The bodies of the dead were covered with a layer of leaves, and were lined up in the village’s square in front of Goddess Nia’s statue. A crowd observed in silence while an elderly priest performed a rite for the dead.
The difficulty of life had become part of Senia’s citizens dating from a few centuries back. The weak race was powerless to resist the forces around them, and they could only choose to retreat further into the dark forest. Cold, hunger and monstrous creatures greeted them and brought about the threat of death everyday.
Everyone looked to the oldest elder amongst them, one whom they regarded as the most experienced in life and the best leader they could have in trying times. The leaders had always managed to lead the citizens of Senia out of difficult situations in history. However, their wise elder was now hunched in defeat with melancholic eyes.
The old man leaned against the cane in his hand, with each wrinkle in his face seemingly casting a dark shadow over him. His sigh of lament was just loud enough for the dark-skinned middle-aged man with a short beard beside him to walk off with a huff.
“Uncle Brynjar, where are you going?” A tall youth beside the old man immediately yelled after him.
“I’m going to take Sifrid back by force!”
“Please calm down!” The youth urged: “Uncle Brynjar, what can you possibly do by yourself? Are you trying to head to your death?”
“I promised Sassa to take care of her….. Even if I’m heading to my death I still have to go and rescue her!” The middle-aged man was stubborn.
But he also knew that it was a remark made out of anger. He turned away with clenched fists, and every muscle on his body was taut with anger.
“Byrnjar, restrain yourself,” The elderly leader finally spoke, and sighed: “Sassa is my daughter. Sifrid is also my granddaughter. I am just as upset as you are….. Once the winter is over, we’re moving to the forest.”
“And what about Sifrid? How about the others? Are we not going to take revenge?” He whirled around to the elderly man with bloodshot eyes.
The villagers were silent with bowed heads.
He scoffed at them and left. The elderly leader sighed deeply again as he looked at Brynjar’s back. He knew that the latter was not going to find the nobles and seek revenge. None of the male villages would turn their backs for the greater good of this tribe. It was their responsibility.
However, Brynjar’s departure still caused a deafening silence amongst the gathered crowd. There was nothing they could really do. Their greatest warrior was a mere Silver-ranked brawler, and one man was no match for the army of the terrifying Baron Graudin.
The silence did not last for long as the priest started his ritual rites again but was soon interrupted by a man running in with clumsy footsteps—
It was Ulf who was in charge of guarding the outer areas of the village.
The crowd tensed up when they
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