizes that it’s Shiro, who speaks to Keith in a sharp whisper. His hands digging into his wrist, keeping Keith down in place, away from the main part of camp.
Keith will have none of that, no way in hell. He struggles to free himself from Shiro, but the old man is surprisingly fast, and surprisingly strong. Though Keith should’ve known by now not to judge Shiro, considering he trains with him and has seen personally what he’s capable of.
Shiro gets his hands around Keith’s throat, holding him down and keeping him from making any loud noises. Keith’s hair falls down onto the ground, dirt mixing into it, his eyes watching Shiro’s every movement.
“Quiet! We can’t help them… not right now…”
Keith, looking over at the raiders as the raiders are being dragged away, people he’s talked to, some friends. But among them, he sees Lance. A tall man following behind him as he holds onto his wrists, shoving him forward and whispering into his ear. Shiro tightens his group around Keith.
“Not now! Not now Keith!”
In utter agony, he watches as the captives are led off. Tears streaming down his face; his body feeling breathless from the amount of smoke in the air, the situation that just occurred, and his rising anxiety.
The second-commander, hands resting on the mane of the horse-like creature, gently combing out the tangles in its hair, stands afront the head of his raiders. His eyes following his troops as they pull forward their successfully captured captives, a smirk of satisfaction shows off his fangs.
As the commander scans the prisoners, he notices Lance, looking back in anguish at the burning huts of the village. Tear streaks are apparent on his cheeks, glimmering under the flames of the fire, his hands remain tied behind his back, rope marks finding their way across his wrists.
Lance, being perceptive, notices the commander staring at him, his attitude cool and calm as if what he has done wasn’t a problem at all. He turns back to stare right back, glaring daggers in a furious manner, pushing forward his indignation. The commander smiles- he is beautiful in fury, perhaps because of it.
The commander kicks his horse, and they ride on, the winds pulling them along forward in their journey. The captives, hurrying, stumbling, pulled along by the ropes. Some of which being dragged across the grassy lands, mud sticking to their skin. Making their way towards the suns open arms, only for it to steal the captured warmth away from themselves, leaving behind the cold and the depressed.
As the War Party and captives disappear into the jagged rocks at the base of the Great Mountains, the survivors of the raid gather: children, old men, old women, a few young women who were able to get away from the grasp of the demons, and only but a few of the more alienated part of the tribespeople. Taking only those of which who were able-bodied, fit for their needs.
Keith and Shiro walk into the encampment, helping those who are wounded or tired from exhaustion. They see Pidge crying, kneeling alone as she mourns for her missing family. Her mother who’s been knocked cold, along with her fighting brother, but her father's whereabouts are unknown. For she didn't get a chance to see what has happened to him but wishes for him to be okay. Shiro, with wounds scattered across his chest, lifts the girl up to her feet before giving her a hug. Embracing her in a comforting hug that hopes to bring of semblance of her family's warmth.
“Go, find any that haven’t been taken.”
All that matters to Pidge is getting her family back, but even she knows that in order to do that, they have to situate a plan and make sure they have all survivors together.
“Go. Until we have everyone and know all of our survivors are safe. Then we can decide who will go forth on a journey to receive our people.”
Pidge’s tears slow down a bit, but she nods in agreement. Making her way to the grasslands, she looks in every hiding spot that she knows.
The commander leads the Slave Raiders up the mountains, the weather growing heavy as raindrops begin to fall the further up the mountain they climb. Lance and the other prisoners stumble over the rocks, trying to keep up with the horse’s speed. The men are talking with one another, discussing things in an unknown language, although as loud as they are, they tended to whisper parts of their speeches among themselves.
Lance looks back towards the camp, now nothing but a blurry image the further they are from the village, the flames seeming to have calmed down some. Looking closely he can make out small figures, one of whom he can barely make out as Keith. He reels, but his view of Keith is interrupted by a rock outcropping, and he’s dragged on with the other prisoners.
Arikara lies in the tall grass, his body bare of any weapons. At first, it appears that he’s dead and that his body has been looted, but then Pidge notices the surrounding empty bowls of brew around him, and she realizes that he is sleeping, drunk from the night before, but damaged by at least a small fight before being brought down. Pidge, still weeping, sighs in relief, knowing that she hasn’t found another dead, and rouses him.
After all of which that has happened, the women of the tribe are laying out the bodies of the dead, giving voice to their sorrow- a high pitched wailing echoes across the bare village. Others sprinkle ash over their bodies and faces, painting them in honor to mourn their deaths. Old mother Tahita’ chants, her voice guttural, haunting. Above, vultures circle in hopes of grasping the abundance of meat.
Arikara and Pidge enter the village, Arikara limping from fatigue. Letting go of Pidge’s assistance, he makes his way up to old mother Tahita’, and speaks shamefully.
“Forgive me, Old mother Tahita’, for not being enough in protecting our people…”
She sighs, holding onto her wounds as she faces Tahita’, her clothes are clattered and torn. No longer needed as they hang by threads across her neck.
“There was nothing you could have done.”
They hear a sound, only to turn and see Keith grabbing weapons, clothing, spare flints and other supplies from the charred remains of his hut.
Keith doesn’t bother to answer her, instead, continuing to pack weapons and supplies. His hair is up, held together by a vined hair tie while his body is covered by a light padding of mud to prevent heat from burning his skin. He looks almost camouflaged with the number of leaves and dirt attached to his body.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going after Lance.”
“Over the Great Mountains?”
“They came over the Great Mountains, did they not?”
“They are demons, four-legged demons who came down upon us and destroyed our village. Old mother Tahita’ told us so and now look at what happened. Perhaps they flew over the mountains.”
“Pidge. You and I both know that neither of us has seen any wings on neither of those creatures. And I most certainly will not believe that as any form of solid proof, I won’t have a chance to get him and our people back if we believe in nonsense.”
“They are many, and you are all alone.”
“No, he is not alone.”
Everyone turns to find the source of the voice, finding Shiro, fully packed and ready to go, the White Spear in his hand.
“I am going with him.”
Everyone continues to look at Shiro as if he were crazy. Their mouths open wide as they grab against one another to huddle for safety.
“Without the other hunters, our people will not survive. There is no other choice but to follow them and save them. We must free our brothers and sisters, our loved ones from the harms of those creatures. Whether we have a choice or not, it is our best decision.”
Old mother Tahita’ steps up beside Shiro, holding onto his shoulder and facing the others.
“What Shiro says is true. It is in our best interest that we have a few of you go to try and rescue our people. We cannot abandon them now. While they are away, we will make forth with what we have left of our village and try to restore that of which has been damaged.”
The entire tribe, what is left of it, realizes the seriousness of the situation and all nod in approval. Whether they have a chance of survival, is for them to find out.
Pidge steps forward, clasping a packed bag, a new set of clothes on her body, and the device from earlier safely in her hand.
“I will go too!”
“No Pidge, you have not lived enough years.”
“But I have to! They have taken away everything from me; my family, my home, hell they took away the little peace we had with the life here! I have a right to go!”
Old mother Tahita’ gives him a sharp look, dragging her tail across the ground, dirt flying up. She looks at Pidge, at the confidence she holds, even facing the wisest women in their village she doesn’t hesitate to show weakness.
“You will stay here…”
She looks over at Arikara, his body now standing straight now that he has rested some.
“But you, Arikara, you will go with them.”
He doesn’t dare to contradict her, so instead, he makes way to gather his things and prepares for their journey. His figure slowly blending in with the rest of the surroundings as Keith and Shiro exchange a look with one another.
It is now that Keith, Shiro, and Arikara stand, their bodies strapped with their packs, and arms full of their respective weapon. Shiro the White Spear, Keith his blade, and Arikara a bone-like sword, crafted from the finest of animal bone. They stand together, the wind blowing away some of the dried dirt across their foreheads, the murmurings of their people going silent.
Old mother Tahita’ chants the same blessing as before, the one used before the sacred hunt, as good luck to them and her people. Her scars are still vibrant, her clothes torn and ruined, but her blessing holds all the luck she can give. She steps in front of Keith, gathering her saliva.
“Do not bless us as hunters Tahita’, if it isn’t too much of a request. Instead, from this day on, we shall be blessed as warriors. For that we are no longer hunters and we’ll bring back our people, everyone that we can.”
Old mother Tahita’ nods with a smile filled with pride. She starts to murmur a different chant, one that is low, gentle, more tender, like one’s mother would sing her child to sleep.
“Be careful little ones. We may have lost loved ones, but we cannot lose anymore. Keep each other safe, be wary of danger, and think thoroughly about the actions you’ll partake in.”
Keith, Shiro, and Arikara nod in agreement over Tahitas’ advice before making their way to move out. Behind them, for those who decided it was better off to send them out, watch their shadows go. Pidge, hand tightly grasped onto her stone, steps out to the front of the group. Before she has a chance to say anything, Old mother Tahita’ steps up next to the girl, puts her hand on her shoulder, and watches with her.
Stallions hooves dig into the grounds of the planet, their stomps loud over the silence of the people, rustled together by the slave raiders and their creatures. Their captives climb up steep, broken ground, ascending in the switchbacks. The heat making their journey difficult with sweat falling from their foreheads, and their struggle to keep up with their raiders. Their wrists and necks bloodied by the tightness of the ropes and yokes that bind them, previously stained blood sticking to their skin, adding to the struggle from the heat. The commander stops and drinks from his water bag, the water droplets flowing down his chin and onto the ground. The people’s mouths watering as they watch the droplets.
Mina and Meh’ Rah are yoked together, their steps are slowed due to their injuries. Mina, her body still hurting from the attack, stumbles against a rock and falls down onto her knees, scraping them in the process. Meh’ Rah brushes the tips of her fur, trying to help her up but is interrupted by the snap of a whip. The commander rides over and whips Mina without a single bit of hesitation, yelling at her in an unknown, but heat-filled, language.
“Stop! Do not harm her, she only fell!”
The commander raises his whip, ready to swing it against the bare of his back. Lance winces as he waits for the strike, but stands his ground nevertheless. Everyone is quiet around them as they wait to watch their gentle comrade get punished.
Though no punishment comes as the commander from before, Lotor, blocks the lash of the whip with anger in his eyes. He barks out at the commander with heated words, his hands blocking the commanders view from Lance and his companions. The silence lasts less than a minute before Lotor lowers his arm, resentfully, but continues to eye the commander.
“I suggest you leave Sendak, I have this under control.”
The commander, Sendak, looks at Lance, who coldly holds his look. He laughs but tosses him his water bag.
He rides away back to the front, acting as if the disruption were nothing. Lance watches him leave, then drinks from the pouch. Lotor holds out his hand for him to give the pouch back.
Instead, Lance gives the pouch to Mina and Meh’ Rah, smiling at them as they thank him for the water. He turns back around to watch Lotor’s actions, waiting for his punishment.
For a tense moment, he thought they’d finally punish him, but Lotor laughs lightly for his dignity. He turns to speak to one of his people and takes his place by Sendak’s head of the war party, leaving Lance behind.
“I will admit Sendak. That one there is either audacious or he’s just plain stupid. But he’s definitely an ‘action speaks louder than words’ sort of type wouldn’t you say?”
Art and stuff will be tagged as BE and Bijou Eyes on tumblr.
I hope ya'll liked this chapter. my focus of writing is very meh so hopefully this is actually enjoyable. I have no idea when the next chapter will be up, but I'll try to be quick. Lemme know what ya'll think in the comments, encouragement helps!
Chapter 3: Authors Note
So I know I’ve said I’ll try updating once a month, but life has just been giving me stress and it keeps piling up.
That and I’m not enjoying parts of this story, I feel that it lacks some character and needs some more world building. So I decided I’m gonna fix the first two chapters, add or take away some scenes and make it smoother. I have ideas I wanna add to create a more advanced world of early people. Considering this story is based on the 10,000 BC movie.
Please understand that I enjoy writing but I’m a harsh critic when it comes to my own writing and I feel once I add what I like, you all will like it a 100% more. Thank you!