After close to a week of steady marching, the Silver Saviors finally arrived at the area of the Hayden Mountains where the roars could be heard. Here, they encountered a group of people traveling down the opposite side of the road. The group seemed distressed but relieved to see the Silver Saviors.
A halt order was given as Heinrich moved forward to talk to the group. A man stepped to the front of the group and asked: “Are you here to take care of the creature that has been roaring?”
Heinrich nodded: “We have taken on a request to investigate and deal with it if we can. Can you tell us anything about it?”
Shaking his head, the man said: “Not much more than what you’ve already heard. The roars can be heard a couple of times a day. Just simple roars wouldn’t be so bad but the roars have become… oppressive.”
The man nodded: “It’s hard to describe. I guess you could say it feels like something large is towering over you and ready to crush you! Many animals have started migrating away. Even we are leaving because we can’t stand it! Please, take care of this soon so that we can return home!”
Heinrich nodded: “We’ll do what we ca-”
“-Ah, it’s faint but can you hear it? It’s roaring again!”
All the Silver Saviors had been intently listening to the conversation. Now, they tried to hear what the man was trying to point out. There was a very faint sound that was barely audible that a few could point out. As Adam listened, he found the Spirit Essence floating in the air began to gently hum with an ominous tune!
Adam spoke: “I heard it, Boss. It’s transmitting through Spirit Essence!”
Heinrich nodded: “I can feel a faint prickle on my skin, too. Let’s see what’s causing this!”
As they continued along the road, the world seemed to quiet down. Wildlife became sparse and the villages and towns they moved through felt like ghost towns. Many residents had vacated the area until the situation could be dealt with. All of this made the intermittent roars seem to be louder than they were.
They also began to feel the oppressive nature of the roars. It felt like a great weight was pressing down upon their souls! The closer they got to the epicenter of the roars, the worse it got! All the dogs they brought along, Silber included, cowed under the roars. They wanted nothing more than to escape and return home.
Adam had been trying to comfort and encourage the dispirited Silber: “Hang in there, boy. We’re close to the source of whatever is roaring. We’ll take care of it soon enough and everything can go back to normal!”
Silber’s only response was to give Adam’s hand a lick before settling back into his dispirited posture. Adam sighed as he watched this. It reminded him too much of when he first picked Silber up.
‘I hope we can take care of this fast.’
As that thought went through Adam’s head, another massive roar echoed out! Every member of the Silver Saviors, besides Heinrich, flinched at the sound while the dogs whimpered under the sound. The roar lasted for almost a full minute before it died out! Many Silver Saviors found themselves on their knees, unable to take the massive weight that the roar pressed on them.
After the roar had died out, Heinrich issued orders: “We’re stopping here! I can’t imagine that thing being too far from where we are at. Let’s set up a base camp before starting our search. We only have a few hours before that thing roars again. Let’s get moving!”
Adam faired better than most under the weight of the roar. Still, he was staggered by the overwhelming hum of the affected Spirit Essence in the air. He petted Silber, who was still spooked by the roar: “See, it’ll all be over soon if we work fast!”
They were able to quickly set up a small base beside the mountain path in under an hour. After that, they all spent a good two hours ardently searching for the source of the roaring. They were hoping to find it before the roar once again echoed across the mountains. Unfortunately, they just weren’t fast enough.
As another roar echoed through the mountains, Adam held onto Silber who was just about to fail to resist the urge to run away. Adam himself was just about to fall over under the pressure of the roar!
‘Is it getting worse!? We have to find this thing fast!’
Isley had the worst of it! By the time the roar passed, he was on his hands and knees! Panting, he barely managed to get up: “Huff, let’s return to camp. I’m not sure I can continue like this.”
Adam nodded. Due to his stress, Silber hadn’t been helping very much in locating tracks. With the recent roar, he was too spooked to do any proper work.
“Come on, boy. Let’s go rest back at camp.”
Many had come to the same decision as Isley. Most felt some level of exhaustion after the last roar had echoed out. Someone had even fallen unconscious and had to be dragged back by their partner!
Heinrich immediately showed interest: “Where were they when this happened!?”
The person reporting the situation to Heinrich shook his head: “I’m not certain.”
“Go find out. It has to be in the area where they were!”
After finding the location where the man had fallen unconscious, Heinrich mustered a group of trackers who had been affected the least by the roars. Adam was included in this group.
Adam gave Silber a fierce hug and a good pet. With how limited the use of the dogs had become, Heinrich decided to just have them stay at camp where the rest of the Silver Saviors could watch over them.
“Stay here with Isley. I’ve still got my elemental sight and I’m sure you don’t want to get any closer to that roar than we already are.”
Silber whimpered as he licked Adam’s hand. Adam gave a small smile as he petted Silber again: “It’ll be alright. Everything will be over soon, just wait for me.”
Adam then left with Heinrich’s group. Before long, they found themselves in the area where the man had fallen unconscious. Heinrich gave them orders: “Fan out but stick close to each other. Keep an eye out for caves or burrows. I’m sure this thing is holed up somewhere.”
As they searched, Adam could tell they were on the right track. The Spirit Essence hanging in the air had begun to faintly hum. The longer they stayed in the area, the worse it got.
Adam spoke up: “Boss?”
Heinrich turned to him: “Can you feel it too? I can feel Spirit Essence thrumming in the ground.”
Now that Heinrich mentioned it, Adam could see the ground was faintly pulsating. Adam shook his head: “I don’t know that it’s a good idea to continue. Whatever is causing this is more than a Ghul. I don’t know what it is!”
Heinrich nodded: “Which unfortunately means we need to find it to figure out what it is. Depending on the situation, we’ll retreat to get some backup. My hope is that a bunch of Spirit Essence has accumulated somewhere here and that whatever is drawing its power isn’t strong enough to control it.”
“I hope you’re right.” Adam said as his gaze slid along the ground, following the thrum of the Earth Essence. It was then that Adam noticed something odd along a large jut of rock sticking out from the ground; a portion of it wasn’t solid! Behind a sheet of stone was a cave!
“Boss, there’s rock covering a cave under that jut!”
Everyone stopped to look where Adam pointed. Heinrich squinted as he looked at the rock face of the jut. “Would you look at that.”
Now that Adam had pointed it out, Heinrich could see an unnatural difference in the stone. Heinrich walked up to the stone face, cocked a fist back, and then punched straight into the face of the stone! With a crack, the stone collapsed under his fist as a hole formed. After another series of punches and kicks, an opening was made.
Heinrich turned to those around him: “Something made that with Earth Essence! This is definitely worth checking out. Adam, I’ll need your eyes in there.”
“Stay behind me at all times. George, Jenn, I want you protecting Adam’s flanks!
A man and woman both spoke and moved to Adam’s side.
“Scott, go back and inform camp of what’s going on. The rest of you, form a perimeter here.”
Someone spoke: “You sure you don’t want to take more of us in?”
Heinrich shook his head: “This is more of a scouting run. A smaller group is better.”
Heinrich then turned to Adam, George, and Jenn. “Now, let’s go see if anybody is home.”
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