Thag had made his decision — he was not taking Onga back, even if the shaman, Weasel-Scratch-Face-Brother, insisted. Thag could see why Weasel wanted him to take her back; Onga was driving the shaman crazy.
The flesh-pole with ears shaman insisted. And Thag refused.
Weasel then lobbied Onga’s father, Bushenior to force Thag to take her back. The Elder was fairly influential within the tribe, and he told Thag that if he did not take Onga back, he would install his son, Dubyag, as the new leader of the hunters over Thag.
“Dubyag not good hunter,” Thag said.
“Maybe,” Bushenior said, “but he’s my son, and Onga is my daughter. I can convince the other Elders that I am right.”
“What of hunters?” Thag asked. “Bad for hunters Dubyag lead them. He get kicked in head by wooly rhino. Other hunters get kicked in head. Bad for hunters.”
“I don’t care if it’s bad for the hunters. It will make you do what I want,” Bushenior said.
“Bad for tribe,” Thag said quietly.
“Only in the short term. You will buckle under.”
It ran against every instinct he had, but Thag said: “Elder can go have grunties with cave lion.”
And so Thag was relieved of his position as lead hunter, but not after inconsiderable arm twisting by Onga’s father. As Thag had predicted, the first expedition led by Dubyag was a disaster.
In a classic case of over-ambition, the brain-damaged Dubyag convinced the other hunters they should take down a big male mammoth. During rutting season. Fonzag, the newly adopted Thunka Grunka and mate to the nubile Vunga (half-daughter of the shaman), was well-liked amongst the hunters, despite his adoptive status and unusual approach to hair grooming (he spiked it with tree resin gel); Fonzag was himself almost turned into a kind of gel by the back left foot of the enraged mammoth, escaping only because of his diminutive size. His buddy, Malphag, was not quite as lucky, as the mammoth sat on him.
“Heyyyy, don’t sit on Malphy!”
Mrogak, the brother of Mrog (who had been killed by a cave lion the year before), discovered the wonders of flight, as the mammoth picked him up with his trunk, and flung him from the edge of the cliff they had hoped to drive the mammoth over. Mrogak, unfortunately, was not as excited by the wonders of landing.
Other hunters suffered some broken bones, bruises, and Bushenior’s other idiot son, Bejag, somehow managed to stab himself with his own spear. He would live. In shame.
Dubyag was leading from the rear, and was the only hunter not hurt, except for Thag, who had forseen the disaster, and got behind a rock big enough to be protected from the rampaging mammoth. (At least a few of the other hunters had followed his example.)
When they finally got the wounded back to the cave, and the dead buried, Thag did his first painting of humans.
It showed a wooly mammoth copulating with Dubyag, while his father watched, the Elder’s head just barely visible over the enormous pile of droppings he was buried under.