49 Into The Inferno Part 1
The walk to the mountain was rather uneventful, not that Finn was expecting it to be. He kept a respectful distance away from Orn and Hein as they spoke quietly to eachother along the way. However, he was not bored, because he had quite a talkative companion by his side.
"I can't believe she is making me come with you! How could she do this to me? Do you not realize how much danger there is..."
Maorn's complaining was constant as he adjusted the glasses on his nose, and he only did so in Finn's language to prevent the Chief from hearing, which Finn found amusing.
Finn could tell Maorn was terrified of coming along, not that he could blame him. He didn't feel even an ounce of strength coming from his lanky form. Although for Maorn, that might actually be a blessing.
In Finn's view, because Maorn was so weak, it meant that he would be virtually invisible. Why would the fire drake waste even a second on him when there were much bigger threats nearby? His strength was his intelligence, not his combat abilities.
Even so, it was still possible to be hurt in the crossfire, so when they got there, Finn would be sure to have him stay a safe distance away.
Hours passed as they walked, and Finn found himself impressed at Maorn's stamina. Having judged him as a bookworm type, Finn was pleasantly surprised that Maorn didn't even look to be breaking a sweat even after all this time.
Hmm, I guess all the traveling he's done really makes a difference... Finn didn't even consider the same for the Chief and his son, but for a normal human, it was quite impressive.
It took many hours before the group reached the base of the mountain of their former home. Taking a long pause, Finn could hear the Chief speaking lowly to his son. Although he couldn't understand it, Finn could hear the sadness in his voice.
Just like he remembered, Finn walked up the same path he did before, eventually coming upon the entrance to the stone village. Walking past the abandoned homes, Finn could feel fluctuations in power coming from the redhead.
Looking up, Finn saw Hein looking at each and every stone house, his shoulders tense in anger as flickers of flame peeled off his clothes. He saw Orn grab his son's shoulder and say something to him. Immediately, the energy fluctuations ceased as Hein regained control of himself.
That lasted until they came upon the harrowing scene of the central square. It was unchanged since the last time Finn saw it.
Destruction and carnage, with bodies scorched black strewn about in various states of despair, burnt alive in their death poses.
Finn could feel pulses of power eminate from both Orn and Hein as they looked upon the scene. To them, it served as a reminder of what they were fighting for, motivation for what they must do.
Even Maorn was uncharacteristically silent, and Finn could see the despondency in his eyes. To all of them, this was a memory of the carnage from long ago, frozen in time.
After a brief moment of silence, the group continued on, lead by Orn and Hein up the mountain path. As they grew closer to the cave, Finn's instincts started whispering softly to him, that there was danger ahead.
The whispers grew into shouts, which turned into screams as he drew near. It wasn't long before the group were all standing a distance away from the dreaded cave. Just like he remembered, the entire area around the entrance was scorched black from intense flame, likely the fire drake marking its territory.
"We're here..." Orn grunted as he unhooked his his whip from his belt. Reaching back, Orn also grabbed the spear attached to a loop on his back under the shield. Hein followed suit, unslinging the bow off his back.
Once they were ready, Orn signaled for a group huddle. "Remember, we will engage the beast. If you see an opportunity, you take it. I'll... leave it to your discretion." Orn explained Finn's role in this fight.
After Maorn translated and seeing Finn nod, Orn donned a grim smile. "There are no guarantees in this fight. This beast is powerful, and you must not let your guard down."
Hein slapped him on the shoulder and gave him a smile. "Don't be so melodramatic old man. We won't die so easily!"
In spite of the situation, Orn smiled at his son, reaching his arm out. "If we die, we will die gloriously.
Hein laughed and clasped arms with his father. "That's the spirit! Let's kill this bastard!"
While the father and son duo said their pieces, Finn nudged Maorn with his claw. It was time for him to retreat to a safe distance. Writing down in the dirt, Maorn read what he saw out loud.
"It's time for you to go. Move a safe distance away. Flee if it becomes too dangerous."
Maorn looked up at Finn and nodded. Patting his large claw, he said with sincerity, "Good luck, and may the goddesses bless you."
With that, Maorn backed away and started running to safety. Finn watched him leave, and turned his attention to the cave where his instincts were telling him to follow in Maorn's footsteps.
However, deep inside his heart, Finn actually felt kind of excited. It was the knowledge that he was willingly doing something dangerous that gave him a feeling of morbid anticipation.
Standing right in front of the line that designated the fire drake's territory, Orn asked one final time. "Are you ready?"
Hein smirked as his grip on his bow tightened. "Let's do this!"
Nodding in satisfaction, Orn tightened his grip on his spear as the duo stepped over the divide. All at once, they released their suppressed auras completely.
Wow... Finn was in awe of the strength he sensed from the two humans. It was like a tidal wave of force slamming into him, the heavy oppressive aura from the father was only matched by the violent and explosive aura of his son.
As it was predicted, Finn wasn't the only being who sensed the appearance of two powerful auras...
A deep and menacing growl emanated from the depths of the cave in the distance. An orange glow appeared in its depths, which illuminated the inside of the cave as it approached the entrance.
When that monster reached the opening, Finn was reminded exactly how terrifying the fire drake really was. The orange glow was created from the drake's body, which was currently on fire. It looked as though someone had doused its blood red scales in gasoline and set it ablaze.
Seemingly taking its time, the beast casually strode out of its cave, each step causing the earth to tremble a bit. As it drew closer, Finn was further reminded just how small he really was. This massive beast was over two and a half times his size by comparison.
That made the size disparity between it and the two powerful humans even more pronounced. No matter how brave one was, the oppression from its size alone would deter anyone from messing with it.
Chief Orn and Hein, however, didn't even bat an eye. They had prepared for this moment for so long.
When the fire drake drew close enough to the two humans that dared encroach upon its territory, it opened its mouth and released a torrent of flames, aiming to quickly incinerate the trespassers.
Without a word, Hein stepped in front of his father. Finn felt a sense of panic as he watched the flames engulf the two humans. Finn had yet to feel the fire drake's flames personally, but he could instinctually tell that they were incredibly potent.
Finn watched in horror as the flames continued to block the Chief and his son from view. However, before long his horror turned into confusion. Their auras hadn't died down at all, which could only mean one thing.
The fire drake seemed to sense this as well, and it ceased its spewing of flames. When the flames cleared, Finn was rendered speechless.
The two were completely fine!
Hein was covered in a red glow as flames flickered off his form, completely unscathed. In fact, it looked as though the sudden bath of flames energized him even more. Having stood in the path of the flames, Hein was able to shield his father from the brunt of the blast.
The fire drake saw that its stream of fire had no effect, and it narrowed its eyes, realizing the puny humans before it were not weak.
Orn couldn't help but smirk. It was a good feeling when your conjecture was validated. As he thought, Hein was immune to the drake's fire attacks! Since they were now equal in level, Hein could now withstand its flames!
Gripping his spear tightly, Orn channeled energy into the tip where the lightning core was. Sparks of energy began dancing around the tip, while some traveled back into his arm.
Orn grimaced, the backlash from mismatched affinities causing him slight pain. Just as the charge in the staff was built up sufficiently, he yelled at Hein, "Remember to aim for its eyes!"
The fire drake began moving forward, barring its teeth as it charged the two humans. Each powerful step shook the earth.
Hein nocked an arrow and stepped out of his father's way. He began channeling his own energy into it, causing it to begin glowing red.
Just before the fire drake reached them, Orn unleashed the built up energy in the staff, causing a massive bolt of lightning to shoot right at the approaching drake.
Its eyes widened in surprise as it attempted to stop, but it was too late. The bolt of lightning moved like a serpent as it hit the drake center mass, creating a deafening explosion.
The fire drake let out a roar of pain as the intense electrical currents momentarily paralyzed its movements. Hein siezed this opportunity and fired an arrow, striking the beast in its left eye.
The fire drake let out another scream of pain and fury. Finn, who had watched the whole exchange from a distance, was amazed by the coordination the two showed. In their first exchange, they had already managed to blind it in one eye.
Roaring in fury, the fire drake managed to shake off the momentary paralysis and fired a large fireball at the human with the spear.
Just like before, Hein jumped in the path of the blast, the fire washing over him like water around a rock, having no effect. However, before the fire cleared, a large red tail appeared in his vision.
Oh... Was all Hein could think before he felt a massive impact hit him in his side, launching him like a missle out of the area, his condition unknown. The beast had used the momentary period where Hein's vision was blocked by the flames to sneak in a sweep of its tail.
"Hein!" Orn yelled before dodging to the side, flames incinerating his original location. The fire drake moved in close, hoping to use its size to crush the puny human before it could use that paralyzing spear again.
Unfortunately for it, that was the wrong choice. Orn's body glowed green as he braced for impact. A tail sweep slammed into Orn with unbelievable force. However, instead of knocking him off his feet as expected, Orn instead managed to catch the massive tail with both arms, as he dug a small trench in the dirt.
The fire drake was stunned by this outcome and was even more surprised when it found it couldn't free its tail from the puny human's grasp. Orn's arms bulged as green energy poured off his body.
Although the flames on the drake's body were starting to burn away at Orn's energy, they weren't fast enough to stop what came next.
Using an enormous amount of energy, Orn started pulling on the drake's tail, causing it to lose it balance as it found itself nearly lifted into the air. Spinning around, Orn managed to throw the massive beast as it crashed into the side of the mountain next to the cave.
Such a feat of superhuman strength left Finn staring in awe. However, although quite impressive, it did not seem to phase the fire drake, as it soon stood up, shaking the dirt off its body.
All of the sudden, Hein came running out of the woods where he was launched, rejoining the fight.
"Hein! Are you alright?" Orn yelled as Hein rejoined him.
Wiping some blood from his mouth, Hein replied, "Damned thing caught me by surprise. Lost my bow..."
The two stared at the fire drake that was growling heavily as it glared back at them. Then, without warning, it retreated back into its cave.
Orn and Hein were stunned by its sudden decision to run, but were not about to consider it a victory.
"Why is it running?" Hein couldn't believe it.
Orn wasn't sure either, but he was certain of one thing. "We can't give it a chance to recover! We have to kill it once and for all." Orn solemly declared. Nodding, the two gave chase, entering the cave after the beast.
Finn, who had been watching from the sidelines, followed in pursuit. Unsure of what would happen next.