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Halloween Fantasy (part 66)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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Harry Awolowo and Ranger Hancock had set out the previous morning, hours before the main expedition to the underground stations. There were several Gu-Nar settlements all along the banks of the vastly swollen river Thames but Dr Awolowo wanted to go to the Gu-Nar main settlement and spiritual centre, Emrites. It was here, some thirteen years ago, that the anthropologist and his team had set up home and began learning about the tribal societies that covered the once united kingdom of Grande Bretagne. In that time the doctor had made many new friends and he was hoping that some of them would still be alive and remember him.

The settlement had changed considerably since the doctor had lived amongst the Gu-Nar. The people could now be seen sporting random items of modern clothing, sometimes incongruously mixed with hand-forged pieces of armour. Modern pots and utensils mingled amongst the home produced earthenware and ironwork. Even oddments of military equipment in the forms of uniform clothing and webbing joined hide belts and rough linen. This later apparently being acceptable currency used by the rangers coming and going from certain huts on the outskirts of the settlement.

It didn’t take too long before news of his and the ranger’s arrival reached the ears of the tribal elders and they were guided to the town hall to meet with those worthies. The whole rest of the morning was then spent renewing old acquaintances and catching up with who had died, who had married and any subsequent offspring that may have been produced. Only after the substantial and semi-ceremonial Gu-Nar version of lunch was consumed was Dr Awolowo able to get down to the business of his visit.

The Elders’ reaction to his questioning of events seventy years ago confirmed the suspicion that a sizeable expedition had arrived in the area and had, in turn, had a considerable effect on the society of that time. Though there was no one alive now who remembered those days first hand, the tribe’s oral history was sufficiently detailed to paint the trespassers in a less than favourable light.

The stories told of villagers disappearing, of huge rumbling explosions and of fires that lit up the southern horizon. Scouts sent out to investigate never returned and soon after, all hunting or water gathering south of Emrites was forbidden and the walls strengthened.

To add to the lore being shown to the anthropologist both in poetry and dance, some Elders told him of the stories of other Gu-Nar settlements along the river itself of metal ships seen almost every day throughout that summer.

When the first snows fell that year the trespassers left in their ships and only then did the Elders send scouts south again. They reported that not only had the interlopers left, but they had taken with them all the buildings they had built and had left the land scared and not fit to grow upon.

Awolowo recorded all of this onto his notebook and then some tribespeople, having heard the anthropologist was being honoured with these stories, began to bring him things to see. Evidence that they had found once it had been deemed safe to hunt in the south again. These, too, were duly recorded by the doctor. Images of food containers, plastic bottles, pieces of domestic electronics and discarded personal items.

As afternoon turned into evening and the strong local ale washed away some of the sombreness of the story telling Awolowo and Hancock were treated to the more familiar tales of Gu-Nar daring and bravery against the warlike tribes to the north.

The tribes of Grande Bretagne were, for the main, in a perpetual state of war, or at least raiding for loot and slaves. Most formidable amongst these were the Bru-Mei and the Nor Folk and the lands of the Gu-Nar bordered both of these. Fortunately, these fearsome tribes were much more interested in slaughtering each other than the Gu-Nar. In a never ending struggle for supremacy the more northern British tribes fought each other continuously in a grim echo of the Faction Wars taught in The History, and with pretty much the same effect on society – stagnation.

According to the poetic saga now being acted out in front of the top table, during a time when the Bru-Mei were in the ascendency and Nor Folk lands were falling before them, a Gu-Nar hero ‘Arsen’ was shaped. The dramatic story told of a Gu-Nar hunting party, lost in a snow storm way north of the normal tribal hunting grounds. Of how they came upon the fabled home of the Bru-Mei kings. But Arsen and his small party were seen and the epic tale of their fighting retreat back to the safety of their brethren has been told ever since on stormy winter nights… and special occasions like this one.

At the end of the tale Dr Awolowo and Ranger Hancock were taken to the hut of Arsen’s sole living descendent. Here, the proud son of the hero displayed for them the pipe-gun rifle his father captured from the giant Bru-Mei warrior he fought hand to hand. Awolowo duly photographed it. Then, after Hancock leaned in to whisper to him and point at the rifle, the doctor took several more photographs of the weapon.

Arsen’s son then took them towards the back of the wattle and daub hut where a large curtain hung in front of the rear wall. He waited while others crowded into the small room to see and Awolowo and Hancock became hemmed in by excited adults and fidgeting children. Then, with a flourish any stage magician would be proud of. The son of the great hero pulled down the curtain to reveal, amidst a collective gasp from the audience, a wall sized mural depicting an enormous structure silhouetted against a burning, blood red sky.

“This is what my father saw. This,” the man took in the mural with a grand gesture of his arm. “Is the castle of the Demon Queen of the Bru-Mei”

Comments

Hyle Troy's picture

(( aww who says a little tongue-in-cheek is never welcomed in prose :)   wonderful !

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers



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