Oxak Strongteeth never really liked exploring. Sitting in trunks while cooking some dead animal meat they hunted was extremely boring for him. Staying still in the same place while doing nothing productive was almost as bad as guarding. He needed action, and he needed it right now. But the day was particularly dull and the sky grey. No sun. He started to feel cold. The only distraction he could find was cleaning the blade of his lance repeatedly. He looked around at his fellow mates: they were probably extremely uninterested too. Scouting missions weren’t for him. The only one that seemed truly into it was the oldest of the scouting group, Q’uuz Darkeye, who was called like that because of the patch in his eye. Most of the Lacertilians were named after some distinctive physical mark on their bodies, like scars, an amputated limb, a rare eye colour, and so on. They believed that special physical attributes were the best to describe their companions, because they would always find something distinctive in each individual. Q’uuz also was the only one that seemed genuinely interested in scouting: of course, he was the best of the group and one of the most remarkable lacertilians of the community, but he was also slightly out of his mind. He always said that he enjoyed the idea of being alone before finding something terrifying, like during scouting, as this was a way to challenge his mind under pressure. That felt a bit extreme for Oxak, who was a blood thirst warrior, but also a great comrade. He enjoyed the idea of fighting alongside those of his kin, but, to each their own, he thought. Oxak stood up with his lance on hand when he recognized that the blade could not be cleaner. He started walking in circles around their camp to see the surrounding
territory, thinking about how much he could walk on his own before the evening arrives.
“Hey, where are you going?” a familiar voice shouted to him.
“To see what’s around. I won’t go too far.”
“You must learn to be more patient, Oxak. You are a good warrior, but patience is key to a great victory.”
“Having enemies to attack is also necessary to have a great victory, Q’uuz,” Oxak said with a slight hiss of sarcasm.
“Remember that we always must be together to survive. And the Arcanica is not a joke. They are strong rock men with ice powers. We can’t underestimate them.”
The Subterran Empire always seemed like a bunch of assholes to Oxak, but assholes with a lot of money and power, that was true.
“I think they will be busier thinking about their sacred city than paying attention to us.”
“Again, do not underestimate your enemy. That is not helpful when you are trying to find good treasures and rewards. You wouldn’t like to think that all this tedious wait that you hate so much was useless. If you were captured, that would have been a total waste of time an effort,” said the wise and older bastard, who had indeed a skill with speech.
“Assshk! You are right. I’ll wait, I didn’t say that I won’t. But I just want to stretch my legs around and see if I see something interesting. Is that also forbidden?”
“Right, you can go, but not too far. Remember that the leaders want us to respect our hierarchy order. And again, we must always be together to survive. Do you remember that, Oxak? The words of the medallion? Do you remember what it means?”
The medallion. A golden circular piece that every Lacertilian warrior had to carry. The black tribal symbols carved into the gold surface were blackened with the burnt blood of that lizard’s first slain enemy. It was one of the few objects that had historical significance for the Lacertilians, as they weren’t too attached to material objects nor anything that didn’t aid them with moving forward as a society. They were a gift that was passed through generations of warrior families. Oxak slid his hand through his only pocket and took it out to look at it.
“Unity, it means unity,” he said in a calmer voice. “I know. I just dislike scouting. I’ll just take a while.”
“Sure. If you lose your ration of meat tonight, that will be your fault,” then he tapped him over his shoulder, chuckling, and left.
The landscape was still a giant swamp and marshes of the putrid sulfuric odour he was used to. He walked through the bushes and the trees, trying to see if he saw something that called his attention. At least, back in Lacertilia, he thought. We can always see the sun. He really didn’t think that enemies would come that far, as this was still considered Lacertilian territory by outcasts, even though they have never been in this area. Probably they just assume that if there’s only one little swamp, and so that must be lacertilian territory. Anyhow, this wasn’t getting any better. While creeping through the forest, Oxak saw the running water of a river. His wandering feet naturally followed its direction. It was still all the same, the same insects, the same noises, the same yellow toads jumping around that he has been seeing all his life. Maybe the river could take him somewhere, or he could find some more meat for the following days. He walked and walked next to the river but found nothing.
Then, he stopped. He heard a faint noise from one of the bushes not so far from him, hidden by a wall of trees, behind him. He looked back, but the noise was not there anymore. He waited, on guard, with the lance on his hand. Nothing. He was pointing at the flora, aware of the smallest movement he could detect. He couldn’t have imagined it, could he? He looked at the ground for a second, to see if there was any other footstep apart from his, and in that moment, in that short but crucial moment, a white hooded figure jumped from nowhere. The next and last sensation Oxak Strongteeth felt was the cold metal cutting through his back, the ferric taste of blood in his throat, and a reddish paw grabbing the medallion from his loincloth and vanishing back into the trees.