Corporal Larnach’s Report 01 February 1833
By White Dwarf
He raised a white flag and asked to speak with me. I allowed him to approach the house, met him outside. During the meeting he claimed the tribe were here to defend us against the spirit, and that they wished to help us, not attack us. Even though two of their hunters had been shot, they still wished to help, because he had explained to them the seriousness of what might come, that they would be blamed for the deaths of us white men, and then more white men would come, and the tribe would be destroyed. The only way they could survive, was if we survived.
Betty was returned to us unharmed.
I will not go so far as to admit to the existence of this Malingee, though in my report I have alluded to a presence and allowed my imagination to govern my reason at times, I am prepared to accept this offer of peace, and I will go along with their ritual. For now it will keep the peace. McDougall’s bleeding is not severe however the risk of infection is real.
I have accepted the Tribes offer.
At dawn we travelled to the den of the Malingee. We left the woman at the house, Betty tending to Ms Bigge as she grieved for her husband. How could she understand what was happening? She would need answers soon, but I don’t know what to tell her. Did her husband snap under the pressure of the attack by the vengeful savages? Or was it as Flynn contended, his fear allowed him to be taken by the spirit, and used against us.
They insisted McDougall complete the ceremony with us, despite his wounds. He agreed, somewhat breathlessly. I believe some of his ribs were split by the axe. He was tended too by the old tribesman and black witches we had seen days before in the camp, and two young hunters carried him in a sling.
The older tribesman and his sisters, as Flynn had called them, bade us to kneel at the perimeter of the bones that encircled the thicket, what they called the Den. The elder handed each of us a sharpened stone, smooth and flat, no bigger than my longest finger. The elder women presented each of us with a sack woven of dry reeds of the river.
The silence of the area was greedy. Any sound made by us, the crunch of twig and small bone beneath our knees, the rasping breaths taken by Private McDougall, the fussing of the tribe elders, was all swallowed up by the silence, as if it was palpable. Cold tingles ran up and down my body. I had to focus on one spot in front of myself, afraid I might become dizzy. Then the elders began to strike their sticks together rhythmically, and they chanted under their breath, a deep bass sound, and unfamiliar sound. The sounds they made were not lost, but remained true and piercing. Particularly sharp was the striking of the wooden sticks. It sang like a note.
McDougall’s head slumped forward. I had to shake him and call his name. My voice was lost in the silence and the chanting.
The Elder man stood in front of us and mimed instructions. I cut the reed that bound the sack together and reached into the sack, horrified by the feel of course fur, claws, and teeth. I took a handful of loose skin and retrieved a small animal, a rat like creature. It was panicked, its eyes and mouth wide, its legs splayed out. I tucked the opening of the sack under my knee to stop the other animals escaping. Private Stubbs followed my lead and retrieved a lizard. Private McDougall retrieved a black and white bird whose leg and wing were likely broken. Following the elders instruction, we held down the animals and we placed the stone blades to their throats. Cutting the throat of my first creature was surprisingly difficult, while the stone was sharp; it required a vigorous sawing motion before a cut appeared. The poor creature’s blood spilled over my hands. Such a vibrant contrast it was against the grey of this place. The elder took my hand and with my thumb he drew in blood a line beneath my left and right eyes. As he did so he again joined in the chanting of his sisters.
I fear I am unable to submit this report; it will do no good, not for me, or the dead men, and least of all for the tribe. The Corp will be coming, and the tribe will be sacrificed for the appeasement of the colony.