I followed Finch outside, and we walked up to what seemed like the center of the village. There was a statue in the middle, just like in Asturb Village, but obviously it was different. The statue was that of a large warrior, draped in animal skins, with a large sword on his back. It looked majestic and awe inspiring. As I was checking out the statue, Finch shouted "EVERYONE! GATHER ON THE MAIN SQUARE!".
His voice was very loud, and even people outside the village, would be able to hear it no problem. After a while, people started converging, and gathered around the statue. Some were talking amongst themselves, and asking questions like "What happened", or "Does he always have to shout like this?". When everyone was gathered around, Finch said "Today, is a great day. My nephew Nex finally returned home. This calls for celebration! Prepare food, and leave whatever you were doing. Today, we shall celebrate!". People cheered, and some exclaimed "This is Nex?". "He finally returned?".
Some villagers came over, and introduced themselves. "Nice to finally meet you Nex. I'm Aran Greyflint. If you need any training with a sword or a bow, be sure to come by. Welcome home boy". Another person said "I'm Howard Limeskin, but everyone calls me Howy. Nice to meet you!". A few other people introduced themselves, and I didn't really know how to behave. I always replied in a similar matter, with simple "I'm Nex, nice to meet you".
A few women also came over, and introduced themselves. I don't know if Finch did it on purpose or not, but he said "Nex still doesn't have a wife", to every Woman that came over to greet me. 'I didn't come here to find a wife though…' I thought. In overall, these were very nice people. They joked, smiled and laughed. This atmosphere reminded me of my own parents, and the house we used to live in.
People prepared for a great feast, while Finch took me around to see the village. He pointed to me a few locations, that belonged to more important people. Blacksmith, tailor, the training area for young warriors, and so on. The villagers quickly set up the tables, and cooked the food. After our little sightseeing, the feast was almost ready.
Finch told me to sit down next to him, while his wife sat on the opposite side. I was a bit confused, and asked "You don't have any kids?". Finch smiled, and replied "Of course I do. They are all grown up already. Aron, Haily and Norty, left the village for that Royal Competition". I asked "They are also taking part in that?". Finch nodded, and said "It's for the experience. None of us are really that interested in Royals. Although we do travel to the Imperial City sometimes, it's not that often". I nodded my head, and waited for the feast to begin.
When everything was ready, and all the people gathered. Finch stood up and said "Today we welcome back my nephew Nex. Eat and drink to your heart's content!". People cheered and started eating and drinking. A plate full of food appeared in front of me, together with some drinks. It was Tina who passed that plate, and said "Eat up, you are quite skinny. You need to eat a lot, in order to have strength". I smiled, and ate the food. Someone sitting not far away, asked "Nex, tell us about your adventures. You must've had many of them". It was a youngster, not older than 14 years old, who said this.
I nodded my head, and said "In the past, before I actually started my journey. I met some bad people. This placed me in a bad situation, but it had its benefits. Thanks to that, I learned a lot of skills, and found myself a friend". The same youngster asked "Where is your friend now?". I shook my head, and said "Passed away. We encountered a huge boar like creature on our travels. I wasn't able to do anything to that thing, and my friend Shelly sacrificed itself for my sake". The mood became a bit spoiled due to my story, as people became sad.
I smiled, and said "I still remember Shelly. That turtle could eat, even better than I can". The youngster looked up interested, and asked "A turtle?". I nodded and said "Yes. It was intelligent, and very friendly. Shelly was also strong, it could kill a whole pack of wolves by itself". The youngster became shocked, and asked "A turtle could kill wolves? What type of turtle was that". I smiled, and said "Special kind. Although Shelly was a turtle, it could run faster than wolves. I was shocked myself, when I found out, how fast Shelly really was. I guess we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, right?".
The youngster nodded, and asked "What else did you encounter. Tell us more". I thought about it for a while, and said "How about I tell you, some of my stories from the North?". Some people exclaimed "You've been to the North?". I nodded my head, and said "Yea, for almost 5 years. I just returned not too long ago". People were shocked, and exclaimed stuff like "Amazing!" or "Wow!". I didn't really treat it, as some sort of great achievement thought.
I recaled something, and said "Actually, I always heard how North is dangerous. But when I visited, it was fine. There were no dangerous beasts around usually, you had to travel to specific areas, in order to encounter them". Finch replied "That is inside the North. What people usually refer to, when they say that the North is dangerous, is the Border, which separates the North from the Endrosian Empire". "Huh?" I asked confused, then continued "What about the Border? There is nothing dangerous there. You simply pass through, and that's it. Right?".
I looked around, and everyone seemed shocked. I asked "Something's wrong?". Finch snapped out of it, and asked "Did you really go to the North?". I replied "Of course! I visited most of the locations there. Obsidian Mountains, Vulture Cliffs… I have a story about that too. Land of Sands and so on. I met many different races like Voltars, Shades, Golems or Lizards".
Finch asked "Then how can you say, that the Border is simple? No one can simply pass through it, just like that". "What? Then I'm lost, isn't that what I did? I simply passed through it". Finch thought about it for a while, and asked "So you never encountered any trials at that Border? You didn't have to fight beasts and so on, before you could enter?". I shook my head, and said "No. Was that a thing?". Finch replied "Of course. Everyone who wishes to enter the North, has to go through a trial. They are thrown in to some sort of space, where other beasts and filthy creatures wonder. You have to move through that space, before you can enter. The question is, Why you didn't encounter that?".
I replied "I don't know. I simply walked past. It didn't matter whether I was going in or out, I just passed the Border... This would explain, why I haven't seen those Flaming Wolves or Bears inside the North. What others told me about the North, would make sense as well. Otherwise, why would people fear North so much". Finch nodded, and said "I don't know how you were able to just pass, as this is something I never heard of. It's something to cherish. You are free to come and go to the North, as you please. This is very useful thing".
The youngster said "Tell us more about your adventures in the North!". Others also nodded, and seemed interested. I nodded my head, and said "I've visited most of the North locations, throughout the time I've been there. I made some friends with Lizards and Shades, but I also made some enemies. I also made many discoveries. I learned how to plant seeds and care for plants in Apium. It's an area that belongs to Atols, they look like big apes, but are intelligent, and can talk. I even improved a whole farming system for them…". I began narrating some of the stories to the younger kids, but the adults sitting closer to us, also listened with interest.
I didn't want to spoil the moment, so I didn't mention anything about Avians, Yagaroths and Golems. I only described the races, areas that they lived in, and some small situations that happened to me. With my story pretty much over, Aran said "You went through a lot of things. If I can ask, which limit did you break through?". Everyone around became instantly interested, and looked at me. Finch on the other hand, knew already. He had a smug expression on his face, but didn't say anything.
I said "I broke through to my Inner Limits, not that long ago". The crowd around us exclaimed, and all shouted and cheered. Things like "Genius!" and so on, were spoken by the people. I didn't consider myself a some sort of extraordinary Human. I simply got lucky, if not for that episode with Crow, I would probably need a lot more time, to break through. They didn't know everything that happened to me, so it was easy for them to assume that. 'If not for the herbs I got in the North, as well as Nick's teachings and my whole experience, I wouldn't be so strong today' I thought.
They younger kids looked at me with respect, awe and yearning in their eyes. They probably wanted to reach similar heights at my age. This was a good thing, this would motivate them to strive and become stronger. 'I should help out the younger generation here. After all, this is my family, and they are the future of this village' I thought. This was a good place to check, if I could plant the seeds from Apium, in the Great Forest. I turned towards Finch, and asked "Can I use one of your fields? I would like to try and plant some stuff". Finch was taken aback a bit, and asked "You want to do some farm work?". I smiled, and said "Yes. You may not understand now, but if manage to grow the stuff, that I want to grow, I will be able to make this village really powerful".
His eyes shone like lanterns, and he said "You can of course use anything you want here. You are the Wintersteed after all. It's true, that I don't know how exactly you want to achieve that, but if you can… I don't know how I could reward you". I shook my head, and said "I'm not doing it for rewards. You guys are my family, I want to help you, and make you strong". Finch nodded, and said "Good lad. Here, have a drink with your uncle!". He raised his mug, and I did the same with mine. We drank from them, and continued the feast.
1st chapter of the week.
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