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Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories

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How Grandfather Morocanth Won His Thumbs

(This is another of daughter's bedtime stories inspired by a thumb quest discussion on the Gloranthan Digest).

You know that Great Waha gave us the Covenant of the eaters and the eaten to save us from starvation. You know that He meant for more of us four footed ones to win when it came time for the contest to decide who would eat and who would be eaten. But those hairless baboons the humans cheated and used loaded knucklebones they had gotten from Hyena. Only Grandfather Morocanth was sharp enough among the four footed ones to notice something was wrong. After all the other animals had lost and it was his turn to throw he picked the bones up in his forehooves (we only had single hooves like the accursed horse or zebra does back then, and so did all the other animals.

Even the humans had hooves back then!) and got ready to throw them. He shook the bones real hard and raised them over his head to throw them down. Well when his forelegs were raised right over his head he let the bones go and they went sailing over his head to land in the Zola Fel. Well everyone knew the River wouldn't give something back once it had it so the humans were out of luck. The last human to throw turned to Hyena for another set of rigged bones but Waha was getting suspicious and he gave the human his set of knucklebones. The human couldn't very well refuse Waha and had to make his throw with unfixed knucklebones. Bad throw. Then Grandfather Morocanth made his throw and beat that hairless ape. That's how we were the only four legged ones who won the contest and how we got to have herd men. Waha knocked that loser man right upside the head knocking any sense and all the smarts right out of him.

Well, Grandfather Morocanth was mad about the way the humans cheated and how Hyena had helped them cheat. And he stayed mad and one day not too long after he was riding around on his herd man chariot when he saw something strange.  There was a human perched on the back of a bison holding on to a rope attached to the bison's head, waving a stick with a bit of sharp bone attached to the end while singing a song about killing Morocanths and hanging on while the bison was moving! Well this looked like trouble to  Grandfather Morocanth so he decided to check it out. He got his chariot to move closer to the human.

"Hey you," he called out. "What are you doing."   Well that hairless ape looked quite embarrassed at having been caught. He dropped his stick and managed to fall off his bison. "Nothing, Grandfather Morocanth. I'm not doing anything." He hid his forelegs behind his back so Grandfather Morocanth couldn't see them. "Show me your forehooves," said Grandfather Morocanth, and he gave the human his worst stare. The human blushed from toe to face and slowly brought his forehooves around from behind his back. "What happened to your forehooves?" shouted Grandfather Morocanth. The human's forehooves had been split in five pieces! He grabbed the human's forelegs and moved the split hooves around. He made the human pick up his stick and although the human tried to act clumsy Grandfather Morocanth could tell that he could hold it pretty easily. "How did this happen?" asked Grandfather Morocanth. "Oh, you know how hard it is to hold a knife," said the human, "I, err cut myself." "Six, no seven, no eight, no ten times!!!", thundered Grandfather Morocanth. "Well, I really needed to cut something badly," replied the ape. "They certainly healed nicely," said Grandfather Morocanth. "Well, um, you know how it is." said the human. "Hmm, thank you human I guess I do." Grandfather Morocanth got into his chariot and rode slowly away thinking to himself. He knew something funny was going on so he hadn't gone far when he stopped to see what the human was up to. Well he had climbed back up on his bison and rode off as fast as he could. As Grandfather Morocanth watched he fell off a few times but he always got back up and kept on riding. Grandfather Morocanth turned his chariot around and set off after the human. Eventually he rode up over a ridge and saw a serpent below him. All along the serpent was a long line of humans and right below Grandfather Morocanth sitting in front of a sweetgrass fire was Hyena. As each human came up to Hyena he gave him a leather bottle. Hyena emptied the bottle and then taking a sharp knife he quickly cut both of the human's forehooves into five strips. Then he grabbed both split hooves and twisted one of the split sections so that it faced the other four strips. After that he rubbed some sort of salve he had in a big pot on the human's hooves and they healed up.

Grandfather Morocanth couldn't quite see what Hyena did when he twisted the fifth strip so he didn't know exactly what he was doing to the human's forehooves. What he did know was that this meant trouble. He quickly turned his chariot around and drove his herd men so hard that they dropped dead after they reached his camp. He yelled for all his people to get their chariots ready and to follow him bringing any liquid they had in bags with them. Well all that they had was herd man milk but Grandfather Morocanth figured that would have to do. They raced back as fast as they could go bouncing all the way as it was a rough path. When they got back to the serpent Grandfather Morocanth could see that Hyena was almost finished the humans. When the humans saw the morocanths they yelled at them to go away shaking their pointed sticks at the morocanths. The morocanths yelled back and both sides were ready to fight when Hyena staggered to his feet. Seems that the humans had been giving him what we now call liquor to drink and he was quite smashed by now. Hyena said in a slurred voice that he would do his forehooves trick to anyone who had a bag of liquor to give him. Grandfather Morocanth looked embarrassed. They didn't have any liquor (whatever that was), all they had was herd man milk in their bags. Well, Grandfather Morocanth decided that at least he would try to get his hands done so he clambered down to where Hyena waited. He handed Hyena his bag and Hyena sniffed suspiciously at it. "What is it," he asked. "Herd man milk," answered Grandfather Morocanth. "Well I'll try anything. Once." said Hyena. He drank from the bottle and said, "Umm, that's good. More, give me more." Seems that all the bouncing around had turned the milk into what we now call kumiss. (So Grandfather Morocanth invented that too!)

Grandfather Morocanth sighed in relief and answered, "Sure, but first my forehooves." So Hyena cut Grandfather Morocanth's hooves. But he had drunk so much that he forgot to cut Grandfather Morocanth's hooves into five and only cut them into four. And he forgot to twist the fifth strip so that it faced the other four. Well Grandfather Morocanth was too relieved at getting his forehooves done like the humans and his people didn't know any better so nobody said anything about the missing strip. Well when Hyena finished the last morocanth He dropped straight down on his face and nobody could wake Him for seven days and seven nights. By that time Grandfather Morocanth had figured out that something was wrong with his "hands" as the humans were calling them. They were better than they had been but they were not equal to the humans.

Well, Grandfather Morocanth was mad so he went to find Hyena. He found Hyena lying in a pile of His own shit covered with buzzing flies and he shook him until He woke up. "Whazzup," slurred Hyena. "What do you want?" Where's my thumbs!" roared Grandfather Morocanth.  (That's what he had learned the humans called their fifth strips).  "Thumbs?" asked Hyena bleary eyed. Grandfather Morocanth shoved his hands in Hyena's face and shook them at him. "Do you see any thumbs on my hands," he asked. "Did I forget to give you thumbs too?" replied Hyena slowly, "I meant to. Now how did I do that again?" Well poor Grandfather Morocanth submitted to all sorts of attempts by Hyena to give him thumbs but Hyena had drunk so much liquor that He could not remember how He had done the trick in the first place. Well Grandfather Morocanth roared and cursed and swore at him but to no avail. Finally Hyena said, "If you can bring me a human I'll cut his thumbs off and stick them on you." "Ugh," said Grandfather Morocanth, "I don't want puny, hairless thumbs." "Whatever," growled Hyena finally starting to get angry as he realised just how hung over he was,    "I'll change them so that they look like they belong on you. But whatever you do I need the person you get the thumbs from to be alive." 

Well Grandfather Morocanth still didn't want human thumbs so he got in his chariot and wandered while he thought about what kind of thumbs he really did want. He wandered so long that he finally found himself way up north past the plains his people usually wandered near the home of the dark people known as trolls. Now trolls have always been sort of friends to us but when Grandfather Morocanth thought about big, strong, dark, trolls he got excited. He travelled around looking for a lone troll and when he saw one he challenged him to a wrestling match. "What do I get if I win?" asked the troll. "You can eat my herd men, " answered Grandfather Morocanth. The troll licked his chops. "And if I lose?" he asked. "You have to come on a chariot ride with me and do whatever I ask at the end of it," answered Grandfather Morocanth. They swore by Waha and the troll's dark mother that they would abide by the agreement. So they wrestled and they wrestled and what a match it was. Back and forth it went with first the troll and then Grandfather Morocanth having the advantage. Finally Grandfather Morocanth beat the troll and made him travel south with him back to Hyena. When they got to Hyena the troll asked what Grandfather Morocanth wanted of him and he told him that he wanted his thumbs. "What!" screamed the troll. "You promised," said Grandfather Morocanth. "So I did," replied the troll, "but you have to take some of my nature into you along with my thumbs."  "Agreed," replied Grandfather Morocanth. So Hyena cut the trolls thumb's off and stuck them on Grandfather Morocanth using some magic He had stolen from Eiritha. And Grandfather Morocanth finally had a pair of big, black thumbs with claws. And he was happy. But he had to take some of the troll's nature along with his thumbs and that is why we like the darkness better than the sun to this day. This didn't give all the morocanths thumbs so if you want some you'll have to do just what Grandfather Morocanth did.

May 02, 2000 

Last updated October 07, 2016

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