Everyone was flying. This was enough for Riley to know that the winter-infested hamlet he finds himself in was not in a strict 'No Fly' zone. Or perhaps it still is, and these… tribe of tall women just do not care.
He even found himself inside a cage, a literal cage—thick metal bars on every side. Riley already tried to bend one earlier, but even with his full physical strength, the most he did was leave a dent the size of a worm.
"..." Aside from Diana's ship, Isn't this the first time Riley was actually touching and seeing processed metal from Theran up close? If this was on Earth, wouldn't this be considered some sort of metal from the mythologies?
There were also other cages around him, some even hanging from the large trees that were randomly scattered across the settlement—the only cage that actually has someone in it was his, though.
"..." And as Riley brushed his finger through the snow resting on the cold metal bars, he realized he got distracted again. Based on his observation, there were at least 50 of them here—not a single themarian male in sight.
Esme is still the tallest themarian that Riley has ever seen, but these women come close, with all of them taller than Riley. Was Esme's mother from this… tribe? The Varoif king did have many wives, after all.
They were also talking in a language that Riley barely recognizes. Some words sounded like they were from the global themarian language… is it a dialect?
Was it really some sort of tribe? Riley only assumed because of what they were wearing—barely anything. Their bosoms and waist were covered by coats of fur and leather, scarcely decorated with bones… and that was it. All of them were even barefoot. The color of their skin varied, however, from the darkest of tone, to even as white as Riley's.
Their houses were made with stones stacked on top of each other, some even literal ribs of giant monsters.
The Themarian civilization has already existed for millions of years—how could there even be a tribe like this? And it was not like most of Varoif and Hel at all, in which even though their infrastructure and way of life seemed olden, their cutting-edge technology still clearly exists around them.
But here? There was not even a single mesphere in sight.
"My name is Riley Ross."
And finally, after what seemed like an entire hour of observing these tall, well-endowed women, Riley spoke,
"I believe it will be in all of your best interests to have me released."
The women all stopped whatever it was they were doing as they all turned their heads toward Riley—all of them—even those that were far away. But as soon as the next snowflake joined its companions on the ground, the women once again returned to their tasks, all except one.
"..." The woman standing right in front of Riley's cage remained looking at him; her silver eyes which seemed even more translucent than Riley's looked at him from head to toe. Her dark skin and jet-black hair, making her eyes glow even more—almost like a wolf as she very slowly approached Riley.
"You are the one who trespassed in our lands to be caged," the woman spoke; her voice, somewhat deep but still feminine,
"And yet you wish to be released?"
"...Fair point," Riley squinted his eyes as he nodded, "But perhaps the fact that I was and still am lost could be considered? All the holes underground look the same."
"No," the woman only scoffed as she placed her hand on one of the bars, causing all the snow wrapping Riley's cage to shower to the ground and on Riley,
"We have already warned Varoif and the Grand Militia that no one should trespass in our lands. Did you not see the large sign when you entered the hole from the Subtheran?"
"..." Riley blinked a couple of times as he tried to recollect his memories, but no matter how many times it resurfaced in his mind…
"There was no sign."
"No sign?" The woman raised her voice as she puffed out her chest; her large bosoms, etching between the gaps of the cage as she did so. But after a few seconds of literally looking down on Riley, the woman took a step back before shouting.
One of her tribesmen quickly appeared in front of her; the two, talking about something with their loud and robust voices. And after several exchanges of words that Riley could not understand yet, the other woman flew into the air, before diving down the hole back to the Subtheran.
And as quickly as she disappeared, she emerged from the hole and once again approached the dark-skinned woman that was talking to Riley.
And then, all of a sudden, a loud thunder cracked in the air as the dark-skinned woman suddenly punched her tribesmen right on the stomach, causing all the snow around them to melt and ripple away from the shockwave.
Everyone turned to look and watch as one of their own started groveling on the ground; her gasps, drowning the sound of her regenerating flesh and bones. And before the woman could fully recover, she was kicked away. And if she wasn't caught by her comrades in the air, she would probably be outside Theran territory by now.
"..." Riley thought that a fight was about to break out, but no. He just watched as the other women once again turned their heads away, getting back to their chores as if nothing happened. Even the one that was brutally hit in front of everyone just sighed and shrugged as she sat on the ground to recover.
Perhaps… the dark-skinned woman was their leader?
"You were right," the tribe leader then said as she returned to Riley.
"I suppose so," Riley nodded as he stepped forward. But alas, the gate he expected to open remained closed,
"That still does not change the fact that you trespassed into our home. And men are not allowed here," the tribe leader once again scoffed as she looked Riley in the eyes,
"You are a man, correct? Your hair is even longer than ours."
"I have grown attached to it," Riley only blinked as he looked at his long white hair that almost resembled the snow, "Are you sure you do not want to just free me, tribe leader?"
"Tribe leader?" The dark-skinned woman smirked, "There are no leaders here, only warriors—as how it should be."
"..." Riley once again scanned his surroundings. A tribe devoid of any technology, where the strongest rule, as well as no allegiance to the Grand Militia and any of the nations… and all women.
Were they some sort of Themarian purists?
Themarian women, after all, are stronger than their male counterparts. They are the true warriors of the Themarians.
Doesn't that mean… these women could be as strong or even stronger than Aerith?
"..." Riley squinted his eyes as he looked at the tribe leader. He was already thinking of forcing his way out… but what if he can't?
There were more than 50 of them here. If all of them are stronger than James, then Riley will definitely lose.
"What is your name, tribe leader?" Riley then sighed as he returned the tribe leader's gaze.
"Then…" Riley then gently removed his coat, folding it as he placed it on the ground,