Ashlan yelled, "Open the gate!"
Two men pushed the gate out wide for the hunters to enter and everyone
clamored for a view. The men had massive beards and wore the heavy
clothes of a harsh winter habitat. They carried large bundles of fur on
their backs. They were obviously traders from the north. Once they
spoke, Ashlan realized they were from the very far north. Beginning
their usual greeting in Ashlan's language, the hunters struggled for
words until Ashlan held up his hand. "We have one of your people here,"
he said. He motioned to Ruadhan. "Find Livia."
Livia came out of the crowd behind Ashlan with Teaucha and Ceautee close
behind. She spoke in her native tongue.He replied, "My name is Dougar.
We are from Morvan. We seek to barter for supplies. It is good to hear
"What things do you seek?" she asked.
"We want flint. Arrow and spear points and we need jugs of beer. We have
warm fur from deer and bear to trade." Dougar motioned to the men and
they unrolled the large fur pelts on the ground in front of the gathered
After an awkward pause while Ashlan looked from Ruadhan, who was
smiling, to Livia, who was not, he said, "We offer you food and lodging
for the night. We can barter after firstmeal."
The hunters relaxed and smiles broke out for the first time. Everyone
relaxed and the women brought bowls of stew and loaves of bread. Ruadhan
brought out the beer. While the mugs were being filled, the villagers
crowded around the hunters to share stories.
As the hunters and villagers talked in large groups, Ashlan saw Dougar
approach the fire alone. Carron went to greet him and held out a mug of
beer. Dougar grabbed her by the wrist of her other hand. They swapped
quick verbal jabs at one another then she poured the mug of beer over
Dougar's head. She grabbed his beard and jerked out a handful of hair
and Ashlan heard him cry out. Carron said in a loud voice, “You are
not around enough strong women to teach you how to speak. I will get you
another mug and you will begin again.” Ashlan laughed to himself but
kept an eye on Dougar until she returned. She handed Dougar a mug, then
left him standing there.
After the food was eaten and beer flowed for a while, Ashlan turned to
Ruadhan. "Find an empty hut for our friends to stay the night." Ruadhan
left on wobbly legs to find a family who would move into another hut so
that the traders would have a place to sleep. Ashlan noticed everyone
was drinking and celebrating together except Ceautee, Livia and Teaucha.
Ceautee was watching the men with suspicion. Just before dusk, when the
traders rose to bid their hosts a good night, Ceautee approached Ashlan.
She whispered in his ear, "Livia said they also want slaves. They trade
in children and women who can bear children."
Ashlan was stunned. “We must think of a way to get them out of
here,” he said to her. They considered ways to get them to leave, but
Ruadhan returned and led the traders off to a vacated hut.
The next morning, Ashlan, Livia, Carron and a handful of villagers
gathered in front of the hut where the hunters slept. Ashlan stood in
front of the entryway, but far enough away to allow the hunters to exit
with plenty of room. Carron was to one side, in front of the other
villagers. She had her battle-ax in hand, its head resting on the
“Come out,” demanded Ashlan. “We must talk.”
“What do you mean 'talk'?” Carron asked him.
“I must get them out of here, tell them to leave,” replied Ashlan,
still facing the hut's entrance.
“Do you think you can talk them into leaving the village?” she
challenged. “They are here to take slaves, they will not listen to
Ashlan held his position facing the entryway as stirring sounds came
Suddenly, Dougar charged out, catching Ashlan off guard. Ashlan stepped
backward as Dougar stopped in front of him and the rest of the traders
emerged. They stared unblinking at the villagers and formed a circle
facing outward. They spun an ax in each hand so that as one ax crossed
in front of them, the other was an equal distance behind them, helping
to maintain balance. The men made a menacing buzz like the sound of
bees. It was a sight both curious and frightening. The swinging axes and
the buzzing were like a swarm of angry bees around a disturbed hive. The
swarm continued the buzzing and began to move en masse.
Carron shoved Ashlan out of the way. “No talk. Fight!” she yelled.
She tried to hurry the villagers away, but they were already fleeing in
panic. “You gave them time to form a defense,” shouted Carron over
her shoulder in Ashlan's direction. Ashlan stumbled away with a look of
horror. The traders were well-practiced and in complete unison.
“Look,” yelled a villager, “They have our children!”
In the midst of this swarm of activity were three small children, each
bound with their wrists crossed and tied to their neck.
“They are moving toward the gate,” someone yelled.
“Stop them,” yelled another.
“No rocks, no spears,” yelled several women. “You will hurt the
The villagers scattered in all directions. Some were too frightened to
think while others ran to get weapons. Shouts and buzzing filled the
Carron was watching the hive, trying to get a sense of the rhythm of the
swarm. Bobbing her head to an inner beat, she made several wide, arching
swings with her ax. The ax made a looping circle backward over her head,
then down near the ground before rising behind her again. Once she had
momentum, she held the handle with both hands and charged the hive.
“Aaaa,” she screamed as she met the enemy. Everyone heard the crack
of a skull and a trader toppled. “Fight!” she bellowed without
turning around to see if she had any backup. A mass of men approached
the hive, poking spears and yelling but they could not get close. The
hive was nearing the gate. Finally, another trader was killed and the
hive faltered. A villager bolted toward the hive, spear handle over his
head, trying valiantly to deflect the ax blows. As he was being
battered, he screamed, “Run, children, run.” His sacrifice gave the
children enough time to escape the center of the hive before he fell
“Now!” yelled the women as they joined the melee with rocks and
spears. The traders' hive disintegrated. It was every man for himself to
get to the gate. However, one by one, the traders succumbed to the rage
of the crowd. Filled with arrows and pummeled by rocks, every man fell
but one. The last man standing was Dougar. Carron had positioned herself
between the hive and the gate to make sure no one escaped. “This one
is mine,” she said as she faced Dougar.
A villager approached Dougar from behind with his ax ready to swing.
Ruadhan grabbed the ax head and stopped him from advancing. “You do
not want to cross Carron,” he said. “Stand aside.”
Dougar had stopped swinging his ax when the hive broke apart. Now he had
his breath back. When he realized no one would challenge him except
Carron, he paused and flexed his muscles. In a blink, he was charging at
Carron, grinning and howling as he gathered speed. Carron didn't move.
He came at her with all his might, his ax over his head. He reached her
spot and took a mighty swing. Nothing but air. He stumbled from the
force of his swing. She put a foot on his butt and he went sprawling
into the dirt. As he spun onto his back, he felt her spear stab the
ground at his ear. She jerked it up as he stood and grinned at her.
Dougar paced in a circle around her as she kept turning to face him,
watching his rhythm. He swung his ax back, then up over his shoulder and
it came down in front of him. He used the downward momentum to swing his
ax back up on his other side. Grabbing the ax with both hands, he
brought the full force of his ax down, trying for a surprise fatal blow.
It was no surprise. She jabbed her spear into his chest and he wobbled
backward. His whole body shook as he struggled to take his last breath.
Carron stood over him for a few moments, catching her breath.
When he toppled, she turned to Ruadhan. He grabbed her around the
shoulder and with great pride, walked her back to their hut. Everyone
watched as they both raised an arm and disappeared into their hut.
Excerpted from "Acorns To Wheat: A Chasseen Family Saga" by David William Allman. Copyright © 2016 by David William Allman. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.