CHAPTER 2 – NEANDER VALLEY
Bopho the [[Neanderthal] is introduced, his tribe meets a group of Cro Magnon men. They share advances and discoveries.
A roving tribe brings strange news of Walking Spirits from the south.
Bopho was sitting at the cave entrance watching the light circle turn deep orange and sink beneath the far off high stones. Yes he was strong, stronger than any other he knew and his strength secured him the leadership, but Bopho also liked to ponder and think much more than others. Napho often made fun of this fact, saying thinking is for shamans.
The hunt was good today and no one in his tribe got injured. There was plenty of food for all today. The woman scraped the hides with the sharp stones Bopho was so good at making. Anyone could make sharp stones, but the ones Bopho made were preferred even by the Naked Tribe he knew that stayed across the river bend. At first he didn't like the others to be so close, even though they were much like his tribe. Many moons ago he and his band of hunters had closed on a small herd of big Shaggies. Big Shaggies no longer came as often as they had when he was still much smaller and hunted with Nagho the old Tribe leader, but food was still plenty and so he did not see the need to move and follow the Shaggies. Shaggies were dangerous and not easy to be hunted, they did not easily run as other food and were stronger and could easily crush a hunter, but if a Shaggy could be taken it was much food for many days and there was much bone, sinew and skin to be used. Bopho licked his lips as he thought of the delicious softs inside the bones, his favorite food.
But back then they closed on the Shaggies only to notice another hunter party had also selected these Shaggies for food. The Shaman had danced and made the sacred signs on the wall predicted good hunting and put the spirits of the Shaggies at ease, but he did not predict others!
The others walked like Bopho but were smaller, had almost no hair on their bodies and made noises much as Bopho's tribe but he could not understand them. He didn't like others to hunt where he hunted and wanted to chase them away, and if he could kill them, they were also food. Not as much as a shaggy but it would do. He was certain he was stronger than all of them. It almost came to a fight, but a very big Shaggy separated from the herd and made moves to attack. Both hunt parties forgot their differences as a Shaggy could run faster than even the fastest in Bopho's tribe and once angered they were not easily scared. The angry Shaggy did stop as if to decide who to chase, and then went after Bopho!
The naked ones, so he learned back then, had a marvelous way of throwing sharp rocks. They had attached sharp rocks to the end of long sticks and could throw them much further. Bopho's tribealways chased the Shaggies with loud screams so they would panic and run the wrong way in the canyon and then fall down the ravine, to break their bones and would be so injured that they could be killed with clubs and sharp stones, if the fall had not killed them right away.
The sticks with the sharp stones would penetrate the Shaggy, and make it even angrier, but it then chased the naked ones. It gave Bopho and his hunters the chance to throw clubs and heavy rocks. It was a long battle, but finally they managed to bring the Shaggy down and kill it. Bopho decided not to fight and kill the others but share the kill, it was plenty for both and both tribes had to return three times to carry all the food and all the bones away.
Bopho also took one of the throwing sticks along.
Moons passed till they met the naked ones again. This time Bopho did not want to kill them and showed them his throwing stick, it was a good copy of the one he had taken, but the sharp stone would not stay firm. The leader of the naked ones motioned to follow him to a tree and pointed out to the yellowish sticky that smelled so good that came like blood out of the tree's trunk. Then he smeared the sticky stuff all around the sinew that held the sticks split end together to hold the sharp stone.
Bopho understood and smiled. Even though the other did not understand Bopho he smiled too, then he pointed at his throwing stick and the sharp stone. It was bigger and cruder than the fine sharp tip Bopho had made for his.
Bopho did not have to be told twice and immediately looked for suitable rock. It had to be the one that was gray and smooth and its edges would splinter to an edge that looked almost white and so sharp it could slice through skin with ease. He expertly whacked the other stone and with great pride did he present the other with a beautiful made sharp small cutting stone .
He could not stop his chest from swelling as the other tribe gathered around and praised his skill. The first tribe sound the others learned was Bopho! He also noticed how his own hunters realized how important he had become.
The other hunter gave him a freshly hunted feather gobbler. The big ones that made funny sound before flying. Bopho received food for the first time not by hunting it. He received it for something he made with his hands!
He made another, and while he did a spark flew. It happened often when you struck these rocks the right way and you could make fire that way. One of the sparks landed in very dry grass and a tiny column of smoke rose. The naked ones who watched him make the rock laughed and one dropped to his knees fanned the glow with his breath and soon made a nice little fire. Others gathered twigs and made a bigger fire. The leader of the others skinned another of the gobblers, feathers and all, then to Bopho's surprise smeared mud thickly around the now naked carcass. The mud came from the nearby river bank. Bopho and his hunters looked in great wonder and awe as the Naked ones placed the now mud covered carcass in the fire!
Bopho knew about throwing bones in the fire to make the inside sizzling and easy to suck, but only if you retrieved the bones at the right time and that was not easy.
The naked ones managed to convey that they had to wait a little now and Bopho send out his hunters to gather small food, while he made more sharp stones. For each sharp stone he gave to one of the naked ones he received a gobbler, a big fish or one of those little furry ones that could run very fast . It was very hard to hit one with a good throw. After every one of the naked ones had a sharp stone point he made, he had more food than hunting a whole day by himself.
The Naked ones used two sticks to retrieve the mud covered gobbler from the fire and to his surprise the mud was now all dry and hard, it cracked and broke of like hard rock, but most amazing was the smell. He had never before smelled something so good. The Naked leader used a sharp palm rock to divide the steaming bird; the flesh was now all white and no longer red and there was no blood!
The Naked one easily tore a piece of meat blew on it and put it in his mouth then gestured Bopho to do the same.
Bopho almost burned his fingers, and realized that blowing on it was not for ritual. He did the same and ate it. It was even better than the smell! It was magic! The mud somehow transformed the bloody carcass in the fire to something else, much better!
The meetings became more frequent and when the Shaggies came they would go together and it was easier to kill them, their method of attacking while the Shaggy was trying to attack the others became a refined method that allowed them to hunt for the big one and even kill two in one day.
His tribe had learned much from the naked ones. The women would now put all meat in mud and on the fire. The Shaman was against it at first but the benefits soon became obvious. He saw his tribe looked healthier and his women rounder. Noluu, his favorite, made a discovery of her own. A large piece of dried mud was filled with the fat of the meat and would turn white and hard after it was cool! The fat made hair smooth and skin shiny. It could be used on the dried sinew and make them much easier to work with. Noluu used the tough mud, the one the Naked ones used and made it into a hollow without meat in it and put it in the fire. When it was hard and cold it could be filled with fat, even with water! Noluu proudly carried it filled with water to the cave!
The sun had almost set and Bopho made his decision. They would not make the long walk following the Shaggy this time, like his tribe had done always when the skies turned gray and the leaves of the trees would fall to signal the coming of the cold. The long walk was always hazardous and those of his tribe that weren't strong would not see another warm. Especially many of the young ones would not survive the walk. Now his tribe was growing and there were improvements to the place. From the Naked ones they had learned to use skins, rocks and sticks to reduce the size of the cave entrance and the fires made the cave now much warmer. He knew many words of the naked tribe and they understood him. They also would not go with the Shaggies but stay.
He felt less worried than last season, this time they would prepare for the cold season by staying and not tearing everything down and leave behind everything that would slow them down. Noluu and two of her sisters became very good in making the hollows out of mud. Noluu found she could even carry fire inside the hollows to other places. The tribe had many hollows now filled with fat, too many to carry along, too valuable to leave behind. The Naked ones said there was fish even in the winter and there were birds and the fast four legs with horn sticks on their heads, no need to follow the Shaggies.
He was about to get up and enter the cave before the night guards would come to sit here. It was an old habit. The Big Cave Bears felt the time of cold and looked for caves to sleep, and they did not always respect the smell of fire. [[Wolf Wolfs] would linger close to the cave and wait for night fall to scavenge for scraps of food and there were always other tribes especially those on the move who looked for shelter or an easy raid to get women, children and food.
He noticed a movement in the twilight and his sharp eyes soon spotted the small band of hunters, just like his, with kids and women in their midst. It was a sorry looking band, the furs they wore where raw and not made durable with brain and pee and stretching them on frames. The Naked ones stitched their furs together with sinew and so did Bopho's tribe, since the midst of the hot season. Bopho had noticed how much the stench had reduced since they used fire to eat meat and make the skins durable. He had noticed only because what he had equated for the smell of his tribe had weakened much and was replaced by the savory smell of seared meat and fish.
The approaching tribe was clearly looking for shelter for the night and looked for it in the cave rich cliffs here by the river. They followed the path Bopho's tribe had made by using it daily.
He alerted his warriors and they all grabbed several throwing sticks, now much improved and all of Bopho's hunters had become deadly accurate hurling them, bringing down the Stick heads with only one or two throws, what before was a day long hunt trying to chase them over the cliff. The constant companion of hunger was now a distant memory. His tribe always had food and hunts were almost always successful.
He observed the new comers and saw his own tribe in them not to long ago and by comparison he understood how far they had come in a short period. He planned to clear the area before the Cave from vegetation and move rocks dirt and sticks all around. Then use the thorny bushes to make a barrier. This was his very own plan and he was proud of that idea, an improvement that he dreamed of for a long time, but the need for daily hunts never left time for it.
What surprised him was the direction the new comers came from. They came up river; no wandering tribe would go up during this time but follow it down, where there was less white and the cold not as bitter. Of course down the river where tribes who didn't like new comers and the tribe that was coming was indeed weak looking. Now as they came closer he recognized them. It was the tribe of Hongo of the Beaver tribe. He had met them last season going south. He remembered Hongo had a big tribe and lived in a good cave in the south where the cold was never so bad and the white from the sky did not stay on the ground for long. Hongo had chased his tribe away as he looked for shelter.
He got up and placed himself at the top of the path holding a throwing stick. "Hongo I remember you! You did not let us rest before your cave when we came down river. Now you come up river and seek rest here in my cave?"
The other leader looked up." Much bad magic and man spirits with the power of thunder and fire has driven us from our place. We are tired and hungry but I will fight so my tribe will live, such is the task of the one that leads."
"Bopho is mighty and strong. We fight and my tribe shall add your bones and flesh to our feast tonight. It is that none of my tribe suffers hunger and no longer must gnaw on the bad tasting flesh of tribes!"
A young strong looking hunter stepped before Hongo, brandishing half of a Shaggies jaw bone as club and growled loudly! "It is us who hungers and your tribes flesh will fill our needs!"
A throwing stick hurled by one of Bopho's hunters buried itself deep in the throat of the young man. He gargled a painful muffled scream, spat blood and died.
Hongo's tribe was terrified." Bopho is mighty and strong and we cannot fight such as you. Spare us, we will pass and continue to seek a place to rest."
Bopho felt sorry for the others and did something he would have never done a short time ago." Hongo you can rest before this cave tonight. We bring you fire and give you food, so you can move with strength tomorrow. One of the Hongo enters our cave and there will be no Hongo Beaver tomorrow."
The Hongo Beaver tribe was glad to find a place to rest. By the shine of the fires, Bopho noticed just how hungry and weak they looked. He was certain the walk of the Hongo Tribe would not last much longer and they would all fall prey to wolfs or die from hunger. The hunger in the eyes of the young ones was particular disturbing for a tribe leader. He remembered the time he had to look away when young of his own tribe looked at him that way. He remembered when he looked to Nagho that way. His tribe mumbled complaints as he ordered them to bring food, but he rolled his muscles and that was enough to silence even Napho, who was a little younger and wanted to be Tribal leader himself. Napho was almost as strong as Bopho, but he didn't like to think much.
Bopho's tribe had gathered much food and there was plenty. The cave had several chambers and Noluu had begun filling one with her mud hollows. It was so easy now to gather and keep nuts, grass kernels they liked to chew, the soft roots of the stick bushes, the long white roots that were tangy. There were even a few hollows filled with the sweet honey stolen at night from the bees.
But his tribe changed their mind when they saw the widened eyes of wonder and the thankfulness in the eyes of the mothers and the young ones of the Hongo tribe as the brought out the food.
Bopho sat down by the fire and observed with pride and glee the face of the other clan leader as his women put the hind of a Horn stick head, packed in mud on the fire. It pleased him greatly to see the surprise and the bliss as the other tasted the cooked meat.
After everyone had eaten their fill, Bopho wanted to know why the Hongo came up river. Hongo's shoulders sank and his face showed sorrow and fear." We wanted to chase a tribe of smaller ones, with no hair on their skin away, and we killed many of them. Then a moon ago they came back with Shamans and Walking spirits throwing thunder and light at us. Light that made hunters burn and die! Our Shaman could not answer but he had a vision that the Smaller Ones would come and hunt all of the Hunters with light and thunder until none remained."
"Bopho knows of the Naked Ones, but we did not chase them away. We come together often!"
"Then you too must flee the Naked ones with their walking spirits and no Hunter will remain!"
Wilto looked into the direction where Bopho and his tribe lived. He wondered what event took place that made them have fires outside. He planned to ask the hairy muscle bulging leader tomorrow when they would gather to fish together. Wilto and his tribe had come down from the north two seasons ago and found this good place at the river. The woods and the river would provide food even in the winter and it was much better to stay than to roam after the Big Tusks, like so many others did. Like his tribe did for as long as even the oldest could remember.
At first the hairy ones appeared to be enemies and a fight loomed, but a hunt united them and now Bopho's tribe was considered a good neighbor. They meet almost daily and the cooperation between the two had led to many improvements. The Hairy Ones now used the same throwing sticks as his tribe did, tipped with the sharp stone heads Bopho made so fast and so good. His tips were small, always looked the same and were flat at the end so they could be easily fitted and they were so sharp they went deep even through the thick skin of the Big Tusks. Out of the mud shell cooking his tribe used, Noluu, one of Bopho's female,s made ingenious burnt mud hollows that could be used to store water and food. Now they too used the special mud that was found on a special spot at the river to make such hollows. They learned that if you made little strings of mud and placed them over each other, then smoothened the sides you could make bigger hollows , but the fire had to be very hot and burn a long time to make a good hollow.
Just as he was about to go inside to rest, he noticed a flash of lightning far down the river. The spirits of the sky brought rain and lightning to the lands down river and Wilto wondered if the rain would come this way as well. He was not afraid of lightning and the cave was warm and rain would not come in.
The Guardian woke. Even though he was perhaps the most sophisticated machine in the known Universe, he needed a moment to gather all information and go over the recordings of his sensors. The last time he was awake was when the Pree took a species of Walking Whales away. He had made sure the Dinosaurs would die out, ever so little he had interfered to keep evolution on track so the Seed that had come with him on this world was growing in the evolutionary chain. Many millennia had passed, and now he woke to find his seed had blossomed. Man had arrived and begun to spread its fragile influence across the globe, but there was another sentient species, almost human but an independent off-shoot. Not even the Guardian knew that these would be called Neanderthals by baffled human scholars in the far future, but his instructions were clear, no other sentient species was allowed to develop on the planet. His sensors kept a close eye on the Dolphins but they lived in the water and thus had no chance to ever make the finals step towards sentience, but there was another reason he woke. His global sensors detected energy weapon fire and there were several artificial constructs both in orbit and on the ground.
He could only interfere if the Alien visitors tried to exterminate his Humans, give them the knowledge of Faster than light technology or if they tried to settle and take over. If they had come to survey the planet, take a few biological samples and leave, he was not allowed to interfere. His existence had to be kept a secret until the day his humans made the step and ascended to the Galactic Stage. The Enemy could learn about him and make the Masters defeat complete, by deactivating or destroying him before his tasks was complete and the Two Hundred could take over.
Right now his task was clear, find out who had come and why and exterminate the other Humanoid species.