The Amulet


"Knock-knock!" yelled Grumph. He couldn't knock on the coyote skin that was covering the entrance, but to enter without invitation would be impolite.

"Come in!" permitted the shaman's voice from inside the tent.

Grumph pushed away the skin and peered inside. "Um, Shaman?.."

Inside it was dim and foggy. The heavy skin kept the mysetrious haze with a peculiar stench inside the tent, and the sunlight out. Shaman filled his tent with the smoke on purpose, his profession required an appropriate office.

The shaman was sitting beside the fire and cooked something in a clay pot, occasssionally stirring the greenish brew with a stick.

"Why have you disturbed me?" inquired the shaman dryly.

"Here, brought you a rabbit," answered Grumph.

"Good for you. Put it over there. Is that it?"

"Um, actually no..." hesitated Grumph "I, uhh.."

The shaman looked up at him impatiently. "Yeah, I've suspected you have ulterior motives for your visit."

"What?.."

"I'm saying, I knew you wanted something."

"O-oh, so it's true what they say," gaped Grumph "you know everything, shaman?"

Shaman sighed.

"Tell me what you want, Grumph, don't waste my time."

"Give me an amulet." said Grumph "The Chief told me you can make amulet."

"I understand." nodded shaman "Spring, hormones. Who is she, Grumph?"

Grumph's stared at him, circumference of his eyes almost approaching that of his mouth.

"How did you..."

"I am a shaman, Grumph. It was quite easy to deduce with an ordinary chain of observations and inferences. Also, when were you interested in anything other than that? So, what's her name?"

"Hunga."

"Hunga, just as I suspected. Excellent choice, my friend! Very lovely girl. Though it wouldn't hurt if she would comb her hair, shower, and check herself for lice occassionally."

"Ugh, what?.."

"Nothing, forget it. Judging by the smell, you're incapable of grasping the concept of hygiene anyay."

"So, will you give me the amulet?"

Shaman scratched his head. "First, I need to ask you something. Do you have matrimonial intentions, or are you just screwing around?"

"What?"

"I'm saying, why do you want Hunga?"

"A-ah! Well, she has these," gestured Grumph, "and such a big," he mimed again. "Grumph likes. Grumph wants to take Hunga and...." In a few short sentences, Grumph outlined his plans for his beloved.

"Okay," shaman nodded, once Grumph concluded his explanations "so you need an amulet?"

"Aye."

"So that she would want to do all of the above, in the same sequence and with the same enthusiasm?"

"What?"

"I'm saying, so that Hunga would also want Grumph?"

"A-ah! Yes! So you will make amulet?"

"Yes." nodded shaman.

Grumph cheered up.

"But it will take about a month," he added.

Grumph sank.

"Besides," said shaman, "you will have to abide by a few conditions. I mean, you will have to do something as well, got it?"

Grumph glanced at the rabbit he brought. It, indeed, was not particularly large.

"I can bring you a mountain goat," tentatively promised Grumph.

"Mountain goat, huh?" shaman scratched his sparse beard, "sure, bring the goat. But that is not all."

"Not all?..."

"Nope. This whole month, you will need to perform certain magic rituals."

"Rituals?" Grumph gaped at him again.

"It's not too difficult, don't worry," reassured him the shaman, "Communication with demons I will take upon myself. You will only need to do something very simple."

Grumph looked at him warily.

"So... I would prefer if you would write this down, but I haven't invented the literacy yet," said the shaman, "so just memorize. First of all, every day you will go out into the field and pick some wildflowers."

"Why?" wondered Grumph, "They don't taste very good."

"Shut up and listen. You will take the flowers and leave them in front of the Hunga's cave. Do you understand?"

"Aye."

"No you don't. Just do as I say. Get up early in the morning, before dawn. Go to the field, pick the flowers. Take them to the Hunga's cave. Put them in front of the entrance. Got it?"

"Aye."

"Good." replied shaman. "Next. Treat Hunga with politeness and courtesy, like a true gentleman."

"What?"

Shaman scratched his head. "Don't beat her, don't bite her, don't pull her hair, don't grab her ass, don't throw rocks at her, and don't curse."

"But then how will she know that Grumph likes her?"

Shaman sighed. "That's my problem. That's what amulet is for. Got it?"

"Aah."

"Next. When you come home from hunting - you bring her the best peace of meat."

"Why?"

"Because. That's how magic works, dummie. Do as I say, or the amulet won't work."

Grumph wilted. The prospect of giving away the best pieces of meat for a month did not lift his spirits.

"And one last thing..." he continued thoughtfully, "What was that... I wanted to add something else..."

Grumph looked at him apprehensively.

"Ah, right!" exclaimed the shaman "Here's what. Every day, when you see her, tell her a compliment."

"What?" Grumph's face clearly showed that this confirmed his worst fears. He clearly expected that the shaman will demand him to give away all of his favorite rocks as well.

"Tell her something nice. Something like 'Hey, Hunga, you look lovely today!', and so on."

Grumph shook his head. "I don't wanna mess with the spirits."

Shaman sighed again, exhasperated.

"I will take care of spirits." he said, "Your job is just to tell Hunga all sorts of nice things. Like 'Your eyes are brighter than the stars in the night', or 'You're graceful like a young doe.' Umm.. Nevermind, you'll never remember that... Tell her 'You are delecate as a flower', or 'You are as slender as a reed.'"

Grumph frowned.

"Memorized?" asked shaman.

"It's hard..." Grumph bit his lip.

"Okay, you'll come here every day, and I'll tell you what to say."

Grumph hesitated. "Do I have to do all of this? Isn't there some other way?"

"Nope. Without this stuff the amulet won't work."

Grumph hung his head.

"Cheer up, young man. Just bring her flowers, add some sweet talk... Soon enough Hunga will carry you in her arms. Just hold on for a month."

"Warriors say..." Grumph began uncertainly.

"What do the warriors say?" inquired the shaman coldly.

"They're saying... There's an easier way..."

"Hmm."

"They say you can, you know... Take a club... And, y'know... in the head... And then just drag her to your cave."

"Hm-m..."

"So, you can?"

Shaman scratched his beard. "Actually, I still recommend the amulet. But technically speaking..."

"But if I do the club thing... Then the amulet is not needed, right?"

Shaman shrugged. "A little concussion treatmen - yes. The amulet - no."

Grumph's face visibly brightened. "So I guess I... I'll start with that then."

Shaman shrugged again. "It's up to you. However, I have to warn you - if you do the club thing, then the amulet is definitely not going to work."

"It won't?"

"Absolutely definitely not."

Grumph stood for a moment, thinking. Then waved it off. "Ah, well! I'll go with the club. Don't wanna wait for too long."

He turned around, heading for the exit.

"Leave the rabbit!" barked at him shaman. Grumph jerked his hand away from the rabbit.

"But, um..."

"This is the payment for my consulting services."

"For what?"

"For wise advice." explained the shaman.

"Aah..." mumbled Grumph, bidding a farewell to the rabbit. "So... I'll go then?"

"Go ahead. Have a great family life."

Grumph left.


Shaman sat for a while in silence, stirring the green stuff in his pot. Then the coyote skin moved aside again, revealing a dirty head.

"Shaman?"

"Come in." solemnly nodded the shaman.

A tiny figure slipped in. She was carrying a rolled goat skin.

"Hello, Zazu! Why have you disturbed me?"

"There." Zazu unrolled the skin, and showed him a baked fish.

"Excellent. Put it beside the rabbit." he nodded "Is that it?"

"Um... Actually I... How do I put it... I have..."

"I know," the shaman nodded, "your husband is beating you up."

Zazu's eyes widened in surprise. Or rather one eye. The other one, swollen, has barely opened.

"The spirits have told me everything, you understand."

Zazu nodded.

"Well," said shaman, "I think I know how to help."

He stood up, and headed towards the corner of the tent, to a messy pile of rugs, animal skins, fish heads, cow skulls, and other utensils. After digging through the trash, the shaman pulled out a small vial. Turning back to the fire, he filled the vial with the boiling green liquid from the pot.

"Here you go." he said, handing the vial to Zazu. "Add a little to your husband's soup. By the morning you'll be a free woman."

Zazu beamed. "I'll bring you more berries and tasty roots. And you can keep the goat skin."

Shaman nodded. Zazu hurried out of the cave. Shaman got back to stirring the liquid.

A few more minutes elapsed in silence. Then the shaman mirthlessly chuckled. "With a club, with a club..." and, after a pause, he added "I always say, the amulet is better!"


You can find the original story over here. If you have any comments or suggestions on improving this translation, I would really appreciate them!

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