by Bevie James
by Bevie James
He tossed the great beast down in a heap. It’s lifeless eyes stared unseeing to the horizon. What a pity it had had to be killed. But crops were threatened. Children had been killed. Why had it left its place in the mountains?
He drew his weapon and cut the rambeast open, spilling the steaming insides onto the ground. Then he built a fire and tossed the guts into the flames. Digestive organs went first, to prepare the way by consuming the spiritual food to be found along the journey. Then the lungs and cleaning organs, to make the way safe. And finally, the heart, to guide the beast true to the other side.
The meat and bones would remain here, to be consumed by any who would partake. To honor the fallen animal Toolah chewed on a hind quarter. Then he cut the giant horn from its head and tucked it into his pack.
Kneeling before the carcass he bowed his head and chanted the sacred words. The meat was for whoever found it. The smoke would draw them. With luck it would be found by the parents of the slain children. Then, in eating the meat, parent and child would again be together.
He finished his prayers and left without looking back. There was nothing more to do. Or see. The rambeast had been a magnificent creature, in appearance like a giant ram. Only the rambeast was carnivorous. Why had it left the mountains? Toolah didn’t like it. Surely this warranted further investigation. He would rest a day or two and then climb up to the rock peaks and see what was afoot.
Toolah followed the nearby stream down to where the local village lay. Here, the stream pooled and formed a quiet pond. About forty small huts surrounded it. The pool was their source of water. And small fish could be speared by the skillful.
He was spied before arriving and everyone who could was out awaiting his return. First among these was Kittah, the village leader.
“The beast. It is dead?” asked Kittah. Toolah grunted. “It is good.”
Toolah paused and glared at Kittah. Kittah’s small five-foot frame shook in Toolah’s eight foot shadow.
“Not good. Needful.”
“That is what I meant. Needful. It is good you filled our need. It is bad the rambeast came down from the mountain. Two small ones eaten. Mothers. Very sad. Rambeast should have stayed on top. But dead now. All is good again.”
Toolah shook his head.
“Not good. Rambeast came down for reason.”
Kittah nodded his head. “Reason simple. Rambeast hungry. Bad winter. No food up there.”
“Maybe. If so, then more come.”
This news did not set well with Kittah, or the other villagers. A fearful murmur spread quickly.
“What do we do?” asked Kittah. “When Legion Master go other rambeast come. Eat more children. Trample more crops. How long before Legion Master return?”
Toolah turned and looked up the mountain.
“Toolah not leave yet. Toolah find out why rambeast come down.”
“Maybe Cita can help.”
Toolah and Kittah turned to see a young woman standing near. Even next to Kittah she appeared small, but she could easily have sat on Toolah’s shoulder without him noticing.
“How you help?” asked Toolah.
The woman (girl) smiled, impishly.
“Cita already know.”