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Born of the Reach - Part V

Started by Harlwystyr
Post #127288

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Daggerfall Covenant
Part V

Dwyna threw herself to the side, hoping desperately that she would be in time to avoid whatever magic was clawing at her, and fell into full sprint now, just to cut the corner from the alley. This had all been a huge mista-

Something dangerously large and dark grew and rose from the walls of either side of her like a net of trunk-sized arms, reaching out to bar her way and keep her in the alley. The arms, it seemed, began to open and reveal red, glistening eyes, that began to ran along the arms in loose patterns.

No doubt this was some sort of illusion woven by the mage. No such hideous appendages had ever existed in these narrow streets of the city she almost knew by heart now, and-

One of the arms snatched out and took a hold of Dwyna's wrist.

She screamed involuntarily and began to dig her nails into it in a vain attempt to tug it from her, and turned half-way to strike fists out at more arms approaching from the other side. Her graceful movements began to slow down and become sluggish; her strikes and kicks going this way and that…

And then the arms tensed and started to glide away, and she was free, crashing to the ground and coughing as she rolled in the filthy snow on the cobblestones below, with a smell of rot coming from the nearby dung wagon.

From somewhere behind her, the old man's tone was as deep as his chuckle. "Hearken, and behold, a thief retrieves her greatest loot: her life."

Teeth clenched, Dwyna got to her feet and whirled around, control of her breath the farthest thing from her mind now. The monstrous arms were gone as if they had never been - but somehow the alleyway seemed changed. As she looked for the exit, she saw that it was nowhere to be found, and the alley itself seemed wider and longer, with drifting clouds racing overhead.

The old man was leaning against one stretch of wall, his flat palm gesturing at nothing in particular. "Return from whence you came, lass. Stealing and killing should be left to greater fools in this world. I myself had a try at what ye're doing, and had my fun, but I tell ye - find a better path. Go home."

"I have no home," Dwyna hissed in anger. "I lost it to people who took it from me."

He advanced one slow step, and she raised a trembling hand to threaten him with the point of her dagger.

"You tell me to go," she said, fearful as she heard her voice fail, "and yet you hide the path from me! Is this how you amuse yourself, wizard?"

The old man lifted a brown, then frowned. "Ah yes, it does appear to be in the way. Hold still."

His hand went up, and he began to mutter something as he pointed at her. Feeling suddenly very vulnerable, Dwyna tried to duck away, but there was no place she could hide or run.


The air around them began to sing in a chilling voice, and a tingling sensation washed over her. She sent him a helpless, terror-struck glare.

Then the feeling was gone, but the alley still held no exit. From where the old man stood, a short sound of surprise emitted, and he strode toward her. Dwyna scrambled back and felt her back slam against an uneven stone wall almost immediately. "Keep your distance!" she cried. "I'll- I'll call for the city guard!"

She knew how ridiculous that threat was even before she uttered it, but he neither sneered nor laughed. Instead, he asked calmly, "Thief of the moonfleet night, let me see your hands."

Dwyna glared at him again, then, curious, did as she was bid. Her earlier struggles on the ground had earned her more than a few scratches, and she was bleeding freely. She lowered her head and raised her hand to lick the blood away, but the sorcerer snapped, "Hold still!"

His voice came from his tongue like thunder from the sky, and the air around them suddenly afire. Magic loose again, paralyzing her. He was- she couldn't- and he-

Her eyes could move freely, and she could still draw breath. She saw a golden-white fire hang in the air before her, yet somehow it did not scorch her eyes. She felt the blood welling up on her hand suddenly growing very cold.

She stared helplessly at it from the corners of her eyes and saw that it was blazing in a flame of the same colours as those before her. It burned, and yet did not hurt. She could see her dirt-smeared fingers and dark blood through the fires, and felt no pain.

The old man's gaze was locked on the same thing she was staring at, and, very slowly, under their shared observation, the flames died out.

Terrified at the silence, Dwyna directed his eyes at him. His lips were crooked back at the corners in a wry smile. "Well," he said, in a rich, whimsical voice. "Well, well."

Still paralyzed, she stared at him, unable to speak. The wizard lowered his hand and fished forth a small pouch that appeared to be made up by scaly hide, and hung at the end of a long leather cord attached to his belt, and tipped it to spill eight gold coins into her palm. Although he did nothing to control them, they deftly stacked atop one another into a tiny pillar atop her bleeding hand.

"Fare ye well, lady," he said softly, spread another fond smile, and turned away - and strode right through the wall.

Dwyna of the Reach blinked several times at what she saw, and only just managed to register her free movement before she landed in the snow. She felt the very real weight of the cold coins in her hand, and realised she was listening to the silence that now hung in the alleyway.

It had all happened so fast, so unbelievable, so…

The look in the old wizard's eyes as he saw the flame in her hands revealed that he had been surprised. Being no novice at magic herself, she quickly gathered that it was a result of his spellcraft, but also a result of her, too. He'd handed her money instead of death. Money, as if she were a beggar or a coin-lass... or a successful thief. Money she couldn't have dared hope could be gained by robbing one old man. And within the wink of an eye he was... gone, right through the wall, and she was…

She found her feet again, and quickly turned her attention towards the wall, that was now shifting and... pulling at itself in different direction.

Her eyes fixed upon the spot where the wizard had disappeared through the wall, Dwyna absentmindedly pocketed her coins, and narrowed her eyes. She hadn't seen him weave any spells to teleport himself away. Was it the same spell that had blocked her exit earlier?

Cautious, she bent to pluck up the dagger from where it had fallen, and went for the spot where the old man had vanished, and very slowly poked the tip of the blade at the wall. It struck nothing, as if the wall wasn't there. Wondering, she took a step closer, causing her arm to follow the dagger.

If the stones were to close around her now, it would be the worst death imaginable. Suspicious, insulted - who was this old man to lecture her and take pity on her and give her a handout like she was a beggar? - and yet, yes, fascinated, Dwyna stepped through the wall.
This post was last modified: March 18th 2014, 03:15 AM by Harlwystyr
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