-Won you come down? Were you not injured?
-No injuries, Ganji replied. But he was in no hurry to land. He re-examined the people below, once he was sure they
e physically healthy he slowly descended.
The short-haired, tall, strong young man who was standing in front greeted Ganji,
-My name is Khan. These are our warriors. We seek healthy living people and unite them with ourselves. Our castle is seven days away. May I know where you came from?
-You can call me Ganji. I come from ”the community ”. Its half a day from here.
-Do you call yourself a community? Interesting. Would you believe that in ancient times, people lived in a community or rather in a society of millions?
-Phew, millions? Were there so many people used to live in the world?
-Even millions are insulting low number. It is said that ten billion people once lived on earth.
Ganji didn know what billions means, so he got stuck. He doesn even know the meaning of the number million. He thought countless things referred as ”millions ”. For example, the stars in the sky, the trees in the forest, and so on.
-Maybe you don know. Billion is several times a million. How many people are there in your community?
-There are more than two hundred people.
-Oh really. Why did you leave?
-I didn leave voluntarily. We have a tradition. From time to time, Shaman sends people across the valley to the highlands.
-Is Shaman your leader?
– Yes, he is the leader of our community.
A lady intervened in their conversation.
-Khan, if we don go to safety place, the mutated bear will come back and cause us some trouble, don you think so?
e right. Anyway, we have a very short time left. Wounded bears are dangerous, but wounded ”mutated ” bears are a real disaster. It is better to return to the base.
They moved in a line without making any sound. Together with Ganji, there was exactly eleven people. Ganji had a lot to ask. Apparently, Khan was much more knowledgeable than he was, so his tongue was itching to ask questions. So, he went around the people in front of him, and came beside Khan.
-How many of you are there?
-We keep our numbers secret. If the hybrids find out, the situation will be difficult.
-Who are hybrids?
Khan paused and stared straight into Ganjis eyes.
-You don know about hybrids?
-I don know
-Hybrids genetically engineered half-human and half-mutant. They are just as powerful and savage as the mutants, but as intelligent as humans.
Ganji couldn believe it because he was hearing about hybrids for the first time. Khan must have noticed the shock in his eyes when he heard that there are other species than humans and mutants.
-Hybrids are very dangerous. An enemy of mankind and an ally of mutants. Usually, they
e the leader of mutants Hybrids believe that humans should be destroyed. How much do you think their mental capacity is? You can hardly imagine.
– Do you fight them?
-I would hardly call it a fight. They are hunters, we are their food. So, we always have to run and be careful.
-Do you also have a Shaman as leader?
-There is a leader. But we don call him ”Shaman ”. I understand that your shaman is, in my opinion, a representative of many ancient religions. We call our leader ”General ”. He is the leader of the warriors. But there is another person above him. As for the General, he is an atheist.
-What that means?
-It means he doesn believe in any religion or God. He is not a Christian, a Buddhist, or Muslim, religions that has long flourished in this world. He believes in science. He worshiped medieval scientists such as Galileo and Newton, as well as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, who lived in the heyday of mankind.
-Are those people some kind of gods?
-For scientists, you can call them gods. However, they presented their discoveries to mankind on the basis of many natural laws and theories.
Ganji and Khans warm conversation was interrupted by a bears roar. ”Khan, ” said the man who was walking at the end of the line.
-Was it the mutated bear?
-I guess it is, what should we do, Khan? Should we hide?
– If it overtakes us, we will all be finished. Lets set a trap. Then everyone climbs up a tree and hide.
-Can our trap handle the bear?
-Im not sure but there is no other way. Hurry up.
Khans group responded quickly, took out barbed wires from their backpacks and pulling a pair between the trees. At the two ends, a small square box, which Ganji had never seen before, was attached. Then he saw a blue lightning and a small thunderbolt on the wires. Khan gives a nod to Ganji and climbed a tree together.
Not long after, five minutes later, the wounded mutated bear, stormed into the ambush while looking around cautiously. People were hiding among the leaves on the branches of the surrounding trees.
When the mutated bear accidentally stepped on a pair of wires, a blue spark flashed and the iron net trapped bear from both sides. The giant bear seemed to faint for a moment, but soon regained consciousness and began to growl, trying to break the net.
- ”Now attack, ” Khan ordered. Armed with various spears and bows and arrows, they attacked from all sides. With each sting and shot, the bear screamed in terror, gradually slowing down and lying on the ground. The bear stopped moving after closed its small red eyes and took a deep breath for the last time.
- ”Thank god, we killed it ” said the man at the end of the line overjoyed and approached bear to pick up the trap.
- ”Wait! ” Before Khan could say it, the bear escaped from the trap and grabbed the man by the waist like a toy doll, then shook him into the air.
The man screamed in horror; mutated bear threw him on the ground. The bear tore off poor mans one leg with its sharp teeth in no time.
Khan and the others started to attack, but the panic-stricken men were missing their arrows and spears. At that moment, the man used last of his strength pulled out a small green ball from his belt, and screamed:
– ”Don forget me, Khan. ” Then he unlocks the pin and put his hand in the bears big mouth. Khan shouted:
- ”Everyone lay down!!! ” Khan dragged Ganj with one hand and jumped behind a thick tree. An explosive sound was heard as the mutated bear swallowed the mans hand together with iron ball. Right after that explosion, bear and mans torn flesh and blood splattered in all directions. Ganjis ears seemed they became deaf, and at first, he didn understand what was happening. It was at this moment, when he came out from behind the tree and saw the body of the man, which had been torn to pieces with the headless body of a bear, he realized what had happened.
Ganjis eldest son, Molon, is turning 16 this year. Tomorrow is his birthday. But he was very sorrowful. His father did not return. His younger brother, Esen, sat quietly beside him.
-Where do you think dad is now, brother?
-I don know. Maybe he already mutated. When he said that, Esen stood up angrily, expressing his displeasure.
When Bochi returned, he entered their house as if he were its owner. Because of this, Molon and Esen did not want to enter their house. Bochi said that they will live together from this day. Bochis old hut was on the verge of collapse, so he gladly moved into their home. Besides that, to get a wife, need to have your own home. Depending on the circumstances of the home, Shaman would decide who to marry you.
Molon hated everyone in community including Shaman, too. After all he was the one who made his father leave the community. Not exactly everyone. Of course, he did not hate his brother, also he secretly was in love with his peer, a young girl named Anu. He noticed that her breasts had grown, a sign that she was becoming a woman, even though she was a year younger than Molon. Its been months since he has fallen in love with her hair, which is braided in several strands, with her pale white face and beautiful eyes. He wants to be by her side as much as possible, and because hes in love with someone for the first time, whenever he comes next to her, his heart beats as fast as rabbit. Not only that Molon wants to hear her lovers soft, delicate voice forever. A few days ago, when he accidentally held her hand, she didn pull it away. So Molon thought Anu also has a thing for him. It probably is that way, because every time Anu locks eyes with him, she acts embarrassed and her cheeks turn to pink. Women in the community get married early and have children. Thats why Molon was in a hurry. Tomorrow, tomorrow I will meet Anu on my birthday and express my feelings. If she accepts his true feelings, Molon planned to go to Shaman immediately and ask for his blessings. But it seems like he can wait for tomorrow. ”At least for today, I will go meet her for a brief time, just for a few minutes I want to see her face ” he thought to himself.
Anus home is located on the southern edge of community. She lives alone with her mother. Her father was victim of ritual just like Ganji. Anu and her mother fed themselves by working at Shamans place. Their job was to clean and tide up his house. Molon came to the back of her house and listened carefully, but there was no noise in the house. Maybe they aren at home, but Molon whistled just in case. Right after he whistled, Molon heard the mother scolds her daughter.
-It must be that Ganjis son. Don meet him. Even if you want to meet, I will not allow it. Molon then heard girls apologetic voice begging ”-Please mother, just this one time ”. After much begging, his mother apparently gave up and let her go out.
Anu walks slowly out the door, stood next to him and while holding their hand they stared into each others eyes. The people of the community walk past them one by one and look at them curiously,
- ”Lets go into the woods out of sight, ” Anu whispered.
Delightful summer evening filled with refreshing smell of conifers. Squirrels chasing each other jumping from one branch to another, while birds were chirping.
-Do you love me, Molon?
Shocked by the sudden question Molon froze for brief time, then in a low voice said,
-Yes, I love you, whispered softly.
-Will you love me no matter what happens?
-I will keep loving you no matter what happens.
-I love you too, Molon. Im felt so sorry that your dad went. I wonder why our fathers are so unlucky. Molon shrugged and stood in silence. He didn know what to say.
-Ive been attracted to you ever since I realized you fell in love with me. You are my first love. But we are not destined to live together, Anu said looking him in the eye. Molon felt dark saddening cloud gathering in her beautiful eyes.
-Why Anu? What happened?
-I can say right now. However, everything will be clear tomorrow.
-I do not understand. You
e making me happy and sad at the same time today. I always think of you when Im awake and I see you in my dreams at night. Days when I don see you make me sad.
-My dear Molon, Im sure that you will find another woman. Try to forget me quickly, Anu kissed him lightly on the lips. This succulent first kiss felt salty and bitter because Anu was crying while kissing. Anu left him in the woods without looking back. That night, Molon was overwhelmed with thoughts and could not sleep in his bed.
The next day, Shaman announced that he wanted everyone to gather in front of his hut. All people of the community gathered except the ones that went for hunting. Shaman wore a hat made of wolf skin with a falcon feather on his head and a black fringe in front of him. Wearing a robe embroidered with ancient patterns makes him look even more majestic in the wind.
-People of the community, our dearest friend Ganji left us all in order to complete the ritual. We will all remember what an excellent hunter and hard-working man he was. Our ancestors spirits are watching us closely. Thats why we can discontinue the ritual. Everyone knows what would happen if one mutant finds our community. So, you people all must listen carefully what Im preaching and never dare to disobey my words. Behind him stood the Shamans fourteen wives and concubines. Other men in the society have one wife, while Shaman has many wives, which also is a long-standing tradition, so others did not pay much attention to it.
-About a month ago, in my dream, a falcon flew by and showed me a girls face. When I tried to interpret the meaning of this dream, it becomes clear the girl appeared in my dream is destined to become my wife. Her name is Anu, Shaman pointed to the girl with a heavy wooden stick in his hand.
When the words of congratulations and happiness began to spread among the people, only two people were dismayed. Of course, this was terrible news for Molon and Anu. It was an ugly feeling for a girl to marry someone like her grandfather, and for Molon to get stolen her first love by someone else. With this devastating feeling in his mind, Molon decided to stand out from the crowd and speak to Shaman, right as he moved forward, his younger brother Esen stopped him. He wanted to pull out his hand with all his might and move forward towards Shaman, but when he saw his brothers pleading, frightened eyes, he had no choice but to stood still.
- ”Anu, my beauty, come to my house ” Shaman called to her. Her mother lifted her by the elbow and led him closer to Shaman. Then he supported Anu with his palms on her back and looked back as they crossed the house door, - ”There will be big party tonight. My henchman Bochi has taken an order from me to hand out whole deer meat and a barrel of hard wine for you bunch. So, enjoy it as you wish. ” After hearing those words, people rejoiced and thanked Shaman for the endowment.
The sun had set and it was getting dark. Anu and Shaman sat at the table for quite a long time, enjoying the food and wine. In the meantime, his other wives were busy serving todays main events two protagonists. Only his Queen consort sat with them and was giving others instruction on serving. Shaman seemed quite tipsy, and he staggered to his feet and utters:
-Enough of this feasting. A long night awaits me. Everybody, leave.
Wives cleaned the table before they leave. The Queen addressed Shaman,
-Lord, will you be waiting in the smaller hut for a while. We need to prepare the girls body according to the rules. Shaman respects the Queens word, so he nods in agreement and leaves the house.
- ”Bring the new clothes for the girl and the water for washing ” said the queen, and the other wives obeyed immediately. They stripped Anus clothes off and washed her body in the hot tub beside the open fire. After wives finished washing Anus body, they sprayed aromatic liquid on her body, put on her nightgown, let her get in bed and left the house. Soon Shaman came in, took off his fringe, and began to undress. Seeing the Shamans face so closely for the first time, Anu shivered and looked away. One of Shamans cheeks was bitten by some wild animal, and his right eye went blind and turned pale white. As he ages older, old mans hair has become bald from the top of his head.
- ”Come on, girl, lie down ” said the Shaman, slide into the bed beside her and start stripping off her clothes with his hands easily. Every time he kissed Anu on the lips greedily, she felt scared and embarrassed, but mostly repulsed by this mans mere existence. For an old geezer, he had decent stamina just like a young man, pitiful girl cried all night in pain.