Mankayo looked around what was left of their camp sight. He hissed as his camp medic blotted at the deep cuts on his arm. “Enough! Just patch me up and move on!”
“Sir, they will surely get infected if not properly cared for.” Minnial Bennjai explained. “Prince Mankayo, you may rule the clan in battle and travels, but when it comes to the medical well-being of our people, that is my area of expertise! Now sit still and let me do my job!
Snorting, he let her do her job as he gazed at the beast before him. It took all twenty of them to take it down, but not before the animal got a few deadly swings of his own. His eyes lingered over the contortions of the bear, stopping at his oversized head and huge, lifeless eyes.
He pulled his eyes away from the eyes of the oversized grizzly, and looked to his second in command of the hunting party. “Report, Hamund.”
“Five dead, Sir, and seven injured.” The dark-skinned man was shaken but alive. He had a splint on his right arm, and his eyes were clear.
“Are you done yet, Doctor?” Mankayo hissed.
She put the last piece of tape on his bandage, and snapped her medical case closed. “Yes, Prince.”
He returned his attention to the warrior. “Prepare this carcass for travel home, and tell Darnell, Victoria, Mitch, and Balam, to join me and Minnial by that oak tree.” He pointed across the lot. “The rest of you bury the dead and move out for home.”
“Yes, Prince Mankayo.” He placed his hand over his heart. “Godspeed on your travels, Sir.”
Mankayo returned his salute. “And you.” Then he turned and headed toward the oak tree where he had slept the night before and started packing his gear. Minnial trailed after him after she had packed her things.
She lifted a leather bag. “I have packed some of the bear meat for us, as well as some of the essentials.”
Mankayo nodded. “Yes we have a long journey ahead, the sustenance will be appreciated.” When the exploration team was ready, they bid their fellow travelers farewell, and headed out on the only known path to the mountainous regions. They were armed and alert. Mankayo could not allow anyone or anything to catch them by surprise again. The price for this expedition had already been too high.
The sun beat down on the travelers. Mankayo signaled for them to stop in a shadowy grove of lilac trees. In the center, a single cabin stood in silent defiance to the elements and “Disasters” that had tried to bring it down. Mankayo dropped his bag, gave the order to stay, and advanced toward the cabin. He pulled his knife from his sheath, moving aside some of the lilac branches that were obstructing his view.
“I’m going to do some reconnaissance. You all take cover until I give you word to follow.”
“Yes, Prince,” his captain answered. He moved the party back beyond the forest line, “Lieutenant, you take command, I’m going with Mankayo.”
“But. . .”
“He has no one to cover him. I gave you your orders.” With that, he left the party and stealthily moved toward the cabin.
Mankayo swung around when Balam came up behind him. Balam jumped back to avoid a slice to the abdomen. “Balam, are you a fool?” Mankayo hissed. “I told you to stay with the party.
“I am sorry, your Highness, but I thought it was better for me to be here to offer you coverage.”
Mankayo searched the man’s face and sighed. It was foolish for him to advance into a territory of unknown circumstances without someone to cover him. He put a hand on Balam’s shoulder. “Of course, you are right, Lieutenant, Let’s move out.”
Mankayo noticed another structure built onto the back of the cabin, and a large part of land hemmed in with a wooden fence. He had seen fences in books, but until now, he had never seen one. He reached out, it was cool and smooth to the touch. He had to admit that whoever built it was a great craftsman. “This is masterful work.”
Balam reached for the boarding. “Yes, Sir, it is.”
A loud squealing startled both men, and they turned toward the end of the fence. Part of it was partitioned off with very large animals taking mud baths. “Sir, are those?”
“I have not seen one in my lifetime. There have been stories of the old days when people had domesticated and raised, but I have never seen one I haven’t put down for a meal.” They moved down to the penned in, muddy animals. Evolution had made the best use of the domesticated pigs that had run off during the “Destruction” and turned them into wild boars. They had grown horns, and their bodies had tufts of hair, and their hooves had hardened. Mankayo noticed that some of the horns had been surgically removed so the animals wouldn’t harm each other in close quarters. “This is incredible!” he said.
Balam looked around nervously. “Sir, we must finish with our scouting.” He pointed to the pig trough. “That food is fresh. It is obvious that someone has claimed this cabin, and surrounding land, we should move on.”
“I need a closer look at these species.” Mankayo climbed into the pen and reached for a piglet. The little animal let out an ear-piercing squeal.
“Mankayo, watch out!” Mankayo looked up from the slippery baby and saw an adult charging with her horn! Glancing up, he saw a rafter under the protruding dormer on the barn and jumped just as the charging boar missed his leg with her sharp horn.
“Are you okay, Prince?” “Yes, thanks to your warning.” Swinging from the rafters, he planted his feet on the fence. As he was about to jump to the ground, a thundering explosion filled the air, and the dirt kicked up at Balam’s feet. Balam nocked an arrow, let it fly, only to see it break in two after another explosion, and more dirt kicked up around his feet. Mankayo hit the ground and froze. He ordered all his men to hold their positions. A steady beating sound filled the plains.
Thankyou for reading! Hope you enjoyed it. Look for Part 2
Please feel free to share!