What some folks mean by a "Cookout" Word count: 740
| This story unfolds in a place far away, at a time long ago, in a language you do not know. I will translate.
A Beast of a Feast
The season had been good to the people of the Lamgadi tribe, by every measure. Fruits, nuts, berries had been collected by the children in huge quantities – enough to last through the long winter ahead. Aatharthelas, the Creator, had been generous with the animals of the forest. Young hunters had been accurate in their aim; thus, the smoke huts, including three just built to handle the overflow, were filled with carcasses of every kind smoking in preparation for winter storage. The greatest blessing was that they had lost no warriors in battle; no attacks, no war parties.
The Creator, who the Lamgadi people knew as Aatharthelas, was a much honored and greatly trusted god. Wisdom and nature were principal elements associated with him, and his personality was kind and benevolent.
Often depicted as an elk, Aatharthelas was worshipped through offerings and celebrations. There was one prayer lodge in the village for those yearning for the blessings of Aatharthelas, but everyone carried a totem of some sort for prayer.
Machinoo, chief of the Lamgadi tribe, was pleased that Aatharthelas had blessed them with such abundance and success in this the third year of his reign as chief. He was not bashful about accepting some of the glory for himself and his brother Karemmgen, the medicine man.
“We must have a feast,” said Machinoo.
The elders smiled and nodded in agreement.
“No! More than a feast. It must be a festival – with dancing, contests, displays of prowess by our men and the craft skill of our women,” said one of the elders, who had previously been chief.
Exclamations of agreement rippled through the council.
Machinoo, not wanting to be outdone, rose, held up his hand, and declared, “I will dispatch a hunting party to bring us a great beast worthy of being the meal for this wonderful event.”
Another round of approval came from the council.
Conscious of the political significance, Machinoo put his warrior son, Cudda, in charge of the hunting party.
“Father, what manner of beast am I seeking, that is different than what we find every day?” asked Cudda.
“I do not know,” replied Machinoo, “but I, the chief, had to promise something exceptional for this feast. I’m sure Aatharthelas will provide for you, and you will recognize it when you see it.”
After many days, a runner, sent by Cudda, arrived at the village to tell the chief that the hunt had been successful, and the hunting party was two days away with a strange beast they had never seen before.
Machinoo ordered the roasting fire started, and the women to begin preparing the great feast.
And so today on a spit over the coals of a fire that had been stoked for two days, roasted the carcass of the great beast brought home by the hunting party.
An aroma, unlike anything known before, filled the village as the women tended the cooking with great care.
“More Ismowoot,” said the woman in charge, having sliced off a small piece of meat for tasting.
A young girl brought forth a bucket from which she brushed the carcass with a dark red liquid.
The roasting continued throughout the day as the villagers cheered to games and displays of strength and skill.
As evening fell, the villagers enjoyed the most delicate feast ever provided by Aatharthelas to the Lamgadi people. Machinoo and Cudda happily accepted the accolades of the people for their part in leading the tribe to such success.
The festival continued into the night. Finally exhausted, the Lamgadi people retired to their huts, satiated and satisfied that Aatharthelas favored them.
Sitting by the coals of the dying festival fire, Machinoo turned to his son and asked, “What is this great beast, and where did you find it? It was so good we must get more.”
“I know not its name,” replied Cudda, “ but we found it in the forest, below the great falls, near the village of the Qoryobu.”
“As we put away our weapons, and prepared the meat to carry,” Cudda continued, “the Qoryobu ran at us from the village, screaming one word in their language, so loud that I memorized it, even though I have no idea of the meaning.”
“What was that word?” the chief asked.
Word count: 740