This Sight is Continuously Evolving

Children of the Coyote
The History of the Fug-a-we

Chapter 10

    The sun is setting when Tagalong wakes up. She opens her eyes to find Lizardfoot sitting up watching her.
    "Thank you." He says when he sees she is awake. "Thank you for disobeying the council. By doing so you saved my life." He looks into her eyes. "Thank you for being my friend" he mumbles. Indicating the pup with his head he asks, "what's this?"
    "I'm not sure." She answers. "I found her in an abandoned den." Tag continues, scratching the pup's ears.
    "It looks like some kind of wolf pup" Lizard suggests.
    "Yes a little." Tag replies. "The markings aren't right though, and the head is shaped a little different." She continues. "It doesn't howl like a wolf ether. It makes a sharp yapping kind of sound that I have never heard a wolf make."
    "Perhaps it is some kind of coyote wolf mixture" Lizard speculates.
    "I don't think so" Tag returns. "Wolves Kill coyote's when ever they get the chance. I don't think they would mate."
    Lizardfoot shrugs. "Well it sure is cute what ever it is." He says with a smile.
    He reaches out to touch the pup but she backs away showing sharp little teeth and growling deep in her throat.
    "It's not very friendly." Lizardfoot says, pulling back his hand.
    "I guess, she will just have to get used to you, as I have." Tag says with a teasing smile.
    "It will be full dark soon. We should eat, and when the moon rises be on our way" Lizardfoot suggests.
    "Are you strong enough to travel so soon?" Asks Tagalong.
    "I'm strong enough, and we must get out of this desert before the sun catches us here again." He answers. "We don't have enough water for an other day's travel and I thought I saw a line of trees to the North, before I became disoriented yesterday." He goes on.
    "I also saw that line" Tagalong agrees. "You are right, we should travel at night while the temperature is cool so we can conserve water" she continues. Just as the moon peeks over the horizon, Lizard and Tag put on their packs, pick up their weapons and start trudging off toward the North.
    They travel until Moon set then they rest. At first light they find that they are near the black line that they had thought were trees. As they approached the line they find that it is the edge of a lava flow. Large porous black boulders jut up from the earth before them.    
    "What do we do now." Tagalong asks.
    "I will climb up to see if we can cross this bearer." Lizardfoot suggests.
    "You wait here." He continues.
    With that, he removes his pack and leans the spear against a large jagged boulder.
    "Be careful," she says, as he begins climbing the lava flow.
    After a short time he is out of sight on top of the rocks.
    Tagalong finds a spot to sit and wait. She takes off her pack and pulls out the water skin. Inspecting the container she finds that there is only a little water left. She takes a small sip and pours a few drops in her hand for the pup. The rest she saves for Lizard.
    A short time later, Tag hears the sound of falling rocks then Lizard drops to the ground nearby.
    "We can't go that way." He says disappointedly. "The rocks are to rough to walk on and they are so jumbled that it would be very difficult to make any progress." He goes on. "I think we should walk along the edge until we either come to the end or find a way through. From up there, I thought I could see some trees to the west" he says pointing. "We should go in that direction, and hopefully we will find water" he continues.
    "This is all the water we have" Tagalong says as she hands the bladder to him.
    Lizard takes the skin from her and sips a small amount of the precious liquid.
    "It looks like we only have about two drinks left." He says, holding the bladder before him. "Well, lets get started. We will go as far as we can before it gets too hot. Then we will have to find some shade to rest in." He says, as he puts on his pack and picks up his spear.
    The trio walks West along the edge of the flow. About mid day they come to a heavily used game trail exiting a gap in the lava barrier. They turn into the narrow gap and follow the game trail between sheer high walls to a large roughly circular dead end. Here they find water issuing from a cave several feet up on the side of a sheer cliff. The water falls into a large pool. Tall trees whose tops reach above the top of the cliffs surround the pool. The water runs a short distance and disappears into another small cave in the opposite wall. When they reach the pond the traveler's remove their pack's drop to their knees and drink deeply. The pup climbs out of Tagalong's pack and also gets a long overdue drink.
    After slaking their thirst, Tagalong rummages in her pack for some thing to eat. She notices that her supply of jerky and pemmican cakes is dwindling.
    "How is your food supply holding out?" she asks.
    Lizard pulls his pack to him removes the robe and dumps the rest of the contents on the ground between them. Looking into pouches and bags he says; "I have a some pieces of jerky, three pemmican cakes, some dried fruit and some nuts. Maybe enough for two, or three days. What about you?" He asks.
    "I have about the same." She replies. "We must conserve as much as possible." She continues.
    "Yes" he agrees. "We should try to make meat. This is a good place to ambush some thing coming to water." He continues.
    "Yes, many animals use this water hole so it should not be too hard to take one." Tag says.
    "Let's, have a small bite to eat, then we will hide our gear and I can set out some snares." Lizardfoot suggests. "Then we will rest until just before evening when we will hide in the rocks along the trail and see what comes along."
    As they sit eating and drinking, they talk about their individual adventures up to their meeting in the desert.
    "I had no idea that there was a land where no water existed." Lizard says shaking his head. "On the prairie one can always find something to drink within a half days walk. I didn't even consider bringing water with me." He continues. "I am sure glad that you had the forethought to bring water, it saved my life."
    Tagalong looks at her hands and blushes a little, then says. "I hadn't really planed to bring water. The bladder was only a disguise so that when I went to the creek the people would not pay any attention to me, and I could just slip away. It was only an after thought that I filled the bladder and brought it along but I'm glad I did."
    Lizard chuckles. "Well, I'm glad for that 'after thought' also." He replies.
    Lizardfoot is saddened to hear that Bigmouth followed him. Tagalong tells him her theory about the stamped. He grits his teeth and shakes his head. When she tells him about the bear tracks following his and Bigmouth's trail and her fears that Bigmouth may have run afoul of the huge animal, he becomes contemplative.
    Lizard sighs. "Because he is Fug-a-we I hope that the bear didn't get him, but if it did, it's Bigmouth's own fault and we can do nothing about it now. I hope he is all right" Lizard adds quietly.
    After finishing their meal, they re-pack their packs and begin looking for a place to stash them. They walk to the side of the pond where the water cascades from the cave high above their heads. The water is quite deep at this place and there is no way to cross behind the waterfall. They retrace their steps to the opposite end of the pond. There they find that they can easily cross the outlet where the water disappears under the cliff. Doing so they follow along the base of the high walls. The cliff runs far back into the canyon away from the pond. Some of the way is tree shaded but as they walk the trees diminish and thickets of service berries and wild rose become the primary vegetation. The berries are a welcome sight; they are ripe and juicy. The two young people laugh, as they stuff hands full of the sweet berries into their mouths. The floor of the canyon begins to slant upward at a steep angle and the walls become closer together as the two follow the cliffs farther back. Finally they come to where the two sides of the canyon meet in a jumble of large stones piled to the top of the cliffs.
    Again, Lizardfoot requests that Tagalong watch the packs while he climbs the rocks to investigate what lay ahead. A little disappointed, she agrees. She knows that it is much easier for one to climb the rocks without the equipment and that someone has to guard their possessions from any marauding scavengers that might happen by. Even so, she doesn't like being left behind.
    She can occasionally see him climbing out of a crevasse or jumping from one boulder to another. Finally, he is out of sight entirely.
    Tagalong turns to the pup, and says. "I guess we should see if we can find a place to set the snares."
    She digs into Lizards pack and pulls out the short pieces of cordage. She moves to the shrubbery to make her sets at each rabbit tunnel and quail run she comes to.
    After setting all the traps, she returns to where she left the packs. Lizardfoot is not back yet. Tagalong is becoming anxious. She wants to go look for Lizard but knows that she must stay with the equipment. Soon she hears the sound of gravel falling. Looking in the direction of the sound, Tagalong, sees a low tawny form working its way cautiously down through the rocks towards her. Her heart begins to race as adrenaline starts to work through her body. Cautiously, she picks up her spear, watching the creature as it slips out of sight behind a large boulder. Tagalong calculates where the animal will exit and quietly moves to intercept it.
    The pup also sees the young desert sheep making its way down to the watering hole. Instinctively she knows by the demeanor of her adopted mother that the hunt is on. Quietly, she follows Tagalong.
    Tag waits near a large boulder, from behind which she expects the lamb to emerge. She stands balanced with her feet slightly apart her left foot forward and her right arm cocked back holding the weapon high.
    The young desert bighorn takes two steps from behind the boulder, before Tagalong strikes. Her aim is true. The spear flies through the intervening few feet and strikes the lamb behind the right shoulder, piercing the skin, slipping between the ribs and puncturing the right lung. The sheep first falls back on its haunches then spins to the left expelling the spear and leaps upward to the rocks. Tag runs to retrieve the weapon. Snatching the spear up in mid-stride, she turns to pursue the fleeing animal. Although the sheep has disappeared, she can hear it scrambling up the rockslide. Tagalong hears a grunt and a thud, then there is silence. Looking up the slide she sees Lizardfoot emerge from behind a large boulder not faraway.
    "Good throw!" he calls down to her as he lifts the lifeless lamb to his shoulder and continues climbing down the rocks.      "We still make a good team." He says as he reaches her and drops the carcass at her feet. "You slow them down and I finish them off." He laughs. "Well, it looks like you have decided for me." He continues.
    "Decided? Decided what?" Tagalong asks. "Our next move" he answers.
    "I think I've found a way across this barrier. I was going to suggest that we try to make it across today but with this fresh meat that you have provided us, we will have to stay here a couple of days to make jerky." He continues.
    "I have set snares in the berry thicket and there is plenty of water. This will be a good place to camp for a short time" Tagalong interjects." We will now have another bladder for carrying water and we have fresh meat." She goes on.
"It is good. Now we must find a safe place to camp and then I will have to try to make a fire" He says.
    "Will you show me the magic of making fire?" Tagalong asks expectantly.
    "Magic?" Humph, it's more like a lot of hard work but yes I'll show you how it's done." He says with a smile. "First we must find a place to camp."
    With the lamb thrown across his shoulder Lizardfoot and Tagalong continue their inspection of the canyon. As they approach the falls Lizard notices a way to reach the cave from which the falls issue. It's not a trail exactly but it appears that with care a person can climb the cliff and access the cave. Again, he asks her to stay behind. Tagalong will have none of it.
    "Wait just a minute." She protests. "When we reached the barrier I stayed behind while you explored. Then, when we came to the rock slide, I stayed behind while you explored that. It's my turn to do some exploring while you wait behind" she insists, standing before him with her feet set, her hands curled into fists and placed on her hips.
    "Oh, well I uh, you, well uh okay, I guess your right. I'll stay here this time." Lizard stammers. "Just be careful," he adds.
    "I'll be careful," she says as she sets her pack down. "Let me have the rope." She requests leaning her spear against the cliff wall.
    "Why do you want the rope?" Lizard asks.
    "If the cave is usable I can drop one end of the rope to you and we can pull our equipment up behind us." She explains.
    "Good idea" Lizardfoot agrees, removing the rope from his pack.
    With the rope over her left shoulder, Tagalong commences her climb to the cave. There are plenty of hand and foot holds on the rough surface of the cliff, so it is an easy task to ascend to the opening. Once Tag reaches the entrance she climbs just inside and waits for her eyes to become accustom to the darkness.
    The first thing she notices is that the water has carved a channel along the right side, leaving an almost flat shelf on the left that runs back into the cave for an unknown distance. The shelf is wide enough for several people to camp comfortably. As her eyes become more accustom to the gloom she moves farther into the grotto. The sealing is tall enough for her to walk upright for several yards. Then the roof slopes down to where she must get down on her knees and crawl to proceed. She squats, straining her eyes to see into the darkness. She can see nothing. The rough black stone of the cavern absorbs the light. After a few minutes Tagalong turns and makes her way back to the large room at the entrance. Her eyes have become accustomed to the darkness enough so that she can now see the floor of the cave clearly. There are many tracks on the floor, mostly those of small creatures, rats, mice and birds. Then she notices one clear track near the entrance. Her blood chills and a shiver runs down her spine. She is sure the mark is that of a great fanged cat known to the people as "Puma" the night killer.
    Tagalong has only heard stories of this huge predator. No one has ever seen the great cat, only tracks and the half buried remains of the 'Terrors' victims. Tagalong had always believed that the stories of the monster were just yarns to frighten children into obeying their mothers and staying close to home, until now. Now she knows, that the tales are true.     Further inspection of the cave floor reveals a few scattered small bones and only one other partial print. Unsure of what to do next Tagalong moves to the entrance and looks over the side. Lizardfoot is skinning the small sheep and feeding tidbits to the pup.
    "Lizard!" Tagalong calls.
    He looks up from his task. "What is it? Will the cave work as a place to camp?" he asks. "I think you better look at this" she answers."Look at what?" he asks, as he wipes his hands on the sheep's hide and stands up.
    "Puma" she says softly, as if the mere mention of the name will conjure up the creature.
    "What? You will have to speak up. I can't hear you over the sound of the falls" He calls back.
    "PUMA!" She yells in frustration.
    "Pu..... Yea, right." He says shaking his head.
    "Come on Tag, quit playing games. Is the cave habitable or not?" he inquires.
    "You better come see for your self." She returns.
    "Women!" He grumbles as he shrugs and begins to climb the cliff.
    Soon, he is standing next to Tagalong on the lip of the cave.
    "Look there." She says pointing to the large track.
    Lizardfoot goes to where she points and squats down to inspect the print.
    "Hmmm, well a, Yes I see, Hmmm" he mumbles rubbing his chin.
    "Boy, that's a big one. Are there any more?" He asks.
    "Yes there is a partial track over there." She says pointing to the other.
    Lizardfoot moves to the indicated spot, he squats and looks at the sign. After a few moments he stands and returns to Tagalong's side.
    "Well, the sign looks pretty old and there is not much of it" he says, thoughtfully pulling on his ear lobe.
    "It appears that the cat uses this cave occasionally but I don't think it has been here for some time" he continues. "I think that we will be safe for a little while here, as long as we have a fire. The cave entrance will be easy to defend and I don't think that even the 'night killer' will attack two humans armed with spears, rocks and fire. Let's get our stuff up here, then I will finish butchering the lamb," he continues. "When that's done we can lay in a good supply of firewood."
    Tagalong is looking at him with a dubious expression. "I have a bad feeling about this," she says quietly.
    He takes her by the shoulders and looks into her eyes.
    "Trust me, it'll be okay," he assures her.
    She swallows hard, sighs and nods her head.
    "Right," she says. "Lets get started then, I would like to be set up and have a fire before dark," she continues.
    For the rest of the afternoon they keep busy hoisting their gear to the cave, collecting firewood and preparing the sheep meet for smoking. By sunset they are all settled in to their quarters. Their fire pit is set back from the entrance to the cave so that the smoke on exiting will pass through the simple willow framework that they have constructed. From this construct are hanging, the strips of lamb that are to be smoked. When all is in readiness Lizard produces the fire making tools.
    "Now I will show you the 'magic' of fire making," he announces as he sits near the fire pit.
    Sitting cross-legged he sets a prepared nest of tinder on the ground before him. He then places one end of the flat fire board in the middle of the nest. Resting the other end on his knee, he picks up the stick used as a scraper. Holding the scraper firmly with both hands and barring down as hard as he can he begins rubbing the end of the scraper up and down in the groove on the fire board. After several minutes he has a small pile of wood dust collecting at the bottom of the board. He continues to rub. Sweat runs down his face, chest and arms. He is breathing as hard as if he were running. The sun disappears behind the far off mountains and still no smoke. Lizard doesn't stop. It is almost full dark in the cave when lizard smells the first whiffs as the friction begins to do its work. He doubles his effort and finally is rewarded with a tiny glow on the pile of dust. Lizardfoot stops scraping and gently breathes on the pile. The glow increases. He carefully transfers the coal to the nest and continues blowing until the nest bursts into flame. Lizard sets the nest into the fire pit and begins adding twigs. When the twigs are burning he adds more kindling until he has a substantial blaze. Only then does he sit back and relax.
    "That!" He says, panting. "Is the magic of making fire."
    Tagalong looks at him in amazement. "That, is magic?" She asks incredulously. "It looks like just a lot of hard work to me. Are you sure that there isn't an easier way?"

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