Monday, October 22, 2007

The Tribe

Since writing this, I've discovered that LMM outlined a very similar story idea. I'm pretty sure I wasn't aware of this beforehand, but I apologise for stealing your thunder, regardless.

It had been two generations since the tribe had first met the pale men. The pale men had claimed to come from outside the jungle, but they said many things that made no sense, and the people of the tribe generally ignored them. But three years ago, new pale men (or were they the same ones? Who could tell them apart?) arrived who refused to be ignored.

The claimed that the ancient gods of the jungle, that the tribe had worshipped since before the sun had been set in the sky, were false gods and that everyone must worship their god, known as Jezas. Two of the men of the tribe had gone with them, and taken part in their magic rituals, and said the words which (the pale men claimed) would bind them forever to Jezas.

And now the ancient gods were punishing them. The men who had abandoned them for Jezas had gone, their loincloths and bracelets and ear-rings falling to the floor when the gods snatched them up to answer for their crime. Worse, the gods had chosen to punish the whole tribe for allowing this to happen: every child, everyone who had not gone through the rituals marking them as an adult, had also vanished. There had been panics, and many fights, for days before the elders managed get the tribe to listen to reason.

The old stories, from the time before time, told that the gods were demanding, proud, that they required proper treatment. It had been many generations since the gods had demanded the sacrifice of warriors from another tribe, but no-one doubted they wanted a sacrifice now. And the elders knew the stories that told how it was to be done.

The victim would be hung by his ankles, and deep gouges cut into the side of his neck, that the spirits of the soil could feast on his blood. Small wooden cages would be hung around him, to catch his spirit as it fled his body. Once the victim was dead, the elders would each eat a sliver of his flesh, pronouncing it fit for the gods. Finally, the body and the spirit-traps would be thrown onto a pyre, that the gods might eat the flames and smoke as they carried the victim off to heaven. Once the fire was cold, every member of the tribe would paint their face and arms with the ashes, that the gods would know who had fed them so well.

It was good, what the elders said. Everyone agreed that it must be done, the gods must be appeased, so the women began building the sacrifical pyre and making the spirit-traps as the men went hunting for the pale men.

The gods would get their due.

4 comments:

X said...

This should somehow end with the tribe traveling through the jungle, running into many bands of the old kin who had similar traitors bring punishment on the tribe, and form up a reasonable sized army to massacre the inhabitants of a whole town of pale men and their demon sticks found in the biggest clearing anyone had ever seen.

wintermute said...

To be honest, I don't see myself writing more of this; at the moment I think it's just a one-off.

But I am working on an unrelated vignette which includes actual characters and dialogue (well, monologue, so far). So there!

Also, constructive criticism is appreciated, if anyone has any...

Jesurgislac said...

It's basically a shaggy dog story, but within that pattern, good.

If gruesome. I'm not that keen on gruesome. (Ako's gruesome, but somehow that's different.)

Panda Rosa said...

It reminds me a bit of Gibson's Apacalypto, of the beauty and harshness of the native religions even as they grapple with the invading Christianity. What indeed would the reaction of more primitive peoples to the loss of thier children? What rites, rightly or wrongly, would be carried out and how far would they go? I've heard of such rituals, of young warriors being hung by hooks and the like; maybe the Christians aren't all bad.