45 Finding The Village
"I underestimated that damn beast's craftiness. How did it realize I was gone?" Chief Orn crumbled the charred remains of a pole that had once held up a tent.
His current surroundings consisted of the old remains of their village, but Orn did not despair. The surroundings were surprisingly barren, lacking the atmosphere of death.
His intuition led him to the conclusion that his contingency plan had worked. Before he left, he had gone over several plans with his daughter in the event of certain catastrophes, namely an attack from the neighboring fire drake that had taken up residence in the mountain of the former home.
Although he felt relatively assured of the village's safety, he was more worried about his daughter. After all, he had given her the responsibility of leading the drake away should it decide to attack.
Having fought the beast before, he knew his daughter could outrun it, but accidents do happen. Chief Orn frowned at this thought.
As a father, he was simply worried for his little girl. There wasn't any time to waste!
Chief Orn let the black ash from the charred wood fall from his hands.
"Father, how do we find where they went?" Hein asked as he inspected the remains of a burnt tent. Hein was no fool, and he eventually came to the same conclusion as his father while his father was brooding.
"Give me a moment..." Orn dismissed his son. From his kneeling position, Orn raised his fist into the air. Slowly, a vibrant, thick and viscous green energy enveloped his fist and half his forearm.
With a loud grunt, he slammed his fist deep into the earth, causing small cracks to form from the point of impact. Shockwaves spread out through the ground surrounding the Chief.
Hein watched in awe, not exactly sure what his father was doing. He gasped when he saw his father open his eyes. Instead of the familair brown pupils, his eyes were dyed green with energy, which gave Hein goosebumps.
Orn, his eyes still glowing green, snorted at his son's reaction. "Relax boy! I am searching through the earth for tracks."
Indeed he was. Orn had discovered this ability long ago. When he connected his earthly energy with the natural energy of the world itself, he could expand his vision through the earth. It was like awakening a new sense.
Orn could sense all the bugs of the earth beneath his feet, all the rocks, and the roots of the trees. As long as it was apart of the ground, it could not be hidden from him.
Right now, his ability had a range large enough to cover the whole village and then some. He could increase the range even further up to a point, but to do so would require a lot more energy.
As his awareness melded with the earth, he looked into the surrounding area and found patterns of small depressions in the soil. Footprints!
Although they were old, the traces they left on the dirt would not fade so quickly. On one side of the former village, there were hundreds of pairs of footprints leading deep outside the village.
On the other side, Orn found a much larger pair of footprints, beast prints, that seemed to be following a much smaller pair.
Orn frowed when he discovered these. The only explanation for this was the one scenario he didn't want to see. Knowing the fire drake's temperment, it was quiet easy to anger and bait it, which had been the plan should it attack while he was gone.
Lead it away from the village at all costs in order to give the villagers time to evacuate. That being said, Orn prayed that his daughter had been able to escape with her life. He wouldn't know for sure until he found the village.
Pulling his arm from the earth, Orn's eyes returned to their brownish hue as he shook the mud from his hand and pointed in the direction of the footprints he found. "I found traces of their evacuation. We need to head this way."
Breaking off into a jog, Hein followed silently after his father, praying that there weren't too many deaths from this attack.
It didn't take long. After following a remnant trail left behind by those who had evacuated in a hurry, Orn and his son ran into a scouting party that was patrolling the outskirts of the village's new location.
As they were escorted through the village's entrance, they were met with resounding cheers as people noticed their Chief had returned. Countless people came up to greet him, among them was one of Orn's old friends.
A small blond man walked through the crowd and stood in front of the Chief. When Selmor arrived, he stood in the Chief's path and crossed his arms. Noticing this, the Chief walked right up him.
The contrast between the two men was quite astounding. Chief Orn was massive, built like an ox, with bronze skin and brown hair. Selmor, on the other hand, was much shorter, had a slim build, and was pale and blond.
"Selmor, you seem to have shrunk a few feet since I've been gone..." Orn opened their conversation with an insult.
"Ornin, even with all the traveling, you only seem to get fatter each time I see you..." Selmor scoffed in reply.
There was a pregnant pause as the two men glared at eachother.
Then Orn let out a bellowing laugh. Stepping forward he reached out his arm. Selmor, who was now smiling, clasped the Chief's outstretched hand.
"How have you been old friend?" Orn asked.
"I've seen better days, but I can't complain." Selmor replied.
Nodding, Orn asked the one question that had been plaguing his mind as of late.
"Selmor, how is my daughter? How is Anya?"
When Orn saw Selmor make a strange face, his heart fell into his stomach. However, Selmor quickly eased his fears when he finally answered.
"Anya is fine. As you can probably guess, we moved here because we were attacked by the fire drake after you and Hein left."
"Aye, that's what I figured." Orn scowled at the mention of that damned beast.
Selmor seemed to be considering how to explain before he continued. "Lady Anya saved us by drawing the fire drake away, giving us time to flee."
"That's my girl!" Orn donned a bright smile after hearing about his daughter's heroics. However, his smile quickly slipped to a frown.
Leaning downward so he was at eye level, Orn reached out and grabbed his friend's shoulder.
"Selmor, how many were lost?" Orn dreaded what he was about to hear.
Selmor did not beat around the bush, which was something Orn appreciated. "We lost thirteen warriors who helped repel the beast's initial attack before Anya could draw its attention and lead it away.
Thirteen... No number was a good number, but that was far less than what he was expecting. Orn did not want to feel happy with "less than expected," but it felt good to have his initial estimates proven false.
Nodding heavily, Orn handed his pack to his son, instructing him to drop it off at their designated tent. Turning back to Selmor, he asked him, "Lead me to the injured. I wish to address them directly."
Although he didn't ask for a number, Orn knew there would be many injured in such an attack. It was almost a guarantee. He felt obligated to tend to them first. The knowledge that his daughter was safe would have to suffice for the moment.
However, Selmor's words caught Orn off guard.
"This... might be an issue. We no longer have any injured. They... have all been... healed."
Orn could see how much Selmor was struggling to explain, which did nothing for helping him to understand what he was talking about.
How could there be no one with injuries left? How was that even possible?
Before he could demand answers, Selmor held up a hand, silencing him. "This is something I recommend you let your daughter explain. Just... try to listen to her before acting."
What was that supposed to mean? What was he expecting me to do? Orn felt a strange sense of foreboding at his friend's words.
"Where is she?" Orn felt he now needed to see his daughter right away.
Selmor scratched his head. "She and Maorn are visiting our... special guest. They are a short distance away from the main entrance."
Maorn? That eccentric who likes to visit the human lands across the border? Who is...
"Special guest?" Orn asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes the one who healed our injured. Orn, he saved my daughter's life. Your daughter will explain, but I ask that you keep an open mind."
Orn was shocked at this piece of news, but before he could inquire more, Selmor took off. Although Orn tried to pull more information from him, he wouldn't budge.
Orn felt like he was missing something... something big. Who was this stranger, and why did he help us? If it wasn't for some sinister purpose, than he personally had to thank this stranger for helping them.
Weaving through a sea of people coming to greet him, Orn made his way to the front entrance once again. There, he asked a sentry where his daughter was. Smiling, the sentry pointed him in a direction. "Can you please send for her?"
Finn, having just finished his demonstration, was surprised when Maorn informed him that Anya's father had returned from the runner's words.
From what he had learned from Anya, her father was now in the elemental stage, which meant he was at least rank four.
In other words, he was very powerful.
"Father is back?" Anya was positively glowing from the great news.
The sentry grinned in return. "Yes! He sent me to fetch you!"
Anya thought for a moment before turning to Finn, a thoughtful look in her eye.
Finn watched as Maorn and Anya communicated back and forth, seemingly in discussion. Finally, Maorn translated Anya's question. "She requests that you come with her back to the village. She believes it's important that you meet the Chief."
Well since I agreed to help, I might as well...
Finn scribbled his response in the dirt.
"I would like to meet him!" Moarn read aloud.