Chapter 11: Umbak Village

"You're telling me the bastard got away?" Ren muttered as the carriage rolled through the hot desert. I hadn't realized being underground had been so much cooler, then being above. Our sweaty rags smelled now more than ever, the looks the other men gave us were often filled with disgust. The rotting corpse of Leo didn't help with the looks, Ren and Celeste had voted to just leave it in the middle of the desert but I had the final say. He was after all my friend, after his death the feeling of being alone in this world felt crushing. If not for Ren I would have probably drowned in despair. 

Even in death, Celeste refused to forgive Leo, when told he had passed she actually smiled while giving a shrug. Not that I didn't understand, but it left a bitter taste, I hadn't really talked to her since. The most we could do was talk, our bodies made us look like skeletons and it was hard to move let alone walk. Our stomachs not use to the constant food had us vomiting quite often from the unnatural intake. On our way through the desert, we picked up a few slaves that escaped. They were frightened at first before realizing that is the Liberators caravan.  

After the battle at the mountains, the Liberators returned victoriously, but I couldn't help but notice a lot fewer men returned than what I saw on the battlefield. The girl who had saved us and sliced Wickum leading the remaining fighters, her face forming a scowl. Seeing her appearance, I felt chills as I remembered the bloodlust that radiated off of her. Yet she was captivating, her emerald eyes carried a fire. From my small observations of her, I could tell she was someone in charge of the group, often giving orders to men much bigger in size. I wondered why they took orders from such a small girl until I remembered the scene just a few days ago. 

"Oh, checking out girls, are we? We haven't been free 3 days and already looking for a woman? Shame on you Finn," Ren teased sticking out his tongue. "It's not like that," I replied. "She's the one that almost killed Wickum, and I'm pretty sure the reason we're free, we should thank her." Looking outside the wagon Ren glances at the girl for a moment, "Don't bother, she looks like the type to bite your head off for even talking to her, maybe if another girl went over it'd be a different story." Turning to Celeste a sinister grin crept on his face as he began to poke her. "I'm not in the mood Ren, fuck off." 

"You're never in the mood," he pouted his head dropping down. Ignoring him Celeste returned to her slumber, the past few days that's all she did eat and sleep. Watching her sleeping face, I couldn't help but be envious, I hadn't been able to sleep the past few days. It was still hard to believe we were really free, and I couldn't help but think, that if I were to go to sleep I would wake up chained to the wall in a room void of light. The sun never setting helped with my fear of the dark, and when everyone went off to sleep I would talk to Leo never expecting an answer from his lifeless body. 

The Medics of the Liberators had bandaged our wounds, they seemed to be in shock from the damage that showed on our bodies. Celeste had refused treatment for 2 days before they had to subdue her to finish the bandaging, with her frail body I didn't think it would be too difficult.  

We pulled through the gates arriving at a village, the scent of salt water drifted through the air and I knew we were close to the sea. The building all seemed to be made of stone and reminded me of the pyramids I had seen pictures of, only not as big. The walls surrounding the tiny village were only about waist high, and I wondered what purpose they served it was doubtful they kept anything out. Ushering us out of the wagon we stood in the center, a small statue lay erect that of a human frog. The villagers all stared as we stood in the rising heat. The former slaves said nothing, their faces void of emotion and I wondered just what they could want after freeing us. 

Striding through the crowd the familiar girl strutted towards the center, her presence seemed to grasp the attention of anyone around her, placing her hands on her hips, "Hello and welcome to Umbak Village, as you know we are the Liberators freedom fighters battling against the Evils of Jigoku O'har. Our mission is simple yet difficult, to destroy the border that separates us from the rest of the continent, if you wish to join our cause and fight for liberty step forward now." 

The air was silent as the slaves looked around, not a single one stepped forward. It was disappointing, after the battle we had lost many men. I had hoped for at least a few warriors from them, yet it seems the mines had broken them. Cowards, "That is all you are free to go," Turning heel I head towards the Capt. building to inform him of the news. He wouldn't be happy, yet if he had listened to me we wouldn't be in such a desperate situation. Our forces dwindle to a measly 20 people, and the remaining supplies we had saved for the uprising has dried up. 

I have never seen such broken people, they don't even look you in the eye. Walking through the crowd I felt an odd sensation causing me to whip my head sharply. Scanning the area, "What's the problem commander?" My lieutenant asked. "I could have sworn someone was watching me," I mutter before I lock eyes with the culprit. They were a strange color, now that I think on it everything about the man was strange, his skin and hair he was the shabbiest of all the prisoners they freed and yet, I could see he hadn't broken like the rest. Realizing I spotted him he quickly looks away before talking to a shorter boy and walking off through the crowd.  

"Hooker, keep an eye on that man." I mutter, saluting he carries out my orders scurrying through the crowd in their direction. Walking through the village I finally arrive at our HQ in Umbak village, also my home growing up. It was shabby and worn down from years of neglect, yet it was a vital place for us to plan our next move. Walking through the curtain my father sat at the far table, finishing a mug his favorite mead before looking up at me. "It seems the prisoners won't be much help in the rebellion." 

Scratching his disheveled beard, he releases a sigh, "We won't be able to take the border with so few troops, we need to find more volunteers in the neighboring Villages, perhaps they would be interested in our cause." I shifted my feet contemplating the idea, "We would need to convince the Village Chiefs for such an idea to work. Not many people will go against their villages wishes, how will you convince them?" 

Pouring another mug full of alcohol, he sips It slightly, savoring the flavor, "I'll worry about convincing the Chiefs, what I need you to do is head out to Denebay. There's a new shipment of supplies coming from the King from the port, with it ,we might stand a chance if we can rally a big enough group." Denebay the City on the other side of Layfront, it would take 12-14 days travel. "You're not suggesting that we split our forces? We hardly have 20 men." Yet another stupid Idea from my father, *sigh* shaking my head I could feel an incoming headache from his half-assed plan. 

"I'm not splitting our forces, but we do need to get those supplies. Our weapons are dull, and our armor is rusted. I'm sending you with Hooker after we've secured support from the other villages I'll send a small squad to the city. You have 2 days to prepare, don't draw attention to yourself and if possible gather more men there." Finishing his second drink with a large gulp he slams the mug on the table before standing up, "I know things seem hopeless now, but we will take the border, just do as I ask Da'in." 

That was a big request, even if it was from my father. Nodding, I head towards the exit before I hear the mutter, "be careful."  

Walking through the village, the people were merrily chatting to each other. If you take a closer look you could see the former prisoners hiding from the crowd in the shadows, it was a pitiful sight. Which brought me back to the man with the strange eyes, he had retained his sanity. He also didn't belong in these lands, it was obvious at first glance. Stopping in the street I pondered what to do with my speculation, perhaps that prisoner was from beyond the border. If so, I need to speak to him.