Chapter 15. The Best Tracker.
I opened my eyes with the first sun rays. The morning dew joyfully sparkled on the ground. It was slightly chilly and my body felt numb. The fire stopped burning long time ago, but the coals were still warm. Eve was sleeping her beauty sleep. I covered her with my coat and morning chill tickled my bones.
Brrr... let’s get the fire started.
Soon cheerful flames were dancing on top of the wood eagerly trying to jump as high as they can.
Ahhh, that’s better.
I put up a pot to make us some tea. The water started boiling in no time.
Right, we need to find that den today. I don’t want to waste much time really. Of course, I do enjoy spending time with Eve, but we need to do the quest.
A single sun ray touched Eve’s face and she opened her eyes.
- Good morning beautiful. - I greeted her with a smile.
- Goood mooor... ning Master... - she stretched, extending her arms in the air.
- Here, have some tea. - I handed her a cup.
- Thank you Master. You woke up early today. - she picked it up.
- Not really. Only a while ago. Enough time to make us some tea. We have a long day ahead. I prefer to head out soon. - My body was warming up thanks to the hot tea.
- Right. Investigate the Den of Doggons. - Eve remembered.
- There must be a village not far away. Maybe on the other side of the forest? I wonder how big this forest really is? - I shared my thoughts out loud.
We had a quick breakfast and were on our way. I covered the fire with dirt to douse the flames before we left.
Like yesterday, the forest was full of life. The small path we took seemed old and used.
This must be the road people use regularly. That means it can lead us to out of this forest or even to the village.
Obviously Eve enjoyed being in a forest. She would point to a bird on a tree preparing it’s nest or a small animal, like a squirrel, scavenging for nuts or seeds.
- Wow, so cute. - she’d exclaim.
It was fun watching her. Always cheerful and in a good mood.
The path led us east, away from the deep part of the forest. While Eve was admiring the wild life, I picked up few herbs.
They can be used to make some potions. Those are always useful.
After an hour’s walk the scenery started to change. Smaller trees and more sunshine indicated we were reaching the end of the forest. Suddenly I noticed a change in the air.
- Eve stop. - I raised my hand. - Stay behind me.
- What is it Master? - Eve hid behind my back.
- Shhh... I think we’re being watched. - I whispered.
If it was a monster, we would’ve been attacked already. The aura is not that strong and there are more than one. We’re almost out of the forest, which can mean...
- Hello there! - I shouted. - We’re here from the Adventurer’s Guild with a quest! We mean no harm!
- Adventurer’s Guild? - a man stuck his head from behind a tree. - It’s ok, they are humans!
He shouted after checking us out. Few more men showed up from their hiding places. All of them were armed with bows and arrows.
Did he say humans? Were they waiting to ambush a monster? I don’t sense anything nearby.
- Sorry about that. My name is Nialan. - the man introduced himself.
- I’m TC and this is Eve. Nice to meet you. - I responded.
- Hello. - Eve showed her cute face.
- Oh, hi. - Nialan blushed.
I bet he’s single. Haha. - I laughed in my head. - They are armed, but don’t look like adventurers. I don’t see a single companion.
- We’re here to investigate the Den of Doggons. - I broke the silence.
- Really? Only the two of you? - Nialan was surprised.
- Why? Is that a problem? - Judging a book by it’s cover, eh?
- No, of course not. I thought there will be more of you. Doggons are really dangerous... - he tried to soothe the situation.
- My Master is very strong. He defeated Orgob. - Eve announced proudly.
Bah. You had to tell that, didn’t you?
- Orgob? Really? - Nialan was surprised once again. - Wait. What am I doing? Why are we standing here? Let me show you to our village. You must be tired.
Not really. But getting something to eat would be nice.
- Sure, lead the way. - I said.
Other hunters stayed behind to keep watch, while Nialan showed us the way out of the forest.
- I was hoping someone will show up sooner. With doggons roaming the forest, it’s becoming harder to hunt. Also, if anyone showed up sooner, maybe... - he stopped half sentence. - Never mind that, we’re almost here.
We saw a small village right outside the forest. There were plenty grasslands surrounding it, but I didn’t see any cattle.
- This is our Hunter’s Village. We did have some cattle, but they were slaughtered and eaten by doggons. - Nialan answered my question before me even asking.
However, differently from the previous village we visited, this one was quite lively. Women were doing laundry or preparing wild meat. Children playing and learning how to shoot a bow. Everyone was busy doing something.
- Your village is very lively. - I commented.
- Yes it is. We were attacked by doggons, but we managed to fend them off. People here know how to use a bow, even small children are trained at an early stage. We survive by hunting. - Nialan was proud telling us about his village.
- Yeah, I saw. - I was impressed.
- Hello lady, - a child of age five or six appeared out of nowhere. - Are you single? Cause Nialan needs a girlfriend.
Hahaha. Talk about getting right to the point. And I was right, he is single.
- Korin, what are you doing? Stop embarrassing me in front of others. - Nialan grabbed him and placed his hand over the boy’s mouth. - I’m sorry, my little brother doesn’t think before he speaks.
- I’m sorry Korin, but I can’t be your brother’s girlfriend. I have my Master TC and I like him very much. - Eve smiled and patted him on the head.
I knew Eve liked me, but hearing her say it out loud made me blush.
Aaah... you’re so sweet. Now I am embarrassed.
Korin bit Nialan’s finger.
- Ahhh! That hurts! - he instantly released Korin.
- Hah, loser! She even patted me on the head, beee! - Korin stuck out his tongue and ran off.
- Hahaha! - I laughed.
- He’s so adorable. - Eve found it amusing as well.
- I’m so sorry... - Nialan was at a loss of words. - Ah, right. Are you hungry? And you must be tired too. I’ll find a place for you to rest. - he offered us.
- We’re not really tired, but having something to eat would be appreciated. After that we want to get on with the quest. Is there anyone in the village who can help us find the Den? - I asked.
- There is, but... I’m afraid he won’t be able to help. - Nialan replied in a sad voice.
- How come? - I wondered.
- He was injured during his last hunt. Doggons... - he took a deep breath. - Marcus, our best tracker in the village, was injured and can’t walk.
Those doggons must be really dangerous then. Maybe I should’ve formed a party after all? Ah well, too late now.
- Would it be ok to meet him? I want to ask him some questions at least. - getting some pointers on where to look seemed like a good idea.
- I think that’s ok. His house is not far from here. - he replied.
We walked through the center of the village and arrived at Marcus house. Nialan knocked on the door. A woman, wearing apron, greeted us.
- Hello Nialan, what brings you here? - she asked.
- Hi Emma, this is TC and Eve from the Adventurer’s Guild. They want to talk to Marcus. Is it ok to see him? - he answered explaining the situation.
- Of course. He’s eating his lunch now. Hope that’s ok with you? - Emma smiled.
- That’s totally fine. - I replied, but now I felt even more hungry.
- Hey Nialan, you’re back early today. Good to see you though. - Marcus was happy to see him.
- Hello Marcus, how are you doing? This is TC and Eve from the Guild. They wanted to talk to you about doggons. - he explained.
- From the Guild? That’s wonderful news. Welcome, my name is Marcus. - he was as cheerful as a person can be.
I noticed his right arm was bandaged from fingers to the top of his shoulder. A wooden cane was standing next to the table. I couldn’t see, but most probably, one of his legs, were injured too.
- Nice to meet you. We heard you’re the best tracker in the village. I was hoping you could help us find the den of doggons? - I followed Korin’s example and went straight to the point.
- Haha. - he laughed whole heartedly. - Thank you for the compliment.
- Sir TC, forgive me, but I did mention Marcus can’t walk. - Nialan whispered to me.
- You know we can hear you Nialan? - Marcus teased him.
Haha. I like him already. Despite the fact he’s injured and can’t walk, he’s very positive and funny too. Many people get depressed and throw in the towel. I wonder if that’s what happened to Gorren?
- Well... sorry about that, but I did mention that you were injured. And hearing sir TC ask you something like that... - Nialan felt uncomfortable.
- Don’t worry about it. I am sure sir TC didn’t mean it like that. - Marcus didn’t take it seriously.
- And what if I did? - I asked.
Plate fell on the floor smashing to small little pieces.
- I’m sorry, I was just... - Emma started picking them up.
- Let me help you. - Eve offered to help.
- I don’t think you understand how serious my injuries are. - Marcus sighed deeply.
- I am sure they can be healed. - I said without much of a concern.
- Hah. I like you. Of course, I’d love to walk again. But I already accepted the fact that I can’t. My right arm and leg were almost bitten of. The flesh was torn to the point you could see bare bones. It was a miracle I survived in the first place. - he smiled, but tears gathered in his eyes.
Nobody said anything, letting Marcus gather his words.
- It’s thanks to the whole village I am still alive. Everyone put in the money to hire a healer to patch me up. He said it himself, it was a miracle I survived. - he leaned back on the chair.
- Mind if I see your injuries? Maybe I can help. - I didn’t believe he couldn’t be healed.
Marcus gave me a blank stare.
- You don’t give up do you? - he wasn’t really asking me. - Even a healer from the Temple couldn’t heal me. Are you sure about it?
I simply smiled.
- Ok, fine then. No harm in trying, right? - Marcus reached for his cane.
His positivity is outstanding.
He turned to the side on his chair and, with all his strength, slowly stood up. Carefully, leaning on the cane, he walked to the bed and lied down. It was apparent he was in pain when he moved, but Marcus didn’t complain or moan. I walked over to him.
- Can you uncover your injuries for me to see please? - I asked politely.
Marcus carefully removed the bandages from his leg first, then from his arm. It was a sorry sight indeed. The skin was healed, but the muscles were all torn, almost non existent. I was amazed he was able to even walk, or bare the pain.
- I will check your injuries now. Let me know if you can feel my touch. - I put away my swords and took off the coat.
- Aaarrgh... - Marcus tensed as soon as I touched his leg.
- Don’t worry about shouting. I need to learn the condition of your arm and leg. - I explained.
I proceeded to touch and press on different spots of his body. Every single time he tensed up or shouted from pain. That’s all I needed to know.
- Hah. You’ll be fine. - I announced confidently.
- Huh? What? - Marcus didn’t believe what he heard. - What are you saying?
- I am saying your injuries can be fully healed. - I picked up my bag.
- How? - he was staring at me.
It wasn’t only him. Both, his wife Emma and Nialan, were staring at me in disbelief. Only Eve was standing calmly with a cute smile on her face.
I took out two potions from my bag - a red one and a purple one.
- Here, drink this. - I passed a bottle with a red liquid to Marcus.
He hesitated, but picked it up. I opened the other one and waited for him to drink the red one first. He gulped it and leaned back on the pillow.
- Whaaa..! - Marcus suddenly sat up and was staring at his arm and leg. - What’s happening? The pain... it’s going away.
The tissues started to regenerate and heal, and Marcus was feeling it.
- One moment. - I motioned him to lie back down.
After he did, I poured some of the other liquid on his arm and some on his leg. Ripped and missing muscles healed and grew back quickly. In a few moments, his injuries were fully healed, even scars were gone.
- Amazing. - Marcus lifted his right arm and stared at it.
Slowly and hesitantly, he touched his now fully healed leg.
- No pain. I feel fine. - he lifted his right arm again.
Then slowly, turned to the side of the bed and stood up on both feet. Another plate hit the floor, but Emma didn’t bother cleaning it up. She was covering her mouth with both hands as if witnessing a miracle.
Marcus made a step forward and didn’t falter. Then he made another one, then another one. He jumped up and down few times.
- I’m ok. I am perfectly fine. - tears were running down his face.
Emma ran to him and hugged him tightly.
- Marcus! - she was crying.
- Incredible. - Nialan gasped. - How?
- It’s no big deal. - I smiled. - Those were simple Healing Potions.
- I don’t know what to say sir TC. - Marcus turned to me. - How can I thank you for this?
- Well... I’m a little hungry. - I smirked.
- Hahaha! - he laughed. - You sure are a funny man.
- Hahaha! - everyone else joined in.
- Emma, darling, why don’t you prepare some wild meat for our guests. Let’s not make them wait. - Marcus asked his wife.
She rushed to the kitchen and started preparing the food.
- We’ll go outside and let you get changed. - I picked up my stuff.
- Sure, the food will be ready in no time. - Marcus nodded.