When all was quiet, the storyteller/shaman/elder/priestess/actor/chieften started his tale.
“It was the dawn of man.
It didn’t come in the dark, It was the dark.
It cared not for numbers – there was no safety there.
You could not hide. You could not run.
Male. Female. Offspring. All were taken with impunity.
There was a reason of fear the sun going down and it had nothing to do with it not coming back again.
Light was the first defense. Huddled close to the light, the Dark was held at bay, howling at the edges where its power dimmed. It picked off those who strayed beyond the protective circle, killing its prey slowly; making each and every scream count, taunting those safe inside to come out. Come out and help.
But none did. They closed their ears and rocked, some screaming, some wailing. Most crying.
One fateful night, a child rolled in its sleep, falling outside the ring. It was snatched in an instant, her cries ringing out. Close she was brought, so all could hear her begging, her screaming and even though she had no words, every cry tore at the heart of all in the tribe. All but one. A hunter. He steeled his heart and listened – tracing the child, predicting her movement.
His hand flew into the fire. Ignoring the flames that seared his fur, the smell of his arm burning.
He grabbed a burning branch and ran into the night. So shocked was The Dark by the brazen attack that it had no time to act. The light illuminated the child.
With no dark to hold her, she fell.The hunter leapt, grabbed and rolled. She didn’t even make it to the ground. The hunter returned her to the wailing women who preened and caressed the child.
The Hunter didn’t stop moving and made a fire at a greater distance. Then with grunts, screams and points he organised the other males to do the same. Soon they had a perimeter fence, a greater area of safety.
No longer would they lose their own to the Dark. They had fought back.
They had a victory.
They had a Hero.
The Tribe moved left the plains and headed into the caves. Armed with their fires, they drove the dark away and won another victory. Within days the walls were covered with images of the Great Hunter’s deed. The child hung around him, adopting him as her mentor, her protector. Soon the scarred pair were inseparable, the child aiding hunt.
And every night, with the child sleeping in his lap, the Hunter stared at the images on the wall.
The Rainy Season rolled in and the Tribe were forced further into the cavern system, as the water extinguished the fires set up around the came mouth. To keep spirits up, one of the Tribe took to performance and, through actions, retold the story of Brave Hunter – much to the hunter’s embarrassment and the child’s pride.
One such night, at the climax, a victory howl from Dark stole the story.
It had not been defeated. Only made angry, forced to feed on other tribes.
Mothers held their children closer. Men held their women.
And the Hunter stared at the images on the wall.
The next day he took the performer and the child and set out across the plains.
Every tribe they met the hunter taught to make fire. Every night, by those same fires, the performer showed how the Hunter saved the child. The stories were performed, copied, re-performed. And, slowly, the Tribes of Man fought back against the Dark.