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Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories

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How Foundchild Stole the Prey's Seeming

It was during the Darkness when Foundchild taught us how to hunt and Squirrel the Trickster showed him how to separate the hunted from the hunters that the people went to Foundchild once again for help.
"Help us great Foundchild, the people starve."
"Why do you starve? Have I not shown you how to hunt, how to tell prey from predator?" the god asked.
"Yes uncle1 all these things you have done."
"Then why do you starve?"
"Oh great Foundchild, you are far wiser and cunning than any prey, swifter than the stag, stronger than the bull. For you none of the prey is a match. But for us, poor, weak things that we are more times than not the prey eludes us. We have the teeth and claws2 your son gave us but they are not enough. We cannot get close enough to the prey to kill it."
Foundchild frowned at this (a grim sight which made the people quake in fear of his wrath).
"I must think on this thing my children. I will let you know what I will do when I know it."
"Thank you, uncle." Saying this the people went back to their hearths.3
Foundchild thought and thought on what he could do for his people. It was not in his power to make them fleeter of foot or cannier. What could he do? As he thought he wandered and as he wandered he came across Squirrel the Trickster who was up to no good as usual. Squirrel hailed Foundchild and was surprised when Foundchild did not reply as he was normally the friendliest of fellows. He chased after Foundchild and tugging on his loin cloth he asked him what he was thinking about so hard.
Foundchild said, "Oh, hello Squirrel, how are you this day?4"
"Again I ask friend Foundchild what are you thinking so hard about?" Saying this Squirrel hid the loincloth he had stolen from Foundchild under his own.
Foundchild explained his people's dilemma.
"Oh," said Squirrel, "that is a hard nut to crack. Let us walk awhile and maybe together out of our two fine brains we can come up with a solution."
Foundchild agreed and the pair set off. They passed ideas back and forth but none would have worked. Coming to the Rockwood Mountains they stopped for a rest on one of the mountain tops. By this time Squirrel had stopped giving useful suggestions in favour of ludicrous or comical ones. Foundchild tolerated his nonsense because he was not really paying attention. But then Squirrel said, "Of course when I sneak into someone's house, not that I ever sneak into someone's house, I like to dress up in their clothes so they don't know it's me."
Foundchild jumped up and yelled, "That's it."
Squirrel said, "What's it?"
Foundchild did not reply and raced off.
Days later the people were surprised to see a naked Foundchild coming towards them.
"I know how you can get closer to your prey!" he shouted.
"How, how, tell us," clamored the people.
"To get closer to your prey you must look like them."
"How are we to do this, uncle?"
"Through magic. I will show you how to learn the spell that will make you look like your prey. Mind you though that you will only look like your prey, you will not smell like them so you must mind the wind."
Foundchild then showed the people the way to learn the magical guise of their prey. Each prey had a different guise and each had to be learned separately. Foundchild had learned to turn himself into his prey. Then he had lived the life of each of the prey and thus learned how to think like them and thus look like them. He taught them that they had to go through the stages of the prey's life to learn this magic. First they had to be born as the prey, then they had to learn how to move like the prey, find food like the prey, defeat an enemy like the prey, find a mate like the prey and finally defeat the grandfather5 of the prey in order to learn their guise. Once they had defeated the grandfather of their prey they had to remove a sacred talisman from his body to use when casting the spell.
The people were very thankful to Foundchild and quickly learned the guise of many prey. This kept them from starving during the Darkness. They thanked Foundchild and said that they only had two questions. "Are you not cold" and "Where is your loincloth?" Foundchild looked down at his nakedness lifted his head and roared out his anger. "Squirrel!"

Our ancestors had to undertake many sacred quests to learn the magic we know. Today we can use a talisman from any member of a prey species for casting our spells with. If we were to want to hunt a new prey we would have to perform this quest again in order to learn a new guise.


1 Uncle is a term of great respect and affection that the Balazarings use.
2. The teeth and claws refer to the weapons and tools that Votank, son of Foundchild showed his people how to use.
3. Hearths in the context of the Darkness always refers to the sacred winter hearths of each tribe.
4. This statement is interpreted as indicating how deep in thought Foundchild was as there were of course no days during the Darkness.
5. Each species of animal or plant is believed to have a grandfather and grandmother just like the Balazarings.

May 12, 1998  

Last updated October 07, 2016

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