Tuesday, July 5, 2016

An Apsaalooke's Tale - 3

I heard the chant of the eagle, the music of the hunter.  I saw the dance of the Great Coyote and saw far away the shimmer of a black shaft, the sharp pointed conclusion of an obsidian spear.  I looked around and realized I did not know any of the Apsaalookes around me, they seemed to be dressed differently as well.  No longer did they have the soft fur of the bison, instead, it was replaced by a matted coarse hair.  The hair seemed to stick out like a porcupine’s quills.  I felt strange.  This was the first time that I’d seen such a material, and I was a child of the Great Coyote, how could I not know a fur?  Confused, I looked back at what seemed to be the chieftain, they seemed to take no notice of me in the midst of the dance, so I joined in.  Whooping and howling I reached up with one arm and back down with the other I swooped down at the earth as though a bird of prey on the hunt.  And then, as quickly as they started, the drums stopped.  I looked up and saw the chieftain leading the men out on a crouching jog.
Everything happened so quickly, before I knew it I was swept up in the hunt.  I ran along stooping here, crouching there.  We ran, it seemed like miles, but we crossed the vast expanse as silently and as thoroughly as a wave of ants on the prairie.  Hills, canyons, and plains we crossed like clouds in the sky.  Suddenly we came to the crest of a hill, and looking down I saw them.  They were the largest beasts I had ever seen.  Mighty tusks like the horn of brother deer reached down from their mouths daring to crush and flip anything in their path.  That same matted coarse hair reached out haphazardly from their fly ridden tails.
Our chieftain signaled and all fell to the ground.  He pointed to the right and ten of the younger men ran off in a long circle behind the massive beasts.  As they disappeared into the distance, the chieftain signaled again and another group went off to the left, cutting back to the center after swinging off to the right.  As they cut in, the other group moved in directly behind the beasts.  As they did so, they began to scream and howl.  The beasts, mighty and majestic as they were, were disturbed.    They tried to make off together, but it was too late, one of them ran towards the spears of the men in the left group.  The mighty beast was cut off from the flock.  Whooping the chieftain signaled, running forward, the men surrounded the great beast.  A few foolishly threw their spears at the great beast and watched as they bounced off his thick fur like water dripping after rain.  But the beast could not escape.
He was doomed.
The chieftain ran forward and as he did so I realized just how large he was, he carried a mighty spear the size of three husks of quakies.  He lunged forward and drove the spear deep into the chest of the beast.  It reacted, swinging his tusks, throwing the chieftain over the other members of the tribe, but his bravery had done the trick, now those in the back stabbed at the rear of the beast, and those in front lunged at his neck and broad chest.  The beast could not escape, and I saw one of the saddest, most majestic things I have ever seen that day.  The beast lurched forward throwing hunters out of his way it released its soul into the fight.  It swung its head to the left, and I made contact with its bloodshot eyes, the fury, the pain, the glory of its death all conveyed to me in one instant, and then it blinked, careening forward, it fell to the earth.  It exhaled, and the ghost of the beast was released back into the great abyss of life.  The miracle of life, the tragedy of the hunt, the glory of victory speckled the ground with the beast’s blood, and in one moment, my brother beast was part of me, and so his spirit endures.

Forever etched on that wall, both red for blood, and black for majesty.

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