The Clan of the Cave-Slayer.By Dave Turner.Disclaimer:
I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Quest for Fire or Walking with Beasts, I write these stories for fun not profit.Crossover:
‘Quest for Fire’ and ‘Walking with Beasts (ep6)’.Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar:
Written in glorious English-English which is different to American-English.Timeline:
Many, many years BB (that’s Before Buffy).Words:
Twelve chapters of about 3000+ words each.Warnings:
Look out for that Mammoth!Summary:
Long, long ago, before there were shoe shops, before there were even shoes! When a pointy bit of wood was thought of as hi-tech, there was also ‘Shine the Night-Walker Hunter’ and her clan!0=0=0=0The Hunt.
Crawling through the long, dry, late summer grass, Shine felt the sun warm her back. Pausing she gripped her spear more tightly as she listened to the two bucks crash their antlers together as they fought for dominance of the herd and the right to mate with the females. Lifting her head slowly, she glanced through the tops of the gently swaying grass, the bucks where less than a long spear throw away. Taking the time to look slowly to her left and right she saw movement in the grass that denoted the presence of Lone-Hunter and One-Eye.
The three hunters had the two great deer just where they wanted them; once the trap was sprung if the bucks tried to run away they’d run into the woods behind them. In amongst the closely spaced trees the buck’s great antlers, twice as wide as Shine was tall, would catch on the trunks of the trees and prevent the bucks from escaping. If the bucks chose to run towards the hunters; well, Shine smiled, that would just make her job easier.
Glancing back at the bucks, Shine checked on their position again before ducking her head down below the tops of the grass storks so that the bucks wouldn’t sense her. Although they were down wind of the bucks and the three hunter’s bodies where smeared with a paste that not only kept the flies from bothering them, but also disguised their scent. Some animals could tell when a hunter watched them too closely; a hunter could only overcome the buck’s magic by being skilful and careful.
Whistling a soft bird call, Shine signalled her friends to move closer, although she’d probably be able to hit one of the bucks with her spear and throwing stick from here the other two hunters couldn’t, they needed to be closer. They also needed to be sure of killing at least one of the bucks, winter was fast approaching and they’d need time to smoke and dry meat for the long, cold winter days ahead.
Freezing in mid crawl, Shine listened carefully, the bucks had stopped fighting, had they noticed the approach of the hunters, or had they just grown exhausted with their long struggle? Risking a look, Shine raised her head above the grass again. Her light coloured hair, almost the same colour as the dried grass, was perfect camouflage. As long as the bucks didn’t smell her they probably wouldn’t see her and try to escape the trap. Peeping through the grass, Shine found herself staring right into the eyes of the bigger of the two bucks.
“F’oook!” Shine breathed angrily; any moment now the buck would realise it was in danger and try to run, jumping to her feet she started to shout and run towards the buck.
Hearing her cry, Lone-Hunter and One-Eye jumped to their feet too; shouting and waving their arms and weapons about they started to run towards the bucks. Seeing the humans apparently spring from the ground the bucks took fright, turned and started to flee.
“AYE! AYE! HAAA!” Shine’s high pitched hunting cry mixed with the calls of Lone-Hunter and One-Eye as they rushed to trap the bucks against the wood.
The bigger of the two bucks, realised his mistake just as he came to the first outlying trees. While the younger buck wasted time trying to force his way between the trees, the older wiser animal turned and started to charge at the hunters.
“HA!” Shine grinned as she ran, “Come to my spear!”
Fitting her spear into the grove of her throwing stick, Shine altered the direction of her charge a little and turned towards the older buck. Her joy at seeing the buck coming towards her quickly faded as she realised that the buck wasn’t running it was charging and it was charging towards One-Eye. Groaning to herself, Shine pumped her legs faster to try and get closer so when she threw her spear she’d be sure of hitting and killing the buck. One-Eye wasn’t the best of hunters, his talents were directed more towards making weapons and tools, but he still came on the occasional hunt to prove his manhood.
Not that Shine or any of the clan would think any less of One-Eye if he didn’t hunt, but he did and could usually be relied on not to do anything foolish. As long as he was with Lone-Hunter or Shine who’d tell him what to do and where to go he was adequate enough. Add this to the fact that Shine thought of him as a brother, she didn’t want to see him impaled on the buck’s antlers or trampled under his hooves.
As luck would have it, as the buck turned towards One-Eye it exposed its flank to Shine. Smiling once more, she drew back her arm being careful to keep her thumb over the top of her spear so it wouldn’t fall out of the groove of her throwing stick. Lifting her left arm as if reaching for the buck she took careful aim and brought her right arm forward. Driven towards its target by the un-natural strength of her arm and the leverage supplied by the throwing stick, her spear flew straight and true towards its target.
Hitting the buck, Shine’s spear made a solid sounding *THWACK!* as the flint spearhead easily penetrated the buck’s hide. The spear buried itself in the buck with such force that it didn’t stop until the tip of the spearhead pocked from the other side of the buck’s body. With a surprised grunt the buck took a couple of faltering steps before it fell to its knees. Stumbling to the ground it coughed blood onto the dry grass as it breathed its last before falling over onto its side, dead.
“ONE-EYE!” Shine cried out as she ran up to her friend, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” One-Eye rested on his spear as he panted and tried to catch his breath.
“Very clever!” Lone-Hunter smiled as he ran over to join his clan-mates.
“Clever?” One-Eye asked in confusion, “I so very nearly became an antler ornament, what’s so clever about that?”
“Oh!?” Lone-Hunter sounded puzzled, but Shine could see the twinkle of amusement in his eyes, “So you’re saying that getting the buck to chase you and trample you into the ground wasn’t part of a cunning plan to distract him so Shine or I could kill him?”
“No!” One-Eye replied shortly, he knew when he was being mocked.
“Oh,” Lone-Hunter shook his head, “sorry, if I’d know this wasn’t part of your clever plan I’d have come quicker.”
“Thanks,” One-Eye scowled; Lone-Hunter was fairly new to the clan and One-Eye still didn’t know where he stood with the man.
“Okay, guys,” Shine started to tug on her spear trying to free it from the side of the buck, “less joking and more working,” she glanced up to where the sun was starting to sink towards the horizon. “We have this fine buck, that One-Eye lured onto my spear,” she winked at Lone-Hunter and didn’t quite suppress a grin, “to butcher before the lions notice what we’ve done.”
“Hey!” One-Eye gave Shine a slightly hurt look, “Not wanting to be eaten here,” One-Eye announced as he drew a flint knife from his belt and fell on the dead buck.
“Right there with you,” agreed Lone-Hunter who’d dropped his spear and drew his own knife before getting to work next to One-Eye as he cut the buck into manageable chunks.
“UUUGH!” Groaned Shine as she tugged on her spear, it wouldn’t budge, “F’oook it!” She gave up tugging on the weapon, the spear would come free once they’d butchered the animal.
Giving up, she drew her own knife and got to work helping her friends. Working quickly they soon had the buck cut up. Things like the liver and brains were put into skin bags to be carried home. The brains would be eaten by the hunters to give them power over the next buck they hunted. The liver would be given to Mother and Chase who were both heavily pregnant, it would make them and their babies strong and more able to survive the winter. The meat would be either cooked and eaten now or smoked and dried and kept for the winter when the hunting wasn’t so good.
Even as the three hunters had gathered together all the meat they could carry they noticed there was still a lot of meat left. Looking down at the remains of the buck, Shine shook her head in sorrow, it had been a really big animal one of the biggest she’d ever seen. If they’d been closer to home they could have called, Moon-Wolf, Night-Watcher and maybe even Elm and Dusk to help carry it home. An animal like this one could last the clan nearly all winter.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Lone-Hunter said to Shine as she stood over the carcass, “pity to leave all that meat for the wolves and lions.”
“I’m not worried so much about the wolves,” Shine’s people had a truce with the wolf clan that shared the valley with them; the two clans left each other alone as much as they could. “They know not to attack us and we always leave them something, it’s the lions I don’t want to encourage. Leave meat lying around for them and by next spring you’re knee deep in lion cubs and the spring after that you’re fighting them off with a stick!”
“What’s up?” One-Eye joined his two friends.
“It’s a pity to leave all this nice meat for the lions,” Shine pointed out.
“Hmmmm,” One-Eye scratched his head and adjusted his eye patch, a sure sign that he was thinking. “Hold on a moment.”
Drawing his knife, One-Eye started to skin the hide off the deer from the parts that hadn’t been cut up when they’d been butchering the animal.
“Come on, One-Eye,” Shine cast a worried glance towards the sun as it hurried towards the horizon; soon it would be disappearing behind the trees and at night there were much worse things than lions in the valley. “We’ve not time to skin its hide.”
“No, help me,” One-Eye cut quickly with his knife, “we cut the hide up into long strips, tie them together like a rope and then use it to hang the rest of the meat up in one of the tall trees.”
“YES!” Lone-Hunter knelt down next to One-Eye and started to help him, he glanced at One-Eye as he worked, “You know I was only joking earlier don’t you? I’d hate to see you eaten or trampled on…”
“Hey,” Shine got down to join the two men, she looked at One-Eye, “you know he’s only keeping you alive so he doesn’t have to mate with Chase.”
“Look,” One-Eye paused in his work and glanced at his friends, “there’s nothing wrong with Chase…”
“If you say so,” Shine looked at Lone-Hunter and rolled her eyes.
Chase was nice enough, if you didn’t have to be with her all the time, she’d been a good mother even if her first baby had died. The child had just not woken up one morning, these things happened it was nothing that Chase had done or not done. But, Chase did seem to think that the world was for her benefit and she had plans on being Mother when Shine’s mother eventually died or gave up the leadership of the clan.
Very soon the three hunters had a pile of rough, bloody hide which they tied into long strips.
“You know this isn’t going to be as strong as proper rope,” Shine pointed out, normally they platted lengths of hide together to make rope.
“Cut the meat into smaller pieces?” One-Eye suggested.
Shine cast a worried glance towards the sun; it was touching the tops of the trees now. By the time they got anywhere near home it’d be fully dark.
“Okay, but be quick,” Shine agreed.0=0=0=0
Spears in their hands and loads of meat on their backs the three hunters ran across the open grass between the stands of trees. By keeping to the clear areas they stood more chance of seeing anything that might attack them. If they did they could dump some of the meat and run on. Hopefully if it was lions chasing them they’d be distracted, but if it was something else, something worse, Shine would have to dump her load and turn and fight. That was her job, her destiny as Night-Watcher called it.
By the time they came to the river below the cliffs where the clan’s cave was, One-Eye and Lone-Hunter were breathing heavily; Shine wasn’t, she’d have to run a lot further and harder before she lost her breath. Stopping on the bank of the river, Shine looked back at the dark trees that they’d just had to pass through.
“What’s wrong?” Lone-Hunter asked as he came to stand next to Shine, he clutched his spear ready to fight, “Lions?”
“No,” Shine shook her head, “worse than Lions.” Looking up at the tall hunter, Shine sighed, she knew he wanted to stay with her and fight, but she also knew that would just get him killed. “Go, get the meat and One-Eye back home. Build up the fire and have Moon-Wolf patrol. You and One-Eye must protect the clan, okay?”
“But…” Lone-Hunter started to object.
“NO!” Shine replied in a voice that wouldn’t be argued with, she pulled the bundle of meat pieces from her back, “Take this and go,” she handed the bundle to the hunter, “if I catch you hanging around I’ll kick your butt myself, now go!”
Reluctantly, Lone-Hunter took hold of Shine’s bundle, turned and crossed the river to join One-Eye who already stood on the opposite bank. After waiting to give her two friends time to start up the slope towards the cave, Shine gripped her spear in both hands and moved back towards the woods. Sensing the Night-Walker in the trees, Shine paused behind the trunk of a big tree and rested her spear against one of the lower branches; it’d be no use to her in the coming fight. Instead of using her spear, she drew a long piece of sharpened wood, about the length of her thigh bone, from a loop on her belt.
Clutching the stake with its fire hardened point in her hand she moved quietly between the trees listening for any sound that the Night-Walker might make. Normally she could hear prey breathing from quite a way off, but, Night-Walkers didn’t need to breathe. To make matters worse this Night-Walker was brighter than most and was keeping as still as a rock. Muttering darkly under her breath, Shine paused in the deeper, darker shadow of another tree. Under the trees it was darker than when she closed her eyes to sleep, the only sound was the creaking of the trees as they stirred the air with their branches. If the Night-Walker was breathing she might smell its fetid breath, but it wasn’t so she couldn’t, there was only one thing for it, she hated hunting this way but needs must…
“Oh dear!” Shine cried in a loud voice, “I’m just a poor defenceless female lost in these deep, dark woods.” She paused and listened but heard nothing. “Oh well,” she whispered to herself, “Yes, lost in the woods with no one to protect me and all this hot, rich blood
rushing through my young, soft and really snuggleable body!” Shine paused to listen, “Ah-ha,” she smiled as she spoke quietly to herself, she’d heard something start to move towards her, “something hungry this way comes!”
Taking a firmer grip on her stake she closed her eyes and listened very, very carefully, yes there were wary almost silent footsteps coming towards her, she could hear them quite clearly now.
“Oh dear!” Shine called out loud, “How will I get home without some big, nasty, creature sinking its fangs into my poor, defenceless neck?”
The Night-Walker sprang from the shadows into a beam of moonlight that shone down between the trees. Colliding with Shine’s fist it stumbled backwards and hit a tree.
“HI!” Shine smiled brightly as the Night-Walker bounced off the tree and staggered towards her, “I’m Shine the Night-Walker Hunter and you’re…” Shine thrust her stake into the Night-Walker’s heart, she stood back as it turned to ash, “…dead!”
“Yay for me!” Shine did a little victory dance as she watched the ash settle onto the forest floor.
The Night-Walker must have been one of Blood-Fang and Dreamer’s people. They had a deep cave, where they hid from the sun, somewhere up at the head of the valley. They mostly stayed up there and didn’t bother Shine and her clan. The Night-Walkers usually fed on animals but sometimes they took a human and made it into on of their own. Normally they only did this when Blood-Fang got it into his head to try and kill Shine; so far he’d been amazingly unsuccessful.
Standing and listening for five hands of heart beats, Shine shrugged, slipped her stake back into its loop and headed off towards the river. Pausing only long enough to wash the worst of the dirt and blood from her arms, legs and face she trotted up the slope towards home. Sensing Moon-Wolf before she saw him she slowed as she walked around a bush that grew next to the path leading to the cave, Shine came face to face with the wolf. He was twice the size of a normal wolf and as clever as a man; in fact over the three nights when the moon was at its fullest he was a man. A Wolf-Man as Night-Watcher called him. Lifting a questioning eyebrow, Moon-Wolf asked the unspoken question.
“Yeah, we’re safe for the night,” Shine told him, “you can go back to Elm now, and thanks for looking after everyone.”
Making a sort of snuffling-grunt, as if to say, ‘you’re welcome’, Moon-Wolf trotted ahead of her towards the cave mouth. He was too big and strong to be worried about Night-Walkers and his teeth and jaws were powerful enough to rip one to ashes if it tried. Climbing the last few paces, Shine saw One-Eye, Lone-Hunter and Night-Watcher waiting for her at the cave mouth.
“Are you alright?” Night-Watcher stepped towards Shine and hugged her; as her mother’s mate he’d been her step-father since her real father had left the clan and the tribe some years ago.
“I’m fine,” Shine returned her step-father’s hug, “lone Night-Walker,” Shine paused her brow furrowed in thought, “y’know, Dad,” she grinned up into her step-father’s face, “we really need to think of a better name for Night-Walkers something more snappy, y’know?”
“I think I do,” Night-Watcher smiled at the young woman before him, “I’ll give it some thought, alright?”
“Now,” Shine looked at her friends and family, “I’m cold, wet and tired, I want my bed.”
“Of course,” Night-Watcher agreed as the little group split up to go to there own beds.
Walking around the fire that was kept burning at the cave mouth, Shine stepped over and around the bodies of her clan as they settled down to sleep. Eventually she came to where her sister, Dusk lay huddled up in their sleeping skins. Pulling off her hunting dress, Shine pulled back the skins and crawled under them next to her sister.
“You’re all cold and clammy and you smell really gross,” Dusk informed her sister in a sleepy voice.
“Sorry,” Shine apologised as she tried to get comfortable.
“Here,” Dusk turned over to face her sister, “snuggle up close I’ll soon get you warm.”
“Thanks,” Shine nuzzled her sister’s neck in gratitude as she felt herself getting warmer, “who’s gonna keep be warm when you mate with Lone-Hunter?”
“Oh stop feeling sorry for yourself,” Dusk ordered, “shut up and let me get back to sleep.”
Feeling safe and warm in her little sister’s arms, Shine quickly drifted off into a deep sleep where she dreamed about the events of the past day.0=0=0=0A note about language.
Most stories seem to depict ‘Cave-persons’ as having the language skills of a retarded three year old; does the phrase, ‘Boy smell nice’, sound familiar? I’m sorry, but I really feel that the planning of things like hunting large and dangerous game needs more language skills than the average toddler has. So, in this fic our characters will for the most part speak in colloquial English and only occasionally descend into what we might call ‘cave speak’.