8 Feb 2019

The Elf's Prisoner - Chapter 16

Chapter 16

Minding the kids' manners.
Inn at the Crossroads, outside the Sylvan Forest
Jyslyn ate her meal in silence.  The room grew darker as the sun set, a welcoming relief from the harsh light of the sun.  Her legs were stiff after the day-long ride on the horse.  How anyone could enjoy being on one of those beasts were beyond her.  The dark elf longed for the luxury of a bath, but the inn wasn't the place to get one.  The stew, though, did satisfy her.  The meat was different, definitely not the lizards raised at the Citadel.

Done with her meal, she set aside the bowl.  Jyslyn whispered an incantation.  A dark aura formed, starting at her head and cascading down her.  She felt the day's dirt and grime leave her, refreshing her.  The spell, one of the first she learned, was the next best thing to bathing and cleaned her clothes as an extra benefit.

The clothes, though, still clung to Jyslyn.  She still wasn't used to wearing so much heavy material.  It blocked the sunlight, protecting her skin.  The dark elf had shed her cloak as soon as the serving girl had left after bringing dinner and a mug of frothy liquid.  Jyslyn wondered if she could just shed the rest.  The room was dark enough, and high enough up that no one could spy her through the window if she crossed in front of it.  Her body yearned to feel the cooling air again.

Mind made up, Jyslyn removed her outer clothes.  Boots, shirt, trousers, hose all hit the floor, leaving the dark elf in her strophium and subligar.  Jyslyn welcomed the feel of the smooth wood planks beneath her feet, the caress of the breeze through the window on her skin.  She settled on one of the room's double beds.  The sheets, rough to the touch, still thrilled her.  Jyslyn revelled in the new sensations.

The noise from the common room below her grew.  She heard angry voices shouting over the din, though the words were indistinct.  Jyslyn laughed.  Some things never changed.  Back home, the shouts would lead to clashing swords.  The dark elf padded over on her bare feet back to the table to get her mug.  The clashing of swords, though, never came.  Instead, a roar came from the crowd, the anger changing to cheering.  Curiosity almost sent Jyslyn back downstairs, clothed or not, to find out what happened.  Survival instincts kicked in, though, keeping her in her room.

Jyslyn took a sip of the liquid in her mug.  She recognized the taste of alcohol, but couldn't place the other flavours dancing on her tongue.  Unsure if she liked the flavour, she took a longer draught of the liquid.  A familiar warmth flowed into her.  Jyslyn made a note to ask about the drink.  She decided that the flavour was different.  Not better than the fungus-based drinks back home, nor not worse, just different.  The surface world had pleasures to seek out, once she was accepted.

Another loud cheer came through the floor.  The sound reminded Jyslyn of the arena near the Citadel, where the condemned were forced to fight to the death.  The dark elf hoped that the same wasn't happening in the inn.  Her dreams of a world where casual killing was unknown were everything that kept her going up on the surface.  Jyslyn could learn to tolerate the harsher elements, like the sun and the distrust she saw in everyone else's eyes, if only the surface was a far better place to live.

The cheering died down, leaving the sounds of the building creaking and the chirping of animals.  The first night, the sounds of the Sylvan Forest made it difficult for her to sleep.  Just as she had closed her eyes, she'd hear a chirp or the rustle of leaves or the howl of an animal, and every instinct in her put her on alert.  Exhaustion eventually claimed her, but her sleep had been fitful.  The second night, Jyslyn was more familiar with the sounds.  Tonight, though, she hoped that the common room would calm down at some point.

With the warmth of the alcohol reaching her legs, Jyslyn walked around the room.  She worked her way along the walls, going around each of the three beds before returning to her starting point.  The stiffness was still there, but not like it was when she got off her riding beast.  Jyslyn sat on the double bed again.  She extended her legs, first the left, then the right, pointing her toes.  Her muscles compained, but Jyslyn ignored the pain.  She knew far worse.

Another roaring cheer came from below.  Jyslyn sighed.  Relaxing was out of the question.  She wished she had her notebooks, but they, like her clothes, fell apart under the sun.  The dark elf remembered most of what she had written.  It was just a matter of practice, she reasoned.  The more she put into use what she learned, the better she'd understand arcane practice.  The noise from below would only help her.  If she were to be the wizard on this journey, Jyslyn wanted to be able to cast despite distractions.

The dark elf worked through her simple spells first.  Minor abjurations, creating light then extinguishing it and cleaning her dinner bowl.  Jyslyn thought about other magics she knew, but left them aside.  Most she had learned to survive in the Citadel, giving her both protection from and a way to attack anyone out for her blood.  If her family knew about her learning the arcane arts, Jyslyn would have to use everything she learned just to escape.  Still, the inn and the people inside didn't need to feel the earth tremble beneath them just yet.

Next Week:
A small disagreement.

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