State of Nature
An Epic Saga of Life Before the Body Politic. Maybe.
The story so far: Lug wakes up to discover that her favourite goat - alright her only goat - has gone missing. She tracks the goat to the home of Ayra, who refuses to return it. She returns later that day with her friends Mog and Blig and one of the local wisemen, Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some.
Episode 2: Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ayra sat inside his cave-of-sticks, beside the entrance. He was drinking from a gourd of goat's milk which he had obtained in the usual way after his argument with Lug about the goat. It was good to have the goat back again. It was good to have a cache of beer and nuts and berries in that hollow log in the forest too. Life might be better if he didn't so often find himself in so many disputes about the goat but, in a way, they were good too. As long as he got the goat back.
"Ayra! Want talk!" he heard; it was Lug, shouting to him outside the cave-of-sticks. He finished the milk and peered out through the entrance to the cave-of-sticks. On seeing Lug, Mog and Blig all holding their clubs in the right hand and bouncing it off the palms of their left hands he deemed it prudent to set aside the gourd and take up his own club before he emerged.
"What want?" he challenged, after he had risen to his feet.
"I give you beer for goat." Lug replied. "Now not got beer, not got goat. Mog give nuts for goat. Now Mog not got nuts, not got goat. Blig give you berries for goat. Now not got berries not got goat. You got beer, nuts, berries and still got goat. Something wrong. Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some tell what right."
On hearing this, Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some wished that she had made a better job of slipping away into the forest when she had seen Lug approaching her cave. If she wanted to become the next Lived-Longer-Than-Almost-Everyone, she would have to be very careful indeed.
"When you give Ayra beer for goat, Lug?" she asked.
"Yesterdays" Lug responded. Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some put similar questions to Mog and Blig. After they answered, she thought a little and summarised:
"So yesterdays Ayra give Lug goat for beer and other yesterdays give Mog goat for nuts and other other yesterdays give Blig goat for berries. Looks wrong Ayra has goat today. Right if goat with Lug or Mog or Blig." She looked to Ayra for a response. Ayra offered his first defence:
"Not got beer, nuts, berries now."
"Got beer, nuts, berries all them yesterdays." Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some responded, dismissing this argument. Ayra remained silent long enough that she felt it safe to continue, "Gave goat to get. Give to Blig first, so ..."
"Not give goat for all tomorrows." Ayra interrupted her. "Give Lug goat for some tomorrows get milk. Lug want goat for milk not goat for eat."
Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some questioned Lug and the others on this. Each was forced to concede that they had, indeed, wanted the goat for its milk and not because they particularly liked goats.
"They got milk from goat. Not get nothing for beer, nuts, berries." Ayra concluded triumphantly.
"That big pile of mammoth turds." responded Lug tweaking her earlier invention, metaphor, to produce hyperbole, "Give beer for goat not give beer for milk. Not same."
"But got milk all same." Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some mused. "Not get nothing for beer."
"Not got milk now." groused Lug.
"Not got beer now." countered Ayra.
"All shut up. Want think." ordered Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some. The issue had become dangerously confused; whichever way she decided, someone would be aggrieved. She paced the clearing around the hut of sticks, weighing the factors she needed to consider to reach a sound decision: Lug, Mog and Blig had the numbers on Ayra and she herself was no longer quite so fleet of foot as she had been in younger days so she would need a good headstart on the loser of the dispute. She stood where she had a comfortable few yards on Ayra, with Lug and the others between him and herself and delivered her verdict:
"Lug say Ayra give goat for beer. Mog say Ayra give goat for nuts. Blig say Ayra give goat for berries. Ayra say give goat but not for all tomorrows. But Ayra give goat for beer and nuts and berries not say how long Lug keep goat or Mog keep goat or Blig keep goat.
Goat not Ayra's. Goat go Lug, Mog or Blig. Lug give Mog nuts, give Blig berries, Lug get goat. Mog give Lug beer, Blig berries Mog get goat. Blig give Lug beer, give Mog nuts, Blig get goat. That all. I go now."
Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some turned away from the four of them and walked quickly away until she was out of sight. Then she ran. If things went to plan Lug, Mog and Blig would fall to bickering among themselves once they had dealt with Ayra. She wanted to be well away before they came looking for someone to sort out that argument. Let them take it to Lived-Longer-Than-Almost-Everyone.
Back at the cave-of-sticks, Ayra sidled towards the forest, keeping a wary eye on Lug, Mog and Blig. They in turn watched him, with expressions of open hostility. Ayra kept well away from the goat; Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some had made it quite clear that it was no longer his. To approach it would invite a united attack from the three others who had started to realise that while their dispute with Ayra might be resolved they now had a quarrel of their own to sort out.
Ayra fled into the forest and took a circuitous route to the hollow log where he had his cache of beer, nuts and berries. he crawled into the dark interior and lay there, trembling with fear. Partly it was his normal fear of the fierce creatures of the forest but that was overlaid with a darker fear. He had seen the first signs of something very bad today, something which was, he told himself "Worse than polecat. Worse than fox. Worse even than lion."
Next: The Stand-Off at The Cave-Of-Sticks