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datatime: 2022-10-04 21:38:09 Author:mWgIMQZi

"Come on, you old fool"

The bull did not even check or swerve. He merely reached up with his trunk and - gripped the shaft of the arrow with the tip, as a man might do with his hand. He pulled the shaft from his own flesh and threw it aside and came on after us, reaching out towards us with the blood-smeared trunk.

Hui in the second chariot of our line saved us, for we were defenceless against the old bull's fury. Hui came in from the side, lashing his horses and yelling like a demon. His archer from the footplate behind him fired an arrow into the bull's cheek a hand's-span below the eye, and that pulled his attention from us.

"Just look at that ivory" Tanus shouted. He was unperturbed, and concerned only with the trophy of the chase, but the horses were nervous and skittish. They had picked up the scent of this strange quarry, and they threw their heads up and crabbed in the traces. It was hard to control them and keep them running straight.

"That one on the right is the biggest," squeaked Memnon.

The two old bulls we had selected had sensed our approach and turned to face us. It was only then that I realized the true size of them. When they spread their ears they seemed to block out the sky, like a dark grey thundercloud.

The elephant wheeled to chase after Hui, but he was at full gallop and raced clean away. The next chariot in line was not so fortunate. The driver lacked Hui's skill, and his turn away was inept. The bull lifted his trunk high and then swung it down like an executioner's axe.

I gave the signal to the chariots that followed us, and we veered away from the breeding herd of cows and calves. We ran on, still in column, through the acacia grove towards those two great bulls. As we drove forward, we were forced to swerve around the branches that had been torn from the trees, and to dodge the trunks of giant acacia that had been uprooted. As yet we knew nothing of the unbelievable strength of these creatures, and I called back to Tanus, "There must have been a great storm through this forest to wreak such destruction." It did not even occur to me then that the elephant herds were responsible; they seemed so mild and defenceless.

The bull did not even check or swerve. He merely reached up with his trunk and - gripped the shaft of the arrow with the tip, as a man might do with his hand. He pulled the shaft from his own flesh and threw it aside and came on after us, reaching out towards us with the blood-smeared trunk.

"You heard the royal command," Tanus laughed. "We will take the one on the right. Let Kratas have the other, it's good enough for him."

I looked up at him, for he towered directly over us, reaching out with his trunk to pluck us from the cockpit of the chariot, and I could not believe the size of him, nor the fury in those eyes. They were not the eyes of an animal, but those of an intelligent and alert human being. This was no porcine sloth, but a courageous and terrible adversary that we had challenged in our arrogance and ignorance.

The elephant wheeled to chase after Hui, but he was at full gallop and raced clean away. The next chariot in line was not so fortunate. The driver lacked Hui's skill, and his turn away was inept. The bull lifted his trunk high and then swung it down like an executioner's axe.

"Hi up" I called to Patience and Blade, and they opened up into a gallop. We both expected the huge animal to run from us as soon as he realized that we menaced him. No other game we had ever hunted had stood to receive our first charge. Even the lion runs from the hunter until he is wounded or cornered. How could these obese animals behave differently?

"His head is so big, it will make a fine target," Tanus exulted, as he nocked an arrow. "I will kill him with a single shaft, before he can escape. Run in close under that long, ridiculous nose of his."

He struck the near-side horse across the back, just behind the withers, and broke its spine so cleanly that I heard the vertebrae shatter like a brittle potsherd. The maimed horse went down and dragged its teammate down with it. The chariot rolled over and the men were hurled from it. The elephant placed one forefoot on the body of the fallen charioteer and, with its trunk, plucked off his head and tossed it aloft like a child's ball. It spun in the air spraying a bright feather of pink blood from the severed neck.

He struck the near-side horse across the back, just behind the withers, and broke its spine so cleanly that I heard the vertebrae shatter like a brittle potsherd. The maimed horse went down and dragged its teammate down with it. The chariot rolled over and the men were hurled from it. The elephant placed one forefoot on the body of the fallen charioteer and, with its trunk, plucked off his head and tossed it aloft like a child's ball. It spun in the air spraying a bright feather of pink blood from the severed neck.

"By Horus, look at him come" Tanus roared with astonishment, for the beast was not running from us, but directly at us, in a furious charge. He was swifter than any horse, and nimble as an angry leopard set upon by the hounds. He kicked up bursts of dust with each long flying stride, and was on us before I could get the horses under control again.

Tanus got off a single arrow. It struck the bull in the centre of his forehead, and I expected to see him collapse as the bronze point pierced the brain. We did not know then that the brain of the elephant is not situated where you would expect it to be, but is far back in the mountainous skull and protected by a mass of spongy bone that no arrow can penetrate.

Hui in the second chariot of our line saved us, for we were defenceless against the old bull's fury. Hui came in from the side, lashing his horses and yelling like a demon. His archer from the footplate behind him fired an arrow into the bull's cheek a hand's-span below the eye, and that pulled his attention from us.

"We should take him first." The pup was every bit as keen as his sire.

"That one on the right is the biggest," squeaked Memnon.

He struck the near-side horse across the back, just behind the withers, and broke its spine so cleanly that I heard the vertebrae shatter like a brittle potsherd. The maimed horse went down and dragged its teammate down with it. The chariot rolled over and the men were hurled from it. The elephant placed one forefoot on the body of the fallen charioteer and, with its trunk, plucked off his head and tossed it aloft like a child's ball. It spun in the air spraying a bright feather of pink blood from the severed neck.

The two old bulls we had selected had sensed our approach and turned to face us. It was only then that I realized the true size of them. When they spread their ears they seemed to block out the sky, like a dark grey thundercloud.

The two old bulls we had selected had sensed our approach and turned to face us. It was only then that I realized the true size of them. When they spread their ears they seemed to block out the sky, like a dark grey thundercloud.

The bull did not even check or swerve. He merely reached up with his trunk and - gripped the shaft of the arrow with the tip, as a man might do with his hand. He pulled the shaft from his own flesh and threw it aside and came on after us, reaching out towards us with the blood-smeared trunk.

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