Dr. Pritchard could feel things crawling across his face. He gasped for breath and shook his head, knocking the worms and bugs off with his hands. It was then that he remembered his friend's tattered body hosting the fungus above him. He couldn't look up.
Adrenaline overcame him. The doctor reeled backwards through the bushes, turned, and ran towards the Okanoan village where he'd been based for the last few days. He crashed through the underbrush, leaping over fallen logs, and shredding his exposed legs from ankle to thigh in the thorn-filled brush.
Screeching birdcalls exploded around him as he blundered, bloody and panting, blindly through the bush. He struggled for miles through thick jungle until he came upon a shallow stream. Pritchard splashed upstream through the water for close to an hour. The stream led to a pond in front of a small waterfall.
A hunting party from the Okanoan village was gathered at the base of the waterfall. Five young hunters looked at him dubiously and gripped their weapons tightly as the doctor ran towards them. He was yelling phrases in a Toyucan dialect, their native tongue. It was a language Pritchard and Fenimore had practiced and spoken as a game over drinks for years.
"Come! I need help." Pritchard pointed toward the stream. "I've found my friend's body. Come help me bring him back."
The young hunters gathered around the base of the waterfall looked at each other quickly. Two of them had been spearfishing when he approached and looked irritated, as if the doctor had spooked the fish. The other three looked at him skeptically, held up their hands, and motioned for him to stop running.
"Stop there!" shouted one of the spearfishers as he lowered his weapon towards the doctor, who was bent over and breathing heavily on the other side of the small pond.
"No," Pritchard gasped,"you don't understand. I need your help to bring my friend back."
The men at the base of the falls now looked at each other warily. One asked a question of the tallest of the party, then they mumbled amongst themselves, nodded, and spread out to surround the doctor. The tallest hunter, who walked up and stood directly in front of Pritchard, called the shots. He seemed to be not only the tallest, but the eldest and wealthiest member of this little group.
The elaborate whorls of tattoos and shell embedments across his shoulders, arms, and back, proved he was a well-connected and somewhat important young man. His name was Kamaiura, and the brightly colored feathers woven into his long black hair identified him as royalty in the Okanoan village. The brilliant red, yellow, and blue parrot feathers made Kamaiura stand out in a jungle world of bright greens and drab browns. He was the only one of the group with a bow and a quiver full of arrows.
Two of the other hunters looked to be no more than twelve or thirteen years old, and weren't armed with anything except their short stone axes. The other pair, who had been spearfishing, appeared to be closer to their late teens and waved their thin spears at the doctor. The spearfishers wore elaborate shell necklaces and penis sheaths, while the younger hunters merely wore loincloths. Along with the small stone axes, the younger pair of hunters carried large gathering pouches made from tapir skin that looked strangely like messenger bags to Pritchard.
Kamaiura looked to be closer to the same age as the pair of spearfishers. His upper arms were whorls of carved designs accented with small white shells embedded in the skin. He wore the penis sheath and had the brightly colored parrot feathers permanently woven through his black, oiled hair.
"Don't come closer. Stay there," Kamaiura said, motioning with his hand towards the far bank of the pond at the base of the wa