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Little Shrew sat cross legged in her favorite corner of the cave. She was making twine from nettles, something she was good at. Being so small she was never chosen to hunt or guard the food that was gathered. No one trusted her to tend the fire or do any cooking, she was a bit of a dreamer and had once let the fire go out – one of the greatest sins. But making twine was a satisfying if solitary task.

Little Shrew heard the sound of her father, his voice sounded scared, this made Little Shrew scared too. The elders were talking urgently, unaware that she could hear every word. The Big Hand clan over the valley had all died in the night, suffocated by the web of the giant Webwort spider. The spider’s deathly  web was legendary but it had never been seen by anyone in the White Foot clan.

Little Shrew tidied up her work and crept unnoticed from the cave, she was going to see for herself the work of the Webwort. She had always been terrified of spiders but her curiosity knew no bounds.

As she descended the valley into the  Big Hand village she grew nervous of the quietness, the village was usually a lively scene, today there was no one at work or play, no one at all.
She entered their cave and could make out through the darkness the shapes of the bodies, cocooned in the Webwort’s sticky web.

‘Little Shrew’ a voice said breaking the silence ‘here is your chance to save your people’

She turned around and there at the foot of a walnut tree sat a very small shrunken man, his beard reached down to his chest. His clothes were roughly made from rabbit skins and his feet were bare. His eyes reminded Little Shrew of the harvest moon.

‘You need to find the sap of the Ubble tree, this alone will kill the Webwort spider.’

‘But I’m so small…’

‘It’s time for you to show White Foot what you are really capable of. The Ubble tree only grows on Dark Cliff. You must collect the sap only in your lime leaf cup.’ And with that he darted down a burrow below the tree.

Little Shrew wasted no time at all, she had to reach Dark Cliff before dusk and be ready in position before it was dark. The Webwort only came out when the moon shone brightly in the sky.

She climbed bravely, for once her stature was an advantage as she scurried across the rocks, gripping tightly with her small boney hands.

The Ubble tree produced a gooey blue liquid which smelt of squashed dandelions. It was so thick it was unlikely to spill. She scampered down quickly and raced to the hill above the White Foot settlement.  She got into position and started to make the small mud balls  she was well practiced at. They were used in a sling to fire at predators that constantly prowled around their camp scavenging for food.

Crouching down beneath the rocky outcrop she waiting for the Webwort to roam the valley in search of its next victim. She was not afraid of the dark and knew that she would not be missed, the elders would be too busy discussing what to do and her mother was tending to her new baby brother.

Suddenly she was alerted by the sound of crushing leaves and twigs snapping, the Webwort was coming. She jumped up on to the rocks her sling at the ready. She dipped the mud balls into the sap and fired, one, two, three, four, five shots directly between its eyes, the poisonous sap splattering all over its evil looking face.

At sunrise Little Shrew’s limp body shrouded in a veil of web, was carried down the hill by her grief stricken father. The Webwort’s body lay crumpled at the foot of the rocks.

White Foot lived on and became the most successful clan of the valleys but they never forgot their Little Shrew. The rocky outcrop became a place of remembrance and each year they paid homage to her by laying garlands of nettles where she had died.

 

 

Katie Waistell

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