Chief Orn felt his eye twitch. Off in the distance, the drake was lazing about under the shade of a tree inside the village. There was a little girl climbing on top of him, laughing hysterically.
Whenever she was about to fall off, the drake would either shift his position to stop it, or outright catch her when she fell, after which she would attempt to climb back on top of it.
Never in his life did Orn think he would ever see a magical beast as... gentle. Even stranger was that no one seemed to care that much, as if they were used to its presence.
Granted, there were many around it who were staring and whispering, but there was almost no fear in their eyes or postures. It was as if they were simply admiring an interesting display.
"Dad, are you listening to anything I'm saying?" Orn heard a voice and saw a hand wave in front of his face.
Snapping back to attention, he remembered that his daughter was telling her story before he was distracted. To his right, Hein was twitching his leg as the trio sat around a firepit, glaring at the drake in the distance. Occasionally, flames would flicker off his arms.
"Oh, um, yes... please continue," Orn coughed into his hand as he replied.
Anya sighed. This wasn't the first time her father had gotten distracted, but she really couldn't blame him. It really was quite a culture shock to meet a magical beast like Finn, who was unlike any they had ever seen before.
"I can't stand this!" Hein grunted loudly. "Why is that beast allowed to be inside the village?"
Anya rolled her eyes and rubbed her forehead. "Hein, I already explained, he saved my life and the lives of others. I'm not sure why, but this beast has a kind soul. He is also very intelligent!"
Intelligent? Orn frowned when he heard that. "What do you mean by intelligent?" Orn demanded.
"Well Finn has been telling me stories of his origins..."
"Wait, who's Finn?" Hein interjected with a wave of his hand.
Anya pointed over to the drake who was now calmly sleeping and emitting a golden aura. The little girl who had been climbing all over him was leaning agaisnt his side, relaxing into the warmth.
Anya smiled when she saw this. "His name is Finngradus, but he prefers to be called Finn."
"You named it? Hein asked in disbelief, already prepared to mock his sister for creating such a bizarre name.
Anya chuckled. "No, he told me his name."
Silence. The two men tensed up, simply too surprised by this piece of news, throwing meaningful glances at eachother.
Clearing his throat again, Orn asked, "This beast... spoke to you?"
Anya laughed. "Of course not!" Orn and Hein relaxed and let out silent breaths of relief, but before they could recover, Anya quickly added.
"We have been communicating through written words. Finn writes in a language used by those beyond the forest to the east. I've been having Maorn translate for me."
Both Orn and Hein's eyes widened significantly. "Anya, you mean to say this beast can read and write?" Orn had to confirm.
After seeing Anya nod enthusiasticly, Orn crossed his arms and frowned while Hein glanced back over at the snoozing drake.
Orn sighed and looked down in thought. Magical beasts smart enough to read and write? Only very powerful magical beasts ever become this smart... Orn had seen and heard enough things to not be too surprised by this news, but for such a weak magical beast to display these qualities? It didn't make sense.
Has it achieved self awareness? Anya did say it can communicate... Standing up suddenly, Orn looked to his only daughter and said, "Please get Maorn, I wish to... speak to this magical beast.
Anya nodded and scrambled away in a hurry. Hein, who had been watching silenty, finally found his voice. "Do you believe her? It seems impossible..."
Orn huffed. "It's not impossible, but it is quite hard to believe. That being said, Anya would not lie to us. I will have to see for myself."
Hein picked up on the subtlety, standing up angrily. "Hey! I am coming too!"
Orn sized up his son and immediately came to a conclusion. "No, you're still too hot-headed and unable to control your emotions. Without even thinking, you attacked that beast. If it still has enmity towards you, it will be difficult to properly communicate."
Hein opened his mouth to object, but found his father's reasoning flawless. That being said, he didn't have to like the outcome. Grumbling under his breath, he stormed away as flames flickered off his body.
Orn watched his son's childish display and shook his head. When Anya returned with Maorn in tow, the three walked up to where the drake had been snoozing. Sensing their arrival, Finn raised his head and locked eyes with Chief Orn.
After the debacle earlier, Anya had explained that these two men were her father and brother, Orn and Hein, so Finn was now aware that the man before him was the leader of this tribe.
Even so, Finn still felt immense pressure even when this man was not releasing any killing intent or energy. It was an instictual feeling, one that was broadcasting "possible danger nearby."
Although, it was not as bad as how he felt when he first met the guild master back home. However, Finn wasn't sure if that was because he was a lower rank back then, or if that guild master had an even stronger rank than this man before him.
Chief Orn sat on the ground in front of the drake, eyeing it carefully. He still did not feel too comfortable being so close to a powerful beast, but he trusted his daughter's word.
That, and the fact that there was a little girl sleeping comfortabley next to it made him refuse to feel any fear.
Anya and Maorn stood by, waiting to hear what Chief Orn would ask.
Thinking of what to say, Chief Orn simply started with, "Hello," to which Maorn quickly translated for him.
Finn responded by writing a "hello" back in the dirt. When Orn saw the beast writing characters with his claw, his eyes widened in disbelief. Although the characters looked strange, there was definitely a pattern that could be recognized as a language.
So it was true, this beast really can communicate... Orn decided to ignore the ramifications of this for now.
"What are your intentions? Orn got straight to the point.
After hearing Maorn translate, Finn wrote his response. "I wish to find my way home."
"Your home in the lands to the east? Why would you want to return there? Aren't you aware of the dangers?"
Finn internally frowed, having considered this before. Even if he did find Bryn again, it would be impossible to hide now that he was so big. Could he really keep the fact that he had a light affinity a secret?
Pausing for a moment, Finn thought of a measured response which he clawed in the dirt.
"I am aware of the dangers, but I have important people that I must return to."
Orn felt amazed. It was just like talking to another person. This creature truly is intelligent... Shelving his amazement, Orn then asked, "Why did you help my daughter?"
Finn scritched his answer. "Because it looked like she needed it, and I believed she could also help me."
Orn heard this answer and contemplated in silence before giving a reply. "Alright then. If you wish to return home, that can be arranged. Maorn frequently travels to the traitor's lands, he can guide you back. It's the least we can do to repay you for your aid."
Although this drake was quite an interesting specimen, Orn had bigger issues to tackle at the moment. If this beast wished to leave, it was only right to guide it on its way.
Finn, on his part, was overjoyed to hear this news. In his opinion, a promise from a Chief was likely to hold significant weight.
Thinking that was it, Orn stood up and prepared to leave, but Anya cut in. "Father, although it was a bit of a selfish request, I asked Finn if he could help you face the fire drake. He agreed to my request."
Orn was surprised, not knowing what to make of that. It was far beyond his expectations. Why would it... he want to help us?
Facing Finn again, Chief Orn questioned him directly. "Why did you agree to help us? Don't you wish to return home?"
Finn replied in writing. "Anya pleaded with me and I agreed, as long as I'm not fighting that monster directly. I was also curious..."
Orn frowned. "How do you think you can help us? The fire drake is immensely powerful, and you are only a rank three magical beast. You're much weaker than it."
Being directly called weak hit a hidden sore spot within Finn. Never had he been called weak before, but he had to admit to the truth of his words. Still, he felt he was being underestimated. He wrote his response.
"I am stronger than you think."
Seeing the drake's reply, Orn quickly weighed the pros and cons before deciding on a more prudent course of action. "I need to think about this. We set out in two days, I will give you my decision tomorrow."
Finn didnt mind either way. Even if he said no, Maorn would still be able to take him home. Getting to see a battle between beings far more powerful than himself would just be a bonus.
Finn spent the rest of the day sleeping under the sun inside the village. When there wasn't a crowd around to bombard him with constant crowding and noise, the peaceful village ambiance was actually quite nice.
When the next day rolled around, Finn once again met with the Chief, only this time, he was accompanied by his son, Hein, who clearly did not look pleased. Maorn was already on standby waiting to tranlsate for the Chief.
"You may accompany us, but I'm not sure how you'll be able to help. I know little about beasts of a light affinity."
Finn internally smiled. It made perfect sense. Why would they want a wildcard with them. They needed to know what he could do so they could plan accordingly. Granted, he could just have Anya explain, but this was his chance to prove he was stronger than the Chief gave him credit for.
It was time for another demonstration! Scratching in the dirt, Finn wrote three words.
"Come with me."