I was awake early as usual, but just as I was getting ready chief Raoul came in, smiling. I wondered what he could want so early in the morning, but things worked differently in smaller villages compared to the city.
“Morning Fang,” he slowly bowed his head in a greeting.
“Morning.” I glanced over to Brendan who was still asleep, he liked to sleep in. “What do I owe the visit for this morning?”
“We tend to start things early here, I was hoping you and Brendan would join us,” he responded.
“Well, I would be honoured to join you, but Brendan won’t be up for another hour, and if you wake him then you are in trouble,” I mentioned.
“Very well then,” he nodded and signalled me to follow him. I followed Raoul out of the hut to see the village was bustling with life, most of the Panthera Pardus had baskets and woven bags, all heading into the forests.
“What is everyone doing?” I asked curious.
“Our little village gathers many of the herbs you use within the city as this place is filled with more purity and fertile land than most places,” informed Raoul.
“Larana told me it was the first place Fang purified of darkness,” I mentioned.
“Correct,” he nodded. “The great tree where my hut is located was the first tree planted, it is what makes these lands so peaceful, what gives it life.” Raoul continued to walk, following everyone else. “When Cathopia was first built we began to provide it with all the herbs it needed to survive, including those for medicine and food, and we have continued to do so for centuries.”
“As far as I know there aren’t many who remember the real stories,” I said. “Twisting them to extinguish the tails of Fang.” I remembered my pointless lessons at the academy.
“Fang created a vast clan to protect the lands from the darkness that always returns, but I have noticed there has been very little activity on the side of light.”
“I don’t know of many others who carry my clan’s name,” I admitted.
“That does not bode well,” he slowly shook his head. “Now sure if you know this, being so young, but your clan has always been the light that prevents the darkness, I suspect your fate will be no different than any other.”
“I admit I don’t know much, dad continues to say I need to have my awakening,” I looked around. “I don’t understand why it is so important.”
“The awakening is said to develop the power of light within the members of your clan further, allowing you to connected with Fang himself. Well, in a manner of speaking,” explained Raoul. “I suspect your father wanted you to have a deeper understanding before he explained things to you.”
“I have already come into contact with the darkness, obtaining small awakenings but nothing like you describe,” I mentioned.
“Then your light must be a powerful one, needing a higher concentration of the stuff before it happens.” I sighed at his words.
“Dad said something similar, but I can’t ask him anything else until he returns from his trip.” I felt a sting of sadness as I brought it up, sure dad had claimed he would be back, but I held this deep feeling I would not see him for quite some time.
“Patience young warrior,” smiled Raoul. “Everything will play out as the goddess plans, but maybe not as you thought.”
“Goddess?” I repeated.
“Time.” We had reached the edge of the forest. “Allow us to pick you herbs to return home with as a sign of faith that we believe in her highnesses words.”
“Alright,” I nodded.
I followed Raoul into the forest, where I saw his people collecting all sorts of different flowers, leaves and grasses, the ground covered in a rich carpet of colours, my nose twitching at every smell, and it was almost too overwhelming for my senses, no wonder no one travelled this far.
Raoul took one of the baskets from one of the other Panthera Pardus, then led me into an area filled with long green leaves and white flowers.
“This is wild garlic a plant used for flavouring food and medical purposes, known for having antibacterial, antibiotic, and antiviral properties.” Raoul glanced at me as he plucked some of the leaves off. “Did you know they are also an indicator that this forest is an ancient one.”
“I didn’t,” I shook my head, slowly becoming more interested in what he was doing. Did he find some pleasure sharing his knowledge with someone he just met?
Raoul moved on to another area of the forests where he stopped at an area covered in heart-shaped leaves. “Can you guess what this plant is?” he smiled.
“Sorry,” I shook my head. “I don’t know plants.”
“It’s wild ginger,” answered Larana appearing on my shoulder.
“Correct,” he nodded, picking some of this plants leaves too. “Wild ginger has a multitude of uses, these leaves help to heal open wounds and skin inflammation, while the roots can be used as antibiotic and so much more, treating such things as colic, upset stomachs, indigestions and even cramps.”
“Master, the flowers grow under leaf litter, where it smells absolutely horrible to attract flies and gnats to pollinate them,” informed Larana, puffing out her chest, so proud at her own knowledge. “My first master told me that.”
“So proud,” I commented.
Raoul laughed. “You can fly can’t you.”
“Yes,” I slowly nodded.
“Head up to those trees, to that stuff,” he pointed upwards. “The stuff brownish black mass, dark green leaves, pick me off some good sized branches.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“Curare liana, it is used as a poison on our arrow tips but can also be used for a muscle relaxant for surgery and to treat muscle disorders,” replied Raoul. “Now let’s see you fly.”
“Alright.” I summoned Larana’s wings, gulping as things had been a bit slow in the learning to fly area. I stared down my target, as the wind encircled around me. “Okay.” I slowly ascended upwards, the stuff getting closer, I wobbled a little but used the tree branches to stabilise myself.
I let out a relieved sigh as I had made it. I moved slowly to get my sword as not to lose balance, then cut three branches off. Re-sheathing my sword, I descended, handing over the branches to Raoul as the wings vanished.
“A bit slow there,” he commented.
“I’m still figuring it out to be honest, our species aren’t really designed for flying,” I admitted.
“True,” he nodded. “I once had the pleasure of watching Yamato Fang, fly across the sky, suited him.”
“You know my dad?” I was surprised to hear him come up.
“A legend in his own right your father, outstanding member of the Fang clan, fought more darkness away than anyone,” responded Raoul moving on. There was still a lot I did not know about my dad. I had heard many of his stories but obviously it had only ever scratched the surface. “On to the next.” Raoul walked on for a fair bit, walking out into a more open area.
“Wow,” I gawked. The open area was covered in a massive of wildflowers, of so many different colours.
“Just like I remember,” sighed Larana.
Raoul walked out into the wildflowers, stopped at a purple daisy with long leaves. “This is Echinacea or coneflower might be easier for you,” he smirked. “This helps to shorten the duration of colds and flus, reducing symptoms and boosting the immune system.” He picked several up carefully, making sure even the roots were removed.
“Why are you telling me all this?” I asked. I didn’t live in this village I was a stranger delivering a scroll.
“I have no reason, we still believe in the notion of helping others,” replied Raoul. “You came to deliver a simple scroll, it is only right you return with something, a sign of good faith in the queen’s words.”
“I will give them to her then,” I said, stepping out further to admire the flowers. “You live in a very beautiful place.”
“Different from the city,” said Raoul.
“It is,” I nodded.
“You are welcome here anytime.”
“Fang.” I heard Brendan as he came into the open area.
“And your friend,” added Raoul.
“Loving this place, reminds me of going foraging with my brother,” he smiled.
“We’ll finish here and head home,” I said glancing at Raoul. “Fresher the herbs the better.”
“Indeed,” nodded Raoul. “It has been a pleasure getting to know the new generation of Fang.”
“The pleasure is mine,” I smiled.
We stayed within the village for a lunch feast before heading back home, with a sack full of herbs from foraging. Brendan had enjoyed himself; he already knew all the plants that needed picking, most probably learnt it from his brother.
Returning home to Cathopia, it was nightfall before we arrived home, I was happy to deliver the herbs to Queen Daz.
“What’s this?” she looked at me surprised.
“A sign of good faith,” I answered.
“They didn’t have too,” she gazed at the sack fondly. “They have always been such a caring group.”
“Well, that’s me done,” I turned to leave.
“Wait,” she reached out her hand to stop me.
I glanced back. “Something else you need, your highness.”
“No,” she shook her head. “Just thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” I lifted my hand in a wave before running off home, where mum was waiting with a home cooked meal. I couldn’t wait.