Copyright 2015 by Michael O’Gara
This is the second installment of the serial book Mir.
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First Release 2018
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This is a fictional work coming from the author’s imagination. Any similarity to actual persons, events, places, organizations and companies, is purely coincidental.
Published by Heartland Indie Publishing LLC
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For two days, it was quiet in the camp. On the second day Mysha returned. On day three, Mir asked the men and women to gather.
Mir addressed the group, “Tomorrow I will leave for a better place to winter. There is natural shelter and much game. I will take all those who wish to go. I advise you to come because the elevation here is high and there will probably be heavy snow and game is not as plentiful.”
Mir stepped down and there was much discussion among those who had listened.
Mysha came to Mir, “I will go and the best women hunters have already decided to follow you.”
Mir said, “Good. I think it is time.”
Mysha knew what she meant. She gathered those that believed as she and Mir did. They hunted a prize worthy of sacrifice. They took it to the top of the nearest peak and made a burnt offering to the Creator.
On day three, Mir was surprised to find that everyone including the men had decided to go with her. There would be no further violent disagreements. Those who were going with her were the strongest, smartest, and most independent of the tribe. They were warriors or huntresses. The huntresses had roamed far and wide with their husbands or fathers before those men had died in the fight against the invaders.
Mir’s band travelled deeper into the woods than any of them, except Mir, had ever been. Mir led them for two days to the fertile valley that teamed with game. She had discovered the caves when she’d hunted here. Her special gift had enabled her to find this place.
Mir said as she dropped her pack, “The caves are cool in summer and warm in winter. The largest has a spring and pool deep inside it and there is a narrow chimney from which smoke will escape from a large winter fire. The cave has many alcoves which will make good sleeping areas. We just have to clear out any creatures now here. Mysha, choose five and bring us venison. Bel, take some women and gather edibles.” Mir pointed, “You will find berries and nuts about a half mile that way near a stream.” Mir said, “The rest of us will make camp.”
It did not take the women in camp long to clean out the large cave which had two entrances. They soon had a fire pit ready outside and had explored the inside. This one cave would easily accommodate a hundred people so they had plenty of room.
Skold took some of the women and went to cut wood. As dusk approached three of the women who had gone with Skold had returned. Skold and one woman were still gone. Mir was worried and went looking for them. She found them.
Mir found old Skold coupling with a woman, Gaylee, who was a third his age. Skold who was on the bottom, looked at Mir and said, “I’m old, not dead.”
Mir turned and walked back to camp. When Skold returned to camp, Mir took him aside.
Mir said, “Friend Skold, we cannot afford for all the women to end up with child. I require that you restrict your recreation to the one.”
Skold smiled and said, “A most reasonable command. I will obey.”
Mir was not worried about the other men who were married. It would turn out that Skold may have been old, but he could still father children.
The next day the men and several women started construction of a palisade in front of two cave entrances. It would keep animals such as wolves and bears at bay.
Mir and Mysha and a few close huntresses went up the mountain. They hunted and killed a mountain goat and took it to the top of the mountain. They built an altar and slaughtered it. They built a fire and offered the goat as a burnt sacrifice to the Creator. These women all believed there was only one God and not a myriad of competing gods who struggled for dominance.
It was dusk when the women returned to camp.
Skold came to Mir, “I assume you were making a sacrifice of thanksgiving?”
“Yes. Do you have a problem with that?”
Skold said, “What is one more god?”
Mir said, “It is not one more, but the only one.”
Skold said, “Well, if we survive the winter, I may just believe in your Creator God.”
Mir said, “Good.”
Skold was obviously taken aback.
Throughout the fall the group fished, hunted, trapped, and gathered. They prepared, preserved, and stored up more than enough food to get them through the winter. The group had sufficient salt and tanned furs to augment the fur winter garments they had brought with them. They cut and stored a lot of wood for the winter fires.
Each day, Skold would train the women in small groups for at least an hour. They learned how to use battle weapons. Though most could use the bow and spear well, few were good with sword and shield. Over the winter that changed. The women got stronger, harder, and more accomplished.
Each full moon, Mir would go to the mountain top to make a sacrifice. The group of women who went with her increased as the weeks passed. At first, it was the success they were having that made the people believe in Mir’s God. As time went on, they grew to see the logic of it in all that was around them. Mir pointed to the unity and complexity of nature and the laws which governed the natural order. She explained that such a grand design could not exist in the presence of competing gods.
As the weather got colder, the group made one of the smaller caves into a shelter for the horses and gathered winter feed for them. Through the fall, the horses were pastured under guard to protect them from the wolves that roamed the area. In the process the guards obtained some nice wolf pelts.
The winter was harsher than usual that year, but the group wintered well. There was only one sickness and the woman died. The only time that winter that most of the group left the cave at once was for the building of the funeral pyre and the funeral ceremony.
Finally, spring broke. It was a sunny day and the snow was melting. Skold came and stood beside Mir who was looking over the valley. The scream was quite loud and Skold winced.
Mir said with a smile, “Her suffering is your fault.”
Skold sighed, “I know.”
Mir smiled, “She’ll soon forget the pain and enjoy that she is a mother.”
Skold said, “I hope it is a son.”
Mir said, “I have often wondered if you followed me not out of loyalty but out of lust. Being the unattached male seemed to have its advantage for you.”
Skold smiled, “Indeed. An old man, when he is the only available man, still may have some appeal.”
Mir said, “I will be taking a dozen with me to see how those who stayed behind have fared.”
Skold said, “I fear not well. They should have followed you.”
One of the women came to Skold and said, “You have a son.”
Skold smiled and followed the woman. Gaylee had given birth to the first child to be born in the group and Mir hoped there would be more. Mir knew Gaylee’s child, once weaned, would be cared for by one of the four older women who would be the camp keepers. In the meantime, Gaylee would stay close to the camp.
The next morning, Mir went hunting. Later, she climbed the mountain with most of her tribe. On top of the mountain, they burned the meat as an offering to God.
The next day, Mir, along with two warriors and a dozen huntresses, left for the fortress. They took horses packing what they needed and relief supplies for any survivors at the fortress.
Mysha, who was walking next to Mir, said, “I fear those left behind are dead.”
Mir said, “Even if the enemy did not attack, I doubt they wintered as well as we did in the caves.”
Mysha said, “It was a long winter. A few times I even considered that Skold didn’t look so bad after all.”
Mir laughed and Mysha smiled.