Entri gently blew the steam off the top of his cup and savored the short sip of tea. He was drinking something akin to chrysanthemum tea, his favorite of his in his past life.
“You like?” a child’s voice asked.
Sitting next to him was the little girl he had saved alongside her mother and the village chief earlier, and to show their appreciation, they were they were treated like visiting diplomats. Unfortunately, all the buildings had been razed, save the village chief’s which Entri had demolished earlier. Now he was drinking tea, chewing jerky, and patting the head of the child named Lucia. She emitted a sound similar to a purr, so she at least didn’t dislike it.
“Thank you,” said Lucia’s mother, Rhea.
Talia and Alice were also present. Talia had Lucia’s sister, Aisha, sitting on her lap and was feeding her sweets that she swiped from their food stores. “We don’t need to be rationing anymore,” she said to Entri when he mentioned their dire rations. “We’ll stay here for a few days, gather some food, then head off. We’ll be fine.” She was too off into her happy place to be paying attention to Alice, who was beaming with jealousy.
But Alice remained silent despite her feelings. She wanted to be the one sitting upon her master’s lap. She wanted to be pampered and fed and praised endlessly with hugs and kisses. Her jealousy was fervent enough to ward away the children, which was why Alice sat in the middle, Entri to her left, Talia to her right, and the children even farther away due to fear.
They were sitting in a hastily constructed tent, made from various fabrics that were still intact and clean enough to act as walls and floors for their guests. In the middle was a small fire cooking meat, boiling tea, and acting as light for the night outside. The top had an opening to avoid filling the tent with smoke.
“I apologize for my absence,” the village chief said, entering from outside without the aid of light.
“You didn’t use a torch?” Entri asked, puzzled by the chief’s ability to find the folds to enter. The entrance was nothing more than cloth piled on top of one another, and outside were other villagers, all without the use of light, guarding the tent from eavesdroppers.
“They can see quite well in the dark, much like the animals that they are,” Alice commented, her disdain for the villagers quite obvious.
“It is…as the little one says. We are quite adept in the dark,” the chief replied.
Silence clung to them like parasites for several seconds. The children showed worries in their eyes, but they were not completely scared. They had confidence in their respective guardians. Talia was Alice’s master, so she must have been stronger, if not more knowledgeable. Entri on the other hand, was weak, but he was unpredictable and had a strange weapon.
The village chief moved to sit across from the trio in front of the fire. “Firstly, I would like to once again thank you on behalf of my people. What you have done for us, we cannot repay.” He moved to lower his head, and Rhea followed shortly after.
“Ah, there’s no need for that. We just happened upon here by chance. Please raise your head,” Talia spoke, slightly flustered.
“We cannot,” the chief said, head still low. “Because what we require of you next will be beyond reasonable.”
Silence made its appearance once more as it hollowed out the remaining jolly feeling Entri and Talia were experiencing just moments before. The two little ones were oblivious to the conversation as they only spoke in their native tongue. The conversation at hand was being spoken in the human language, and at best, they spoke a few words. They spoke in another language that Entri, Talia and Alice could not understand. The only individual with enough fluency to speak with them was the village chief.
“Well then?” Alice said, breaking the silence. “Get on with it. We do not have all night.”