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Relic Hunter: Footsteps of Lost Legacies

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Prologue

2014, Valden, northern Eirlys.

 

Nestled within the sprawling expanse of the Arwen Forest, the village of Druiden lay almost forgotten by time. It was summer, and the forest was a vibrant fabric of greens—emerald, jade, and olive hues interwoven beneath the golden threads of the setting sun. The dense foliage created a mosaic that shimmered with an otherworldly glow.

 

Druiden was a secluded haven, perched on the edge of Valden and the neighboring city of Arden.

 

Life here was untouched by the hustle of modern civilization. There were no cars, no bustling markets, no internet. The villagers lived simply, their days marked by the rhythms of farming and shepherding.

 

The only connection to the outside world was a daily bus.

 

The summer days were long, with twilight lingering well past seven. Tonight, as the last light faded, three lanterns flickered to life on the hillside.

 

"Are you sure about this, Tomas?" A weathered man with a dark complexion and a broad, white headband, stood at the edge of the forest. His square face was set in a deep frown as he addressed the younger man beside him.

 

"Absolutely," Tomas was a lean man in his twenties, his head shaved and torso bare despite the cooling air. "The tracks are right here. Uncle, each sheep is worth hundreds of crowns."

 

"Ah, Tomas… This is a dangerous path. They call this place the 'Wolf's Maw' for a reason. Legends say those who enter don’t return." Another man, thin and wiry, exhaled a plume of smoke.

 

Tomas glanced at the sky, his worry mirrored by the gathering clouds. The usual star-filled sky was obscured by a blanket of darkness. The wind picked up, rustling the leaves in a wave-like murmur, urging caution.

 

"Uncle, please. My family is depending on those sheep."

 

The older man, referred to as Krima, stepped forward. "We must help him. Before the rain starts."

 

The group watched as Krima grabbed a thick rope. He tied one end securely to a sturdy tree, the other end dangling over the steep incline before them.

 

"We can’t leave Tomas to face this alone. Let’s go."

 

The group exchanged glances, each man steeling himself against the encroaching darkness. They knew the risks, the tales of the Wolf's Maw were well-known, but the bond of kinship and the need to protect their own outweighed the fear.

 

Krima led the way, gripping the rope tightly as he began the descent into the shadowed depths of the forest.

 

A heavy silence fell over the group as they peered into the abyss below. The first rumble of thunder rolled across the sky.

 

The entrance was twenty meters wide, bordered by dense patches of wild heather.

 

Far below, the bottom of the pit was just visible. A narrow, winding path traced the edge, barely wide enough for a human foot but perfect for the sheep that grazed on the abundant clover.

 

Tomas grabbed the rope and began his descent. The others watched in tense silence as he vanished into the gloom.

 

Krima exchanged a look with the third man- Marick.

 

"You really think it’s worth it?"

 

"Get a move on There’s something down there."

 

A deep, resonant growl echoed from the hole. Living in the forest, they were familiar with the sounds of wildlife, but this was unlike anything they had ever heard—a predator’s call, powerful and chilling.

 

Sweat beaded on their foreheads as they gripped the rope.

 

"You hear that? That’s no ordinary animal." " Marick whispered.

 

"Get out of there, Tomas!" Krima yelled.

 

A scream pierced the air, Tomas’s voice filled with terror. "Krima! Help! La...La'e!!!"

Krima's heart pounded as he felt the rope in his hands jerk violently.

 

"Help me!" he shouted to Marick.

 

Together, they pulled with all their strength, the rope burning their palms, but it was no use—the rope continued to descend rapidly.

 

"Hold on!" Krima’s voice was frantic, his muscles straining as he tried to anchor himself against the pull.

 

The creature below was powerful, and Tomas’s life hung by a thread. Desperation surged through them, giving them the strength to hold on, but the rope continued to pull, dragging them inch by inch toward the edge of the pit.

 

"Pull! We have to get him out!" " Marick shouted.

 

The rope went taut, stretching to its full length. The two men strained against the pull, their feet slipping on the damp earth.

 

"Don’t let go!" Krima roared.

 

Below, something monstrous battled for Tomas’s life. The villagers' muscles strained, veins bulging as they fought to pull Tomas back. The force opposing them was inhuman, relentless.

 

With a sudden, gut-wrenching snap, the rope broke. Krima and Marick tumbled backward, falling hard onto the grass. Thunder roared above, as if nature itself was warning them of impending doom.

 

"That beast!" Krima shouted, scrambling to his feet and racing to the edge of the pit.

Marick followed.

 

Their eyes widened in horror at the sight illuminated by a flash of lightning. A massive creature, at least three meters tall and covered in shimmering silver fur, stood at the bottom. Its eyes glowed red, and its bloodied mouth was filled with razor-sharp teeth. The beast stared back at them.

 

As another thunderclap echoed, the monster shuddered and slunk back into the shadows.

 

"Monster," Marick whispered. "It’s a monster!"

 

Without another word, he bolted toward the village. Krima followed. The scattered lights of Druiden seemed like beacons of safety, guiding their frantic run. The wind howled around them, but all they could think of was escaping the nightmare they had just witnessed.

 

Krima stumbled into his home, slamming the door behind him. He slid down to the floor, his body trembling with exhaustion and terror. His calves ached from the sprint, and his hands shook uncontrollably as he pressed them to his forehead, trying to make sense of the monstrous apparition.

 

"What are you doing?" His wife, a plump woman with a child on her hip, appeared from another room. The cracks in the adobe walls seemed to mirror her frown. "You woke the baby!"

 

"Call the police...Call the police! Call the police now!"

 

He lunged for the phone, dialing the emergency number with shaking fingers.

 

Outside, the storm finally broke, heavy rain pounding down, turning the world into a blur of silver lines and deep shadows. The rain drowned out the sounds of the night, but the memory of the beast’s eyes, its bloodied maw, and the terrible roar stayed vivid in Krima’s mind.

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