Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Facing a Shade|
Six years later I stood in front of the only locked door in my keep. I took a breath and placed my hand in the center of the door. The door started glowing under my hand and then it seemed to spread. Soon the whole door was glowing and then everything around me became a blur of colors and shapes.
When it stopped I was in the middle of a clearing at night. There were two moons over head and a howling of wolves in the distance. I turned and started walking to the west, it was only a few minutes before I felt the others in the forest around me. I kept going until I reached the small shallow stream.
I moved into the water slowly, feeling my way. The rocks on the bottom were slippery but they weren’t what I was worried about. I had only just stepped onto the far bank when a slender elf stepped around a tree. He held a bow and an arrow was nocked. I stopped and bowed slightly in the moonlight, “I seek your king.”
He kept looking at me, I knew he had understood and this was his way of telling me how little he cared about what I wanted. I gestured and his bow and arrow shattered and the pieces all burst into flames. He had started reaching for his sword and I made a circle with my finger. His arms snapped tight against his body as if they were tied.
I walked closer and stopped in front of him, “If I had wanted you dead you would be dead. Now, your king sent a summons. Would you like to argue with him?”
He stopped struggling, “He just sent that summons.”
I looked around at the other elves as they moved from behind trees. I nodded, “and I came as soon as I got it.”
He hesitated and I released him. He nodded to one of the others, “Take him to the king.”
An elf with long flowing white hair led me into the forest. I knew it would be a long trip and just enjoyed the forest around us. When he stopped for the night beside a small spring, I summoned a meal. I sat across from him while sharing the food and he finally began to relax. He began talking about a shadow creature that had started haunting their forest.
It was both dangerous and elusive, it had already killed a dozen warriors and seemed impervious to their weapons. We quieted and lay back to sleep as the forest came alive around us. I woke suddenly and realized something was wrong. I slowly glanced around the small clearing we were in.
The forest was silent, like it was waiting… or hiding. The Elf was sitting up and looking around as well. I summoned a mage light and everything around us lit up. I could see a huge form at the edge of the clearing and the elf stood quickly and began backing away. I didn’t take my eyes off the new form, “Don’t move and don’t leave the light.”
The elf stopped as the form slowly turned its softly glowing head to look at me. It seemed to smile and I could hear its whisper, “Mage?”
I stood slowly, “Who sent you?”
It took a hesitant step and paused, “Does it matter human?”
I murmured a spell and made a circling gesture. A ring of fire sprang up around us and the creature slowly looked around. It looked at me and the air around us began to chill. I murmured and a light mist arose. The creature seemed to shimmer and growl before taking another step.
The chill slowly stopped and it began to get a little warmer as the mist began to glow. As the creature took another step I murmured another spell that made it scream. “Who sent you!”
It glared at me with eyes that looked like ice, “I will crack your bones and suck the marrow.”
I smiled and gestured as I murmured another spell that brought a flaming whip to my hand. The creature rushed towards me and I brought the whip around. It flashed out and wrapped around the huge form and it screamed and froze. The flames brightened and grew higher as the creature jerked back and forth.
Its clawed hands reached for the whip and every time they touched, it screamed. I jerked the whip back and the creature dropped to its knees, “Who sent you!”
It glared and ice began to creep along the ground towards me. I gestured and made a circling motion while murmuring a spell. The ice flared into fire and the creature screamed and fell onto the ground. It jerked and writhed in the flames before suddenly bursting into a bright figure of a young man. He looked at me, “You will be sorry you interfered mage.”
He gestured and was suddenly gone. I gestured around the clearing and the ring of fire died. I looked at the elf, “It seems you have one of the high ones as a shade.”
He nodded, “The king won’t like that.”
I shrugged and sat down to relax. The rest of the night was quiet and I woke to a hint of dawn. After breaking our fast we started walking again. It had been a long time since I had walked in a forest and the sights and sounds seemed to fill me with a kind of peace. Around us the forest gradually began to quiet.
My elven guide kept looking around at the woods. I stopped at a wide shallow stream and waded out to a sand bar barely above the water. The elf nodded as he followed and we stood waiting. This time the figure that appeared was short and wide. It glowed with power as it glared at us from the far bank. I bowed, “Come spirit.”
It glanced down at the fast moving water and then back at us. Slowly it stepped forward into the water. I murmured a spell and watched the water boil around the seemingly solid figure. It jerked and growled something that made the water freeze. It stood still, frozen in ice and I smiled as I whispered another spell.
The figure jerked as it seemed to burst into flames. It tried to pull its feet out but they were frozen in the stream. It jerked back and forth and finally its feet burst free. I was ready for that and tossed another spell that caused the ice to melt and surge up around the figure’s waist. The water turned an angry red color as the spirit screamed and threw something invisible towards us.
I gestured and the air in front of us sparkled and froze in a solid sheet of ice. I looked at the figure to see the water around it frozen again, “Name your master slave.”
It snarled and a tongue of ice headed towards us only to be swept down stream a few feet before it reached the sand bar we were on. The figure struggled to be free but its own nature had trapped it in ice up to its waist. I murmured a spell and gestured, a long red glowing whip streaked out to wrap around the creature.
It screamed, more in anger than pain as it grabbed the whip and pulled. I let my end go and watched it wrapped completely around the figure. It choked and jerked back and forth as it began to smoke. I watched calmly, “Name your master.”
It snarled against the pain and tried to throw a small ball of ice and I gestured. Water leaped up from the stream between us and the ice struck it. The fountain of water froze before falling back into the stream and sweeping away. I murmured another spell and made a throwing gesture. A small blanket of fire raced above the creature spreading as it went.
It dropped onto the figure and it jerked and swayed as flames engulfed it. The scream chilled us as the creature writhed as if burning alive. It suddenly exploded and the young man stood in its place. He gestured and I brought a sheet of water up between us. It exploded into steam and the youth glared, “Next time mage!”
I shifted, “What do you seek and why?”
He narrowed his eyes and then he smiled thinly, “You will find out.”
He vanished and the water slowly filled in the empty place in the ice. I glanced at the Elf and he nodded tight lipped before leading the way back to shore. We walked through the forest until an hour before sunset. He led me to a large pine tree with branches that hung to the ground on all sides. I slowly walked around the tree murmuring a simple spell of illusion.
The elf had disappeared before I began but returned with many plants in his hands. I set my pack down as we cleaned roots and water cress as well as a cap full of berries. We had a cold camp and sat with our backs against the tree. During the early morning a chill wind came up but that was it. I knew the trouble would begin the moment we stepped out of my illusion.
I finally rolled my blanket up and nodded to the elf before dismissing the illusion spell. Almost immediately a cold fog began to form. The elf glanced at me as I whispered a spell and started walking. The fog seemed to glow as if on fire and slowly it faded away. I glanced at the elf, “I think a stream is going to be needed.”
He nodded and turned away from the direction we had been heading. It was a few minutes before I glanced back and touched the elf’s shoulder, “Run!”
He looked back and his face paled as he saw the four lumbering men. We ran for almost ten minutes before breaking out of the forest and splashing into thigh deep water. I waded to the middle and turned as I began a spell. The four men appeared and stopped beside the stream. A tongue of ice slowly started to form and reach towards us.
I waited and as the first stepped out on the ice, a wall of water rose up and swept it off the ice and into the river. It thrashed around but I could see it dissolving into mud and then it just exploded into a brown smear that was swept down river. The other three men hesitated and then another stepped out.
The tongue of ice was almost to us when I gestured and the ice turned into steam. The earthen man dropped into the river and was swept down stream as it to exploded into a brown cloud of mud. The two mud men on the bank growled and leaned into each other. Slowly they merged and grew taller, it leaned towards us and gestured.
I murmured a spell and an arm rose out of the river as a finger of ice quickly began heading towards us. The watery arm reached out to wrap around the man before it froze. I smiled and made a pulling gesture. The large golem staggered and leaned out over the river making its spear of ice drop into the river.
The force of the river on the spear yanked it down the river and twisted the golem before it fell. The huge splash froze as it rose above the river and the golem struggled to its feet and then it slipped under the water and exploded. I nodded and started towards the bank with the elf following, “It will be awhile before the shade can do anything more.”
He grunted and looked at me, “This is much more than it was doing before.”
I nodded as I followed him, “Probably because it knows I am a threat.”
The elf looked at me and then nodded, a minute later he started trotting and even with my pack I joined him. He led me down easier paths and the miles seemed to pass quickly. Every few miles we walked to catch our breath. We ate a lunch of berries and bread while walking. It was almost sunset when he led me to another stream.
He set up camp as I set the protective illusions around us. The elf slipped into the woods and a little later stumbled through my illusion with two plump rabbits and a bunch of wild onions. I started a fire while he cleaned and prepared the rabbits. We were eating when the air around the camp grew thicker and became a fog.
I glanced around as the elf shifted nervously. I murmured a spell that caused the air just inside the illusion to heat up and the fog that drifted through exploded into steam. There was a scream of rage but we didn’t see anything. I turned and finished eating dinner and the elf reluctantly joined me. After we finished eating I murmured another spell of illusion before laying back, “Sleep and try not to move around.”
I woke a couple of times during the night to see fog seeping from the ground inside my outer illusion. It always disappeared after awhile so I knew the shade didn’t expect an illusion inside an illusion. The elf sat up as the sun began to rise and looked at me as I stretched. He actually smiled, “Slept well?”
I nodded as I stood, “Quit well.”
He sighed, “Another battle for breakfast?”
I grinned, “Perhaps a walk in the stream instead.”
He looked at the water as I concentrated and shifted the inner illusion onto me. We gathered everything up and I gestured to the elf. He bowed and moved into the fast moving water. We waded through the water for almost a mile before I gestured and he led the way out. As we walked through the forest it seemed as if it was just waking up.
We collected berries and sweet grass as we went. It was almost noon when we came to the stone circle. Well, it wasn’t exactly a circle, more like an oval. In the center of the oval was a tiny stone hut with no door. I stood and looked at that hut before looking at the elf, “There is a high one buried here.”
He looked at the hut, “The one that haunts us?”
I shook my head, “This was a woman.”
I turned away and followed as he headed away. I felt someone watching though and glanced back to see a slim young woman staring after us from just inside the oval. I nodded to her and then turned away. I was doing a lot of thinking as we crossed into the shade of the forest and stopped walking and the elf looked back, “What?”
I turned back to the stone oval and then hesitated before heading back. I stood outside the stones and looked at the woman. I finally smiled and knelt to start drawing, I left a narrow gap on the line between two of the stones around the hut. I turned the other way to draw a large circle with a pentagram in the center.
I carefully moved around first the pentagram and then the circle placing diagrams before gesturing to the elf, “Stand in the center of the pentagram.”
He did as I asked and I made sure he hadn’t touched any glyphs or lines. I stood beside a stone pillar and took a breath before dropping my illusions. It wasn’t long before a cold wind started blowing. A large shadowy specter suddenly appeared, “Now you are mine!”
I smiled and turned to look at the spirit woman. Her eyes were wide and I looked at the specter, “Show your true form spirit.”
It had followed my look and now stood transfixed. It stirred and the specter disappeared to show the young man. He still glowed with power but as he slowly walked nearer it seemed to seep away. A kind of shimmering appeared between two of the stones that separated the man and woman. He looked at me and I could see the pain and longing.
I knelt and completed a glyph before standing as the shimmering faded. The young man went into the oval and they embraced. As they kissed, a whirl wind of stones and earth swirled around the hut, the hut shimmered and then seemed to grow larger. When the wind died down the two looked at me. I knelt and erased the glyph before standing, “Now you can have peace.”
They nodded and slowly faded away, I sighed and started undoing everything I had done. I nodded to the elf who had remained quiet the whole time. As we started walking he glanced at me, “It’s gone?”
I nodded, “I don’t know why but they were a paired couple and were buried separately. Something broke the protective barrier around the man’s burial site and he went wondering, looking for his soul mate.”
The elf nodded and took a deep breath. Three days later we walked into the elven settlement.
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