Finally, the day has come. A few days ago, a runner from a neighbouring village relayed the message that Charging Bear, my childhood best friend, wishes to meet me at the hunting campsite about halfway between our two communities. I could hardly contain myself as I joyfully accepted the invitation.
At the edge of our encampment, I salute the Spirits of the Woods, and ask for safe passage to and from our rendezvous. As assistant to the village Healer, I am ever mindful of their presence.
Then, I set about on my journey. It is said that our cavern home has been inhabited since time immemorial; the well-worn trails bear silent witness to this.
Stopping along the way, I inspect a plant that may be medicinal. One of the largest men in camp, my most important role as assistant Healer is not so much the preparation of medicines, but holding down patients as broken bones are set and vile-smelling, stinging poultices are applied.
Just up the trail, there are some more interesting plants, plus more than a few poison oak shrubs. I keep a wide berth from the shrubs...
Around midday, I arrive at the rendezvous point...soon, I'll be reunited with Charging Bear. Though it's early Autumn, it's a warm, clear day, and the Sun feels delightful on my body. I am glad to be without a shirt and leggings today.
I head over to the remnants of a campfire...I poke around, looking for embers. It doesn't look promising.
I reach towards the charred wood...ice cold. Nobody's been here for a while.
I think I hear someone...or is that a tree creaking in the breeze?
Then I hear his voice, just off in the distance..."CAVE BEAR!!!" I alertly leap to my feet, but Charging Bear is nowhere to be seen.
Charging Bear's voice seemed to have come from just a bit further down the trail. I set off to find him...
Along the way, I spot a deer trail with fresh sign. I drop to all fours and investigate.
Charging Bear quietly arrives on the scene. I am momentarily startled, then delighted.
"Charging Bear! It is good to see you! You were watching me all along, weren't you?"
I leap to my feet, and rush to embrace my old friend.
After embracing, we wrestle for a bit, just as we've always done. The woods echo with the bear sounds we make as we grapple with each other. He pins me every single time and after my ninth or tenth defeat, we lie there in a heap, laughing. It's just as if we were boys again.
We spend the afternoon catching up on things. Charging Bear and his family are doing well. After enjoying a meal of venison jerky and tea, we work out the details of an upcoming communal hunt. I have no doubt that we will soon have plenty of meat on hand and fresh pelts to work with.
But already the sun is starting to go down. It is time to head back to my cavern. We agree to meet again soon...there are no "good-byes" in our culture.
I watch my friend depart...
Once home, I collapse onto my bed of warm furs. My mind begins to recount the day's events...then I recall Charging Bear's wedding, when I was at his side. I was still seething with anger that day at the Council of Elders for arranging my best friend's marriage with someone from another village.
He had to go live with his wife's family. That's just the way it was.
Worse yet, the young woman promised to me by Council vanished without a trace soon after our betrothal. No replacement was ever arranged.
As the fire dims, I am reminded yet again that life can be hard...lonesome...and unfair.
It has been an exciting day, to be sure...and exhausting. I fall asleep without even disrobing.
A wonderful story!
Over here in Europe, the autumn was warm as well and I enjoyed several outings in my loincloth to admire the colourful leaves.
Glad you enjoyed my story, LCFan!
It's possible that a breechclout-clad friend will appear with me in a future Cave Bear story.
thanks for sharing this ... good story and pics
Seems there's a 5000 or so character limit for postings on this Forum. I had to edit out some images and storyline details to be able to post the story.
Here's the best of the images from this photo session that ended up not being used: