Long ago, the guinea pig race lived all together in a coastal city, until one day a storm came and destroyed their home, forcing them to scatter across the land. The guinea pigs now lived in many separate nomadic clans that roamed the land in search of a new home.
Early one morning, a clan was busy knocking down their shelter on an area of endless fields. They were ready to begin their day’s travel. The group of fifty guinea pigs had been traveling for many years now. During their travels they had come across other clans and suffered through the brutal forces of nature, yet they still had not found another place to call home. A few months prior, the clan’s leader fell ill during their travels, and died soon after. Now his son, a middle-aged guinea pig named Buc, led them through the land. Buc was an average-sized, dark brown guinea pig and was respected by all of his clan.
Once the guinea pigs had all of their shelters disassembled, they began their long travels in search of a new home.
Buc led his guinea pigs southeast through the tall grasses. He looked around everywhere in front of him, only seeing the tall grass dancing in the wind. He then looked up at the sky and saw that the sun was directly above them.
“The air gets hotter every day,” he said to himself. He looked back at his clan and saw everyone slowing down in the heat. “We need to find some shade or food.”
Buc continued looking around the fields in front of him before he heard someone shout behind him.
“Look! There’s corn!” the voice shouted.
Buc looked back and saw everyone looking and pointing to their left. When he looked in the direction, he saw a small field of tall stalks of corn standing above the grass. He started walking toward the stalks as the rest of the clan ran around him and into the field. The guinea pigs started pulling the corn off the stalks.
“I can’t wait to eat this corn,” said a female as she picked an ear of corn from a stalk.
“Oh, I know. My young’ns love boiled corn,” said another female.
Buc walked up to the edge of the field and looked at the smiles on everyone’s faces as they filled their baskets and bags with corn. A younger, white guinea pig ran toward Buc with a couple ears of corn.
“Here, Buc, these are for you!” the young’n said.
Buc smiled at the little one.
“Thank you, young’n,” he said, taking the corn.
“I’ll be back with some more!” the young’n said before he ran back off.
Buc dropped the corn into his bag that hung from his side and watched the little one run back into the field.
“Everyone!” he shouted. “Let’s gather these ears quickly so we can keep moving!”
The guinea pigs pulled the ears of corn off the stalks as fast as they could. After three hours they had the field cleared and all of the stalks knocked down.
Buc stood in the tall grass in the heat of the sun and waited for everyone to pick their huts and bags up. Once everyone was ready, they continued into the east.
As the sun was nearing the western horizon, Buc began to see a small forest near the horizon.
“We’ll stay there tonight,” he said to those around him. He picked up his pace a bit and moved to the forest. When they were at the edge of the forest, they set their shelters up and everyone went in to ready themselves for the next day.
Early the next morning Buc lay in his hut with his mate and woke to the sound of faint voices coming from outside. He sat up and saw that his mate was still sleeping and then stood and went to the entrance. He pulled back the cloth and looked out, seeing his clan gathered around. He then walked out and stretched.
“What’s the plan Buc?” asked one of the males.
“We’re going to remain here for a few days to hunt,” replied Buc, finishing stretching.
He looked through the clan and saw content looks on everyone’s faces. “I want all of the hunters to bring back enough food for the clan before we leave.” Fifteen guinea pigs began to leave the group. “I also want to search for any kinds of fruits that may be here.” Ten females with baskets walked out the back of the group and went toward the forest. “After we gather enough food we’re going to try and catch the buffalo migration in the east.”
“But, Buc, the buffalo will be too far into the south before we get to their trail!” a male said.
“I know that it’s getting late in the year, but if we can move soon, we might just catch them,” said Buc.
“Well then let’s get busy!” the male shouted.
Buc stood by his hut and watched everyone disperse. He then turned and went back inside.
“Are we leaving?” his mate, Mary, asked.
Buc slowly shook his head and looked at the ground.
“We’re going to hunt here for a few days,” he replied.
“What’s wrong?” Mary asked.
Buc walked over and sat down next to her.
“I’m not sure if we’re ever going to find another home,” he replied. He felt Mary’s arm go around his shoulders.
“We will. I know we will,” she said.
“We just need to keep following the trails to the eastern springs.”
“Yeah, but that’s still another four weeks of travel,” said Buc.
“We’ll be all right,” said Mary. She then wrapped herself around, trying to comfort him.
After leaving the camp, the fifteen guinea pig hunters moved very quietly through the fallen leaves and heard much movement around them. When they heard a lot of breaking twigs, they stopped and scanned their surroundings. They looked through the trees and bushes and saw three galibra off to their right.
The galibra were light brown in color, stood on four legs, and had a small bushy tail and a small horn on the tip of their snout. Two of them had two tall, sharp antlers atop their heads. This beast was a common food among the guinea pig clan.
Chuck, a middle-aged, light brown guinea pig, stood in the middle of his group and looked over at the three galibra. He saw that Spruce was pointing them out to everyone. Spruce was one of the more experienced hunters in the group. He had become a hunter at the same time as Chuck, and the two had been leading the hunts together for three years.
Chuck slowly moved through the dry leaves, keeping his eyes and ready arrow on the leftmost galibra. The galibra faced toward him, digging through the dirt and leaves with the horn on his nose. Chuck took a step forward and crunched in a small pile of leaves. The galibra looked up at him and stopped. He stared at the galibra for a few seconds before it lowered its head and continued eating. Chuck then took a few more steps and pulled back on his arrow. Just before he was going to release the weapon, he heard a loud thud behind him and then watched as the galibra ran off into the forest. He quickly shot his arrow toward the fleeing galibra and immediately ran off after them.
While the hunters were off after their prey, the rest of the clan was continuing on with their day. On the northern side of the village, a female guinea pig walked out of her hut and went to her water barrel. She took the top off the barrel, set it on the ground, and went to dunk her bucket in the water. However, when she looked into the barrel, she saw that the water was very low.
“Oh, no,” she said to herself. She dipped her bucket in the barrel, filled it as much as possible, and went back inside. When she stepped inside, she saw her three young’ns were sitting along the left wall and her mate was sitting in the back of the hut, carving a piece of wood.
“Gus? We’re almost out of water,” she said.
Her mate looked up at her.
“How much is left?” he asked.
“Under a quarter,” she replied.
“Oh no! What if we run out?” the little ones shouted.
“Now, now, little ones, we ain’t going to run out,” said Gus. He set his carving down and got up.
“I’ll go talk to Buc,” he said.
“Hurry, Daddy!” the young’ns shouted
Gus left his hut and walked out into the village.
In the southern end of the village, Buc sat in his hut with his mate. He heard someone calling him from outside.
“Buc, are you in?” said the voice.
“Yes, come in,” he replied, looking at the door. He watched the cloth pull back and saw a brown guinea pig step inside.
“What’s wrong?” Buc asked.
“Buc, my family’s water supply is very low,” replied the guinea pig.
A look of worry fell over Buc’s face as he stood up.
“My friend, you are not the first one to come to me with this problem,” he said. “It seems that many of our clan is low on water.”
Buc walked over to the hut’s entrance, moved the cloth door aside, and looked out at his encampment. He walked outside and looked around at the many huts, seeing four young’ns playing over by the fields.
“Hey, young’ns, come here,” he shouted over to them.
The young’ns stopped and looked over.
“It’s Buc,” said one of the young’ns.
“I wonder what he wants?” said another young’n.
The four started walking over.
“Yes?” they said.
“Can you four do our clan a lifesaving favor?” asked Buc, looking down at the young’ns.
“Like a quest!” said one of the young’ns, jumping up.
“Yes. I need you four to go to one of these trees and dig a hole,” said Buc.
“What for?” asked one of the young guinea pigs.
“Word has come to my ears that our clan is low on water. I need you four to dig holes by the trees to try and find some,” said Buc.
“How is digging holes going to find water?” asked the guinea pigs.
“The trees roots under the ground hold water for the rest of the tree to live. If you dig deep enough into the roots, you might be able to get the water for our clan,” said Buc.
“Wow, it is like a life-saving quest!” said one of the little ones, excited.
“Okay, we shall not fail you, Buc,” said all the young’ns, standing tall and bowing to their leader. They ran over to the trees and started digging the holes.
Buc watched the four run off and then turned and went back to his hut. As he walked back he saw Gus still standing there.
“I sent some of our young’ns to get water from the trees,” Buc said.
“This forest looks very healthy; they shouldn’t have any problem getting water from it,” said Gus. “Thank you, Buc.” Gus then left his leader’s hut and went back to his own.
The sun was now beginning to lower in the western skies. Buc was walking around the fields behind his hut when he heard shouting coming from the north.
“The hunters are back! The hunters are back!” The shouts filled the air around him.
He ran back into the village and saw the hunters walking into the village, surrounded by everyone. Buc made his way through the crowd and went to Chuck, who was walking with his head lowered.
“How’d you do?” Buc asked.
Chuck shook his head.
“We missed three galibra,” he said despairingly.
Buc’s shoulders dropped.
“We only caught four chimbukoo,” said Chuck.
The chimbukoo was a small little creature, only eighteen pounds and orange in color with two black stripes going down the center of its back. It had a short, pointed nose and small, pointed ears atop its head.
Buc looked past Chuck and saw the four orange creatures hanging from another hunter’s spear. He looked back at Chuck and waved him to follow and then walked back to his hut.
“I’m sorry, Buc, but that’s all that we were able to get,” Chuck said, coming up behind Buc.
Buc turned around, facing his hunter.
“Do we have enough food to last us another couple of days?” he asked.
“We should if we don’t eat too much of it,” said Chuck. “Why? What’s wrong?”
Buc looked over into the darkening village, watching guinea pigs going into their huts.
“We’re running low on water. We’re not going to be able to stay here tomorrow,” he said. “We’re going to try and make it to the eastern springs.”
“But, Buc—” started Chuck.
“I know the springs are still four weeks travel from here,” said Buc.
“We don’t have enough food for that journey,” said Chuck.
“Maybe we can get some on the way.”
“There has to be somewhere around here to find some.”
Buc shook his head.
“Unless the rain comes to give us pools,” he said. He looked up at Chuck and saw him look around the village and then back at him.
“I’ll tell my hunters to keep the chimbukoo hidden as a reserve,” said Chuck.
“Good. We leave in the morning,” said Buc. He nodded to Chuck and turned to go back into his hut, but when he turned, he heard a shriek of terror coming from within the camp.
“Oh, where could they have gone!” yelled a panicking female.
Buc saw the female running through the camp and rushed over to her.
“What’s wrong?” he shouted to her.
“Oh, Buc! My little ones are missing!” said the female.
“Where were they when you last saw them?” asked Buc.
“They were playing over in the fields. I think something might have taken them!” said the female, starting to cry into Buc’s chest.
“Calm down,” said Buc, patting her on the back.
“I saw them playing on the field.”
“You did!” The female jumped up.
“Yes. I sent them to dig for water around midday,” said Buc, looking down at her wet face.
“But then where are they?” said the female, beginning to calm down and wiping the tears from her eyes.
“We didn’t see them anywhere out there,” said Chuck.
“I’ll take you to where I sent them,” Buc said to the female.
Buc led the female over to the edge of the forest, where he sent the little ones. The rest of the hunters all started gathering behind them. Buc looked up and down the forest’s edge but didn’t see the young’ns anywhere.
“Oh, I don’t see them anywhere!” said the female, beginning to panic again.
“Don’t worry. We will find your little ones before the morning,” Buc heard Chuck say.
“Oh, thank you.” The female ran from Buc and over to Chuck to hug him.
“Come, let’s find these little ones,” Chuck said to his hunters.
Buc watched the hunters travel back into the forest.
“Do you think they’ll find them?” asked the female as she watched the hunters depart back into the forest.