Today, I have the privilege of showcasing Peter Driscoll and his ancient piece about Doggerland. Join me in finding a lost tribe when time began. We follow their struggles and loves as their lives unfold. You’ll love his writing and story as much as I do. I promise.
Eight thousand years ago, in the lowlands of Doggerland, tribes war against each other. A lone hunter enters their territory on a ruse. There he sees a beautiful girl. One he wishes to make his own. But going anywhere near her risks death.
The long struggle to gain her trust and love has begun, but that is only the start. What they discover threatens the nefarious schemes of the tribal leader.
Together, they decide to stand against the evil.
And now, for the first chapter
Chapter 1 – The Snow-Covered Hills
My fingers follow the surface of the curved slats of wood and my hands know the moves. I whittle with stone flints just as they did eight thousand years ago, turning branches into tools. They survived in Northern Europe after the end of the ice age when hunter gatherers turned towards agriculture. The sea level lay lower, exposing the lowlands of Doggerland.
Dr. Carl Bolt
Tablets: 54-87, 95, 123-130. Staves, 2, 12, 19.
The previous day had not gone well. Warriors from Kirak’s tribe had tracked him and driven him out of his hunting grounds. Talid had escaped over the pass to the shoulder of the mountain. From there he ascended, hoping to avoid his pursuers, until the cold air chilled him. Near a high copse of pine, a snow-covered slope spread out below.
Two warriors appeared out of the trees and tracked towards him. Snowshoes slowed their progress, but the pursuit proceeded towards its inevitable end. The slow flap, like the feet of large birds waddling, made him smirk for a moment before he calmed his face, to feel the reality of his predicament. They would skewer him like meat on a stick if they caught him.
His legs ached with every step, and his muscles burned, as he shuffled on clumsy pads of woven reeds. Two figures appeared in front of him from behind a rock, but to the left. He angled away from them hurrying his pace to a clumsy half run. Behind him, his pursuers closed the gap with every step.
He focused on the accurate movement of his feet. Snowshoes threatened to trip him up, and the slope became steeper. In haste, he unwrapped a device made of wooden slats from around his waist and tightened the ropes to join the carved pieces into the single solid form of a sled. He had never used it before to escape. Now it was his only hope. A desperate lunge took him over a lip onto a steeper slope as his pursuers closed in.
A warrior readied a spear and hurled it toward his chest as he slammed down hard onto his sled. The weapon sailed past him as he slid away on steep powdery snow. Smooth untouched whiteness spread out before him into the distance, as he picked up speed. The four men, who had been so close to catching him, disappeared behind him.
Far down below the snow line lay green valley, and in the distance, strips of grassland stretched between forests. The wind whipped in his face, blowing his hair back. Top heavy with his pack, the weight pulled him one way and then the other as he fought for balance. His path curved down the slope, snow spraying up.
With a graceless swerving course, he carved S curves down the mountain. His shoulders tightened and he struggled with the guide rope, gaining steerage after what seemed an age. The panic passed as his sled carved to the left angling across the slope. Now with a little more confidence, the thrill of moving fast overtook him and he yelled like a child. How strange to be so near death and then suddenly free, using this simple device, his invention that meant so much to him, yet nothing to anyone else.
As he approached a high stand, a tree blocked his path and he guessed the wrong route around it, to wipe out with a spectacular flight that buried him in a snow drift. Powdery snow engulfed him and he crawled out of it to see a white fluffy land. He flopped back into a loose pile of snow.
The day had turned out better than expected. But he doubted that the warriors would give up so easily. After checking for anything broken he found and repacked the sled. With his snowshoes on, he proceeded into the trees. His path would be easy to follow, but the warriors were far behind, and as long as they followed his trail he had a good idea where they were.
Coming to the other side of the forest, another wide-open space led, with a gradual slope, down into the valley below. He considered his options. Better to head up hill and find a way out of Kirak’s territory. But he wanted the thrill of sliding over the snow again.
He took to sledding. The long run took him deep into the valley to the snow line, where he again packed his sled.
The escarpment off the mountain led him down. Careful steps took him over slabs of rock which might break his trail. Sharp-edged flinty stones threatened to trip him up. Maybe the rocky ground would shake them off his trail. But experienced trackers can follow trails over rocky ground.
He angled across the slope. A rocky bluff stuck out and he headed below it. The air became damp, and a fast-flowing river came into view as the pleasant vista put a spring in his step. The strong flow stood in standing waves that rippled, lines written in unmoving movement.
As he approached, the power of it scared him. How could he cross the water safely? The crossing would break the trail and set him free from his determined trackers. The valley had begun to feel like a trap. The thought of dying on this tree lined slope by the river nibbled at the corners of his mind.
A raft would do the job but that would take time, and time trickled away with every step of the warrior’s feet. He pictured them, tracking him through the snow.
The crossing carried risk. The current could carry him under, and the cold water would suck the heat from his bones. He could head upstream and hide. This option seemed less obvious, and perhaps Kirak’s warriors might believe he had crossed the river when he had not.
From where he stood the path of the river steepened and led to rough country. The rocky bluff that he had seen on the way down made an obstacle, and the water must find a way around. Where the flow swung around the rocky outcrop, there may be impassible cliffs. Obstacles could waste more of his time.
He balked at the decision. Heading up river could lead him back to the warriors, if any had made the direct path down. Heading back up hill would be too slow. How had he come to this dangerous situation?
Up above him a bird squawked and a large flock flew off. He hoped his pursuers were too far away to see it.
Out of options, he chose to build a raft and brave the crossing. The raft needed small trees, the width that would fit between thumbs and fingers. Using a stone axe, he chopped one down. With a hearty swing, he cut into the second tree but the axe broke where the stone blade fitted into the handle and he cursed the goddess of the woods. Time slipped away.
A pair of birds twittered and flittered around each other before landing on a branch. The bright blue colour of one contrasted with the drabness of the other.
Using the blade as a hand axe he attacked the second tree. Each blow rang through his arm, but he ignored the pain. He lifted the axe to see a corner chipped away. His plan headed toward disaster. He pictured warriors tracking him, their inevitable loping run coming closer every moment.
A small lizard crawled toward him and looked up. The fine silver-gray skin glinted in the dull light. It wiggled away with an ungainly gait.
A large wedge-shaped stone with a jagged edge caught his eye, and he touched it up to make a saw stone. Setting the flat base of the stone level, he sawed at the tree, ripping off small pieces of wood. As they accumulated, they stood out, light against the dark soil.
How much time left to complete this stupid raft? Give up now when most of the work had been done? He dismissed a nagging doubt as he cleaned up the branches using his hand axe, and lashed them together using vines.
He imagined footsteps pounding through the forest toward him. Eerie bird calls cut the air.
In panic, he grouped bundles of sticks and bound each one with vine. A bundle flopped loose and he re-tied it. He slammed them on and lashed them to the base. After a final check, he launched the craft, tethering it to the earth by a small vine, pegged to the ground.
He paused listening for any sound. What foolishness had locked him in obsession on this one task? Had the ghost maidens of the forest enchanted him? He could hear nothing. The hairs stood up on the back of his neck.
A tree back up the path had the right thickness of bark to make an oar and he crept back to it, step by quiet step. He tore off a long section.
A pigeon took to the sky, making the distinctive whir, whir sound.
There was no other noise except the trees bending in the wind.
Something was wrong. Without hearing them, he knew they were there.
The crack of a broken stick sounded like a hammer blow, and he ducked, as a spear buried into the tree where he had been a moment before.
Without looking he grabbed the strip of thick bark and sprinted for his raft. Kicking the peg free, he leapt onto it, his momentum carrying it away from the shore. A warrior raced down the hill and hurled his spear. Talid ducked, and the spear sailed into the water beyond him. With fevered strokes, he paddled further out toward the middle of the river, as another spear missed him by a hands width.
The current grabbed the ungainly craft. The flow took him quickly, surprising him with its ferocity. He paddled further out into the middle, struggling for balance.
Rapids appeared in front of him and his fragile raft poured through a narrow opening. He laid down flat, gripping the raft with his arms as it rose and fell. The current took him over a series of standing waves. The water soaked him, the cold shocking. The waves threw him, his knuckles white as he hung on for his life. The river held him in its malevolent grip, as his hands froze in terror. The cold hand of death whispered to him to slip a little further into its embrace, and give in to fear.
He struggled to his knees, but had no time to find his balance as rapid after rapid bounced him around and propelled his fragile craft forward. The river poured through a narrow gap and turned sharply to the right in front of a rock wall. He staggered for balance as the current threw him around, flushing him out into a long line of standing waves. A roaring sound ran through his body, bringing some new level of panic to his terror.
Clear now, the water raced around a long curve, then through a narrow gap and out into a shallow pool. The raging flow disappeared into nothing. Mist obscured his view, and a moment later, the raft fell from beneath him and he sailed through the air over a waterfall.
Smashing down hard, Talid tumbled end over end deep underwater. Releasing the broken raft, he kicked free. His lungs burned. Desperate to breathe, he kicked and pulled, hauling himself upward.
He splashed out onto the surface, and gasped for air. Above him rained the tall waterfall he had flown over and wet rock surrounded a large pool. The roaring of the water rang in his ears.
With his head above the water, he looked for signs of people. Crawling out, he saw a well-used path. It led up, out of the canyon. His wet clothes sucked the warmth from his body.
His raft had been broken up by the fall, smashed to pieces, but his pack floated free and circled in a backwater. He retrieved it. The oiled waterproof backpack had dry furs and he put them on.
Then he packed his gear, strapped it on, and followed the track. A shout rang out from the trees behind him. Hurrying now, the steep climb tested his muscles. The slippery path with rocks and mud made the climb difficult. At the top, he found himself in open grassy land. In the distance, a forest spread out and he made for it at a run.
Hope you’ll join Peter for the rest! Available on Kindle Unlimited.