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Lord of the Caves Part 28

Lord of the Caves Part 28

As the two guards hurled spears, Oh-see-rah shouted, “You know the drill!”

The two spears bounced off the alligator’s neck as it leapt, landing just in front of a paling stake.

Oh-see-rah and the other warriors lit torches as the womenfolk loaded their spear throwers. The two guards scurried inside.

The alligator gripped the paling stake with its teeth and yanked it out of the ground.

“Get in position,” Oh-see-rah screamed.

Including Oh-see-rah, the warriors formed a semi-circle only a few steps away from the lunging crocodile.

A moment later, the womenfolk stationed themselves behind the warriors.

“Count of three,” yelled Oh-see-rah. “One!”

WHOOOOOAN! The alligator roared as it invaded the cave.

“Two!” yelled Oh-see-rah.

The alligator raced straight at Oh-see-rah. He gazed right into its deadly eyes.

“Three!” yelled Oh-see-rah.

The warriors flung torches at the alligator and knelt on the ground. The torches slammed into the alligator’s head. It thrashed its head back and forth, torches flying in all directions, warriors ducking.

His knees buried in sand, Oh-see-rah pulled his knife out and shouted, “Spears!”

Oh-see-rah waited with bated breath—either his plans and drilling worked, or he would be dead in moments.

Spear after spear flew over Oh-see-rah’s head, all of them hitting its head and chest.

WHOOOOOAN! The alligator slowed but kept charging.

Oh-see-rah gritted his teeth and prepared for death. He whispered, “Dark Lady, I come to thee.”

The womenfolk fled into the cave to guard their offspring as the warriors maintained their line.

WHOOOOOAN! The alligator opened its jaws and headed for Oh-see-rah.

He held his knife before him—it was all he could do. He was close enough to smell its fetid breath.

Lol-non and the Boy stood right behind Oh-see-rah. He wanted to tell them to save themselves, but he didn’t have time.

Two tiny flaming spears soared over Oh-see-rah’s head, each blazing spear landing in one of the alligator’s nostrils.

Smoke pouring from its nostrils, the alligator, slid to a halt.

Oh-see-rah jumped backwards, bumping into Lol-non and the Boy.

The alligator pivoted in the sand.

Fearing its tail, Oh-see-rah swept up Lol-non and the Boy in his arms and jumped backward.

The tail swung around. Folks screamed.

Sand slammed into Oh-see-rah’s face. Lol-non and the Boy had stuck their faces onto his shoulder so they could see. Oh-see-rah could barely see anything, but the alligator had fled. “Guards, make sure the alligator is gone!” he shouted.

Both guards hurried out of the cave as Oh-see-rah stood, Lol-non and the Boy still in his arms. “Anyone hurt?”

No replies. That was a blessing from the Lords and Ladies. The guards soon returned shaking their heads.

Oh-see-rah marched to the Big Flat Stone and stood Lol-non and the Boy on it.

Standing behind them he yelled, “Hail our wee heroes! They saved us from the alligator’s jaws!”

A mighty shout arose, “Hooray Lol-non! Hooray Boy!”

Lol-non and the Boy raised their stubby arms in victory.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 27

“Oh-koh-rah and Hah-nah-pah, come with me,” Oh-see-rah commanded.

Spear throwers and torches in hand, they quickly joined him.

He filled them in. “Fan out and we’ll go to the creek in search of Lol-non.”

Oh-see-rah didn’t have to point out that Lol-non was likely already in the alligator’s belly. Did the wee man have no sense in his wee head?

Between the torches and the moon, Oh-see-rah could see a few paces ahead. Even the blazing bugs were hiding. Oh-see-rah took the center, Oh-koh-rah on the right and Hah-nah-pah to the left. They slowly combed through a meadow favored by deer.

“Come quickly!” shouted Oh-koh-rah.

Oh-see-rah rushed toward Oh-koh-rah to help, though he had little stomach to view the remains of Lol-non. Curses on the alligator kind. The stink of fish hit Oh-see-rah. Either he was closer to the creek than he realized, or the alligator was busy eating their fish. He slowed and peered through the dark.

“See the wee lad?” Hah-nah-pah asked.

“I’m looking,” Oh-koh-rah replied.

Oh-see-rah tiptoed to the fish. No alligator.

The net full of dead fish wiggled toward Oh-see-rah. He jumped back.

“It’s me.” Lol-non’s voice.

Smiling, Oh-see-rah picked up one of the nets.

Lol-non stood up. “I am sure happy to see you all.”

“Why are you hiding under the fish?” Oh-see-rah asked.

“Hiding from the alligator.”

Oh-see-rah hoisted Lol-non to his shoulder. “Why are the fish away from the creek?”

Lol-non laughed. “You all ran off, so I tried to drag them to the cave. The alligator chased me, so I hid.”

“Lucky for you the alligator didn’t eat our fish…wait…why were you following us?” Oh-see-rah had a mind to spank him.

Lol-non squirmed. “I wanted to fish, too.”

Hah-nah-pah squeezed Lol-non’s calf. “You’ll make good bait.”

“Not funny.” Lol-non squirmed. “I rescued the fish for you all.”

“And that will save you a spanking from me,” Oh-see-rah said.

Hah-nah-pah and Oh-koh-rah grabbed the fish, and they headed back to the cave.

“Thank you for coming back for me,” said Lol-non. “It won’t happen again.”

“Be more careful,” Oh-see-rah ordered.

Lol-non sighed. “It is hard going from being a chief’s son to being not much bigger than a Dell Folk baby.”

Oh-see-rah squeezed Lol-non’s knees. “What are you complaining about? You get to ride around on the Lord of the Cave’s shoulders.”

“The cave!” Lol-non bucked his body.

Two guards with torches stood just outside the cave just as Oh-see-rah had ordered with the new safety drills. Oh-see-rah was so glad to reach the safety of Tiger Rock Cave he decided not to humiliate Lol-non with a spanking.

At the mouth of the cave, he handed Lol-non to Oo-tah-nah. “Here’s your baby man. Let him tell you what he did.”

Lol-non closed his eyes. “It won’t happen again.”

Oo-tah-nah shook her head. “Later, I will punish you.”

Lol-non winced.

Oh-see-rah stood on the Great Flat Rock and raised his hands high. “Listen up!” He told everyone about the whisker fish and the alligator. Then he told them about Lol-non saving their fish catch.

Everyone cheered, “Lol-non!”

AHOOOON! One of the guards sounded his ram’s horn.

AHOOOON! The other guard sounded his ram’s horn.

“You know the drill!” Oh-see-rah shouted.

Spear throwers ready, the two guards backed up to the paling stakes.

WHOOOOOAN! The alligator leapt at them.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 26

Jaws opened impossibly wide, the alligator shot towards Oh-see-rah. Dropping his fishing line, he fled. Aimed right at him, the alligator’s enormous body blotted out the moon, making Oh-see-rah even blinder, making him move all the faster.

The others were yelling something, but Oh-see-rah couldn’t understand them as he waited for the alligator to slash his back open.

He barged into a blackberry bramble, countless thorns ripping his flesh, but he kept moving, desperate to evade those huge jaws and knife-like teeth. Where was the alligator? He glanced back—it had stopped, likely unwilling to rip into the thorns.

“Over here,” whispered Hah-nah-pah.

“Are you alone?” Oh-see-rah wished it wasn’t so very dark.

“We’re all here, waiting for you,” Hah-nah-pah replied.

Oh-see-rah went through a maze of bambles and joined him. They hurried off, the others joining them.

Oh-see-rah thought of the whisker fish. “Did anyone get the fish?”

Hoh-koh-rah chuckled. “We were too frightened to think of fish.”

Oh-see-rah sighed. “Now we have nothing for the morning meal.”

Hoh-koh-rah pointed left. “A bog over this ways has a good stand of cattails.”

“Why not? Better than starving.” Oh-see-rah veered left, the others keeping up with him.

Just in case something was lurking in the shadows, they scouted around the bog. Nothing.

“Go ahead,” said Oh-see-rah as he got his knife out.

WHOOOOOAN came from behind him.

He started and turned around. The alligator was racing toward him.

“Run,” yelled Oh-see-rah as he tapped one of the men on the shoulder.

The entire group bolted from the bog, the alligator scrambling after them. After a while, they could no longer see or hear the alligator.

Oh-see-rah slowed to a walk. “Halt. Did anyone gather cattails?”

Hah-nah-pah joined him. “No. But I’m tired of cattails.”

“We lost the alligator, so I suggest we stop at a blackberry patch and pick blackberries,” Oh-koh-rah said.

“Unless you picked blackberries in your brambles.” Hah-nah-pah laughed.

“No, I didn’t.” Oh-see-rah asked, “Does anyone know of a blackberry patch nearby?”

One of the new men raised his hand.

“Lead on,” said Oh-see-rah.

A short time later, the same man, said, “Look to your right at the cliff.”

“Hah-nah-pah, check for the alligator,” Oh-see-ra said as he led them to the blackberry vines.

Hah-nah-pah trotted off, soon returning. “No alligator. But we’re too far from water. And alligators don’t run far.”

Everyone started gathering blackberries. Oh-see-rah had made a meal off blackberries many a day, so the night was not a total waste of time.

WHOOOOOAN! Came from behind him.

“Run!” he yelled.

By then everyone had already fled, no one stopped running till they reached the cave’s welcome mouth.

As ordered by him, the two guards were on duty.

As Oh-see-rah passed the guards, he said, “An alligator chased us away from the blackberry patch. Watch out.”

Oh-se-rah and his men stopped just passed the paling stakes. Everyone was watching.

“Giant alligator,” he told them. “I think we lost it.”

Oo-tah-nah came to him. “Little Lol-non got out.”

“Why?”

“To follow you,” she replied. “He never came back.”

Out of the cave with the alligator on the prowl? Oh-see-rah grabbed a torch and a spear thrower.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 25

Later, Oh-see-hah and Ee-shee-nah lay intertwined. He sighed and didn’t care if he ever slept.

Ee-shee-nah kissed his neck. “Get some sleep. I have work to do.”

She left and he rolled over. Snoozing felt so good.

He woke—someone had pulled his sleeping fur back. He blinked. A sly grin on his face, Lol-non sat beside him.

“What happened?” Oh-see-rah dearly wanted a little sleep.

Lol-non dangled a long bone-fishhook in his slender hand. “I made this for you.”

Someone chuckled, a deep, man’s chuckle. “Let’s go fishing,” said Hah-nah-pah.

Oh-see-rah tried to see the cave’s mouth. “Is it close to daybreak?”

Hah-nah-pah laughed. “No. It’s the dead of night. If you’d rather take care of this wee lad, I can—”

“I don’t need anyone tending to me!” Lol-non stood and shouted.

Oh-koh-rah appeared. “What’s wrong?”

Oh-see-rah thought it best to speak of other things. “You going fishing, too?”

Oh-koh-rah picked up Lol-non. “This wee man can be whisker fish bait.”

“Put me down.” Lol-non squirmed.

Still dangling him in midair, Oh-koh-rah said, “Thank you for the fishhook.”

Looking bored, Lol-non quit struggling. “I hope you catch lots of whisker fish.”

Oh-koh-rah lowered him to the ground, and he scampered away.

Oh-see-rah wanted to apologize to Lol-non, but the others were waiting. “Don’t be mean.”

Oh-koh-rah put his fingers to his lips. “Shh. I did that so he wouldn’t ask to go.”

Hah-nah-pah’s eyes sparkled. “We’ll have our arms full of whisker fish. The others are waiting for us.”

Oh-see-rah and group headed for the creek. The moon blessed their little trip as a possum crossed their path but ignored them as if it were Lord of the Forest. A bevy of bats glided overhead, countless little squeaks coming from them.

They soon reached the creek, spreading out so each man had space to find whisker fish. Oh-see-rah tied string to a piece of tree branch and one of Lol-non’s hooks to the other end. He hurled the hook end in so it would sink to the bottom.

Soon, he felt a tug on his line. He hauled in a fat whisker fish and tossed it into the net they brought. This was easier than noodling and far more enjoyable. In no time, he and the others had almost filled the net they’d brought.

Oh-see-rah would have to thank Lol-non for making his fishhooks.

Hah-nah-pah came to him. “The net is just about full.”

Oh-see-rah could almost taste broiled whisker fish. “Let me catch one more, then we can go.”

WHOOOOOAN, came from a distance.

“What was that?” Hah-nah-pah asked.

“Bullfrogs looking for a mate, I expect.” Oh-see-rah realized the fog was getting too thick to see. And why were the critters fleeing the forest? “Tell the others it’s time to go.”

Thrashing arose from the creek.

Probably ducks,” Oh-see-rah whispered as Hah-nah-pah tiptoed away. Oh-see-rah tried to see in the darkness but saw nothing.

WHOOOOOAN, closer this time.

Hoh-koh-rah joined Oh-see-rah and asked, “What is that?”

Oh-see-rah wasn’t sure. “It might be a bull moose.”

“Maybe we can land a moose, too,” Hoh-koh-rah whispered.

WHOOOOOAN. A giant alligator leapt out of the creek.

TO BE CONTINUED Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 24

Oh-see-rah gazed at little Lol-non. Maybe being small had messed with his mind.

“Don’t tell Oh-see-rah!” Lol-non cried.

Oh-see-rah decided to make a joke of it. Whatever had happened likely couldn’t be undone. “If he’s caused trouble, I’ll just use him for fish bait.”

His eyes wide, Lol-non went rigid.

“I was just kidding,” Oh-see-rah said.

Ee-shee-nah sighed. “Don’t be so mean. This tiny man happens to be the best flint knapper ever. Obsidian, quartz, too. Sharpest edges ever.”

Lol-non kept shaking his head.

Oh-see-rah grabbed him and stood him on a rock. “I hate knapping, and I don’t have time.”

His eyes returning to normal size, Lol-non gazed at Oh-see-rah.

“From now on, Lol-non will make your spearheads for you. Knives, too,” Oh-see-rah said. “But I expect you to keep him fed, especially when he gives you a sharp spearhead.”

Everyone stood and cheered, men, women, offspring.

“Can my brother help me?” asked Lol-non in a loud, squeaky voice.

“He certainly may.” Oh-see-rah picked the Boy up and stood him beside Lol-non. Though he didn’t even come up to Lol-non’s shoulders, Oh-see-rah hoped the Boy would either grow more or be able to help.

Lol-non put his arm around the Boy as a new round of cheers erupted.

Someone tapped Oh-see-rah on the shoulder.

“We have three families wanting to join us,” said Hah-nah-pah.

Oh-see-rah turned around. Three men, three women, and five little ones bowed. Lol-non and his brother stood with Oh-see-rah.

“Please stand,” said Oh-see-rah. “We have plenty of room for you here in Tiger Rock Cave.”

They stood.

“Are you the mighty Lord of the Caves?” the tallest man asked.

Oh-see-rah hadn’t realized how swiftly rumors fly. He nodded.

“Are those your sons?” the man asked.

Oh-see-rah shook his head. “They are Wee Folk who have joined us. They are now wee Dell Folk. They are the finest knappers ever.”

Hah-nau-pah joined them. “Please join us for our sundown meal. Broiled sunny fish, roasted sassafras cattails, and millet cakes with honey.”

Lol-non gazed up at Oh-see-rah. “May we eat, too?”

Oh-see-rah picked up both boys, one with each arm. “Of course.” He strode into the main room. “Newcomers feast first!”

He plopped the two Wee Folk near the food and stood on the Stone. He told of the Wee Folk helping him and of the newcomers. He raised his right hand and told about Bad Eye going over the cliff. Everyone cheered and hugged each other.

Whoever had gone fishing had done well—there was more than enough food to go around. Several women came to Oh-see-rah to show him their babies. He kissed each baby’s bare pate—the leader’s job, but he enjoyed it.

Hah-nah-pah played a lively tune as Oh-koh-rah drummed. Ee-shee-nah and two ladies danced around the big fire, their steps and hips in perfect time with the drum. As customary, they wore only flowers Everyone clapped as they circled.

After several times around the fire, the music and dancing quit. Ee-shee-nah whispered in Oh-see-rah’s ear, “Why don’t you nap, catch up on your sleep?”

He nodded—he was behind on his sleep. Waving at everyone, he headed for his sleeping fur. Ee-shee-nah had beat him there and lay under the furs. Her tunic lay on top of the furs.

“Oh, yes,” he said to himself as he crawled under the white cave bear fur and snuggled against her velvety side.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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A pterodactyl dove straight at him.

Lord of the Caves Part 23

Oh-see-rah pressed his body into the stone as much as he could as the pterodactyl aimed for him. Pulling his dagger out, he held it in front, hoping to at least slow down the flying reptile as he looked it in the eye.

It was big enough to carry him off, but he’d make the beast sorry.

A hail of spears shot toward the pterodactyl. It swerved sideways. 

When the beast glided away, Oh-see-rah almost let out a cheer. Maybe Hah-nah-pah would find a rope.

The pterodactyl circled back—it hadn’t been injured. Oh-see-rah groaned aloud.

Did his three companions have more spears? If not, he was about to become the pterodactyl’s meal.

This time it didn’t come in straight but glided along the cliff’s stone-bound walls. It was smart enough to evade another attack. It opened its jaws impossibly wide as it closed in on him.

Oh-see-rah’s fingers inched along the surface and found a stone. Slapping it in his palm, he drew his arm back to pitch it at the beast’s eyes. 

WHOOOOAH! It held its knife-like claws out.

Oh-see-rah hurled the stone. The pterodactyl didn’t slow down.

A storm of tiny spears rained down on the pterodactyl.

Wee Folk spears? Too tiny, too late.

The pterodactyl dove down and sped away. A cheer arose—both big voices and tiny voices.

“Hooray for Wee Folk!” Oh-see-rah cried out.

Hah-nah-pah gazed down at him. “We’re tossing the net down.”

“What about the pterodactyl?”

Hah-nah-pah chuckled. “It won’t be back. It is at war with the Wee Folk, and it is terrified of them.”

The net quickly lowered.

When Oh-see-rah could grab it, he hollered, “Low enough.”

“We’re ready,” Hah-nah-pah cried back.

Oh-see-rah hurried up the net. He never wanted to see another cliff.

The Chief of the Wee Folk was waiting, a crown of purple flowers on his head, but no clothes.

Oh-see-rah bowed. “Thank you for rescuing me.”

The Chief bowed back. “Thank you for ridding us of the Terrible Thunderer. Will you stay and eat with us?”

Oh-see-rah had a hunch the Wee Folk had been unable to gather food because of the T-Rex. “Thank you, but we need to get back before dark.”

The Boy tapped Oh-see-rah’s knee. “Can I live with the Lord of the Caves?”

“He may live with me and his big brother,” Oo-tah-nah said.

“That would be up to the Chief.” Oh-see-rah added, “We have plenty of room.”

The Chief patted the Boy on the head. “Do whatever she says, or I will deal with you.”

“Yes, Papa.” The Boy beamed.

Oo-tah-nah picked him up and hoisted him on Oh-see-rah’s shoulders.

“You and the Wee Folk are welcome to visit us any time you want,” Oh-See-Rah said.

“Thank you.” The Chief bowed.

Oh-see-rah marched off, the other three Dell Folk following him. Dusk was approaching, and they hadn’t brought torches, so Oh-see-rah kept a brisk pace even with the Boy riding his shoulders.

They approached the cave as the sun burrowed into the trees for the night. A hoot-owl complained about them. Oh-see-rah was glad to get home—catch a meal, maybe nap, some time with Ee-shee-nah.

Lol-non riding her hip, Ee-shee-nah waited alone at the cave’s mouth. Oh-see-rah rushed to give her a hug. Lol-non’s little eyes looked scared. Why?

Ee-shee-nah tweaked Lol-non’s cheek. “You’ll never guess what this wee man did.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 22

Oh-see-rah tumbled backwards as the T-Rex charged. With the monster jaws only a couple paces away, he fell off the cliff’s sharp lip. He swung his arms and legs around, trying to get a foothold or a handhold.

The T-Rex reached the cliff, but it was going too fast to stop. It dipped over the edge. Oh-see-rah hit a shallow ledge outcropping of stone and stopped falling.

LLLOOOAAANNN! The T-Rex plunged down as Oh-see-rah clung to the crumbing stone. The T-Rex fell past him.

Its tail slapped him, whacking him off his perch. Screaming, he tumbled. A moment later, he clutched onto a scrawny pine growing out of the canyon’s rock walls.

He heard a huge splash— the T-Rex hit the river. At least it was out of his life, if he didn’t join it.

“Hey.” Hah-nah-pah’s voice.

“Down here,” Oh-see-rah called out.

Four faces peered down at him. Beneath his feet was space, the river far, far below.

Oh-see-rah’s arms were getting weak. “I don’t have footholds or handholds. It this tree breaks—”

“I’ll get something.” The Boy’s babyish voice.

All four faces disappeared.

Hah-nah-pah’s face showed again. “The Boy found us a long tree limb. We’re lowering it, and the three of us will haul you up.”

They immediately lowered the long pine branch.

“When I count to three, grab the branch,” said Hah-nah-pah.

The Boy squealed. “Look!”

The thunder of feet shook the cliff. More T-Rexes? Oh-see-rah was about to let go of the little pine. Maybe he could fall a short way and hit another tree growing out of the side.

Oh-see-rah let go of the tree limb and rocked back into the little pine.

A T-Rex stared at him. The doe had come to find her mate. Oh-see-rah smiled back at her. He assumed the others were hiding. He was thankful the doe’s front legs were too short to grab him.

She slapped the tree limb with her head, and it shot down.

As Oh-see-rah fell back, the bark scraped his arms and legs. His body sliding downwards, he clawed at the pine tree to stop his descent, but his hands found only soft, long needles.

Just before a scream tore out of his lungs, he hit a stone sticking out and stopped sliding but was unwilling and unable to peer downward. He almost laughed—the Lord of the Caves was afraid of heights.

Hah-hah-pah looked down and waved. “You all right?”

“Great view down here. The long branch is gone.”

“The Boy has an idea. Can you hold on for a while?”

Oh-see-rah sighed. He was in such dire straits he was dependent on a baby-sized boy. “As long as the doe doesn’t return.”

“She left. We think she’s going to the river to mourn over Bad Eye.”

Oh-see-rah couldn’t help but smile. At least it was out of the way. “It will be getting dark before long. Save yourselves. Go home.”

Hah-nah-pah chuckled. “We can’t go home without the Lord of the Caves. Before long, we’ll be sitting in front of a cave fire, feasting on broiled rabbit. I shall even get my flute out.”

O-see-rah didn’t reply. Hah-nah-pah was trying to ease the pain of dying. He wondered if he could climb down—no, the T-Rex doe was down there, and she would exact revenge on him. He was doomed.

The Boy stuck his little head over the cliff’s edge. “I brought you some help.”

“Thanks.” Oh-see-rah forced back a laugh, no use hurting the Boy’s feelings. He was cute enough.

A bluebird buzzed him, no doubt surprised to see a man perched like a bird. It was chirping nonstop as if he could understand its tongue. Perhaps it wanted a handout—he wished he had something to feed it.

Then it shut-up and zoomed away. Anyway, it was an odd place to be begging for food.

WHOOOOAH!

Oh-see-rah looked around to see where the sound was coming from.

WHOOOOAH!

He looked straight up and almost choked.

A pterodactyl dove straight at him.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 21

As Oh-see-rah opened his mouth to warn everyone, the huge net hit him. He fell.

Oo-tah-nah screamed. Someone else went “Oomph.”

“Use your knives,” said Oh-see-rah, flat on his belly. “Let’s cut our way out.”

“No, you don’t,” said a high-pitched voice.

Oh-see-rah gazed at the tiny men with tiny spear throwers surrounding them. Men without clothes. More men than he could count with his fingers and toes.

“You Wee Folk are in trouble,” yelled Oo-tah-nah. “You just netted the Lord of the Caves.”

A tiny grey-haired man lowered his throwing spear. “Oo-tah-nah? Why are you with the giants?” His voice squeaked.

“We come here to help you get rid of the Terrible Thunderers,” she said. “And you dare treat the Lord of the Caves like this?”

“Raise the net!” hollered the little man.

The net rose until Oh-see-rah could stand. The wee man facing him didn’t even come up to his waist.

“Chief of the Wee Folk,” whispered Oo-tah-nah.

The man bowed, making him appear impossibly tiny, like a baby. “I apologize. We are terrified of the Terrible Thunderers.”

Oh-see-rah grinned. “Do we look like Terrible Thunderers? We came here to rescue you.”

“It ate my son.” The Chief looked up, tears on his cheeks.

“Lol-non’s older brother,” Oo-tah-nah said.

“Where are the monsters now?” Oh-see-rah asked.

The Chief threw his hands up. “They’re close. They keep sniffing around the doorway to our hollow.”

Oh-see-rah squatted beside him. “I need a cliff to drive it over.”

The Chief laughed. “Even someone your size could never frighten a Terrible Thunderer.”

“I’m going to lure him over the edge.” Oh-see-rah prayed that he knew what he was doing. “I need a guide who can show me a high cliff.”

The Chief nodded. “My youngest son.” He snapped his fingers.

A baby-sized boy joined them. The Chief told him what he’d have to do.

“My honor,” squeaked the tiny boy.

“Is he old enough?” Oh-see-rah whispered to Oo-tah-nah.

“He’s older than you think.”

Oh-see-rah put the Boy on his shoulders, his little legs around Oh-see-rah’s neck.

“It’s like climbing a tree,” squealed the Boy.

“Big people, follow me.” Oh-see-rah marched out of the hollow as a horde of Wee Folk looked on.

With the Boy’s directions, they traveled past the hollow into a section of the Dell Oh-see-rah didn’t recognize. The wee boy showed them a high cliff, with a small ledge just out of sight.

“Here’s the plan,” said Oh-see-rah. “We’re going to stand in front of the cliff. When the Terrible Thunderers charge, you all hide in the blackberry thickets we just passed.”

Hah-nah-pah winced. “How about you?”

“I’ll roll onto the ledge and hope they stampede over.” Oh-see-rah handed the boy to her. “If I fail, you two men shoot a couple spears to give Oo-ta-nah a chance to run with the tiny boy. Then you two run.”

The four stood along the cliff’s edge and screamed wordlessly. Even the tiny boy joining in. Birds flew up and scattered. Squirrels chattered and leapt from branch to branch.

The pounding of T-Rex feet shook the earth as a rumble arose.

“Go,” said Oh-see-rah.

The others fled into the blackberry patch. The thorns wouldn’t slow down an enraged T-Rex for more than a few moments.

A head appeared above the trees. LLLOOOAAANNN!

Oh-see-rah motioned for the others to stay low. Snakes slithered away as the entire forest folk chattered a warning.

A T-Rex foot appeared. LLLOOOAAANNN!

Oh-see-rah willed himself to stand his ground without fleeing for his life. He scooted a little closer to the edge, so he could dive out of the way at the last instant.

The T-Rex, bad eye and all, focused on Oh-see-rah and sped up until it was moving faster than an eagle could fly.

A few paces away, the T-Rex’s huge mouth opened. LLLOOOAAANNN!

Oh-see-rah wanted to dive, but he had to wait till the last instant. The others yelled at him to jump.

As he prepared to jump, the T-Rex lunged.

Oh-see-rah’s foot slipped.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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She lifted the furs off her, allowing him a full view of her curves and peaks. She wore nothing save for a lily in her hair. “You have all day to sleep. Come to me.”

Lord of the Caves Part 20

Oh-see-rah dove under the furs and snuggled with Ee-shee-nah. The cave was utterly silent, so everyone was asleep save for a picket at the cave’s mouth, but he would be watching and listening for danger. Oh-see-rah could relax and enjoy.

“I have never made love to a High Priestess,” he whispered.

She giggled. “And I have never been with the Lord of the Caves.”

They made love and cuddled together.

He and Ee-shee-nah remained intertwined. He grinned since he never expected to live let alone be home with his love. Slumber found him.

Someone shook his arm. “You better wake up.” Ee-shee-nah’s voice.

He swallowed his sigh and opened his eyes. It was likely still light outside.

Hah-nah-pah was standing beside them. “Sorry to bother you. We have visitors.”

Oh-see-rah forced a smile. “Do they have problems?”

Hah-nah-pah shrugged. “They’re out in broad daylight. I would think so.”

Oh-see-rah climbed out of his furs and pulled them over Ee-see-nah. “Tell them to come in.”

Hah-nah-pah left and ushered in a young woman and two small boys. He backed off.

Oh-see-rah smiled. “May I help you?”

The woman was tall, her boys small. Oh-see-rah squinted. The smallest boy had faint hairs on his face and legs. Wee Folk? Here? Oh-see-rah wished he could’ve slept all day.

“I am Oo-tah-nah,” she replied. She patted the tallest boy. This is my son. The little one is my mate.”

“I’m Wee Folk,” the smallest one said in a shrill voice. “My name is Lol-non.”

Oh-see-rah nodded. He was familiar with them. They dwelt at the opposite end of the dell from where the horses lived.

She picked up Lol-Non and held him on her hip like a small child. “We live with the Wee Folk. This morning, a Terrible Thunderer ate his older brother.”

“Please help us?” Lol-non asked.

“Did this Terrible Thunderer have a bad eye?”

Lol-non and Oo-tah-nah looked at each other.

“How did you know that?” Lol-non squeaked.

She slapped her hand over his mouth. “Forgive the outburst, Lord of the Caves. He is upset.”

Lol-non’s little eyes got big. “Lord of the Caves? Please forgive me.”

Oh-see-rah tussled his hair. “You’ve had a bad day.” Then he motioned with his hand for Hah-nah-pah and Oh-koh-rah to join them. He told them what had happened.

“Let’s go kill the beast,” Hah-nah-pah said.

“Shall I tell the other men?” asked Oh-koh-rah.

Oh-see-rah shook his head. “Just the three of us. Oo-tah-nah can guide us.”

“Me, too.” Lol-non raised his hand.

Oh-see-rah laughed. “You would slow us down. And you’re too tiny to fight anything larger than a rabbit.”

Lol-non shook his head. “I’m not staying here.”

Oo-tah-nah squeezed his cheeks. “When I get back, I will punish you.”

Lol-non hung his head.

“I’ll take care of him.” Ee-shee-nah took him and held him on her hip. “I shall keep him too busy to mouth off.”

Taking plenty of throwing spears, the three men quickly followed Oo-tah-nah out of the cave. Oh-see-rah hated hiking in the daylight, but the monster had to be stopped. She led them without wavering, so she knew the Dell well. Why she would choose a mate not much taller than a baby was a mystery, but Oh-see-rah didn’t need to know why. He would rather sleep.

She kept a stiff pace, and they quickly made it to the land of the Wee Folk. It didn’t look different from home. He didn’t see any Wee Folk about, but they no doubt were asleep.

They tromped through waist-high grass taller than the Wee Folk. Perhaps they had hid in it. “Hold up.”

Oo-tah-nah halted and faced him. “Are you tired? We’re almost there.”

Oh-see-rah couldn’t help but grin. “I’m worried about an ambush in tall grass.”

“The Wee Folk are now my folks. And the Terrible Thunderers are too big.”

“Let’s go slow.” He scanned this sea of grass with an occasional oak or buckeye providing shade but found nothing.

She continued for a short distance. Stopping, she pointed to her right. “We dwell in that hollow.”

Though it appeared to be a giant sinkhole, he nodded. It was likely the safest home for these tiny folks.

She entered hollow through a flat gap flanked by solid rock.

Oh-see-rah would’ve appreciated a welcome from them. “Where are they?”

Hah-nah-pah chuckled. “If I was that tiny, I’d be huddling in my burrow.”

Oo-tah-nah huffed and turned around to face them. “Like everyone else, we dwell in caves.”

The three men caught up with her and stood under an immense pine.

“I still don’t like it.” Oh-see-rah scanned the grassy open area but saw nothing.

Hearing noise above him, he gazed straight up.

A huge net plunged toward them.

TO BE CONTINUED Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 19

 YOWL! Roared a saber-toothed tiger as it leapt at the Mare. Leaning sideways, Oh-see-rah could see the beast’s wide open fangs. Could the Mare survive this attack? Saber-toothed tigers were capable of downing mastodons and even dinosaurs.

The Mare swiveled, Oh-see-rah legs slipped off her, though he kept his grip on her abundant Mane. His legs dangled in the air and were sure to be the huge cat’s target.

“Epona, Lady of Mares, rescue me,” Oh-see-rah prayed.

The cat backed away from the flailing hooves, but a moment later, it sprang toward Oh-see-rah’s legs. He pulled his legs up as far as he could and stifled a scream.

HEEEEEEEEEY! cried the Mare as she whirled, still on her hind legs. She struck her front hooves at the saber-toothed tiger.

She missed, but the cat fell back and circled, leaping for the Mare’s flanks on the other side. Oh-see-rah pulled himself up, but if the Mare fell, he’d be crushed, assuming the cat didn’t eat him. Or both might happen.

HEEEEEEEEY! cried the Mare as she opened her jaws to fight back.

YOWl! screamed the cat as it dodged her hooves and circled again.

The ground trembled and trees shook like seedlings in a storm. Thunderers, dinosaurs? Oh-see-rah was about to give up.

Hoofbeats sounded. The saber-toothed tiger froze. The Mare lunged at it.

The cat twisted and jumped back though the Mare swiveled and aimed for the cat’s side.

The black stallion galloped toward the cat. Behind the stallion, a dozen horses galloped toward them.

Yowl!!! The saber-toothed tiger rolled away from the stallion and melted into the night.

The stallion returned and nickered HEEEEEH to the Mare.

She nickered back, Heeeeeeh, and they rubbed noses.

Oh-see-rah sat back and took in the view.

The stallion came to Oh-see-rah and pressed his nostrils into Oh-see-rah’s side. He rubbed the stallion between the eyes. The stallion backed until oh-see-rah could no longer touch him.

The Mare galloped away, the stallion staying by her side, though the other horses remained behind. Soon they were running with the wind, Oh-see-rah holding on again. The night went by at a blur. They passed the big lake, the distant water reflecting moon light. Then they came to the creek.

The stallion stopped, but the Mare slowed only to ford the creek. Oh-see-rah wished he could keep the Mare with him, but he had no way to control her. Besides, she controlled him. But he wasn’t complaining.

They came to Tiger Rock Cave. Everyone had gathered out front, even the little ones. A smile bursting from her face, Ee-shee-nah still wore only her High Priestess flowers.

A few paces from them, the Mare halted. Silence sweeping over everyone, even over the night-bound woods. Oh-see-rah was tempted to jump down while he could, but it was a long drop, and he now trusted the Mare with his life.

As before, she knelt on her front legs, allowing him to slide off with a trace of dignity preserved. He stood and hugged her, kissing her head. She nuzzled his side. He backed away.

She rose to her feet, whirled around, and sped into the night. He wouldn’t be surprised if she could somehow fly.

He joined the others and hugged Ee-shee-nah and their offspring. He went inside, stood on the Speaking Stone he’d used before, and told them about his adventure.

He raised his right hand high. “From now on, no one is allowed to hunt horses. Whoever violates this law shall have to answer to me. And to the Mare. And to the black stallion.”

Everyone bowed, even Ee-shee-nah.

Slivers of light sliced into the cave, which meant daybreak was fast approaching. Oh-see-rah held his hands out, palms up. “It is almost too late to hunt or forage.”

Ee-see-nah shook her head. “We are ready. We will feast off our stores.”

Soon, smoked fish were being warmed as people baked millet cakes on a flat rock. Others found nuts and dried fruit. Everyone gathered and dined, chattered, laughed. Small boys and girls shyly approached Oh-see-rah and touched his arms as if he were holy.

The feast ended, everyone ready for a good day’s sleep.

Hah-nah-pah pointed to Oh-see-rah’s sleeping furs. “We will take the watches. Be with your mate.”

“Thank you,” said Oh-see-rah as he headed for their sleeping furs.

Ee-shee-nah poked her head out. “Our little ones are sharing the other sleeping fur. Come with me.”

“Sleep sounds so good.” Oh-see-rah crawled in beside her.

She lifted the furs off her, allowing him a full view of her curves and peaks. She wore nothing save for a lily in her hair. “You have all day to sleep. Come to me.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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