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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 - 7. On the Trail

Finally there was light. Hope could see fine in the dark, another boon of his fiendish heritage, but he had always felt safer during the day.

The tiefling watched a bird perch on a branch, a crow of some sort. He didn't care what it was. He just cared about the arrow he was about to loose.

The missile shot through the air, the bird plummeting to the ground a moment later. Hope moved from his hiding spot, jogging to where his breakfast lay. His stomach gurgled loudly as the tiefling collected his arrow and the bird.

It took forever to pluck the bird, but finally he had it cooking on a small fire. Hope experimented with the flames, trying to get that spark he had used the day before to light one of the dead branches in the fire. With limited success. The heat came easily enough if he thought about it, but nothing would catch.

"Okay, I might need some help with this one," the tiefling said,

His eyes flashed toward the arrow he needed to clean.

"Oh, I lit that on fire. Maybe I'm trying things that are too big."

The tiefling chuckled quietly, standing up. He found a small stick and moved back to the fire to experiment.

"You do care about what happens. Or you're impatient for me to figure things out," he taunted his god. "Well, I hate to disappoint, so let's hope this works."

Focusing on the stick, Hope felt his hand warm up. A second later, the tip of the stick ignited, a small flame slowly growing on the tip. He let out a whoop, the stick dropping from his hand to join the others on the fire.

"Who needs flint and steel?" he cackled. "Fuck me, I'm a mage!"

That was a spell. He had just cast a spell. Did that mean the other abilities he had... were they spells too? How did he know spells? In an instant, his whole life had changed. He was a mage, and that opened an entire world to him. He could be a scribe, or work in the Mages' Guild, or... or...

Hope sighed. He needed money to do any of that. And he had plenty of money. At least seventy gold in the purse the halfling had given him. But he couldn't take that and run. It would spell death for the orphanage. Maybe if he did well with this task, he would be rewarded. But Hope doubted that.

The smell of roasted bird filled his nose, and the tiefling turned to his meal. It was the best meal he'd had in a while, but as soon as it was finished, he would need to move once more.

 

Elluin walked through the trees, armour glinting in the sunlight that filtered through the roof of the woods. He knew his tribe was watching him; they watched all who entered the woods. This place was called haunted by the people of Cadara, and even the men of Kalen feared to enter. For good reason. His people were wary of outsiders. If the tiefling had entered, there was a good chance he was dead.

"Elada serana," a woman's voice called.

A moment later, an elf was walking beside him, rapier sitting comfortably on her hip.

"What brings you out our way brother? We haven't seen you since the last full moon."

Elluin gritted his teeth. He hated being reminded of his curse. It wasn't like it was his fault his mother had slept with a werewolf.

"I'm tracking someone who may be passing through the woods," he said.

"Ah, the tiefling? He is following Etaru'laqueel."

"I thought so. He seems smart. You allowed him to pass?"

"His aura is good. Chaotic to the extreme, but we are chaotic ourselves."

Elluin snorted. His people were chaotic, but he was a student of magic. He couldn't afford chaos in his life.

"So you believe him to be a good fiend."

The other elf shrugged.

"It is known to happen. His heritage is no guide to his behaviour. Just as yours is not any indication of your life."

She stopped, facing Elluin.

"You will do what you will do. But know that he does not appear an evil being. He is at the rapids before Karinth'kriaske. If you hurry, you are sure to catch him."

The elf faded back into the forest, her words sticking with Elluin. A good fiend. Siretha was a paladin of Lynestra; she could read the intents of others like an open book. If she said Hope was good...

But he was still a fiend. And he had stolen. He would steal again, Elluin was sure of it. For good, for evil, it didn't matter.

Except it did. The queen of Cadara was not the best person to run the city state. Hope had simply been trying to help a group of orphans stay alive. Elluin could respect that, even if he didn't agree with the tiefling's methods.

The elf hurried through the woods, finding his way to the rapids easily. He had been here often as a young elf, studying the motion of the water, experimenting with building obstacles in the river. And here he found his quarry once again.

Hope was climbing nimbly up the rapids, a display of dexterity that was no less impressive than the one in Cadara. A bow sat in a quiver, arrows rattling loosely within. Elluin could tell their quality was poor, old arrows that had been used multiple times.

The elf had been fully intending to stick his sword in the tiefling's back. But watching Hope dance over the water, Elluin stood mesmerized. What was wrong with him? This was a fiend, one of the creatures who had attacked his home years ago, slaughtered his family. He should die.

But Elluin couldn't kill him, not when there was an orphanage that depended on him.

Which raised a new question. Why had he left the city? To get away from the guards? None of them had his description; he had been cloaked during the heist. The only reason Elluin had found him was because he had enlisted the help of a bevy of doves to trail him.

The elf began climbing a tree. He was not ready to show himself to Hope. The tiefling would probably run off again. Elluin would continue to follow him and watch his actions.

 

A cave provided shelter that night, dug into the roots of a giant tree. Hope was surprised at the size of the cave. He had always thought caves were more of a mountain thing.

More surprising was a sign written in Rellanic, declaring the cave Karinth'kriaske, the Cave of Death. The tiefling shivered at the name. He would not go far inside. Five feet inside was far enough to protect him from the wind.

Sitting against a wall of dirt that was supported by the tree's roots, Hope held up a new stick, studying it. He wanted to get used to using that spell, creating the fire.

As he practiced, Hope's mind wandered. Was Arran able to feed the younger orphans? The elf's dedication to them nearly rivalled his own. He trusted Arran to do what was necessary, but still the orphanage nagged at the back of his mind.

"I was only trying to help them," he snapped suddenly. "Why did you have to send that blasted elf after me?"

Of course he realized even if he had gotten away with the crown, he would still have been approached by the halfling. If Elluin hadn't taken that crown, the Thieves' Guild certainly would have.

"I should never have gone on that heist..."

Now he had to deal with the Thieves' Guild and the orphanage, and quite possibly an elf that wanted him dead. He had seen Elluin by the orphanage, seen the look of anger in his eyes. He deserved that, he supposed. Hope had left him holding the Queen's crown, and it was unlikely the guards would have been gentle in reclaiming it.

Shoving the stick into the dirt, Hope put out the fire he had conjured, before working on making a new flame. It was a rather calming exercise, watching the flame lick the stick seductively only to be put out in the dirt. That elf had been hot. Hope had almost felt bad charming him. Because he had charmed him, used an actual spell on him. And he hadn't even known.

"Fuck, he definitely wants to kill me," the tiefling muttered.

After that revelation, sleep was going to be hard to find.

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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Does Elluin lose control when he changes that one time a month?  Why did he leave the woods?  Just to hunt those that came and killed his people?  Seems to be a lot of missing information.

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