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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 - 5. Haunted Cottage

A hand woke Hope, crawling up his back. For a moment, the tiefling had to remind himself where he was. The cottage by the road, with the friendly elf... whose hand was now working its way to wrap around his chest.

Opening his eyes, Hope rolled over tiredly.

"I thought you were going... to..."

The hand didn't belong to the elf. It wasn't even a hand, it was... it looked like a tentacle. Hope tried to sit up, but he found his back covered in a strange slime, sticking to the bed.

"Shit!" he yelled, forcing himself to roll to the side.

The strange appendage wrapped itself tighter as he rolled, nearly squeezing the breath out of the tiefling.

"You shouldn't have woken. It will make eating you more painful."

The elf's voice rumbled around him, Hope desperately trying to grab the dagger on his back. The cottage... The cottage was alive?!

"Why the fuck would you put this here? What is the point?" he yelled.

Twisting his arm, he just managed to get his fingers around the hilt of the dagger. Unsheathing the blade required another bend, and then he had the weapon in his hand. Sliding it between himself and the tentacle, the tiefling dragged the blade down over his foe.

With a deafening screech, the tentacle withdrew, green slime bleeding from several slices. Hope struck quickly when freed, his dagger cutting through the tentacle. The appendage dropped limply to the ground, but nearly instantly began regrowing.

"Shit!" Hope yelled again, kicking the stunted tentacle.

Backing away, he hit the wall, no, the lining of the creature's stomach. He was inside a stomach. A glob of juice fell over him, a tingling of weak acid following. Stabbing at the wall, Hope gritted his teeth as the blade became stuck in the mucus-like covering of the wall.

Releasing the dagger, he lunged for his quiver. The bow wasn't going to help in this situation, but he'd be damned if he was going down without a weapon in his hand.

Pulling out an arrow, Hope stabbed it into the tentacle on the ground, pinning it to the floor. Heat grew in his hand, a sudden spark jumping into the arrow and setting it alight.

"What the fuck?!"

The wooden shaft burned slow and dim, but it still caused a reaction, the beast around him shuddering. Acid fell onto the arrow, dousing it as a hole opened in the wall. Hope took advantage of it, leaping out of the opening as a blast of smoke and acid sprayed through.

Rolling through the dirt, Hope gripped his quiver and the cloak he still wore, sprinting away from the behemoth as it took on the appearance of an unassuming cottage once more.

 

Elluin twisted his hands in an arcane gesture, a horse appearing in front of him, saddled and ready to ride. Getting out of the city had been an ordeal, and it was nearly midday already, but finally he could get on with his journey. He climbed onto the horse, clucking quietly.

A simple cloak flowed behind the elf as they moved down the road, newly bought to provide comfort in the cold nights. He had no space for a bedroll, and sacrifices would have to be made.

The elf had to admit he had been surprised to hear Hope was the owner of the orphanage. He had assumed the crown was just for the tiefling; another fiend stealing what he wanted. Was it meant to buy food for the orphans?

There had to be a better way to get food. Not that Elluin really cared about the law of the realm, but stealing was dangerous. He could have killed Hope to get the crown back.

Which once again begged the question of why did he care? His whole life had been devoted to learning magic to track down and kill fiends that entered the Mortal Plane. Why was this one different? If he hadn't been charmed, he would have stuck a blade in Hope.

But he had the chance to kill the tiefling. He was certain Hope hadn't known he was there until he spoke. So why did he give himself away instead of attacking?

A building appeared on the horizon before he could puzzle out his actions. Spurring his mount onward, the elf cantered toward the building. Maybe the owner could tell him if Hope had been this way. The place certainly seemed nice enough, though it was in a strange location. What if goblins attacked? The little bastards always seemed to be roaming around these parts.

Slowing to a stop, Elluin dismounted, his horse remaining right where it had stopped. He had maybe an hour left at best until it was unsummoned, but Elluin needed to know if Hope had been here. He could figure out what he wanted to do with the tiefling later.

Knocking on the door, the elf took a step back. He didn't have to wait long before the door opened, an old crone standing just inside.

"Hello dear, can I help you?" she asked, her voice crackling drily.

"I'm looking for a tiefling. Has he been through here?"

"A tiefling you say. Is he a friend of yours?"

Elluin hesitated momentarily. Something seemed off. There was no way someone like this could survive this far from the city. Nonetheless, he continued the conversation, a cantrip ready to cast at a word.

"We know each other," he said evasively.

"He's in here right now," the old woman said.

The elf frowned. There was no way Hope was in there. The place was too small to have any hiding spots.

"Okay, well I better be going," he said.

"But don't you want to say hi-?"

"No thank you, I just wanted to know where he was."

Elluin turned toward his horse, walking away. Suddenly a giant tentacle whipped past him, wrapping around his mount. It dragged the horse into the house, the animal screaming before Elluin could end the summoning spell.

Unsheathing his sword, Elluin ran a hand down the blade, a light spark running along the metal. Thus enchanted, he backed away from the house, studying it. He had never seen an actual mimic in person. If he had more time, the elf would have loved to examine it. But he was busy.

The tentacle shot out again, and the elf dodged it, bringing his blade down over the appendage. He noticed a scar as it fell, as though someone had cut the tentacle earlier. Strange.

The mimic was hungry. Usually these monsters kept to the underground, even the large ones like this. At a guess, Elluin figured it was an adult on the hunt. And it had tried to feed earlier. The success of that feeding was uncertain. It was unlikely one could get away from the trap if they entered willingly. But if the person had the sense to run...

He didn't want to fight this thing. He wasn't even sure he could fight it successfully. Backing up slowly, Elluin watched the door, the mimic's mouth. If he ran, he could probably escape. As long as he didn't get hit in the back by another tentacle.

But then what would happen to the next person who came by?

Sighing, the elf moved, his fingers twitching as his eyes closed. A bright light flashed, the mimic screeching. Elluin wasted no time with celebrating the attack. He lunged forward, forcing his way into the house. These things had a weak point, just like everyone else. Smiling at the sight of a smoldering fireplace, the elf scanned the room for a tool. His fingers closed around a charred arrow, a spark spell igniting it. Burying the wood in the fireplace, the elf watched the fire explode, the mimic screaming again.

A tentacle slammed into his back, knocking Elluin to the floor.

"Shit, the fucking regeneration!"

Rolling, he turned and attacked the tentacle again, cutting it apart and throwing the remains into the fire. He needed to build those flames nice and high to get through the acid lining of the mimic's stomach.

Shoving a bed toward the fireplace, Elluin prodded the flames with his sword, helping the bed catch. The walls around him began turning brown as smoke and heat dried the mimic from the inside out.

"Resist that fire..." he muttered, making his way back outside.

The house was billowing smoke, moving slowly into the middle of the road. Elluin was pleased; it mad a widespread fire much less likely. He waited until flames appeared on the walls, before moving on in satisfaction. It would take the mimic a few hours to die, but it would cause no harm ever again.

 

The river flowed over rapids, the noise covering the minimal noise of the village. Hope paused in his walk at the top of a plateau, the village of Kalen sitting before him. On the other side of the buildings he could see the Do'Kalen Woods, tall trees and proud. The road would pass near them and he would have a choice to make. But for now, he wanted to get into the walled village, the woodem pallisade offereing a small sense of security. He had never realized how much of a city person he was until he had been forced on the road.

He had much to think about. That spark of flame he had used in the monster house, that had been magic. Like real wizard magic. He had never learned magic. How he had worked that spell was beyond him.

"So is this the part where I praise you for your mysterious ways after you tried to murder me?" he asked the sky. "Well you can shove it. You put me in there."

Moving along the road, he entered the village unhindered by any guards. The village seemed to be winding down for the day, the sun low in the sky. Children ran through the street, the smell of stew cooking throughout the village as their parents cooked supper. Hope's stomach gurgled loudly at the smell, but he had no money for food.

He wasn't going to stop. Tired though he was. the the tiefling had no desire to miss his deadline, and the more time he wasted in villages the longer the journey would take.

A group of kids ran toward him, chasing an animal skin ball. He kicked it back to them with a small smile, their antics reminding him of Jace and Aidan, and of Nagiri. Hope wondered how the five were doing. He trusted Arran; the elf had proven himself time and again in the five years he had lived there. But taking care of the orphanage was a difficult task, and Arran had trouble with working outside the orphanage due to a mage's curse. Hope's absence was going to severely stunt their small income.

He watched the ball bounce toward a well, already frowning.

"Don't do it," the tiefling muttered.

But he already knew. That ball was going to bounce into the well. It was a slim chance, but he knew well enough that his presence made the outcome certain.

Hope was already in motion, sprinting toward the well. He vaulted over a boy, spinning in the air in front of the well. His foot connected with the ball, tapping it into a kid's hands. The young human nearly dropped the ball in shock.

"Whoa..."

In seconds, Hope was surrounded by kids, the small humans peppering him with questions.

"How did you do that?!"

"Who are you?"

"Is that a tail?!"

"Where did you come from?"

"Can you show me how to do that?"

Holding up his hands, Hope let a small smile play across his face. Such curious people.

"Calm down. I was just in the right place at the right time," he said.

"No, I saw you fly over Jaime," one boy denied. "How did you spin in the air?"

"Lots of practice, and not a little pain along the way," Hope chuckled. "You can't be afraid of bumps or bruises if you want to learn something like that. And you'll have to get used to strange positions. Your head is moving fast when you're in the air."

"Show me," one of the kids demanded.

Chuckling, the tiefling squatted down. His hands shot out, grabbing the boy under the armpits and suddenly the human was in the air, spinning in a circle. Hope caught him, setting him back down, and the kid wobbled slightly.

"Wow..."

"Oh, and you should be more careful around the well. Trust me, it is a pain to fish a ball out of there."

Taking his leave, Hope moved quickly through the village, slipping out of the other gate before it was closed for the night. He had the strangest feeling he was being followed, probably by that elf from Cadara. What he had against Hope was beyond the tiefling. Maybe he should have cut the elf's throat when h had the chance. Either way, Hope was not going to wait around to see if the elf was chasing him.

Turning his feet off the road, the tiefling made his way toward the river. He would follow it through the night. His journey now led to danger, into the Do'Kalen Woods. The orphans of Cadara had always proclaimed the woods haunted, but what did they know of a forest several leagues from home?

At least, Hope said that to himself. Truth was, he was only hoping they were wrong.

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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Someone’s a cleric or an arcane trickster. I’m leaning toward the former, given Hope’s chaotic goodness and how he banters with her. Hope’s dedication to the orphanage and kids in general redeems any mischief he causes in my eyes. I wonder if Elluin will come to agree?

Another fun, exciting chapter. An indulgent read so far, bard!

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3 minutes ago, Danners said:

Someone’s a cleric or an arcane trickster. I’m leaning toward the former, given Hope’s chaotic goodness and how he banters with her. Hope’s dedication to the orphanage and kids in general redeems any mischief he causes in my eyes. I wonder if Elluin will come to agree?

Another fun, exciting chapter. An indulgent read so far, bard!

Actually I haven't quite figured Hope out. He's definitely sorcerous with a Rakshasa bloodline, but he also might turn out to be an Arcanist, if he can learn to use magic from a spellbook.

I'm glad you're enjoying the story :)

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17 minutes ago, Yeoldebard said:

Actually I haven't quite figured Hope out. He's definitely sorcerous with a Rakshasa bloodline, but he also might turn out to be an Arcanist, if he can learn to use magic from a spellbook.

I'm glad you're enjoying the story :)

If he wants to hold on to his dagger, maybe Elluin could be coerced into tutoring him as a Spellblade or, y’know, lend him a wand. (Wink wink nudge nudge)

Edited by Danners
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Another fun exciting chapter, looking forward to reading more 

Edited by chris191070
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Is Hope talking to a particular God or just the universe on these ramblings?  Keeping us all interested and the pacing has been really good, well written as usual.  

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On 5/18/2020 at 4:15 AM, centexhairysub said:

Is Hope talking to a particular God or just the universe on these ramblings?  Keeping us all interested and the pacing has been really good, well written as usual.  

The way I read it he's talking to the author of his life. And perhaps giving said author the occasional hint as to how his life should really be written. Now, the answer to the question as to whether that author might actually be our own @Yeoldebard, I know not...

Edited by Marty
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