Valia smiled at the two as she finished drying off and started putting her clothes back on. In truth, she didn’t know if all her students would arrive, but she remained hopeful and wanted her currently wrecked home to not hold any sign of trouble. She felt her students had been through enough, and worrying about her wouldn’t do them any favors. As she dressed, that was when the alarm was sounded but in a much less threatening manner, indicating it wasn’t an attack. For the people, they knew that this was a sign of the incoming skiffs. Valia nearly had to catch herself from running out immediately, or hobble in her case at the moment, making the final adjustments to herself before looking back to the other two. “They’ve returned!” she said excitedly before doing what she could to briskly walk out of the bathhouse.
The skiffs pulled in and there were many cries of joy as people were reunited with their loved ones, however, it was painfully obvious who the missing face was that the torch was lit for. Dorin, wrapped in white cloth and on a stretcher, was lifted and taken through town to be prepared for his departing ceremony. Quite a number of people couldn’t hold back tears seeing the white silhouette of their strong leader slowly being taken from the skiff, but maybe none with such a heavy heart as Allard. He watched on as they lifted the stretcher onto their shoulders, and carried his life-long friend, a brother if he ever had one, away. The large man quivered for a moment, but stoically tried to keep face, though the pain was evident. He gripped the head of the great axe he currently used as a makeshift walking stick and he closed his eyes, taking a deep shaky breath. When he looked up again, he saw Chihiro with Hilde, also on a stretcher. His mind quickly raced to the worst outcome but quickly cast it aside when he noticed that she was alive, just injured.
“HILDE!” He called out, easily moving people out of the way in the crowd to get to his daughter before they made way for him. Despite it being hard for him to move without pain, he seemed to be able to hobble over fairly quickly. “My girl, I had… I was worried ta death, my child,” he told her as he got close, taking her hand, knowing better than to embrace her. “What happened to you?”
Hilde seemed just as surprised seeing her dad in such a critical state, covered in bandages and using his axe to help walk. “F-Father!? Its nothing, I couldn’t just let them go on without me, I needed to go, I-”
“No, no, none of that. I know why ya left… Truth be told, when I was yur age I woulda done tha same, but I’m worried about you. Your wounds...”
“My wounds? It’s just some ribs here and there, but you. Are you alright.?” She asked worriedly.
“Aye,” he said trying to calm down, “We were attacked.” He then lowered his voice to a low grumble, “But it takes a lot more than some flimsy mercenaries and their little magic tricks ta stop yur ol man, eh?” He looked up to Chihiro, “Thank ye for taken’ care of her. Don’t know what I woulda done if I lost ‘er.”
Allard then turned around looking to the other foreigners that volunteered, “In fact, all of you. If I haven’t extended tha offer, yur all welcome ta stay at my inn till ya get back on yur feet.”
Valia didn’t have much time to reflect on Dorin’s passing. Her shock was replaced by a wave of girls running to their teacher. For a few good minutes, Valia could be found in what could only be described as a pile of her students. After they had embraced their own families, it seemed like she was their next target. She could be seen in the middle of all of them crying tears of joy as not a single one of her students were left missing. It seemed that the mission to rescue them was played out just in time. The time to say goodbye to an old friend would come soon enough, for now, she wanted to cherish what she still had.
As the day moved on, many of the people of Kalla had a lot to prepare for. With the death of their leader, yet the arrival of the young women taken from them by the bandits, there was a bittersweet feeling in the air. The townspeople were quiet for some time, licking the wounds of their invasion, rebuilding, and making sure everyone was medically taken care of.
While the adventurers rested and cleaned up, a feast was being prepared. A semi-circle lontable, made by placing many smaller tables together, lined three quarters of the town center, with the disrupted stones now re-leveled, and the monument was still in need of repair. As the light faded over the horizon, many torches were placed as well as a great fire in the middle of the plaza. The smells of cooking meats and vegetables as well as various specialty dishes started to fill the air from houses all around. Local musicians tuned their instruments, taut their drums, and joined together to plan out entertainment. Madam Valia’s students, those that weren’t taken and knowing their master was still recovering, decided to practice on their own. For tonight, was cause for celebration, of both lives saved, and of lives past.
The Kallan people believed that while the passing of a loved one was indeed tragic, and mourning was an important part of the process of healing, a celebration of their life and the effect on others was worth remembering, honoring the deceased and giving thanks for their life. There was also the celebration of the heroes that defended their home, and the ones who took the fight to the bandits that stole their loved ones away. They wished to honor those who not only put themselves on the line for their people, but honor the ones who, not even being from this land, chose to stand beside them to seek this justice. And finally, a new leader had to be chosen.
As the sun was setting a line of drummers, a few wooden flutes, and some simple stringed instruments came out to start warming up together to play, quickly finding a groove and starting to play. The dancing girls waited, as it wasn’t their time to perform, and instead helped with laying out the long table with food. Chairs were set, though there were obviously more people than chairs, it was common only to sit when eating or if someone couldn’t stand for long periods of time such as injured, elderly, or mothers that were taking care of young or still expecting. Some would even just take a hunk of meat with bone and remain standing to eat. Within about half an hour, everything was set and the celebration was about ready to begin.