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    Yeoldebard
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

The Elf's Hunt - 2. The Guilds

A candle burned bright over a small desk, a sword upon the desk. The runes lining the blade might as well have been gibberish for all the studying Elluin was getting. He couldn't put that tiefling out of his mind. Why did the fiend affect him so? Was this yet another part of his ancestor's heritage? He already took on a bestial form under the full moon, what else would his heritage pile on him?

He could stop this right now. Elluin didn't have to go to the Mages' Guild in search of the tiefling. After all, he had only come to Cadara in search of easy gold, and he had found that. Mercenary adventurers made surprisingly decent money, though much of that gold ended up going for food and board. Perhaps it was time to move on.

But that face haunted him. The porcelain skin, the violet eyes, the strange whisker like markings beside the tiefling's aquiline nose. If he didn't know any better, Elluin would say the tiefling was an elf. But with the smokey grey cat ears that protruded from his thick auburn hair, that was not a possibility. That hair looked so soft though...

Gritting his teeth, Elluin turned back to his runes. He needed to get his spells prepared. The elf was worried though. A charm spell shouldn't last this long, but there was certainly no other reason he would be obsessing over the tiefling. Maybe he would go to the Mages' Guild anyway. It was either that or hang out at the Adventurers' Guild until he found a job to do. But he wasn't going to do anything until he was done with his spells.

Tracing over one of the simpler light runes, Elluin felt energy flow from his blade, an image of the spell in action forming in his mind. This was a rare practice among mages, the blending of spell and sword. It was hard to balance the two disciplines, but he had found a way to make it work. Normally a mage would use a book to store their spells. Elluin had found a way to convert the complex arcane workings of spells to a single rune that he etched on his blade. There were dozens of these runes on his sword, organised carefully according to type and level. Simple cantrips were easy to etch into the blade, taking up a tiny space with a simple pattern. More difficult were level one spells, of which the elf had only successfully transcribed four. He couldn't use all of them every day, but by focusing on four cantrips and two of the first level runes, he could store the spells in his mind, ready to cast them when needed.

Other mages would scoff at his magic, but he didn't care. He had sacrificed some magical variety to be able to blend his spells with a blade. Those mages wouldn't be laughing when he cut through them with a sword he had enchanted on the fly.

And he could do it too. Elluin had killed before, in defense of his tribe in the Do'Kalen Woods. It was the reason why he hated fiends. And summoners, if he was honest. When a summoner conjures an army of outsiders to attack your home, it does little to endear them to you. His blade had tasted the blood of monsters before. It would taste their blood again.

Sighing quietly, Elluin sheathed his blade and stood up. He wasn't going to get that second spell for today. Hopefully he wouldn't need it.

   

The Adventurers' Guildhall was full of people clamouring around a large board. Hope sat near the entrance of the building, spinning an arrow in his fingers. This was why he hated coming here. There was always way too many people looking for a job and not enough good jobs to go around.

A gap opened in the crowd and Hope darted forward, squeezing into places many would have never thought he could fit. The tiefling let out a yelp as a foot landed on his tail, tucking the appendage gingerly in his arms. Peering at the board, he found a notice for a lost ring, last seen in the Zasaran graveyard. Grabbing the paper, Hope fought his way back out of the crowd, making a break for the door.

He hated graveyards. And the dead. But he needed money, and this Lady Stephanie of Riverside Lane was offering two silver for the return of her ring. That would give the orphanage food for two whole days. For that, he could put his distaste aside. The graveyard wasn't that big.

"Of course you'd say that. He's the fucking god of death, everyone is buried there," Hope grunted. "How about a little hint? Is it on a gravestone? In a mausoleum crawling with undead? I'm betting on the latter, just because it would fuck me more."

A halfling glanced at the tiefling, edging away from him. Hope didn't care; if people didn't like him arguing with his so-called god, they could stuff their opinion up their ass.

It took an hour to get to the graveyard. Hope stood before the gated land, steeling himself for what lay ahead. Fingering the bow in its quiver on his hip, the tiefling stared into the yard.

"Yeah, I don't trust you or this place," he said, pulling the bow out.

Stringing the weapon, Hope fingered through the six arrows in his quiver, trying to find the one with the least imperfections. Each of the arrows had been used before, several times. He had hunted fish with them, fought giant rats, used them to zipline between buildings; these arrows were his lifeline. And they were in poor shape. But he was going to make them last as long as he could. The tiefling certainly couldn't afford the gold to replace them.

"Well, better get started," he said.

His feet remained rooted to the ground, his eyes staring through the gate.

"Okay, let's go... Come on. It's just a bunch of dead bodies. That might be undead."

Shaking his head, the tiefling forced himself to step forward, passing through the gate. A shiver worked its way down his back, his fingers twirling the arrow in his hand nervously. His mind kept throwing shadows among the graves as he walked, though the sun shone down brightly. A bird trilled a cheery note, Hope flinching at the noise.

"Okay, this is ridiculous. I'm not that afraid of this place," he snapped.

Still, he scanned the area nervously, frowning at the sight of a gnome walking through the graves. She looked solid enough, and he hoped his eyes were not playing tricks on him. The tielfing angled his steps, moving to intercept the gnome.

"Hey, you haven't seen a ring around here, have you?" he called to her.

"Perhaps. Did you lose it?"

"Yeah," Hope said.

"Well that sucks. I found it, and I'm not giving it up out of hand."

And the hardest part was done. He found the ring. He hoped. Now he just had to figure out how to get the ring away from the gnome.

"There is a reward out for the ring. I can split the money with you," he offered, feeling the words tug at him.

That good old magic of his. And once again, it worked. The gnome took a step toward him, holding a clenched fist. She suddenly spun around, sprinting away, and the tiefling sighed.

"Just once, couldn't you make things easy?"

The tiefling took off after the gnome, tucking his arrow back in the quiver. He gained on the gnome quickly, dodging gravestones easily. The gnome glanced behind her as she ran, an open grave in front of her.

"Look out!" Hope yelled at her.

Too late, the gnome turned, her leg twisting as she fell into the grave. Hope heard a sickening crack, and he hurried to the hole.

The gnome was twisted at the bottom of the hole, her neck angled sharply. Hope swore loudly, dropping in after her. There was no coming back from that kind of injury.

"If you had just given up the fucking ring," he muttered, pulling the jewelry out of her hand.

Pausing at the sight of a purse on her waist, the tiefling pulled at the bag, finding a pair of coppers inside.

"I know I should feel bad about this, but really, it was your fault," he muttered, taking the coins.

Hopping back out of the grave, the tiefling picked up his bow and unstrung it before setting it in his quiver. He pulled out the notice from the board, scanning it to find where he was supposed to take the ring.

"Eh, I could use a nice walk across the city," Hope shrugged, studying a small drawing at the bottom of the page.

It would help him shake off the gnome's death. Not his fault, but still, someone had just died in front of him. He had to hurry though; he wanted to stop by the market when he got the money for returning the ring.

 

"So this is where the library is hiding," Elluin noted, walking through the Mages' Guildhall.

He wasn't surprised it was hidden from the general public. Most people couldn't read, for good reason. The last thing the world needed was for a random person to stumble across a summoning ritual and free a devil from the Nineth Hell. This was a guard against that happening. Still, it made things rather difficult when someone wanted to research something.

The elf stepped into a small alcove, a book laying open on a stand. A quill sat next to a stoppered inkpot, waiting for someone to use it. Every Mages' Guildhall contained one of these books, a list of every apprentice in the guild, by date joined. Elluin took a moment to recall the tiefling's face in his mind. Aside from the strange reactions it caused in him, he gueesed the tiefling couldn't be older than twenty, at least in human equivilency. But it was likely the fiendish blood running through him was also extending his age. He could be as old as eighty and still look as good as he did now.

Swallowing down that thought, Elluin flipped the pages of the tome, scanning the pages for any names that sounded strange. Tieflings often took on names of the community they were born in. Perhaps he had been born an elf. It would account for the elven features in his face.

"Aethir Coren.... Jaketh... Elindir..."

None of those fit him...

It wasn't long before he was twenty pages in, his eyes poring over the writing.

"No... No... No... Fuck, who are you...?"

"Excuse me, can I help you?"

Elluin startled at the voice, spinning around. A dwarf stood in the entrance to the room, a book in his hand. Spectacles sat precariously on his nose, a messy grey beard dangling down to his gut. His face was kind, trustworthy.

"I'm trying to find someone," Elluin replied.

"Ah, a mage friend?"

"Acquaintance," the elf corrected.

"I see. And what is your purpose with this acquaintance?"

"He put a charm on me and I want him to remove it."

"Hmm... What is the manner of this charm? Perhaps I can assist you in removing it. If he charmed you, he is likely not one to trifle with," the dwarf warned.

"I can't stop thinking about him. He stole something, and I convinced him to give it back yesterday, but he charmed me into letting him go. And now his face is all I can think about. I can't even focus on my spells."

The dwarf chuckled quietly.

"My friend, that isn't a charm. That's a crush."

Elluin frowned, shaking his head. That didn't sound like him. He had never had a crush on anyone, had never even noticed another person like this. He was too busy with his studies.

"In all my thirty years, I have never felt like this," he denied.

"Well, there's a first time for everything," the dwarf smiled.

"He did use a charm on me though. He has to be a mage, but I can't find him."

"Do you know his name?"

Elluin shook his head.

"I didn't think so. So, you want to give old Barin a challenge. I love challenges," the dwarf grinned. "Let's see, I've been steward of this hall for a hundred years. My memory isn't the greatest, but I might be able to help."

"He's a tiefling. There couldn't be that many who have passed through here, right? Even in a hundred years?"

"Four of them."

"This one isn't like most tieflings. He said he was descended from a rakshasa, though I have no idea how that's possible. Or how he would know about it."

"That doesn't narrow it down much."

Elluin sighed, trying to find a good description of the tiefling.

"He was tall, with auburn hair and cat ears... almost tiger-like, except they were grey."

"Hmm. I believe I know who you are speaking of, but he has never entered these halls, and I do not know his name. I do know that he spends his nights near the old orphanage near the south gate. Maybe you can find him there?" Barin offered.

"It's certainly worth looking into," Elluin replied. "Thank you."

Copyright © 2020 Yeoldebard; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Better pacing in this chapter; just flowed better from start to finish.  I could do with a little more background on each of the main protagonist but still holding all my interest.

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