Staying low, Abeke stalked through the tall grass alongside her boyfriend, Argon. She stepped carefully, as her father had taught her, advancing in silence. Sudden motion or sounds would send their prey running. If these ones got away, they wouldn't have time to approach another pair.
The calf lowered its head to nibble the grass. It was young but it's mother was Argon's prey Andre calf hers, both were much faster them them. If they bounded away, Argon and her would return empty-handed.
Coming to a standstill, Abeke eased an arrow to the string of her bow, while Argon cocked his hand up with his spear. As she pulled back the bow creaked. The antalopes abruptly looked up. The arrow flew true along with Argon's spear. Both skewering the heart of their prey. The calf went down immediately while the mother staggered for a few moments before collapsing.
The antalopes would matter to their village. The drought had made food scarce, and it showed no sign of relenting. Every morsel counted. Argon knelt beside the animal to take the spear out and then grabbed Abeke's arrow while she spoke in prayer.
"I'm sorry for taking your life, friends. Our village needs your meat. We got in close and made clean shots so you wouldn't suffer. Please forgive us."
Abeke glanced at the bright sky, "Argon, the sun has moved more than we realized. How long have we stalked our prey?"
"I don't know Abeke," Argon answered. "Fortunately, we've found game that's small enough to carry at a good pace, he continued as he slung the mother over his shoulder.
Abeke picked up the calf and started to walk. The sun glared at the baked, brown plain. The brush was dry and brittle, the shrubs withered and thirsty. A few lonely baobab trees stood in the distance, trunks thick, branches sprawling, blurred by shimmering ripples of heat.
Abeke and Argon kept their eyes and ears open. People were not the prey choice for big cats, but that became less certain when food grew scarce. And big cats were not the only dangerous animals roaming the Niloan Savannah. Anyone who ventured beyond the village palisade took risk.
The farther Argon and Abeke walked, the heavier the antalopes seemed. But she was tall for her age and was strong. Argon was well built which is why he took the mother, and she the calf. She was excited to show the prize to her father, so she tried to ignore the sun.
In the village the men normally did the hunting. Woman rarely ventured out. She hoped her father would be proud not mad. She went out with Argon so she was safe. They both wanted to bring prey to commemorate their eleventh nameday.
Her sister, Soama, might be more beautiful, though Argon told her different. She might sing and dance better, Argon said he loved her voice. She might weave better. She might even be a more gifted artisan.
But she had never made a kill.
It also helped that Abeke was courting the heir of the tribe. Argon.
Just over a year ago, Soama had presented the village with a beaded tapestry on her eleventh nameday, depicting herons in flight over a pond. Many had remarked that it was the most impressive work they'd seen in a young artist. But could they eat it in a famine? Would the beaded pond cure their thirst.?Would the fake herons ease the pains of their hunger?
Abeke could not resist exchanging a smile with Argon. To their knowledge no child had ever brought game as a nameday gift. Did the village need another decorative jar or fancy spear head. To hold what water? To kill what he's already killed? Their gifts would serve a purpose.
To avoid being spotted by the lookouts, Abeke and Argon used hunting signs to talk and approached the village stealthily. They entered how they exited--through the damaged slats in the side of the wall facing the ravine. There was some tricky climbing involved, made no easier by the carcasses on their shoulders, but Abeke and Argon succeeded.
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Spirit Animals: Wild BornGeneral Fiction
Eight children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Eight flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts -- a wolf, a fox, a leopard, a panther, a panda, a...