Submission # 10 David Driver

The Cycle of Life

The leaves are falling, falling to the wastelands; orange, yellow, red and brown line the paths and trails. The winds are getting stronger, fiercer; howling through the canyons, they wildly scatter the discarded leaves of the deciduous across the land further than the eye can see.

We have made our sacks from the animal skins, it is time to collect the leaves. They will make good pillows and bedding; but some will be used for another task, a much darker deed.

Fresh water snails must also be gathered and placed in the clay pots along with a little of the water; this is vital. One cannot survive without the other and both are part of the same cycle.

Smaller pots carry the seeds. We have collected the seeds earlier and they must be planted.

The fire tools are ready. These are sacred. Only Fire Master is allowed to touch them.
Icy winds are looming. The land is not growing, it is dying. Snow and ice will come with the winds; covering all, it will freeze, break and kill. Nothing survives, it is time to go below.
Cave Seeker returns, she has found a good one. Clan Chief stands on the speaking stone and tells us it is time to go. Some of us are happy, some are afraid and some are unsure.
We all carry something to the mouth of the cave and in the chosen order, we enter. Magician is the last one to enter after he has performed his magic around the entrance of our new home.

Our clan does not go far, it is not safe. The trackers talk for a while and then move deeper into the dark caverns alone; we sit and wait. They return after two days and tell us it is safe for all of us to venture forward.

The trackers lead the way once more, but this time they are joined by our bravest warriors. Some warriors carry the long poles with the leaf bags tied to the ends and others carry the giant shells.

Deeper and deeper we go. A shattering explosion is heard behind us. The water poured around the cave entrance has frozen, it has expanded and broken the rocks, sealing us in; the magic has worked.

We hear the sound of the giant shells as they are blown, the giant rock worms have been found. Fire Master lights the leaf bags and the smoke plumes down the tunnel. The worms are on the move; they do not like the loud noise and the smoke irritates them. They must keep moving down the tunnel, they must not be allowed to turn around or we will all be crushed.

The warriors know what they are doing and keep the giant worms moving. The second entrance nears and soon they are driven out into the cold. The three worms will keep moving in fear, but the freezing temperature will kill them.

Once more the water magic is performed around the entrance. Magician has to be quick or he will die too, but he is wrapped in many furs. The magic doesn`t take long to work again and our clan is now sealed in.

The water from the clay pots is poured into the rocks pools of the cave. The water starts to glow a bright blue or a bright green. The snails are poured into the water and their shells start to glow the same colours. The older clan members take the snails and stick them on the roof of the cave. The children clap their hands, laugh and join in. This will be our light.
Parts of the cave floor are covered with the leaves and pillows are put on top; these will be the sleeping quarters. Some of the older clan are tired and want to sleep now. Fire Master lights the piles of wood to keep us warm. Cooking pots are placed over some of the flames and soon we will eat a good meal to celebrate our time underground. The seeds are planted in the soil of the caves. They will grow quickly with the help of the blue and green light. The food will keep us alive.

Clan members start to search the cave. They return after a while, they have found the roots of the giant oaks; these will make good fire wood to keep us warm when the trees die above. It is a good cave. It will be a good home.

xxx

Clan Chief watches, he has been watching for days. He stands and looks up at the Great Eye of Ice. Clan Chief closes his eyes and speaks with the gods, water drips on his forehead. He speaks the sacred words again and again. It is time to live above once more.
All the clan are happy. We smile, laugh, clap our hands and kiss each other. Some are chosen to stand with Clan Chief and feel the water drip onto their forehead.

The Great Eye of Ice has transformed into a waterfall. The death is draining away from above and once more we will be allowed to live on the surface. Some of the clan point at the tiny rock worms swimming in the water, they are no bigger than their fingers. The cycle continues as it was meant to be; we drive the giant rock worms out in order to survive and the Great Ice Eye allows us safe passage back out and the young rock worms in. Our gods will be pleased.

Ropes have been made from some of the roots. Bone has been sharpened and shaped into hooks. We begin the long climb out.

The fresh air is good as we near the surface. We can see the sky. When the last of our clan stands on the surface again, Clan Chief speaks. We are reassured once more that our gods have not left us, they just take different forms. The Great Eye of Ice watched over us as we lived underground and then became a waterfall to allow us to walk on the surface once more. He now watches over us as a bright red ball of fire, keeping us warm. Clan Chief tells us that the gods are pleased, the gods watch over us as always.
Young warriors return, they have found the giant rock worm we drove out of the cave. Everyone is happy and we all follow the warriors to see for ourselves.

Our knives of bone begin to carve them up. They are still fresh, they will be a good meal. Their fat is collected in pots and soon we will light the fires.

We begin the journey to the copper fire pots. The ice does not kill them and they still stand tall and strong. Everyone is excited and soon we will thank the gods with our own fire. Chosen clan members will be able to join the gods in the skies.

The meal is good and the fires burn high into the sky. White lights are seen in the sky. It is the gods. Gifts have been prepared for them.

Bone has been carved into knives and other tools; necklaces have also been made. Buckets of snails have been saved, they still glow blue or green. We have also decorated some of our clay pots.

We watch as the whit lights get nearer. They are silver and shaped like the Great Ice Eye. We can see the gods inside them. They stop moving and the gods come to see us. The gods smile and touch our hands. They give us god gifts in exchange for our own; tools made from the metal of the gods, small ice eyes of our own and the magic reflection sheets of ice which do not melt or vanish like in the water when we move our hands quickly.

The children are always taken by the gods, they always take the children. But the children are happy and will be safe with the gods; they will become gods themselves Clan Chief tells us.

Clan Chief is happy because the gods have given him many of the small circles of metal with the gods` heads carved into them. We are all happy now because Clan Chief will share them and all the clan will wear the god jewellery we make from them. Now we can walk to the city and buy food and clothes. We can buy the seeds from the city. We need the seeds to plant when we return and have to live down in the caves once more

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