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datatime: 2022-09-29 20:18:51 Author:CvDToBgB

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.

"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."

"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."

"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."

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.

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

Then the next chariot in line tore in, distracting the bull from his victim.

Behind us the rest of our column was strung out in single file. Our plan was to come in and split on each side of the bull, firing our arrows into him as we passed, then wheeling around and coming back in classic chariot tactics.

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.

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.

"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 pulled up my horses at the edge of the grove, and we stared back aghast at the carnage of our shattered squadron. There were broken chariots scattered across the field, for Kratas out on the left had fared no better than we had.

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.

So I raised my fist and gave the hand-command that split the column into two files. Kratas wheeled away on our left with twenty-five chariots following him in line astern, while we ran on straight at the huge grey beast that confronted us with the yellow shafts of ivory, thick as the columns of the temple of Horus, standing out from his vast grey head.

"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.

"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 pulled up my horses at the edge of the grove, and we stared back aghast at the carnage of our shattered squadron. There were broken chariots scattered across the field, for Kratas out on the left had fared no better than we had.

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 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.

Then the bull squealed again, and he ran.

"Go hard at him" Tanus shouted. "Take him before he turns to run."

Then the bull squealed again, and he ran.

"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."

"Come on, you old fool"

"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?

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