PART ONE: THE BUSHLAND
Chapter One- The Hunt
The full moon was high on a clear night sky. It was as pale as Death himself. That was a bad omen. The hunt was on. All day long, the men had been following a herd of Swifthorn. Not once were they able to get close enough to attempt a strike on the agile beings. Twelve hours had passed and the herd had led the men on a rigorous and fruitless jog into a foreign region of the bushland. They were at least a day’s walk from home, out of water, and with no kill.
Gobi was the first to sit; then Hara. They leaned their backs against the thick trunk of a Bakro Tree. Big Moja soon squatted beside them, sweating and panting. His pace was a little slower than the others, but what Moja lacked in speed, he made up for with brute force. Orion looked back in disappointment at his conquered gang of hunters. They couldn’t go on. They had been running for hours. Orion pressed on, quietly toward the nimble beasts.
Orion crouched among the dry brush as he slowly advanced toward the lone Swifthorn stag. He aimed his flint-blade spear. He was five paces from the edge of the herd, who were cautious, but unaware of his proximity. Their long slender ears and short tails were relaxed. The buck was pacing along the perimeter, with his head raised. He stood with majestic antlers that doubled his height and took him to the height of a man.
Orion had to launch a silent and precise shot. The Swifthorn would dart away with lightning speed if he alarmed them. The stag could take a hit from his modest spear and run for miles if he wasn’t struck in the heart. The men were out of energy and the Swifthorn could run for days. This was their last chance.
The three other men looked on from the bloated base of the Bakro Tree. They noticed the smaller fawns were looking at them. It seemed the herd had lost track of Orion and felt safe from the other men’s distance. The moon made the Swifthorn eyes glow. The herd looked like a swarm of fireflies. Their grace and elusiveness had given the animals a nickname among the tribe of fairy cattle.
Not only was their meat of the highest quality, but their fur was the most prized, and their antlers were strong enough to make the best knives. They had a beautiful tan fur, with a distinct black stripe across the hide. This particular buck had antlers large enough to make a fish knife for every man in the tribe.
An eerie silence suddenly hummed. Even the night bugs broke their electric song. The stag raised a single ear. It was now or never. Orion squinted his eyes and adjusted the spear in his right hand, one final time. He sprung up from behind the bushes and hurled the missile with the force of a god. Before the beast could react, he was impaled. It was a perfect shot to the heart. The Swifthorn fell and a cloud of dust rose from the impact. The herd scattered like a flock of angels, sprinting wildly in every direction. The quickest females reached the horizon in seconds.
Orion had done it. He said a quick prayer of thanks and blessing to the slain creature and his kin. He lifted the fallen bull of the fairy cattle onto his shoulders and walked back towards the Bakro Tree, victorious. Once again, Orion, The Great Chief, had saved the day. His people would eat and the men would tell yet another one of his heroic tales. He had been triumphant on so many occasions and defied belief so many times, that even the tribal legends were hard pressed to find a comparable individual. There was little doubt among the tribe that Orion was in fact, already a god.