8 Mar 2019

The Elf's Prisoner - Chapter 20

Chapter 20

Back on the road.
Northbound road, unclaimed lands
The group rode on in silence as the sun climbed into the sky.  Leomund had the lead.  Nyssa fell further back, keeping a wary eye out for anyone following.  Kazimier and Jyslyn rode together in the middle, side by side.  The dark elf grew warm underneath all the layers of clothes she wore.  Beads of sweat pearled on her brow and ran down her cheeks.  She fanned herself, trying to get a small breeze to blow against her face.

The sun crested, passing over its apex.  Just as Nyssa called for a halt, Wren raced back, her horse panting from the effort.  "There's a fire!" the young elf yelled.  She pointed behind her.  Dark wisps of smoke rose from the ground in the distance.

Nyssa spurred her horse into a gallop, pulling her charger along behind.  Leomund followed close behind the knight.  Kazimier prodded his mount to keep up, leaving Jyslyn behind.  Wren brought her horse in close to the dark elf's.  "Need help?" the blonde elf asked.

Jyslyn opened her mouth to say, "No," but shut it before she spoke.  "Yes," she said after some hesitation.

"Hold on."  Wren took the reins from Jyslyn.  She coaxed her horse into a swift cantor while pulling on the dark elf's mount.  Jyslyn grabbed the pommel of her saddle as her horse ran faster.

The group crested a hill, only to be greated by a farmstead on fire.  Kazimier jumped off his horse and ran towards the blaze.  Nyssa followed him.  Wren and Jyslyn arrived in time to see Leomund gathering the horses abandoned by the older riders.  Jyslyn slid off her mount, landing awkwardly on the ground.  Wren's dismount had all the grace the dark elf's didn't.

"We need water," Wren said.  She scanned the farm, looking for a well.  "There!"  The young elf pointed at a well surrounded by burning buildings.

"I need to get closer," Jyslyn said.  She ran towards the fire, Wren matching her pace a few steps behind.  The dark elf slowed to a stop a few yards away from the well.  She grabbed Wren's arm before the young elf could pass.  "Stay back."

The dark elf pulled a slim grey rod from her belt.  She felt the arcane flow of magic around her and guided it through the rod.  The lessons she snuck in and spied on came back to her.  Jyslyn held the rod over her head, pointing it at the well.  She adjusted her stance, bending her arms and legs to let the magic find a conduit through her.  The dark elf recited a quiet incantation, far more involved than the one she used the previous night.  Magic coursed through her and her grey rod.  She felt the water in the well, sitting, waiting.  The magic pulled the water up and out of the well in a cylindrical column towering over the flames.  With a twitch of her wrist, Jyslyn directed the column towards one of the burning buildings.

Water crashed on top of the burning roof.  The flames danced for a moment, then flickered and died as the water poured over them.  Jyslyn pointed her rod at another set of flames.  The column of water twisted around itself to attack the fire, coming in at the side of the building.  The flames died under the water's assault.  Jyslyn looked around, trying to find another fire to douse.

Kazimier came out of the second building, soaked head to toe.  He waved to Jyslyn and Wren.  "We need help down here!"

Wren sprinted to the charred remains of the barn.  She followed Kazimier inside, finding Nyssa, also soaked, kneeling over a burnt body.  The young elf stopped dead in her tracks, her eyes widening.  Jyslyn arrived to stand beside her.  The dark elf pulled Wren in close to her, shielding the young blonde's eyes.  "How did he die?" Jyslyn asked.

Kazimier knelt down beside the body.  "It's hard to tell, but I don't think it was the fire."  He pointed at a gash in the body's chest.  "This looks like a wound.  It could have been a scar, but I doubt it."

"Notice anything else?" Nyssa asked.

Jyslyn looked around the remains of the building.  "Nothing I can see."

Wren peeked out from under Jyslyn's arms.  "This was a barn, right?"  She pointed at a stall.  "There's no animals.  There weren't any outside, either.  Right?"

Nyssa nodded.  "Right.  There may not be anything planted in the fields.  This could be abandoned."

"Then where did he," Jyslyn pointed at the charred body, "come from?"

"That's the question, isn't it?"  Nyssa got to her feet.  "We'll break here.  Can one of you get a small fire going.  Kazimier and I will have to change before we get going again."

"What did you do, Jyslyn?" Kazimier asked.  "Open a portal to elemental water?"

Jyslyn allowed herself a small chuckle.  "I pulled the water from the well.  There wasn't other way to get the fires out."

"Thanks for the help."

Jyslyn released Wren from the hug.  "Let's go get the fire started," the dark elf said.

"And get Leomund and the horses here," Nyssa added.

Next Week:
Curiouser and curiouser.

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