This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, places and events are either products of the author’s imagination or when factual, used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2019 Theodore A Henning II
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This is Part One in a historical fiction series entitled: SAVAGE ENCOUNTER, there are 24 chapters I will be publishing individually, be sure to scroll down to the desired chapter. I hope you enjoy the book. Gratuities can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org through Paypal.
Setting: Roon Island, North Coast Netherlands New Guinea
An almost tangible element of trepidation seemed to permeate the atmosphere as Ayambi clan warriors of Yende village began their trek at the appointed time. They gathered to assemble at Womaki’s listening place deep in lush tropical jungle. The conclave had been called to ascertain the outcome of their planned attack on Kayov, the closest Rudomo clan village. Womaki, the Ayambi clan seer with the keenest ability to foretell the future, had been chosen to demonstrate his ability, and perform the needed sade ritual.
Young Womini grew sullen as her husband, Komoi, swiftly descended the bamboo runged ladder at the front of their stilt-house, and silently joined the other Ayambi warriors trecking in silence. Tomak led the group. Komoi’s father Tomak was one of the most skillful fighting men of the whole clan. He would lead the raid.
The seerer’s place was a high structure built on tall bamboo stilts. The height gave a momentary measure of safety if there was an attack. It also afforded a good jungle lookout. Located inland on Roon Island toward the base of the rising Roon Island Mountain, it was some distance from the salt-water shore of Yende.
As quick as a Sumatra monat, Tomak climbed the notched tree-trunk ladder monkey-like fifteen feet into the air to reach the platformed structure, then others followed. They took their places sitting cross legged on the coarse palm bark flooring. Komoi took his position to the rear of his revered elders. In the past, young Komoi had fought in several skirmishes, defending Yende women from village attackers. However, this was to be his first major offensive on enemy ground.
Dim light from the glowing coals in the centrally located fire hearth cast aerie yellow fingers across the shadow on Womaki’s chocolate colored face. He was already sitting, facing east. Wor, the sun-deity, daily climbed the backside of the earth and traversed the waters, making sure all island peoples were cared for. The Ayambi clan, like all the clans of Wandamen Bay, honored Wor the most as he nurtured them in the earth below.
Womaki was eager to begin. He leaned forward in the direction of his daily rising benefactor, aware the jungle night sounds were ill-present. “This is indeed very unusual,” he thought to himself. The customary jungle peeping and chirping had altogether diminished to silence. Womaki perceived this to be a sure sign the sade ritual, and the word he sought was of great consequence.
As a group, the Ayambi warriors had beforehand decided to break the moon-cycle tradition and attack Kayov village sooner than tradition would customarily allow. This fact alone fostered a seriousness about the group. Absent were the chuckles and jibes so often characteristic of male camaraderie. This night, their thoughts were far from power-draining female pleasure, and much disposed to the conflagration that would soon take place. With his right hand Womaki picked up several ancient Cassowary leg bones. He gently rubbed the spindly bones, fondling them between his palms. This added yet another oily layer to their darkly golden, ancient appearance.
Directly in front of him on the coarse palm bark floor was a huge Chinese porcelain platter. Blue upon white it was at least thirty inches across, more bowl shaped than flat. The thick edge flared outward at about a thirty degree angle. When lightly struck, the platter would sing in a pleasant, high pitched ring. Staring pensively at the platter, he began to tap the edge with a small length of bone.
Then, Womaki began to hum to the singular musical note of the ringing. All gazes were attendant to him. He closed his eyes. Opening his mouth, his humming instantly changed to a chant; a chant that called to the ancestral spirits, to the spirit helpers, and to all the other unseen beings whom both chide and direct the lives of mere earthly dwellers.
“Ay yei, yei, Ay yei, yei.” He cried out, letting the latter cry drone on with a longer lilt. Over and over he chanted while tapping. Trance like, he kept his body swaying back and forth rhythmically.
Young Komoi noticed the beads of sweat that formed on Womaki’s wrinkle-lined forehead. It was a relatively cool night despite the lack of any breeze. “Peculiar Womaki is sweating,” the young warrior thought. At that very moment of thought, Womaki opened his eyes wide and stared straight past the others to look directly at Komoi. Their eyes briefly met, then Komoi turned his head away, embarrassed by the sudden staring eye contact.
“Ay yei, yei, diru ni kavo siepo ma rei, ye,” he cried one last time, then slumped silent closing his eyes. He was now holding the Cassowary leg bones between his palms, about a foot above the plate. He opened his eyes, gazed at the bones and posed the question, “Are these brave warriors going to overpower the Rudomo clan at Kayov village?” Quickly he released the bones. Silence. Everyone stared wide-eyed in amazement.
Komoi felt a tinglely cold sensation run up his naked back as the spindly bones landed upright on end in the center of the plate! A profound sense of awe swept over the onlookers. Everyone except Womaki was in awe at how the bones landed upright without so much as a sound on coming to rest. Just spindly old bones standing straight up, motionless. Old bones held firm by unseen spirit powers.
Womaki’s face brightened with a broad smile. The sade ritual was finished. He swiftly scooped up the bones with his right hand and addressed the men, “The unseen ones have spoken, the bones confess you will overpower our enemy tomorrow!”
Almost immediately pandemonium broke out as the men whooped and hollered their positive response to this word. Quickly they arose and descended to further prepare themselves for the late night’s canoe journey and the raid. The elders left first then the others. No one seemed aware of Womaki any longer. His usefulness had ended. However, neither did anyone take notice how his dark eyes followed Komoi down the bamboo ladder, and out into the still, black night.