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|Working on writing about magic. Apparently in this tribe some sort of tribute is expected when the chief's son and heir to the ruling position is born. And the tribe's shaman better give something especially nice.||
The fire danced as fires do, making shadows on the rocks around it. On the fire were chunks of meat. Their edges were a deep charred black but the smell made hunger jump forward. In front of the fire sat a man. His tribe considered names worthless, but he might as well have be called Shaman for his role. Knife in hand, he was working intently on an object in front of him. As he held it up for inspection, one could see that it was a skull. No doubt the meat and the skull were from a successful hunt earlier that day.
For a second, he laid the skull aside. From a pouch on his belt, he pulled some spices and thoroughly seasoned the meat. The fire hissed as some of the spices fell into it. Then, the man went back to working on the skull.
He etched three runes, running down the front, starting from right between the eye-sockets. This project had taken him the rest of the day after bringing down the perfect specimen of Saurus. His hands trembled as the last rune took its final shape. He took a deep breath and blew the last of the bone dust away. As he held it up once more to look, the fire shone through the eyes and gave it a menacing glare. The man grinned to himself. He knew this was one of his masterpieces and definitely a worthy gift. His chief would be proud when Shaman laid it beside the cradle of the chief’s first son.
Carefully setting it down, he pulled the meat from the fire, using a stick to save his fingers from being burnt. He put the meat in a big basket of reeds that his wife has specially woven for him. He grinned again thinking of the stew she would make when returned home. This hunt had been especially successful because it had not taken him too far from home. A day’s worth of travel and he should be walking across his own door.
After the last of the meat was stored, he stood and stretched. The stars sparkled down at him from a deep dark sky, but he was not tired. Far off, a Saurus bleated, calling a few times before going silent again. Perhaps it was a relative of the one he killed today. Shaman had heard from his grandfather that the Saurus have rites for the dead and that is where the tribe first learned their rites for the dead. He bowed his head for a few minutes thinking about this.
When he opened his eyes again, they fell on the skull. Since he was not tired yet, it would not hurt to make sure it was worthy of a chief’s son. He knelt slowly. Picking it up with both hands, he held it above his head. With a thick tongue, he said the names of the runes he had carved into it out loud. With eyes closed, he put on the skull. Its curves fit to his head as the first rune took effect. The horn of the beast set right above his nose. The teeth ran in a sharp row alongside his cheek. He looked out through its eye-sockets.
The second rune caused his senses to sharpen. The smell of the meat thickened and the spices on it was so strong it made him flinch. The grass beyond had a sweet smell and the bugs in it a creaky sound. He turned as he heard the swish of a beast moving through it. But the beast was much further away from the camp than it sounded and he turned back.
When the third rune began, his skin tingled and felt like bugs were crawling all over it. Scales started appearing from beneath his vest and went down his arm. Thicker and thicker the skin grew into the scales that shone slightly in the fire’s light. After the last few tingles faded away on the soles of his feet and the top of his head, he reached for his knife. He took a breath and ran the blade across his arm. It barely left a scratch. He smiled and nodded; it had grown as thick as a Saurus skin.
Then, with a sigh, Shaman said the runes in the reverse order. Before saying the first one again, he removed the skull from his head. He folded it carefully in a large skin and put it on the top of the basket holding the meat. As another Saurus cried into the night, his eyes began to droop. Carefully, he stocked the fire so it would burn through the night. Stretching out on a hide spread on the ground, he looked at the stars. His last thought as he drifted into sleep was that the skull would serve the chief’s son well.
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