Private Tales Bump In The Night

Draedamyr

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"Blood magic?" Draedamyr hissed.

Of course a dark elf would seek a practitioner of that most vile art during a fight. Draedamyr didn't advertise the fact that he knew a little magic. It was the domestic kind common amongst his people.

He could make a light, he could set a fire burning. He could also make a few common wards against spells given some time and a subject to be engraved.

His sensitivity would be useful if the mage turned around and started casting; he would know when to use the drow as a shield.

Draedamyr wasn't a brawler either, but he was quick. Given a little more slack he deflected the next blow and stepped into the space. The guard was at the perfect height for an elbow to the temple. He dropped hard.
 
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There was pure confusion on Vyx’s face at the elf’s response to blood magic. Wasn’t that a perfectly rudimentary school of magic? She filed the thought away for now, watching the man she had subdued turning blue. At long last, he stopped moving and went limp between her legs.

The drow glanced over right in time to see the other man collapse to the ground. With both men down, Vyx quickly scrambled over to yank a dagger and a crossbow off the man she knocked out. The weapons were worthless with them tied up, but it was better than nothing.

That was when she heard some commotion up ahead, suggesting that the cart had stopped and the mage was out. With a curse, Vyx quickly got to her feet.

“Come on!” She jerked the chain to hoist the other elf up. She began to run directly into the woods, the mage potentially hot on their trail. Of course, she had no way to tell when he was casting.
 
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Draedamyr

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He didn't like having to kill the guards. Yet he had killed for lesser offences. And they were normally on even footing with blade in hand, not with him scrabbling around with one hand chained to a violent drow.

If his guard didn't die of the strike to the head, hers looked to be quite dead. Like her, he grasped for weapons. He tucked several bolts into his belt and took the crossbow. He would have taken the sword but it was out of reach and they were out of time.

Draedamyr didn't want the drow to try and yank his arm from its socket again.

When they reached the first trees, the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end.

"Down," he hissed. Chains rattled as he shoved her between the shoulder blades as he dove and closed his eyes.

Lightning flashed overhead, splitting a tree. Draedamyr scrabbled over the drow without an apology and rolled to his back. It gave him enough free chain to lay the crossbow down the front of his body. He hooked his foot into the iron loop at the end and yanked back the string with both hands.

"We have to run! The bastard will have defensive spells."
 
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Vyx was in full sprint when the elf gave a vague warning and shoved her down. The shock from it and tripping over a low root were the only reasons the hulking drow toppled over and landed with a thud. She was about to elbow the elf in the face when lightning struck above. This was something the drow had never witnessed before, the brightness making her hiss and look away in pain.

They had to work in tandem as much as she hated it, and she didn’t waste time with arguing. She didn’t have time to prepare her crossbow, but she would rely on the dagger in her hand. Vyx was back on her feet, ignoring the pain from having taken a bolt to the shoulder.

The attacks kept coming - more lightning, and then it was followed by searing flames that threatened to ignite the entire forest. Vyx primarily relied on the elf for the run, her vision blurred from the sudden rays of light that pierced through the canopy.

They had choices ahead of them: keep running and face jumping down into a river in a valley below or hiding and trying to take the mage by surprise.
 
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Draedamyr

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Draedamyr stared down the slope towards the water. His gaze fell further, to the chains around them. If they went into the river, he couldn't imagine surviving whilst being chained to the drow. She had the knife. He expected she would readily use it to remove his hand if they sunk beneath the surface.

He knew their opponent. Under even optimal circumstances he would take time to plan an attack on the powerful mage. He always kept an array of defensive wards in place and timing was key to bring them down.

"Damnit," he hissed. He found the biggest rock he could that was close to the edge. He lifted it and shoved it with his foot to send it tumbling down. It made a serious noise, clattering into other boulders on the way before splashing into the water.

Pulling Vyx after him, he slipped through the trees parallel to the valley. Then he dropped to the ground, trying to keep the chains as quiet as possible as he turned around to look for the wizard. The lightning had stopped.

"If he comes this way we rush him," he whispered. At least they would face death head on if it came to it.
 
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Vyx didn’t want to vocalize just how out of her element she was. She felt the elf drag her down again, and she opened her eyes to allow them to adjust yet again. For now, the attacks from the mage had stopped.

Bandrell was in a great mood from having Draedamyr on the run. The bitter history ran long, and he was willing to burn the entire forest down to end him. The mage heard the boulder tumbling down and assumed the elves had jumped, and he promptly ran to the edge.

“DAMN YOU!” He shouted as he looked at the growing ripples in the water. He had wanted to kill the elf himself, his arrogance blinding him to the two hiding in the trees.

Once it was clear Bandrell was preoccupied, Vyx sprang from her hiding place when the surface elf gave the clear. She slammed into the mage, bringing her knife up to swiftly slash into his throat.

Or so she attempted.

With the chain between them, the elves were less than coordinated in their movements. Bandrell screamed and waved his arms about, promptly tripping over a low root. He grabbed onto Vyx’s arm as he tumbled backwards. Of course, since Vyx was attached to Draedamyr, this meant he was also yanked along for the ride.

The three toppled over the edge and fell the same way the boulder did...also knocking into a few boulders along the way. The entire time, Vyx attempted to hack and slash the mage repeatedly before they landed with a great splash.

Having been in the Underrealm for most of her life meant that she was a subpar swimmer, but she knew enough to get by. The strong river currents pulled her downstream, and she was completely disoriented until coming up to surface again.

By chance, she grabbed onto a protruding branch, quickly hoisting herself onto the bank. Vyx dragged the elf along, coughing and gasping for air as her silvery hair fell along her face like drapes.

“Is he dead?” She asked between gasps while being on all fours. She glanced around towards the water, not spotting the mage.
 
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Draedamyr

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Draedamyr was looking down at the chain around his wrist. He still couldn't believe she had dragged him out. Perhaps, he decided, she had lost her knife in the fall. Once she had the branch in one hand, he supposed she wouldnt have had a free one to remove his hand at the wrist.

Coughing up more water, he turned to look downstream. He couldn't see the wizard either. No shape on the water that could have been his form.

"Either dead or swept away," he replied, pausing between words to find air. "If he's a few hundred meters downstream he'll be out of spells and exhausted. We should see if there is a key."

If there wasn't, then it would be an interesting trip to a town where they could pay a smith to remove the shackles. They would probably have better luck asking a lock picker, but he didn't really know any of that sort of rogue.
 
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Vyx spat out more water before she slowly got to her feet. She doubted the mage would have the key, but it was their only option to look for now. The drow felt stabbing pain and remembered the wound from her shoulder. A quick glance revealed that it was still bleeding, though there was nothing she could do about it for now.

She began to walk towards where the mage may have washed up, keeping to the shade the trees provided. Every bit of this was new to her - having fallen into a river, the terrain she was walking on, the noises and smells, all of it. Every time a bird chirped or a squirrel rustled through leaves, she practically jumped and looked around.

“None of this would have happened if you just minded your own business,” Vyx said after a moment, though her tone was curiously missing the normal biting edge it normally held. She sniffed a few times before frowning.

“So many different smells and sounds…how do you ever find a path?” She was used to the dark dungeons of the Underrealm where everything smelled the same and new sounds were outliers.
 
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Draedamyr

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Draedamyr was trying not to find her jumpiness amusing when she made her wild accusation.

"You could have not tried to rob the cart I was sleeping in?"

He shook his head from side to side. His tongue might have held more venom but he almost felt sorry for the drow.

"Come on, he's not here. Might be one of the guards had the keys."

He looked up the slope. After everything they had been through he wasn't keen on the idea of climbing back up. It didn't seem that they had a choice in the matter.
 
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Vyx'aria

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Vyx scowled at him as he spoke, but actually held back her tongue for once. She hated this feeling of being completely soaked and having her hair matted to her body. Why was he entirely unfazed by this? Did surface dwellers make a habit of dipping into lakes and rivers and walking around wet all day?

The journey back up would take some time, and they would have to coordinate ways to climb certain spots. Vyx felt out of it from having to deal with the sun and also with a bleeding wound.

As they plodded along, she stopped for a moment, “I need food,” She announced abruptly. She left out the part that she felt weak, not wanting to appear vulnerable in front of the elf. With that, she walked towards some very bright berries that were obviously poisonous. Without knowing what they were, she began to reach and grab fistfuls.
 
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Draedamyr

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Draedamyr promptly slapped her hand. It made a particularly satisfying noise. It felt satisfying, even if he expected retribution.

"Poisonous," he hissed. "You would die. Slowly," he emphasised.

A stiff breeze shook the trees and cut right through his wet clothes and seemingly all the way to his bones. His teeth briefly chattered.

"The mage will have had a lunch hamper, trust me," he hissed, wrapping his arms around his chest and mentally bracing to get struck.
 
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Vyx’s eyes flew wide open as the elf slapped her hand. She wasn’t used to anything like this, and the very shock of it made her pause in silent bafflement. The berries awkwardly trickled down and plopped to her feet, and she could only gawk at the elf with wide, red eyes. She didn’t know whether to slap him or give him a lecture about remembering his place.

Eyes narrowing slightly, she abruptly shoved him to the side. However, she didn’t want to go down with him, so she jerked the chain right back. This was inconvenient for him, very amusing for her. The concept of someone saving her life was scary and confusing for her and she didn't know how else to react.

Vyx didn’t fare any better with the breeze, shivering as goosebumps lined her skin. This was all very new and irritating for her, but she wasn’t going to complain out loud.

The path began to curve upwards, but they would have to go through the forest again. It was the only way she could stay in the cover of the trees.

“Why was the mage hunting you?” She asked nosily, “You really are very unpopular with humans.”
 
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Draedamyr

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Draedamyr hissed as she yanked him back. She didn't pull all that hard, but the chains were chafing against his wrists now. He was already bleeding from both. Given the state of the manacles he was fairly certain he would need a cleric to deal with infection.

Picking a path back up the hill whilst sodden was hardly an enjoyable affair. They had to stay close the entire time too.

"Because I have hunted him before," Draedamyr explained. "Humans are reckless with magic. Sometimes so much that even their own kind want them stopped. That is when they pay me to deal with the problem."
 
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Vyx'aria

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Vyx was trying her best not to shiver, but the cool breeze kept biting into her skin like needles. Cold winds and breezes weren’t exactly common in the Underrealm and she wasn’t used to walking around with goosebumps lining her skin. Her teeth chattered lightly and she hugged herself as she walked.

“If you hunted him, why is he out and about chasing us?” She asked with a scowl. Vyx was about to chide him more when they came across a wide assortment of flowers and plants. She casually walked past them when her eyes began to water.

After a few seconds, she began to sneeze uncontrollably, her throat suddenly scratchy. Pollen rose through the air around them and she wiped her eyes.

“What is this sorcery?!” She stammered as she sneezed again, “The wizard lives! He is cursing me from afar!” AHCHOO!
 
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Draedamyr

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Draedamyr couldn't help himself. He wasn't prone to overreacting but he was mentally and physically exhausted. He laughed hard, shaking his head from side to side.

"That is not a spell, that is a smell. Flowers can make you sneeze, I suggest you do not put your nose in any more. And as to the wizard..."

His tone managed to smoothly transition from humorous to haughty and on to the defensive with barely a breath between them.

" I do not always catch my mark. In this case I did. Someone either pardoned him or he broke free. I would suspect the first one for a large amount of gold."
 
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Vyx was in the middle of wiping her nose when the other elf started laughing. Laughing? At her?! She could only scowl at him, “How- CHOO- dare you - AAa… aaa CHOO!” There was no getting any insults out at that moment. She quickened her pace, wiping her eyes and nose to get out of the insufferable field of deadly plants.

Once the sneezing attack stopped, she was still miserable and cold. She cast a sideways glance at the elf, pondering his words, “What makes you so specialized to hunt mages?” She asked, incredibly nosy. In fact, she wanted to take mental notes from being surrounded by drow mages at all times. She had been treated like a second class citizen for pursuing martial combat.

“Only mages can match mages,” She muttered quietly, revealing a bit of self doubt.

Up ahead, they would come across a hill that they had to climb. Much of it was very steep and would require them to work together to scale.
 
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Draedamyr

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The question caught him by surprise. It wasn't about the strange nature of the world. It wasn't a demand, threat or insult. It was a question about him.

"I have a touch of magic," he admitted. He slowed his pace and looked at the slope. It was, he reflected, lucky that they hadn't lost any limbs on the way down.

"I can sense its use. I can craft some basic wards. Those mages who most need stopping tend to burn through their power very quickly. It's about choosing your moment."
 
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Vyx'aria

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“So would you hunt a mage you cared about if the price was right?” She flashed him a grin, “You’d make a decent Drow then,” Drow weren’t known for their compassion and they did their job with methodical precision. She considered surface beings weak for their pathetic little ties to others.

Vyx came to a stop before the slope, gazing up and looking for grooves and edges to climb. It was almost entirely vertical and quite high. She grimaced as she looked up. Vyx was absolutely terrified of heights, but she wouldn’t ever admit that in front of the elf.

“Okay...this should be simple,” It was unclear whether she was talking to him or herself. She reached a hand up and started to pull herself up onto the lowest edge. Her movements were already less than coordinated and it would be obvious she was comically unprepared for this.

Draedamyr
 
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Draedamyr

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One eyebrow went arching up at the question. Draedamyr hadn't been expecting that to be asked. It made him wonder how the mind of a drow worked.

"The only person I loved who I hunted down was not a mage. No one paid me for that either," he said. There was a hint of strain in his voice.

Draedamyr had to follow quickly. There was very little slack in the chain. If her climbing was uncoordinated, it meant that following was just as awkward. Every time her right hand went up, so did his left.

"Slower!" he requested. "If you yank me off this I'll go pulling you down too."
 
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Vyx'aria

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Vyx stared at him in confusion, “I thought love meant you didn’t hurt that person. Or so I hear…” She shrugged,Drow don’t believe in such nonsense,” She had lived a long time and had never been in love. To her, the concept simply didn’t exist, or so she chose to believe. There were times in her childhood or earlier years where she had felt such stirrings, and they had been quickly quelled by her Matron.

She didn’t miss the strain in the elf’s voice, “I hear it stings worse than most weapons,” Vyx grumbled under her breath, not intending for him to hear.

As they climbed and he snipped at her, she gritted her teeth and turned to glare at him, “Shut up! I’m trying to concentrate!”

It was then that she glanced down and noticed the height. With a sharp intake of breath, she quickly looked away and closed her eyes. Vyx was completely frozen in place and didn’t budge an inch. She didn’t want to admit she was horrified of heights, but she also didn’t feel confident enough to keep climbing.

They were stuck.
 
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Draedamyr

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"Hah! You neither believe nor understand it if you think it means you don't hurt that person," Draedamyr replied. He tried not to think of the pain he still felt. Or of his final meeting with Ythris. The young man was supposed to have been his protege, not his greatest mistake.

Draedamyr waited for a few moments as the drow clung to the rocks. He leaned into the climb, trying to take as much of his weight on his legs as possible.

"Do you need to rest much longer?" he asked. For someone gathering her breath she was staying very still. "I'm sure we can climb back down and find an easier route."

She was stubborn and proud. He knew those traits too well. He wouldn't begrudge her finding a more gentle slope after the fall they had been through.
 
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Vyx'aria

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Vyx still didn’t move for a moment, feeling the cold winds brush against her still damp skin. Her grip was a bit slippery, and she couldn’t think of anything but the steep drop below. Her face pressed against the mountain and she could barely hear what the elf had to say.

“I’m not resting, you idiot!” She snapped back, frustrated more at herself than him. Vyx never learned the words ‘afraid’ or ‘fear’ in elvish, and they actually were rarely used in drow as well. She slowly opened her eyes and avoided looking at him.

“I….I’m….I am unable to,” She looked down and quickly closed her eyes again, furiously clutching against the mountain, “I can’t…” Vyx couldn’t outright tell him she was terrified, but it was becoming abundantly clear. She was seldom, if ever, put into such a position. To be afraid and in front of a surface elf of all things was a blow to her as a person.
 
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Draedamyr

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Draedamyr gave an exasperated sigh before finally finding some of his patience. She might have been intent on killing him, determined to dominate him and generally quite disagreeable but she was out of her element and - more importantly - chained to his hand. If she went down then he would follow.

"Look at me. You can. You've got this far and if anything I would say the rest of the climb is easier. If you've come this far then you can do the rest.

"Look at where you are putting your hands and foot, not how far we're going to fall if you slip. Imaging being free of these shackles and the the surface elf chained to you."

He hoped she wouldn't distract herself by imagining herself stabbing him to death.
 
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Vyx'aria

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Vyx took in slow breaths and exhaled just as slow in an attempt to calm the nerves. She wasn’t used to experiencing pure, unadulterated fear. She opened her eyes again, focusing on his words as she slowly began to reach with her free hand. The hand found purchase, and the leg soon followed, and she slowly began to make progress.

After a moment, they fell into a rhythm, their movements working in sync to get them up the mountain. Vyx didn’t look at the elf once, and she told herself there was no great fall below. After a while, her hand found the lip of the summit, and she was able to pull herself over the edge.

Vyx plopped down to sit as soon as they climbed over, and that was when she dared to peer over the edge. Her eyes widened as the cool breeze from up here chilled her to the bones all over again.

“I’m….never doing that again,” She grumbled quietly. Vyx shook her head and looked up to regard the elf to see how he fared through this, "How did you know what to do?"
 
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Draedamyr

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Draedamyr was utterly exhausted. The chain clinked as he tested how much leeway he had. Just enough for what he wanted to do: lie down.

He closed his eyes and waited for his own heart rate to slow down. The climb wasn't what his body needed. He was old for an elf. The world was dangerous and many didn't make it past two centuries. Even though age hadn't truly started to set in, he did not feel young.

"What to do?" he murmured. Her surface elven wasn't perfect. He decided to make an assumption.

"To talk you out of that? Have you never helped someone struggling before? Do you just eat the children that ever feel fear in the underrealm?" his tongue lacked much of the venom from before.

A cold droplet of rain struck the centre of his forehead as he opened his eyes. It was going to rain. Of course it was. It was one of those days.
 
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