Tuesday, July 28, 2015

armor | part 1 & 2

[A quick note: read this link {click here} and this link {click here}, first to get the most out of this one. I also once again glued the two parts together for convenience and to squeeze in a bit of polishing...]

The softmen were incautious with their stink, unaware of the wind. Ar-tuk had hard-learned how to smile in daylight, but he would never unlearn caution.

Two softmen crept up the sun dappled mountain beach, with soft footfalls they believed to be stealthy. Ar-tuk absently pressed the pad of his finger into the sharp point of his tusks. Sel-tuk gathered the children in silence. She could smell as well as him.

He smiled at the children before they descended from sight; Sel-tuk gave him a halfhearted grin before following.

He tried to reassure her with a toothsome smile. His wet eyes betrayed him.

No matter, all would be well. Sel-tuk was wiser and fiercer than him; she could keep them safe, even in daylight. His children would know laughter and bright skies.

He slowly armored himself in this thought. Then, with a sigh Ar-tuk snatched his last tattered spear from the branches of a nearby tree.

Ar-tuk gave no restraint to his steps. Still, above his own cacophony he heard the many missteps of the softmen. Above all, the strangers reeked of wine.

“Softmen!” Ar-tuk called as the strangers rounded a fresh-fallen tree.

Two lean, sunburnt men stopped short and drew long rusted  knives from their belts. The tuskman held his spear-point low.

Ar-tuk spoke again in hard, wet voice of his people. “I offer no harm. You walk the hunting place of Ar-tuk, last of his tribe.”

The furthest of the softmen scratched his scalp vigorously through matted hair. The nearest slyly eyed Ar-tuk for too many tense moments.

“Don’t expect you made that daisy chain your own self, toothy,” the nearest said with malicious grin.

At the memory of his daughter, a cold hard knot of rage twisted deep into Ar-tuk’s stomach.

“Reckon you got some women or some girls nearby.”

The rage surged into his chest, even his teeth sang in violent tension.

“Wager you got yourself a stash of food, too.”

Ar-tuk felt his heart pound behind his eyes.

The nearest softman licked his sun-blistered lips. The furthest threw his knife.

Ar-tuk tore into motion. He spun into a wild lunge. Ar-tuk’s old spear bit deep into the nearest softman. The brigand’s grin dissolved into a gurgling mockery of a scream.

The spear snapped as Ar-tuk tried to wrench it free. He roared; letting free the fire in his chest, Ar-tuk leapt upon the shocked second softman, blank rage blurring his vison.

His tusks tasted blood. Ar-tuk slowly stood, his eyes held by the blood pouring from behind the second softman’s jaw.

“My tusk will be their spear,” he whispered with a wan smile.

***

Part 3 tomorrow...

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