Chapter 6:

A Secret Place

Tears of Wars: The Heroes are Born

Three days later…Bookmark here

The Rhino came to King Tertoro’s chambers and said, “It’s been three days! Looks like you can’t find him, King Tertoro. All right, I’ll take over from here!!”Bookmark here

King Tertoro pleaded, “N-Not yet, Rhino. Please give me some more time.”Bookmark here

The Rhino cut him off. “Hey!! I’m sick of your babbling. I’ll make sure to bring him back, but I can’t promise you he’d still be alive by then.” He laughed and walked away from King Tertoro.Bookmark here

The atmosphere was tense. Anxious, the king did not know what to do.Bookmark here

The Torto said, “Rhino, sorry if I’m being too forward. Can I bring the Young Master home in your stead?”Bookmark here

Confused, the Rhino said, “Will you be able to confront him, Torto? You’ll just be yelled at and told to come back here. Stay. Protect this kingdom from other lawbreakers,” he said as he exited the chambers.Bookmark here

“But let me come with you, Rhino. Maybe we’ll come up with a better solution.”Bookmark here

“You talk too much!! That’s not like you. A better solution?! You think my plan isn’t good enough, huh?! You dare defy me, Torto?!” the Rhino snarled as he moved closer to the Torto.Bookmark here

The Torto lowered his head and said, “No, I was just thinking that maybe we can bring the Young Master home without resorting to violence.”Bookmark here

“Torto!! How naive!! I told you to just stay and watch this kingdom!! Got it?! Or do I have to explain to you in a harsher way for you to understand?!” the Rhino said sternly.Bookmark here

The Torto answered slowly, “I understand, Rhino. All right, I hope the Young Master is well.”Bookmark here

The Rhino departed from the kingdom and went in search of Shinra. It was rare for him to leave the kingdom, but if he did, it meant that the problem at hand was serious.Bookmark here

Meanwhile...Bookmark here

Roman and the others continued to train together wherever they were.Bookmark here

“Hey, Kenue, try throwing your spear. I have to practice dodging ranged attacks,” Roman shouted.Bookmark here

Confused, Terry asked, “Roman, why must he be the one you train with? For ranged attacks, it’s better to train with me or Darma, right?”Bookmark here

“Exactly,” Darma said.Bookmark here

“It’ll be a walk in the park because both of you are weak. Kenue is way stronger,” Roman roasted Darma and Terry.Bookmark here

Without warning, Kenue hurled his spear at Roman’s head, but Roman managed to dodge it.Bookmark here

Roman was fuming. “Damn you, Kenue, you want to kill me, huh?! You bastard!”Bookmark here

Kenue replied innocently, “You wanted me to throw it at you, right? I did exactly what you told me to do.”Bookmark here

“I was talking to Terry. Why do you always attack me when I’m not ready, huh? You really want to kill me, huh? You want a piece of me?! Come at me, bro.”Bookmark here

“Roman, you get angry quickly. A man should be calm and not irritable. You suck,” Terry sneered.Bookmark here

“True that. Be a calm man like me,” Darma said.Bookmark here

“Calm like you? You look rather weak. A man must be strong and brave like me,” Roman smirked.Bookmark here

Once again, Kenue flung his spear at Roman from the side, but Roman ducked out of the way.Bookmark here

Aggravated, Roman shrieked, “Hey!! You bastard, I’ll kick your head. Get your ass back here!”Bookmark here

He chased Kenue, babbling on and on.Bookmark here

“Hey, have you guys been friends since childhood?” Kong asked curiously.Bookmark here

Terry described her encounter with Roman, “Roman and I met about a few months ago. He came to my village. At first, he was quiet and his eyes were full of hatred. I don’t know what happened in the past, but it must’ve been horrible.”Bookmark here

“Kenue is my younger brother,” Darma said.Bookmark here

“What about your friendship with Shinra? How long has it been?” Terry asked curiously.Bookmark here

Kong shared a little about his relationship with Shinra, “We’ve been friends for more than three years. One day, he came to the cave and talked to me. At that time, I was still lamenting over the death of my wife and child. I had locked myself in that cave for a while.”Bookmark here

Terry felt bad. “I’m sorry.”Bookmark here

Kong replied with a smile, “It’s okay, it’s been a long time.”Bookmark here

After chatting, they trained together to get stronger and stronger, since they could encounter monsters while looking for Shinra at any time.Bookmark here

Kong stood up and said to them, “All right, I’ll help you train so we can get stronger!!”Bookmark here

“What? Are you sure you can help me? I can beat you, you know,” Roman boasted.Bookmark here

“Yeah, right. You obviously attacked him from behind. If it weren’t for Darma and me, you would’ve become ground meat by now, you know,” Terry said.Bookmark here

“Argh. Fine, let’s train together. I’ll definitely get even stronger!!”Bookmark here

The five trained together. Kong told them some of the weaknesses of monsters, as told by Shinra. Shinra often chatted with Kong. Now they knew some of the monsters’ weaknesses. But still, even if they managed to take advantage of them, it required enormous strength and speed.Bookmark here

The monsters’ weaknesses:Bookmark here

The Croco’s weakness is their lack of intelligence, so they can be tricked easily.Bookmark here

The Wolfie’s weakness is their sense of smell. A strong scent will make it hard for them to attack, because they rely on 90% of their sense of smell. Their eyes cannot see clearly.Bookmark here

The Torto’s weakness is their soft abdomen.Bookmark here

The Sharkin’s weakness is blood. They have an acute sense of smell that allows them to detect blood from far away. It could be used to trap them instead because they love blood.Bookmark here

The Rhino’s weakness is currently unknown.Bookmark here

Shinra had never fought a Rhino either, so for the time being, their weakness was still unknown.Bookmark here

After training together on the riverbank, the next day they resumed their search to find Shinra and the villagers.Bookmark here

Meanwhile…Bookmark here

“It seems that your abdominal injury is still not fully healed yet. You still need a lot of rest. Take it easy,” the village head said.Bookmark here

“Yes, it seems that this wound is quite severe. This is all because of my carelessness,” Shinra said, hanging his head.Bookmark here

“We are all grateful that you went out of your way to warn us that the monsters were coming,” the village head said with a smile.Bookmark here

The monster had already found Kong’s whereabouts. Damn. Shinra was concerned about Darma, Terry, Roman, and Kenue. Still no word from them. I hope they’re all right.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, by the river…Bookmark here

“Hey, we went down this river, but we didn’t find anything. There are no traces of humans around here,” Roman said as he looked around.Bookmark here

Kong hesitated, then he said to Darma, “Are you sure, Darma? Do you think this is the right direction? Could they have moved by the river?”Bookmark here

“In general, humans live close to water sources because it’ll be easier to do many things: cook, bathe, drink, and so on,” Darma explained.Bookmark here

“I was thinking the same thing,” Terry said.Bookmark here

“I’m hungry,” Kenue said, holding his stomach.Bookmark here

“I’m hungry, too...” Roman said in a weak voice.Bookmark here

“Since it’s getting late, it looks like we’ll spend the night here. Let’s go find some food, fruit, or wild animals,” Terry said.Bookmark here

They then divided the tasks. “I’ll prepare the water and the fire,” Darma said, looking for dry tree branches for campfire.Bookmark here

“I’ll help you,” Terry offered to help.Bookmark here

Kong assisted with their preparations. “I’ll make a shelter from twigs, leaves, and tree trunks.”Bookmark here

Roman grumbled, “Am I the one looking for food? Do I have to go with the remainder?”Bookmark here

He stole a quick glance at Kenue and facepalmed. Kenue looked up at him innocently.Bookmark here

Then, Roman went looking for food with Kenue. “Oh, never mind. Let’s go, Kenue. Let’s hunt wild animals. Yaha!”Bookmark here

While they rested, the Rhino kept walking and getting closer to them. He followed his sense of smell because monsters have a keen one.Bookmark here

After leaving the kingdom, the Rhino went along the river, searching for Shinra’s scent because the Wolfie had not had the time to tell him the whereabouts of the villagers and Shinra. He traced the scents of several humans. It was the scent of Roman and the others. He was suspicious and wondered why there were several human scents and one monster’s scent by the riverbank.Bookmark here

In the Sacred Hawk Kingdom, after the Rhino left...Bookmark here

The Torto was really worried about Shinra. He urged King Tertoro to give him an order. “King Tertoro, please give me an order to fetch the Young Master. I will bring him home safely, even if my life is at stake. Please, I do not want anything bad to happen to him,” he said in a trembling voice.Bookmark here

King Tertoro granted his request. “All right, Torto, I command you to bring him home. I know it’s selfish to say. Please save him. I know the Rhino’s out there. It’s unlikely that he’ll survive. However, I want him to live to lead and heal this kingdom because I believe he can definitely run this kingdom better than me.”Bookmark here

The Torto was happy. He smiled and said, “Understood, King Tertoro, I will go save the Young Master.”Bookmark here

He rushed off to find Shinra. He wanted to find Shinra first before the Rhino did.Bookmark here

Roman and the others had been walking down the river for three days. They saw a small village that Shinra and the villagers had also visited the day before.Bookmark here

Roman saw several houses from afar. “Hey, there’s a village. Let’s go there,” he said, excited.Bookmark here

Darma also saw the village. “Whoa, it’s a village, but there doesn’t seem to be a single soul there.”Bookmark here

“Are you sure? How come? The distance is about 200 meters,” Roman said, perplexed.Bookmark here

“Let’s go there. Maybe there’s something we can find,” Terry said as she walked slowly toward the village.Bookmark here

They investigated the village. It looked fine. The buildings were intact. There was no sign of a fight there. However, they found something interesting.Bookmark here

Kong whiffed something. “I smell Shinra, though faintly.”Bookmark here

Terry found a uniform in one of the rooms. “Look, a uniform worn by the royal army. Does this belong to Shinra?”Bookmark here

Kong replied confidently, “It’s Shinra’s.”Bookmark here

“Are you sure, Kong?” Darma asked, doubtful.Bookmark here

Kong recognized the uniform by its smell. “Yeah, I can smell it.”Bookmark here

Roman was getting pumped. “Woohoo... We’re getting closer. Let’s go right now.”Bookmark here

Suddenly, Kong sniffed a monster’s scent. “Wait!! I also smelled a monster, though faintly. It’s a Torto!!!”Bookmark here

Roman was bewildered. “What? What level is that??”Bookmark here

Terry answered, “Level 3. What’s a Torto doing here, huh? Could it be that he was sent to kill Shinra? But where are the villagers?” Terry started to panic.Bookmark here

Darma thought for a moment as he calmed Terry down. “Don’t worry, I’m sure the villagers are fine because there’s no trace of a fight. There’s something odd about the sequence of events here. Shinra’s uniform is neatly folded. There’s no way a monster would do such a reckless thing, leaving evidence behind. And is it possible for Shinra to take off his clothes first before fighting?” he said, puzzled.Bookmark here

“You’re right. Something seems odd,” Terry said.Bookmark here

Kong found another oddity. “Shinra’s and the Torto’s scents were not heading toward the kingdom. Could the Torto take him somewhere?”Bookmark here

Roman could not wait to meet Shinra. He said, “I don’t know either. How about we immediately follow Shinra’s scent and ask him.”Bookmark here

Two days ago...Bookmark here

The Torto ran through a shortcut. He was convinced that Shinra had gone to that place, the place Shinra’s sensei had told him before. There was a sanctuary behind a waterfall. It housed a cave large enough to shelter at least 100 people.Bookmark here

I know you must go there, Young Master.Bookmark here

Shinra and the villagers found an abandoned village. They spent the night there.Bookmark here

Shinra talked a lot with the villagers. Suddenly, he recalled something. “Ah, yes, I remember. I’ll take you all to a safe place behind a waterfall. There’s a cave big enough to shelter all of us. I’ve never been there, but that’s what my sensei said. We’ll be safe, because it’s hidden behind a waterfall. Because the place is damp, monsters won’t be able to smell it. There’s also a river there.”Bookmark here

The villagers were happy and wanted to hurry to that place. “Whoa, let’s go,” they said.Bookmark here

The village head agreed. “All right, it is much better than wandering from place to place,” he said with a smile.Bookmark here

But the next morning the Torto appeared in the village.Bookmark here

“Please forgive us. Don’t kill us!!” the villagers said, frightened.Bookmark here

The village head came out and saw what happened. “What happened? Please do not hurt them. I will take full responsibility. Just take me!” he begged.Bookmark here

The Torto asked them, “Where’s Young Master Shinra? I smell him here.”Bookmark here

Shinra came out of his room and said, “What do you want? Do you want to kill me too, like the Wolfie? It’s okay, I can fight even if my wound hasn’t healed yet. I’m ready to fight you now!!”Bookmark here

“No, Young Master, I just wanted to help you. The Rhino is hunting you. I followed him to the place you told me about before,” the Torto replied, bowing.Bookmark here

About 15 years ago, when Shinra was a child…Bookmark here

“Torto, my sensei said that there’s a safe place to hide from the monster, behind a waterfall. There’s a huge cave. If I went there, you should come with me because you’re a good monster,” little Shinra said.Bookmark here

Currently…Bookmark here

“When I was heading to that place, I sniffed the Young Master’s scent. So I just followed you and here I am. I reckon the Rhino trailed the scent of several humans passing through the river. I also detected their scents around the river,” the Torto said.Bookmark here

“No!! Could it be Roman and the others?!” Shinra said frantically.Bookmark here

Shinra did not know that Kong was also coming with the four of them.Bookmark here

Anxious, Shinra said, “We have to find them before the Rhino catches up to them!!”Bookmark here

“But Young Master, we had better take the villagers to that place first. Then we come back to fetch them. If we leave the villagers and something happens to them, your friends will be furious with us, young master.” For a split second, the Torto felt someone was following him. I feel like I’m being followed, but who is it? The Sharkins?! Ah, now I have to focus!! I won’t tell them so they don’t panic.”Bookmark here

Shinra agreed and said to the Torto, “All right, let’s take the villagers to that place, then we’ll fetch them.”Bookmark here

In his haste to leave, Shinra forgot the uniform he took off.Bookmark here

Two days after Shinra had left the abandoned village, Roman and the others arrived. Then, they spent the night there and continued their journey the next morning. They followed Shinra’s scent. However, sometime after leaving the village, Kong stopped, confused.Bookmark here

“Hey, what’s wrong, Kong? Where should we go?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know. The scent’s gone,” Kong said, dumbfounded.Bookmark here

“What?? How come??” Roman asked. He was disappointed.Bookmark here

Darma explained to them, “The ground is wet. It might’ve rained earlier.”Bookmark here

Roman grumbled, “Damn. Even though we can meet Shinra and the villagers soon. But I wonder what the Torto did to Shinra. Hmm…”Bookmark here

“What do we do? Should we just go ahead?” Terry asked, confused.Bookmark here

Darma mulled it over for a moment and said, “Did they go to the other side of the river? Is it possible?”Bookmark here

“Are you serious? No way. Why bother going across the river, huh? Was it because they knew that the Rhino was after them? So they went across this river?” Roman asked, puzzled.Bookmark here

“Right, it’s possible that the Torto told Shinra to cross the river so that their scent wouldn’t be discovered. Luckily it was raining. They could’ve used the opportunity to cross the river to mislead the Rhino,” Terry explained.Bookmark here

“All right, let’s go across the river,” Kenue said.Bookmark here

“I don’t know, but it’s possible,” Kong said, feeling strange.Bookmark here

Roman said enthusiastically, “Okay, let’s go across the river. Yoohoo...”Bookmark here

They moved even further away from Shinra. They went toward the border barrier instead. But behind them, the Rhino was getting closer!Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.