The wagon had been a great loss for Samuel Ritan. The inability to move the furniture devastated them the most; they recovered the books.
Grain was in short supply, but Samuel Ritan had made it through the winter with his family and spring quickly was approaching. Ha had been gathering all day and his bags were full.
A Shepherd had passed by weeks ago and he helped with the spring shearing. The wool, milk and cheese he obtained for his work were a Godsend.
Now, Sam sat on his haunches, drinking from a gourd layered with pine sap with a wooden stopper. The container held dandelion root coffee. He took a swig and settled down to watch.
A large number of hideous looking creatures lay dead on the base of a hill. Vultures dominated the feast.
Crows, magpies, and ravens fought over the remains. He was relieved. He had killed one of them trying to break into his house at night. His children knew all about them from stories they heard from classmates in La Longi.
Barbaric as it was, he impaled it and put the corpse upright on a fence post as a warning to other creatures that might try to sneak into his home. It seemed to work.
A father of six, He had left the big city as the pressures of life were drawing his children away from their roots. He wanted his children to grow straight and tall. Young though they were, there was pressure for his sons to be effeminate and his daughter to apply paint to her face and wear outlandish clothing.
Mutilation and putting ink inside the skin was popular among the youth in La Longi. Upon his arrival, he saw that it was prevalent amongst the natives as well.
Here, they could start a new life and tackle a different set of challenges. A traditional lifestyle of hard work, sweat, and good living was Sam’s desire for them.
He waited. There was movement in the brush. A line of warriors emerged and began stripping the dead. One picked up a large sword admiring his find.
As if shot with an arrow, he dropped it and drew his hands to his chest, looking frozen with fear.
“Yenaldooshi! ” he cried. (Definition)
They fled. All but one warrior. He kicked a hairy corpse and drew a knife. Samuel cringed.
The warrior would have high status in his village for the scalp in front of his lodge.
Samuel could not see what occurred, but the lone warrior fled as well.
He waited until he was content they had left and slowly crept forward.
There was not much left to salvage. Anything would help. Warily, he stepped into the cave and was sickened by what he saw. The remains of people in various stages of decay lay haphazardly inside. He gasped and thought of his children. He would burn this place with fire.
A resilient man, His thoughts went from the horror he had seen to the hairy man called Yenaldooshi. The large hairy creature resembled a man, and was indeed fearful to look upon.
The creature’s eyes were open and alert.
“I am Beast, I die, the creature whispered.”
Samuel shuddered. It was alive. Thinking quickly, he assessed the situation. A spear shaft was deeply set in his sternum. He indeed was a dead man. It was time to work.
” I will help you. What is your name?”
He faintly whispered.
“Jeptha Berengar. Tell Brother and Bard I love them.”
Samuel was perplexed, but agreed.
” Jeptha, you are in a bad way. You scare me half to death, but I’m gonna try and help you pull through this, I need your help, understand?”
“I am going to lay you on your side and push the spear point through your back and plug the hole with a poultice of herbs. You look like you are capable of ripping my arm off, and I have a family to support. I need you to agree not to hurt me.”
The Beast pleaded. ” I am thirsty. Water please.”
Samuel refused. “There is work to be done. Hold still. Using the other end of the broken spear nearby, he held the creature hard with one end and began working the spearpoint through his back.
Jeptha screamed a primal scream and swung, nearly hitting Samuel.
Terrified, Samuel sprung backwards. He shouted,
” you nasty ogre, I am trying to help you!”
Looking through his bag, he secured the Beast with several pigging strings and resumed his work. Once the point was worked through, the shaft came out easily. His patient whimpered as he poured water on the area to clean it. Quickly, he packed the wound and bound it tightly as he could.
Taking the restraints off, he went to a nearby creek and procured water for Jeptha. If he pulled through this, it would be a miracle.
Ruetoohto warriors descended the hill. Samuel Ritan hailed them and quickly negotiated for them to care for the beast at their village. It cost him all he had collected for the day.
Samuel went home empty handed.