My friends were dead. The holy man we just met was saying some words
for them, kind words no doubt, but I wasn’t listening. All I could see
was that monster’s face in my mind’s eye. The moment my spell
connected with his, that brief instant where his glaze flicked away
from Cutty and held mine. His mouth moved ever so slightly. Was it to
grin? To draw breath to speak? To unleash some other ancient
incantation far superior to mine? It was too hard to tell. His face
was covered in Aberlour’s blood.
His mouth may have been obscured, but his eyes communicated their
predatory intentions to my very core. “I’ll be with you in a moment.”
Somehow Jade and I escaped. Maybe it was her uncanny ability to steer
me away from danger or Luna’s watchful guidance or divine providence
in the guise of a white stag. But we made it. We made it to this
secret village, a place safe and friendly to all the races, to magic
users, to my kind. Some quiet voice in me pleaded that I stay, that I
earn my place among them and live out my days in peace. Maybe find a
willing woman to laugh with, to share simple moments with while I
pursued what I could of my craft.
But a firmer voice said, “No.” Not while unholy creatures like that
lurked the world, not when I have a gift such as mine. I needed
knowledge. I wasn’t forging new ground, not yet. I needed to stand on
the shoulders of the arcane masters who came before me. I couldn’t do
that in Brookston. I needed to access to proper grimoires. I needed to
get the hell out of the ’Dwell and gain enough power to come back and
kill the abomination that killed my friends. At least, I hope it
killed them. The alternatives are… unpleasant.
I forced my attention back to Dakkon’s benediction. He was speaking
about the mercy of death. I silently vowed the next time I encountered
that monster, he would receive only the latter from me.