Posted: Dec 16, 2018, 12:45am
The Hof on the Hill
Luna glared in anger at the ignorance of the bandits,
“My staff is not cursed. Curses are black magic, I don’t play with that. Magic can heal and save the world just as well as it can cause destruction. Don’t blame and judge me for the careless actions of others. I would like to treat my friends wounds.”
Her voice was a low agitated growl. She could disappear in a billow of shadow before the bandits could draw there bows, but Balar was injured and she would not leave her friends. It was a strange feeling to her. She had never been able to make friends.
Balar looked over to Luna and tried to force a smile as they walked on, "Dont worry about it kid, I've had worse. I've got rusty in my old age."
Tiella reached over and placed a reassuring hand on her arm, "Their fear of magic is not a thing of reason," she said in a low voice, "It took me many years to learn that I must hide my magic from them, though mine is not quite so... potent."
"It's potent enough to get you killed." Balar ginned, "That is how we met." he explained to Luna.
Tiella looked embarrassed but she eventually explained, "I was to be burned as a witch."
"She had been "healing" some of the locals," Balar said, "When I saw her they had her tied to a tree and surrounded by kindling."
"They would kill you for healing?" Luna sounded incredulous.
"Humans fear magic." Balar stated simply.
"You do not." she replied.
"Yes I bloody well do," he chortled, "But I do not let that fear twist my mind."
"What will they do with us?" Luna asked.
Balar and Tiella exchanged a troubled glance. It was Tiella who spoke,
"I think our thief seems to know them best. Perhaps we should ask him."
It's of a gentleman soldier, as a sentry he did stand,
And he kindly saluted a fair maid by waving of his hand.
So boldly then he kissed her, and passed it as a joke,
He drilled her into the sentry box wrapped up in a soldier's cloak.
For the drums do go with a rap-a-tap-tap and the fifes did loudly play,
Saying, “Fare you well, my Polly dear, I must be going away.”
As Majvoc finished the chorus to the first verse, he raised his whistle to his lips and started to play the tune. He was almost skipping along as he played the joyful tune. As he had started, the bandit procession had cheered, with a few adding their gruff voices to the chorus.
'Bastard bard,' Sigrid called, 'Don't you know any other songs yet?'
'Not any worth knowing,' smiled Majvoc, before returning to sing the next verse.
The bandit procession marched quickly in the night, covering ground fast. Their destination was the Hof on the Hill, which overlooked the rolling plains lying before the great mountain ranges of the north.
As his song came to an end, the rest of the travelling band of companions jogged up to meet Majvoc, their movements under the watchful eye on Sigrid's band of thugs.
'Thief!' growled Balar, 'What is it these bastards intend to do with us?'
'Balar,' smiled Majvoc, 'You'll probably just be held in a little cell and forced to fight bears or something. It'll be like going home to visit your family.'
'Hilarious,' Tiella scoffed in disdain.
'Hey, you'll be given the easiest treatment,' said Majvoc, 'Probably just be beaten until you decide to join them. It's poor Luna here that I would be worried about.'
'Why?' asked Luna, 'What will they do to me?'
'Well,' began Majvoc, 'Most civilised people, upon seeing an elf, would pelt her with stones, let's be honest. Now, on a scale on one to ten, how civilised do you think these people are. No Luna, you are probably going to be the next roast on the fire.'
Majvoc glanced down at the elf, whose eyes were watery and fearful.
'You're not making friends here, you jumped up cutpurse,' Balar said.
'I'm not here to make friends,' smirked Majvoc, 'And I think we have more important things on our plate right now.'
Majvoc motioned his whistle to the horizon. Out of the dark loomed a burning bonfire that lit the edges of a great hof, a temple to the Old Gods. The harsh stark lines were imposing, even in the dark of night.
'Anyone got any plans for how to get us out of here?'
Luna looked at the imposing building. She felt like there was an energy about it.
“There’s something powerful in that building” Luna said. She was confused.
She looked at Tiella wondering if she knows or felt it. “It’s like the place I was given my staff. The shadow appeared and gave the staff to me and it felt powerful like this place. He changed my name to Luna” she said the last almost to herself, the strange feelings bring back memories of her old life and transformation.
She had a sudden thought, “Mabye we can tap into that places energy and jump to another similar place.”
"Perhaps." Tiella started but Balar cut her off.
"I wont be joining you, not that way." he stumbled and cursed.
"Why not?" Luna pressed, "if my magic can take us safely away..."
Balar struggled to pull off one of his leather gloves to reveal his bare hand beneath.
The skin was snaked with black lines that shifted and writhed.
"What is that?" Tiella gasped.
"Magic." Balar growled, "Or at least the price of it."
"I would not do this to you." Luna protested, but Balar waved her to silence fitting the glove once more over his hand.
"Magic always has a price, especially for humans." he gave a weak smile, "You saved my life and i regret nothing, but I fear that I would not survive another escape of the kind that you provide."
"I can not believe you said nothing." Tiella said glaring down at his gloved hand.
"It wasn't until the fight with Sigrid that I realised how serious it was, I figured it would simply fade in time, but it has weakened me, slowed me, and it is getting worse."
The sight of the great Hof was looming overhead now and the bonfire danced strong and bright before them.
"We wont leave you." Tiella said.
"You may have to." Balar answered, "Go with Luna if things get worse."
“Let me see your hand again” Luna asked.
She gasped as she realised what had happened. It was what she had been worried would happen if a human touched her staff.
“So it is true, humans can’t touch it. It’s the shadows mark. The shadow is the only one that can help I would have to be able to call it again. Maybe that’s why it appeared in the form that it appeared in”
She looked at the fire and the rest of the area and spoke again. “Tiella if you and I escape like we did with the trolls then we can come back and ambush them hopefully freeing Balar and Majvoc”
"I cant leave him, not like this." Tiella protested.
"You might have to." Balar growled, "Luna can get you out of here and you will save me."
"If you do not get healing then there will be nothing to save, and if we disappear then they will not treat you well."
"If our thief friend is to be believed then they are not planning to treat me well regardless."
"I will not leave you alone." she persisted.
"I will not be alone, I will have him." Balar gestured over towards Majvoc who was currently flirting with another of their captors. He blinked in frank disbelief as he watched the man pinch the woman's backside and then deftly pick her pocket as she made to take a playful swipe for him. He groaned inwardly, he was a dead man.
"Lets be sure of that shall we." Tiella murmured as she shouldered he way forward towards Majvoc. Luckily he bandits were quite confident in their control of the four prisoners and were unconcerned by them as long as they kept moving with the troop.
Occasionally one of them would be nudged or prodded by a spear of bow, but it was just cruelty and sport rather than any real attempt to control them. That said she had no doubts that if she tried to run she would be dead within a few steps. Eventually she found herself at Majvocs side. He looked down at her and grinned waiting for her to speak. She took a deep breath,
"So it's Majvoc." She said, "I am just as happy with name thief." the man chortled,
"Can we trust you... Majvoc?" She asked.
He laughed outright at that, "Gods no woman, have you not been paying attention?"
"They took your gold?"
His face darkened and he gave a short nod, "They did."
"Will you get it back?"
"What do you think?"
She pressed on, "and the deal you made with... him?"
"What of it?"
"Do you intend on honouring it, do you truly want the prize you sold your soul for?"
"I sold nothing." he growled.
"Regardless," she answered, "What will you do?"
"What can I do?" he gestured around to the bandits and then ahead to the Hoff.
"Luna can get us out of here."
"No more bloody magic," he snarled turning on her and one of the bandits gave him a swipe across the back with the flat of her blade.
"Keep moving!" snarled the woman.
"No, no more magic, for you anyway." she said after a moment, "I will escape with Luna and we will find a way of getting you and Balar away."
He looked unconvinced by she went on regardless, "I need three things from you Majvoc."
"Firstly, I need you to promise not to betray us. Secondly, I need you to use every once or charm you have at your disposal to keep my husband alive..."
"And finally I need you to steal my dagger back, and get it to me before I leave."
“If only I could summon the shadow again to explain. It was my fault you touched the Lunar Staff.” Luna said.
She was clearly frustrated with the humans hatred of magic. She did not stand much chance without it. It was part of how she was. She could not hide it anymore then a wild cat could change its spots.
"Don’t lose heart girl." Balar said, he grimaced as a wave of pain threatened to take his feet from under him. "I have a feeling that we will have plenty of need for your talents before this thing is through."
"Perhaps." She shrugged looking dejected.
"Besides," Balar smiled, "What fun would it be if we just teleported away every time there was trouble?"
"It would be safer."
Balar glanced down at his shadow cursed hand and grimaced, "Perhaps."
Luna smiled at him then reached out to touch the shadows mark on his hand. She thought she might learn something from it. She knew the shadows would not hurt her.
She had the Lunar staff. The shadows itself had given it to her. The question still remand in her head… why? She looked at the building ahead of them.
She shook her head then looked back at Balar. “Did you know that the dark elves aren’t actually evil, they were the gardeners of the night.” she said pointing towards the stars.