Chief Orn gazed into the fire as the embers crumbled away, lost in thought. It was night, the day before they were to set off for their final confrontation with their sworn nemesis.
These past couple years had been leading up to this moment, and Orn would be lying to himself if he said he wasn't nervous.
"Gwahhhhhhhh!" A loud snoring echoed from the adjacent tent, the one Hein was sleeping in, causing Orn's eye to twitch.
It's nice to be young, without a care in the world... Orn was fully aware that he could die tomorrow. Despite feeling very prepared, mistakes were always possible. There were no guarantees in a life or death battle.
He didn't wish to feel so pessimistic, but being responsible for an entire village of people made him fully aware of the consequences should he fail. A magical beast like the fire drake would likely take its rage out on the village if they lose.
And then there was this creature named Finn. Orn recalled yesterday's demonstration. He had seen first hand the incredible destructive power this strange beast was capable of. It went beyond all his expectations.
For a mere rank three magical beast to produce such power, is this the uniqueness of a light affinity? Orn couldn't be sure, but one thing was for certain, their odds of success were definitely higher with the aid of this creature.
Granted it took a full minute for it to achieve such destruction, an eternity during a fierce battle, but if he and Hein could stall for enough time, then they could allow Finn to deal a devastating blow.
This had been Orn's plan, one that he thought of the moment he witnessed Finn's power. Having gone over it with Hein, they both agreed it was a solid baseline.
As for the details, they had already been discussed thoroughly between the two. All that was left was to face their enemy.
"Are you nervous?"
Hmm? Orn looked up to see his daughter giving him a concerned look. She had sat down next to him at some point and he had been too distracted to notice.
Laughing quietly, Orn patted her head. "A bit, but not to worry. I have full trust in you should things go astray."
Anya took her father's hand into hers. "You know you don't have to do this. I know it took our village, but we can rebuild elsewhere."
Hidden beneath the logic, Orn could sense his daughter's deep concern. Knowing her, it was because she was not strong enough to provide aid in their upcoming battle. Orn knew his daughter hated sitting on the sidelines. Smiling softly, he asked her a question.
"Anya, do you know why I chose Hein as the one to help advance instead of you?"
Seeing her shake her head in puzzlement, Orn answered his own question. "It was because he holds an affinity to fire. That's it, the only reason."
Orn glanced at his daughter, only to see her giving him a look of confusion. Orn sighed. "Hein is a gifted fighter, don't misunderstand, but he is too impulsive. You have always been more calm and collected, traits I would like to rely on more than skill, but..."
Orn returned his gaze to the fire. "The flames produced by the fire drake are too potent, even for me. I need someone by my side who can withstand their power, and Hein is the only one qualified enough to do it- Guh!
Orn suddenly found himself in a headlock. Glancing backwards, he found the culprit to be his son, Hein, who was sneering at him.
"So you think I'm only good for my affinity huh? I can't be calm and collected too? Hein demanded mockingly.
"I thought you were asleep you brat! And you're just proving my point!" Orn pried his son's arms off from around his neck and tackled him. The two began wrestling in the dirt, while Anya watched from the sidelines, cheering them on. The sparks from the fire they all sat around filtering off into the sky.
Meanwhile, a certain distance away from the village, Finn was playing with his powers. Opening his claw, a ball of light appeared. It was like a miniature sun, illuminating the surrounding darkness with warm yellow light.
It was a comforting thought, that no matter how dark it became, Finn could now banish the darkness. He didn't fear the dark as much as he feared the unknown, and being able to illuminate his surroundings on command gave him a sense of confidence at night, when he felt most vulnerable.
With a thought, he guided the ball of light towards the ground, where a small figure attempted to pounce on it. The little light fox, Shrimp, nearly managed to catch it before Finn moved it just out of reach.
Like a cat chasing a lazer pointer, Finn entertained himself by watching Shrimp chase the floating ball of light all around the darkness, eventually tiring himself out.
Eventually, even Finn grew tired, and he curled up into a giant C-shape. In the nook of his form, his four little companion light foxes snuggled in, comforted by the protection Finn bestowed. The night passed peacefully.
When morning came, Finn immediately began sunbathing, casting a golden aura around himself as energy flowed into his body from the stray rays of light that hit his scales.
His little companions soaked in the residual energy, and Finn soon felt himself recharged and ready to go. He knew this was the day, and a feeling of anticipation stirred his heart.
If he was by himself, there was no way he could ever face a creature as monstrous as that fire drake. However, since he was only helping as support while the other two powerful humans fought the beast directly, Finn found himself feeling more confident.
Sitting patiently in the sunlight, Finn waited for their arrival.
In the early hours of the morning, a small crowd consiting of warriors stood by at the village entrance, a solemn silence hanging throughout the cool morning air. All those gathered knew what today was.
Strapping on their armor and gathering their weapons, Orn and Hein said their goodbyes to their friends and comrades. Joined by Anya and Maorn, they started heading out of the village.
"Chief!" A loud voice cut through the solemn silence, calling everyone's attention to one man.
Looking back, Orn saw who it was and addressed him. "Borg? What is it?"
Walking out of the crowd, Borg unstrapped something off his back and handed it to the Chief. A beautifully engraved round shield, adorned with spikes on the periphery.
Orn knew what this was, but he wasn't sure why Borg was giving him it. It was a valuable magical artifact crafted from a rank three magical beast of the earth affinity.
Orn was speechless. "Borg, why are you giving me your brother's shield?"
Borg's normally cold demeanor was replaced with an aura of sadness. "I give this to you as a promise. May it serve you better than it served my brother. Avenge him Chief."
Orn felt the weight of the shield in his hand increase exponentially. Beating his chest with one arm, he accepted this promise. "We will not fail!"
Nodding, Borg returned to the village, his head held high. Having Hein strap the shield to his back, Anya, Maorn, Hein and Orn finally left the village heading into the woods towards their final destination.
When Finn saw the four humans enter into his line of sight, he knew the time had come. Rising up, he stretched each of his limbs, feeling the satisfying pops of a good stretch.
Examining each person that had come, he saw that the Chief and his son were adorned in studded metal armor. It reminded him of what Bryn had worn long ago, only more sturdy and with more metal instead of leather. However, it was their weapons that truly grabbed his attention.
The Chief was carrying a spear tipped with some kind of gemstone that was flickering with energy. It appeared very similar to electricity, and Finn could feel the power held within the stone. His guess was that it was a magical artifact created from the core of some magical beast.
In addition to the spear, the Chief was also carrying a large hammer strapped to his waist as well as a shield on his back. It made Finn wonder what kind of fighting style the Chief battled with.
The son, Hein, on the other hand, was simply carrying a bow and quiver strapped to his back. On his waist, there was a whip and a short sword strapped to his belt.
In short, they both looked intimidating, people you would not want to mess with, which was good for building confidence in their allies.
"It's time to go." Orn declared as he faced the beast. After Maorn tranlsated, Finn simply nodded, not feeling the need to reply in writing.
Hein barely acknowledged Finn, but he didn't appear hostile either, which Finn took as a good sign. The two began walking further into the woods.
Before Finn could follow, he found Anya standing in front of him.
"Please take care of them. I know they are strong, but they often bite off more then they can chew."
Hearing her heartfelt request from Maorn, Finn drew a single sentence on the ground.
"I will do what I can." Finn honestly didn't know how much help he could truly be in such a fight, but he would try his best.
Relieved at his answer, Anya stepped out of the way to allow Finn to continue on. Watching them walk away, Anya couldn't help but feel a sense of trepidation.
"Don't worry Lady Anya, I'm sure everything will turn out fine!" Maorn offered his words of comfort. Anya turned and gave him a bizzare look, one that sent shivers down Maorn's spine.
"You are going with them. Finn still needs a translator..."
Maorn felt the blood drain from his face.