After Meriden’s rite of passage was done, we spent lots of time training and doing jobs like before. But, after a few months some disturbing news arrived. For some reason people of Val tribe are getting attacked all around the world.
Previously my people were regarded as heroes, they defended the weak and fought monsters in most desolate places. We didn’t get titles of guardians for our beautiful eyes or cute smiles. But now, people regarded us as something evil.
Apparently, the king in the neighboring kingdom heard of me and my power and began spreading rumors about us. Previous king treated us well and had peace treaty with us. However he died under mysterious circumstances just three years prior. Nobody was allowed to investigate what happened and that secret remained buried. The new king seemed power hungry and despicable, although he didn’t openly declare war or hunted us yet.
Now, as rumors were spreading, it was dangerous to travel far outside our territory. There were instances of attacks by bandits and by “bandits”. There were some bounties of capture of our females. This was unprecedented event, as nobody dared to do it before. Some attackers went so far as to venture deep into our territory. Of course they didn’t get anything, their heads and their bodies remained where they were killed.
This warranted the tribe heads to send out regular patrols on guard duty. I readily volunteered to protect my people. Normally a kid would be dismissed, but not me. I was sent to guard the outskirts of our territory, just outside of the edge of Great Forest. Naturally, Meriden and Elaya went with me. There was no point arguing with them, they listened to nobody but me, and I didn’t want to be separated. Aedim also used her influence to be allowed to accompany me. She couldn’t have her intended spend time with two of his bonded partners while she stayed behind. It was her turn for a rite of passage next, so she had to prepare with me.
Together we traveled east to the edge of the forest, where we would have to spend some months guarding. It would take a long time getting there, because territory is so vast, it would be easier to station me there for a while, instead going back and forth from centre to the edge.
The territory we have under our control is truly big. When Val Loudhorn was alive, he loved the forests. So when he established his tribe, he lived deep in the wilderness of Great Forest, specifically its northern part. Snow and gale only chiseled away the weakness and brought out perfection, according to Val. So all his descendants stayed in same place.
The forest is really massive. If I had to compare, it would take up half of Canada. This world is smaller then regular Earth and there is only one continent with some little islands around it and ocean over the rest of the realm. Our forest is to the far west of the continent, stretched out from north to south. It takes up about sixth of the entire world, but we don’t control the entirety of it. Only about a quarter of it belongs to us, mostly the area that contains snow is ours.
To the north of the forest are Dragonspine mountains. They are giant, snow covered spine-looking rocks. And by spine-looking I mean those spines that come off a dragon’s back, that are very sharp and easily cut through anything. Really just massive sharp needle-like protrusions protecting dragon’s back. There is a common folklore story that our whole world is really on a side of sleeping dragon, who decided to take a nap in the middle of an ocean for a couple million years. I don’t believe it to be true but who knows.
The mountain range extends about a third along the length of the north. After that there is the ice cap. What is to the Far East is a mystery to me, apparently, dragon’s head is meant to be there.
In those mountains some dwarves live, but they are very few in number. We trade with them and protect them if needed.
To north-west of the forest, are some small mountains coming off of the Dragonspine mountains. They quickly become small going south, only to reveal high cliffs over 200 meters above sea level. The cliffs continue on down to the south until the snow begins to melt and we enter elven territory. At that point forest belongs to elves, and cliffs to the west belong to merfolk.
This goes further down south towards eventual sandy beaches with some different fish people living there. The forest at that point stretches all the way to the south. All of it belongs to elves, although there are many creatures living with them like dryads, fairies, centaurs etc. just a freaking fantasy forest there.
Just as the forest ends in the south, the tropical trees reveal beaches to west and south edges of the continent. It’s tropics down there.
Immediately to the east of us starts a human kingdom of Kelnurn. We were always allies until recently. Half of their territory is covered in snow, and further to the south weather is rather cold, but not enough to freeze water. It is somewhat difficult to grow crops there, so people mostly rely on hunting like us. They often have to import crops from demon races to the south of them, who live in warmer climate. Both of their territories are very large.
Even further south, past the demon lands is a marine kingdom of nagas. They are like half-human quarter-fish quarter-snake race. They are peaceful unless provoked. They export pearls and seafood, in exchange for metals and land-bound crops. They like carrots more than seaweed.
Whatever is past those kingdoms is rather foggy for me. Few Val people ever venture that far. There are some mentions of white haired snow elves, of some intelligent monster races like orcs and ogres. Also there are legends of powerful beings like dragons and phoenixes. Nothing can be known for certain. This is about the extent of my knowledge of the world beyond the trees I learned to love.
Now, the rumors that are being spread is that Val tribe is taken over by a demon. Apparently, a dark being stole power of two women and overtook as the leader of the tribe. How somebody came up with that is beyond me, but people readily believed such tales.
Of course our people were always respected for services we did for the realm, but at the same time they were feared. Having blood of previous Guardians is an awe inspiring trait, but the rumors that we also had demon blood mixed in were around as well. Now, people readily gave in to such stupid rumors.
I mean they are not unfounded, I did receive powers from two girls, I did attain full body transformation that previously was regarded as a fiend. Our people didn’t hide the fact and perhaps were somewhat proud of it. Some regarded me as a hero or a God’s chosen. They would gladly tell travelers about my tale. But having my story twisted around so much is just wrong. I felt very angry at the new king, and if not for my duty, I’d go and kick his ass.
I know, that this was a way for that damn king to divert attention from himself. I was sure he usurped the throne, perhaps mistreated his subjects. What else could he do but to create a bigger threat than himself. The number of bandit sightings increased as well and if I know something, it is the lack of money makes one walk the crooked road. Little extra tax and you get perhaps another thousand crooks. Post a hefty bounty to “rescue” some maidens from the hands of vile creatures and you get somebody readily doing your bidding. When some people go missing, blame it on the fiends in the forest. It is a self-fueling rumor mill. All the while you can steal more money and gain more power. Ingenious and evil.
So, the four of us set out towards out destination. It took us about a two weeks on the dire wolves’ backs. Of course I was way faster than those little puppies, but I can’t really carry three girls on my back. There is no saddle for werewolves.
We were given two outposts to travel between, which would take about two days of riding on wolves or little over a week of walking. Once we arrived, we left the wolves at the outpost and began to walk towards another outpost. From dawn till dusk we would walk, then we would camp out and rest at night. This would be our everyday life for the next four months. Then we would be stationed at an outpost for a months rest and once we rested we would spend four more months patrolling. After that we go back for the rite of passage with Aedim.
This was a cakewalk, once you lived your whole life in the woods, walking grasslands and hillsides is nothing. For the most part it was very chill. We just strode around, doing some minor training and talking. Once we make it to the outpost, we rest and bathe and then back on the road we go. We enjoyed it a lot. We exercised here, while other girls trained at home. I kinda hoped that Frez would help them train, but he also was stationed on the guard duty far north of us. Still, it was some good times.
We did get to kill some people when bandits attacked us a couple of times. They were idiots, don’t they know what Val people are? I didn’t even need to do anything, Meriden would pick them off with the bow and Aedim had to throw a couple of fireballs. Elaya didn’t get to fight either, she had no ranged capabilities. We spent few months chilling. Literally.