During breakfast, Akira checked everyone’s armor and weapons while taking a rest on their journey to the nearest city and made small repairs when it was needed gaining a small amount of experience for his blacksmith skill.
When Akira finished repairing Mileena’s gear and handed it back to her he noticed that her ears and tail twitching in agitation.
“What’s wrong?” asked Akira.
“I noticed a while ago that the same two birds have been circling us for the last few hours. They’re too far away to see what type of bird they are but from the color of their feathers that I can barely see they don’t look like normal desert vultures,” said Mileena pointing at the specks of color high in the sky.
Both Akira and Varbu looked in the direction she was pointing while covering their eyes from the sun.
“Now that you mentioned it I can see something moving but I would not have noticed it unless you said something. You must have great eyesight to be able to spot something so far away,” said Akira.
“I don’t see anything,” said Varbu squinting at the sky trying to see the faraway specs.
Mileena puffed out her small chest at being praised, “That’s right I’m an expert at seeing things far away.”
“Just keep an eye on them and don’t worry too much about it,” said Akira as they began walking again.
“Commander! I don’t know how but they seem to be pointing towards us,” shouted the remaining subordinate Giegle rider.
“Since we’ve been discovered we need to commence the attack in order to squash any chance of them getting away,” said the commander.
At the urging of their riders, the Giegles folded their wings and started a steep dive hurtling down towards the ground quickly gaining speed. Their legs were ready to reach out and grab Akira.
The high pitched cry rang out from the sky hammering into the heads of the three as they were walking.
“They’re attacking!” was all Mileena could say before the giant gray and black birds reached them at a surprising speed.
At the last moment possible the giant birds unfurled their wings to stop their descent the one that had targeted Akira swooped in and grabbed onto his shoulders with both of its feet. It’s sharp talons poked through his armor and dug into his skin before he could even respond.
The large bird tried to use the remaining speed from the dive to pick Akira up and quickly fly away flapping its wings as hard as it could to give it an extra boost.
Before it had a chance to get away Varbu who had been standing next to Akira when he was grabbed let out a war cry and swung his large quarterstaff which connected and hit landed a massive blow to the bird’s thigh.
The giant bird let out a cry of pain and flapped its wings a few more times before dropped Akira onto one of the numerous soft sand dunes from a height of over ten yards in the air.
Akira rolled down the sand dune and was more than a little dizzy and disoriented as he tried to stand back up and ready his sword and shield which was an extremely painful task due to the small wounds he received from the Giegles talons.
When his head cleared and he regained his bearings he started to run towards Varbu and Mileena who he had been separated from.
Seeing the first attack by his subordinate failed only because of the timely attack from the large Orc the commander guided his own mount to grab Akira while ordering his subordinate with designated combat signals to handle the other two nuisances.
Akira who was now more alert and aware of the type of attacks the enemy used was able to dodge to the right and roll away from the second swooping bird’s sharp talons.
Skreeeee! The Giegle let out a cry of frustration at narrowly missing its target.
Due to Varbu’s size and weight the Giegle that had grabbed onto him was unsuccessful at picking him up off the ground and received another powerful attack to the thigh angering it more before letting its prey go due to muscle pain and darting back into the sky to gain speed for another attack.
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For its third attempt, it was decided to attack the weakest and smallest target, Mileena.
With surprising accuracy for the high speeds at which it was flying it was able to grab onto Mileena before she could successfully dodge it even if she could see it coming.
Before it could gloat at its success it let out an awkward Squawk of pain as it was whacked a good one in it rear end causing it to lose control over its flight for a brief moment, resulting in a crash into a nearby sand dune that it was unable to clear.
Varbu saw a human body get flung off from the top of the bird and thought ‘So it was controlled by a human. But who are they?’
“Mileena, while I fight the giant bird, take care of the injured enemy that fell off the bird,” shouted Varbu before charging towards the giant bird that was still immobile on the ground after crashing at such a high speed.
Akira saw it all but was unable to do anything since he was being harassed by the constant diving attacks of the giant bird that was trying to grab him. The attacks forced him to dodge out of the way causing him to get farther and farther away from Varbu and Mileena.
Mileena let out a hiss of anger as she nimbly sprang to her feet after freeing herself from the talons of the giant bird.
She was able to locate the enemy quickly and saw that he was just now sitting up and regaining his senses. She dashed forward with weapons drawn.
Seeing Mileena running towards him with her daggers, he hastily stood up and tried to use his right arm to grab for his short sword but let out a cry of pain instead.
Looking at his arm he could see there was a white bone sticking out of his skin it had broken during the crash and he didn’t notice it until now and the waves of pain engulfed him.
He was forced to grab the dagger on his hip with his left hand to block the incoming attacks.
Although he was heavily wounded and using his left hand he was still able to just barely fend off the small girl of the nyantail race. From the way she attacked he guessed she was still a beginner at fighting real battles.
The stalemate lasted for only a few minutes until Mileena was able to agilely slip one of the daggers past the enemy’s defense and create a wound in his left armpit.
This caused his reactions to slow and he was unable to block her final attack as it sliced across his neck causing blood to spurt everywhere.
Varbu finished beating the downed giant bird into a pulp and rejoined Mileena.
Upon seeing her successfully execute the enemy before he could help he gave her a thumbs up and said, “Good job! Now let’s go help Akira.”
The commander seeing that his subordinate had failed in such an embarrassing way let out a sigh of exasperation. With the loss of a Giegle he would be in enormous trouble when he returned to Headquarters.
“Don’t think you have won today I’ll be back!” shouted the commander before swiftly flying back into the air and out of sight.
“Who did you piss off this time?” asked Varbu as he ran up to Akira.
“How should I know people are always getting mad for no reason!” said Akira.
“You don’t look to beat up. It’s a good thing you didn’t get captured. If you did how could I fulfill my mission?” asked Varbu.
Akira looked over to Mileena and saw that she had fresh blood coming out of two deep wounds she had received from the Giegle attack.
“Mileena, come here,” said Akira reaching into his bag to grab some potions and rags to stop the bleeding.
“Drink this,” said Akira as he handed her one of the potions.
He opened another potion and poured half of it onto the four wounds that were on the front and back of her shoulder causing Mileena to hiss as the pain of her wound began to slowly mend.
Due to the potion not being a high grade the healing wasn’t that fast so Akira poured the rest of it onto the rags and helped compress the wounds to stop the bleeding.
A short time later he removed the rags to see that the wounds had fully closed.
“Th…thank you for helping me. Ah! What about your wounds?” asked Mileena
“It’s okay, my wounds aren’t as bad as yours were,” said Akira before drinking a potion.
“That’s right he’s made of stronger stuff like me and he has some decent armor,” said Varbu slapping Akira on the back causing him to grimace in pain but didn’t let out a sound.
While traveling they had avoided joining caravans mainly because they required silver and sometimes gold to join them in order to enjoy the extra security.
The ones they had passed already had all been going in the opposite direction that they needed to go so there had been no point in thinking about it.
Now that they had been attacked they decided that it would be safer to join a caravan that had more people and mercenaries to help fight anything that would come their way.
It was a few hours after they started walking again they found what they were looking for a caravan heading to the next city.
In order to join Akira had to hand over 50 silver for each person to the mercenary captain in charge of protecting the caravan.
They had joined the group while it had stopped for a late afternoon lunch.
One of the benefits of traveling with a caravan was being able to buy and trade with the traveling merchants.
Most of the merchants could only barter goods since most or all of their money was tied up in the items they were transporting to sell for a large profit in the next town.
With only a few trades and using a small number of coins, Akira was able to replenish his supplies just to be on the safe side.
The caravan had been moving for over an hour when Akira noticed that several merchants were pointing to the east with worried looks on their faces while they quietly whispered to each other.
Akira looked to see what they were talking about. In the far distance, he could see a light brown wall moving towards them. If he had not looked at it long enough he would not have noticed it since it blended in with the faraway desert sand dunes.
What startled him was that it was growing bigger and bigger and was approaching them. As it grew bigger the area it covered became almost as dark as night.
“Halt!” shouted multiple mercenary guards forcing the large caravan to come to a stop.
Akira watched as one of the mercenaries ran over to them.
“A sandstorm is brewing! You need to set up a tent facing away from the storm, this one looks nasty so I advise you to hurry! You do not want to be caught outside in a sand storm,” said the mercenary before running off to another group of merchants.
Judging by the fast approaching storm Akira’s group did not have enough time to put up three separate tents.
“Let’s just use Varbu’s tent since its the largest,” said Akira.
They hastily got to work on erecting the tent. Akira pulled out four extra wooden stakes to hammer into the four corners of the tent to help keep it secured to the ground.
Just as they finished the howling wind slammed into their bodies causing minor cuts from debris that it had brought with it while stealing the breath from their lungs for a brief moment.
“Into the tent,” shouted Akira hoarsely.
The tent was easily able to fit them all and not overly cramped but there was no extra stretching room.
The fierce howling wind could be heard slamming against the tent with all sort of debris it had picked up.
The tents flaps were fluttering wildly until Varbu and Akira were able to fasten them at the top and the bottom.
The wind seemed desperate to destroy or flatten the that was in its way.
They sat quietly in the dark tent listening to the constant bombardment of objects and sand hitting the tent.
A half hour had passed when something went wrong as one of the corners of the tent collapsed.
Cursing Akira didn’t know what caused it to collapse but he stood up and unfastened the tent flaps to see if he could quickly fix the problem.
“What are you doing?” asked Mileena.
“If I don’t fix this now the whole tent could fall down on us and it would be nothing more than a sheet of heavy cloth on top of us,” said Akira before stepping outside before either Mileena or varbu could respond.
Varbu was forced to stop her from following him. “He can handle it himself he has good armor and he won’t be in too much danger if he takes care of it quickly,” said Varbu reassuringly.
Akira could barely see even a foot in front of him due to the sand that was being flung everywhere by the wind.
The light of the sun was gone and the wind was sharp and cold. He could hear multiple system messages popping up as he searched the ground near the tent nearly half blind. He was able to find the portion of the tent’s support that had been torn out by the wind.
Akira struggled to walk to the stake and rope and pulled it taunt again before hammering it back into the ground.
He made sure to check the other stakes to make sure they were secured before returning back to the tent and fastening the flaps.
He sat down and drank a health potion due to the pain and numerous cuts he had received from the sharp wind and sand, healing his wounds in seconds.
“The last few days have been expensive, using the potions to clean the poison, healing the wounds from the large bird attack, and now this,” said Akira with an unhappy expression on his face.
Checking the message windows he found that he had received over 10 points into his endurance stat.
They were forced to wait a long time as the sand storm raged outside their tent. All the stress and weariness got to Akira and he dozed off for a few minutes but was woken up every once in a while when he thought he heard shouts or cries coming from the outside but was uncertain due to the wind instantly swallowing any and all noise as it howled past.
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Varbu shook Akira’s shoulder waking him when the sandstorm had passed and the wind died down. passed and the wind died down.
Akira who was next to the entrance unfastened the flaps of the tent and was bombarded with an avalanche of sand rushing into the tent coming up to his knees.
A large amount of sand had piled up on and around the tent from the storms fierce winds. He was forced to dig his way out of the tent and make a path for Varbu and Mileena to exit.
As he stepped outside he looked around and saw the sun was sinking but shining just as bright and hot as before the surrounding area looked as calm and clear as if there had been no storm at all.
With the help of Varbu and Mileena, Akira finished removing the sand from Varbu’s tent and folded the canvas before cramming it back into his bag.
The tents and wagons of the other merchants and guards were similarly covered with large amounts of sand.
Akira Varbu and Mileena went around helping clear paths to the tents opening’s to help the occupants to exit.