Chapter 5 - The Forest
It was a silent day. The winds were howling through the village that seems to be empty. Everyone was gathered in the village elders place in the great hall. The Elders place was separated into a great hall for meetings or ceremonies and a smaller back area for housing.
In the great hall everyone was gathered and were sitting on the floor awaiting the arrival of the Elder and Auo. There were quiet whispering now and then but the great hall was mainly quiet. Naulo was now 4 years old and sitting with his mother. The other 7 year olds were sitting near their respective families. The 7 year olds were all tall almost to the size of the adults, still losing to a few tens of centimeters. They were now in the young adult stage, which lasts for a long while till the 30s. The adult stage lasts much longer.
Auo and the Elder came out and stood in front of the group of people.
“Ahem. This gathering is for two announcements. First, the new children are able to venture into the outer regions of the forest. We need to build up our powers sooner. However, the bad news is that the forest seems to be agitated. Auo will inform you more about this.” the Elder said as he stepped aside for Auo to step forward.
“As the Elder said. There seems to be something happening to the forest. Through the barrier I erected around the village I sensed the high number of beast that moved closer to the borders of the forest; closer to the barrier. However, we need to gather materials from the forest. Therefore, the 7 year olds must be accompanied by an older person when entering the forest.”
Auo then promptly moved backwards and the Elder went back up to end the short speech.
If the meeting was so short was it necessary to have a meeting this early?
Naulo thought as he was trying to stay awake. He doesn’t like being woken up very early in the day.
The meeting was adjourned and everyone returned to their homes. Xaro, Mili, and Mila gathered near the front gates with Kan.
“Kan, when are we going to be leaving?” Xaro asked excitedly. He was very tall and well build for his age. This was due to his harsh training with his father, who was the only magical warrior of the village. Due the Renaun tribe’s features it was rare to have people that can develop physically strong bodies. Xaro was wearing leather armor, mainly, but had some steel plate armor on his chest area.
Kan gave Xaro a judging look and continued to ignore him.
“We move out in an hour.” Kan said calmly before he left, leaving the three 7 year olds behind.
"Kan is very distant, don't you think? I mean we are in a small village but we rarely see him around." Mila said with her arms crossed.
"Well, he is being trained to become a leader. Possibly the next elder or next next elder! So of course he's busy. Anyway, we get to finally venture deeper into the forest!" Xaro said excitedly.
"What's there to be excited about? We are just going to collect plants. Besides didn't you listen you the announcement? Stronger beasts are moving closer to the barrier."
"How can you NOT be excited for adventure?! Beasts or no beasts I'm tired of fighting white rabbits and owls and dummies for practice! By the way, how was Sir Auo able to know that more beasts were coming closer?" Xaro said as he places a hand on his chin in a thinking pose.
"It is a unique magical ability, I suppose. You don't ask about those things though, it's rude." Mila stated.
Soon the thoughts of venturing deeper into the forest caused the three to become excited and anxious as the hour slowly passed by.
“Urrgh!! Where is Kan?!! He should be here already!! The hour has already passed!” Xaro said while he walked around in a circle.
“That’s weird. Should we go to find him? He might be somewhere in the village.” Mila suggested.
“He is never in the village when he disappears. So that would most likely be useless. Perhaps we can ask one of the older adults where Kan went?” Xaro rebutted.
“Un, yes. That seems to be the best.” Mila agreed to Xaro’s suggestion and Mili nodded.
As the three were preparing to head back into the village to find someone to ask, Xaro saw out of the corner of his eye a figure that went out into the forest. Xaro recognized the familiar figure but did not believe what he saw.
No, no it can’t possibly be him. Yeah, he can’t leave the barrier without Sir Auo knowing and has no reason to. Let’s assume I saw wrong.
The three of them returned to the inner village area and look around for the adults. Somehow none of the adults were seen outside and the village was quiet. The three became a bit nervous. What could have caused everyone to disappear?
They went towards the village elder place and entered. Inside were the adults and younger adults. Not everyone in the village was present though.
“Excuse us, why is everyone gathered here again? I thought that the morning meeting was over?” Xaro asked politely to one of the adults nearby.
“What are you kids doing here?” the older man said as he pushed the three of them outside. The three of them became really confused. They couldn’t really be called ‘kids’ anymore since they were at the age of a young adult now, but they couldn’t really say anything to refute the older man’s words.
“What is going on, sir?” Mila asked with an annoyed look on her face. She didn’t like to be pushed around, literally. Besides her uncle was one of the most powerful in the tribe.
“Nothing much for you all to worry over. What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be out gathering the plants?”
“We are not allowed to leave the village without a older person due to the amount of beasts that are coming closer. This was said in the morning announcement, sir.” Mili said with a little bit of annoyance present in her voice as well. She was usually a quiet girl, but that doesn’t mean that she was nice. She is the twin of Mila so there was bound to be some similarities.
“Ah, that’s right. Where is Kan? He’s supposed to be heading out there with you all right?”
“That is why were are here. Kan was supposed to meet up with us again after an hour but he never showed up.” Xaro said losing his formal tone.
The older man thought for a while and seemed to have been able to conclude something before saying, “Right, well I’ll go tell the others to assign someone else to you all. Wait a while.” The older man then went back into the great hall.
Soon a young man seemingly at the age of 20 emerged with the earlier older man.
“Lein, you are responsible for these kids for now until Kan returns.” The older man assigned and went back into the hall.
Lein looked at the three 7 year olds and gave a smile, “My name is Lein and I’ll be your guardian of some sorts for a while. Sorry about Kan. He seems to be busy at the moment and didn’t have time to tell you all about it.”
Lein then scratched the back of his head showing a slightly embarrassed look. He gave of an aura of a nice guy but not one that someone can take advantage of. His attitude caused the 7 year olds to be less annoyed at the time wasted.
“My name is Xaro, son of Cario, mighty warrior of the Renaun tribe! I’m also a warrior aiming to become the best magical warrior!” Xaro said proudly giving a slight bow to Lein.
“I’m pretty sure he knows who we are. This is a small village after all.” Mila said with a concern look at Xaro, afraid that there was something wrong with his brain.
“Shhhh...it doesn’t hurt to formally introduce ourselves to our caretaker!” Xaro replied feigning anger.
Mili smiled and introduced herself with a bow, “My name is Mili, niece of Lino, the strategist of the Renaun tribe. My specialties are healing.”
Mila pouted for a while and also introduced herself, “My name is Mila, also niece of Lino. My specialty is magic attack with all elements.” Mila did not bow to Lein but he didn’t mind.
Lein gave a business smile and introduced himself formally as well, “My name is Lein. Son of the 3rd elder. Specialty is the spear.”
Lein gave off the impression of easily dependable and not too cold compared to Kan. He was also older so he has more experience in different matters. He had silver colored hair as well as his eyes. His skin was a bit tan and he was well built with muscles similar to Xaro except not as powerful looking. He specialized more on speed over strength, opposite of Xaro.
“Shall we head out?” Lein asked the three. They all agreed quickly because they have been waiting for a long time to be able to travel deeper into the forest to see the scenery. They have heard stories from older kids and adults that the scenery changes after a certain distance into the forest and it was breathtakingly beautiful.
As the four prepare to head out a figure was seen walking quickly towards the village elder’s place. The figure was bundled up in many layers of clothing and long glossy black was seen flowing in the wind. The figure was too large to be Naulo. It was Naulo’s mother, Emy.
“Lady Emy, what is the matter?” Lein asked Emy since she rarely comes to the village elder’s place and she had a worried look on her face.
Seeing Lein ask she quickly asked a question, “Have you seen Naulo? I have sent him out to get some firewood but haven’t seen him return in a while so I went out to look for him. I couldn’t find him anywhere in the village so I’m hoping if I can find him in the village elder’s place. It’s the only place I haven’t checked.”
Xaro’s face paled at Emy’s question. Lein showed a look of worry. Both Emy and Lein notice Xaro’s change.
“Have you seen my Naulo?!” Emy asked in an almost pleading voice.
“I-, I saw someone earlier heading towards the forest that looked like Naulo. I didn’t believe that Naulo could leave the barrier without Sir Auo’s notice so I thought I saw wrong.” Xaro answered with dread.
Emy’s face paled looking like a ghost she ran into the great hall at an extremely fast pace that was not expected.
The four stood there each showing a complicated expression. Why did Naulo enter the forest?