Posts Tagged ‘story’

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.


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


He looked straight up and almost choked.

A pterodactyl dove straight at him.


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.


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.”


Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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This was dying in style. So be it. Oh-see-rah yelled, “AAAAAY!”

Lord of the Caves Part 18

Oh-see-rah clung to the Mare’s mane as she raced through the night and bounced him up and down and all around. Though he couldn’t see the forest because of the dark, the eyes of a thousand night creatures glowed through the swirling mists, the creatures fleeing as if afraid of the Mare.

How would death come? Would she buck and shoot him into the dark? Perhaps into the jaws of a dire wolf. Or she might make him tumble off, circle around and trample him with giant hooves. He smelled water—perhaps she would wade into the lake and shrug him off, let him drown. Though he could swim, she no doubt would hold him under water, let the Lady of the Lake take his body and soul.

The Mare galloped along the Lake’s shoreline. Oh-see-rah had been to this lake a long time ago—it was much bigger than the lake near Tiger Rock Cave. If he could get her into the water, perhaps he could slip into the lake and swim into the dark.

He shook his head. Those were coward’s thoughts. He was a sacrifice and needed to quit thinking about escape. Though he would miss Ee-shee-nah and their offspring, no one lived forever.

The Mare nickered and veered away from the lake, passing through a forest. Oh-see-rah ducked down to avoid being brained by tree limbs. Leaves and twigs caught in his hair—he wished he’d asked Ee-shee-nah to cut his locks. He grinned and spat out leaves. It no longer mattered. His life had but a short span to go.

The trees thinned out and disappeared, a fat moon glowing on him. Distant dark shapes ahead must be hills. The Mare seemed to stretch out and gallop even faster. Oh-see-rah had trouble catching his breath.

The Mare slowed to a trot. Though hills were on both sides of them, Oh-see-rah remained level—they were going through a pass, a gap in the hills. At this point, he just wanted his ordeal over with—his ancestors awaited him.

They entered a fogbound hollow, and she halted. What now? He sniffed—his nostrils filled with the musk of horse sweat, then he realized that beneath him was a mare the size of a hill.

The moon danced away from the clouds, and he blinked. Before him dozens or horses grazed, circled, or gazed back at him. Was she feeding him to her tribe? His belly lurched. He had hoped for a swift death.

A mountain-sized stallion every bit as big as the Mare nickered and pranced to them. This stallion had a chest as wide as a man’s height and was the color of the night. Oh-see-rah took a deep breath—the Mare was going to feed him to the Stallion.

The Mare and Stallion nickered to each other as the other horses watched them. Oh-see-rah believed that this pair was the king and queen of their band.

Then the Stallion turned his attention to Oh-see-rah whose fingers and toes were twitching until he could barely old still.

The Stallion halted beside Oh-see-rah. I stink, don’t eat me, Oh-see-rah wanted to say. The Stallion nickered to him, and he dearly wished he could understand the tongue of horses. As if she were used to this, the Mare moved not a muscle.

The Stallion thrust his head forward and nudged Oh-see-rah’s side just enough to make it tickle. Not knowing what else to do, Oh-see-rah gently rubbed him between the eyes. The Stallion nickered as if he relished the attention. He continued to rub the stallion, moving to his jaw.

The Mare nickered, and the Stallion backed away. Oh-see-rah hoped he had made friends and wouldn’t be eaten.

The Mare whirled around and galloped toward the pass, soon leaving through the pass. Oh-see-rah didn’t understand why he yet lived, but life was good.

Soon she was galloping faster than the wind, the herd far behind. What next? Oh-see-rah wished he could explain to her how waiting to die was torture.


The Mare reared straight up, Oh-see-rah clinging to her mane.


Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Whinnying like a whirlwind, she reared up on her hind legs and flailed her front hooves over Oh-see-rah.

Lord of the Caves Part 17

Willing his mind to go still, Oh-see-rah breathed deeply and waited for his sacrificial death. For what seemed ages, the giant white Mare whinnied while her front hooves milled over his head. Her hot breath burned as it flowed over his face and neck down to his chest.

What was taking her so long? Was she toying with her sacrifice? Her shrill whinnies bored into his skull and gave him an earache. The unmistakable musk of horse sweat filled his nostrils. She was shaking the ground, making Oh-see-rah seasick.

The drum and flute started up. The High Priestess chanted:

Hail Mother of Horses!

Hail Lady of Horses!

Hail Queen of Horses!

No! Oh-see-rah wanted to shout. Let me die alone! Let this agony end!

The Mare quit whinnying and backed away, standing on all four legs again, her eyes drilling holes through him. The drum and flute continued.

Oh-see-rah dared not budge or blink or even breathe. Ee-shee-nah was likely trying to tame the Mare to save him, but it was hopeless.

Like four stone columns, the Mare’s legs were still, but she was so close she could pounce on him in a flash. Perhaps she was a cat, toying with her sacrifice.

As the drum and flute continued, the High Priestess chanted:

Hail Lady of the Moon!

Hail Lady of the Summerlands!

Hail Lady of the Shadowlands!

The chant ended, the flute and drum quitting. Silence filled the cave, the only sound, the soft breathing of the Mare. Oh-see-rah continued kneeling, his eyes on the cave floor’s stony surface.

The Mare stepped forward. Oh-see-rah held still and prepared to die. Oh-see-rah couldn’t help it, but his hands trembled as his belly lurched.

The Mare knelt on her front legs, her mouth only a handspan from his head. Her hot breath made him sweat. He hadn’t realized how huge her mouth was—she could probably put his head in her jaws.

The drum and flute started up again as the High Priestess chanted:

Hail Giver of Life

Hail Ancient of Days

Hail Great Mystery

As if everyone was deserting him, the drum and flute again went silent.

Ever so gently the Mare’s head bumped against his shoulder. He almost flinched, but a real warrior would not flinch even in the jaws of death. Twisting her head, she nudged him toward her glistening flank. To keep from being pushed over, he rose and stood beside her.

Was she telling him to mount her? He looked back at Ee-shee-nah for guidance.

She nodded and mouthed, “GO.”

His heart hammering, he climbed onto the Mare’s broad back. She stood. Dizziness overtaking him, he clung to her abundant mane and wondered what was happening. Perhaps this was normal for sacrifices. He glanced back—everyone was bowing to her, to her holiness, to his coming sacrifice.

She strode out of the cave into the night. He was high enough to rub his head on tree limbs. A fat moon smiled down on them as if the Lady of the Moon approved of sacrifices.

Then it hit him—she was taking him to a sacrificial altar. It was better that his family and friends did not witness his sacrifice.

The Mare leaped high into the air and over the creek.

Then she galloped as fast as a shooting star. The wind whistled through his hair.

This was dying in style. So be it. Oh-see-rah yelled, “AAAAAY!”

TO BE CONTINUED Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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A giant snow white mare entered and halted just inside the paling stakes. Her eyes ablaze, she stared at Oh-see-rah.

Lord of the Caves Part 16

The mare’s sea-blue eyes bored into Oh-see-rah’s eyes, his mind, his very soul. As a gesture of respect and submission, he lowered his eyes and bowed his head.

“Go,” whispered Ee-shee-nah—the High Priestess would not have dared speak at this time.

Oh-see-rah stepped down from the stone and marched toward the waiting mare, her breath clouding the air. Oh-see-rah halted a few paces short of her and knelt with bowed head. Was he about to be sacrificed? He had never witnessed a mare or even a stallion this huge. Her mane flowed and curled along her neck and even her flanks. Her hooves were bigger than a man’s head. Her coat was the white of freshly-fallen snow.

The High Priestess chanted:

Hail Mother of Horses!

Hail Lady of Horses!

Hail Queen of Horses!

The drum and flute began a quiet melody matching the High Priestess’s words.

Oh-see-rah held still for the sacrifice. This Mare ferried souls to the Fields of Flowers, the Summerlands, or to the Underworld, the Shadowlands. She had obviously come for him. Had he been given the title Lord of the Caves only for this sacrifice? So be it. He held still, breathing as little as possible. The pain of dying was just a flash, a twinkling of agony. He hoped the Summerlands lacked T-Rexes. He would wait there until Ee-shee-nah’s days on Earth were over.

The High Priestess began a new chant, the drum and flute coming in, too:

Hail Lady of the Moon!

Hail Lady of the Summerlands!

Hail Lady of the Shadowlands!

The chant ended, the drum and flute quitting, the cave as silent as death.

The Mare snorted and pranced in a circle. Oh-see-rah stiffened for the attack, the ending of his life. She snorted again and returned, only a few paces from him.

Oh-see-rah wanted to beg her to get it over with, but this was no ordinary horse. He dared not destroy the holiness of this rite.

The Mare settled down, staring at him again. A reprieve, a few more moments of life. He held still—he wanted his family and everyone to know that he could die with dignity and honor and sacredness.

The High Priestess chanted, the drum and flute joining in:

Hail Giver of Life

Hail Ancient of Days

Hail Great Mystery

The drum and flute quit as soon as the High Priestess said the last word. Silence again ruled over the cave. Oh-see-rah’s heart was pounding faster than any drum could. A bitter taste caked in his mouth.

The Mare leapt up, spun around, and shot away. Oh-see-rah watched and waited with bated breath.

The Mare pivoted and galloped toward him. He stopped breathing and cringed inwardly. Her head held high, she whinnied and raced toward him.

Folks in the cave screamed, but Oh-see-rah dared not turn to see who it was or what else had happened.

The thunder of hooves shook his body and beat upon his ears. He peeked out. She was racing toward him. He’d never seen anything go that fast, not even winged-beasts. Fighting the urge to heave his guts out, he shut his eyes and tried to recall happy days—as a little one, with Ee-shee-nah, with their offspring.

The Mare was only a few paces away. Snorting again, her thundering hooves betrayed her speed. Unable to stand it any longer, he looked up.

The Mare skidded to a halt. Tears wet Oh-see-rah’s eyes. He willed his mind to go still.

Whinnying like a whirlwind, she reared up on her hind legs and flailed her front hooves over Oh-see-rah.


Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

white arabian stallion in dust

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Who? wondered Oh-see-rah.

Lord of the Caves Part 15

Without drums or flutes or anyone joining in, the High Priestess chanted:

Hail Mother Moon!

Hail Lady Moon!

Hail Mystery Moon!

Oh-see-rah remained eyes shut and kneeling, the silence telling him the others were doing the same. He relished the chanting, but he ached to know who the Lord of the Caves was going to be. The urge to glance at the mouth of the cave and find out who was waiting burned a hole in his belly, but he did not budge. Despite the campfire’s heat, a chill swept over his body. And who were the Elders? Though he had heard of them, he’d never met them.

The High Priestess paused and commanded, “Open your eyes.”

Oh-see-rah opened his eyes and blinked to get used to the flickering firelight. Though he dared not look at the others, he could see out of the corners of his eyes. The others—grownups and little ones—were gazing at the High Priestess, no doubt wondering, too.

She shook the turtle-shell shakers and nodded at Oh-koh-rah. His drum matched the turtle-shell shakers. Boom, boomity, boomity.

She nodded at Hah-nah-pah, and his flute began a soft melody.  Laaaaa, ley, loh.

The High Priestess set her shakers on the stone beside her bare feet. The drum and flute quit. “Lord of the Sky, Lady of the Deep, please visit us, bless this rite.”

It seemed as if a brisk breeze swept into the cave and curled around and over each person. The front cave fire blazed high, waving its fiery arms in the air as if dancing. An owl circled around the cave’s mouth. Whoo, whoo, whoooo.

Smiling, the High Priestess gazed at the drum and flute. They began a soft melody with a gentle beat without her turtle-shell shakers. Some of the women started clapping and gently swaying from side to side. A couple of the little girls joined in.

The High Priestess sang, “HOLY, holy, holy, Lord of the Sky, thy blessings we plead. HOLY, holy, holy, Lady of the Deep, thy blessings we plead.” She danced in a circle, remaining on her flat stone. “HOLY, holy, holy, Mother Moon, bless this rite, bless this ceremony, bless our new Lord of the Caves.”

The High Priestess flung her arms up and out as she spread her legs, making a huge X. “Stop!”

All went silent, unmoving.

“Close your eyes,” she commanded.

Everyone obeyed, even Oh-see-rah. The silence was so complete Oh-see-rah could hear the whisper of the cave’s sighs, hear the trickle of water as the spring gurgled in a far corner.

“The Elders did not decide this, they are merely message bearers,” said the High Priestess. “Lady Moon, Lord Sky, Lady of the Deep made this decision.”

More silence, even the wind and spring hushing.

“Oh-see-rah, open your eyes,” said the High Priestess.

Oh-see-rah opened his eyes, a radiance issuing forth from the High Priestess.

“All may open their eyes. I present you with the Lord of the Caves. Oh-see-rah, join me.”

As everyone gently chanted, TA-da-Ta-da, Oh-see-rah made his way to the stone. He stood beside the High Priestess but remained silent. The elders chose me?

“Oh-see-rah, kneel,” the High Priestess ordered.

Oh-see-rah knelt.

She waved a willow wand at his loins, then at his heart, then at his forehead. “I pronounce you Lord of the Caves. You may stand.”

Willing his legs not to fail him, Oh-see-rah stood.

“All others, kneel,” said the High Priestess as she knelt.

Oh-see-rah did not know what to do, say, or think. As if he’d been mountain climbing, blood rushed to his head.

A clip clop sounded just outside the cave.

A giant snow white mare entered and halted just inside the paling stakes. Her eyes ablaze, she stared at Oh-see-rah.


Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Everyone stood and clapped and stamped their feet! “Hoorah!”

Lord of the Caves Part 14

Oh-see-rah shot to his feet with everyone else, clapping and stomping his feet in time with the drum, his heart beating in time, too. The High Priestess looked familiar though he couldn’t see past her flowing arms and hands.

Her moonflower necklace shifted—she looked familiar.  He stared, trying to view her face. She picked up a set of turtle-shell shakers, exposing her face as she kept time with the drum. He grinned.

Ee-shee-nah! he wanted to scream, but that would hinder her ceremony. Tears came to his eyes. The proudest moment of his life—Ee-shee-nah the High Priestess!

“Join with me,” said the High Priestess. She danced in a circle, everyone following her as she chanted:

Hail Mother Moon!

Hail Lady Moon!

Hail Mystery Moon!

Smile upon us, shine upon us,

Gaze down upon us, keep us safe,

Shield us from harm, bless us all.

Thy glory has come, thy belly is full,

Thy time has come, wait no more,

A litter of stars ready to burst out.

We sing to thee, dance to thee,

We pray to thee, bow to thee.

We need thee, we love thee.

Hail Mother Moon!

Hail Lady Moon!

Hail Mystery Moon!

            Letting the turtle-shell shakers go silent, she halted and raised her arms.

Everyone stopped. Even the drum. Even the flute. No one breathed, not even the little ones, not even the cave itself.

She held perfectly still. It seemed as if the fire died down, afraid to throw off flames.

Then she shook the turtle-shell shakers, slowly increasing the tempo, nodding to the drum and flute. They joined in.

Lowering her arms as the beat picked up, she began dancing again. “Everybody, join in the chant and the dance.”

Everyone followed her again, all clapping and joining in the chant.

Hail Mother Moon!

Hail Lady Moon!

Hail Mystery Moon!

Smile upon us, shine upon us,

Gaze down upon us, keep us safe,

Shield us from harm, bless us all.

Thy glory has come, thy belly is full,

Thy time has come, wait no more,

A litter of stars ready to burst out.

We sing to thee, dance to thee,

We pray to thee, bow to thee.

We need thee, we love thee.

Hail Mother Moon!

Hail Lady Moon!

Hail Mystery Moon!

            The High Priestess stopped. Everyone halted, hands still.

            She leapt onto a large flat rock. “Kneel.”

            Everyone knelt, even the drummer and flute player, even Oh-see-rah.

            The High Priestess tossed pebbles into the fire. Flames of every hue imaginable shot toward the ceiling.

“Bow! Eyes on the floor!” the High Priestess commanded.

Everyone held their heads down, even the smallest of the little ones. Oh-see-rah hadn’t participated in a ceremony like this since he was a little lad barely past weaning.

“The Elders have spoken to me.” The High Priestess paused.

Oh-see-rah hadn’t heard about the Elders since he was that little lad.

The High Priestess continued, “The Elders have chosen a new Lord of the Caves. Listen with both ears!”

Who? wondered Oh-see-rah.


Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 13

A dark shape raced toward Oh-see-rah. He flung his spear and dropped to the ground just as Oh-koh-rah hurled his spear.

WAAAAHHHNNN! screamed the creature as it fell to the ground and whirled around.

Waiting for the monster to attack, Oh-see-rah stood and slapped another spear into his thrower. Then he spotted antlers longer than a man. Giant elks could run over a man, and if they decided to butt him with its giant antlers, the man would be crushed.

“Giant elk,” said Oh-see-rah.

Quack, quack, QUACK went the ducks.

“What was that?” Oh-see-rah peered into the darkness.

“The elk’s running from us,” replied Oh-koh-rah. “Elk steaks would’ve tasted great.”

“Hah-nah-pah!” Oh-see-rah raced to save his brother from the giant elk.

Oh-koh-rah hurried behind Oh-see-rah. The ducks quit quacking.

The elk must’ve targeted Hah-nah-pah! Oh-see-rah pumped his legs up and down and followed the lake shore, kicking ducks out of his way. The elk vanished into the foggy night. Where was Hah-nah-pah?

Oh-see-rah couldn’t stand seeing his brother killed, mashed into the damp earth. “Hah-nah-pah!”

A figure popped out from behind a tree and waved its arms. “Here.” Hah-nah-pah’s voice.

He and Oh-see-rah hugged. Had they been alone, Oh-see-rah would’ve kissed him.

“Seven ducks,” yelled Oh-koh-rah. “The elk squashed seven for us.”

Oh-see-rah cut some cattails growing a in a shallow section of lake. “These will go nicely with duck.”

Hah-nah-pah lit his torch and waved two spears. “Blood on both tips. Both of you shot well. And I found sassafras leaves.”

“Let us go home and feast,” said Oh-see-rah.

Following Hah-nah-pah’s torch, they hurried home.

“We really should thank the giant elk for appearing,” said Hah-nah-pah. “It would’ve taken us all night to hunt seven ducks.”

Oh-koh-rah chuckled. “We really should thank your flute for flabbergasting a giant elk.”

“It has been a great night,” Oh-see-rah said, feeling good for the first time since the T-Rex attack.

“The night’s not over yet,” Hah-nah-pah said, his voice sounding serious, grave even.

They reached the mouth of their cave. Holding a torch in one hand and a bundle in the other, a thin young man stood just outside the paling stakes. With him was a young woman who looked to be great with child. She held a bundle in one hand and the hand of a little girl in the other.

Wondering what had happened, Oh-see-rah asked, “May I help thee?”

The young man nodded. “We have been living in a lean-to. May we dwell in Tiger Rock Cave?”

“Of course.” Curiosity twisted itself around Oh-see-rah’s mind. “How do you know about Tiger Rock Cave?”

“It is quite the talk of the Dell Folk, even in other dells.”

“Please make yourselves at home. My wife, Ee-shee-nah, will find you a warm cubbyhole.”

The young couple bowed and followed them in. After a quick introduction, everyone made preparations for the night’s feast. As cattails sizzled in a hickory fire, Hah-nah-pah’s woman ground sassafras leaves into a paste and rubbed it over the ducks,  broiling them in the flames. The cooking smells were the best ever.

Hah-nah-pah stood. “Tonight, Mother Moon is full enough to burst. Soon her belly will yield up countless stars to light the night sky.”

Everyone rose and recited:

Hail Mother Moon!

Hail Lady Moon!

Hail Mystery Moon!

            “Let us feast!” shouted Hah-nah-pah’s woman.

            Everyone feasted, laughed, and gabbed. Little ones wrestled and giggled and nibbled on the feast.

Oh-koh-rah stood and beat on a log drum, BOOM, boom, boom.

Hah-nah-pah stood and played his flute, FLWEE, flwoo, flwam.

Three women stood and clapped to the music. Oh-see-rah loved it, but no one had warned him.

A woman appeared from behind Tiger Rock and danced, her hips weaving, keeping time with the drum, her arms flowing to the melody. Frangipani blossoms hid her groin as a necklace of moonflowers circled loosely around her neck. Otherwise, she was bare and breathtakingly beautiful. Her wiggling arms hid her face. Oh-see-rah clapped though he longed to know who she was.

Hah-nah-pah’s woman stood. “I present you with our new High Priestess!”

Smiling, the mystery lady bowed.

Everyone stood and clapped and stamped their feet! “Hoorah!”


Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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