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Long after the second day, Randolf’s group arrived at the Tribe’s residence.
“They look like eggs!” Amelia exclaimed. Her eyes gleamed with energy as soon she realized that they have arrived. Exhausted she was, the sight was enchanting. Maybe Gryphons or Dragons lay eggs as large as those?
Taking the last stretch of the travel, the group hurried down and entered the gate. However, upon entering, Amelia grew timid once more. Although her eyes were filled with excitement and curiosity, she still knew the place was completely foreign.
Don’t act too rash. Though brimmed with energy, she recalled her Mother’s words whenever she visits a foreign land and suppressed it. It’s a different place. They have a different custom.
Small she was, she still received knowledge from her mother, Diane—though only a trickle.
“Let’s rest for the day,” Randolf said as they walked.
“Yeah. I agree,” Kanna replied.
[Little girl. You should rest too,] Mon mentioned.
Normally, on the second day, they should have arrived at the Tribe by around noon. Since Amelia was taken into consideration during the travel, they arrived by sunset. Still, a two days travel by foot was not an easy task.
And thus, on the day arrived at the Tribe, they have slept.
“Oh! It knocked!” pressing her ears on a large egg, Amelia exclaimed. The egg was about a third smaller than Amelia.
“It’ll hatch soon.” Randolf smiled at the sight. He then looked towards Kanna and said, “It’ll hatch sometime around this week, right?”
Kanna nodded. “At best, give it three days.” She was confident in her estimation. Although eggs from White-tails were rare, Kanna had enough experience in handling them. “If I remember, Randolf, you’ll let Amelia name it, right?”
Randolf nodded. “Yes. After all, I’m getting old enough to wait for the wyvern to mature and take it to the sky. Maybe, someday, Amelia would be able to make use of it.”
Kanna chuckled. “You don’t look that old to us though? But I still wonder why you selected your Granddaughter as the recipient of the egg. You have a Grandson, right? Why not him or some other male with enough strength and time to handle a wyvern?”
Randolf crossed his arms in thought. “I have thought about it too. However, I could not imagine my Grandson riding a wyvern. Besides, lending it to anyone outside of the family is a risk I cannot take.”
“You say that, but isn’t it harder to imagine Amelia riding a wyvern?”
Randolf shook his head. “Hmm… You could say it’s a gut feeling? No, perhaps I was influenced by our family’s history. Still, up until this day, I could not believe the feats of our ancestors. Especially the first, Elena.”
Kanna scratched her cheek. “Ancestry huh...” Though she had an idea of what it was like, she could not tell how it felt. In short, ancestry was something foreign to her. After all, she never knew who her parents were. Much less her Grandparents. And in her case, familial love was a foreign emotion.
Though the Tribe was considered a large family, it was not family bonded by blood. True, they are friendly towards each other, and in their daily lives, support each other. However, a blood family could not be replaced down to its roots.
“Grandpa!” Amelia ran towards Randolf. “What’s inside the egg?”
Randolf expressed a light smile. “You’ll see soon. In the meantime, why don’t you go out with Kanna?”
“Tamer Kanna is ready to go!” Kanna raised her fist into the air.
“Eh?” Amelia tilted her head. “You won’t come with us?”
“Sorry, Amelia. Grandpa has a few things to handle. But I’ll play with you as soon as I finished.”
Amelia raised her hand with her pinky out. “Promise.”
Randolf reached out his own. “It’s a promise.”
This time, Kanna lead Amelia by the hand. Perhaps she grew accustomed to Amelia pulling her by the hand in the past two days and unconsciously did the same.
“Ou!” Amelia exclaimed.
Their first stop was a pen. A pen just beside the walls of the residence after exiting the gate to the east.
Inside the pen were quadruped beasts coated with a reddish-brown mane. At the height of six feet, they looked had a body structure similar to a rabbit. However, unlike a rabbit, their necks were elongated.
“Kanna, what are they?” Amelia leaned on a bar and peaked through the gaps of the metallic pen.
“Laplans. They are called Laplans.”
“Laplans?” Amelia tilted her head with knitted brows. “I haven’t heard about Laplans.”
“That’s because we bred them before coming to Alabaster. In short, they are unique to the Tribe. We used to ride on them back when we were crossing the western desert. Nowadays, we often use them to transport people from the residence to the other stations in Alabaster and back. You could say it’s comparable to a horse.”
Amelia tilted her head to the other side. “Hmm… if that is the case, why not use a horse instead?”
“Because Laplans can raise their neck and stiffen their mane to intimidate other beasts, to which horses could not do. But I have to admit, horses are a far more stable ride than Laplans. Still, it’s dangerous to only use a horse in Alabaster. It’s filled with dangerous beasts, after all—a beast for a beast.”
“But they don’t look scary at all?”
“Usually, it’s the size that matters when it comes to intimidating beasts. And that aside, Laplans are not as docile as you think they are, you know? Their shift from a docile expression to an intimidating one has a huge difference. And usually, it’s enough to ward off the wolve’s attacks.”
Amelia kept it in mind, though she did not understand fully. “But can I ride them?” She looked to Kanna with hopeful eyes.
Kanna scratched her cheek. “Well… for a little, I guess?” She was hesitant to let Amelia ride the Laplan. However, knowing the stretch of her own skill, she thought it would be fine.
“Whaa!” Amelia screamed. “T-this is scary!” She held on Kanna’s back as tight as she could, hoping not to fall off from the Laplan.
“It’s okay, you’ll get used to it.” Kanna held on the reins with one hand and another on the rope that bind Amelia on her seat. “It’s a little bumpy along the way, but it’ll be a lot better when we reached the clearing.”
Kanna did not intend to go that far. At the least, she wanted to take Amelia to the nearest clearing for wyverns to land. However, since the Laplan’s pen was a few hundred meters away from the clearing, they had to travel through a rough ground.
Afterward, upon reaching the clearing, Amelia and Kanna stopped to give the Laplan a drink. When the Laplan realized that it could rest, it lied on the ground and lazed. It was one of the qualities of a Laplan when in a relaxed environment.
Taking the chance, Amelia sat and leaned on the Laplan. Kanna did the same and told Amelia some stories regarding beasts.
At each story told, Amelia listened and gave her opinion. She thought it was exciting and fun. She thought beasts had a lifestyle too. They had a mind of their own and a goal to achieve, although mostly instinctive. Even so, it’s a different form of storytelling aside from Heroes, Dragons, and Princesses written in different accounts.
After several minutes of storytelling, Amelia’s stomach grumbled. Realizing the time, Kanna took out a sack of fruits and ate along with Amelia. After having their fill, Amelia yawned. Though usually energetic, Amelia still had a sleeping habit she has yet to outgrow. In the end, it was Kanna, Amelia, and a Laplan sleeping on a clearing.
The day after came. Amelia and Kanna did the same routine. However, this time, it was Kanna who invited Amelia. Though Kanna has yet to realize, she had mostly opened up to Amelia. And knowing the fact that Amelia was innocent, Kanna relaxed. It was like an environment when she was taking care of docile beasts. But unlike beasts, Amelia could talk, feel, and express her emotions freely.
It was a foreign emotion to Kanna.
The third day came. The egg has yet to hatch, but signs were showing. Still, without nothing to do, Kanna and Amelia played. After all, Kanna had no urgent flight observations for the whole week as reserved by Randolf.
“Lia, let’s go!” Before she knew it, she had already started calling Amelia using a nickname.
“Yeah! Let us!”
What are we going to play today? What beast would she show me? How long would we play this time? What kind of tricks would she do?
Those thoughts swirled within Amelia’s mind. After all, it’s not a daily basis that she could play outside without being reprimanded by Erina, Ria, or Mira. She was free. Free to dirty her clothes and sweat as much as she could.
“It’s coming!” The egg shook lightly, and a tapping sound was heard. Gradually, cracks spread all over the egg. It was on the fifth day that the egg started hatching.
“It’ll take a bit more time before it completely hatches, Lia.” Kanna sat beside the expectant Amelia.
“Shouldn’t we help it?”
“No, it has to come out on its own.”
“Uuu… But it’s struggling...”
“Everyone has struggled at one point in their life, Lia. So it’s fine. It’s his first trial.”
Tiny bits fell off from the egg and made enough space for Amelia to peak inside.
“Uwaah! It’s a black bird!” Covered in mucus, the White-tail seemed like a drenched bird.
Several minutes had passed, but Amelia kept a close eye on the hatching White-tail.
“Go on Birby, you can do it!” Before she knew it, she named the White-tail. It was a childish name, but none muttered a complaint. Even Randolf, the original recipient of the egg, did not utter a comment—for he was with the Dwarfs in the Endless Chasm.
Kanna did not mind the name and chuckled instead. She thought, It’s just like her.
A few more minutes and Birby broke out of its shell. It laid down itself like a newborn chick.
“Cute!” Amelia placed a cloth over Birby and patted its back. “Kanna, what kind of bird is Birby?”
“It’s a wyvern, not a bird.” Kanna smiled.
Days passed while Kanna and Amelia took care of Birby. At one point, Kanna started to notice that Amelia had more or less shifted her attention mostly on Birby. The time when she played with Amelia had reduced considerably. Though she understood the reason, a sense of loneliness still crept inside her chest.
What is it envy? Jealousy?
When was the time she got attached to Amelia? When did it start? What was the cause? She did not know, but she questioned herself. Did I felt something like this before?
The answer was simply, No.
It’s strange… this feeling. It’s not that I have never felt lonely. I had my beasts. The Tribe. Everyone supported each other. Everyone was family. But this. This feels different. I have never felt something like this before.
Was it love? Affection? A sense of attachment? Or was it a mix of attraction?
Maybe… it’s a sense of familiarity?
Kanna never knew her parents, but she did not care. She grew up without them, living her life as one of the very first few Enarfs that existed.
At a young age, she understood the Tribe’s condition.
The Dwarfs came from the place called Citadel. The Elves, on the other hand, came from Avalon. Both had met at the western part of the desert in Randia-- where a ruin stood and attracted both Dwarfs and Elves alike.
The Dwarfs sought resources, technology.
The Elves sought refuge, a paradise.
Their goals did not align, but neither did it cross each other. However, that point was what made their situation plausible.
[There is no need for a mindless battle. We are here to find what we need. Losing people would only bring us collapse,] the Dwarfs voiced.
[Neither did we come here for bloodshed. We merely wanted a place to call our home. A place far from the flames of war and deceit,] the Elves explained.
That was then the thought came from both sides. [Why not work together to achieve each other’s goals?]
And so the Tribe started to grow out of its seed. However, it was not without trouble. The Dwarfs knew the history between Elves and Dwarfs. The Elves too knew about it. And thus the first days of the Tribe started with a bitter taste and biased outlooks.
Still, they survived and made it to the ruin. Reaching a grass filled land, the Tribe was overjoyed. They were now free from the heat of the scorching desert. They no longer had to mind the beasts that lie beneath the sands.
At some point when they reached the patch of grass, Kanna was born as well as a few other Enarfs. Born from both a Dwarf and an Elf, it was a mark of the Tribe’s forged bond. However, they did not have the time to celebrate. They needed to continue their journey towards the ruin and make a place they can call home.
It did not take long before they reached the ruin. As a matter of fact, it only took them three days worth of travel. But their joy and excitement were drenched by cold water as soon as they arrived.
[Leave.] A being wearing a silver armor adorned by intricate dragon carvings stood before the Tribe. He held a large silver halberd in his hand. [This is not a place for you.]
A commotion exploded within the Tribe. They did not expect that an enemy would stand before them.
[I repeat, leave.]
Like any other person, after exerting so much effort to achieve something, the Tribe cried out in anger.
They refused to leave. They wanted to hear the reason. Who was he? What was he?
[My name is Auros. This place. It is my home.] He struck the pommel of his halberd on the ground and made a dent. [Unnecessary bloodshed is not permitted inside my home. Leave.]
Suddenly, Auros swung his halberd and emitted a snap. Afterward, an arrow sliced in half fell on his side. […]
It was useless, the Tribesmen thought. If Ran’s arrows could be intercepted without much effort, their chance of winning with a few casualties is a dream. And thus, at the face of an insurmountable enemy, the Tribe left on another journey. This time, towards East.
Again, the Tribe entered the scorching desert. Their time in the desert was like a living hell. As a result, gradually, their numbers dwindled. Among those that did not survive were Kanna’s parents. However, due to their perseverance, the Tribe made it out of the desert.
Afterward, the Tribe took a detour around the human states and kingdoms and arrived at the foot of Alabaster—where the days the Tribe grew back in numbers started.
However, within that time frame, Kanna never knew anything about the emotion she was feeling.
Maybe I’m just overthinking things. With that thought, she dismissed her emotions and played with Amelia.
It did not take long before Kanna confirmed it. I’m jealous. I want Lia’s attention. I want to be with her. Play with her. It was a selfish wish, but she would be lying if she had not admitted it.
She knew she could never have a child with her. But did that matter to Kanna? No. I want to see her smile. I want to. I want to be with her as I grow up. That is… what I’m feeling right now.
At one point she asked herself. I’m sure this emotion would fade over time. I’m sure of it. Nothing is permanent.
Kanna had thought this when the time left the Tribe at the age of nine. Randolf told them it would take some time before they could return. They had to travel to different Kingdoms and promote the possibility of peace and trade with another race.
But things did not go according to plan. Amelia’s promise to play with Kanna once she returns was broken—even though Kanna waited expectantly.
Maybe I should visit her instead? She could no longer count how much she wanted to rush into Aves and see Amelia.
Was she fine? Is she doing well? Is she eating enough? Is she smiling?
It was a serious dilemma. But given their situation, Kanna was never allowed to leave the Tribe.
Five years has passed before Amelia returned to the Tribe. This time, it was only Mon who fetched Amelia. Kanna, on the other hand, had waited in the clearing with Birby—the place where they often played.
Unfortunately, Amelia had not come. She had not even recognized Mon, much less mention a name of anyone in the Tribe.
Why? Kanna thought. Am I that easy to forget? Was all the time we spent together only amounted to this?
She was frustrated beyond relief. Though she knew it could have been hard for Amelia to lose Randolf, Kanna could not sympathize. After all, she did not know the feeling of losing a parent.
And so, to vent her frustrations, or to build it up further, she observed Amelia from afar.
As a result, Lia… Kanna could only mutter her name.
It was not the Amelia she knew. Her smile was fake. Her eyes were calculating. Her movements were too refined even in an environment where she was not monitored by the kingdom.
It’s like a whole different person…
Kanna’s frustration vanished like ashes flitting from a fire. It was replaced by a feeling of something similar to her chest wrenched open—or at least she thought. Nonetheless, it was not a happy emotion.
Did Amelia know how much pain Kanna was enduring during the time Kanna was observing her? No.
Did she know how much Kanna struggled to act like nothing has happened? No.
Kanna was in pain. A pain Amelia knew nothing of.
But to Kanna, it did not matter.
If you reached out to me from the start and I opened to you, then this time, I’ll do the opposite. I’ll reach out to you no matter how many times. I’ll listen to your cries until you fall asleep. I’ll be a person where you could rest at ease with. I will share your pain. I’ll fight for you. I’ll defend you. I’ll scold you and teach you. I’ll do anything. Anything that you wished for—as long as we can go back to how we used to.
Kanna pledged to herself.
“Lia, your pain, I’ll end it.”