The sound of footsteps

Two brothers, Fou and Moor, hear footsteps during a boar hunt. The following events affect not only the two brothers and their immediate family but their entire tribe and beyond.

Fou gestured to his right, silently indicating where a boar was feeding. His brother Moor slowly nodded and moved off quietly to flank the animal.

A few moments later Moor stepped on a dry leaf—probably the only one left dry from the morning dew—sending an unmistakable noise reverberating through the trees. The boar popped its head up, but before it could run very far, Fou launched his spear, hitting the animal on its hind side.

The boar took a few more steps before succumbing to the well placed spear. A flock of birds flew off from a nearby tree when the boar hit the ground.

“Next time I'm the one who moves to the opposite side,” Fou remarked as he and Moor approached the animal.

“How was I to know the leaf was dry?”

“By looking, dear brother,” Fou replied, his tone slightly exasperated. He shook his head and padded his brother's back. “As long as I am here, you will never go hungry.”

“May I die before you, then,” Moor said as he knelt down next to the boar. He pulled the spear out, sending out a gush of blood. The animal—not quite dead—screamed out.

“Must you be impatient.” Fou grabbed Moor's arm, pulling him away from the boar. “Let the poor creature die first. We owe him at least that much.”

Moor apologized first to his brother and then to the boar. As if in reply, the animal made a throaty sound, sending out its last breath.

Fou went down to one knee, his chin touching his chest. He chanted the familiar offering: “Oosel, god of the boar, we do not take this creature's life for granted. May you not take ours.”

Moor looked to the sky, closing his eyes. He whispered, “So be it.”

After a moment of silence, giving the boar its due respect, Fou teased his brother. “You can thank me later for saving your life.”

“How so?”

“Because Oosel would surely have taken it by now.”

Moor looked at Fou, his expression showing multiple emotions from irritation to love. Just as he was about to say something in reply, Fou brought his hand up, nearly striking Moor with his palm. Fou pointed to his ear, and Moor craned his head to listen. A new sound had entered the area, a sound not normally heard during a hunt, the sound of footsteps.

The End

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