Done refurbishing snowshoes and making a few repairs to Liz’s less-used pair, Einar took out the rawhide bag which contained various bits and scraps of deer, bear, sheep and elk bone which he had saved as being particularly favorable for one project or another, choosing several and setting to making a new set of darts for his atlatl. He needed something to keep his hands busy and had been intending for some time to provide himself with a spare set of darts against the time when he was out doing more hunting again, and certainly needed them before spring arrived. The work was intricate and required painstaking care which was nearly beyond the ability of his sore and swollen fingers, which was exactly the sort of project he’d needed. Kilgore watched with much interest as he worked, picking up a discarded fragment of bone and beginning to scrape and structure it against a chunk of granite, slowly seeing the rough shape of a dart head begin to emerge.
Towards dark the snow slacked off, skies clearing and with the fading of the storm the cold set in, deep, crackling, seeping in around the cabin door and creeping its way through a few of the cracks which hadn’t been quite as well insulated to settle in an almost solid-feeling mass on the floor, leaving Liz, Susan and Kilgore glad that they had warm boots to wear but freezing Einar very nearly to the bone before anyone realized there might be something amiss with him. Pressed against the wall near the water barrel in what had become a favorite spot of his when needing a bit of space, partially completed dart heads abandoned on the floor in front of him, he had very nearly stopped shivering by the time Susan--bringing a second serving of her jelled broth concoction in the hopes that he might have by then finished the first--discovered his plight. Arms purple up to the shoulder beneath his loosely-worn deer hide wrap and eyes cloudy, distant, it was clear to her that Einar was in some trouble and she wanted to pull him to his feet, help him to the bed where he could be out of the dead-cold layer of air that had settled on the floor and begin warming, but he shook his head, insisted he was just fine.
“A little chilly down there on the floor, don’t you think? You look just a little chilly, to me…”
“My…my natural…habitat. Like to be…cold.”
“Well that freezing floor might pass as natural habitat for a warm blooded creature with a lot of fur, a wolf or wolverine or something, but you’re not furry enough to keep warm, and really, I think you could hardly even pass as warm blooded right now when it comes down to it! If you doubt that, I’d be glad to get the thermometer from my medical kit, and we could check…” Which Einar did not want, not at all, as he knew the results would be bound to worry Liz, who did not need any worries at the moment with the new baby to care for and besides, he knew she could tend to become quite stubborn and a hassle to deal with, herself, when she got worried, so he shook his head, made an effort to get up. Legs stiff and numbed, he didn’t quite manage it on the first try. Susan took him by the arms, gave him a boost to his feet.
“Now come on, up you go. Better get in there with Liz for a while, help her look after the little one and maybe thaw some of that ice out of your bones before nighttime comes and the cold really sets in.” Still wanting to object, Einar allowed himself to be guided over to the bed, helped in beneath the bear hide and given over to Liz, who handed the sleeping little Will to Susan--child seemed quite unwilling, so far, to sleep unless either in his mother’s arms with his food source very nearby, or in motion. Immediately Liz began working to warm Einar, asking that Susan bring hot rocks from atop the stove and wrapping them in hides before putting them behind his back, pressing others to his stomach and sides as he began to shiver himself warm again, still rather in a daze but aware enough to be thankful, and to tell Liz so. Hadn’t, despite what she appeared to think--and who could blame her, really?--even intended to allow himself to slip over that edge this time, had simply lost track of things as he sat working to carve out the new dart heads and the entire thing seemed to him quite ridiculous, actually. As it did to Liz, though her view of it was slightly different.
Kilgore grumbled under his breath at the goings-on, fool kid, hand him over here and I’ll show you how this ought to be dealt with, strip him down, throw his hind end out in the snow for an hour or two, bolt the door and see how well he likes freezing, after that…but it was only bluster; he would have done no such thing, under the circumstances. Might have given the offending creature a good whack upside the head in an attempt to unscramble his brains, but only after having first carefully restored them to a marginally functional temperature. At which task the women seemed to be doing a fine job, so he went back to his work, chipping and shaving at a fragment of deer bone in an attempt to replicate one of Einar’s atlatl dart heads, for whose craftsmanship and functionality he had to admit a great deal of admiration. Always keen to learn the construction and use of new weapons, the tracker had since first seeing the device wanted to try his hand at an atlatl and accoutrements, and figured in the long, snowed-in days at the cabin, his chance had finally arrived. It was to be a fair exchange; he’d brought some goodies for Einar, as well, if only the doggone fool kid would hurry up and get his feet back under him so he’d have some chance of surviving a hike down to the basin where the stuff had been stashed. Chance of making it back in something like a useful condition, anyway, I should say. ’Cause I’ve got little doubt he’d survive the actual walk; fella’s made of some pretty strong stuff, and it only seems to get more tenacious, the closer he pushes himself to the edge. Good quality, that one, but it’s gonna end up killing him if he don’t get things sorted out pretty quick here. Yeah, have to wait a bit on the retrieval mission for that cargo drop.
The delay didn’t concern Kilgore too much; he and Susan had packaged everything very well--some things he’d done alone, the ones he figured no one else had any need to know about--and it would be just fine down there in its hiding place amongst the short timber of the basin. Fine, at least, until the bears began stirring about in the spring, hungry, ornery and ready to tear into anything that smelled even remotely edible, which a few of the inclusions in that drop very well might, but that time was months in the future and he would, if not able to get down to the location with Einar before departing the area, leave him detailed instructions on how to find the stuff. Which might be a problem, he realized, depending on the fugitive’s state of mind at the time. He might get himself all convince that it was a trap, some scheme by which he was to be captured or killed without any risk to others, motion activated beacon, rigged gear, poisoned food, Kilgore had little doubt his mind was thoroughly capable of assuring him that one or more such nefarious schemes were at work with regards to the cache, which was why he had really hoped the two of them could make the recovery trip together, get the stuff sorted out and hauled safely back up to the cabin where it could do everyone some good.
Well. Maybe tomorrow, if he can get himself a little better fed, warmed up some and stay that way. I’m sure all it would take would be for me to mention that there just might be something that needs attending to down in the basin, and he’d have them fixed-up snowshoes strapped to his feet--bare feet, probably; seems he’s not thinking too straight lately--and be out the door trying to figure out what it was before I could even get my coat on, so I’ll just not mention it until the time seems right for us to go.
In the meantime, cold clamping down so hard outside that he could feel it right through the good, stout walls of the cabin, radiating off of them and creeping in to wrap tentacles around his knees and ankles--time to head out to the tunnel and haul some of that wood in, before we really settle in for the night--Susan’s supper appeared to be nearly ready, she and Liz talking quietly over the stove, and he was more than ready to eat. As would Einar have been, had he not fallen fast asleep beneath the bear hide, his first real rest in well over thirty six hours, and badly needed.