X – War [Eternity: P1]


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TOC: Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11

Five years later, in a small farmhouse on the outskirts of a small town on the outskirts of a small city in Vithr, Nita sat awake, holding the little money they had left in the palm of his hand. They’d had to sell most of the land around them off, which had fetched a tidy sum, but most of that had gone now, and no one wished to hire the son of someone whom the North Wind had taken.

Nita looked over at his sister, asleep. She looked peaceful, even after all these years of hardship. She had never lost that childlike confidence, and it now manifested itself in a kind of beauty. Nita wished he could have that same kind of peace. Even now he still suffered from terrible flashbacks; his father leaving quickly, the house falling apart around them, him nearly getting beaten half to death.

He was twenty-two now and had been a true no-a for two years. Yet he felt no more powerful than he had felt all those years ago. Outside, the wind howled and screamed as it threw itself against the house. It stood firm, though. After North Winds began to blow with more frequency, everyone had started constructing out of brick and mortar instead of wood. Buying that upgrade was one of the things that had put their finances under the water.

It was funny, how the very same thing that killed his father was now considered commonplace. The thing that had driven him and his sister to abject poverty was talked about as if it was simply ordinary weather. Had everybody forgotten what these winds meant? Did no one realize that their Flamelord was leading them headfirst into calamity? He nearly slammed his fist on the table at the thought, but looking at Vir calmed him.

She stirred in her sleep, as if sensing his tumultuous emotions. He could have sworn that she had some sort of sixth sense. The times he’d gotten into trouble, trying to disguise his easily-recognized face so he could get work, when he’d been attacked by a pack of wolves while delivering a parcel in a North Wind. She even knew when his mind traveled to that bitter place where he railed against his father and cursed him for leaving them.

Yes, his sister was special, and he would do everything he could to provide for and take care of her. She kept his humanity alive. She was the only source of joy in his life. But now he had to leave. There was only one place he knew of that would accept him and pay him wages: the army.

Two years after the Firelord had supposedly been given the throne, he declared war on Asyther, building off of rumors that the assassin had come from the Asythian kingdom, and thus the Everking and his subjects were responsible. After three years, the war still raged on with no less fury than before. Nita was surprised that their Flamelord had kept up as strong a front against the Asythians as he had. Asyther was, after all, the bigger and stronger country.

The wind outside had died down to the occasional gust.

Nita shrugged his shoulders and let the coins slip out of his hand and onto the table. They barely even clinked, there were so few. With a glance over to his sister, Nita picked one up and set it spinning for good luck, then he left.

When Vir woke up the next morning with the sun shining in strongly through the window, she knew something was the matter. Nita may care for her, but he would never allow her to sleep away precious daylight, not with the way their finances were. Their finances! She caught sight of the small pile of coins on the table and instantly knew what had happened.

Recruiters had just passed through their town. While they’d been there, she’d kept a careful eye on Nita, knowing that he would try to join the military, but she’d relaxed her guard when they left. Apparently she’d relaxed too soon.

“Sha take you, you idiot,” she cursed, grabbing the money and slipping it into a pouch.

She rifled through her few remaining clothes and found the worn traveling cloak that had belonged to her father. It was too big, but it would have to do. Putting on a couple of layers of her threadbare clothes — she had no idea how long she would be out — she shrugged on the coat.

Hurriedly, she filled a small sack with their remaining food. How long had it been since Nita had left? She should have suspected something when he insisted on staying up. How could she have been so stupid? Why could she never wake up early on her own?

Having packed food, she glanced hurriedly around. A weapon, of course. She snatched their kitchen knife out of the drawer and slipped it into her coat pocket. Then, putting on a pair of boots, she ran out the door.

Where had those recruiters said they were going next? Vir wanted to ask the passersby about her brother, but she knew they would not speak to her. Why did she have to be cursed because her father had died trying to save her mother? It made no sense. She hated small town superstitions.

That was it! The recruiters been headed to Hearthlord Rhin’s lands, Rhineground, complaining about their small farming towns. A small voice warned that she should take their hyshum, so Vir headed for the stalls, but when she heard no scraping of hoofs, she knew what she would find. The stall was empty. Nita had ridden off. How in all of Sha had she not heard him gallop off on a Sha-bound hyshum?

A look of determination settled on her face. She would walk if she had to. But he would be much faster on a hyshum, the small voice whispered. No, she decided. She would walk. Even if she didn’t catch the recruitment party in Hearthlord Rhin’s lands, there nobody would know her as cursed, and she would buy a hyshum to carry her.

With this resolution in locked firmly in her mind, Vir headed out onto the road in the direction of Rhineground.

Hours later, as the sun began to set and the moon started to rise, Vir continued to stumble forward. Her feet were sore from all the walking, and her mind had gone numb just thinking about the endless plodding. She had no idea how much further Rhineground was. Perhaps it had been rash of her to just rush out after Nita like that. But she couldn’t let him go to war. He had been through enough for her sake already.

This thought drove her further onwards, and gritting her teeth, she continued to walk. But as the sun sank below the horizon, its warmth drained away, and she could feel the chill of the night creeping in. After a North Wind, the following evening was always especially cold. People used to say it was because a darker fate approached, but now everybody just said it was bad weather.

Vir realized her mind was wandering, and caught herself as she was about to walk off the road. She had nearly fallen asleep while walking? Unbelievable. Why did she have to enjoy sleep so much?

Then her long, sensitive ears picked up on a rattling behind her that grew increasingly louder. She knew that she should get off the road, in case what approached was not friendly, but she felt so tired that she could not bring herself to care enough.

So she stood there, wrapped in an oversized cloak, hunched from exhaustion, holding a hand out in the hopes that whoever was coming would give her a ride.

By the time the merchant pulled up beside her, she could barely mutter out a sentence. When he reached down to help her onto his cart, she stared at his hand blankly for a few seconds before realizing its purpose, and the instant the wiry man cracked his whip and the cart started moving, the young girl fell fast asleep.

Tours yruly

I – A Northwind Blows [Eternity: P1]


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TOC: Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11

“Father! Father!” A girl, blonde pigtails flying behind her, burst into a small farmhouse on the outskirts of a small town on the outskirts of a small city on the outskirts of the nation Vithr.

“What is it?” Quin-Dava looked up from his third failed attempt at cooking something edible.

“The wind! The wind!” his twelve-year-old daughter squealed, her long, Vith ears twitching in nervousness.

“What about the wind, dear?” he asked, his blue eyes showing tiredness.

“It comes from the North,” she said matter-of-factly, playing with the aa on the front of her dress.

Dava’s bronzed complexion turned pale. “Are you sure Vir? Are you sure?” he demanded.

“Of course. I licked my finger like you taught me. It got cold on the North side.”

“No….” Dava closed his eyes, and his face creased for a moment, but he quickly regained his composure. “Stay inside Vir, I’ll go get Nit to look after you.”

“What about mommy?” The little girl looked up at her father with complete confidence in his abilities.

With a strong effort, he smiled down at his daughter and ruffled her hair. “Don’t you worry. I’ll bring mommy back. You wait here and be safe.”

She nodded and stood watching after him as he rushed out. Already the wind blew stronger, and it sent a chill down his spine like nothing else could. If he had been unsure about his daughter’s words before, this confirmed it. His son, who had been working in the fields, met him just outside the door, a deeply concerned look on the no-il’s[1] young features.

“Take care of your sister, Nit. Keep the door barred, and don’t let anyone in. You know our password.”

His son nodded in mute understanding, and Dava saw his own terror reflected in the boy’s eyes.

“You are strong, Nit.” Dava squeezed his son’s shoulder. “You are now a no-a[2].”

Nit’s eyes widened. He was seventeen, and no one became a no-a until their twentieth year. But his father had just said—

“Go now, Nita. Protect your sister. I will bring your mother back. I will bring her back. I promise.”

Dava turned quickly and headed towards the barn, shielding his weathered face from the wind with his arm. Briefly, he glanced at the sky. What had previously been dawn was now black and threatening. Ominous clouds blotted out the sun and sky, and the very air felt oppressing. Turning away from the developing horror, the farmer continued walking against the wind.

Once inside the barn, he rushed to the end of the building where the two hyshum they owned snorted and reared. Their long, pointed ears were pinned tightly back in terror. Stamping and pawing the ground with their spiked hooves, they’d scored the packed earth in their fright.

Ignoring them for the moment, Dava grabbed his cythum — a scythe-like farmer’s sword — from its rack. He fumbled with the straps for a few seconds before properly securing the weapon around his waist. Then, grabbing a mount-chair, he entered the stall of Glamstra, his hyshum. A few minutes later, Dava pounded out of the stable and sped down the road his wife had so recently traveled.

He cursed himself for letting Mara go out on her own. He should have at least sent Nit along with her. That would have lent him some degree of comfort. Now his wife was probably stranded halfway between Rhyden and their house, which would place her— Dava did not even want to consider it.

The wind grew stronger as Dava rode, blowing straight into his face now. He gritted his teeth and urged Glamstra on. Snorting, the black hyshum lowered her head and galloped onward, partially due to Dava’s urging, but mostly because something in her basest of instincts was telling her to run, and to run fast.

Nobody knew exactly what the North wind brought, but as far as recorded history was concerned, it had always left death and destruction in its wake. It was said among the Enomatics that it blew only when man had changed destiny. Dava did not really understand the full purport of that, but he did know that he was doing his best to change his destiny. He simply could not lose Mara; he couldn’t.

She was everything to him. They had lived on neighboring farms when both were only children. Naturally they had spent countless hours together, exploring nature. He could still remember the first and last time he took her to the bogwood, where he’d meant to show her a daggerfrog. Instead a crocodid had bitten him in the arm and nearly killed her.

Without his bidding, Dava’s mind started recalling their happiest moments together. He remembered her joy when they’d finally had a second child, and how elated she’d been that it was a no-el[3] after they’d had a no-il, Nit. Tradition among the Vith dictated that having both a no-il and a no-el was the best of fortune. He recalled his pride at their firstborn, who crawled earlier than any child he’d heard of. His mind traveled back further to their wedding, and he recalled how beautiful she had looked, smiling at him, waiting for him to tie the knot that symbolized their union.

“Cast it all to Sha,” he swore, watering at the corners of his eyes. “If I don’t get you back, Mara—”

He never had a chance to finish his sentence. Shadows moved on either side of him, and Glamstra, spooked, put on a sudden burst of speed. Dava ducked quickly against the hyshum’s neck, doing his best to avoid sweeping branches which reached out to cast him from his mount.

For a brief second, he looked over the head of his hyshum, seeking to see what was ahead. That was his undoing, as a stout branch of a Vethilwood tree struck him on the forehead and sent him flying back off Glamstra. She continued galloping off into the night without him.

Still seeing stars from the impact, Dava heard the hoof beats abruptly cease, and then he heard the hyshum screaming. It was a sound that chilled the deepest part of his soul, and he felt his inner fire flickering. Turning back, he stumbled, trying to flee whatever fate his mount had met.

The wind picked up, throwing Dava off balance as a flurry of leaves and other debris rushed pass him. He fell to the ground, the shock adding to his hazy vision. Instead of getting back on his feet, Dava crawled desperately, knowing that something in the blackness followed.

When eventually he could crawl no more, Dava reached for his cythum and drew it awkwardly. The darkness around him morphed and shaped itself into shifting shadows, which he swung his blade at wildly. They did not seem the least disturbed by his desperate antics.

Dava wanted to scream, but could not. The shadows tightened their circle, and his cythum turned to dust, carried away by the wind. In abject horror, he stared as the shadows morphed and shifted, never one shape, but instead all geometries simultaneously. They neither flew, nor walked, but moved, and as they closed in, Dava felt his fire being smothered, as if a great pressure was being applied on his soul. The next instant, he was dead.

Back in the house, Nita held his sister close while she trembled. He’d done his best to board up the windows after barricading the door, but the sheer fury of the wind forced its way through the smallest chinks and cracks, causing the light from the flameglobe to swirl threateningly.

Nita could see the wind draining the illumination from the flameglobe, and instinct told him he could not let the light out; or maybe it was just because he feared the dark. Regardless, the boy repositioned himself with his back towards the wind, trying to shield their light as best as he could.

A sudden gust of wind sent him flying, and the siblings landed in an awkward heap on the floor. Vir started bawling. Nita knew he had to help his sister, but the breath had been knocked out of him, and he did not have the strength to move.

Another gust of wind buffeted the house, and in an adjoining room, dishes crashed to the floor while cupboards toppled. Hanging ornaments went flying and smashed into the wall like so many arrow.

In the wake of that second blast, Nita knew he had to do something to protect his sister. Gathering his wits and strength, he rolled over her sobbing form, using his body as a shield. When the next blast hit, he closed his mind from the sensations of pain as wooden shutters splintered and broke, their pieces striking his exposed back.

Each buffet grew worse as more of the house fell to pieces. Despite his best efforts, the constant blows to his body and his inability to draw a full breath in the fast-moving air left Nita feeling drained, weak, and barely awake.

For half an hour he managed to battle the imposing darkness which wished to cloud his mind. But, as the wind continued to blow, and the buffets to his small frame refused to desist, Nita slowly began to drift. When the large piece of hardwood hit him on the head, he had already lost consciousness.

[1] An immature boy in Vith culture

[2] An adult in Vith culture

[3] A young girl in Vith culture

Tours Yruly

Flamelord Vin-Shylvia


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There is going to be chaos… We must be prepared for the worst.

Hello and welcome to our first installment of Friday Funart! This, of course, is where I draw/paint a character from Eternity. In this case, I painted the Flamelord Vin-Shylvia of Vithr. I think the final result is alright. It’s obviously not stunning in its individual components, but I’m pleased with how it turned out overall.

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Let Us Not Forget (Update 2)


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Botha began to gather together various odd-looking bits of equipment, humming to himself all the while. Unconsciously, the inventor started mumbling the words to the song:

Let us not forget
Those darker times of old
Let us not forget
Strife reigned and chaos ruled

But we fear nothing
For time moves beside us
But we fear nothing
For fire burns within us

Let us not forget
When fire was lost in cold
Let us not forget
When time for life we sold

Botha could not remember who had taught him that song, but it was one he sung regularly. It made him feel important while he worked at trivial tasks, like investigating a naturally caused death. Swinging his haversack of gadgets onto his back, Botha swung his door wide open and cheerfully left the house.

Salutations and goodwill to everybody in this Christmas season! Welcome to the second update post for my novel Eternity. I guess I’ll just hit you guys with the bad news. I was unfortunately unable to make it to chapter 8. This, of course makes sense, as it was finals week (I still have one more exam tomorrow), and the goal was purposefully unrealistic.

The good news is that I did make a lot of progress. I finished chapter six (two more chapters than last time), and added a lot of extra background content that will occasionally have bits and pieces popping through in the main story. All in all, since last Thursday, I have written 3,061 words in total. So, as you can see, these are shorter chapters we are dealing with, but the story is progressing nicely along, and I think the shorter chapter format works.

So, to give you the numbers, our current word total is 10,208 words. Over the past seven days, I wrote an average of 437 words a day, and I finished two chapters in that time. We currently have 93 days left before the deadline, which if I continue with the average of 437 words a day, is an additional 40,668 words (and an additional 27 chapters), which would place me at 47,815 words in total (and 33 chapters). My goal is to have approximately 50,000 words by then (and 36 chapters), so I am a little behind schedule.

The good news is, now that I am practically done with school, I’ll be able to write more (ideally), and that should get me back on track. In terms of character updates, I have introduced 13 of 17 planned characters, but of that only 7 that have been introduced are main characters, so once again, don’t look at that number and think, “Michael, that is way too many characters.” Keep in mind this novel is going to be a long one, so I’ll need plenty of wriggle room in terms of characters without having to keep introducing a steady stream of them as the story continues.

That’s pretty much all I have for this update. My goal for next week is to have chapter 9 finished. Not pushing for too much here. Just a little extra work. I need to go and continue work on tomorrow’s picture now. Ideally that will turn out exactly the way I have it in mind. Ideally.

Tours yruly

Botha looked up at her and his eyes said it all: her father had been murdered.

Hi


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So… Where do I start… How about that amazing award that I totally did not throw together in five minutes? Yep. Believe it or not, I am back. In what might consider the most hectic time during the school semester (finals) I have returned.

Honestly, I have no idea how many of you out there even remember me or my blog, but if you do, I’m very glad that you’re still around. Now, the purpose of this post isn’t for me to once again apologize for being a terrible blogger, and then retreat back into my hidey hole never to post again.

Instead, I’m writing this post because I wanted to talk. I don’t really know who I’m talking to per se, because like I said, most of you are probably gone, but for those who are here, I’d like to have a conversation.

You see, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking – a dangerous pastime, as many of you would know. And I’ve decided that I wanted to raise the bar for what I produce. This is in no small manner inspired by Brandon Sanderson and his series The Stormlight Archive, an excellent series which I’m working my way through. The depth and detail with which he writes has floored me, and really inspired me to work harder at what I create.

Why am I telling you guys this? Well, it’s because the format of this blog is going to change slightly. I understand that in the past I used to have a “featured novel” which I would post chapters for as I wrote them, and that would be the main attraction on my blog. Well, I’m going to keep the “featured novel” part. But instead of posting chapters, I’ll post teasers and updates, journal posts to let you guys know where I’m at, and how our goals are doing.

I know this sounds very weird, and possibly kind of boring, but stick with me. I will post other stuff on occasion, because posting the same kind of thing can be quite mundane, but the reason I think this will work is because when I do reach my goal, then I’ll be able to release a chapter of the story every week, in a regular, episodic type fashion. And it will also have that level of quality I was aiming for, because I was able to go back when I needed to and change details in previous chapters.

Now, what story am I going to do this for? Well, it’s for a new novel I’m writing with the tentative working title of Eternity. I know it feels like I’ve been starting a lot of writing projects and not finishing them, and to tell the truth, I have. So I apologize to anyone who was really enjoying those. Believe me, the spirit of those stories will be carried on in Eternity, but unfortunately, the story lines will not.

After saying all that, I would like to get to the main point of this post, which was not about the new blog format as you guys might have thought. I said originally that I wanted to talk, and I do. I really would like to nurture a dialogue here on this blog. I enjoy having conversations with people, especially so with you guys, because I feel like I know you, even though I’ve never actually met you.

I would really like to start bringing life to the comments section. Just drop a few words on anything. It doesn’t even really have to be related to the post. You could talk about how you’re doing, or what you’re currently working on. You could even complain about school and how burdensome it is. Anything.

I don’t know if this will work, because 90% of it depends on you guys and how willing you are to actually talk with me, but if you are, I think we’ll really bring the spirit back into this blog. Now, I said 90%, so I’ll cover the 10% by starting the conversation.

Life’s been pretty tough for me of late. All my friends moved away this year because of college, so I’ve been left in the dump pretty much, and therefore have felt pretty lonely. Fortunately, I’ve made a couple of friends in school, so that’s not too bad. College itself hasn’t felt all that much different from high school to be honest. Except for the fact that I’m taking 21 credit hours of classes, which is always fun.

I’ve also applied for a tutoring position at my college, and I just took a test for it today. We’ll see how that turns out, because the last time I took this test, I thought I did great, but actually bombed it. I’ve also started drawing/painting on occasion. Here are some of my works:

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Of course, there’s more I could talk about, but I want to ensure first that I don’t feel like I’m talking to a wall, so I’m gonna hang around and wait for someone to reply. If no one ever does, then hey I might or might not continue recording my experiences here on this blog. If they do though, then I will have succeeded.

I have also been taking a philosophy class, so don’t be weirded out if I abruptly post something that seems philosophical.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll catch you guys tomorrow. Or today, as it were.

Tours yruly

Taker VI – Failed Attempt


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Now, if I could paint this well, I would do my own art =P

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get this chapter out. You know when you hit one of those rough spots in your writing where you know what you have to write and you know what you want to write but you don’t really feel like it because you have other things you want to do? Well, that happened to me, thus the delay on this chapter. But it’s here now, so, enjoy. 🙂

Chapters: Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |  ToC

“So, I heard you’re pretty tough,” a large, muscular Aelve spat, slamming his fist down on the table.

The person he was speaking to, an unshaven Human, looked up blankly, then glanced around. No one even turned.

“You beat up some of the people in my gang a couple of dawnbreaks ago. Want to explain?”

The man rubbed the stubble on his chin, then shrugged his shoulders mildly. The Aelve stared in disbelief for a moment.

“You do not shrug your shoulders at me, Human. I’m Ta’vich, King of the Streets.”

Ta’vich waited expectantly for the customary look of fear. His addressee just gave him another blank stare.

“Alright, I’m done.” The gang leader picked up the table between them and flipped it towards the man. Before he could react, Ta’vich lunged forward, his fist coming into contact with the man’s jaw.

One punch sufficed to knock his opponent out, and Ta’vich stepped back, satisfaction on his face. “That’ll teach you to shrug your shoulders at me, Human.”

When he turned around and left, the Human opened his eyes and stood up, righting the table. He called for another drink and rubbed his jaw gently. Moments later, the barkeep hurried over with a frothing mug in hand.

“You should have beat him up, Asanthe. Now he will grow more arrogant. And he is a coward. One blow from you would have had him running,” the barkeep said quietly.

“‘Better an arrogant coward than a vengeful one.’ Philosopher Kylh, 601 A.E.” Asanthe took a swig of his drink. “Such words are not mere dribble, Clara. Where is your sister tonight?”

“You can tell?” Suddenly the barkeep became very shy.

Asanthe sipped his drink again.

“How can you tell?”

He grabbed her hand. “You wear a ring. It is so important to you that you wear it all the time, except for when you fill in for your sister. It leaves a distinct mark on your fingers. Your nails are not chipped and broken from years of manning the bar and dealing with unpleasant patrons. You may be twins, but you have a slimmer frame, and that outfit does not fit you as well as it fits Tara. And finally, unlike her, you have a decided predisposition to hang off every word I say.”

She stared at him, then hurried away to serve another customer. He sipped at his drink and let the bitter taste bite at his tongue and the sides of his mouth. Everybody reacted like that. Even in this modern era, knowing too much got you shunned and rejected by others. Still, better he remain rejected and unknown than his secret come to light. Already there were people who suspected him of being more than he claimed to be, and his claim was no light one at that.

Asanthe, wandering scholar and philosopher, studier of the arts and teachings of philosophers before him, that was what people knew him as. If they knew that he was really the last remaining shy-gyth — swordmaster — and the creator of the fifteenth sword art: sym-myth, there’s no telling how many he might have to kill to keep his secret safe; the last thing he wanted to do was kill more.

***

“It’s very rare that you come to see me, mother,” a tall, lanky man said placidly, addressing the hooded woman behind him.

“I need your help,” his mother replied.

“Another rare occurrence.” The man spoke in clipped tones. “Who is it this time?”

“You know who. He’s back.”

This elicited a reaction; his whole frame went taut. “Not even your best Purists can handle him.”

The Headmistress sighed. Her son had many faults, one of them being his insatiable desire to feel needed. She supposed that in part it had to do with the rough upbringing he had underwent. He had essentially been left in a state of total neglect for the entirety of his younger years. How she — who had willingly given her sickly son to the scientists to mutate — had become leader of an organization devoted to wiping out mutants from Cheridith was beyond her. Life certainly had its ironies.

She reached out and grabbed his arm, an unusual sign of affection from her. “Son, be careful. He was the best they made.”

He gave his mother a funny look of disbelief. “And you would mourn, if I died?” The laugh he let out was all air and no mirth. “Would you not instead rejoice that you wouldn’t have to send your Purists after me?”

She pursed her lips, then turned abruptly and left. He stood silently, brooding, watching her as she strode proudly away out of the small hut he lived in. He shook his head. She was the only person in his life who could exact any emotion from him, and he wasn’t sure if he hated or loved her.

***

The sun had sunk low by the time Ryke reentered the city. Most people had vacated the streets, and his footsteps echoed hollowly on the cobblestone. Except it wasn’t an echo. Someone was following him. He rounded a corner quickly then flattened himself against the wall of a hut. His shadow’s footsteps stopped, and he peered around the corner to see a cloaked figure hovering uncertainly.

Before he could do anything, the figure hissed, “Duck!”

Instinctively, he dropped. A crossbow bolt bounced off the brick wall, exactly where his head had been. He straightened and quickly scanned the area. Two cloaked figures now ran off in opposite directions. For a moment, uncertainty took the reins, then he threw caution to the wind and ran off after one of them.

Energy coursed through Ryke as he sped after his quarry, his speed giving him an edge. Aylya cast a quick glance over her shoulder and cursed when she realized Ryke was catching up. She could still stay ahead, though, just not by running in a straight line.

Without warning, she ducked around a corner into a side alley. Her pursuer had to slow somewhat before making the turn, giving her a few extra cords. It was all she needed. Springing into the air, she gripped a rafter tightly and pulled herself up. The muscle-up took longer than she’d thought— curse the newfangled heavy crossbows.

Ryke managed to catch up to her as she ascended. He jumped up and grabbed blindly, his fingers catching tightly on to fabric. It was her cloak, and it came tumbling down on his face as the clasp for it broke. He caught sight of a flash of red hair before his quarry disappeared across the rooftop. For a few minutes, he considered climbing up after her, but it would have been futile. Wrapping the cloak around his arm, he made his way back to the inn.

Tours yruly