ATCv1 #21 of 25

12 03 2008

Please note that posts in this category belong to the old, discontinued version and as such will not any updates nor corrections.

The position was perfect; he could easily oversee most of the village
from here. Not that Elias was especially keen on watching the mass of
half rotten bodies, but it surely beat being among them. This way it
was much easier to find his target as well.
With a satisfied smile Elias noticed that this had to be the
very spot the Azanee girl had been lying in the night before. If he
couldn’t find someplace better then there probably wasn’t. A promising
pupil. Tactic classes were bound to get interesting.
Finally there was a distinct movement as the crowd gave way to
the temple’s doors, forming a half-circle around them. Slowly they
opened and then, finally, the the priest’s remains shuffled outside.
What was left of him looked bad enough individually, but Elias had
been prepared for that. What he hadn’t been prepared for was the crude
sewing job that held them together. Even considering the fact that he
had to sew himself up, it would have made any tailor cry in agony, and
actually Elias could have sworn that he heard some of the undead do
exactly that, though it was hard to tell with all the groaning. Well,
they wouldn’t have to endure it much longer.
He took out his crossbow and fitted the two pieces together.
It wasn’t as elegant a weapon as a proper bow, but it did its job and,
taken apart, fitted in a bag. He pulled the sinew into place. Of
course, bows also allowed for a much higher fire frequency, but he
needed only one shot. Carefully Elias fitted the bolt onto the
crossbow, aimed and fired.

The bolt hit the priest directly in his chest. It didn’t hurt, of
course; he was dead after all. Maniacally laughing he pulled it out,
but just then he realized that there was actually blood coming from
the wound. He was breathing, only to cough up more blood; he was
feeling only to have the cold wash through his body; his heart was
beating again, only for his pulse to grow weaker and weaker. He died a
second time, a last time, and as his borrowed life left him, so it
fled the bodies of his undead servants and they all together sank to
the ground like puppets whose strings had been cut. The tip of the
deadly bolt gleamed in the last rays of the sun, drawing attention to
the small piece of black metal attached to it; a splinter of a
dagger’s blade.

‘Rest in peace.’
He hurled the small magical light at the inn; it didn’t look
spectacular, and even through the night was barely illuminated by the
crescent moon above, Elias could only just follow it with his eyes.
There wasn’t much to see anyway and he preferred to be at a safe
distance. The light reached the house’s wall and vanished.
Nothing seemed to happen for about a quarter of an hour. Many
would have lost their patience, but Elias knew that going into the inn
and risking a look at how things were was the kind of mistake you made
only once. Patience was they key; after all he had only cast a small
magical flame and none of these destruction spells that could have
turned the whole village into ashes. Instantly.
The Order never used destructive magic. Well, sometimes they
did, but only on a scale of killing a mosquito. There have always been
people who thought to be all powerful mages on the grounds of knowing
the odd major destruction spell, but as they say: If you want to know
about destructive magic, don’t seek the masters, seek the dead. And
there are a lot of dead mages who considered themselves experts in
that discipline.
The thing about magic is, it tends to backfire. A lot. The
more complex the spell the higher the chance it fails, if you are
lucky, or backfires. The latter leads to a variety of very obscure
magical accidents, but the effects are only temporary and you can
always give it a second try if it didn’t work the first time. If you
try to fry a rat you might end up with a nasty burn, if you try to lay
a village into ashes you’d better get yourself an urn first. There are
really nice ones with flower patterns and the like.
Elias was interrupted by the inn going up in a huge ball of
fire, turning the whole village into a sea of flames. He smiled;
simple and efficient and much better than having to bury all the
corpses. All you needed was a cellar full of highly inflammable
spirits; who said alcohol couldn’t provide for an illumination.

It was pitch black and the air was filled by moist heat of the kind
that made it impossible to distinguish between sweat and condensed
steam; you only knew it was pouring down your body in streams.
However, even the moisture couldn’t bind the heavy sweat smell of
herbs dominating the place.
Slowly a pair of eyes opened, as if their owner was awaking
from a deep sleep, a sleep having lasted for ages. With all their
might they tried to penetrate the darkness, but eventually had to give
up; there was nothing but blackness. Time passed.
A memory flashed up and went past; a couple of blurred
pictures, emotions, impressions. A faint memory of snow. Warm,
comforting, deadly. Someone lying next to her. A wolf tugging at her
clothes, speeding away. Arms picking her up. The thought faded away
into darkness and Laiva let it go. She had a sensation of perfect
peace. She didn’t care where she was or how she got here; she only
wanted things to stay the way they were.

Another cloud of snow flakes blew right into Laiva’s face, but it
didn’t cross her mind to turn away. She liked the way the wind played
with her hair, she liked the way the snow flakes settled on her tongue
and melted, when she caught them in her open mouth, she liked the way
they glistered in the last light of the day and she even liked the way
the cold stung on her skin. She took a deep breath and let the winter
air fill her lungs. It was as if she had never known snow before.
Everything felt so new, so exciting, so full of life; she felt full of
life, free. Laiva shivered.
It would be reasonable to get back into the warmth. It would
be the only right thing to do, especially after what she’d been
through, but she didn’t. Just a few more minutes; she wanted just a
couple more minutes before she had to go back in. A couple more
minutes of feeling alive.
Laiva let her eyes wander. Elven villages were build in a way
that just felt right – the platforms, the huts hanging between the
crown of the trees and the little bridges connecting them, everything.
It hadn’t been forced into the landscape, it didn’t hurt the harmony
of the place, rather nestled into the trees, hugging them. Even now,
without the green of the leaves it was so completely different from
her home village. It felt like an eternity since she had been there;
it felt like another life.

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4 responses

30 04 2009
joanofacre

Hi, found you through Muses success. I am wondering if you could add a Start here page or something, for first time readers?
Thanks

30 04 2009
emmel

Well, actually there is one which they should link to. But they don’t really seem to bother about that kind of thing just as they don’t care about putting up a synopsis, the correct genere and update schedule.
Of course it would be nice to have the sidebar on all the pages, but it’s hard to find the perfect theme at WordPress.com, and since I don’t make any money from this, paying for using my own is not really an option. OK, I did a few changes to the layout; hopefully that makes navigation easier. Tell me what you think.

6 05 2009
joanofacre

Hello Emmel, the changes look good. Thanks.

6 05 2009
emmel

Ah, good. I prefer light type on a dark background, but you can’t have everything…

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