Chapter 785: 9 Days
Tari weaved through the crowd in front of him that had gathered in the large tent at the center of the settlement. It was like this nearly every day, since people gathered here for communal dinners most of the time, but it was still a bit too early for that.
"Calm down, everyone," the chieftain sat cross-legged at the other side of the room, her eyes closed as she tried to think about everything she was being told.
"But Madr, that is an army out there!" one of the nervous members of this community yelled out, but Madr kept her cool, "Do not worry, if they planned on attacking, then we would know by now. Are they not simply settling and setting up their own camp?"
One of the elves close to the front of the crowd cried out, "Right next to us? They can't have good intentions!"
Madr slowly opened one of her eyes, trying to gauge the faces of the people in front of her, when she spotted Tari, "Nephew! I can see you come with news of this group."
"Yes, aunt... well, it's a bit complicated, but..." Tari nervously explained, feeling slightly awkward since dozens over dozens of eyes were staring at him intensely right around now, "...they're really not a threat. They are led by a man that wants to meet with you; he says that he visited all clans recently, and he is the one that called upon the council."
Madr raised her brows surprised, "Which clan is he from?"
Tari thought about it for a moment, "I mean, techically the fire clan I guess? But he's also sort of not really part of any clan anymore... it's complicated, he should explain it himself, I think. I told him to wait outside with Hari, so maybe you can..."
After returning a quick nod in agreement, Madr stood up from her seat. She was quickly handed a walking cane by one of her attendant, and put quite a lot of her weight onto it as she walked through the crowd to the tent's entrance. She was a giant, so she had a naturally large build even once she reached the scale of regular people, but it was clear that her body shrunk down due to her advanced age. Even so, she still moved quite fast, and soon stepped outside of the tent. The light blinded her for a moment, but she soon saw the back of her visitor.
Slightly surprised, Eisen turned around, looking at Madr with a smile, "You must be the Nomads' Chieftain. It's a pleasure to meet you, I..." the old man said, before stopping himself. Madr was silently staring into his face, and the old man as well was quiet for a few moments. A feeling of nostalgic familiarity creeped up on him. By now, he experienced this feeling enough to pinpoint exactly what it was that made him feel that way. He had already been experiencing this just from this settlement alone; clearly, he had been here in the past. But when looking at this elderly giantess, he knew that he must have known her in the past.
"...I'm sorry, I... for the current me, it really is my first time meeting you..." Eisen apologized, still looking deep into Madr's eyes, before noticing some tears appearing within them.
"So you really did it... what an unfortunately joyous moment..." Madr pointed out, wiping the tears out of her eyes, as she looked at a man she had missed for a long time.
"Please, take a seat," Madr waved her hand at one of the pillows placed into the center of the room, as she herself sat down on the one placed opposite in the circle. Eisen quickly did as suggested, sitting down cross-legged. After being motioned to sit down as well, Kiron, somewhat unwillingly, sat down next to his grandfather.
Madr looked at him with a smile, "You must be a son of Trygan."
Kiron straightened his back and turned toward Madr surprised, "Do you know my father?"
"I know 'of' him, of course, but I never got to meet him. Though I was told plenty of stories by your grandfather," Madr chuckled.
Eisen looked at the elderly giant in front of him. He would like to simply sleep right now so that he could take a look at his memories of Madr, but there were so many memories lined up that it would be impossible to pick out the right one by chance. He still didn't have a way to differentiate between them while in that memory space.
"Could you tell me, how did we know each other? And... I told you about my plans?" Eisen asked with a deep frown, as Madr's smile slowly passed. She replied in a simple and monotone voice, "You didn't tell me specifically what you were going to do... I was a mere child, not even fourty, when I last saw you."
A pit formed in Eisen's stomach. Since she was in her thirties, he hadn't seen her. And now, at least a thousand years have passed, and Madr was reaching the end of her life.
"Don't apologize. I knew it would be like this when you left. Rather, you made it very clear when you first entered my life."
"What exactly was our relationship?"
Madr thought about it for a moment, but soon replied, "I think the best way to call it would be... I was a brat that followed you around, and who you cared for as you would a daughter."
A flash of guilt passed by Eisen's eyes. He thought it might have been that, but he didn't want it to be the case after he heard how long it had been since he saw her. However, Madr looked happy, anyway, "Oh, don't look at me like that, I said it was fine! You're my family either way, whether I have seen you or not. You still always took care of us. Every year, you would send numerous provisions and tools our way; without you, us Nomad Giants may not have strived as much as we did."
"Then why didn't I come to visit at least once in so long?"
Madr sighed deeply, "I would lie if I said that I didn't ask this myself many times, but now that I've grown this old... I understand why. We met when I was a lass of six years. You saved me, taught me how to survive, and soon helped me find my brothers and sisters again. And then, when you knew I could live on my own, you left."
"But still... that must have been at least thirty years, I..."
"9 days," Madr interrupted, but Eisen didn't quite understand. Noticing this, the chieftain continued, "Most humans don't make it to this point, but let's just take the life expectancy of 80 years for humans, okay? If you translate the portion of your life we spent together to the lifespan of such a human, that's how long our time together would have been?"
Eisen looked down at the ground in front of him, "And I treated it as such? I treated the whole entire life of a human... as being worth a mere three weeks?"
The necklace around Eisen's neck started to shake slightly, and a stream of mist flowed out of it. Soon, Kirisho stood behind the old man, placing her hands onto his shoulders. She didn't come out here to say anything, she could simply hear Eisen's heart beat loud enough to shake her pendant, so she knew he needed her here right now.
"But... Even if that was the case, you didn't forget me. If you consider it that way, it's as though you sent me a letter every few hours after we parted," Madr laughed slightly, "Even I can barely remember some of the people that spent most of their life in this settlement, even if I try my best to. At some point, the faces, names and events just blend together. Just a thousand years is a ridiculous amount of time to keep in your mind... let alone a hundred thousand. The amount of people you spent time with... time that never left them, for the rest of their life, will be more than any of us can ever imagine. If you tried to think of each and every one of them for even a minute every few weeks, you would be doing nothing else. The gods know that's the case for me already."