The air dried and cold with constant heavy snow that went on the four days. Everything is covered under a thick layer of snow. The negative thirty temperatures forced everyone to stay in their home, surrounded by family members and whatever heating apparatus they could get their hands on. No one could go anywhere unless they want to risk freezing to death or face something worse.
No one knew how long such weather would last, just like no one knew anything about the previous weathers. It had been that way for as far as anyone knew. The last weather report was nearly two hundred years ago. Attempts at predicting the weather by the shamans, the wiseman, or whoever wise enough and trusted by the tribes, were partially a success. They helped the rest of their respective tribes to prepare for weather extremes. Correct predictions were recorded for future references.
The Huntsman Tribe was a tribe that took pride of their conscientious record keeping and used that to prepare well for the winter.
Tar’Kari was the wiseman for the Huntsman Tribe. The tribe had approximately three hundred members including women and children. Their homes, in the form of animal skin-based tents mixed with ancient technology and materials, dotted the land in a rough circle. Surrounding the village was a mix of nature and metal skeleton of what was formerly Banso City, a once bustling city with nearly two million people before a major cataclysmic event wiped it out.
Compared to wisemen from other tribes, Tar’Kari knew a lot more about the old world, their technology, and way of life. His tribe wasn’t crippled by superstitions rampant in other tribes and his tribal leaders were adamant about knowing more about the old world. They all could agree that knowing more about the world was important to their survival; so he was always out exploring, collecting, and studying.
A week ago, he came across an unexplored cave ten kilometers east of his tribe’s home during one of his hiking trip. Knowing it could take him several weeks to map the whole cave by himself, he went back to his tribal leaders and asked for help. He presented his case and after half a week long deliberation, the leaders finally agreed to an expedition with Tar’Kari leading it. Joining him were fifteen specialists drawn from his tribe.
Over the next few days, the tribal communal areas saw an increased amount of activities as the selected specialists packed their bags with supplies. Their families and friends had joined in to help.
The expedition team left the village and came upon the vast forest separating the village and cave. The winter had made sure the trees no longer had any leaves left and the ground thick with snow. As the team trekked across the forest, they left behind a trail of footprints, each several centimeter deep.
On the second day of their journey, the weather became harsher. Winds were blaring through the barren forest accompanied by eerie howls. The wind brought heavy snow, slowing the team progress down and reducing their visions to just an half an arm length. They had to setup camp and wait out the snow.
The winds reduced in intensity the next day. The team set off again reaching the cave by late afternoon.
The entrance of the cave was a rough hexagon, stretching to five meters at its widest and tallest. There was a light breeze and it carried a slight hint of berry. Compared to the air outside the cave, the breeze was warm.
The team made their way in, taking notes of what they came across and were careful not to destroy anything. Several meters in, they came upon a large, mostly empty hall. Voices echoed easily in this place. By now, the excitement amongst the team members were nearly uncontainable but Tar’Kari knew that it was best the team settle down and rest up. They would continue with the rest of the exploration They setup their respective tents and prepared dinner.
After dinner, most of the expedition team members went to bed. Tar’Kari on the hand was excited and anxious to discover what lies beyond the great hall. He couldn’t sleep. With some gears and basic supplies in tow, he set off deeper into the cave by himself.
[To be Continued in Part 2]