Private Tales A Murder of Crows

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Namidre did little or nothing to deserve her bad reputation. She had gone to private places to practice her cosmic magic to avoid doing anyone harm, but when someone saw her, the news spread far and wide that the blue-skinned elf with the star-filled hair cast magic of such cold that it left nothing alive. Not entirely a lie, but not entirely true either. Regardless, she, an innocent, frightened young elf, was hailed as a monster. And she could do nothing about it.

Villages began to fear that she’d freeze the land, and keep their crops from growing, and sent word for help. Asking for mercenaries and bounty hunters to bring this monstrous witch in or kill her. She had never felt more alone, but that didn’t matter, she was an outlaw, a menace despite her true intentions and actions. She hid away in the mountains, hoping that it would go away within a few years so that she might return to the human world and start anew. It was hopeful, but not necessarily guaranteed. But she was an elf, she could wait.

But she wasn’t prepared for what came for her. She didn’t know what to expect, but she definitely didn’t expect him.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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Following the decimation of Bhathairk and his subsequent quest to purge the plague of the city - which was ultimately undertaken by those more capable - he'd departed from that wounded land. He had done all he could, and now he had his own wounds to tend to.

It was less often now that he felt the emptiness his severence from the collective had caused in him, but still his dreams were besieged by images of a bloody past - and a more terrible future, one he hoped was only the remains of a vile and terrible lie. He hoped to merely be trifling with his own personal curse, beset him by his once mentor: Anur, now the Fell Elf.

But even as he sought to find the answers to his own dismay, he hearkened onto that of others. Word of a great and terrible witch who threatened to grasp land and life in a frozen hold reached him, and bound to even the oldest of his oaths he was compelled to investigate. This led him to Balgradi, a small village in the shadow of the mountains. There he heard tales of the blue-hued elf, but saw no signs of her apparent terror in anything other than the eyes of those who beseeched him. It was curious, but perhaps the woes of her evil magic were to be found elsewhere.

For a time he dwelt in the village, attaining what information he could about her possible whereabouts. Though some details differed, one thing remained consistent: she had headed for the mountains, and after a time, he set out after her, climbing higher into the cold.

And with his mind he searched, grasping weakly out into the winds in search of her. Searching for her hatred, her malice. But distantly, he found something far different, and vague. Uncertainty, perhaps? Fear?

He felt little else, so that way is where he went.

 
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It wasn’t just fear, though there was some of it there. She was definitely afraid to some degree, but more than that she felt alone. It was likely this lonliness that he sensed. She was currently out in a small glen, trying to suppress the emotions that threatened to overwhelm her by distracting herself with her magic. She practiced casting the spells she knew, the Absolute Zero spell, Comet, Cosmic Fire and the like.

When he caught sight of her, the stars would be in the sky. When he got close enough to attack her, or approached her her eyes would briefly flash white, then when normal again widen in fear. She turned around slowly to face him. “Hello?”
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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As he drew near, his perception of what lay ahead became more clear. But, regardless of what he detected, he was wary to trust it so wholly. There were many a creature that could manipulate their own minds to display a false narrative, but too there were far more who could not. However, a witch of these alleged descriptions could very well be capable of such a feat.

He would need to be cautious, because if that were so then she very likely may have been able to detect him just as well.

But this would prove untrue. He found her, hidden away in a small and long valley, casting her spells upon the land. Apparently, it was as the people had described - she sought to curse these lands with her frozen magic... a most strange thing to pursue in these parts, which come winter would be blanketed in snow on their own.

He approached, slowly. His hand found the hilt on his left hip, ready to draw.

She stopped, and slowly turned her head to see him.

And he, several meters to her flank, also stopped, ready to lunge at her.


His expression hardened, and he replied with a harsh voice, "be still. What purpose do you serve?"

 
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"be still. What purpose do you serve?"
“What do you mean what purpose?” She asked, fearful of him. “I simply seek to perfect my magic away from those who have misunderstood it. My purpose is to learn, nothing more? And what is your purpose? What did they send you to do? Kill me or drag me to them on a leash.”

She made no attempt to attack him, but it was clear that she was getting ready to flee if it proved necessary. And if he were attuned to magic, he’d detect her collecting some in preparation for casting should it prove necessary, though her true intention remained hidden away from him unless he could see into her thoughts in addition to her emotions. She was nervous, certain that should he prove hostile she’d have to flee quickly.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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Indeed, he could sense the well of her magic begin to stir, but beyond the vague sense of her emotions he could not read much else - not at will, not anymore. But she as yet did not attack as he would have expected, but still, he remained cautious. He kept his sword at his side, but his hand never left its hilt. His stance did not change, nor did his expression. But he did not move to attack either, not yet.

"It is said you seek to rule the lands, to curse them and enslave its people. Many say you are a great danger. Some wish you brought in, many wish you dead.

Is this why you practice your magic?"


 
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"It is said you seek to rule the lands, to curse them and rule its people. Many say you are a great danger. Some wish you brought in, many wish you dead, say you will bring great calamity.

Is this why you practice your magic?"
That’s what they think? She thought to herself. “No. No I’d never do anything like that. I practice magic because that is what I know. I have always practiced magic, but the humans were suspicious of me because they had never seen my kind before. So I practiced my magic in private, in places like this, but I was seen and they became convinced I was a witch. So what are you going to do? Take me in, kill me, or what?”
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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There was a twitch of irritation that flashed across his face.

But of course: it was far from beyond the realm of impossibility for the humans to over exaggerate their fears. Quite often it was so for them with what they did not understand. And too, there was no fault in what she said - she was indeed alone here, far from anywhere her spells could cause harm. Though, to be honest, he too was wary of her, as he was also uncertain as to her heritage. True, he could see the distinct elven features, but her hues were unlike any he had seen.

"If indeed you pose no threat, then I have no quarrel with you. I bear no allegiance to the humans beyond their safety. Such is my duty. As for you, what is yours?"

There was more to this than she was revealing, "why is it you practice here, and not amongst your kin?"

 
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There was a twitch of irritation that flashed across his face.

But of course: it was far from beyond the realm of impossibility for the humans to over exaggerate their fears. Quite often it was so for them with what they did not understand. And too, there was no fault in what she said - she was indeed alone here, far from anywhere her spells could cause harm. Though, to be honest, he too was wary of her, as he was also uncertain as to her heritage. True, he could see the distinct elven features, but her hues were unlike any he had seen.

"If indeed you pose no threat, then I have no quarrel with you. I bear no allegiance to the humans beyond their safety. Such is my duty. As for you, what is yours?"

There was more to this than she was revealing, "why is it you practice here, and not amongst your kin?"

She was going to answer, but before she could her eyes flashed white again, giving off a slight shine. It was momentary, but it was there. And she turned suddenly to face the other way, and she wordlessly vanished, still there as her now heightened sense of fear told, but she was invisible. If he were keeping aware of the area around them, he’d sense another, someone else who came for her, this one far more malicious.

“Who is this who you’ve brought with you? And what is it you sought to gain by speaking with me only to have your friend shoot me in the back?”
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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The sudden light startled him, and his grip on the sword tightened and he began to draw it. And then she was gone, and even his eyes could not see her in the least. But he could still feel her presence nearby, only he could not tell if she remained still or had now moved, only that she was still close. But he did not expect another, his focus dedicated solely to her. A lapse on his part.

“Who is this who you’ve brought with you?..."

He whirled around, bringing the sword totally free from its sheath now. And it glowed dimly with blue light. He heard her say more, but he did not listen, instead he changed his focus out, but in the confusion his telepathy lost it's potency, and now even she had become undetectable to him.

"I came with no other," he replied, and finality in his voice.

And now he began to wonder just what he had gotten himself into. Was she to be trusted? Perhaps this newcomer? Perhaps none of them.

 
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If he were to look at the line of foliage roughly twenty feet away, he just might be able to make out a figure in a green hood with a bow in hand. He was motionless for a moment, but then seemed to lock on to something somewhere near where she had stood before, and the arrow was loosed.

She yelped in surprise and was suddenly visible again right where the arrow was headed. With her hand held out, she cast a spell that wasn’t visible, until the arrow bounced off of the air as though it hit something. What exactly she did was alter the magnetic field of the planet to reflect the iron tipped arrow away from her.

In response she conjured a shard of ice that launched towards the newcomer fast enough to leave a glowing blue tail of light. Sadly, her aim was inaccurate and reduced a tree to splinters as opposed to impaling the assassin, who reacted by speeding forth on light, nimble feet for the blue skinned elf, drawing a thin, curved short sword as they charged.

She panicked, and launched another comet, this one even more inaccurate to her dismay. The assassin was upon her.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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His eyes did find the would-be assassin, who must have trailed him to find this alleged witch quite so soon after he had. He'd have reacted to their shot had it been aimed at him in the slightest, but instead it sailed in the blue elf's previous known location - where she again became visible.

And, she made a most peculiar sound. It was not one of rage or vengeance, but fear and anxiety.

His doubts about the charges against her diminished even more, and he felt it his obligation to ensure certainty before allowing this attacker to continue.

"Enough," he hollered, but still the assassin advanced on her. Very well.

One way or the other, he had been the first to find her and he would be the first to bring about judgement should it prove warranted. With this in mind, he advanced, and with the gift of his elven agility he quickly brought himself between Namidre and her attacker. With a flash of light similar to her own, which came from his sword and burned in his eyes as white flame, from the ground before him sprang up the Pillar of Tychan, a barrier of energy bearing the likeness of fractaled glass.

Once again he declared, "enough!"

 
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The assassin proved very skilled, even against the elf man’s magical weapon. He seemed to disappear from view when the burst of light happened, his green cloak keeping him easily blended in with the environment. But he didn’t attack again, but instead spoke from seemingly nowhere. “You can’t protect her forever. That witch will face justice, and so will you.”

No more sign of him, and no way to trace him with Eren’thiel’s emotion sensing. Either he was good at suppressing his emotions or he had left. Either way, he wasn’t going to attack again immediately after that when their guard was up. They were safe for now.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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He frowned, looking out into the night with contempt. He did not respond to the assailant's words, and after a sustained silence he was content to believe they were safe. At least for now. And from now on, carefully would he keep his ears trained on the surround, and not so easily would he be eluded.

He turned to see her again, and as he did the Pillar broke, and descended into nothingness upon the ground.

He looked at her with a curious stare, one eyebrow raised higher than the other. From the display he'd just bore witness to, it was obvious she was far from the malevolent sorceress he had been led to believe, she couldn't even compose herself to properly defend.

"Why are you alone? Where are your people?"

 
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"Why are you alone? Where are your people?"
Gone, the assassin was gone for now. But she couldn’t rest easy, his word scared her, and she knew he was serious. Then the other elf asked her a question that cut into her heart. “They, cast me out. I was too eager to learn, and I learned something I wasn’t ready for, and in my careless haste I tried to cast it, and it killed my brother.”

She looked away from him. “And so I’m exiled, I can’t go home, not until a century has passed. I had hoped that I might be able to be a part of human society somehow, until my exile was over.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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It was a terrible thing, to be made seperate from your own kind. He knew this, maybe better than most. His expression softened, and the memory of the battle he'd waged against former friends in the valley near the Gilded Vale brushed by. He stood more passively, and sheathed his sword.

"I too, know this sorrow," he said, an empathy unusual in him breaking through, "but it is folly to believe life among the humans will offer safety. They are a fickle lot, with few exceptions I have found."

 
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"I too, know this sorrow," he said, an empathy unusual in him breaking through, "but it is folly to believe life among the humans will offer safety. They are a fickle lot, with few exceptions I have found."
“I’ve seen as much.” She said with a sad grimace. “I’m sorry to trouble you with my problems. May I go?”

She had tried to suppress the welling sadness in her chest, only partially successful. She had hoped that he’d let her go after this little incident, so that she might leave this place in peace, and seek shelter elsewhere, among other elves perhaps.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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The interruption had scattered his focus, and for the time being, his telepathy was an untrustworthy tool. But there was little need of it now. Had she wished to attack him, now would have been opportune, yet she did not. No, he was quite certain she had told him the truth.

"You may go if you wish, however..."

Erën did not betray the depth of his thought, only looking at her quietly for a moment. She was - however distant - of kindred blood. And she was frightened - rightfully so. More and more the lands grew perilous and the people untrusting, and in truth one could hardly blame them either.

What a twisted place, this world has become.

"...I would offer you my blade. It is likely if they sent even one more than me then there are several more who will come for you."


 
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"...I would offer you my blade. It is likely if they sent even one more than me then there are several more who will come for you."
She looked up into his face, skeptical about his offer, he was originally going to bring her in or kill her, but then again, he did defend her against the other hunter. So ultimately she was going to trust him, but she wasn’t going to ask him for his protection.

“Thank you for the offer, I won’t stop you from following me, but I won’t ask you to do it either. That’s up to you to decide. I think that I’ll head further into the mountains, where I’m less likely to bother them, and their more likely to think I’m gone. If you want to come, you’re welcome to.”
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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"It is... the least I could do."

He was pleased that it was he who had found her first. Whatever his original intent may have been, it was clear to him that she was not at all what the people had claimed, and now his duty was to her as an innocence as much as it would have been for them.

"There is Belgrath. The dwarves there are a sometimes harsh people, but they would not be so carelessly fearful. And there is a portal stone there."

He placed his hand upon his chest, and bowed his head, "I am Erën'thiel, forgive me - had I known your true nature I'd have never drawn my blade against you."

 
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"There is Belgrath. The dwarves there are a sometimes harsh people, but they would not be so carelessly fearful. And there is a portal stone there."
So information on a potentially less dangerous place to go. That was definitely useful, and something to thank him for. And a portal stone, which might prove useful but she had no place to go to in a hurry, save this mentioned dwarven settlement. “Thanks for telling me this, which direction is it in?”

He placed his hand upon his chest, and bowed his head, "I am Erën'thiel, forgive me - had I known your true nature I'd have never drawn my blade against you."
“There’s nothing to forgive Erën’thiel, you did what you though you had to. I can’t fault you for that.”
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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He nodded his appreciation, forgiven.

It was always a grevious act, standing against another elf. He was thankful that such a thing would not happen this night.

"I am honoured."

Then, straightening his back his eyes turned south.

"The city's gates are to the south, however... I've heard tell of another stone, east of here, on the western side of Crobhear Lake. It could take us directly to the city, if the story of its being are true."

 
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He nodded his appreciation, forgiven.

It was always a grevious act, standing against another elf. He was thankful that such a thing would not happen this night.

"I am honoured."
She didn’t know if he should have been honored, but she wasn’t going to disrespect him.

"The city's gates are to the south, however... I've heard tell of another stone, east of here, on the western side of Crobhear Lake. It could take us directly to the city, if the story of its being are true."
“How much time will the trip to the east add onto our trip south? If it’s a long way then would it not be best to go to the city on foot? I won’t pretend to know anything about this, I simply want to know which you think is best.”

She looked around the field nervously, still worried about more attackers. She wasn’t going to stay there much longer though, so she’d be out of the people’s hair, and hopefully they’d leave her alone.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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"If there is a portal stone there, then the journey east will likely spare several days, if not more, of travel," he replied.

As she looked around in uncertainty, he too cast his eyes out, looking carefully through the dark. But even more keenly, he listened... it had become quiet.

"We should go," he said, grasping the hilt of his sword, "we have lingered here long enough."


 
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"If there is a portal stone there, then the journey east will likely spare several days, if not more, of travel," he replied.
“Then I’ll trust your judgment, I’ll head east.” She said back to him. “I appreciate the help and directions Erën’thiel.”

"We should go," he said, grasping the hilt of his sword, "we have lingered here long enough."
“So you’ll accompany me? I suppose I would enjoy the company.” She says before looking up at the sky, then turning to face east, as guided by the stars, and began walking. The trek took them further into the wilderness, cutting cross country to avoid villages, but this would prove to be less easy than it first seemed.

She knew that there was one hunter after her, but in reality there were several more. Each of different calibers and intents. The first of these was a mercenary clad in chipped and scratched plate armor with a longsword, who ambushed them a few miles along.