Petia, the Chief of the People, had listened to all of the arguments presented by the strangers from the East. He had discussed them with the Council, which included Antipa the Medicine Priestess, Prim the War Chief, Cleitst the Spirit Talker, and Valdem the Voice of the People.
The strangers from the East offered much, but would what they offered be best for the People? They offered more sturdy homes which would be warmer in winter, efficient methods of farming that would produce more food, and an organized education system for the children of the People.
“It is clear the strangers offer different ways than ours.” Petia was old but sturdy, and his wisdom as Chief had not been questioned for all the fifty seasons he had been tribal leader.
“We cannot trust them.” Prim was War Chief and it was his responsibility to state any danger to the People he perceived.
“The People do not trust them. They fear the State the strangers would impose upon them.” Valdem represented the will of the People. He was closest to the hunters and the farmers, the herders and the cloth makers. It was Valdem’s words that carried great weight, for the Council existed for the sake of the People.
“They say they can cure many diseases. Shouldn’t we at least examine their cures to see if they are superior to our own?” As Medicine Priestess, Antipa cared for the health of the People. Though she and her attendants were skillful, she was always looking to improve her craft.
“The Great Spirit has spoken to me. He warns against the strangers. Antipa, He has said that some of the strangers from the East carry diseases they themselves cannot cure. Do we risk the lives of the People by examining useless medicines?” The People observed the Laws of the Great Spirit, and although Cleitst had only been Spirit Talker for three seasons, ever since the death of his father, he had proved equally able to discern the Great Spirit’s will.
“Enough!” Petia raised his staff. “I have heard enough. The People came to this land many cycles ago to escape a State such as what the strangers offer. Our scouts tell us they have amassed a vast army to the East of the Azure Mountains. They have many weapons, and our scouts have heard tales of them warring with other continents.”
“Then they come as conquerors, not friends. Their offers are false. We must reject them.”
“True, Prim, but our numbers are small. Ever since we came to the land, we have lived in harmony with the land, and we have not grown in numbers so as to exist in balance with the land.” Antipa, among her many other duties, was responsible for planning how many were to be born in any given year to replace those who had died, and to fulfill tribal roles.
“How can we protect the People from the army of the strangers if it is so large?” Valdem looked to Prim even as he realized the War Chief would be helpless.
“Cleitst, what has the Great Spirit said we should do to save the People from the strangers?” The old Chief knew what the Spirit Talker would say, but the Great Spirit was required to plot a new course, something that hadn’t been done in ages.
“He has found a new land for us, one without a population of strangers, where the People would be the only ones with language and intellect, where there would be none who would want our new land.”
The others of the Council murmured. They had only the stories to tell them of the land the People had previously inhabited. It was said other sky travelers had invaded the chased the People from that land. Leaving for a new land was the most drastic of outcomes, but the reports regarding the strangers warranted such a response.
“Valdem, you will present the Council’s words to the People. Call a gathering for tomorrow. They must agree to this. It is their tribe and we are their entrusted guardians.”
“It will be done, Petia. The will of the People shall be served.”
The Chief stood. One by one, each member of the Council stood, bowed to the others, bowed to Petia, and then left the Council chamber. Petia remained for a long time before returning to his lodge. This was a great burden for a Chief to bear, to lead the People to a new land after so very long.
The will of the People was unanimous. It would be suicide to stay and either acquiesce to the strangers or to fight them. They could die in battle as warriors or by disease as slaves. There was no place the strangers could not follow them in this land, so they must leave.
The Ark was the most sacred artifact of the People. On Cairn Eve, the entire tribe entered the Ark, even as the scouts reported the armies of the strangers were advancing on the tribal city.
The Ark was beneath the city, buried there seeming eons ago. Tunnels were maintained to its four main ports so in a grave emergency, the People could enter quickly.
Each member of the People, in addition to their role in serving the tribe and the land, learned their role in the Ark. It was good they kept with the traditions so that they could remember how to pilot the Ark to a new land in time of crisis.
None of the Council were assigned to pilot except Cleitst, who was the navigator, since the course to the new land came from the Great Spirit.
Antipa and her attendants set up the sick bay of the Ark. Plant and animal DNA was put in stasis for the day when they would need to farm and herd again. Supplies were secured. The People and their Ark were ready.
Valdem was the comforter of the People, reassuring them that the journey to the new land would be a safe one, and they each had a role to fulfill aboard the Ark.
Just after dawn on Cairn Day as the armies of the East came into view, the great starship lifted off from Tomka, destroying the former tribal city on the planet the Great Spirit had chosen for them ages ago. At that time, the strangers from the Eastern continent were few, primitive, and deemed peaceful, but in the long centuries since that time, they had grown greatly in number and had become warlike.
Now the People were on their way to a new land, a new planet, one devoid of sentient life. May it be the will of the Great Spirit that this new land will nurture the People for many seasons to come and forever.
I used the term “tribal knowledge” in a sentence today, and thought I’d see what sort of story the term would spawn.