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  #121  
Old 03-13-2012, 12:39 AM
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“Everyone, back away. Slowly.” Her throat had gone very dry. She spoke in an overly calm voice that entirely did not reflect her current feelings. Hyenas…Did that hunter plan this? He must have gone directly by the den. No matter now, but if that was the case then Aisha might knock him senseless when she caught him. Anger and fear exploded in equal measures. She shoved them down.

In the same soothing voice, she continued, “Stay near somebody if you can, but get away. They might leave us alone if we move away from their den.” Her eyes widened as Mkela got closer to the den. “Mkela. Get away from the babies. Now. The babies are most likely why they confront us. If you molest them, the parents will attack.”

She took one nervous step towards the hyenas to grab M/engá by the back of his shirt. Slowly, she pull him back.
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  #122  
Old 03-13-2012, 07:39 AM
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Seeing that the Hyena's were now out of the burrow, Mkela abandoned his plan and backed away slowly towards the group, still holding onto the sticks he had picked up.
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  #123  
Old 03-13-2012, 11:06 AM
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Kalamko's brain spat up the information that he was looking for: They are not generally predators...they're scavengers. They must be protecting their lair.

"She's right - everyone move backward slowly...far enough away that they don't feel threatened by us! Do it!!"

"Don't worry,"
he added, lamely, "I read it in a book!"
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  #124  
Old 03-13-2012, 06:21 PM
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M/engá

Aisha's tug encourages the less than successful hunter to take a step backward, and he is relieved to hear that her voice sounds so calm and in control. But the growling and snarling of the two hyenas unsettles him:

I've never been this close to them before... they seem so much bigger at this distance...

Despite being surrounded by his fellow seeds, M/engá feels weak and defenceless. As he steps back he draws his dagger, trying to ensure it's blade does not catch the glare of the climbing desert sun.

 
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  #125  
Old 03-13-2012, 07:40 PM
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Korubo lingered quietly in the furthermost back line of the seeds, obscuring himself behind the ghostly wanderer who had joined their trek. Peeking out from behind, the young Namaqua stared with fascination at the tension and fear rising between the hyenas and the other children.

For the longest time he made no attempts to come to M/enga's aid, or do anything beyond simply watching from his relatively safe vantage point. Eventually he seemed to come to his senses, however - or at least the realization that he would be next if the others were eaten - and very cautiously drew out his bow.

 
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  #126  
Old 03-14-2012, 06:03 AM
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As the children backed away from the den, the smaller of the hyenas suddenly turned around and disappeared inside the burrow, while its mate sat down on its haunches, fangs still barred but not growling any more. It appeared that the strategy of retreating was working to avoid needless confrontation; even if they did kill the beasts, hyena meat was considered unclean and not something that people should consume.
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  #127  
Old 03-15-2012, 08:23 AM
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Pre-Hyena encounter.

-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

Nontle slowly eyed-over Mkela's offer of flowers. At first this struck her as weird, then he explained that they could be eaten. Her pridefull side wanted to decline the offer, claiming it was an offer out of pity. But she knew better and gratefully thanked Mkela.
"Thanks, I was getting hungry... which you probably heard." She took one of the offered flowers and tried it; the outside tasted bitter and dry but when she broke through into the center the bitterness became milder, giving way to a different taste which she couldn't quite put her finger on and the dryness was supplanted by sap that tasted like milk in texture, but reminded her more of sugar in taste.

Hyena encounter

-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

"Hey! Mighty hunters! Who is hungry? I have something for us!" M/engá called from a small distance away. Nontle smiled, things were looking up if everyone was this skilled. At least we won't be dying of growls anytime soo- Wait, growls?

The sounds were coming from M/engá's direction, slightly muffled by the den the hyena's were in. On one hand she wanted to knock M/engá silly for thinking a den of hyena's was anything good to find, and on the other hand she was worried about him. She worried about the entire group, but he was the closest to the den and in the most danger.

Everyone took action to the point that she didn't even feel it was neccesary to act. Following Aisha's advice the threat passed as quickly as it had arrived, everyone backed away from the den and the hyena's returned inside.

Nontle sighed in relief. "That could have gone very wrong. Good job Aisha, you saved us in a pinch. I rather prefer not having bite marks on my body. Not even mentioning the infections..."

Last edited by Kaleopolitus; 03-15-2012 at 08:26 AM.
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  #128  
Old 03-17-2012, 05:47 AM
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After their encounter with the hyenas, the group picked up the trail again and started walking. Soon they left the salt pan behind, the terrain now turning into shallow reddish sand dotted here and there by bushes and straggly trees with short trunks and dusty, dark-green leaves. A large eagle was perched in one of the trees and underneath a man was sitting in the shadow, leaning against the tree and carving a piece of wood with his knife.

As the group approached, the man looked up from his work then glanced to the side at a stick rising vertically from the sand a few steps away. He was Korana, but not someone who was often seen with the tribe; he was an advanced scout, someone who spent most of his days alone in the waste, roaming ahead the band and leaving marks to alert them of good hunting, waterholes or one of the myriad dangers of the desert. He looked to be quite old, but still fit, with ropy muscles and an air of hardness about him. He wore a lion pelt cloak, the thick mane arranged around his shoulders, and underneath that goat hair leggings and a leather sleeveless shirt. Around his neck was a necklace of claws and teeth, likely from the lion who had given up his pelt. His gray hair hung in thick, long dreadlocks down to his waist.

As he moved his gaze away from the stick, he gave a brief nod to the group and spoke. "That wasn't too bad, you made good time." His eyes moved from one candidate to another, looking them up and down. "And I see that nobody's hurt, good. Now sit down and rest a little. Afterwards I'll give you your next task."
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  #129  
Old 03-17-2012, 07:46 AM
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M/engá

The sight of the hunter impresses the young tribesman. He does not remember having seen this Korana before and for a moment he finds himself somewhat in awe of the man. Admiring the lion pelt worn by the desert-hardened scout he self-consciously toys with his the honey-bird feathers worn in his own headband, considering how paltry they must look by comparison. This man had killed a lion, and he'd merely picked up some tail feathers left by a moulting bird. Should they have been wearing hyena pelts? No! But... but was that encounter part of the test? If so, that had been a mean trick! He leans into to whisper in Aisha' ear:

"...do you want to mention the desert-dogs or shall I?"
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  #130  
Old 03-19-2012, 07:23 AM
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Mkela

Mkela was glad to have a moment to rest, but anxious to move on. The shadow left on the sand by the hunter's stick was short, and not likely to get longer for some time. It would only be getting hotter. He took this time to sit in the shade of the tree near the scout. He looked across the desert landscape. Maybe it was the encounter with the Hyenas and the danger they had put themselves in that effected the change in his thoughts. While he had spent his entire life in the desert, the view in front of him took on a new life - and he realized that he didn't recognize any of it. The trees, the plants, the rock and sand formations, the vastness before him came into sharper focus and with more detail than he had ever notice before. With no one to lead them, they would have to be more aware than ever before. Their survival and success no longer depended on the tribal leaders leading the group. Now they were the leaders. I must be aware. I must think clearly. I must consider the consequences before acting.
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  #131  
Old 03-20-2012, 05:48 AM
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Aisha stared at the man in what outwardly appeared to be numb disbelief. If anyone could see her mind, they would have known the truth. She was angry. More angry than she had been at that idiot Mkela, nearly prodding a baby and getting himself killed. She had half a mind to club the son of a whore over the head. She held her tongue on the off chance that he hadn’t known he had dragged them past a den of aggressive wild animals. How that was even possible, she did not know, but it was worth asking. M/engá’s words tugged her tongue out of its tense knot into action.

“Hm. Nobody hurt. I suppose you are correct. But that seems to be of no thanks to you. Tell me, old man, did you happen to notice a den of wild dogs on your trek here?”
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  #132  
Old 03-20-2012, 02:23 PM
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The scout returned Aisha's gaze levelly, unruffled. "I did. I was hoping some of you would have better sense than poke around in it, but even so, your quick thinking avoided trouble." He took a sip from his waterskin and cocked his head at the girl. "You seem to believe that I should have kept you safe. That is not my task. My task was to walk from there to here. And when you're on your own in the waste, some wild dogs are the least of your worries. You're no longer children, to be coddled and held by the hand. You're almost men and women grown."

He rose to his feet, still leaning against the smooth bole of the tree. "Now, lecturing you isn't my task either, so I'll just tell you what you need to do next. Or you can walk back to the camp, there's no shame in trying and failing. But if you'd rather continue..." He plucked a twig and started sketching a crude map in the reddish sand. The scribbles showed the area around them within half a day's walk - the dunes continued to the south, while to the east they gave way to flinty hills. The man pointed his twig at a spot in those hills, marking some sort of subterranean entrance. "There was an earthquake recently in that area and we heard from another tribe that a fissure has opened, leading under the hills. They say that one can glimpse strange shapes inside, things like they've never seen before." The scout paused and scratched his head with the twig. I went there and peeked inside. It is very strange indeed, but doesn't seem dangerous. So you go and see what you can find out, maybe you can make more sense of it."

He waited for a moment to make sure that everyone had seen the map and had understood their task. Then he kicked what looked like a dry tangle of brush to reveal a stack of neat coils of rope made from twisted vegetable fibers. "You will likely need these. The cave-in is recent enough that no critters should have moved in, but just in case you should make yourselves some more weapons. There's good flint in those hills. And th..." A sudden shriek cut off his words. The eagle, who had flown off as the group had approached the tree, was now back and circling overhead. The man looked up and frowned, the deep lines on his face getting deeper. As he picked up his spear and a small leather bundle, he spoke hurriedly. "The other group is in trouble. I'll go help them. You continue on your way. Keep your eyes and ears open and good luck!" With that, he turned away from them and started jogging with a long, loping stride towards south-west.
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  #133  
Old 03-20-2012, 05:56 PM
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"...I did. I was hoping some of you would have better sense than poke around in it..."

M/engá looks sheepish at this comment, but he is pleased to receive praise by proxy for the quick thinking of his comrades. At the news that the other group is in trouble, M/engá is surprised to feel a pang of concern for his rivals. It does not last long: it would serve /Uhi and Nmeregini right if their arrogance led to them coming a cropper. Still, he doubted the others in the rival team deserved to pay the price for their self-appointed leaders' foolishness: just as the group nearly paid for mine...

Feeling his own mood darken and sensing the concerns of some of the group for their friends on the other team, the honey thief decided to lighten the mood:

"Our quick thinking avoided trouble, huh? Maybe we could tell the tale a little differently:"
 


M/engá tucked his thumbs into a decidely average-looking belt about his waist and puffed out his chest:

"...and so the heroes of the Khoe moved on victorious, to the foothills-of-flint! Let's go!"

The boy skipped ahead of the group, heading eastward, humming a traditional dance tune of the Namaqua.
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  #134  
Old 03-21-2012, 10:54 AM
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Kalamko was glad to see the hunter, despite the hyena incident. The first trial is over, he thought, and I acquitted myself...fairly well. He smiled at the thought of the tubers. His smile died, however, when he heard the wolf girl (I must ask her name) berate the hunter.

He felt sickened by the hunter's reply. Foolish of me to think that this was the whole of the test, he thought, a little bitterly, and now we have to explore a fissure...in an area that has earthquakes and...critters. Kalamko felt the slight weight of his sling and wondered how much use it would be against the armies of hyenas, scorpions, and other horrors that his mind conjured up for him. If only I had been more successful with my magical studies, he thought, glumly.

At the mention of the other team, Kalamko felt a pang of guilt. He did not want Nmeregini to succeed...did not want that more than anything...but he also did not want the other people to suffer for his brother's arrogance, for he knew that it would be Nmeregini's hubris that had led them into danger. Ekevu is there...I must not forget that.

Is there anything we can do to help them? He asked the hunter, who just looked at him as if he were a particularly stupid insect. Right...no...we will go as you told us.

And so Kalamko followed the irrepressibly cheerful M/engá (Didn't he just almost get eaten!? I wish I could rebound from trauma like that...) towards the East and the great fissure.
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  #135  
Old 03-22-2012, 07:02 PM
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So'o sat peacefully in the shade of the tree as Aisha berated the elder hunter. He couldn't help but smile, though whether it was a smile in agreement with what she had said, or a smile in spite of it, she couldn't guess. The smile had almost faded from his lips when the hunter instructed them to enter the newly opened fissure, adding that it was still likely safe. At that, So'o chuckled.

The spirit of the erg had opened its gaping mouth and it was safe to enter? If the desert was hungry, climbing into its maw seemed the least safe thing to do. Of course, he would go, for this was the path the spirits had cast him upon, so the albino remained silent, even as the eagle cried and the hunter disappeared.

At least until M'engá told his story.

"A pretty tale," So'o commented in his whispering voice, "but not what happened."

So'o watched as M'engá and Kalamko began to trek off into the sands once more. He looked over his shoulder at the others, at Aisha in particular (curious to see how her angry tones would fare in the unforgiving wastes). If she was simply plaintive... but no. There must be more to her than petulance and temper. A seed. Perhaps she will grow. And how would the experience change So'o? He smiled once more in fascination at the prospect.

"Let's go," he said to those yet to stir, more a suggestion than a statement.

The albino rose to his feet and once more drew the ragged leopard skin cloak over his head. His wrapped spear in hand, he too followed.
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