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Crowning Glory [PAN2014]

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posted on Sep, 4 2014 @ 10:13 PM

She had been cold, always so cold since the dust had fallen. Life in her poor village had never been easy; except for the injured, sick or elderly, everyone had a task and even the children contributed toward the benefit of the village. There were times of drought, and there was sickness and hunger, but there was also beauty and laughter and stories told around the upward-spiraling embers of the fires of the gathering.

Sicca walked with her arms hugged around herself, eyes tearing in the slanting wind and thought about laying down and giving up. Her people had cast her out. What did she have to live for? One foot in front of the other, direction uncertain, purpose unknown, she plodded through the night. She stumbled and looked up the grassland to see a Chichou tree that had fallen on its side, its branches forming a rough dome, and crawled beneath the branches, shivering. She dug into the dry leaves and pulled them over her and lay her head down, not caring anymore if she survived the storm.

She dreamed of a time when her family was still alive and mewled softly. Chuff, her brother, carving spears, his dark eyes shining as he methodically smoothed the grip with a curved piece of sandstone. In her dream, her family sat together, gesturing and telling stories under the sewed-skin overhang of their hut. Her mother grinding grains they had collected. That morning, a treasure was found – a clutch of eggs, a rare treat and their family celebrated their fortune.

Sicca awoke to the flickering slant of sunlight through the branches and for a moment looked for her mother, almost smelling the cooking fires. She was alone. That was probably not going to change. She remembered a few villagers that had been cast out when she was young. They had not survived on their own.

Sicca walked and slid down the drainage and found a slender-flowing stream and knelt to drink. She saw her reflection and recoiled. She had once been beautiful and now she was disfigured….. no……. she was hideous. She sat on the bank of the stream and cried for herself and cried for all her kin who had died in the plague.

It had started five cycles of the moon ago. At first, the village was filled with wonder when the red dust flowed into the village. Children played in it, and the elders of the village pronounced it a blessing from the Creator. They convened a gathering and danced to the glory and gift of the Creator, because the dust made them feel alive, and for a few days, their bodies thrummed with the changes taking place, and they rejoiced.

The dust drifted into the village, and travellers from afar said the dust was everywhere. It couldn’t be avoided, and at first, nobody tried to avoid it. It was even mixed with animal grease to paint the bodies of the performers.

Sicca’s brother, Chuff was one of the first to get the fever. He grew weak, and coughed and his hair fell out all over his body. The healer chanted over him, but Chuff died toward the end of the cycle, his almost hairless body withering and wracked with spasms. Then there were more, and suddenly everyone who even sneezed was shunned, the village fearful of the wrath of the Creator, and they prayed and begged for salvation.

Within two cycles of the moon, half of the village was dead, and the elders who had survived decided to cast out all the sick, in order to save the village. They sacrificed all the newborn children to appease the Creator. Nothing worked. Sicca’s parents died and soon afterward her family’s belongings and hut were burned. Sicca survived the ravages of the fever, but she had lost most of her hair; the villagers shunned her – even the children – and soon afterward the elders cast her out.

As a child, the sun was her friend, and she remembered basking by the oolum pool in its warmth. Now, to her horror, she found that the sun burned her skin and made her feel the pain of the fever again. What had she done to deserve the Creator’s wrath? She had woven the wreaths of bic’nu flowers for the elders as her mother had taught her. She had lay with her head on the ground to pray. She had washed herself in the stream often and helped those who were sick or injured. She had once been told by Pichu the elder that she would one day be a great healer, and he had allowed her to accompany him on several travels as he gathered herbs and told her how to prepare them, and what they did. She was so proud when Pichu presented her with the pouch of herbs, inscribed with the symbols of the elders. Sicca fingered the drawstring of the pouch; with her father’s bone-handled knife, the pouch was the only symbol of the village she still possessed.

Sicca couldn’t remember her feet ever being cold. Her skin burned, and yet she was cold, how could that be? The Creator was cruel, and she wished it would just take her. Perhaps the elder were right and someday she would reunite with her kin. She hoped it was so. She began travelling mostly at night, and her feet bled from the sharp stones she couldn’t see. Sicca didn’t know where she was going, she only knew that she was drawn toward the north, into the cold and away from the village.
Sicca cut and shaped a spear, sometimes using it as a walking stick. She began walking in the early mornings, and built a small shelter from the sun each day which she slept in until the sun was nearly down. She was able to kill small animals and fish and gathered edible plants and ……… it was enough. For now. Sicca’s skin browned, and the sun didn’t hurt as much.

One day she found a dead tiger. It reeked of rot and flies swarmed around it, but she cut its hide and scraped the flesh from it. She worked the skin against a stick sunk into the ground, and eventually the skin was flexible enough for her to drape it around her, and she was warmer. She kept the enormous teeth; she knew they could be ground into a poultice to heal boils. She wished she could make a fire, but that skill was a mystery to Sicca. She knew it was a sin, but she had tried once to watch the firemaking, peeking from between ba’ttam branches. Fire was a gift from the Creator, and only the male elders were allowed to wield it.

She stayed in a sheltered valley with jutting vertical stones and a creek with a pool for nearly six cycles of the moon. Fish were abundant in the pool, and misra shoots grew on its banks. She was stronger, but very alone, and at night she crooned with the animals as they sang their moon songs. She made a pad for when the moon called her bleeding and she cut long strips of hide and wrapped them around her feet.

edit on 4/9/14 by argentus because: forgot the 'pan' bit

posted on Sep, 4 2014 @ 10:15 PM
Crowning Glory - Part II

The sun was low in the sky these days, and Sicca knew it would be colder soon. She had never seen snow, but knew about it from village stories. She had saved the pelts of all the animals she had killed, and began weaving them together with sinew. She sewed a pack to carry her food. She crafted leggings and a crude jacket and felt more herself than she had since she had begun her long walk. She had even crafted hair for her head. More than any hair that had fled from her body in the aftermath of the fever, she missed the long tresses that once grew from her head, chest and back. She had once been considered the most promising mate of the village, her long bristling tresses her crowning glory. Now, she had but a small tuft behind her ear to remind her of her former beauty. She was of age to mate, but even if she didn’t die in the mountains, Sicca knew she would never find a mate who could stand to look at her, let alone allow her to sit at his fire.

Sicca trudged up a steep, rocky mountain, slipping on the loose shale. There were few trees at this elevation, and she had only a little food and some herbs stored in her pack. The sun seemed to forsake her, and she didn’t blame it. She didn’t know why she was still alive and watched the sun lower behind the snow-capped mountains in the distance and resolved to keep walking until she could walk no further. She no longer made a shelter each night, often choosing to lay her head on her pack and sleep until daylight awakened her.

One morning she awoke to the distant trilling of birds and the smell of smoke. Sicca followed her nose over a craggy pass and down into a thick forested valley. In a clearing near the bottom of the valley was a camp and she could see two hands of people cutting limbs and making unusual huts. She crept closer, keeping herself upwind of the clearing and watched them, fascinated by their work. The people were wearing skins much as she was, and they were bending long, thin branches and lashing them to the ground.

As the sun crossed low in the sky, the people hauled water from a creek in odd, round things made of skin, and mixed it with soil and grass to make thin plates which were then lashed to the frame. The plates began at the ground and each plate above it overlapped the former plate. It looked very strong.

Sicca crept between the trees, staying to the shadows and watched the people work. There were less than a hand of females, and more than a hand of males. One of the females carried a newborn in a skin and when she opened the skin to nurse, Sicca saw that the newborn was also disfigured with hairless skin. She watched two of them walk down to a pool in a bend of the creek. They began removing their furs and Sicca recoiled with shock when she saw they too, were nearly hairless! The female had but a small shock of fur between her shoulder blades and on her upper legs. The male had a fine crest of silver fur on his head trailing down his neck, but almost nothing but fine, sparse down on the rest of him. They too, apparently, were survivors. Outcasts. They were ugly, but no more so than herself.

She approached them. Perhaps this was what had driven her to push northward. Sicca felt the strong urge to mate, and to nurture young of her own; it was what had kept her alive – the instinct to create. She made a strange vocalization – one she had never made before – and raised one arm high, her palm away from her. The people flinched, jerking their heads around, two of the females crouching down low. When she sang the moon songs with the animals, Sicca realized that she was able to make sounds that she hadn’t been able to before the fever. She didn’t know what it meant. She didn’t know if it had a purpose, but was filled with hope when two of the people raised their arms to mirror hers. As she walked cautiously toward the group, she shed some of her furs, to show them she was like they.

The men held spears, but didn’t point them at her. The spears were beautiful – smooth and finely pointed with some kind of shiny grey rock, with a loop of woven skin on the end. Enticing scents of unfamiliar meat causes Sicca to salivate. Sicca was surprised when the woman carrying a newborn approached her, showing her teeth. In the village, such a display of teeth would have been a prelude to a fight, but Sicca didn’t feel defensive. The woman’s eyes were warm and curiously slanted and Sicca liked her immediately.

Sicca showed her teeth and set down her spear. The tall, ruddy male sniffed her scent and showed his teeth. It was a new world. Sicca was home.
edit on 4/9/14 by argentus because: added a coupla paragraphs

posted on Sep, 4 2014 @ 10:37 PM
1/2 a story. argg now i have to wait. Oh by the time is was done reading, next one was here

edit on 4-9-2014 by roth1 because: Added comment

posted on Sep, 4 2014 @ 10:44 PM
a reply to: roth1

Sorry 'bout that. I had to deal with the character limits and translation from my WP program. ;o)

posted on Sep, 5 2014 @ 05:43 AM
a reply to: argentus

A great read! I highly enjoyed that. It was a great twist.

posted on Sep, 5 2014 @ 06:59 AM
a reply to: argentus

That was excellent! It unfolded so well, shaping the landscape and the characters. And she found home from all of that sadness - I loved it!


posted on Sep, 5 2014 @ 07:32 PM
a reply to: beezzer

much appreciated, Beez. I lub me a hook at the end of a story.

posted on Sep, 5 2014 @ 07:43 PM
a reply to: beansidhe

Thank you........... ban? No, that's not a good nickname.
What do you like to be called? Banshee? Woman of the Hills?

And she found home from all of that sadness
that was the crux of the story. well said. Glad you liked it. Taing mhór ;o)

posted on Sep, 6 2014 @ 07:55 AM
a reply to: argentus

Se do bheatha!

You can say my name!! I'm so pleased!! I usually get called Beans, lol.

I did like it, very very much

posted on Sep, 6 2014 @ 09:17 PM
Great story!!!
Left me wanting to know read more.

posted on Sep, 7 2014 @ 05:36 PM
Wonderful story ! Have you ever read books of Jean M. Untinen-Auel ? The Mammoth Hunters etc.
I liked the peaceful yet curious approach in this, made me want to read "rest of the book"

Amazing !

posted on Sep, 7 2014 @ 06:31 PM
a reply to: dollukka

I have read two of them, and you're the second person to remind me of them
I didn't consciously set out to mimic them, but there are certainly elements of those wonderful works that resonate in this humble story. I wanted to portray proto-humans -- hairy beings -- that were rendered hairless or nearly so by a contagion, but also that they were vastly improved by it. Nature and natural selection in action.

Thanks for reading and the input!

posted on Sep, 10 2014 @ 12:40 AM
Gosh I'm a gushing fan......again

posted on Sep, 11 2014 @ 09:34 PM
a reply to: zazzafrazz

That's high praise coming from you, Zazzy ;o) Thank you!

posted on Sep, 11 2014 @ 09:46 PM
Very intriguing take on the topic, argentus! An 'evolutionary' pandemic? That is actually a realistic event, isn't it? Evolution has weird "leaps" forward - a virus as a catalyst, now that is just awesome. Great details on the survival / cultural aspects, too - it added great depth to the concept and really pulled me in.

Thanks for the great read!

- AB

posted on Sep, 11 2014 @ 11:35 PM
a reply to: AboveBoard

Thanks much, AB
You really nailed what I was trying to describe. I think evolutionary vectors could well have happened (and ....... eeek! may still happen) in just this way.

Appreciate your input!

edit on 11/9/14 by argentus because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 12 2014 @ 10:36 PM
a reply to: argentus
I really enjoyed being drawn in and rooting for your character to survive. Coincidentally, I also used a red powder in my story but mine turned out to be much more devastating. I like your ending better.

posted on Sep, 12 2014 @ 11:21 PM
a reply to: argentus

yes it is difficult to stay within the character limits.

Mine was broken up into short posts over time to a) bring a realistic feel to it and b) to keep check on the limit.

great story by the way

posted on Sep, 12 2014 @ 11:26 PM
oh funny... I think we both need to read the requirements again. LOL

there was no minimum or maximum character limit. hahahahha.... I was stressing so much over it.

posted on Sep, 18 2014 @ 06:23 PM
a reply to: grayeagle

Much appreciated! I tried not to make it TOO easy for her to survive. I really liked your story

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