The San Man unties a small skin bag from the beaded thong which he wears around his waist. He shakes the contents onto the fire which sputters and sends up a shower of silver sparks. Scented smoke descends. The younger man slumbers on, his eyes moving restlessly under sleep-closed lids.
The San Man turns around. He leads the waiting men down the narrow path into the veld where the blue-black landscape is alive with the sound of night-time creatures. The three walk on, following the moon-bright swathe cut into the pungent African night. Up ahead, a long ribbon of eland trek across the land, curving away to be swallowed up by the night.
The grass sings and the men walk, one foot in front of the other, a rhythm like a heartbeat, walking on through the night-time veld.
A sliver of sunlight breaks free from the purple mountains, but still they walk on.
Back on the koppie, the young man lies motionless. Free of his body, he soars towards the summit of the heavens on dawn-warmed wings, flexing his cruel curved talons as, keen-eyed, he scours the waking veld below.
A solitary thorn tree reaches out long shadow-fingers, drawing the heartbeat walkers closer. They plough on, footfall after footfall, their footprints erased behind them by the gentle berg breeze.
The sun climbs and the veld bakes, but now the men rest silently in its shade. An eagle wheels high above. The San Man beckons and slowly it begins its descent.
/… to be continued