The Story of Star-caller (or how the Kiokote learnt to travel the plains)
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Author Topic: The Story of Star-caller (or how the Kiokote learnt to travel the plains)  (Read 445 times)


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If there was one thing that Watch Me loved, besides singing, dancing and Acha of all kinds, it was stories. Those long nights gathered around telling tales in the dark, warm bodies side by side, words from talented throats spinning grand visions. Tales from long ago, terrors and joys bound together, he was always the first to shout ‘BRAVO!’ when it ended and he held each one close to his heart.

Tonight he had taken a seat among the other gathered kin and cheered each story but soon there came a lull, and he took his chance, bounding up and taking prime position. The Kiokote was impossible to ignore, a presence that boomed, ‘I have a story to share!’ and then waited until he had all eyes before he began.

“This is an old story, from long ago on the plains. I was born there, you see. Alas, a mismatched pairing it was. As soon as I was strong enough I felt the call to leave and I never looked back. But I will never forget any of the stories. And this one is of the stars!”

Those stars twinkled far above and he spared them a fond glance before he began.

“Long ago there was only one Kiokote herd and they did not wander. They lived by the same pond, with the same grass and the same sleeping grounds generation after generation. They feared the wide plains for the world seemed so wide and full of terror. It was simple to stay where they were and live off the land around them.

But as the herd grew, they took too much from their home. Their many hooves crushed the ground and their hungry mouths ate all the food. As a hot summer dragged on, their water supply dried up, the sun cracking the earth.

And so they began to die.

Yet still, they would not wander.

There was a young doe, her stomach tight with hunger and her gaze dulled by thirst, who called for change. But her words were not heard by the others, and so, she spoke to the stars. In the deep night, unable to sleep despite her exhaustion, she looked upwards towards the faraway stars and she asked for their help.

‘You’re so far away but can you see us too? We are dying and nobody will listen. They fear the great plains. They fear being lost among the high grasses. But if we do not leave, we will all perish. I know you probably can’t hear me but you are the only ones I can talk to.’

This doe had emerged from her sac with her name bright in her mind, Star-caller.

Her name and her purpose.

For on that night, the stars answered.

And they sang.

It was not a song to be repeated, or even of words, but she understood, as they crept across the dark sky and then slowly faded with the dawn.

‘We must leave,’ she declared, stomping her hoof. ‘Before we are too weak, we must go, to find more water. I know the way. The stars have shown me.’

She had new purpose and vigor, and even the most old and stubborn of them stopped to listen. And what choice did they have. They could die here or there, and the latter was better if it included the slightest hope of life.

‘We leave at nightfall,’ she declared.

And as night fell and the stars came out, Star-caller led the herd into the high grass plains. They say not all followed. Some chose to stay. Some were too weak to travel. But most trudged at her heels.

Star-caller walked, her ears perked and her head turned upwards. She listened intently, to the song being sung, following the line of stars, her eyes finding patterns here and there, all pointing the way.

The Kiokote nibbled at grass but it was tough and gave little sustenance. The prey they saw scurrying through the brush was too quick for their tired bodies to catch. They could only walk. Night after night. During the day they slept, in whatever shade they could find, weakening moment by moment.

But Star-caller promised it was close now. Soon. Soon.

Each night the stars sang to her, this way, this way.

And she followed. Trusting them completely.

And when it seemed as though they would all falter, their strength at their last ebbs, they smelled something wonderful.


It added haste to their steps, sunken eyes wide, dry tongues parched and ready.

A wide pool awaited them, a place they could survive, greedily drinking deep, sobbing from relief. They had made it. Here there was also food - berry bushes and small animals to eat. Enough to live off for many months.

‘We will stay here forever!’ Cried the Kiokote.

And Star-caller said, ‘no’.

They would no longer be stuck in one place, not so many, not for so long.

They would wander and she would lead them, and when others learned how to hear the stars they would lead others too. That was the way it would be. They had been given this great land to live upon and they would use every inch of it, never afraid to travel far to survive.

And that is why the herds wander from place to place, always with the stars to guide their way, following old paths, never taking too much from the land.”

Watch Me ended his tale with a pleased stomp of his hoof and looked around at the gathered kin to make sure they had enjoyed it. Then he settled down to await the next tale, a pleased smile on his face and memories of his youth in his head.