Richard awoke the next day at a time he considered to be early. The sun was just peeking over the mountainous. Making his way to the simple hut’s common room he noticed a freshly prepared deer like creature ready to be eaten, spread out effectively over Olive’s humble table which she used for meals. As it turned out, Olive had been up hours before, sparing herself enough time to kill and cook the beast.
Olive appeared at the front entrance. She smiled at Richard and advanced toward him. After embracing, the couple settled into the morning’s catch.
“How did you sleep last night?” inquired Olive.
“Not well.” admitted Richard. I don’t care for the idea that I will be thrown to the wolves and who knows what else is out there.”
Olive patted his hand and reassured him that it would not be quite as bad as he feared.
Relieved, it was Richard’s turn to ask a question.
“So when do these things usually start?”
“Fairly soon, I would imagine. Since the chief typically likes to get the decision round and the great hunt over in the same day. Depending on what you choose for the first round it could be a high endurance day for you.” said Olive.
Richard moaned in despair.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be there watching everything, along with the rest of my tribe. You’ll do splendidly” Olive said reassuringly.
Richard found this hard to believe.
Suddenly the chief appeared directly in Olive’s living space, walking into it like it was his own home. According to Pyorg customs, the chief never needed to announce his presence before entering any tribes person’s hut. He was in charge of everyone, thus he was able to come and go as he pleased.
The chief gave Richard a look, and then a smirk.
“Temcancibus. It is time!” informed the chief.
Not bothering to correct the chief of the derogatory term he used for his name, Richard got up from his deer meat and followed the chief outside toward the large central structure he had seen the night before.
Olive followed at a distance.
To Richard’s surprise, they would not be entering the building. All of the Pyorg tribe had assembled in a large area outside. A large circle had been drawn in the dirt. A simple wooden table and two chairs were placed in the center.
The crowd began to cheer as the chief and Richard entered the ring.
The chief motioned for everyone to be quiet. Subsequently, he began to address the crowd.
“Fellow Pyorg!” The name was the same whether addressing a single tribes person or many.
“This Temcancibus wants to join our tribe!” the chief mocked.
Laughter ensued from the men and women who had come out to watch.
“First he must make the most important decision of his life. That decision and the rationale behind it will greatly affect my judgment as to whether Temcancibus becomes one of us, or not.”
Richard cracked a smile. All that counted was a decision and reasoning. Olive was right, he had nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, the chief continued.
“Secondly, he will have to carry out his decision to the bitter end, whether that means life or death” the chief said amid the roar of the crowd.
Richard’s happiness disappeared. He would have to choose very carefully
“The options are, a battle of wits, where Temcancibus will face an opponent and have to beat him at a mental challenge. The other option is a physical brawl, where Temcancibus will have to subdue his opponent and tortuously cut off his body parts starting with the feet and working his way up to the heart. After that he can remove the head and do whatever he likes with it as a sign of victory” stated the chief. “If this rotten dog here loses the physical fight, he will be very obviously dead. If he loses the battle of wits, we must throw him out of the camp. Temcancibus will be at the mercy of the beasts of the wilderness. Most of whom are hungry.”
The crowd laughed and mocked Richard
“Temcancibus, decision time is now.” the chief grunted.
“May I ask you a few questions?” asked Richard
“Make them short” instructed the chief.
“Wouldn’t it make sense for you to reveal my opponent to me before I make my decision?” asked Richard.
The Chief laughed. “That would be too easy Temcancibus!”
” Fine, If I win, will you change your little nickname you have for me?” Richard asked.
“If you win the outcome of this decision, and the great hunt of initiation after, then I will give you a new name.” replied the chief. “You have my word.”
“Excellent” said Richard. “I choose the battle of wits. My reason is that I have no idea who my opponent will be, so a physical fight to the death may not go so well for me if the mystery attacker is strong and skilled. The battle of wits pits mind against mind. It’s a more even match. Also, by attempting this challenge and sparing his life, that leaves one more skilled warrior in your troop.”
“A surprisingly well thought out answer from someone who doesn’t look like he has a brain” the chief stated.
The crowd roared with laughter once again.
“Bring out the board. It’s time to play Pyorgazzant!” screamed the chief.
A large board with several pieces on each side was brought out to the wooden table in the middle of the ring. Richard took a seat and was briefed on the basic rules of the game. It was chess like in nature. Richard was fairly good at that on earth, perhaps it would translate well over here on Opposia.
At that moment, Richard’s opponent took his seat. Assuming he was the one Richard would have had to fight if he picked that option, Richard breathed a sigh of relief knowing he had chosen as best he could. The man was above six feet tall, all muscle, and would have destroyed Richard next to instantly in combat.
It was all up to Richard’s brain to save himself from the savagery outside the gates of the Pyorg. At least it would be an even match.
Fifteen minutes passed. As it turned out it was not an even match at all. Richard had cornered the other man’s large piece with many of his small ones that he still had in play.
The crowd gasped. Nobody had ever been defeated that quickly in Pyorgazzant. Richard would find out later that games of this nature usually took forty minutes to an hour.
“Well done” said the chief. “You have won the battle of wits! But I wonder, can you survive the hunt?”
“You’ll have to wait and see” said Richard confidently. In reality he was fearful that things would not go well due to his non-existent hunting experience.
“Come back to this spot after lunch. I will have a team of men waiting for you. They will evaluate you during this great endeavor” said the chief.
Richard and Olive went back to Olive’s hut for a quick lunch. The faster they ate, the more time Olive had at her disposal to teach Richard how to hunt.
They both knew he needed as much help as he could get.