The natural world was not a mystery — when it rained, they got wet. If they were in the mountains, rain was dangerous because it would swell the streams, making them difficult or impossible to cross. Rain made hunting more difficult, as it tamped down the signs of prey.
For Thag, these things were evident, not a cause of mystery. They were cause and effect.
But for others in the Thunka Grunka Clan, rain was one of a thousand mysteries that only their shaman, Weasel-Scratch-Face-Brother, could guide them through, as he did that morning, while a deluge teemed outside the cave.
“So where does the rain come from,” the shaman asked. It was a rhetorical question — even Dubyag, the unfortunate hunter who had been kicked in the head by an enraged wooly rhino knew that.
“The rain,” Weasel-Scratch-Face-Brother paused for dramatic effect, “comes from the Sky God.”
Thag snorted. He could not help himself. “Come from sky. What be this god?” he asked the shaman, not at all rhetorically.
“A God is the Prime Force. The powerful being that causes such things as rain to happen. There are many Gods. Sky. Earth. Water –”
“So why Water God not make rain?” Thag asked.
There was a rustle in the assembled Thunka Grunkas. That WAS a good question. Why was rain from the Sky God, not the Water God?
“Because it comes from the sky,” the shaman answered patiently. Others nodded in understanding.
“What when rain come in face — from side?” Thag asked. All of the hunters knew this phenomenon, especially when they made it out to the steppes, hunting the mammoth.
“It is only coming sideways because of the Wind God,” Weasel said. He was getting upset. “It still falls from the Sky God first.”
“So rain come from sky god, unless wind god make go sideways. Then take wind god. What when rain hit calm pond and bounce out of water? Then water god make that?”
Shaman nodded his head in agreement.
“So rain come from sky god, unless wind god, or water god make do something to rain? What else rain do?”
“It freezes sometimes,” a helpful Dubyag suggested.
“Oh, and it sometimes doesn’t hit the ground, even though you can see it falling,” another hunter said.
“So make cold god and earth god sometimes help rain,” Thag said as he counted fingers. “So sky, wind, water, earth, cold . . . five gods for rain. Maybe rain just rain.”
Everyone in the Thunka Grunka Clan laughed.
“No, you don’t understand,” the shaman said. “It is a mystery known only to the Thunka shaman.”
“Mystery is why listen to you. Rain come from somewhere. Must be simple answer. Better answer,” Thag said, pleased to have won this argument. “Let’s groom.”
The group seemed to think that was a good idea, and spent the rainy afternoon grooming one another. Even his estranged mate, Onga, joined him in the activity — the first time in many months.
Thag could hear the shaman’s teeth grinding above the din of the rain.