It was specifically this ability to face an inevitable death that kept Harjen moving forward on his journey. It didn’t take him very long to settle into his surroundings. Directly in the center of the cavern, a crystalline object completely took hold. With no light to reflect the subtle undulations of the surface, it was a sight unseen until Harjen lit the first fire.
Fire. Mankind’s fascination with the source of light and heat has been a noticeable part of evolution. The problem that Harjen ran into was that he had no way to release the collection of noxious fumes from the cave. Each fire that he lit inside to keep warm created a layer of black film on the surrounding rock walls and concomitantly on the interior of his lungs.
The deterioration of the cells in his lungs did not manifest itself at first. He managed to collect wood on his way down into the cavern that would, in fact, burn very slowly. Although he enjoyed the smell of the burning wood, it caused him to develop a phlegmatic cough that kept him awake coughing for hours at a time.
To be continued…