Howahkan (Part 2.5)

“It has been good to know you, no matter how short-lived it was,” Kaga chuckles to himself.

They both raise their weapons, Kaga holding the spear with both hands outward at an angle and Atlat with the sword in one hand. As the ogres get nearer Kaga and Atlat charge at them, yelling.

The two groups meet, and the ogres run and dodge around the two men, barely even glancing at them as they pass. Kaga and Atlat are left standing, mouths open and breathing hard, but unscathed. They turn to look at the retreating beasts, who head for the slope and curl up into balls to roll down it, head over heels, the curved horns protecting their heads as they bounce. They disappear into the canyon just as fast as they appeared, until only the growling grunts can be heard, and then those fade as well. Kaga raises a bushy eyebrow.

“Well, I guess they have better things to do.”

“Or maybe that’s what’s has them running scared.” Atlat points up ahead, where the minced bodies of several ogres are strewn across the ground, left behind by their fleeing brethren. “And you heard that noise, right? It’s the same one we heard down on the plains. That peak up ahead… that must be the one we’ve been looking for.” Kaga puts a hand over his eyes and squints his eyes.

“I don’t see anything, but I’m inclined to agree. Let’s wait until nightfall and approach then.” They both move back a bit and sit down, closer to the slope than to the open plane of orange stone. Atlat lets out a sigh.

“I really thought that was the end for us. I’d not like my first battle with this,” he raises the sword, “to not be my last.”

“Such a strange weapon. I’ve not seen the likes of it before, but it looks like it could be fun. It’s been a while since I’ve held a spear, as well.”

“What were you doing out there, anyways? Sitting in that tree… did you know there was something there? I didn’t really think about it before, but why didn’t you warn us?”

“I was in the same boat as you and your companions. I’d not been there long and hadn’t seen anything happen until you all arrived. At that point I wasn’t sure if there was some kind of invisible creature or what. I was just as surprised to see all that chaos.”

“I see. But still, how did you know to be there? It didn’t seem like you even knew where this thing was until later.”

“Have you heard of Coyote? The man, not the animal, though there’s really not much to distinguish the two.”

“Who hasn’t heard of Coyote? But are you saying you actually know him? And what does that have to do with your knowing about the monster?” They begin to make their way towards the peak from which the ogres were running away.

“He’s the one who taught me how to smell them.” Kaga taps the tip of his nose. “And by teach, I mean when I asked how he keeps everything under control, he punched me and ran away, laughing his ass off. Near broke my nose, but since then… I can’t quite describe it, but there’s definitely an odor. It’s different for each one, but something is the same. And that same smell is coming from up ahead, very strongly.” He snorts. “I’ll have you know, it doesn’t smell good.”

Atlat turns to face ahead again, and together they reach the stone spike just as dusk is turning to night.

( ©2015 Sean Dorsey )

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