Kokoi and Yemo had received their orders from the council elders, and now had to plan for the journey a head.
Their instructions were simple enough. Journey to villages over a considerable distance from the city and report back on the well-being of the council’s subjects in each village.
Yemo and Kokoi began their trek the following day at dawn. The council required them to take the shortest journey through the surrounding forests. This would lead them to the few sparsely populated villages on the other side. The first village they encountered had only the remnants of a civilisation which had long gone and had probably migrated to the bigger towns and cities. However the second village some miles further was different. It was barren but their tracking skills revealed someone was still living there.
As the pair emerged from a forest edge, they made their way over towards the huts in the middle of a clearing. At first they could see no one, but it didn’t take long before shadows began appearing with-in the huts. Kokoi moved closer to Yemo who was the eldest and the most experienced of the two, and Yemo encouraged her to stick real close.
Yemo began to speak loudly and requested that the leader of village show themselves, so she may memorise and bring word to the council. Some of the dark shadows retreated back into the huts whilst others began to approach.
Both rangers looked at each other when they saw the leader, who approached in a crouched manner as if unable to use her legs to stand upright. The leader was a female-Nyem and she turned her head nervously, as if to check behind her as she squatted away from her hut into the open space before them. Yemo, observed the leader as she approached and noticed the scars on her body.
Yemo enquired about them and the leader replied, telling her that, they had unwelcome visitors. She went on further to explain that marauders ravished their small village some years ago and still emerge from the shadows, from time to time. They raped the women, killed the men and forced survivors into slavery. Those women, who had survived the pillaging, gave birth to diseased offspring. The offspring could only be nourished by the blood and flesh of others. Some young didn’t even wait to be born, instead they ate their way out of the mother’s womb.
Yemo thought, a shocking story to be true, but why don’t they walk upright, she puzzled. The leader continued her story. After the marauders had left, the remaining villagers began digging tunnels underground where they could stay hidden from the next attack. The tunnels were short and narrow and built by those with no experience. All their engineers were dead or dying. As a result they found standing upright again, very difficult and painful.
The leaders tone of voice sinisterly changed and as she continued her story the Tribal Rangers sensed something was dreadfully wrong. Shadows were stalking in the nearby forest. As if synchronised by telepathy they both turned to meet their attackers charging towards them, it was a trap, and fell for for it.