With his makeshift bandage on his thigh he limped towards the building in the distance, sand and sweat mixed on his arms and legs into an itchy mess. He walked because there was that or death.
After that creature was blown away by his barrier he decided to make it his last resort strategy and not rely on it in the future unless his life was in immediate danger. He came up to the lone wooden shack in the middle of the desert, it was quiet all around and no one was in sight. The exterior of the shack was riddled with scratches and boards were missing in some places. Reos held out his hand and a small flame came to life, illuminating the door in front of him, he pulled on it with his left hand and it fell off its hinges barely hitting him on the side of the head, with a thump it fell on the ground and Reos stepped in the building carefully. The light from his conjured flame was enough to see that this shack was abandoned a long time ago, if it was ever inhabited, the floor boards were full of holes and it smelled of rot inside. He surveyed the shack, making sure nobody was inside, cautious and thorough. When he was sure he was alone he sat down on the creaky floor and sighed.
Not a dream. Not a soul in sight, what are those creatures? Where am i? I need a plan.
He fidgeted the side of his makeshift bandage.
First I need water: I wonder if I can drink what I conjure? Second, I need to find people, if there is this building, there must be people somewhere. Can’t think of anything else right now, let’s try the water.
Reos pulled his cupped hands up to his mouth and manifested some water, making sure to not blast his face like he did with Ann during training. A trickle started running down his palm and dripping on the floor, he let go a bit more and a puddle formed in his hands which he quickly gulped down. It tasted just like normal water, so he drank until he felt satisfied and used some more to clean his wound and redress it, then washed himself from the clinging mess of sand and sweat and sat back down at the wet floor. Reos closed his eyes for a few minutes of rest but a sound somewhere from behind the shack made him abandon that idea quickly
I’ll rest when I’m dead and that’d be never.
He stood up and scanned his surroundings, the sound repeated itself it was a low thud something was banging on the wood. He started sneaking around the shack, watching with both his eyes and his sight, the essence was flowing normally around him although he noticed there was less of it everywhere compared to before. He listened for the sound and when it came again he jumped out of the shack and ran around it, his hands prepped up for attack if needed and when he rounded the corner he saw someone crouched behind the shack, his instincts screamed to attack right away and as soon as the signature blue ring appeared around his hand the creature he saw stood up on two legs and darted away from him, Reos let loose of the projectile but it flew where the creature was just a moments ago and hit the ground puffing sand upwards. He looked at the figure running away and realized it wasn’t human, but it was close he didn’t think about it too long before he started after whatever or whoever he saw, his thigh making it hard for him to gain speed, he saw the figure disappear behind a hill, Reos struggled after it but his exhaustion came on him very suddenly, he fell on the ground. Struggling to keep his eyes open, his last effort was to scream but his voice wasn’t there when he needed it.
Reos woke up on a bed in an unfamiliar room, he looked around and tried to sit up, sharp pain blasted through his whole body, he collapsed back unto the bed, gritting his teeth he pushed through the pain and sat up. The room turned out to be some kind of a cell, with stone walls, no windows and a metal grate barring the exit. His robes were torn and his badge was missing, the makeshift bandage on his thigh was clammy with dried blood and puss, he tried to take it off but the pain stopped him.
With nothing to do he sat down to meditate and gather his thoughts. At first the pain was all he could focus on, but after a few excruciating minutes pain faded to the back of his mind and his mind shifted into a state of trance, his breathing normalized and he felt essence fill his core and energize him. He gazed inwards unto his soul and found his core pulsing faster, and then it shifted and grew until it filled his vision with its darkness. He immediately felt his body stiffen and pain shot through his every nerve, he screamed at the top of his lungs and started convulsing, shaking violently he fell of the bed and unto the ground, but all he could feel was pain until it suddenly stopped and he found himself lying in a pool of his own blood, puss and filth. Strangely he felt much better, he stood without feeling pain and flexed his arms and legs, the makeshift bandage fell off his thigh revealing smooth unbroken skin.
What in the world just happened? It smells like death in here but i feel so much better.
He stepped up to the metal bars and looked outside, no one was there but his cell wasn’t the only one there, there were others he could see, all empty. He gripped two bars with his hands and wanted to shake them, but slightest movement of his hands tore the whole grate off the wall and he was left there standing with a huge metal grate in his hands, eyes wide. He put it to the side, and looked at his hands.
I am stronger now? I need to know for sure.
To check if his strength changed, he stepped up to the stone wall and pulled back his hand
I’ll punch it lightly to not hurt my hand if this was just a fluke.
He brought his hand down on the stone wall in front of him, making sure the punch is only moderately strong, his fist came straight through the wall sending chunks of stone flying everywhere and bouncing off him harmlessly, the sound of stone breaking echoing in the long corridors of this strange prison.
Definitely stronger, but how? I’ll need to talk to Badur when I’m out of here, but first I need to find out where is “here” exactly.
Soon after he punched the wall to test his strength he heard footsteps approaching from both sides, he stood in the opening he created and waited.
Footsteps means not floating forest monsters.
He waited for a minute before he was surrounded from both sides with tall hairy creatures holding spears in their hands, they had wolf heads and were clearly wary of him since they noticed the hole in the wall and a new entrance to the cell the left him in. The creatures were all standing on inverted hind legs, similar to those of a dog, but larger and visibly more muscular, they had strange armor covering their torsos and their spears were identical. Snarling they stood and watched Reos
“Uhm, Hello?” He spoke and as soon as the sound escaped his mouth the creatures jumped back a few steps and readied their spears.
They don’t understand me?
“Hello? Can I speak to someone? Why am I in a cell?” Reos asked them, turning his head from left to right, but they kept their distance and spears pointed at him.
Reos shifted his weight from one foot to the other and a rogue pebble crunched under his boot, that made one of the creatures dart at him at an incredible speed his spear shooting towards Reos’s neck, Reos had not time to react as the spear collided with his skin.
Reos stumbled backwards, the creature flew past him and turned around then stared at his spear in disbelief, it was shattered. Reos clutched at his neck, he felt the impact and it hurt, but his skin was unbroken. Reos sensed an opportunity in this, he screamed at the creatures instinctively adding a bit of air essence to escape his mouth with the words.
“Bring me your leader!” Reos’s voice boomed, loud and commanding. The creatures scrambled away from him back and ran away, he walked down the hallway looking into the cells while passing them to see if there was anyone else with him in this place, but all the cells were empty.
Reos walked down the stairs from the hallway and into an open area where the creatures who fled him stood in a half circle, they were a few inches taller than Reos but one of the creatures stood out, it was not only taller but generally bigger than the others, he had no weapons, he also had only shoulder pads and thigh guards for armor, he stood in the middle of them and took a step forward.
“Human, I am Wagrish Warden you go back to cell!” Wagrish rumbled, his accent was thick and voice loud.
“So you do speak Imperial, where am i?” Reos asked looking straight into the wolfish eyes of the big hulking creature.
“You not talk!” Saliva sprayed out of Wagrish’s mouth as he spoke, stepping forward.
“So this is how it’s going to be then? So be it.” Reos whispered through clenched teeth, and launched himself forward, pushing with his feet he blurred and the distance between him and the warden disappeared in an instant, Reos threw his punch at Wagrish and hit him in the chest, the warden too slow to react, the impact took the warden off his feet and he flew into the crowd behind him, toppling over and causing a cascade of falling wolf people.
Reos stood still, waiting for a reaction, Wagrish stood up panting and pointed at Reos.
“Strong. Too strong. Come, we talk, yes?” Wagrish cocked his head to the left looking straight at reos.
“Yes, let’s talk.” Then Reos followed Wagrish, the wolf warden leading him into a room with a table and chairs.
“The boy is not in this world anymore, Ja’lakk, I can’t sense him, but his seed grew, I can sense that. He’s gaining substance now, he’s already more than human.” Kahn’ji said as he was stepping over roots, surrounded by trees and greenery.
“The boy is not our concern now, let him grow or die by himself. Let’s move, the Rift is near.” Ja’lakk answered in his usual acidic tone, pointing ahead of them.
Reos and a giant wolf-folk went through stony corridors and came into a small room, Wagrish went in and sat down on a very oversized chair, then pointed to the opposite one and said “Sit. We talk.”
Reos obliged and sat down, his feet dangling off the ground slightly. He looked at the warden and spoke
“My name is Reos Nemurius, I’d like to know who you are, where we are and why was I imprisoned.” Reos’s tone was calm and he didn’t break the eye contact with the giant wolf.
“Complicated talk. Slower, yes? We are Warg.” The wolf spread his arms around “This Jakaran Prison, we take you from desert, yes? You human, we don’t see human here a long time.”
It wasn’t hard to understand Wagrish, but his speech was definitely strange to hear.
“Are we in the Four Frontier’s Empire still? Where is this place?” Reos asked, pleased that this warg didn’t want to run him through with the spear anymore and having a conversation, albeit this strange, was nice.
“I hear not of this Four Frontier Empire, yes? This is Gu’rgkanak.” Warg grinned, small particles of spittle dripping from his huge fangs.
“Gu... Gu’rgka what?”
“Gu’rgkanak. Means Wildlands your tongue, no?” He cocked his head to the right while looking at Reos for understanding.
“Ah, Wildlands, do you have a map or something I could see?”
“Map. Yes, map! I will bring. Wait here, Reos.” The huge warg then stood and walked out of the room, clinking with his claws on the floor with each step, when Wagrish was outside reos could hear him speaking in his own language to somebody, probably giving orders, after a few moments the warg returned and sat back.
“You eat? Drink?” He asked and pointed at the table between them.
“Yes, that would be very nice of you.” At that the wolf growled, and instead of getting out of the room he just yelled
“Gasrhak khlagru, rugar!” his voice was loud and language guttural and savage to the ear, Reos could only guess what the huge warg said but after a few minutes of silent staring at each other the silence was broken by another warg, much smaller with a spear at his side, he walked in the room with a tray of food and mugs and set it on the table, then produced a big roll of paper and put it on the table near the tray and after a small bow towards Wagrish hurried out of the room.
Wagrish took the tray and pushed a huge mug of some liquid towards Reos while taking the other one and set it near himself after making a few big gulps, his wolf snout coming up wet and foamy, he pointed at the mug and some sort of roasted meat on the plate.
“Eat, drink, yes? Map later.” He said as he took a piece of meat from the tray and ripped into it with a sound of cracking bone, he chewed on it chasing it down with the drink.
Reos took a piece of mystery meat and after smelling it, took a bite, it tasted just like roasted beef so he ate his full and tried chasing it down with the drink from the huge mug, but the liquid burned his mouth so hard he coughed, his coughing fit made Wagrish burst with laughter which turned into a low growling chuckle, when Reos finished.
“You strong, but weak. Strange human, Reos Nemurius.” Not knowing if that was a compliment or an attempted joke Reos smiled and nodded, his eyes slightly wet from coughing so much. He pushed the tray and mug to his left and simply said “Map?” The warg took the tray and mugs and put them aside on the floor, then unrolled the huge map on the table and pointed at a small square on the map
“Here, Jakaran Prison.” He pointed at the square “Here, Jakaran Warg City” Then at the circular are north from the Prison “Here, Kagh’huk Desert.” Again, more south this time “Here, Grahg Forest” Even more south his finger circled a huge are of black ink “Do not go Grahg Forest , Grahg your tongue means Death.” His finger darted to the massive on the western side of the map that covered half of it “Drag’maku Kingdom.” He was silent for a while then, Reos likewise was lost in thought.
None of these places are on any of the maps I saw, not even close, the names don’t bring up memories either, this is really strange.
“Is this all there is? No bigger map?” He asked taking his eyes off the map to look at the Warg, Wagrish shrugged then
“No bigger map, nothing there. Nothing to map.”
Does that mean this is the whole continent or they haven’t traveled past these borders yet? This brings a question of how I got here.
“Listen, Wagrish the Warden, do you by chance know where I can find others like me?” Reos asked.
“No humans here, go Drag’maku kingdom, ask them.”
Well, that gives me a goal at least.
“Can I have the map? I’m going out towards this Drag’maku kingdom then.” The warg shook his huge head
“You go west. Map needed here, be lucky, human. You see skinless, you run fast.” That last bit sent shivers down Reos’s spine but he knew what he was talking about, unless there were more than just those forest monsters, but now that he knew the name of the place it made sense.
Reos stood up and looked at the hulking wolf-headed warden, then stretched his hand out.
“Thank you, be well.” The warg’s hand completely covered Reos’s, he felt a gentle squish
“Be well, human.” And so, Reos walked out of the Prison with guards staring at his back, talking between each other in their strange guttural tongue.
Reos took his directions seriously, he took off straight to the right from the prison, west lies Drag’maku kingdom and he had to make it there, maybe that place held more answers than questions.