Tarek’s Hunt

“Where’s the Carver? You look like a Hocklec sat on you.”

“With his wife,” Tarek had grown to enjoy Tikcailek’s companionship. They had worked together on different spear head designs, combining their lines. Having hunted with his father he had an advantage that others in the Carver’s line did not. Tikcailek couldn’t wait for Tarek to get back to the city. The two boys understood each other easily – in much the same way their fathers did.

“What’s wrong?” Tikcailek had never seen Tarek act this way.

“I didn’t want to help with last blood-ring brew,” Tarek just about choked as he thought about her fall in to the fire, “BeKaleth’s still tired from being masked, and she passed out and fell into the fire. It was all my fault, I was supposed to be the one doing it.”

“Is she alright?” Tikcailek had stirred that pot many times, and understood easily why Tarek would have wanted out of that job. He knew Tarek was really fond of BeKaleth and that for him to be this upset she must be badly hurt.

“It took us two days to repair her leg, there was a lot of damage.” This was the first time Tarek had gone without sleep, and while he didn’t realize it, it was affecting him. “There is very little wood left though, if anything else happens to her, it would unlikely he’d be able to do anything.”

“The hutch is still strong though,” Being a hunter, Tikcaileth didn’t think of the damage she might incur from Tarek – he thought of the beasts who loved the wood she was made from. “She’ll be safe enough in there till its time for your Dad to send her back to the palace.”

Tarek hadn’t thought about that danger to her, only the fact that in less then a year he had inflicted more damage to her then probably all other women in the world had combined. Not having ever been in the city, he viewed it as a safe haven where the women never got damaged, which was not the case.

“They hate it when she has to stay in the hutch, but once the blood-ring wears out we have to keep her there till another one attacks” Tarek started to get an idea, “Do you think you could teach me to hunt one? Then I could go safely away from the camp, hunt one and we could keep the blood-ring fresh enough without having to have one of the beasts run amok through the camp!”

If Tikcailek had been older he would have dismissed the idea quickly, but like Tarek, he was of the age where boys did foolish things thinking they were invincible. The two of them set to work devising a plan for Tarek to go hunting. The priest projecting Tarek wasn’t paying close attention to the two boys talk, he had other things to do. The next day at Temple school, they continued their plans, and even though Sailali was doing the projecting, she thought the ‘hunting plan’ the two boys were working on was a school activity – after all, one of the things the boys had to do was learn about each others lines so they could work more effectively with each other.

Tarek decided that tomorrow he would get up early, and leave before he had to explain where he was going. He would take some prayer cards so that if they did ask where he was he could truthfully say he had gone to practice his meditations away from the noise of the camp. When he woke the next day he went out of the hutch as if he were going to the washroom, so that Sailali wouldn’t notice. He gathered up the sack he had prepared when she was praying the night before and headed out to track a herd.


The Hunt

As he got out of bed he was troubled, Tarek wasn’t there. Tareth called to his mother who was just waking. They found him far away – in the middle of a herd of hocklec.

“Tarek!” Tareth tried to hold the fear out of his call.

“Yes Father?” Tarek had killed a beast and was standing on it to keep himself safe from the others. He and Tikcailek had not worked out all the possible scenarios, and he wasn’t sure how he was going to skin the beast now that the rest of the herd had returned.

“What are you doing?” Tareth had felt the fear in his son’s reply. Without a word to Sailali he grabbed a handful of spears and began running towards his son.

“Standing on a dead hocklec.” Tarek felt more then a bit foolish, “The herd came back before I could get out a small ring made.”

“Stay there,” At least he was safe enough for now, but how to get him out of there? “Mind telling me why you are not at camp?”

“Uh,” Tarek briefly thought about using his prayer story but decided against it, “I decided to go hunting.”

“Hunting?” Tareth could almost see the herd on the slopes ahead of him. Why would Tarek have gone hunting? They had enough food, didn’t they?

“I decided it was best to collect blood and skin away from the camp,” Tarek now wondered what had ever gotten in to him to do something like this. He was a carver, not a hunter. “I wanted to keep them away from BeKaleth without waiting for one of them to come to us.” Tareth could now just barely see his son standing on top of a medium size beast. The herd had settled down to graze on a nearby grove. Tareth had not yet found that grove, it would be nice to harvest some of the trees at a later time.

“I see,” Tareth slowed his pace, realizing that he had not eaten in over three days and was getting low. “and how did you know how to hunt? Or did you just get lucky and find a whole herd?”

“Oh, Tikcailek told me what to do,” Tarek hoped his friend would not get into too much trouble over this, “but it was my idea.”

“So he told you, knowing you had never hunted a beast before, to march right in to the middle of the herd -”

“No, I was to go for a straggler, which I did,” Tarek interjected, they had thought this through somewhat, “and we we’ve been practicing with the spears for a while. He knew I could bring it down. We just never talked about what to do if the herd returned.”

“Well I’m not quite sure what to do either,” Tareth told his Mother to find the Hunter, and quick.


“He what?” The Hunter could not believe what his Mother had just told him. Tarek was stranded on a dead hocklec in the middle of a heard. What was the boy doing so far from camp?

“Tareth said the Tarek and Tikcailek had some plan so Tarek could collect blood and skin to make the blood-ring without us having to wait for a stray to wander through.”

“TIKCAILEK!” the Hunter, whose name meant ‘silent one’ was anything but silent as he broke in to his son’s Temple lesson.

“Yes?” The boy nearly fell off his seat, the priest had heard the call and wondered what mischief the boy was in to now. He excused the boy who collected his things and began running back home.

“What exactly did you tell Tarek to do?”

“He didn’t get hurt did he?” Tikcailek had thought they had come up with a good plan, what could have gone wrong?

“Not yet, he’s stuck on the top of a dead hocklec in the middle of a herd.” Paleth was not pleased with his son. For a boy whose name meant ‘First Thinker’ he certainly wasn’t living up to expectations!

“But that’s not what we planned, he was to go for a straggler,” Tikcaileth was amazed, “How’d he end up in the middle of a herd?”

“Well we’re about the find out,” Paleth joined with his Mother who easily joined everyones’ thoughts.


“Tareth?” The Hunter felt almost no effort talking to his brother, their Mother certainly had power, but then she was the Queen, “Can you give me a visual?”

“Whew,” Tikcaileth had never seen a full herd. Tarek was indeed right in the middle of about 1000 or so beasts which were grazing lazily in a grove that ringed the clearing where Tarek’s beast was down. The spear stood straight out from between the shoulder blades, a perfect shot.

“Whew indeed!” Paleth wondered if they were going to need to air lift him off, but at such a distance that would take a lot of combined powers, too many powers. Then he noticed a small stream just north of Tarek. “Tarek, the stream just north of you – how quickly can you get to it?”

“15 seconds there, but slower back.”

“Tareth, start heading in a large circle around the grove to the end flow of the stream.”

“No, head to the other end of the stream,” Tikcailek interrupted.

“No, I said the end flow!” Paleth glared as his son entered the room.

” You want to have Tarek drain some blood and head to the stream.” Tikcailek quickly began plotting the herd on the boards in front of him, “By putting blood in the water the beasts will avoid the stream and Tarek would be able to run out along the stream to his father. He’d have to drain the entire beast and be running faster then the flow of the stream – which he wouldn’t be able to do – sorry Tarek you’re just not that fast.”

“Oh, I know.” Tarek was calmed by his friend. “The herd had been heading south away from the grove, with this one hanging back. The moment my spear brought it down the herd turned and started back. I barely had time to get up here.”

“Carver,” Tikcailek began to plan, “can you scan to the south for me?”

“A nursery!” Paleth and Tikcaileth said together.

“What?” Tareth had only seen caves to the south. He was nearing them.

“Hocklec cluster their young in caves during stops in migration,” Paleth explained. “We call them nurseries. The young are virtually unprotected, and are easy targets.”

“Carver,” Tikcaileth quickly changed his plan. This would be easy. “Would you be willing to wear a second skin?”

“Good idea!” Paleth knew exactly what his son was thinking. It was a trick they sometimes used in a hunting session.

“Hocklec young stay in the caves until the parents return, they will not budge.” Tikcailek explained quickly, “what I want you to do is go in to the first cave you come across, kill the child and cut as much hide as you think you will need to cover yourself and a Tarek. Cook them up with the blood and then all you need to do is walk over to him and the two of you can walk right out.”

“Tarek,” Paleth wanted to reassure the boy, “you’ll be fine. You probably came across the herd in the morning, when they let the young graze. What you thought was them leaving was just them returning the young to the caves so they could fill up their bellies more. Nice shot by the way.”

They were right about the young in the caves, and Tareth easily skinned it. As he had no pot, he coated the skin and roasted it to get the smell to come out. It was hard to get the fire to burn, the caves were extremely cold. It gave him an idea.

“Hunter,” Tareth enjoyed the fresh meat while the skin roasted. “How long will the herd remain in this area?”

“From the looks of the area not much longer. They don’t like to stay more then a few days and it looks pretty trampled.”

“The caves are very cold, what will the parents do if they return to find their young killed?”

“If you are around,” Paleth wondered what his brother was up to, but Tikcailek was beginning to grin. The boy was quick, he had to admit. “They’d try and eat you.”

“If we weren’t? And how long will they be grazing without the young?”

“They won’t be back till evening,” Tikcaileth interrupted, “You’d have plenty of time to kill 8 or 9 and get them drained before the come back. That is, if you have something to store that much blood in. The hides will remain fresh long enough – we freeze them here and they last for a year or more. ”

“That is a problem.”

“Why can’t the blood just stay in the hocklec till we need it?” Tarek asked as he looked at dead beast in front of him.

“If the blood stayed in that would be fine,” Paleth answered, “but the hole the spear makes always passes through the main artery and it bleeds quickly.”

“Mine didn’t,” Tarek looked around the beast, very little of the blood had escaped.

“Were you using our new tips?” Tikcailek was excited – they worked!

“Yeah,” Tarek was proud of their work, “The acid capsule exploded perfectly!”

“I’d like an explanation,” Paleth was not aware their sons were reinventing spear tips. The tip used for a hocklec was a star shaped tip, because the flesh was so thick you needed the extra blades to do enough damage to kill with a single spear. It left a gapping wound, so even if it did not reach the spine and kill quickly it would loose enough blood that it would die soon enough.

“We have created a new spear tip,” Tikcailek was nearly bursting with excitement, “We took a straight tip, cut off the tip and hollowed it out down the length of the spear. It was Tarek’s idea to fill it with our acid, and then he capped it with a thin layer of stone which would easily break on contact. I used the swirl side groves from a spear’s tip so that it would disperse the acid smoothly as it went through the beast.”

“The skin closed around the spear,” Tarek told them “but the beast went down right away. The only thing you forgot to mention Tikcailek is that the front cap is strung to the end cap. The acid wouldn’t leave the spear if air couldn’t enter the back of the spear. I have a thin strand of steal linking the two caps, so as the first cap is broken the steal pushes back on the end, opening up the other end of the tube so air can enter.”

“And if something went wrong,” Paleth wasn’t convinced of the new design, “you’d have had one angry hocklec bearing down on you with no time to reload.”

“The skins are ready.” Tareth was willing to try out the new spears, “Tarek, how many revised spears did you bring?”

“Five,” At least something positive might come from his misadventure.

“Paleth,” Tareth began to suit up, hoping he wouldn’t vomit as he ran, “Because there are two of us I’m willing to try his spears out. If he and the spears don’t take them down I’ll be ready with mine. Tarek, get ready, I’m coming in.”

Tareth and Tarek were able to easily get in and out, but Tarek did vomit on the way out of the clearing. The beasts moved away from the pair, not wanting to come near what they felt were infected animals. Tarek’s spears worked perfectly every time; Tareth was impressed with the design. It was similar to some syringe work they do when hollowing. The back cap was more elaborate then he had indicated. It was a one way valve, so there was no chance the acid would escape out the back of the spear. In the end, Tarek’s hunting trip did not go as planned, but as a result they would not need to fear an attack for many months to come. As they returned home, Tareth thought about BeKaleth’s words.

“I’m impressed,” Tareth put an arm around his son as they headed back to camp. “I’m sure once Paleth gets a better look at the design he’ll put it in to production.”

“Really?” Tarek was a bit worried that Tikcaileth would get in trouble over their hunting plan, “Do you think he’ll be mad at Tikcaileth?”

“Not really,” Tareth knew his brother’s bark was worse then his bite. He was sure that Tikcaileth would probably get a lecture on the dangers of hunting before coming of age, but not much else. “We all do foolish things at your age – its part of growing up. What’s important is that you weren’t hurt, and I do hope you won’t try it again. You got lucky, and it all worked out well in the end.”

“Tikcaileth says that herds follow the same routes every year, and that many herds travel the same roads.” Tarek was happy he had learned so much from his cousin, “we’ll have to be careful when we return that we don’t walk in to a second herd. We may be able to do this again next year.”

“It would be nice to not loose so much time to an attack,” Tareth thought of how wonderful it would be not to be continually repairing things.

“And BeKaleth won’t have to sleep in the hutch,” Tarek knew she would appreciate that, it wasn’t much but at least it was something to make up for what he’d done.

“Yes, that will definitely make her happier,” Tareth thought about how it would be to never wake up alone, “but we’ll still have to spend a day every 14 cooking. That reminds me, seeing as you’ll be tending to BeKaleth as she recovers, I’m going to have to help out your Grandmother more.”

“I thought you would be tending her?” Tarek was doubly surprised. He could not imagine his father helping out with women’s work, nor why he would trust BeKaleth’s care to him.

“While I do hope you never have to do such an extensive repair,” Tareth explained, “we spend much of our time doing such work. You will gain a lot of insight in from her care, just as you learned from the work we did together repairing her. You know how fond she is of you, it will keep her spirits up to see someone other then me all the time.”

“What do you mean a lot of our time on repairs?” Tarek was confused, “How do they get hurt in the city?”

“Tarek, neither you nor BeKaleth meant for her to fall into the fire,” Tareth worried about how guilty his son felt. To try hunting a hocklec just to keep them away from BeKaleth was not a reasonable risk to take. Even he, a full stone would not have taken that risk. “and while yes, you both should have been more careful, accidents happen. There are just as many things that can go wrong in the city as here. There are fires, things fall, women slip. Yes, I was very mad at both of you – but I know that you won’t let something like that happen again. Now, we just have to make sure she has learned a similar lesson.”

“What do you mean?” Tarek had felt the whole incident was his fault, BeKaleth didn’t do anything wrong, had she?

“BeKaleth knew she was tired,” Tareth knew that his wife would need to be watched carefully till she was fully healed. It just wasn’t her nature to sit back – after hearing her this morning he knew that she would try to be careful but in the end will probably push herself again. “and she knew you were to be the one tending the pot – but she refused to accept that she needed to sleep. As you monitor her healing, you will need to watch her more carefully the longer it gets. Once she’s allowed out of bed and helping out, you will need to monitor her for signs of fatigue, because she will start to ignore it just as she did this time. As you are around her more during the day it will be easier for you to monitor her then me. Just remember, she will try to push her limits, and you need to make sure she does not.”

When they arrived back at the camp Etherek was happy to see them, he had gotten worried when his Father had gone off. His Mother had been killed over that way, and he did not want to loose his brother. He just about knocked Tarek off his feet as he ran to him and wrapped his arms around his brother. After lunch was finished, Tarek and Tareth made up the Kahl for BeKaleth and went to the tent to wake her.

“Wake, my love,” Tareth spoke to her mind. He was on one side of the bed, Tarek on the other. She would be weak, and would need to lay flat for a while if she wasn’t to get a headache. She awoke to see Tarek sitting beside her. She tried to sit up to hug him, knowing he would have been upset about her fall. Instinctively both men put a hand on her chest and laid her back down. They looked at each other and laughed. “I told you she would push herself!”

Tarek signed that she needed to rest and gave her the Kahl and two more cups of water. She couldn’t stand the stink between them – were they mixing a blood ring she signed.

Tareth wagged a finger at his son and signed that he went hunting – hocklec. She looked scared, ‘?!’ she signed. Tareth looked at his son. This would be impossible to sign.

‘He didn’t want to have to wait for a hocklec to attack the camp and endanger you.’ Tareth moves some hair from her face, ‘in the end it worked out quite well. He and one of his cousins have redesigned the spears and we were able to kill 5 hocklec that were in ice caves. The spear design sealed the wound, so the blood did not need to be collected. Now we will not have to wait for an attack to get blood and skin to make a blood ring, we simply need to go and defrost some. You won’t need to sleep in the hutch till near the end of the season – if even at all.’

BeKaleth looked at Tarek and signed thank you – and then wagged a finger and signed ‘be careful!’. He smiled and signed, ‘I know’. She suspected his adventure was a tad more dangerous then Tareth had let on. She felt extremely bad about him putting himself in danger. They signed that she should try and sleep again.

‘Tareth,’ BeKaleth called in her mind as he leaned over to kiss her, ‘I’m sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused.’

‘My predecessor had a saying when I was young and foolish,’ Tareth realized this was the first time he got to use it. He had heard it almost daily for a while, and yet none of his boys or wives had ever needed it. Mind you, today Tarek certainly earned it. ‘The Ancients saved you from your mistake – but next time they expect you to have learned from it.’

They finished their kiss and he put her to sleep. Tarek was a little flushed, he had never seen them together. He wondered if he would be able to make his wives love him, as she did his father. He wondered if his own mother loved his father. It made him sad to think she did not.


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