This is an entry in the December contest
Writing Prompt: "In 100,000 B.C.E., a boy from a Neanderthal tribe meets a homo sapien girl for the first time, changing the fate of their tribes for all time . . . for better or worse."
A Neanderthal boy is sent on a perilous mission to rescue kidnapped members of his tribe from the clutches of the evil Ghost People, whose magic far surpasses that of his own people.
Some quick info on the setting:
It is generally believed that hominids lost their thick fur around 1.2 million years ago or so, give or take. However, for the sake of this story, Homo neanderthalensis will have thicker body hair than Homo sapiens (not bear-thick, but still thicker). There are two reasons I have chosen to do this: (1) They lived in the colder regions. (2) Homo neanderthalensis appears to have had primitive clothing compared to Homo sapiens; basically just fur capes, while Homo sapiens had more advanced stitching and more tightly tailored clothing (which kept them more warm). So I feel having neanderthals a little more hairy than Homo sapiens is a reasonable liberty for me to take in this story.
As for language and technology, both Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis shared almost identical vocal anatomy where it matters. Despite neanderthals not having left behind nearly as much advanced artwork, they very likely had complex language just like Homo sapiens. As for fire technology, for the purpose of this story I am assuming that different hominid tribes were further advanced than others, irrespective of species. The neanderthal tribe the protagonist comes from has yet to master creation of fire.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
Update: Put an End Game link on the same page the Epilogue link is, so you can skip it if you want, since it is so unpopular ;) .