Home Coming Soon Catalog Authors Awe-Struck Hard Shell Phaze Submissions
catalog
imprints
genres
other
Subscribe to the feed!
Book Likes!
Book Likes!
A Man Called Milo Morai

"Be reconciled, or be destroyed!"

For some time, trouble had been brewing between clans Linsee and Skaht.

Many men and women had been killed in raids, and the feud between them threatened to spill over and engulf all the Kindred clans.

Finally, the Council of Chiefs passed judgment: Linsee and Skaht must put aside their hatred or be scattered and enslaved.

In a last, desperate struggle to save the unity of the Kindred, Milo promises to intercede, taking the assembled sons and daughters on a journey of the mind to a strange and distant place…back to the twentieth century!

Book 14 of the Horseclans series

Buy this book:
Trade Paperback978-1-59426-284-5$12.95Qty:
Adobe Reader eBook (.PDF)978-1-59426-285-2$4.99Qty:
Kindle eBook (.MOBI)978-1-59426-285-2$4.99Qty:
Mobipocket eBook (.PRC)978-1-59426-285-2$4.99Qty:
HTML eBook (.HTML)978-1-59426-285-2$4.99Qty:
iPhone / Nook eBook (.EPUB)978-1-59426-285-2$4.99Qty:

Robert Adams

Robert Adams (1932-1990) was a career soldier whose Horseclans series drew on his military background to lend verisimilitude to the exploits of 26th Century of immortal mutant warriors in a balkanized North America. The Coming of the Horseclans (1975) was the first of 18 novels in the sequence, which ended, with The Clan of the Cats (1988), only on account of the author’s death.

His non-Horseclans work included two other series. Castaways in Time (1980) and its five sequels were a mix of alternate history and time travel. The Stairway to Forever and Monsters and Magicians (both 1988) were the only volumes to appear of a projected fantasy series.

He also co-edited several anthologies, among them Barbarians (1985, with Martin H. Greenberg and Charles H. Waugh), four Magic in Ithkar volumes (1985-87, with Andre Norton), Robert Adams' Book of Alternate Worlds (1987, with Pamela Crippen Adams and Martin H. Greenberg) and Robert Adams' Book of Soldiers (1988, same co-editors).

Reviews

5 of 5 stars

Oh how I love Pulp fiction, I really really do...just such rollicking good yarns. I like adventures that move right along, however I'm also willing to wade through quagmires of background detail and info in a separate volume, so that it doesn't interfere with the adventure stories. So, for me, perfect!

Jaya -- Good Reads



3 of 5 stars

A regression in time giving background to the story that has unfolded.

Jeff Cadoff -- Good Reads
Excerpt

Prologue

The day of hunting, trapping, seining and foraging for wild plants, fruits, nuts and tubers had gone well in this rich, not often hunted slice of the great prairie. Fillets of fish and thin slices of venison now had been added to others already in the process of curing over slow, smoky beds of fire scattered about the camp of the hunters.

All of the daylight hours, those who had not ridden forth with the hunting and foraging parties or fished the small river had been hard at the tasks of tending the fires and the meat and fish that hung above them, had scraped and stretched and salted and rolled the skins and hides, rendered fish offal for glue, and performed the countless other tasks necessary to maintain the camp and its temporary inhabitants—human, feline and equine.

Between chores, certain of the camp detail cared for and saw to the needs of an injured boy. His intemperate insubordination of the preceding night had resulted in his chief flinging him into the still-live coals of a large firepit—a regrettable but very necessary cost of survival in the often-harsh environment was instant and savage punishment for failure to obey leaders, for repeated instances of such undisciplined conduct might well one day cost lives, his own and many another also.

As Sacred Sun declined in the western sky, the parties began to return to the camp with the spoils of their forays on the countryside and waters. Having less distance to travel and being also blessed with the faster, easier road, the fishing party was the first back at the campsite, where they drew their small boats of hide and wood through the shallows and up upon the shelving beach before unloading their catches of assorted fish, then, with flashing knives, all set about the cleaning, scaling or skinning and filleting of the feebly flopping creatures. The larger of the fillets went to the racks above the smoky fires, while the smaller went into piles and pots for the evening meal.

The foragers were next to return, offloading hampers of assorted plant materials from led horses to be sorted, dried and repacked to bear back to the clans or used immediately for their own sustenance. Then this party divided, and while some saw to the horses or the sorting, others remounted and rode out to check lines of traps, snares, pits and logfalls.

The first of two hunting groups rode in with a spirited whooping, laden with no less than three good-sized deer—two of them ordinary whitetails, a buck and a big doe, but the third a rare and much-prized spotted buck with palmate antlers—a smallish wapiti buck, some near-dozen long-legged hares and an assortment of other small game and birds.

While still this first party of the hunters, with the more than enthusiastic assistance of those already in camp, were hard at the messy jobs of flaying and butchering, the sometime-foragers came back, having emptied and reset traps or rebaited those they had found empty. They bore some cottontails, squirrels, one big and three smaller raccoons, a black fox, a mink, a woodchuck, two skunks—one striped, one spotted—half a dozen muskrats and four thrashing feet of thick-bodied, now-headless watersnake which had been a chance acquisition of a muskrat trapper.

The lower edge of Sacred Sun was skirting very close to the western horizon and the pots and pans above the scattered cookfires were already beginning to emit fragrant steam before the second party of hunters was sighted across the grassy expanse that lay above the narrow, winding, flood-carven river valley in a wider portion of which lay the campsite.

So slowly did this party move that it seemed clear they must ride heavy-laden with game. But as they came closer, those gifted with the keenest sight could see that although there was game strapped to several horses, two others bore between them a makeshift litter, and at the tail of the party limped an injured horse—its head hung low, dried blood streaking its barrel, stripped of all gear and encumbrances save only a rawhide halter, bloody froth surrounding its distended nostrils and slowly dripping from muzzle and lips.

“Sun and Wind,” muttered Hunt Chief Tchuk Skaht to no one in particular, “I thought today’s hunting went too well to be true or to last. Wind grant that that’s not a Skaht in that litter, yonder... but that baldfaced redbay looks much like one of our herd. And if the horse was hurt, then what of its rider?”

As the column wound down the path from above and into camp, the form on the litter could be seen to lie un-moving, very, very still, its eyelids closed, its sun-browned hands folded across its chest. Tchuk’s heart plummeted to the depths of his felt and leather boots when he recognized the face—Myrah Skaht, daughter of his cousin, Chief Gaib Skaht; a pretty girl of only fourteen summers, a girl with the promise of becoming one of the best archers in her clan.

He walked heavily in the direction of the cleared space wherein returning parties usually offloaded, his mood as heavy and dragging as his steps. “It’s always the young,” he brooded silently to himself, “the best, the brightest, that hunting and raids and simple accidents cost us. At least six or eight boys and girls who likely will never contribute much to our clan, whose loss would have soon been clean forgot, but, no, we here lose Myrah... and probably her fine, well-trained hunting mare, as well, from the looks of it. Poor Gaib will be bitter for long and long, I fear me, with this painful loss of so fine and so promising a daughter; I hope that he doesn’t blame me for it.”

As the leader of the hunting party wearily dismounted from his stallion and set about removing saddle and gear from the mount, Tchuk came close and asked the question he had to ask.

“Did she die well, Uncle Milo? Our bard is certain to ask me... and her grieving father, too.”

Looking up from where he had bent to unbuckle the cinches of the hunting leak, the man thus addressed smiled and replied, “Be not so pessimistic, Tchuk Skaht. The unfortunate mare will probably have to be put down this evening, from the looks of her, but young Myrah was not hurt badly, only knocked giddy and shaken up. I had her put in a litter only because she seemed to have trouble sitting a horse, then I gave her a draft of sleep-root to spare her discomfort on the journey. She’s only asleep, you see, not dead.”

“What happened, Uncle Milo? No mere fall would have torn the mare up that way.”

While continuing to work, the man called Uncle Milo used their shared telepathy to answer the question. “We hunted this day that wide strip of forest over by the big river of which this one is a tributary, bagging six of the small straighthorns, among other beasts, this morning. After the nooning, we all fanned out to see what else we could add to our take for the day. Our first intimation of trouble was when we heard the mare’s screams.

“It would appear that Myrah arrowed a yearling pig, but for some reason, her loosing did not fly with her usual trueness and the wounded beastlet fled into an area of heavy brush with Myrah in full pursuit of it.”

Tchuk Skaht, an experienced and widely respected hunter, blanched. “Oh, no, a sow... or worse, a boar. And her without a spear.”

“Just so,” agreed Uncle Milo, adding, “In her pain and hysteria, I couldn’t get much out of the mind of the mare, so this is a reconstruction based on educated guesses and what I found when I got to the scene.

“Apparently, the old boar came out of the dense cover and tushed the mare just behind the off foreleg. Myrah may not even have had time to see him. The mare reared, of course, slamming the rider’s head against a thick overhanging branch so hard that the impact cracked the boiled-leather helmet clean across, though there would appear to be no damage to the head within.

“Half-mad with pain, the mare of course lashed out at the boar as the savage beast pressed his attack, but accomplished little damage to him, hampered as she was by the thick brush and nowhere near as fast as him, anyway.

“Matters stood thus when two of the boys came riding up. That Gy Linsee is big for his age was a rare blessing, at that place and time. Realizing at once that a horse was a detriment there, he rolled out of his saddle, after putting a brace of rapidly loosed shafts into the boar—fletch-ings-deep, he drove them, too—got the stubborn beast’s attention and took him on his spear... where he was holding him when I and most of the rest of the hunt came up and dispatched him.”

Nodding solemnly, Tchuk said, “Would that so brave a young man were a Skaht, but I honor him nonetheless. Young Karee has rare insight, it would seem. If she openly announces and he does the same, I will speak Gy Linsee’s part to my chief and her father and hope that he elects to live among the Clan of Skaht. If he so desires, I would be honored to have him as guest at the Skaht cooking fire, this night.”

Milo went about the rest of his work with a sense of satisfaction. The first real break had finally occurred. A Skaht had invited a Linsee to guest at his evening meal, and Milo could rest assured that, taking into account the event that had precipitated the offer and the exalted rank of the man who had made it, there would be nothing save sweetness and light (even if some of it was forced and grudging, at first) toward Gy Linsee from his hosts. It was, at least, a start.

Clans Linsee and Skaht were both Kindred clans of long standing and ancient lineage. However, within the last couple of generations, the two had developed a senseless enmity. The clans had taken to insult, thievery and pilferage, assaults and the occasional killing and, at last, riding on raids against each other, not only meetings of warrior against warrior in open, prearranged battle—which would have been bad enough—but striking at encampments, as well.

At length, the Council of Chiefs of the tribe, that loose confederation of Kindred clans known as the Horseclans, had decided that enough was enough. The vendetta had gone far enough and they were upon the point of riding down in overwhelming force upon the two clans, stripping them of all arms and possessions and, after disenfranchising them, declaring them to be not of Horseclans stock, driving them out onto the prairie, afoot, unarmed and maimed, to die or live.

But Milo Morai had good memories of both of the errant clans, and he prevailed upon the Council to allow him to try just once to show them the error of their current ways and teach them to live once more in peace and in brotherhood, one with the other, as did all the rest of the Kindred clans.

So disgusted and dead-set were the chiefs of the Council that it is likely that no normal man, no ordinary chief, could have swayed them. But then Chief Milo of Morai was no mere man, no ordinary chief. For as long as there had been Horseclans upon the plains and prairies, there had been Uncle Milo. This same, ageless, unchanging man had succored, lived among, guided the Sacred Ancestors from whom most of the present clans held descent since the hideous War and the Great Dyings had extirpated most of mankind from all the lands. Unlike every other man and woman of the clans, he alone never aged; the same Uncle Milo who might have merrily jounced upon his knee a new boy-child of the clans might stand in the throng, unchanged in any way, as the husk of the old great-grandfather that that boy-child had, over the long years, become was sent decently to Wind on a pyre.

Therefore, when Uncle Milo had ridden in—unexpected and unannounced—with the Tribal Bard and made his request of the assembled chiefs, none of them had even thought—no matter the intensity of their emotions, their fears and the resolve to which they had but just come—of saying nay to this man compounded of equal parts myth and stark reality.

So, rather than riding down upon the erring clans with fire and thirsty swords, the Council had sent riders summoning the chiefs of Linsee and Skaht to the place whereat they sat in formal sessions. Arrived, the chiefs and subchiefs were informed of the decision that the Council had made, then, before any could protest, they also were informed of the request of Uncle Milo and the agreement of Council to grant his request. But it was impressed upon them that this was at best a brief reprieve and that only clear proof of a resolution of their ongoing feud would or could bring about a full reversal of Council’s earlier ruling and resolution. This meant that full cooperation with the schemes of Uncle Milo were of paramount importance to both Linsees and Skahts, did they harbor any hopes of surviving into another generation as Kindred clans.

Autumnal hunting parties traditionally ate very well, and this one was no exception. While still Sacred Sun was nudging the western horizon, the stewpots had been set aside so their contents could cool enough to be eaten and the coals of the firepits were put to the task of cooking other foods for the weary but ravenous men, boys and girls.

The contents of those lazily steaming pots were hearty, nutritious fare, indeed. To a stock made by boiling cracked bones had been added those bits and pieces of meat and fish too small or otherwise unsuited for the curing racks, edible roots of various kinds, wild greens and herbs and a bit of precious and hoarded salt, then the mixtures had been thickened by additions of toasted, late-sprouting wild grain, seeds and nutmeats.

The second and last course of the meal would be spit-roasted rabbits, hares, squirrels and birds. If anyone remained hungry after that, they could always gnaw at a hunk of the hard, strong-flavored cheese they’d brought along on this hunt, though generally it and the gut tubes of greasy pemmican were held back for a possible emergency.

When the carcasses on the spits were nearing an edible degree of doneness and the horses were all cared for and other needful tasks accomplished, the Skaht boys and girls began to gather about the cookfire pit. Then Hunt Chief Tchuk Skaht called for their attention, addressed them, speaking aloud for the benefit of that minority who were possessed of little or no telepathic ability.

“Kindred, mine, a guest will share our fire and our food on this night, a brave young man, who will be honored by us all for his act of selfless courage in defense of one of us Skahts during the course of Uncle Milo’s hunt, earlier today. I will bring him amongst us, but he will be a clan guest, not mine only.

“He is a Linsee-born, but he cannot help that regrettable fact, for none of us have the option of choosing the clan of our parents, and I’ll be expecting each and every one of you to show him true Skaht hospitality as well as the deference and the honor due a young man who saved a Skaht girl from death or serious injury at no little risk to himself.

“Be you all well warned: I’ll brook no misbehavior toward our honored guest—no ragging, no name-calling, no insults, no challenges. If anyone does not understand all that I have just spoken, tell me now. Well?”

A stripling stepped from out the throng on the other side of the firepit. His pale-blond hair cascaded loose upon his shoulders, dripping water onto the shirt and trousers that clung to a body still damp from his evening dip in the riverlet. A look of sullen near-defiance smoldered in the depths of his blue-green eyes.

“Hunt Chief, with all due respect to you, I think you try to go too far. Working with the damned Linsees, riding alongside of the scum, hunting or fishing or gathering with them... I—we—have debased ourselves to do all these things because you and our chief and Uncle Milo said to. I shared herd guard with one of them today, but I can see no reason why I should have to ruin my meal with the stench of one of them in my nose. No, hunt chief or no hunt chief, you go too far, demand too much of us, this evening. I’ll not sit still for it, whether others do or not. What did he do, anyway—stop some silly girl from squatting in a stand of poison oak?”

It was a hoary joke amongst the clans, but still a few hesitant laughs came from here and there, and the boy preened himself, half-sneering at Tchuk the while.

Tchuk was on the verge of making his way around the firepit and giving the impertinent whelp physical cause to respect his betters when a hard little hand grasped the boy’s arm and spun him about to face the combined wrath of two of his clanswomen.

Karee and Myrah Skaht, both of them about as damp as was the boy, Buhd, having but just laved themselves and their garments in the riverlet, were clearly hopping mad.

“How dare you speak so to Hunt Chief Tchuk, you puling snotnose!” snarled Karee, striking him with some force in the chest with the flat of one calloused little hand.

With the boy’s attention thus distracted from her, Myrah took the opportunity to kick his shin, hard, with the toe of her fine leather riding boot, snapping, “Look at your clan chiefs daughter, you insubordinate puppy! It was my father gave the rule to Tchuk Skaht for this hunt, therefore, it’s my father’s—your chief’s—orders you would disobey. I should let the hunt chief kill you as you deserve, but I, myself, came close enough to my death today to relish life... even so worthless a life as yours.”

She kicked him again, on the other shin, then raised her voice. “Know you all, on the hunt today, I arrowed a shoat and, failing to kill it outright, foolishly pursued it into heavy brush. The shoat’s squeals brought out a monstrous old long-tusked boar. He charged my mare, savaged her, and she reared suddenly, casting me from the saddle. Then that hellish boar made for me, and you would all be building me a pyre and sending me home to Wind, this night, save for the heroism and strength of Gy Linsee. He rode up, arrowed the boar twice, then came in afoot to take a beast that outweighed him by hundreds of pounds on his spear and hold him there until more hunters came up to kill the creature.

“That is why he is to be our guest at food, on this evening. And any who offer him less than he deserves, than he has earned in full this day, will assuredly find the blade of my knife in his flesh.”

After a single, slow-moving, grim-faced sweep of her glance completely around the circle, she suddenly smiled and added, “Who knows, Kindred? Perhaps Uncle Milo will honor our fire and food, as well, with his presence. Then, maybe, he’ll tell us all more of his tales of the olden days as he did last night.”

If there was any one thing in particular that Horse-clansfolk instinctively honored, it was proven bravery, even in an enemy... especially in an enemy. With the tale of Gy Linsee’s courageous feat in succoring their chiefs daughter become common knowledge, the big young man was received and feted in time-hoary Horse-clans tradition, for all his un-Horseclanslike size and height, his un-Kindredlike dark hair and eyes and his Linsee lineage. And, as all had hoped, Uncle Milo readily accepted the invitation of Hunt Chief Tchuk Skaht and dined around their firepit on the thick stew, the baked tubers, the roasted meats and the oddments of nuts and late fruits.

The meal concluded, those who had done the day’s cooking repaired to the riverbank to scour the precious metal pots with sand and cold water, then filled them with fresh water and brought them back to fireside for the preparation of the morning draft of herb and root tea, which, with a few bites of hard cheese, was the breakfast of most Horseclansfolk.

The rest of the diners sat ringed about the firepit. They picked their teeth with splinters of firewood, cleaned their knives, wiped at greasy hands and faces. They chatted, both aloud and telepathically, or brought out uncompleted handicraft projects to work at by the firelight. One group of boys and girls set a small pot of cold, congealed fish glue to heat in a nestlet of coals, laying a bundle of presmoothed, prerounded dowels by, along with sharp knives, collected feathers and preshaped hunting points of bone and threads of soaked, supple sinew, all for arrow-making.

One of the older boys began to carefully remove the bark from a six-foot length of tough hornbeam—the best part of a sapling killed through some natural cause a year or so before and then cured where it stood by the winds and sun. The boy had recognized it for the rare prize that it was—such made for fine spear shafts or the hafts of war axes—and he meant to finish it as much as possible before they rode back to the clan camp, where he would make of it a gift to his father.

Slowly, carefully, using a belt knife for the drawknife he lacked, helped by a cousin who steadied the sapling, the boy took off the bark in long, even strips, which he flicked into the firepit and out of his way. With the last of the horny outer bark gone, he sheathed his knife, took the two-inch-thick length of wood upon his lap and began to sand it with a coarse-grained, fist-sized river rock, keeping a finer-grained pebble of equal size close to hand for • semifinal finishing.

Two different youngsters—a boy and a girl—squatted and braided thin strips of rawhide and sinew into strong riatas. Others honed the edges of various types of knives, spearheads and axes, or the points of fishhooks, gaffhooks and hunting darts. Yet another young Skaht was industriously knapping a lucky find of ancient glass—shards of a bottle broken long centuries before and rendered a deep purple by hundreds of years of unremitting sun—into projectile points, such points being much favored for hunting, since they needed no fire-hardening as did bone and their points and edges were sharper and more penetrating than even honed steel; he already had knapped and fitted to a hardwood hilt a larger, triangular piece of the glass to be used for the splitting of sinews.

With a speed born of manual dexterity and much practice, Myrah Skaht was converting a length of antler into a barbed head for a` fish spear, her knifeblade flashing in the firelight. All the while, she engaged in silent converse with Gy Linsee, where he sat between Hunt Chief Tchuk Skaht and Uncle Milo, both she and Gy being gifted with better than average telepathic abilities (that trait called “mindspeak” by the folk of the Horse-clans).

The boy and girl conversed on a tight, personal beaming, and such was the very way that Milo “bespoke” Tchuk Skaht. “They are fine young people, Tchuk, all of them I’ve seen, this night; those who have the good fortune to live to maturity will bring great honor to Skaht, of that you may be sure.”

The hunt chief beamed his sincere thanks for the compliment to his clan and young clansfolk, but then sighed audibly and shook his head, setting his still-damp braids asway. “But so few will be still alive in ten years, fewer still in twenty, and it seems that always the very best are they who first go to Wind. They die in war, in the hunt, in herding, they succumb to wounds, to fevers and other illnesses. The girls, many of them, will die during or just after childbirth, and both boys and girls will be swept off and drowned in river crossings, will fail to outrun prairie fires or will be done to death in stupid, pointless, singular accidents. We two sit amongst a bare twoscore or so only half of whom will ever live to even my age, yet I know of Kindred clans that number more than twice as many younkers, warriors and maiden archers.”

He sighed even more deeply and again shook his head. “It would just seem that Clan Skaht is intended by Sacred Sun and by Wind to remain small and weak upon the land. And ever fewer Kindred of other clans seem of a mind to wed into Clan Skaht, to accept our boys and girls as spouses for their own clansfolk or even to host our wandering hunters as befits true Kindred. And this great mystery is not of my mind alone, Uncle Milo. Right often have my chief and the subchiefs and bard in council discussed these very topics... vainly.”

Milo frowned. “Oh, come now, Tchuk, you are an intelligent man, and so too are they, else they would not be leaders of their clan, but you and they have chosen first and foremost to think only within narrow limits. Open your mind, man, loose your thoughts, and you quickly will see the basic reason for all... well, for most of the afflictions of not only your clan but of Clan Linsee, as well.

“Well?” he prodded after a moment. “Think of it, man, unfetter your mind and think. You posed questions—now give me the answers to them, as you can and will.”

It did not take long. “The... the feud... the feud with Clan Linsee... is that it, Uncle Milo?”

Milo smiled briefly. “You have a cigar coming, but I don’t have one, so how about a pipeful of my tobacco instead, Hunt Chief Tchuk? Precisely! This damnable, idiotic feud is at the bottom of all the tribulations of both Clan Skaht and Clan Linsee. Nomad clan versus nomad clan is a flatly murderous type of warfare... but you know that fact well, don’t you? Raidings of Dirtmen steadings are one thing—the element of surprise holds down the number of casualties amongst the raiders, as too does the fact that the modes of thinking are very different when you compare settled farmers and nomad herders and hunters. And, also, the prairiecats and our strain of horses with their telepathic abilities give us a distinct edge over our prey. Yes, there are losses sustained in raiding Dirtmen, but mostly they are but piddling compared to the loot, livestock and slaves gained for the clans. Why, the hunt results in as many or more deaths and serious injuries for a far more paltry return in benefits, but you know that, too.

“On the other hand, when you ride to raid or war against men just like yourselves, you can expect the butcher’s bill to be high, almost insupportably high. How in hell are you going to surprise a camp the perimeter of which is patrolled by farspeaking telepathic cats and horses? And if you choose to set your own cats on the guard cats, the resultant din of feline battle is going to be heard for miles. Though I understand that the cat chiefs, both yours and Clan Linsee’s, past and present, wisely refused to engage in active warfare and raiding against any Kindred clan, only fighting defensively.

“Had your clans been allowed to keep up this senseless round of raidings and ambushes and duelings and battles, the time would soon have come when neither of you would have had sufficient strength remaining to even hold your own against the natural adversaries that beset us all our lives on the prairies and plains. The only reason, indeed, that you two weakened clans have survived this long is that almost all of the non-Kindred nomads have been killed off, driven off or melded into our tribe over the last few generations. Had such fearsome fighters as Clans Staiklee, Duhglisz, Kahr, Lebohn and their ilk still roamed in enmity to the Kindred, you had all been rendered corpses or slaves.

“All of the other Kindred clans face precisely the same attrition from natural causes and from riding the raid against Dirtmen as do Skaht and Linsee. That they manage—barring the rare disaster—to maintain a constant strength of numbers in spite of certain losses results from the fact that they live by, adhere to, The Law and the ancient customs proven from the days of the Sacred Ancestors to the present.

“First and foremost of the Law is that Kinship is holy, Tchuk. Had clan not helped Kindred clan in times of need or danger over the years, there would today be no tribe, no clans. In union there is strength for all of our confederation of interrelated clans and families. Such disunity and enmity as your two clans have practiced can lead only to chaos and death for you, your descendants and, eventually, your clans.

“Unfortunately, there are a certain number of hotheads, greedy, suicidal and homicidal types, in every generation of every clan. Clans Skaht and Linsee have, over the more recent years, set a bad example, and other, more sober and Law-fearing Kindred clans have avoided mixing with them because they feared the bad influence upon their own few fire-eaters. Looked at from their viewpoints, no man could blame them for being somewhat less than Kindred toward you. Prove only to the Council of Kindred Chiefs that Skaht and Linsee can live harmoniously, one with the other in peace and true brotherhood, and you will see how quickly there are offers of Kinship from your Kindred of all the other clans.”

He seemed on the verge of beaming more to the receptive hunt chief, but his mind was just then smitten by a beaming of the combined power of Myrah Skaht, Karee Skaht and Gy Linsee. “Uncle Milo, please, won’t you do as you did last night? Please tell us all more of the olden days, of your life before the Great Dyings and of how you formed the Sacred Ancestors into our clans of today.”

“If I do, it will have to be, as last night, told to all, Linsees as well as Skahts. Will you welcome them among you if I agree to open my mind and memories again to you?”