It would help a lot if you first read one of my other stories, namely The Beginning of a Sorceress. For those who don't want to take the time to go find and read it, here's a quick explanation. My character, Rune Simbriant, is Lina's mentor and friend. Physically, he looks about 17 but is over a thousand years old, has blue hair with overly long bangs that are held back by a white headband. He was red eyes and wears a white tunic with a blue vest and matching pants. Golden shoulderguards adorn his shoulders along with a blue cape.
Also, this fic depicts a nine-year-old Lina so don't expect any 'underdeveloped' jokes. Other than that, she's still the same, albeit a little weaker magic-wise. I hope you enjoy! The rest of the Slayers cast isn't directly involved, but some will make cameos later on. C&C welcome as always.
BOOOMMM!!!!... an explosion shook the room, toppling a stack of books down onto the desk and sending one of the thicker leather-bound tomes sliding across the desktop into an uncapped bottle of everdark ink. The momentum of the runaway book knocked over the bottle, causing the blue-haired mage to jolt upright in his seat as a rapidly growing black splotch consumed the paper.
Hetried to save what little of the ink was left. Everdark ink didn't come cheaply. The magic in the dragon scales used to create the ink radiated a soft glow, allowing a scroll or spell to be read even in the dark, hence the name.
Rune sighed as he finished sopping up the mess with a handkerchief. The explosion had come from downstairs. Most likely, near the library since that was where his three students were supposed to be studying their lessons.
One could never tell what would happen next with those three around. It wasn't so much Lina he was worried about, but rather Delly and Lazlore. Lina was okay by herself. She knew what spells she could play with and what to leave alone. Lazlore wasn't much of a problem either, but Delly was another story. Her unbounded rivalry with the flame haired sorceress was amusing at times, but their relentless bickering could even get on his nerves.
BOOOMMM!!!!... The ancient mage leaned back in his chair, pondering what amusing situation they had brought upon themselves this time. The wood groaned its protest as his full weight shifted onto the two hind legs. He ignored it and patiently waited for whichever of the three would come to his door first.
The young sorceress's feet were a blur as they carried her through the dimly lit halls of the guild. Normally, she didn't mind wandering the seemingly endless corridors. The lush tapestries and expensive paintings lining the walls gave her something to look at during their study breaks. But at the moment she didn't have time for that, much less anything else.
As she rounded a corner her foot caught on an untucked portion of the green carpet, sending her careening face-first into the floor, and uttering a curse that was too obscene to be heard coming from the mouth of one so young. The distraction only delayed her for a second, however, as she quickly picked herself up, continuing on towards her destination.
Perhaps if she hadn't been in such a hurry she might have realized it would have been a lot easier to simply Raywing her way up to the next floor, but unfortunately, the mind of a nine-year-old didn't always tend to think rationally under the most extreme of circumstances. In fact, her thinking had become quite chaotic after the events of the past few minutes had unfolded. Everything she and the others had done to try to diffuse the situation had only made it worse.
Given the circumstances, this was the most rational solution she could come up with. The only things working against her were time and the sheer size of the building. Why did they have to make the guild so big? The faculty didn't even use half the rooms during the summer session. Stupid architects!
Racing up a flight of stairs so old they creaked their age with every step, she nearly bypassed the room she so desperately sought. She almost laughed at the irony of it. Almost.
Leaning against the doorframe for support, it took her a minute to catch her breath. After readjusting her cloak to hide the disastrous condition of her clothes she gently rapped on the large rune-inscribed door, giving him a moment's warning before her intrusion. She wouldn't want him to think anything was amiss, even after hearing the two explosions.
With a deep breath she slowly pushed it open, wincing as the wood creaked with every inch. When the opening was wide enough she poked in the shaggy mass of red hair that was her head.
"Um...hi, Rune," the junior sorceress nervously laughed as she absently wiped her hand across her left cheek to calm the itch that had suddenly developed there. "Are you busy?"
The blue-haired mage swiveled in his chair, raising an eyebrow as he noticed the strong odor of singed hair and clothing permeate into the room from behind her. "No, not particularly. Is something wrong?"
"Not really. I was just wondering something," an uneasy smile forced its way across her lips. She hoped he would take the question really well. "How does one unsummon?"
"Wha-what!?" he facefaulted out of his chair. "Why do you need to know that?"
That wasn't quite the reaction she had wanted. Time to go. "Oh, no reason. " She started to close the door. Maybe she would be lucky enough that he wouldn't press the subject further.
Okay, maybe not , she winced.
She sighed. Just two more inches and the door would have been closed.
The door swung back open and Lina reentered the room. She held her breath as Rune glanced over her. Hopefully he wouldn't notice her clothes were singed and charred in patches all over her body; with the way her cape was draped over her it kept most of the visible evidence hidden from the casual eye.
Please don't look any closer...Please don't look any closer...Please don't look any closer... The entire time she stood rigid as a post, even when her mentor approached and fell to a knee beside her, brushing aside the cape to get a closer look at her arm.
Do grownups always do exactly the opposite of what you want them to do ?...
"Ow-mmm..." the flame haired child caught herself as Rune's fingers brushed over a light burn on her arm she had forgotten about.
"So that hurts, does it?" he asked without looking up.
"Oh, really?" The soft warmth of a healing spell swathed the burn in a soft glow, relaxing her tense muscles a bit. She let out a small sigh of relief as the uncomfortable tingling sensation subsided. "Mind telling me what happened?"
"Why whatever do you mean?" she said, putting on her most innocent and ultra-cute expression. Maybe this will throw him off.
"I mean this," he retrieved a hand mirror from a nearby shelf and held it up before her face, displaying the dark smudge mark across her left cheek. "What is going on?"
"Oh t-that...We w-were just...just..." What would be a good excuse? Oh, wait! She had one! "We were playing outside. I just happened to fall down in the dirt." Yea, that's it!
An amused smile crept onto his face. "And how does that explain why your clothes are burned?"
Drat! He noticed! "Hehe. Well..." How am I going to explain this?
"Why don't you start at the beginning, preferably, with the truth this time."
Lina bit her tongue as she tried to look every which way except at him. She didn't want to lie to him, but she didn't want to tell him the truth either. They were going to be in enough trouble once he found out how much damage had been caused because of them.
"I'm waiting," his foot tapped impatiently against the floor.
"Well...um, you see...we -- Delly sort of summoned this elemental and -- "
"What was that? "
"That was...um probably Delly...using her wand of fireballs." The last part of her sentence came out as barely more than a whisper. It was her hope the words would pass by unnoticed, but when Rune's eyes suddenly dilated to the size of grapefruits she knew that hope immediately went down the drain.
"Come on," the blue mage grabbed her by the hand and proceeded to lead her down to the library.
Just as they reached the entrance to the library the heavily ornamented wooden doors exploded outward as a giant wave came crashing down upon them.
"What the -- " was all Lina heard her mentor gasp before she was swallowed up by the living tsunami. Inside, she was tossed and turned about like dirty laundry in the wash bin. Icy water found its way into her nose and mouth, nearly choking the young sorceress as she desperately tried to find which way was up.
Seconds dragged on for what seemed like forever before the water finally pulled away of its own accord, continuing on its path down the hallway. Lina fell to the floor and before she knew it Rune was kneeling at her side with a concerned expression etched onto his face.
"Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," she replied through a fit of coughs meant to clear her lungs. Some of the worry dissolved from his face, but not all. She made sure to flash him her victory sign as reassurance. "Really, I'm okay."
The blue-haired mage nodded and stood up. He uttered a few incantations and a warm glow enveloped both of them as the surrounding air began to swirl in a miniature cyclone. After a few seconds their thoroughly soaked clothes were dry once again, and the spell evaporated along with the remaining moisture in the air.
Lina examined her clothes with a new child-like curiosity. I have to get him to teach me that one.
"I suppose that was your elemental friend?"
Before she had a chance to answer an enraged female elf burst through the doorway brandishing an ebony wand appeared. She wore a green and silver sleeveless tunic. A glittering cape flowed out behind her with her family's royal emblem embroidered across the center in a deep forest green. Her neck-length blond hair was kept back from her face by a simple headband, and a pair of oversized gloves covered her now balled up fists.
"Come back here or I'll-" the rest of the sentenced died in her throat the moment she spotted Rune and Lina. She quickly straightened her composure after that. It wasn't considered proper for an elf of noble blood to lose her temper in front of others. "Master Rune," she smiled politely, "I'm glad you're finally here. That thing ...has been causing all sorts of ruckus in the library."
Lina watched as he arched an eyebrow toward the elf after spotting the wand. "What are you doing with that?"
"Oh this?" her innocent smiled widened as she quickly hid the magical rod behind her back. "I was...attempting to banish that thing back to its home plane. But now that you're here there is no need for me to do such."
"What about Hilda? Where is she at?"
Lina gently tugged on his sleeve, drawing the mage's attention. "It is Hilda's day off. Remember?"
Rune sighed, shaking his head in defeat.
Maybe I shouldn't have told him that.
The elf girl cringed suddenly as she heard another voice rapidly approach from within the library. "Delly, wait up!" A moment later a boy with long blond hair in a ponytail stretching down to his waste appeared. He was perhaps just over a decade old and apprenticed to another mage, but for the summer he was under Rune's watchful eye. Like Lina and Delly he wasn't dressed in the typical grayish robes normal apprentices wore. Instead, he was dressed in yellow robes that swayed with his every move.
"We can't just leave the library like this!" he panted as he caught up to her. "What are we to do if Rune comes down? There is no way he couldn't have heard those explosions. He'll freak out if he sees you turned the carpet to ash!"
"Shut up, Laz," the elf hissed through clenched teeth. Her grip on the wand tightened as she seriously considered using the magical item on the boy.
"I'm serious, Delly," he continued on, still oblivious to the presence of the other two. "We could get in some serious trouble for this. It's bad enough we summoned the elementals. How do you think he'll react when he finds out the one who provoked them in the first place was Lina?"
The flame haired sorceress stiffened at the last comment. She tried to laugh off the tension as she felt her mentor's eyes roam over her. "Hehe ..oops?" she offered a halfhearted smile. Now we're gonna get it for sure. All because of that idiot!
"Ahem," Rune coughed as he shifted his gaze away from Lina.
Only then did the boy seem to take notice of their presence. "S-sir!?" his face blanched. "I-I didn't realize -- "
He waved off any explanation for the moment. "We'll talk about it later. Are all of you okay?"
It took a moment, but all three students nodded.
"Good. That was my primary concern. I don't care what happened in the library as long as everyone is okay."
Lina released the breath she didn't even realize she had been holding. Maybe things won't turn out so bad after all.
"But this discussion will be continued later."
"I'll go take care of your elemental friend," he explained as a smile crept onto his face. "You three get to start cleaning up your mess."
"Yes, sir," all three groaned in response.
"When I get back I had better not find any animated brooms or mops running around like last time. Do you understand, Lazlore?"
"How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?" the young apprentice replied. "I didn't know that was going to happen. At the time, chopping it up into a million pieces seemed like a good idea. How was I supposed to know it wouldn't work?"
Lina covered her mouth with her hand to hide the smile that was forming. She couldn't help it, and neither could Delly apparently as she overheard a snicker come from her direction.
Last week Laz had been stuck with mopping the floors. To get the job done faster he had used a spell to animate half a dozen mops. Unfortunately, he had lost control of the spell, and being unable to bring it to an end he took an axe to the mops, hacking them up into dozens of pieces. It might have been a good idea at the time, but his actions only made the situation even worse. The magic fueling the animated objects grew each severed piece into a brand new mop, leaving him with a problem that was three times as big.
The guild really had been in desperate need of a good cleaning, but the fact the mops emptied out all the rooms in the west wing and dumped everything out front in the courtyard had caused the faculty to slightly overlook this 'good deed.' It took nearly a week to get everything back inside.
"Go ahead and get to work," Rune motioned towards the library. "Once I've dealt with the water elemental I'll give you a hand." With that he turned and marched down the hall.
Once he disappeared out of sight everyone headed back into the library.
"This is all your fault!" the adolescent elf hissed as they reentered the library. "You simply had to bring Master Rune into this, didn't you? Now everything will be blown out of proportion!"
"Well, you certainly proved you couldn't control that elemental!" Lina snapped. "Anything that happens now is your fault! And at least I had enough sense not to blab anything about the fire elemental that nearly set the library on fire, Lazlore!"
"I didn't know you were going to get Rune!"
"Are you suggesting my skills are inadequate, Lina?"
"No, I'm saying you have jellyfish for brains! What kind of a moron summons a spirit she can't control?"
"Hey guys, don't forget we have work to do!"
"Why you impudent little -- "
"Stubborn, pig headed -- "
And on and it went for an untold number of minutes. It was a petty rivalry that had started between the two girls the day Delly Truxa had first arrived at the guild. The young elf of noble birth had been visiting the guild with her father. While he had been in a meeting with the headmaster she had taken to roaming the halls, which was how she came to meet Lina.
Delly just happened to walk in on one of Lina's lessons right as the flame-haired sorceress was casting what the elf believed to be a fireball (In actuality it was Bomb Sprid, a spell that looked exactly like fireball, but did very little damage and hardly radiated any heat. At the time Rune had no death wish for himself or any of the other members of the PMS. A child with the ability to cast fireball was not a good thing). It was a common spell, at least among the more powerful mages. But when Delly witnessed a girl not even a decade old master such a spell she simply refused to acknowledge she could be outdone by such a young human girl. She was nearly thirty (which is equivalent to about a human ten-year-old) at the time and for all her years of study she still had yet to learn such a spell. So she declared the rivalry was on.
"Would you guys help me and stop arguing for just a minute?" Lazlore grumbled as he broke the girls apart. "I don't want to be here all night."
"Mind your own business," Delly hissed.
"Hey, it's not my fault you two don't like each other!"
"Yea, its not his fault nobody likes you, Delly."
"What did you say!?"
"Oh, I think you heard what I said perfectly well," the petite red head replied.
The elf fumed a moment before giving her response. "You're lucky an elf of noble blood never allows her anger to overrule her sense of reason."
"That never stopped you before."
"Why don't you two have a spell duel and get it over with?" Laz chirped as he started to picked up a series of books from the floor.
"Good idea!' Lina replied as she turned to her rival. "What do you think? Are you up to it, Delly?"
An impish grin spread across the elf's face. Somehow Lina found it fitting for the girl. "Oh yes, I'll teach you a lesson you'll never forget."
"We'll see," she returned the grin. "But let's take this outside, shall we?" The sorceress spun around, opening the nearest window. Jumping out of the opening, she sped towards the open forest on the glide of a Raywing.
"Hey, wait! I didn't mean now!" Laz shouted as Delly did the same, leaving him all alone in the library. "I don't want to do this alone! Half the library must be on the floor!" But his cries fell on deaf ears as both girls were already well out of hearing range.
"You have to do better than that, Delly!" Lina taunted from where she levitated high above the trees.
"Flare Arrow!" With the grace of a sparrow the young Inverse effortlessly made her way around the barrage of flaming arrows only to swoop down on the enraged elf. As she made her way past she deposited her own spell on top of Delly. Nothing big. Just something that would keep the game going. She was just starting to have fun.
A moment later she heard Delly howl as several gallons of icy water were dumped on her.
The flame-haired sorceress giggled as she moved out of range again. Aqua Create was one of the more interesting spells Rune had taught her, and she was glad he had. She hadn't had this much fun in a long time. Lazlore wasn't much of a challenge, at least not when it came to magic. Outside of anyone that was a full mage, Delly was the closest thing Lina had to competition.
"Lina! Get down here!" the elf screamed as Lina continued to giggle. "Alright, fine! Levitation!" And up she went after the girl.
"Come on, Delly. Betcha can't catch me!"
The flying shards of ice only struck empty air as she floated out of the spell's range.
"I think your aim is getting better."
The elf stuck her tongue out at Lina, reminding her of a small red flag waving in the wind Speaking of winds, that gave her an idea. "Bomb Di Wind!"
"What the -- AHHH!!!" the elf shrieked as she was caught off guard by the sudden gust of wind. The spell caught her in the chest, hurtling her back towards the ground in an uncontrollable spin. Only after she concentrated all her power into another Raywing did she manage to pull herself out of the effects of the spell, coming to a stop less than three feet from the ground. " Lina, that wasn't fair!"
The sorceress shrugged nonchalantly. "It's not my fault you weren't paying attention."
"You think of everything as a game, don't you?" Delly hissed as she zoomed up to where her rival floated. "What would you have done if I had been injured? I'm certain Master Rune wouldn't appreciate you tossing around spells of that magnitude so carelessly."
"Oh lay off, Delly." Lina closed her eyes as she crossed her arms behind her head. The motion was meant to both stretch the muscles in her arms and neck as well as provide a reason for her not to look the elf in the eye. She really hadn't meant for the situation to turn out the way it did. It had been her assumption that Delly would have seen the spell coming in time.
I guess everyone is wrong sometime.
"I'm serious, Lina! How would you like it if I had done the same to you?"
"I wouldn't have been caught off guard in the first place."
"Why you...!" Delly batted a gloved hand at the young Inverse.
"Hey, watch it!" She barely managed to dodge the attack in time as she lowered herself below the elven sorceress. "Those gloves do increase your strength, you know! It might hurt if you hit me!"
Delly swung and missed once again only to be shoved back by another gust of wind. "Maybe now you'll realize how I felt!" she shouted. "And don't think for a moment I'm about to let you off that easily!"
Lina smiled again as they began to circle around one another. This was going to be fun, and whether Delly realized it or not Lina actually enjoyed their rivalry. It provided an excellent distraction from studying all those spells. Plus, these mini-battles they always got into gave them a chance to practice and hone their skills incase they were ever caught in battle.
At least that is the explanation Rune gives me every time I ask why he never interferes.
"Gotta catch me first!" Lina sped off again, flying deeper into the forest. Delly wasn't far behind. Her screams were still loud enough to hear over the wind rushing around her ears.
A small laugh arose to taunt the young elf as their flight path zoomed around and between the great trees. This was so much fun! It was so much better than waiting around in the library. If Delly wasn't such a tightwad she would probably be enjoying this too. Oh well. It was her loss.
"Gotcha ya!" A pair of arms wrapped around her waste in a vise-like grip.
"Hey, let go!" With the added weight her ability to maneuver was severely compromised.
"Not until you -- "
"Delly, let go before we cra -- "
THUDDD!!!... Both sorceresses smacked face-first into the trunk of a giant tree.
Reflexively, Lina wrapped her arms and legs around it. "Koala," she made the stupid joke to take her mind off the pain, but it did very little to help. That really hurt...
Sliding down the tree barely registered in her mind, much like the resulting THUD did from landing on her elven rival. After a minute she managed to clear her head enough to understand the reasoning behind Delly's cursing and roll off of her.
"Watch what you're doing, you red-headed heifer!"
"Shut up, you pointy-eared freak!"
"How dare -- "
"Do you want to make something of it, Delly!?"
A spark of magical energy flared up between them. Lina barely managed to jump back in time before it ignited into a giant ball of flame. She escaped harm, as did the elf, but the unexpected spell had provoked her temper. What is she trying to do, fry us both!?
"DELLY!!!" More dangerous magical energies began to gather, this time around the sorceress, as she pulled them into herself. Her unbridled anger channeled the power, twisting and weaving the flows into the workings of a new spell. Two can play this game. The little twerp is going to pay for that!
"I -- It wasn't me!" the elf insisted, sensing the growing power within Lina. The air around her crackled with energy. In an effort to put some distance between them she scurried back on her hands and feet. "I don't know how to cast a spell of that level...not without my wands!"
The explanation did little to quench Lina's temper. "Oh no, you're not getting off that easy!" A glowing ball of energy began to form in her hands. It wouldn't do any serious harm, but it would make the next few minutes of the elf's life very unpleasant.
"Look!" she shoved out both hands, palms forward. "See, I'm not holding one right now! I-I dropped the one I had!"
"...Always wondered how these things worked...Hey, there you guys are!"
"Huh?" The girls looked up at the voice. Not ten feet away stood Lazlore midway through the brush. They couldn't help but notice the long slender rod was leveled in his hand, or the fact the end just happened to be tipped in their general direction.
Delly instantly recognized the item for what it was. "Laz, what are you doing with my wand?"
"Oh, this is yours?" the boy asked with a curious tone. "I found it on the ground over there. How do you get this thing to work? I rambled through a dozen command words, and it didn't do a thing. Where -- OW!!!"
"Gimme that!" She snatched up the wand from out of his hand while he was busy rubbing the newly formed lump on his head. "Do you know how dangerous this thing is!?"
"That hurt! Why did you hit me?"
"This wand shoots out a delayed fireball, you idiot! You wouldn't have been able to see it shoot out the spell unless you were using your mage sight! And you almost fireballed both of us!"
"I did? Oh, that must have been what that flash was. I thought you two were still caught up in your spell duel. Hehe . Imagine that. I almost fried both of you. Haha ha ahahah. Haha ha...ha...he...eh...why are you guys looking at me like that?"
The look of which he was referring to was the death glare each girl gave him. The clear intent of murder hung in their eyes as new magical energies gathered around them. His future suddenly looked very grim.
"Aw come on, guys! It was just an accident! I didn't do it on purpose! Honest, I swear!"
"You had better run, little man!" Delly hissed her one and only warning.
"Because you're gonna pay!" Lina added.
While her companion continued firing off spells Delly fished out a new wand. This one was quite different from the ones she used previously. Power positively radiated out of the magical item. This was one of her special wands, specially saved for dire situations. Her father had instructed her to never use them unless absolutely necessary, but in her book, this qualified as one of those.
She took aim and spoke the command word. "GAAV FLARE!!!"
"AHHHH!!!" Lazlore dove for the ground, burying his face into the dirt floor. The spell soared harmlessly overhead, continuing on until it met with one of the surrounding trees. Wood hissed and popped as the flame burned clear through the trunk and into the next tree, repeating the process again. And again, and again, and again until at least a dozen trees were engulfed in flames.
Lina and Delly could only stare in shock as the scene played out before them. The trees were already on fire, but the problem didn't stop there. The flames quickly worked their way up, consuming everything in their way. They danced from one branch to another, spreading the plague of fire to the farthest reaches of the forest. If something wasn't done quick...
Meanwhile, Lazlore finally managed to pull his face out of the dirt. "L-sama," he gasped. "What did you guys do?!"
The two girls looked at each other and blinked. A single simultaneous thought occurred to both of them.
"THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!!!" they shouted simultaneously.
"You just had to start carelessly throwing around spells again, didn't you?!"
"Oh shut up! You were doing it too!"
"I wasn't the one who pulled out a wand and started all this!"
"AHHHH!!! We're gonna die!!!" Lazlore started running around again, screaming his head off.
Lina glanced up at the sound in time to see a flaming branch falling towards them. "Look out!" she shoved the elf back right as it crashed to the ground between them.
The elf stumbled back, anger flushing her face, but only until she saw the branch. When she did, she bit down on her glove. What were they to do?
"Aqua Create!" the burning branch was extinguished by another spell from the flame haired sorceress. "Delly, I need your help! We need to get -- DELLY!!!"
"I have an idea!" the elf replied over her shoulder, dashing for the entrance to the guild. "I'll be right back!"
"DELLY!!!" They didn't have time for this! Trying to undo the damage caused by a Gaav Flare wasn't an easy task. The spell would burn through its target and then continue on until it expired, dealing damage to anything in its path. Putting out the fire on her own would be next to impossible. She would need the elf's help for this.
Lina turned back to the burning blaze. How were they ever going to get through this?
The annoyed mage strolled through the empty halls.
Banishing the elemental back to its original plain of existence had been more trouble than it was worth. The spell itself had been fairly simple to cast. It was only the fact the damned elemental had refused to stand still. In the end he managed to get the job done, but not without destroying a few vases, cabinets, and other priceless fixtures in the process.
Rune sighed. The headmaster would probably dock his stipend this month just for the damages caused by his students alone.
I really need to have a talk with those three. They're getting to be expensive.
Out of the corner of his eye he caught the movement of a shadow and was nearly thrown aside as Delly rushed pass him straight into her room. She didn't even bother to close the door.
What in the world!?
No answer came. Instead, a loud clatter filtered out into the hall from the open doorway. Whatever the elf was doing it was creating quite a ruckus. The noise only lasted for a few seconds before it died down and she rushed out of the room.
This time Rune grabbed her by the arm as she brushed pass. "What's the rush, Delly? Did something go wrong in the library?"
"Wrong?" the young elf jumped. "N-no, nothing is wrong. The library is fine, Master Rune."
Something about the air caught his attention. He caught a whiff of...smoke? "Do you smell any smoke?" he asked the young elf.
Darkness, I hope that's not what I smell.
"Smoke you say?" The color drained from her face despite the pleasant smile she wore. "No, there's no smoke. Everything is perfectly fine. No need for you to go downstairs or anything. Hehe . I'll just go out to the forest with this wand of fire extinguishing for, you know, target practice. Bye!"
"What are you talking...about..." the mage let the sentence drop. Delly had already zipped down the hallway, leaving him feeling a little more than confused. How much trouble can they get into in one day?
As he started after her he just happened to catch a glimpse out the window. He could see a cloud of billowing smoke rising up from the treetops of the nearby forest.
"Now what did they do!?" the mage gasped as he took off in a dash. This is probably why some predators eat their young. An hour hasn't even passed since they told me about the elemental!
"BOMB DI WIND!"
The combined effects of the spells only managed to slow the fire instead of halting it. By the time they managed to put out the fire in one area and move on, the previous area would be engulfed in flames once again.
"Lina, this isn't working!" Panic gripped the boy's voice as the fire roared all around them. A burning fallen tree popped, spraying red hot embers at the boy, forcing him to jump back. "We're only kids! We can't do this alone!"
"I know that!" the sorceress snapped. "But we have to keep trying! I think Delly went to get help!"
"I got it!" a familiar voice rang.
"Delly!" she glanced in the direction of the voice. Talk about good timing!
The elf ran up alongside the two of them, brandishing a new wand.
"What's that?" Laz asked.
"This is a wand of fire extinguishing," the elf replied matter-of-factly.
"Then why don't you put it to some use!" Lina said, gesturing towards their fiery surroundings. "Or have you forgotten about our little situation?
The elf steeled herself and stepped forward. "Very well. Stand aside, children." Speaking the arcane words to activate the stored magic, she took aim with the wand and...
Poof !... a small white cloud shot forth from the ancient wand only to dissipate into the air several feet away.
"Uh oh," Delly grimaced, biting down on her lip.
"What do you mean 'uh oh?'"
"I guess the wand is out of charges."
"You idiot!" Lina pummeled the little elf into the ground. "Now what are we gonna do!?"
"AHHHH!!!!!" Lazlore was running around again like a chicken with its head cut off. "WE'RE GONNA DIE!!!!"
"Hey!" screamed the sorceress. "Would you shut up!"
This isn't the time to panic. We have to stay calm, Lina thought. But another glance at the growing blaze quickly changed her mind. Okay, so maybe it is the perfect time to panic!
"AHHHH!!!!!!" her own terrified scream joined in synchronous harmony with Laz's.
Powerful strands of magical filament shot out, flowing around the rocks and the trees, enveloping everything in a mist-like vapor. Out of the vapor ice crystals began to form. At first they were no bigger than a snowflake, but as the seconds passed on the quickly grew in size.
Each snow flake, cold as the frozen tundra in the farthest reaches of the north, attached themselves to the trees and the surrounding flora. They quickly grew, forming a sheen of ice as each fragment combined with its neighbors. The layers spread, consuming everything within a protective membrane the heat of the fires could not penetrate.
With nothing to burn the flames began to slow and stutter, becoming only a fraction of what they had been only moments before. In less than a minute the fire was gone, leaving behind a frozen and charred forest.
"W-Who did that?" a shaken Lina asked.
No one seemed to know. It was as if the spell came out of nowhere.
"Hey, who's that?" Lazlore asked, pointing to the lone figure approaching them.
"Eh?" Both girls looked up.
A slender woman hopped lightly over a burnt and frozen trunk to land in the tiny ice-covered clearing. Despite the autumn chill, she wore only a short dark blue robe of silk, which opened in front to allow freedom of movement. Shoulder guards perched atop her shoulders, from which a black cloak hung. The shimmering fabric flattened over the dark blue greeves on her legs and the cuffs of her arms. A wide brimmed hat managed to hide most of the woman's features except for a long ponytail of auburn hair that spilled out from underneath.
"Are you children alright?" a small fist pushed the hat back to reveal a lovely face partially hidden beneath uneven bangs barely held back by a black headband. A silver crescent moon was embroidered on the band, and under it a large oval sapphire was nestled in the center of her forehead. White-gold earrings dangled from her elongated earlobes, contrasting against he rich milk chocolate color of her skin.
Pointy ears...dark skin... Lina's heart froze in her chest.
"Look out!" Another of the elf's seemingly endless supply of wands appeared in Delly's hand. "It's a dark -- mph!!!"
The rest of her words rolled into an incoherent mumble as Lina desperately tried to think of what to do. Dark elves were certainly not native to Zephilia. They seldom came to the surface. Their underground cities, deep within the catacombs of the earth, were said to be quite large, rivaling even a city the likes of Saillune. Of all the races of the underdark, the drow were the most widely feared and renowned. Their keen talent for cruelty was something few people, even the retired heroes of Zephilia, cared to discuss out in the open.
"Delly, what should we do?" Lina cried. I don't know if I have any spells that would be powerful enough to fight her with...
When no answer came she chanced a quick side-long glance over her shoulder. What she saw she wasn't sure what to make of. Emerging from the bushes with a hand clamped over Delly's mouth was Rune.
"Take it easy," the blue-haired mage replied, gently prying the wand from the elf girl's grasp. "You have nothing to fear from her while she is here. Her arrival was expected. Darkness, where do you keep getting these things?"
"Mmmph!!!" the young elf squirmed, flailing her fists frantically.
"Calm down, Delly."
"Y-you were expecting a dark elf to come visit?" the only other male present finally spoke up. "But...but..."
Rune nodded as he released the young elf from his hold. "It's not exactly a social visit, mind you, but you make it sound like a bad thing. Do you find something wrong with that?"
"It is, isn't it? I mean...I thought...aren't they supposed to be evil?" the now very confused Lazlore rambled on nervously.
"She's a dark elf!" Delly proclaimed. "A drow! They should be killed on sight!"
Lina numbly stared at the scene, too shocked to say anything. This was all so confusing. Weren't they supposed to hate dark elves?
Their visitor abruptly laughed, her voice purring out in a deep sensual tone. "You should not confuse them so, Rune. Zephilia is not nearly as bad as other providences I have journeyed to. There are several towns of which I know the townspeople found it difficult to distinguish the differences between a light and dark elf. Despite where the elf was from, they did not care. They simply proceeded to attack."
"Eh?" Lina's eyes darted from one speaker to the other. "You two know each other?"
The drow's whimsical smile widened. "From a long time ago. It has been along time, Blue Mage."
"Yes, you're right," he mused. "It's been what, three-no, five hundred years? What brings you here?" Rune slapped his forehead with his palm. "Where are my manners? Shadowdancer, this is Lazlore, Delly, and Lina; guys, this is Shadowdancer Duskstar. She is an old associate of mine."
"I just wanted to see how many of the people I knew were still alive. Nice to know there's one constant still here." She bowed deeply. "It's an honor to meet you all," she straightened and looked at the children with a smile, Lina being the last to receive her scrutiny. Her eyes, the color of the deepest midnight blue glittering with silver and gold, fell to meet the girl's ruby red ones.
Lina wanted to turn away. Even if she was a friend of Rune, that didn't make her feel anymore comfortable about the dark elf. But there was something strange about her eyes. Maybe it was just the color, or perhaps the narrow slits that made up the pupils. Oddly, they didn't look like the eyes of a killer. They seemed to hold a compassion-a deeper understanding of life. Words couldn't accurately describe what she saw, but that was close to what Lina felt was there.
"Oh, is she yours?" With her forefinger and thumb the drow gently tipped the junior sorceress's head up. "Lovely child. Has your eyes but her mother's hair. I envy you."
Lina blinked in puzzlement. The lady thought she was Rune's daughter?
"She's not my child," he replied, "but my student."
"How can you do this!?" Delly burst in between the two, shoving Lina out of the way. She then proceeded to stand in front of the girl, her arms spread out in a protective shield. "You're not supposed to be friends with a drow!"
"And why is that?" Rune asked mildly.
Furious, Delly spun to face her teacher. "Because...she is evil! All drow are evil!!!"
"This little one is full of fire, isn't she?" Shadowdancer asked as she admired the young elf. "She must be a charming one."
She spun around to face the distant relative of the underdark. Her mouth opened as if to speak her mind but thought better of it. Instead, she turned on her heels and stormed off towards the guild in a huff.
"Please excuse her," Rune apologized with a shake of his head. "She -- "
She dismissed it with the wave of her hand. "I will hear nothing of the sort. It was to be expected."
He grimaced, the expression betraying his own feelings about the matter, but he let the subject drop. "Alright. So what brings you here? I know I'm not that important of a person."
"A matter of miniscule importance, but I would rather discuss the details in a less open space."
A slight nod was his only reply. "Lina. Lazlore. Would you two check up on Delly. Make sure she is okay."
The petite sorceress took that as her cue to leave, more for their own sake than his. Rune had explained to them that if anyone should ever approach him to discuss business concerning the guild or otherwise he would promptly request them to run an errand for him. He didn't want them to overhear anything that might jeopardize their wellbeing.
"Okay!" Grabbing Laz by the hand, she dashed for the guild in a trailing cloud of smoke with the screaming boy in tow.
"And don't forget to finish cleaning the library!"
Once the children were out of earshot the conversation resumed.
"You have interesting children." Her tone was admiring, but her eyes, filled with mischief, teased at him.
"Those children are...let's just say I'm glad they're not mine." He wrinkled his nose at her, receiving only a wicked grin in return. "They are very skilled with magic, and I could handle perhaps one, if any of them were mine, but not all three. That would be..." he cringed before even finishing the sentence.
A delighted laugh arose from the dark elf. "I understand your reasons. The girl with the flame-like hair, she is your favorite, is she not?"
With a shy grin he nodded. "Yea, just don't let the others catch on to that. Jealousy is an evil green-eyed monster, and between the three of them they cause enough mischief already. I'd hate to see their rivalry escalate any further."
The faint sounds of voices approaching in the distance caused Shadowdancer's ear to twitch with warning. "I believe we've attracted the attention of the local populace. What do you suggest we do?"
"Head for the guild," the blue haired mage replied, "but keep under cover. I'm sure your presence wouldn't be appreciated if they were to discover you. Just wait inside the doors and I'll be along within a few moments. I will have to take care of the locals and repair what damage my students did."
"You are quite the patient one."
Rune couldn't help but laugh at the droll statement. "I suppose so, but patience is nothing more than the act of concealing one's impatience."
Hearing the snap of frozen leaves and branches, Shadowdancer inclined her head toward the blue mage, smiled warmly, whispered, "I will speak with you later. We have much to discuss..." and vanished.
He simply shook his head, staring at the spot where she had been. As far as he could determine, it had never been a teleportation spell that she used. It was enough though that he knew she could handle herself. With a heavy sigh, he turned to face the innermost parts of the forest.
Out of his pocket he produced a silver orb, which he promptly tossed into the air. There it hung, suspended in midair while he began the workings to a restoration spell.
"Time which has passed be called back once more..."
From the orb a blinding light engulfed the forest, momentarily creating a dark silhouette of the local surroundings. Magical energies swirled and twisted, struggling to undo the damage that had been dealt.
Trying to resurrect so many plants and trees would take too much time and energy. Turning back time was much simpler, not to mention less costly. Overusing magic could actually contaminate the environment, creating unwanted side effects. This way was best.
At last it was done. With the completion of the spell the icy shell encasing the burnt forest shattered, revealing healthy untouched flora. Now that that problem was fixed he could move on to dealing with the villagers.
With a heavy sigh he turned to face the oncoming crowd. How was he ever going to explain this?
Chapter 2 | Fanfiction