Items on my Bookshelf: Centaur Tankard
Like many people, I have various trinkets and knickknacks collected from over the years. Random bits and bobs taken from random moments. I thought it would be fun to share some of these objects with you and share the absolutely true and unembellished stories behind them...
This unique object came into my possession by an unusual chap who hunted dinosaurs. Tall, lean and scruffy, B--- spent every free moment camped out in the wilds of the world, obsessively tracking the great lizards of yesteryear.
“I was in the deep forest,” B---- told me, “of Eastern Cascadian, camped along the ridge of a nameless mountain shrouded in heavy mist. My spirits were down for I had not spotted any quarry the entire trip to that point. Despite that, the small fire was pleasant and the view of the valley below me was splendid.
“The sun was setting behind a line of trees behind me. Long shadows crept towards the camp, bringing with them the sounds of crickets and mosquitoes. Among the usual insect harmonies, however, I detected a strange noise quite unlike anything I had heard before. It was a mournful sound, reminding me for all the world of a mother cow lamenting the loss of a calf. I grabbed my rifle and left camp to investigate.
“The shadows of dusk hindered my progress as I moved through the bush but I maintained a decent pace, following the sound deeper and deeper into the wilderness. Turning back at one point, I saw my campfire as a single flicker of light in the distance. My lantern illuminated only green leaves and brown bark before me, revealing nothing of the forest’s secrets.
“I fingered my weapon, my senses attuned to the slightest sound from the surrounding forest. The air did not feel right. Even the crickets had stopped their nightly courtships. The silence, broken only by my passage, was oppressive. It felt as if the world was holding its breath.
“Then, the trees opened and I was astounded. Before me was the most incredible sight I have ever seen: two centaurs, a female cradling a male youth. The sound that had brought me into the woods was the moaning of the mother, her voice more animal than human in its grief.
“Upon my approach, she looked up. But rather than bolting for the cover of the forest, she stayed, holding her child. I placed my weapon in the dirt and held up my hands. Slowly, I stepped forward. Even in the gloomy twilight, I could easily see the great gashes along the flank of the foal. From the size and depth, I surmised it the work of a raptor I had been tracking.
“From my lips to God’s ears, for no sooner had I thought it than the beast emerged from the trees. Warbling like an over-sized chicken, the raptor’s claws clicked as it climbed over a fallen log, its long snout dripping in anticipation of the kill. The beast was five feet of claw and tooth. It gave us only a brief glance before focusing its cold eye on the foal and its distraught mother. Taking advantage of its error, I bent, grabbed my weapon and fired.
“My shot glanced it mid-pounce, throwing it off its target. Even as it righted itself to attack the centaurs, I rushed in with my machete, determined to defend the mythical creatures to my last breath. What followed was a horrific battle of blade and claw. By the end of it, my blood was mingling with the raptor’s and the centaur’s on the forest floor but I was standing while the lizard was dead at my feet.
“During the skirmish, the raptor had managed to get its jaw clamped around one of the foal’s legs. The severed limb was all that remained in the area for the mother had managed to carry her foal away into the darkness. I hesitated, my hand hovering over the grisly trophy. But then I recalled an ancient legend that said any who drink from a mug made of a centaur’s hoof will be healthy and happy for the rest of his days. I took the hoof, as well as several trophies from the raptor and made my way back to camp, eager to dress my wounds with bandages and whiskey.”
After telling me this fantastical tale, my explorer friend gifted me the tankard. So far, I have not drunk from it. Rather, it sits on my bookshelf, its blessings at the ready for a day when I may need them more than today.