Swish swash: the noise of the angry river. Clip clop: the animals who were fleeing. Drip drop: the noise of the river’s last drops.
The monkey was gone: the protector of the plants and creatures and the leader of the five clans. The great river was now a valley since the animals of men were not there to guard it and its surroundings. The deer was also gone. The deer who looks after the ground that was now rotting. The otter was gone. The one who looked after the river that was no longer rushing. The eagle and the beetle were the guardians of the falling ground and sky. All were gone.
I was only a few days old when this happened. Amber was four and Felice was six. My parents were part of the civilisation that the humans were trying to build, the one that the river did not like. I remember the screams of the people being drowned by the ferocious, crashing river. I remember… I remember running away from my parents with Felice, never seeing them again. I'm 15 now, looking almost identical to Amber. She's the brave one in our group with big green eyes and golden blonde hair. She is small with freckles dotted on her face. The scar on her face from a dog was a charm of bravery and determination. Felice is a huge man with muscles like boulders. He looks after us. When I was younger, I used to cuddle up in his shaggy brown hair as it reminded me of Ma.
The grey sky caused a blanket of fear to wash over him. The trees leaned in, watching them. The blazing, vivid stars floated above him. Glooming over their wooden hut like an eagle, they stared. That murderous whisper was back, “come…please…help.” This voice had haunted Bucky since he left his parents. That voice turned into mumbling though, so Bucky had no clue what it was. No clue at all. Then the vast landscapes gave a thunderous howl. Amber and Felice rode up the hill on some wild horses. “Come on Bucky,” requested Amber. “Yeah,” Felice agreed, “you're missing all the fun.”
“OK,” Bucky blurted out. They were looking for the valley, the Great Valley of Men. No one had seen it before. They wanted to be the first. They didn't make it to the Valley, but they did get to experience a most beautiful, breathtaking view of the mountains. Suddenly, something very unexpected happened. “Run!” Felice yelled. Amber and Bucky didn't ask. They just ran. And ran. And ran. It was a Neanderthal, chasing them. This Neanderthal was bigger and stronger than any human could ever be. It was short and it had a big nose for hunting. Its cheekbones sloped backwards and it had a very heavy brow ridge. They didn't have that much time to examine this monstrous creature though, as it was chasing them. It was hungry.
When they had lost the Neanderthal, Amber asked the others to stop. “I've been thinking she explained...well... I think that I'm old and mature enough to build my own home and find my own food and...” “So?” Felice asked.
“Well... I want to leave.” Felice was shocked by this news. He swore to keep Amber and Bucky safe, but he also swore to support her, so he decided to let her go. It would be sad seeing her go, but they could now go fishing since she never liked it.
They rode back up to their hut and packed up all of her stuff. They waved at her as she left. Bucky was sad, but he knew it was her time. “So, what do you want to do now?” Felice asked Bucky. “I don’t know. Let’s go explore.” A sudden thought then crossed Bucky’s mind. Since it's winter, Amber can't collect berries or shear the myotraguses. We didn’t give her any of our supplies. Bucky then followed Felice into the clearing to tell him that all Amber’s supplies were still there. He found Felice talking to an otter. This voice sounded familiar. This was the otter that had been whispering to him. This was the Great Valley of Men. The otter, named Horris, ran to the Valley, so Bucky followed. This had to be a nightmare or a dream… maybe both. Felice turned away and when he turned around again Bucky was gone. He had failed to look after the children. The only thing anyone had trusted him with.
Bucky plummeted down into the Valley with Horris like a diving whale. Felice watched Bucky fall into the dark depths. The gods will take care of him now, thought Felice. He then turned around and saw Amber’s colourful eyes. The sight of her, returning to save Bucky, made him so happy. Her myotragus fur boots and her warm smile. This filled Felices's eyes with tears, happy ones of course. She threw down a rope made of jute from her backpack for Bucky to climb. He held onto a small rock speckled with harmless miniscule plants. At this moment, Horris had realised something. He hadn't been able to make the river flow all these years because he wasn't happy. After seeing these people fight for each other, Horris’s heart filled with joy. He ran down to the bottom of the steep valley and touched the hot ground. It prickled his webbed paws and then made a loud grumble. What was happening? Everyone was confused. What had Horris done? Horris looked up and smiled. As he was so happy, the valley was no longer a valley, but a beautiful, rushing river. Horris jumped in and splashed around. He never thought he would feel the wet loveliness of water ever again.
“Turns out that we still need each other. You also need supplies to survive and we were worried about you”, Felice smiled to Amber. “Together we are strong,” Amber replied. This act of kindness had cheered Horris up so much that the river started to flow and the plants, they had started to grow. Horris was happy, but this reminded him of his friends, the protectors of this land. He was lonely. “I can't do this on my own”, he thought. So then Horris did something crazy. “I'm going to change my life. I don't like living in this empty river”, he said. Horris decided to go on a journey and look for his friends. The animals of the forest needed to be there so that the river could have a spark of love along with its new forms of life. As he walked into the forest he turned and smiled at his new friends. The River splashed up and tapped him on the back. “Go,” it whispered. Horris had his whole new life planned out. Now all he needed was his friends.
“So children, that is how your Pa made the river flow. That is how our civilization begin. Do you want to know anything else?”
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