Level 22 ~ Taecendar

Taecendar Tanner could already hear the hammers and muted morning sounds of workers whose breakfasts weren’t going to be ready for another hour or so. With his quarterstaff across his shoulders and his arms over the staff like a scarecrow he turned back for one last look at Calon Village before he left. There were walls knocked out and roofs caved in from last night’s fighting, but all of that would likely be repaired by dusk. The people of the Viura Mountains were hardy and no strangers to work. The town would be fine. They’d weathered hard times and monster attacks before, and this time wouldn’t be any different.

No, his mission wasn’t about saving the village. That was more of a communal responsibility. His mission was much more personal. He heard the familiar crunch of the small stones as he dropped down onto the hidden trail winding down the mountain away from Calon and toward the Lost Dragon’s Pass. Taecendar’s heart skipped a little and he couldn’t help smiling… It was just like one of their old adventures they used to have as kids.

Closing his eyes he listened to the wind rushing over the mountain, eager to get from one lowland to the other. He imagined he could hear her voice in the wind and tried to listen for which direction she might be. Three years? Or could it already be four since she left without a word? Taecendar opened his eyes and bit his lip slightly as he continued down the mountain and away from the only home he’d known his whole life. Is this what leaving felt like? How could she have gone through with it? He had a tremor of excitement, hope to finally see her again, but mostly he felt anxious and afraid.

The world was so big; the idea of just going out into it and finding one person was daunting. But at the same time that sense of purpose is what allowed him to go at all. So what had she been looking for? Why did she leave? Then there was the anxiety. Mountainfolk were hardy and used to danger, but the truth of the matter was that most people didn’t leave home for long because you couldn’t assume the people who were alive when you left still would be when you got back.

That’s why he had to find her. In her case it had been a comparatively safe bet her family would survive, what with her father being the greatest warrior in the village; and her mother and little sister, besides being hardy mountainfolk themselves, were well protected by her father. But that changed when as the war-leader her father was, obviously, the first to meet this new threat. Taecendar’s grandmother remembered a threat to Calon of the magnitude they now faced, but his parents didn’t.

Taecendar stepped over the edge of the last cliff before the pass and began running down the vertical face toward the pass below. There was a camp below, several men whose snores were more raucous than the morning work-party had been back in Calon. They looked like a rough bunch, hopefully he could slip through without waking them.

War-leader Hart was on his deathbed, and Taecendar had to do everything he could to get Vixie home to see her father one last time.


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