Chapter 16. The Den Of Doggons.
Me, Eve and Nialan stepped outside.
- I’ll go tell everyone about it. I can’t believe Marcus is healed. - Nialan ran of all excited.
- You’re so amazing Master TC. - Eve still had tears in her eyes.
- It was nothing really. I’m actually surprised nobody could heal him. - I wondered if that healer delivered for what he was paid.
- Ahhh... you’re so humble Master. - Eve hugged my arm.
Hah. Humble? That’s cute coming from you. However, those were simple healing potions. Does that mean nobody can make them in this world?
Then I remembered Stan recognized healing potions when I gave some to him. Which means people can make them here. I was deep in thoughts when I heard door open behind us.
- Man, it feels good to be able to walk properly again. - Marcus was grinning from ear to ear.
- Glad I could help. - I smiled.
- Food will be served soon. You’re lucky Emma made more than usual today. - he was as excited as a child.
- Haha, that’s great. I’m starving. - I laughed.
Eve giggled and we all went inside.
Tasting wild meat was a real treat. It was juicy and full of flavor.
- I understand you’re here to investigate the Den of Doggons? - Marcus asked.
- Yes, that’s correct. - I replied.
- I’m at your service. This is the least I can do. When do you want to leave? - he leaned back on his chair.
- As soon as possible. - my face showed I was ready to leave.
- Oh? Alright. Let’s get ready then. - Marcus stood up.
Me and Eve finished our food and we agreed to meet at the village entrance.
- The food was so tasty I think I ate too much. - Eve massaged her belly while waiting.
- Haha. Yes it was a real treat. - I laughed.
- Master, what will we do when we find the den? - she asked me.
- Not sure. We’ll see how strong those doggons are. And then, depending on situation, maybe deal with them ourselves? - I wasn’t sure.
- I’ll help you any way I can Master. - Eve was full of confidence.
- I’m sure you will. - I grinned, remembering her ‘use me any way you want’ statement from before.
- Here they come. - Eve pointed to four men approaching us.
- Hello. Hope we didn’t make you wait for too long? - asked Marcus.
- Not really. I see you’re coming too. - Nialan was one of the hunters.
- Yes sir TC. - he responded.
Sir TC again... Who do they think I am? Meh...
- This is Ronnie and Trian. - Marcus introduced the other two.
- Nice to meet you. - they greeted us.
- Hello. - Eve waved.
Nialan blushed again.
Haha. Is he for real?
- Shall we? - I asked.
We went into the forest. Marcus was leading the group. The other hunters were on guard, surveying the surroundings. Nialan stayed behind to make sure we won’t get ambushed.
It wasn’t long till we spotted footprints. They were the same as the ones I found when picking wood for our campfire.
- Careful, doggons. - Marcus warned us.
So those were doggon footprints, eh?
I didn’t sense anyone or anything nearby. But that didn’t mean we could relax. If doggons are as fast as they say, the situation can change in a few moments.
Marcus tracking was impressive. He knew what he was doing. Always checking surroundings, didn’t rush and his instructions were simple and easy to understand.
Suddenly he raised his hand and motioned us to stop. Other hunters readied their bows. Marcus waved for me to come closer.
- See here? - he whispered pointing to a pile of scattered bones. - That’s bear bones. And a big one too. Doggons work.
Bear bones? Wow. Doggons attacked a bear?
- But the bones on this side don’t look like they belong to any forest animal. - Marcus inspected the bones. - Must be one of the doggons that attacked the same bear.
- Wait? Are you saying doggons ate the bear? Then who ate the doggon that was killed? - I asked.
- Probably other doggons? - he speculated. - We are getting close.
- Why haven’t we ecnountered any yet? - I asked.
- They rarely show up during the day. I was injured, because the hunt took longer and it got dark. We were careless and didn’t turn back until it was too late. Will not make the same mistake again. - Marcus was ready to move.
I went back closer to Eve and waited for his signal. We moved slowly and carefully. The forest became thicker, which made our search more dangerous. I could see Marcus, and the others, become more tense as we ventured deeper into the forest.
Ghm... I think we’re getting close. - I sensed something further ahead.
- Marcus. - I called out to him quietly.
He stopped and surveyed the surroundings. Not a single sound was heard. No birds, no animals, not even a breeze of wind. I stepped up to reach Marcus. He heard me coming, but didn’t turn around.
- What is it? - he whispered still looking in front of him.
- I think you need to turn back now. - I suggested.
There were footprints and scattered bones all over the place. We were clearly in doggons territory.
- Why? We haven’t found the den yet. - asked Marcus.
- No. But I think we’re pretty close. I am sure you noticed we’re in doggons territory already. Me and Eve will go by ourselves. You guys better go home before they jump on us. - I didn’t want anything bad happen to them.
Marcus sighed and looked at his right hand. It was shaking.
No surprise here. He was attacked before and almost died.
- You’re right. I’m sorry to leave you before we found the den. - Marcus whispered.
- Don’t worry about it. Get back home safely. - I encouraged him.
Marcus turned around and, using hand signs, told others they’ll be going back.
- Good luck to you two. - he bowed his head.
I nodded back. Eve moved closer to me and we waited till all four of them disappeared behind us.
- Right. - I stood up. - Let’s get moving, shall we?
- Master you’re being too loud. You’ll give our position away. - Eve warned me.
- Don’t worry. They already know we’re here. That’s why I sent them away. It’s our fight, not theirs. - I stretched.
- Oh, ok. - Eve was quick to accept it.
- Let’s go. - I tried to see through trees and bushes.
It wasn’t difficult to make out which direction we needed to follow. The footprints indicated doggons were walking this way regularly. It looked almost like a path.
Walking forward, the scenery started to change. The area was becoming rocky with more bushes and less trees.
From the looks of it, the den must be somewhere close. I wonder why we haven’t been attacked yet. They must be surprised someone entered their territory. Huh? Or maybe not...
Something was approaching us and fast.
- Eve! - I took out my swords.
A growl was heard behind the rocks and bushes.
- Here they come. - I glanced at Eve.
She was ready to cast her magic. Few doggons showed up jumping through the rocks.
They’re definitely fast... and ugly...
- Thorn Spikes! - Eve caught one.
Wow, her magic can reach that far now?
But that didn’t faze others. They jumped straight at me.
- Haa! - I swung both of my swords and cut two of them down.
Fast, but not that bright.
It was easy to read them.
- Thorn Spikes! - Eve scewered another one.
- ‘Swoosh!’ - and the last one was cut down.
- Huh? That’s it? - I didn’t see any more doggons. - Must be scouts.
- Scouts? - Eve was puzzled.
- Never mind. Let’s keep going. - I put my swords away.
The area became more rocky the further we went. Rocks and bushes offered good hiding spots. I was alert and we moved slowly.
I was puzzled to why so few doggons were around. It was midday and Marcus said they are not so active at this time, but still. A huge rock blocked our way. Growls and snarls were heard right behind it.
By the looks of it, that’s where the den is. That means we’ll be in for a fight. I’ll have to be careful and protect Eve. Doggons are much faster than goblins.
I readied my swords and nodded to Eve. A quick jump to the side and I was ready to cut down a bunch of doggons.
What? You’ve got to be kidding me...
I lowered my swords, partly in disappointment and partly because of surprise. Instead of the den full of doggons, I was staring at a huge entrance into a cave. Two out of three doggons guarding it, rushed towards me. The third one ran inside quickly.
- Just die! - I cut both them in half.
I wasn’t happy about finding a cave. Going inside of it was not part of my plan, especially with only the two of us.
- It’s a cave. - Eve stated the obvious.
- Yes it is. Haha. - that made me laugh.
- You cut them in half? You are really ruthless today Master. - Eve gasped.
- Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to. - I scratched my head.
- What do we do now Master? - She asked.
What do we do indeed? Do we go back and report we found a cave? And what’s of it? Now that I think about it, what did they mean by ‘investigate’? Meh...
- That’s a problem. We don’t have a torch or anything like it to give us some light. We won’t be able to see inside the cave. - I thought out loud.
- But Grog said doggons have good sense of smell. He didn’t say they can see in the dark. How do doggons move inside it themselves? - Eve stated the obvious again.
Doh, that’s true.
- Good point. Why don’t we go inside and see for ourselves? Maybe the cave isn’t dark at all? But be careful. Even if there is some light, it won’t be as bright as outside. - I warned Eve.
- Yes Master. - she responded cheerfully.
You and your cute smile... and we’re about to enter a cave... what a cruel world this is.