Chapter 99 The Hundred Years – Seventeen Years (Part 5)
She walked away, no remorse or even a second thought as she left the vicinity of the woods. Instead she continued traveling what she believed to be north. Not for any other reason than she always believed to be walking north.
Less than an hour later, she heard something odd. Something she hadn’t heard in years so long ago she could barely remember. ‘Are those voices?’
Hannah’s face was one of surprise. ‘Voices. Those are words. Could… Could they be…?’
Hannah stopped moving as uncertainty crept into her mind.
She could hear the sounds of a struggle happening and panic in the voices as they yelled at one another. The sounds were faint, but after years of living in a forest alone, her senses had grown keen. The slightest noise or disturbance would set her off. It had saved her many times when she’d thought herself safe while falling asleep only to be woken up in a hurry under some sort of attack from a poor and unsuspecting creature that hadn’t realize that they had mistakenly “poked the bear”.
She could hear the sounds of steel clashing and in her mind the pieces started to fall into place ‘There’s a battle going on… There’s people. They sound like people.’
No longer hesitating, Hannah’s curiosity had gotten the best of her as she began to jog towards the voices. Hannah had gotten used to moving through the woods after having spent half her life surviving in the forest. She could move without disturbing the leaves around her, jump onto tree branches without making the branch twitch at all. She moved with grace and purpose. Avoiding everything that made noise, allowing her to reach the location of the sounds as she stood a distance away on a tree branch looking down.
‘They really are humans…’ Hannah stared at them a little wide eyed. She felt so many memories of her past rushing through her mind as she stared at what seemed to be normal people wielding axes, pickaxes and poorly created swords fighting off a group of orges.
She could tell from a glance that urges were weak. Compared to the various creatures she’d come across in the forest, these orges were at the very bottom of the food chain. Except these men seemed to be struggling with a mere 8 orges despite there being over 20 men fighting them off. Even as they fought, Hannah could see the look of fear in their expressions and inexperience in their movements. ‘Whether it’s the young ones or the older men, they all seem utterly inexperienced… How have they even survived up until now?’ Hannah wondered as she continued to watch the battle in near shock.
These weak orges were were barely being held back to a standstill by over 20 men! Hannah couldn’t believe her eyes at how these men had survived until now. ‘What kind of life had they been living for them to live so long despite being so weak?’
A slight feeling of injustice began creeping into Hannah’s thoughts as she thought about her own hardships she’d faced to make it this far, but realizing where that would lead she firmly stopped her current train of thought. Not allowing herself to get drawn into her old pessimistic cycle of thoughts. Although she was a new and stronger version of herself, she constantly had to remind herself of what her goals were and to stop herself from falling into old pitfalls.
The battle continued with the men trying to hold their positions instead of taking advantage of their numbers and overwhelming the orges. In a small skirmish the orges had managed to hurt two of the men by stabbing their chests through with their spears. The orges were adept at mid-range combat and it was hard for Hannah to tell whether these men were just too weak or whether it was fear that was holding them back.
With the men only holding their positions and orges being undaunted by their meek strategies they pushed forward, incurring slight injuries to themselves but dealing just as much if not more damage to the men.
“Hold your positions! We can tire them out!”
“What are you talking about! We need to run! We can’t fight them off! These suicidal bastards are just too strong!”
“No! We need to push forward!” A young man yelled. He’d been fighting at the forefront and had already had a deep wound in his left shoulder that was bleeding profusely but even still he’d refused to back down from his position. He would have looked almost courageous to Hannah if it weren’t for his utter lack of strength.
‘He might be the best one there I guess. He’s young enough that with his personality, he has the potential to get strong. Even if he is a mess right now.’ Hannah thought to herself as her estimation of the young man grew slightly.
“We can’t back down! If they make it back here they’ll make it to the village! We need to hold!”
“If we don’t take them out then if they survive they can bring more back! We can’t let this be like last time!” the young man screamed at the men around them anger flashing through his eyes.
“We.. We need to leave! We’ll just die for nothing!” One of the men dropped his pickaxe and stumbled backwards as he fell on his behind as he turned around in fear and began retreating back through the woods.
Hannah watched him in contempt as she felt the sudden urge to end his life, but the young man surprisingly beat her to the punch as he swung his spear around and threw it like a lance impaling the man through the back. He immediately readjusted his position as he took a crude short sword from a his belt behind his back and got back to his position.
“We don’t need cowards! If you run you die! Whether it’s me or the orges someone will kill you!”
The other men looked ashen faced but didn’t do anything in retaliation. They understood that whether what the young man did was right or not, the man who’d just turned tail and ran had abandoned them. He was as good as worthless in their eyes. Even though most of them had considered running away or retreating at some point throughout the battle… They refused to do it! There was too much at stake!
They ignored the man that had been pierced through the back and was stuck to the ground where the spear had pierced the ground. Instead they used him as motivation to gather the courage to do what they knew they’d needed to do from the beginning!
Renewed motivation surged through the men as they acknowledged that their only choice was to kill the orges before them. If the orges survived then they wouldn’t be too long for this world. If they retreated the orges would come for them and worse. Their only choice was to kill!
Killing intent washed away the fear as the men valiantly strode forward screaming at the top of their lungs as they tried to conquer their fear and attacked the orges with a renewed zeal they hadn’t shown before.
The orges were fighting as individuals while the men had grouped together holding some orges back while ganging up on one orge at a time. They would distract it, parry and engage the orge and its weapon while others would attack it from behind inflicting multiple wounds until the orge just couldn’t fight back any longer and fell pray to their combined efforts.
The orges refused to retreat even when as they fell one at a time to the men, their attacks were wounding the men but they simply weren’t causing any fatalities. It was only when there was only one orge left that one of the villagers finally succumbed to bad luck, the young man who’d shown valiance but was ordinary in every other way had been pierced through the chest by the orge right before one of the older men had pierced it through the heard with a short spear that one of the other orges had dropped.
The young man fell to his knees and as the men looked around to verify that that the orges were all dead, instead of celebrating they looked over to the young man with solemn expressions.
The man that stabbed the final orge through the heart walked over to him and didn’t sugar coat his words even through there were tears in his eyes “I… I don’t think there’s anything we can do for you. You’re going to die Taeger…”
Hannah finally decided to make her move. She wanted information, perhaps these people knew of someone or something that would be of use to her in the long run. ‘They’re all too weak, but they may know of someone who isn’t. I’ve spent too much time along. Perhaps it’s time to interact with the living again… This is a good opportunity’ she thought to herself.
Hannah jumped down from the tree making no noise as her feet touched the grass. She strode forward watching the scene of the men gathering around ‘Taeger’ but saying nothing at all.
Hannah finally spoke up and announced her presence “Excuse me. I believe I can help.”
Instantly the heads of everyone of these men swiveled to stare at her, wide eyed that there was someone else around. A few of them felt even more wary the moment they realized it was a girl. A girl alone in the forest who seemed so nonchalant and had snuck up on them without hinting that she was there.
They instantly readied their weapons as the man who was standing with Taeger yelled “Who are you?? How… How did you get here?”
The man looked genuinely stumped by her presence.
‘This man seems to be the closest thing to a leader that these men seem to have.’ Hannah thought as she spoke “My name is Hannah. I was wandering by when I heard the sounds of battle and then I heard voices. I haven’t come across any other humans in a while… I was overjoyed to find that there’s actual people around!”
The men looked at her as if they were seeing the strangest thing in the world.
They were all simultaneously thinking the same thing ‘Does she think we’re idiots or what!?’
All of them were looking at Hannah like they thought she was crazy because despite her words, her expression was serene. There wasn’t anything that could resemble joy or shock in her expression like what she’d just said.
Taeger began to cough up blood bring most of their attention back to him, as they their expressions of bewilderment turned sour and some animosity was unconsciously directed towards Hannah.
The same man spoke up again, instead of focusing on the incredulity of the situation he focused on the words she’d said “How can you help?”
Hannah store forward at a steady but slow pace as she moved past the men without looking even slightly perturbed about entering their perimeter. If anything they looked even more wary as if they weren’t sure whether they should be scared or helpful. They were all thinking the same thing, “Why the hell is there a young girl in the forest!?” but no one voiced their thoughts as they looked at her silently.
Hannah walked straight to the man who’d spoken and gestured towards Taeger. “May I?”
The man looked at her in confusion but subconsciously nodded. He didn’t want Taeger to die. He was young and full of valor and if he simply had enough time he was sure Taeger could become a valiant warrior. If it weren’t because of where they lived and the circumstances surrounding Taeger’s birth he would have already become an accomplished warrior even at his young age.
Hannah stepped over to Taeger and without ceremony pulled out the short spear and tossed it to the side causing blood to immediately gush out and Taeger to cough up more blood as he looked at her almost indifferently. He didn’t blame her, he knew there was nothing that could be done and that he was already one foot in the grave. Pulling out the spear wasn’t going to change anything. ‘So what if I die a bit faster. Better that then prolonging this.’
The men had already taken a step forward as they viewed her act as one of aggression but the man who’d spoke held his hand up signaling them to stop their movement. He didn’t know what Hannah planned to do, but he had faith that she had something in mind.
Hannah placed her hand on the wound and almost instantly Taeger felt a strange feeling all over his body. It was as if he felt himself getting weaker but at the same time the pain he was feeling lessened bit by bit. In a few short minutes he couldn’t feel any pain at all, just a general weakness in his muscles and bones. He felt exhausted and sweat was dripping down his brow as he opened his eyes again and looked at Hannah closely for the first time.
The girl was dirty. She looked like she’d been living in the forest or something. Her clothes were in tatters, but they were still reminiscent of tattered pants and what looked like a tank top. Although her hair was matted and their was dirt on her face, it was impossible to hide the beauty of her features. She looked young, maybe even younger than him at 15 or 16 which made him wonder what the hell she doing in the forest and as he finally looked away and looked down at what should have been a hole in his chest. He found nothing. His hands instinctively reached for his chest, then shoulder. There was nothing! No wound!
Taeger’s eyes widened as he realized there was no wound! The skin looked brand new like the skin you see right after a scab has pealed over! There wasn’t so much as a scar!
His disbelief showed on his face as he glanced at Hannah once more before giving in to the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion that pushed him over the edge of what he could handle and sleep overtook him.