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Chapter: 79

An unknown number of years ago

A warm breeze flooded over the sand, and those warriors who stood upon it. A thousand strong, the Desert Ghosts stared out across the dunes towards the shoreline. Another thousand stood along next to them. Dark skinned, dark furred creatures like the Wolvanticai of the Desert Ghosts stood alongside the army. This other thousand had their wolfen features replaced with that of cats.

"Cousins!" a woman yelled, walking along the battle lines to their feline counter parts.

A woman in a tall, emerald coloured, feather headdress turned to see the woman. The former Chiefess, and mother of Etasose walked forward, as did Nolkonoe, and Nolkonoe’s mother.

"The warriors and huntresses are holding the hills!" Etasose’s mother said.

"Good, we need to cover all major landing points," The leader of the felines said. She originated from the second Region, and her rolling of words after every sentence showed this.

Nolkonoe, her mother, the Chiefess and several other warriors stood alongside the leader of this tribe. In silence they stood, staring out to the seemingly never-ending ocean. Glancing to the side this far younger Nolkonoe stared up on animal-fur-covered soldiers of this allied army. They were armed with spears, axes, short swords and some even with stolen pikes and bows from the neighbouring tribes.

"How many are there?" Nolkonoe said as she stared towards the horizon, her short sword in hand.

"Scouts saw about twelve ships, so maybe about two thousand or more," the Chiefess responded, her eyes scanning the horizon. Narrowing her eyes, she stared upon the red and black banner with a curved dagger at its centre. Heads of beasts and people alike adorned the tops of the banners, signalling their dreaded intentions.

"Dark elves…" the Chiefess muttered. Glancing to her side, she stared at Nolkonoe and Nolkonoe’s mother.

"I want you to stay back, use the archers to weaken them while my warriors and the feline pikes hold the front lines. Use flaming magic to set light to your arrows, we will give them the option to burn alive or die by our blades," the Chiefess said, walking forward with the Feline queen to form the front line.

"Sisters!" the Chiefess roared, raising her war spear, "beyond this point are our homes! Our lively hoods! Our loved ones! And you shall not let a single cretin pass the point as even one of these beasts will bring harm to those we love! Do not faulter! Do not buckle!" The Chiefess roared and her people replied with their roars.

Nodding across to the Chieftess of their sister tribe, they moved forward to form the front line along the beach head.

"Drive these craves back into the sea!" the Chieftess of the felines roared. Nolkonoe and her mother stood alongside the archers, their war bows being handed to them by their retainers.

"Mother…" Nolkonoe muttered, loading an arrow as the war boats cut through the water towards them.

"Keep steadfast, don’t allow as single one of them off their boats!" The mother of Nolkonoe roared.

Slowly, she breathed in, then breathed slowly out. Focusing her eyes, she began to chant. Her voice became twisted and hollow as a flame began to form around the tip of the arrow. Lifting her bow, she pulled back the arrow. The rest of the group, including Nolkonoe, began their chants as well. Summoning the flames to their arrows, they lifted them and aimed towards the boats.

"Calm yourself," Nolkonoe’s mother said, glancing over her shoulder as she saw her daughter’s tail curling between her legs, "I hear elves can smell fear!"

Straightening her back, Nolkonoe nodded to her mother.

"Hey, if you want to see something spectacular, watch this!" Nolkonoe’s mother said with a wide smile as she aimed an arrow towards the boats, "aim for their commanders and…"

Her mother silenced as she turned to her daughter.

"Get down!"

The line of warriors chuckled as did Nolkonoe as she allowed her posture to relax. A wretched sound flooded the air. The sky blackened as arrows rose into the air. Glancing forward, Nolkonoe stared at her mother. Her body was splayed across Nolkonoe’s. An arrow was lodged into her chest, another in her leg, and another… tears swelled in Nolkonoe’s eyes as she saw the arrow through her mother’s head. Whipping her head around, she looked to the others.

Hundreds suffered the same fate. War cries shook the air as the vultures returned fire onto the elves as their first wave began to flood the beach. Storming towards the front ranks, the blood shed began. Screams of the natives, and cheers and happy screeches of the elves battled for supremacy in the air. Leaping to the side of her mother, Nolkonoe wrapped her in her arms. Impossible… she was dead….

A hand gripped her shoulder, causing a strange calm to overcome her. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw no one. Nolkonoe’s eyes became a deep red as she lifted her bow. Hands trembling, she scanned the angle of the arrows back towards where they had been fired from. There they were.

"I’ll kill them," Nolkonoe muttered. Across the battlefield, on the boat where the crooked arrows had come from, the war leader of this raid stood. Her body was adorned with the tails of Wolvanticai.

"Fucking do it! Leave not one standing!" she cackled.

Leaping from her war boat, she began to storm the beach. The spear line had failed to get into formation, or rather the rain of arrows had displaced them, meaning that she had clear run forward. Stopping in her tracks, she locked eyes with the Chiefess. Raising her war axe to her, she chuckled.

"You! You have a nice face! Come quietly and I shall spare the rest! My king will greatly reward me for your head!" the Chiefess met her gaze in silence. Turning back, she looked to the sobbing and begging Nolkonoe, cradling her mother in her arms as she struggled to aim her bow.

"I’m fine thanks, by any chance did you do that?" the Chiefess said, the war lead of the night elves following her gaze back to Nolkonoe. Laughing, the woman shrugged.

"Eh! Who knows! I just fire and see what happens!" her cackle slowed as she felt a tingling in her chest.

Slowly, her monstrous grin faded as she could feel her hear rise into her throat as the beating of unseen drums seemed to fill her ears. Collapsing to her knees, she clenched her hands against her chest. What was this? This feeling of dread and hate? This feeling of sorrow. Frantically, she looked around. All seemed to slow as she saw the tip of an arrow growing closer and closer to her face.

Flesh and bone ripped and cracked as the arrow flung through war leader’s arm, she had only just been able to doge the poorly fired arrow. Nolkonoe stood, her bow in hand, loading another arrow as she looked back to her Vultures. Taking in a deep breath, she steadied her aim.

"DRIVE THEM INTO THE SEA!" she roared as she loosed another arrow.

Leaping to the side, the war leader only just dodged the shot A foot slammed into her face. Looking up, she saw the Chiefess standing over her. Leaping away again, she was battered to the ground by a foot colliding with the back of her head. Turning, she saw the Chieftess of the felines. Bone cracked again as an arrow ripped through her stomach.

This time Nolkonoe had hit her mark. Leaping forward, the Chiefess cut the vial creature’s head from its shoulder and hoisted it into the air. Showing it around for all to see, she roared out a war cry. Arrows rained upon the elves as the front lines of the infantry began to slice their way through and around the armies.

As Nolkonoe stared over the battlefield, her heart sank. Staring down to her mother, more tears swelled into her eyes. Night Elves were monsters. Monsters that had to be exterminated before they could harm anyone else.  That day, on her life, she swore to not allow even one of their vermin kind to hard those she loved again…

The battle didn’t last long. But no matter how many times the tied came in, or rain battered the area, the blood of the dead and dying never seemed to be cleansed from the sand. Staring down onto the bloody beach, Nolkonoe glanced over her shoulder. The Chiefess and other clan leaders were organising a funeral pyre.

Looking to the beach head, the Chiefess stared at Nolkonoe. Sighing, she walked over. Seeing her approach, Nolkonoe turned away, as if trying to separate herself for this situation.

"Do you wish to come watch?"

"I never wished for this…" Nolkonoe responded, her tone cold as she glared at the rotting corpses of the dead elves. Walking to her side, the Chiefess placed a hand onto her head.

"You know I hear the lead warrior and lead huntress are pregnant. They children will be called Cluupyte and Pycleia. Considering it will only be one child they have each, these children will probably have the strength on an entire litter!" Grabbing Nolkonoe by the shoulders, the Chiefess raised her into the air.

"Someone needs to lead the new generation," the Chiefess said with a wide smile. Her smile dimmed as her eyes showed a tint of sorrow.

"Promise me something. Live. No matter what live. Live and allow my tribe to grow. Allow our tribe to grow," Patting Nolkonoe on the head, she placed her onto her feet.

"Now come on, lets give your mother a proper send off. Tonight, we shall drink and dance, and I am more than sure the tribe will be ok with you making a few trophies out of that night elf leader!" the Chiefess roared as she began to lead Nolkonoe back towards the funeral pyre.

The body of her mother lay on the wood. A flaming torch was handed to her. Turning, she looked to the Chiefess. Putting out a hand, the Chiefess wiped tears from her eyes.

"May the Goddess send her to a better life," the Chiefess muttered to the silent crowd who had gathered.

"I love you," Nolkonoe muttered, throwing the torch onto the pyre.

Orang of the flames danced over the bloodied sand as the crowd stared on at the centre of the fire. No one knew at the time, but five hundred years later, and Nolkonoe was going to be the soul survivor of this generation. All were to die to other tribes or raiders, and many decided to take their own lives as offering themselves as sacrifices to that the Goddess could create more jungle.

But despite these hundreds of years, Nolkonoe remained. It was unofficial but she was, in every sense of the word, the tribe’s surrogate mother.

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