Chapter 008 – Hard life
This year hasn’t been nice and good to everyone around me. 4 hunters and 17 adventurers never came back to the village. There are some deaths every year, but I couldn’t notice it on the year I was born. The end of this year has been rather grim for Argot.
On the fiftenth month, a young child died from an uncommon illness. Because he was a calm and quiet child, the parents didn’t notice the problem right away. The village lacked the proper material to make a remedy. An adventurer was sent to the nearest town for it, but came back too late. The priest and the physician couldn’t keep him alive. I know the priest can heal with magic, but I don’t know to what extend. It means that there are things magic can’t do anything about.
On the last month of the year, the village was attacked by a pack of monsters. They are called razorbaks. They look like a cross between wolf and boar, with razor sharp tusks, teeth and claws. Those hateful bastards struck at the worst time, dusk, when their presence could be hidden by the shadow of the forest cast by the setting sun while the sun slightly blinds those looking toward the west. At that time I was with my mother, who had come to buy iron arrow tips.
The village isn’t completly surrounded by walls, there are parts that are unprotected. But even if they completly surrounded Argot, they wouldn’t be able to stop those monsters due to their jumping power and their claws which allow them to climb a bit. Zelfron, the troll guard, was the first to notice them and gave the warning. He slowed down a few of them with accurate shots from his longbow before discarding it and intercepting in close range with his 2 hatchets in each hand.
My mother entrusted me to the nearest household before equiping her bow and running after Zelfron. While the woman ushered me inside her house, I could hear warning bells ringing and the few people still outside were screaming and scramblings around. I was in a kind of daze, until the woman taking care of me closed the door of her house shut. That is when I realised we were in a very serious situation, and that my mother had left for the frontline. My heart sank at that thought.
I could hear people outside shouting instructions, people running around. I could feel a few people using magic. And for some reason, I also felt it when my mother used magic. I don’t know why, but I knew it was her, a little distance away from the house where I was. I could feel the tension outside, heard the sounds of battle and the painful screams of the wounded, on both sides, villagers and monsters, the scent of blood reached my nose.
The adventurers. They came to provide assistance, with a few mages. At that time, the battle that was slightly advantagous for us turned into a one sided slaughter. The razorbaks. I could faintly feel their general position, I could faintly tell when those close enough would fall forever. Slowly, the sounds of battle died down. I could hear the village chief barking some instructions, and there was still a lot of activity outside, but the tension seemed to lessen a bit. That when I realised I was frozen stiff, and the woman taking care of me was hugging and pating me, telling me everything would be alright and that my mother would come soon. I relaxed and nodded to her, and she too relaxed with a soft smile. I really felt better.
Some time later, my mother came to take me home. She was sweating a bit and had a tired, gloomy expression on her face. We said our thanks and goodbyes to the woman who had looked after me and left. On the way home I asked my mother who that lady was. Her name is Namir, with a handsome rather than pretty face and light brown short hair. She is a farmer. I don’t know why, but I got attached to her somehow.
When we reached the house my father took us in his arms and gave us a long and big hug. He was slightly trembling. I couldn’t see his face but I could tell he was silently crying. We had a quiet meal and quickly went to bed. Earlier in the year, the second room was fitted for my use and I started to sleep there, but tonight my parents didn’t want to leave me alone. And I didn’t feel like being apart from them either. It was the first time we all slept together in a while.
The next day I learned that a few people died, including a young girl. It was a shock for me to hear that so many people near me died on the same night. And it would have been worse without Zelfron’s quick reactions. With the death of another kid the previous month, I was harshly reminded that this world isn’t nearly as safe as the one I came from. But then again, that one wasn’t that safe. It’s just that the bad things happened too far from me. A few people disappeared in the forest this year too. I was reminded that life can be unforgiving to those who aren’t careful at the Frontier.
I didn’t leave the house much for the next 2 months. I was a bit scared, and I was worried the razorbaks could attack the village again because of the lack of food during winter or something like that. I was worried something else migh come in search of food. I focused on learning to read and write with the few books my parents possessed. They were mostly about plants and monsters but I didn’t mind at all, it would be useful knowledge.
I’m 2 years old and it’s summer. I can now run around. Kerrina is 3 years old and she can run around now too. Thanks to me teaching her while playing she got better at talking, even though she doesn’t talk that much. With all the time I spend with her I guess she will be the kind of girl who won’t talk more than necessary. She often answers with small sounds or small nods or shakes from her head. I don’t think it’s shyness, since she has no problem looking people in the eyes. Well, I don’t mind it at all. That makes her cuter.
As for Arren, once in a while he still goes hunting with Erik. He can catch a small prey from time to time. He is also learning how to fight from him. But right now most of his training is physical strenghtening, with a bit of basic lessons on hand-to-hand combat. He also helps Jenna with the field when he is neither hunting nor training. Kerrina and I sometimes give a helping hand.
Talking about helping hand, I can now help my parents a bit. I started to help with cleaning the house. Now I help mother feed the jakka and clean their pen. She has a little more time for hunting, leather working and arrow crafting. She is proud of me. I’m a little cheat but that still makes me happy. As for my father, I help him sort out the materials he gets. It’s now faster for him to classify them, and he has a bit more time to spend in his workplace. And sometimes when I’m in the village I help Namir with her field. I don’t know why, but I like her the same way I like Nana.
There are 2 particular things that I’ve done for the rest of the year when I had time for myself.
First thing I did was running. I want to be a fast runner and have a decent amount of stamina, because I want to be able to run for my life if necessary. I won’t use a beautiful terms like ‘tactical retreat’ or ‘ regrouping’. I want to be able to flee like the wind. And if my pursuers are persistent, show them that I’m more persistent than them. And as a bonus, with better stamina I’ll be able to train longer and harder. Now that I think about it, I was barely 2 and a half year old, but my body is developping faster than that. I was as capable as a 4 years old child and it will probably get better.
The second thing concerns magic, and my mana perception.
Once I had calmed down after the events of the winter, I thought back about what happened during the attack. My mother almost never used magic at home. The few times she did it I never saw a difference between her mana and the ambiant mana. But this time I recognised her. Even with other people using magic in the area.
When the figthers were using magic, I also felt something I never noticed before. The mana moved in an odd way. It was so faint I almost missed it. It was the same for everyone who used magic. I also noticed some slight differences in the mana itself, so faint I almost missed it too.
The last thing that is disturbing me is that I could somehow feel the presences of the razorbaks. I could pinpoint their general location, and I could tell when they were dying. I’m wondering if it’s not because of their nature as monsters, beasts who mutated due to an excess of magic in their bodies. Is this the reason why I could feel them? I think I’m on the right track.
I think the sense of danger, the tension or the adrenaline hightened my senses, allowing me to pick up some details. I’ve been training my mana perception to be able to feel those slight irregularities again, but without succes so far. But I definitly won’t stop trying.