Chapter 22 - Orcrox Warriors (1)
Antuak welcomed Ian into his house like he had before. Aruna was lying in bed, staring into space.
Ian and Antuak sat facing each other. This reality didn’t differ from the earlier illusion. He felt like he already had a long conversation with Antuak. Ian was now eating the potato soup alone. Antuak’s attitude was also the same.
"You killed them all."
"You saw what they would do, but they hadn’t even done it yet.”
He glanced around. It was at the very spot where the users stabbed Antuak in the back. Ian formed a fist before releasing it.
“You don’t regret it?”
“Yes, I don’t feel regret.” Ian's expression was firm.
"Was it the right act as a warrior?”
“I want to become a warrior, not a saint.”
Antuak nodded and beckoned, as if to eat the soup. Ian ate the soup. It was still delicious.
"You are stronger than I thought. I am relieved.”
He walked towards Aruna’s bed. Her face moved. Ian jumped, but Aruna was still looking somewhere into the distance. Her grey eyes moved through the air. Antuak stroked her face and asked, “Are you going to visit Tashaquil?”
“This will show you the way.”
Antuak moved his finger. A faint ember emerged from his fingertip. It revolved in the air and approached Ian, moving around as if it had its own will. Ian stretched out his hand and the ember touched down on his finger. It wasn’t hot.
Antuak said, "I’d like to treat you some more, but there is no time.”
"Go before it is too late."
"Tashaquil will know when you meet him.”
Antuak was giving him an unknown smile. Ian didn’t feel like Antuak’s words were light.
Ian rose from his seat. He poured a second serving of potato soup into his bowl. The soup warmed his insides. Ian slurped up the soup and set down the empty bowl. It tasted better than he previously remembered. Ian gave a thumbs up.
"The best potato soup."
"The best is only that much.”
Antuak laughed and shook his head.
“The best potato soup is actually the one that my wife makes.”
"One day, I will invite you if my wife comes back. I want to show you what the best potato soup is.”
“Yes. I am looking forward to it.”
"Tashaquil is waiting. Go.”
Antuak gestured and the door opened by itself. A cool breeze blew in. It was still night outside the door. The ember danced around Ian’s finger before flying to the door, as if it were beckoning him.
Ian looked at Antuak. He was unlikely to forget the serenely smiling Antuak.
"I will stop by again. Stay alive.”
“Stay alive. Bul’tar.”
Ian left Antuak’s house. The ember was busy. Ian followed after the ember before looking back.
There was nothing. It was just an empty clearing with moonlight shining. Nothing was there in the place where Antuak’s house had been. The log house with the warm light and smoke had disappeared.
He looked forward again. The ember provided by Antuak led the way for Ian, as if it had its own life. That ember, it was clearly Antuak. Ian felt possessed by a ghost. He recalled his past memories. Antuak definitely wasn’t a lie.
Ian would meet him again one day. Such a great shaman had told him to quickly meet Tashaquil. His message was clearly meaningful. Ian’s footsteps became faster. Ian focused on following the ember, running through the dark forest for a long time.
He burned through the orc’s stamina. Finally, he saw a light and some houses appeared in the distance. In addition, various tent-like structures were spread out. It was Basque Village. The scenery of Basque Village revealed under the moonlight was beautiful.
Ian’s speed increased.
He could see orcs coming out of the entrance. Ian waved his hand to catch their attention. They came to a stop.
“I am alive!”
One of the orcs responded, “I am alive. You are?"
“I am an apprentice warrior, Ian.”
All of the orcs were shamans. At Ian’s answer, an orc who was seeing them off came forward. The shamans moved out of the way for him.
He was a shaman with a face full of tattoos and a striped hide around him that was clearly tiger skin. There was a huge skull hanging from his neck, but Ian didn’t know what animal it came from. The force around him was incomparable to the other shamans in the vicinity. He felt like a giant mass of magic power.
Ian instantly knew who he was. One of the great masters who led the orcs along with Instructor Lenox, Tashaquil.
“I am alive. Young orc.”
“I am alive. Are you Tashaquil?”
“Indeed. Are you Ian, the apprentice warrior taught by Lenox?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
"What did you come here for?”
Ian tried to point to the ember that led him here. However, the ember was gone. It faded away, just like Antuak’s house. Once again, Ian was confused. Ian spoke the name like he wanted Tashaquil to acknowledge Antuak’s existence.
"Do you know the shaman Antuak?”
Tashaquil’s eyes shook.
"Where did you hear that name?”
"I heard it from him.”
“You met him?”
"That's right. Antuak told me to go to Tashaquil, and said that Tashaquil would be waiting for me."
The emotions in Tashaquil’s eyes deepened. The shamans who were about to leave Basque Village told Tashaquil, "Tashaquil, we will leave now.”
"Wait a minute."
Tashaquil turned towards Ian.
"Antuak told you to find me?”
“Yes. He said to hurry.”
"How long has it been since you left Orcrox Fortress?”
"It has been a couple of days.”
Tashaquil sighed. He shook his staff and arranged his thoughts. Then Tashaquil opened his mouth again, "Kinjur!”
"Take this apprentice warrior with you.”
It was suddenly decided that Ian would accompany them. Judging by their actions, it seemed like there was no time to waste.
“Where are we going?”
What was happening at Orcrox that required such a large group to head there? Ian looked at the shamans. They were armed. Apart from magic staffs, melee weapons such as axes and swords hung from their backs. Inside the shaman’s clothing was leather armor. Their eyes were also grim.
They looked like soldiers heading towards a fight.
"There is no time to explain in detail. Just follow them.”
Ian nodded at Tashaquil’s words. Tashaquil glanced at Kinjur.
“Yes. I am going. Stay alive.”
“Yes. See you all alive again.”
Kinjur shook his staff from the front of the group. An unknown force emerged from his staff. Waves of magic power moved around them. The bodies of the shamans trembled. Ian felt the waves of magic power penetrate his body.
Power rose up inside him. His body was light, it felt like he could run towards the horizon right now. He could feel the wind brushing against his skin. A beast-like sound emerged from his mouth.
The shaman’s spirit magic!
The shamans moved out, Ian also being one with them. Kinjur took the lead and the rest followed. It was like a group of wolves being led by the alpha wolf. They disappeared into the darkness of the forest.
Tashaquil watched them leave.
Silence fell. There was only the sound of his breathing as moonlight fell around him. He was locked in deep thoughts. He shook his staff out of habit, the magic power moving along with him. The moonlight covered his head.
How long had it been since he heard that name?
Tashaquil muttered, “You are alive...”
His voice was wet. “Were you alive, Master...?”
It was a said in a whisper. Suddenly, an ember appeared in the air. The ember revolved around Tashaquil’s head. Tashaquil stared at it blankly. He stretched out his hand, but couldn’t grab it. The ember danced in the air before merging with the sky.
The ember gradually faded. As Tashaquil looked in front of him, the night sky soon turned bright.
“The shamans have arrived.” Hoyt said.
Lenox was looking at his axe. A dry cloth was passed over the sharp axe. The clean surface shone brilliantly. A face could be seen in it.
"Lenox. Ian came back with the shamans.”
Lenox turned his head and looked at Hoyt. “Yes, what did you see? Do you think he will be a good warrior?”
“I’m sure of it.”
"He will be a real warrior.”
"A real warrior.”
Lenox laughed loudly. He seemed cheerful.
"Hoyt, who is a real warrior to you?”
"It is you, Lenox."
"Don’t act like that.”
“I am serious.”
“Kulkul. A real warrior...”
Then the door opened. An orc entered Lenox’s room. They asked, "Are you really going?”
"Don’t be too hasty...”
"It is now or it will be too late.”
It was Tanya, the administrator of Orcrox. She was responsible for the administration and operations of Orcrox Fortress.
"The enemy will just become stronger if we give them more time." Lenox explained.
“Hoo. I understand. Everybody is waiting for you.”
"I’ll be out soon. Thank you as always, Tanya.”
"It was nothing.”
Tanya glanced at Hoyt then she left the room. Lenox looked at Hoyt again and said, “We should take him.”
"It is still too early.”
"To be a warrior, he has to see the wide world.”
Lenox placed the axe on his back and grabbed the helmet hanging on the wall.
It was a black, solid steel helmet. Lenox looked at it for a while. There were cuts and scratches everywhere due to its long history, but the skeleton was still strong. Lenox traced the helmet with his fingers before placing it on his head.
Lenox’s face couldn’t be seen due to the shadow from the helmet. Only an intense light shone from within the helmet. Lenox smiled.
“I also want to see a true warrior.”
Glossary of Common Korean Terms.
Praise the Orc: Glossary Link.
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