Chapter 3: The Clan
Drek's Clan was returning from the Clan Gathering. They'd done poorly there. Drek had Ranked last in the Leadership competition. His deformed mog-ur was considered to be the lowest Ranked mog-ur. They'd come in the middle the the atheletic competition but still had failed to redeme themselves from being the Last Ranked Clan. They all left the Clan Gathering disheartened and determined to raise their status at the next Clan Gathering. The would redouble their efforts to be the most Clan, Clan at the the Clan Gathering. They would become even more traditionally Clan over the next seven years.
When Drek spotted horses in the distance, he signalled for his Clan to stop. The hunters all gathered around him for instructions.
"Brorn, Grav, you circle around that way," signed Drek. "Brod, Zreb, you circle around that way. mog-ur and I will stay here. Keep a sharp eye on them. When they get close enough, we'll cut the slowest one out of the herd and run it down."
As the small herd drew closer, it became apparrent that there were only three of them and a wolf was already hunting them. But then they saw that there was something on the back of the gray horse, a little girl of the Others! As they drew closer, they saw that the horse were wearing wraps of some sort on their backs and belts around their heads.
The men of Drek's Clan had difficulty interpreting what they were seeing as the small herd of horses came to a stop in front of them. Then, in a flash, the mog-ur remembered what this was.
"Stop!" shouted the mog-ur, drawing the attention of the other men so that they could see his signs. "These are spirits! Do not aknowledge them! Do not even look at them. If we are not careful, they will drag us back to the spirit world!"
"This girl greets you," signed the spirit, once she'd realized that the man was signing. "Greetings! Do any of you understand my signs?"
"Hello? Hello?" said the girl in the Zelandonii language. "Do you understand me? Look at me! I can't do signs if you won't look at me!"
"Let us resume our journey," signed Drek. "There is nothing to hunt here."
With that, the men jogged back to their places and the women picked up their buddens. The Clan began walking away from the strange spirits.
"Hey! Where are you going?" yelled the girl. "Stupid people! Come on wolf."
The girl began riding back to her cave.
"Ouw!" a low hanging branch hit her when they entered the forest. She climbed off the horse and led them back to her cave. Once they were inside the cave, the horses gathered around the girl. They were used to getting a treat when they were led into their stable at the Ninth Cave. She looked around, but she had no food in the cave. She was eating everything as soon as she picked it or Wolf hunted it.
"Sorry, I have nothing to give you."
She now realized that if she wanted to keep the horses, she'd have to feed them. Grabbing a knife, she headed back up the hill to the field to gather some grass. The horses followed her and grazed nearby while she spent the rest of the day cutting stalks of grass, and carrying them down to the cave. By the time she was finished, she was ravenously hungry, but there was nothing for her to eat.
"Wolf, go get a rabbit! Go get a rabbit, Wolf!"
The Wolf just sat there with his tongue hanging out.
Fear griped the girl's heart as she realized that the Wolf wouldn't always hunt when she wanted him to. She'd need to learn to hunt for herself and gather plants to feed herself. She'd work on that tommorow. She pulled to Wolf into her furs and slept, hugging the Wolf.
When she awoke, the fire had gone out and the horses were gone. She was very hungry! She spotted some greens that she remembered picking with her mother so she walked over and ate them right there. She 'd need to gather more . . . and firewood! She spent the rest of the morning gathering greens and berries, digging up roots, and collecting firewood. Wolf stayed in her vicinity but ran around while she did this. In the evening, she spotted the horses on the Tundra and lured them back to the cave with some of the grass she'd collected. Picking up a firestone and a knife, she started making a fire. She had just gotten it going when Wolf showed up, carrying a squirel in his mouth.
"Good Wolf!" she praised the Wolf before taking the squirel from his mouth.
Looking at how small it was, she realized that if she ate any of it, there wouldn't be enough for the Wolf. She have to make her diner from the plants she'd gathered tonight. She really needed to learn to hunt with the Wolf. But her sling had been in the tent when it fell into the hole to be washed away by the river. Then she remembered seeing mama's spear-thrower on the ground when she went to see the horses. Mama and Jondy wouldn't let her have her own spear-thrower. They said she was too young to play with spears. And she hadn't been able to throw mama's spears. . . . but what if she made herself a smaller spears? Maybe then she could use mama's spear thrower? She decided that tommorow she'd make herself a sling and some spears, then, curled up with the wolf and went to sleep.
The next day she made a sling and retrieved her mama's spear and spear-thrower. Over the next few days, she continued to gather grass, plants she could eat and firewood. She also practiced with her sling. Her mama had warned her that she needed to be able to throw one stone acurately before she could learn to throw two, like mama did. She'd already cut up a fur to made her sling and lacings, which she used to attach the spear-heads salvaged from mama and Jondy's spears to put on her own crude spears. The shafts she'd made weren't completely straight, and she didn't put fletching on them. But she had made some crude spears that were small enough that she could use them to learn how to throw spears. Wolf thought sling and spear practice was the funnest game and would bolt off to retrieve the animal that she'd not killed.
Gond was considered ugly by the Clan. He wasn't as ugly as his mother's mate, the mog-ur. But he was still ugly by Clan standards. So he considered himself fortunate to be the mog-ur's acolyte. At 5-years-old, he had the physical and emotional maturity of a 10-year-old of the Others. In two more years, he'd be elgible to go on his manhood hunt. So he was out with his sling practicing. He carried a Clan-style spear and would poke it in the ground to hold it when he spotted a small animal to attack with his sling. Spotting a fox, Gond poked her spear in the ground and pulled a stone out of a fold of his wrap. Winding up, he cast his stone, only to see another stone fly from the left and stun his fox! There was a strange, unearthly sound. Then a wolf emerged from the bushes, grabbed the stunned fox and ran off with it!
"Hey! Come back here!" waved Gond before picking up his spear and running after the wolf. It didn't occur to him how dangerous it was to chase a wolf, or to try to take its' prey from it. He'd just come a short way through the bushes when he found himself face-to-face with the horse-girl spirit! She looked very much like when he'd seen her in her half-horse form. Except now he was only seening the girl part of the spirit. She looked like a girl of the Others with golden blonde hair and eyes that were blue, like the sky. She didn't wear a wrap and held a sling in her hand. The Wolf had dropped the fox at her feet and turned menacingly towards Gond, growling!