This was a hunt that increasingly seemed like a bad idea. It was all Carvoun’s idea, Moratew thought, even as he tried to accelerate away from the rampaging mammoth—the smallest of a group of five adult males who had uncharacteristically ganged up on them—and was getting increasingly pessimistic about his chances.

He thought that Carvoun has always been a fucker. Always playing it cool. Always unperturbed. Always with that smile that he assumed was hypnotic (and what’s more, it fucking was!)

When he mentioned the idea of this hunt, it seemed madness from the off. Typically it was twenty five hunters or more for one mammoth, but Carvoun wanted to go five to five. He was confident that with the new spear that he had developed it could be done. He argued that new technology will change the key ratios that constrain civilisation. Moratew wasn’t sure whether it was the technology argument, Carvoun’s uber cool, or simply that hypnotic smile (that same fucking smile) that convinced him and the others, but it all seemed to matter less and less given the existential threat posed by this monster on his tail. The hunters had clearly become the hunted. Even as he implored his sinews to not give up, Moratew was struck by the realisation that he would do this all over again, if Carvoun asked him. Such was the hold. Carvoun was just so uber cool.

And then suddenly, he felt the beast who was chasing him slow down and heard it’s anguish-filled growl that dissolved very quickly into a whimper. It was still running but much more slowly now. Clearly it had been hit. But by whom, wondered Moratew. Five mammoths were chasing five hunters. It seemed impossible that they would survive against those odds, but this beast was falling, collapsing like a tower of sand, even as it trundled after Moratew. It was now an easy jog for survival and, sure as the heat of the sun, the chaser fell and Moratew could turn around to see that it was Carvoun who had managed to strike the fatal blow. The edge of the new design spear gleaming, even as the rest of it was neatly embedded in the dead monster.

To look at Carvoun was to look at a god. Trickles of sweat rolling down his sculpted torso as he walked towards his prize. An unrushed stroll, a delicate swagger in his gait, pulling the pipe out from his kruito* and filling it up with some of the fancy grass from across the Gry**. So calm, so assured, so confident and smiling that ever so hypnotic fucking smile. He nodded at Moratew, as if they had just run into each other in the morning in the settlement.

“Cwi tew tewr iry?”, asked Carvoun.

“Ü gewr gew krya”, replied Moratew.

<Oh, sorry, should translate that because not everybody can be expected to know Gryuyi>

“Are you all right?”, asked Carvoun.

“I am now, thanks to you”, replied Moratew

“Awesome. I have got all five now. Sorry, the other four took some time and so I was delayed getting to yours. Have asked the others to go back to the settlement and come back with more people so that we can haul all of them”, said Carvoun, as he leaned against the mammoth and inhaled from his pipe. Moratew noticed that the smile was gone and he looked contemplative. They shared a long silence—the kind that often signals the beginning of a serious chat among men—and Moratew wondered what could possibly be bothering this champion of champions, this immortal, this, well, god. Surely Carvoun has it all. He thought and thought and the silence went on, and on.

After what seemed like hours, Carvoun spoke, clearly making an effort to avoid Moratew’s adoring gaze, “I am about to tell you something, my friend, that you shall not share with anybody else.” Moratew nodded, feeling excited about the privilege but not showing it. “Last few times I have lain with a woman”, continued Carvoun, after another draw on the pipe, “I have not been able to…”.

A second silence followed. A very different one. More a period than a comma. The three dots had communicated what Carvoun wanted to. Moratew didn’t need more words. He understood. The immortal, the prince among men, the slayer of mammoths, the dread of every man, woman and beast who lived this side of the Gry, the prime mover of civilisation itself, the man the gods worship…Carvoun, of that hypnotic fucking smile, can’t get it up.

It must surely not be a big deal then, thought Moratew.

It must surely happen to everybody once in a while, thought Moratew.

It is surely stupid to laugh about it, thought Moratew.

It is surely better to talk about it, thought Moratew.

<in case you want some quick help with erection issues, just click here. It's all good.>

*kruito, probably a garment that covered the lower half of the male body

**Gry, most likely the Mediterranean Sea, but some historians argue that it could be the Red Sea or the river Gomati