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[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/DFyWToG.png]] Raunien hesitated with his answer. He realized then that he’d been hoping this Drow would have a plan all along. But now he couldn’t risk asking. He needed to act confident and decisive, two characteristics he’d never considered attributing to himself before. He knew that if he had any chance in making it through these next few nights he would have to seem competent.
“Well, we can’t stay here,” he said, mostly to himself.
The situation was clear--he needed to get himself and Deloi out of the village, their chances of survival depended upon outrunning that other murderous elf. If he wanted information, or revenge, or even a chance at capturing a dragon, Raunien didn’t stand a chance. But where to go?
He began pacing, his nervous energy becoming too much for him to sit still any longer. His first thought was of Deloi’s cave. It was nearby, and already magically sealed against detection. It could be an ideal hiding spot for a while, but it would be far from comfortable. There was nothing in there suitable for survival, and it was small and dark. Even worse, there was only one exit, so in the event they were discovered, they would also be trapped.
He glanced over again at his patient, his expression settling on dismay. There was little he could do now except for wait for the body to recover naturally. That would require proper rest, which would be hard to come by in a cave with no food or supplies. If he left the other here under Farun’s care, it would surely be a death sentence for them both. But what would be better? Raunien had no family or friends to turn to. They would have to take to the woods, and this drow would have to survive it.
Raunien stopped pacing as a new idea hit him suddenly. His hand thumbed at the key he kept hidden under his shirt, tied around his neck by a thin leather cord. He’d worn it for so long he’d forgotten it was even there. Underneath the warm metal against his skin, he could feel his heartbeat pick up, but he ignored that for now. He turned back to Alver, “I have a plan, but you’re going to need to get up. It’s quite a way on foot, and I doubt it’s going to be long before that brother of yours catches up to us.”
His voice was hard like he had hoped. He hid his fear and doubts behind it. But he knew what he was asking was already going to be demanding enough, so he cleared his throat and tried again a little softer, this time extending his hand to help him up, “Do you think you can walk?”
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/24/0f/92/240f926e809aebaa6ac32ddff83eb163.jpg]] Blood. Blood. Blood. Blood. It was all that was hazily crawling through his mind. The keen awareness that he was still losing blood. The feeling beginning to pull away from his fingers, leaving them chilled and on pins and needles as his pulse slowed. Sluggish. Blood. Lots. His.
A swell of nausea blossomed into his throat for a moment, pitching the world with the reflex of it and the elf's head lolled to the side with a soft, uncertain, ill sound. It left the dismissive touch of Raunien's hand but a blush of static on his skin. He clutched with what lacking grip he had in his hand at the rag he was given. Something to do.
The itching, hot, feverish sensation was intensifying again, and it seemed all at once. Alvér gurgled out a plaintive sound, body tensing, if uselessly, underneath the healing man's hands.
His eyes opened again, glazed, and rolled towards the source of Raunien's voice, at least acknowledging his introduction with a reach for eye contact. He would have returned it. But the rolling heat across his back and the angry, itching discomfort at his front he was trying to keep his hands from pressing against was plenty to focus on in his state.
Alvér swallowed through a dry and painful throat, gesturing limply with a roll of his wrist. "[+purple And where exactly,]" he started, taking an abortive breath. "[+purple do you want me to- go?]" He had just bled out- profusely he might add if he had the energy for it- and was feeling more nauseous than earlier.
If the world was trembling slightly, slipping, at the edges lying down, he could only imagine what it would be like trying to sit up and flee. And somehow, even now, his tone had held sarcasm in it. He would be right proud of himself if he was steady enough to focus on anything but survival mode and riding out the haze of sensations sliding into one another and jostling for his slipping attention.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/DFyWToG.png]] There was always a horrific fascination that came with watching a healing potion work its magic on the body. It was as hard to look away from as it was to watch, like watching a man struggling from the gallows. It was obviously considered impolite to stare at someone writhing in such pain, but for Raunien, that was his job.
He focused on the wound itself, feeling a little like a reaper waiting on that last breath to come. There was just so much blood. It was already covering everything, soaked into all that expensive clothing, pooling on the table, dripping to the floor. Dark, spewing matter that gushed forth even as the wound painstakingly stitched itself closed. He stole a glance up at the Drow’s face to make sure he was still conscious and tried to empathize with the agony. From a medical standpoint, he knew this kind of magic was gruesome though he’d never experienced it on himself. He’d had a quiet life up until now. Instead, his mind reminded him of his mother, her remains only recognizable because his father’s corpse was found toppled over hers, his armor displaying their family crest. His father was a renowned healer but he hadn’t been fast enough to save either of them. The village elders ordered for their bodies burned in a great pit somewhere leagues away so as to spare him from the horror, but his child mind imagined the carnage well enough anyway.
He absently scratched at his arm as his heart filled with fearful apprehension. Is this how destinies started? One moment it was just another drunken night in this backwater town and the next he’s between two dangerous strangers and his fledgling dragon is calling all the shots. He knew it was only a matter of time before Deloi outgrew her hidden nest and they would need to leave the village behind, but he hadn’t imagined their parting would be so soon. And he certainly didn’t foresee their parting under pressure from a powerful and angry Drow which would no doubt be looking for him as soon as that sleep tonic wore off. Perhaps this is how his parents had felt? Were they too swept up by Destiny, racing from one impossible challenge to the next until they were on that battlefield, fighting a lost cause for the sake of martyrdom?
That same bitter sorrow settled in his gut, but it was a familiar weight. He shook his head to rid it of his thoughts while eyeing the last effects of the potion as it sputtered just short of finishing the job. The top layer of skin stretched across the pulsing sinews underneath, barely meeting over the long gash. The result wasn’t a perfect heal, but Raunien was now confident that the other wouldn’t die. There was only a short, skin-deep slash left behind at the deepest part of the cut, which just trickled blood as Raunien wiped it clean with the linens. The rest was a slightly indented pink scar now. Knowing that the area was still raw and tender, he cleaned around the wound as gently as he could, but he was still feeling disconnected as his hands worked. When the Drow reached down to feel his new ragged scar, Raunien pushed the linen into his bloody hand and wordlessly batted it away.
His thoughts might be muddled, but at least his hands knew what should happen next. They hovered over the leftover cut, just barely touching down on the skin. He felt the spell gather between his shoulder blades, trickling down from his biceps to his fingertips. A low ache pulsed at his temples as the magic fed itself on his energy reserves, pouring into the spell. He closed his eyes but he could feel the skin move underneath his hands. There was only a small amount of healing left to do but he lacked the constitution to perform, so the process was slow and costly. When it was over, the half-elf let out a sigh of relief and allowed himself a little triumphant smile.
That smile faded quickly when he noticed Farun’s scrutinizing look from his place behind the bar. For years now, he’d been explaining to his mother’s old friend that he the misfortune of mundane blood. He couldn’t use magic, nor did he have a dragon, so he could never follow his parent’s path as the village had expected of him. Before Farun could say anything against him though, Raunien cleared his throat.
“Well, no stitches needed,” he said. He let his gaze meet the Drow’s then, “Oh, and my name’s Raunien, by the way. We should probably get out of here.”
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/24/0f/92/240f926e809aebaa6ac32ddff83eb163.jpg]] Alvér's eyes, even now, were wary as the stranger approached him. He didn't have the energy to draw back and avoid the touch as he would have done had he been in health, but that didn't stop the man's shoulders from tensing as the surface elf placed a hand on his back.
Swallowing what he had of his pride, the man decided- with the knowledge of his own life hanging in the balance here- to let this happen with minimal fuss . He shifted away from the wall with the full intention of walking on his own until he noted his weight listing and then being supported by the fellow next to him without hesitation.
Alvér eyed the table he was going to be delivered to, and the bartender once more. He tensed again as the arms supporting him wrapped tighter to shift him onto the tabletop, taking a sharp breath with how hypersensitive he was to every spot at which he and the stranger were in contact. His fingers were tight and unforgiving in the other- an expression of his own tension and an unspoken warning that he would do whatever he could, with whatever he had left to defend himself.
And with the near dead weight that he delivered onto the table, ushered by the stranger and his own lack of energy, that wasn't much. The tips of his fingers were tingling slightly, falling asleep it felt like, and very chilled.
The soft, leather coat on the drow was a deep green color, marred with the red and purple stain of the wound. The metal on the shoulders and upper arms of the man clanked dully as they came into contact with the tabletop. Underneath a waistcoat, his shirt was tucked into his pants, clasping over his body with metal, decorative eyelets and hooks, almost like a surface dweller would have buttons. They would be simple to undo and dismiss if their wearer wasn't so uncomfortable with the touch, even of his current healer, making him tense and rigid.
Alvér's hands fumbled with the bracers on his arms keeping the coat from being released fully from him, at least with ease. It took time and a couple of tries with slick, clumsy fingers, but soon unbuckled them to fully release the sleeves from his arms and shifted slowly and uncomfortably out of the garment before falling lax on the table again. He stared up at the dim rafters of the ceiling with a huff, absently listening to the quipping, short conversation around him. He found himself wondering where Reilain was, if he had aroused from the serum yet. Where the strange little pseudo-dragon was... if Reilain had found her. He hoped not. That wouldn't spell anything good for it.
He was snapped back to reality with the touch of glass to his right hand, turning his head to view the stranger elf beside him giving him a serious look. His eyes turned down toward the vial in his hands, viewing the liquid that itself looked like blood, but clearer. He swallowed, knowing its purpose, and lifted his other hand to make an attempt at a gesture at the cork in it. There was no way in the seven hells he was unstoppering this with the condition he was in right now.
Once the item was relinquished back to him, the drow shifted slightly to raise his head. It wasn't much liquid, but he would prefer not to choke on it. He drained it into his mouth, letting his head drop back with a soft thunk so he could start to swallow it in little bits, being on his back as he was.
The magic of it started at first as a heat. The type one got with alcohol. On his raw throat, it felt like it too. But that heat intensified, as if the magic was activated by its surroundings, the tissue about it, and then sprang to life it seemed. Already alight with too much sensation and heat, Alvér found it highly uncomfortable, clenching his teeth with a wheeze, tilting his head back. It spread to his already screaming side, and the drow fought the feeling, limbs tensioning; the vial gripped harder, and one leg drawing up, scraping a metal heeled boot on the seat of the chair it was draped onto.
The sensation of a healing potion, as lauded as they were by hawkers in the streets and adventurers speaking of their near misses and confusing their flasks with their potion vials, the mechanics of one were much less pleasant than a dewy saving grace. They were a bitter, heady brew that magically stimulated the body to heal itself. Every moment of itching scab, of knitting flesh tight and pink and painful was all amplified in the moments it took to sear the wound out of your flesh. It was hardly fireworks and glitter outwardly to the eye, but internally that and spewing maws of lava throwing patches of flesh onto the edges of a wound and the prickly sensation of spider legs weaving the edges together again were all that came to mind to liken to the feeling.
And this one wasn't a very large draught, either. Alvér didn't know the skill of the brewer, nor the potency of the contents, so there was no telling how well it would work.
He tried to keep still. And eventually the burn began to ebb, and bit by bit, his exhausted body would relax into the dull, phantom ache of newly knit flesh, or the amalgam disaster of a half-shorn job. Alvér considered the latter the most likely. It was a small amount of potion, and a short gestation period for the healing.
He couldn't see his side right now. But he slowly moved his hand, dropping the vial with a tink-a-tink on the floor, to feel what had been a long, deep slash across his flank and oblique where Reilain's longsword had hit him.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/DFyWToG.png]] Raunien ignored the bartender, turning his attention to the drow leaning in the doorway. Now that they were in the light, Raunien quickly realized that the other was in a worse state than he’d previously assumed. His eyes immediately went to the dark stain of blood slowly spreading outwards from the drow’s side, the hands dripping with blood from holding the wound.
Without thinking, Raunien crossed the distance between them and laid a gentle hand on the drow’s back, “Come on, you’re going to be alright,” he said quietly, coaxing the elf away from the wall. He braced himself so that he could support the full weight of the other elf since by now he looked about to faint at any moment. It brought Raunien back to his days working in the temple, and he snapped into his former role without meaning to. Raunien didn’t think himself a particularly skilled healer when in comparison to some of his former associates at the temple, but he was strong and tall and didn’t panic at the sight of blood. He knew what he had to do up until the magic elements--stop the bleeding, clear and clean the wound, check for symptoms of internal damage. A simply made health potion would take care of most of the work, but only if the patient was stable enough to ingest it. This was especially tricky with abdominal wounds since patients were more likely to go into shock.
But Raunien wasn’t going to let that happen. He was invested now, he wasn’t going to just deliver this dying stranger to be someone else’s problem. He glanced over at Farun, who was already begrudgingly checking his stock for a helpful potion. If worse came to worse, he’d have to keep the drow’s vitals stable until they could brew one up. But first things first, he needed to get a good look at what he was dealing with, and getting a handle on this blood. He looked around the room before deciding on his next course of action. He settled on getting the other up onto a nearby table since he wasn’t confident that he would be able to hold himself in a sitting position on a chair anyway. His patient felt warm to the touch, sweaty, and barely conscious, all not great signs. So, he carefully guided the stranger over to the closest table before giving him a quick smile, “All right, brace yourself.”
Raunien gingerly lifted the other just the few inches needed to get him on the table. It was awkward only because of how hard he was trying to move the other as little as possible in fear of causing his wound to aggravate. Farun came over while he was trying to peel away some layers of clothing from the wound and dropped a pile of clean linen on the table beside the pair.
“You’re going to need these to bandage that up, might even need stitches,”
“I know,” Raunien responded, staring into the gash with worry, “please tell me you have a potion.”
Farun handed over a small glass vial, glowing a faint reddish purple, “You owe me, I hope you know.”
Raunien rolled his eyes at that, but he was too busy to come up with some witty return. Instead, he handed the potion to the drow, closing it in their hand with an uncharacteristically grave expression on his face, “Hey, if you’re with me right now I need you to drink this.”
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/24/0f/92/240f926e809aebaa6ac32ddff83eb163.jpg]] Time was stretching. It seemed at moments to suddenly all come at him within a moment, and others to plod endlessly with no progress towards their dubious destination. Alvér understood how precarious his situation was at the moment. Following a stranger to some supposed "safe" location alone was hardly ever something he planned on doing. But this was a relatively desperate situation that was actively slipping away from him as more blood pushed against his fingers.
His back rolled with heat, coming over him in tides of chilling discomfort. His temperature extremes and fatigue were making his hands shake, his head feeling as if rolling about in a too-large skull. Had he expended that much energy in battle just now? He felt almost like he did coming down off of their last one. But this time it had been stained by a different desperation. He hadn't the boon he had had last time. This was a raw, survival situation.
And even now, his thoughts were straying back to Reilain. What had become of him? How he had found him, in this vast, confusing realm? When and how had he gained that hideous aura about him?
What was less confusing was the town, at least. The drow had been in it for a few days and had slowly picked up a few landmarks as he had skulked, careful, watching, and gathering supplies for the next leg of his jaunt, wherever that would lead him. It was quick glances at those few things he recognized, tossed over a hunched shoulder as he was drawn deeper into an area he was less familiar with.
This was elven territory, which meant that he was in danger by simple existence. The nice thing about being dark-haired and pale, meant that at a glance he could be mistaken for a sickly high elf. As disgusting as that thought was, as lowly as that made him feel it was a necessity, especially alone. And who knew what sort of things awaited him in this place the stranger and his pseudo-dragon would take him to. That was one of the subjects that his mind had to snap out of when he saw the little creature scuttle away into a hedge. He then heard the stranger's voice once more.
Alvér's eyes moved to the elf, wild and taken by surprise. He cursed himself for not having paid attention more to their direction, casting a look around as he noted the growing absence of the winged reptile that had been so curious about him before.
[i Murderous.] Alvér's eyes pulled for a second before his brow shot down in a tight look, thin lips terse across his face. He saw the pale look the surface elf gave him and made an attempt to stand himself upright more. Pride, ever present, made him desire not to seem weak before this barkeep.
He stepped up to the door of the public house and cast a glance around, hearing the growled tone of a disgruntled business owner. Alvér's eyes went to the man's as he placed a slick, wry smile onto his face. A friend of his, hm? Was this one so trusting? Is that why he had bothered to take him? Even so, the words "you're more worth to me alive than dead" were still hovering in the back of his mind. What did this one have in mind as repayment for this mercy?
"[+purple Is it a common occurrence,]" Alvér rasped through dimming eyes as he leaned on the doorjamb, "[+purple to be so imposed upon?]"
He pressed his lips together to muffle a groan as he stepped up onto the wooden floor of the tavern now, using his free hand, slicked with his blood, to balance himself. Long fingers flexed in his side, suffering the increase of the fire within the nerves there to try to staunch what he could. His head swam with the sudden light of the flames in sconces and hearth before him, the elf's face creasing as he tried to keep his eyes from them, but warily on the other bodies within the room.
"[+purple This is going to be very inelegant if there's little haste to be made,]" the mage warned a bit wryly, feeling himself begin to battle another shudder of feverishness over himself. He was wan, his ashen skin doing little to make him look alive to begin with when compared to a surface elf.
Alvér knew if he bent now, he would not be able to rise, sagging as he was more against the wall with the passing moments. He bitterly hated the idea of passing out in front of these men, but could feel it hovering like a weight all over him, flushing more uncomfortable heat across his skin and summing another nauseous groan from him.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/DFyWToG.png]] Raunien led the way through the trees, back towards town. He could see the faint glow of lantern light in the distance, just ahead on the pathway, though the houses themselves were cast in darkness to him. Still, he knew the way well. He’d lived in this little village nestled in the trees his whole life, after all.
In truth, there were several places he had in mind, and as they walked he narrowed down the choices. It was early morning by now, so most everyone in the village was asleep and Raunien didn’t have many he could count on. He thought about the village’s Main Hall, which doubled as a temple and hospital of sorts. He’d worked there for a time before discovering he was an incredibly useless healer and giving up. But they closed doors at sundown and he’d be hard pressed to convince anyone to give him entry. He didn’t have a great track record with sobriety, which the temple healers particularly disapproved.
Then there was Kana’s house, the old widow who took him in as a child. Kana was a gentle heart so she wouldn’t turn them away, but she wouldn’t be of much use either. They would have privacy in his own inherited home on the other side of town, but the place was barren of anything useful.
So, Raunien settled on taking a chance back at his usual haunt, the good old Owl’s Eye. It was the closest stop on their journey, which was ideal seeing as he wasn’t sure how much farther the drow would make it. By now, the tavern would be closed but the bartender, Farun, would still be awake and closing up. He’d probably be willing to help. He knew Farun to be a poor healer, but the bar was decently stocked with various potions which might prove useful, and there were beds upstairs where the stranger could sleep. Also, and possibly most important, Farun wouldn’t make a big deal of having a Drow around, if he could convince him to let them in.
It was after he was standing near enough to see again due to the soft glow inside the building that he remembered Deloi. His stomach dropped when he realized that this was her first time inside the village, where there were dozens of prying eyes. If just one of his fellow villagers caught sight of her, his life would surely change forever. He would most definitely be forced to go to the Citadel and fill the enormous shoes his mother had left behind. It was rumored that outside the treeline a war was brewing, and so the Citadel was especially hungry for new recruits. He’d only be a poor replacement for a once great family name, and the whole thing sounded particularly dreadful. Though soon Deloi would be too big to hide, for now at least he could bargain with her. He reached out to his dragon through their mind connection and told her to stay hidden, to which he received an indignant huff. Still, he watched her crawl into the nearby underbrush as obedient as a dragon could be.
With Deloi out of the way, he stepped up to the doorstep and turned to the drow following him, showing a reassuring smile.
“Right. In here then, I have a friend who could take a look at that wound. And he’s accustomed to all sorts of...travelers, I suppose even the murderous ones,” the elf tried to joke, only realizing too late that it might not have been a good idea. Truthfully, he didn’t know anything about the stranger, nor his relation to his pursuer, who he’d inexplicably spared. To save face, Raunien decided to just go inside and get this over with.
“We’re closed,” Farun said gruffly, not even looking up at his visitor.
“I’m not looking for ale, I’m looking for a little help,” Raunien responded. Farun looked irritated, but he didn’t immediately kick him out again, so he took that as a good sign and stepped up a little more. “It’s not for me. A friend of mine needs a little...well, he’s probably bleeding out so if we could skip the bickering for now? I promise you can hassle me later about this, on the house.”
“Oh, God’s be damned,” Farun cursed, “Raunien, you never cease to astound me, I swear. And I thought I'd finally have a night of peace from your antics.”
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/24/0f/92/240f926e809aebaa6ac32ddff83eb163.jpg]] The drow's eyes remained fixated on the stranger, watching him as he sheathed the weapon he had returned. A show of momentary trust on the elf's side, and to gauge the other. But he seemed uninterested in further conflict.
His eyes narrowed at the mention of being worth more alive. Was he a bounty hunter, then? Did he know of them, he and his brother? If so, why had he taken stance against Reilain?
Reilain, as if on cue upon mention and with a groan behind them, finally crumpled, and Alvér turned around, brows arching.
He would hardly call it squaring off, he thought bitterly to himself, peeling his hand from his side for a moment to look at how dark his palm was, how slick. He hissed, taking his eyes from it immediately. This was bad. He was very injured and had no energy left with which to aim towards potentially helping his injuries. But he needed to keep that knowledge to himself only. There was only danger in being exposed- unable to fight physically or protect himself until he rested and regained what energy he had spent in this fight.
The elf swallowed, returning his gaze momentarily to the stranger. "[+purple Perhaps this would be a good chance to take our leave, then.]" he coughed, pushing his hand against the wound and sucking in a sound of pain, biting it off before it passed his lips.
With one gesture, he dissipated the magical barriers glowing softly around the crumbled warrior, and shifted a step towards Raunien, gesturing for him to lead the way. It would be arduous and slow if the distance was anything like that he was assuming it was. Scruffy little street elf throwing his one and only, it seemed, knife at another elf to assist in a fight. He likely was some urchin hermit from the woods. Lovely.
"[+purple I can- I will make the distance.]"
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/DFyWToG.png]] “Owe me?” Raunien shifted uncomfortably, unsure of what to say. In truth, he had nothing to gain from getting involved in this fight in the first place. He had been ready to spend the rest of his night drunk, rereading his precious few historical tomes by candlelight, or wandering over to Deloi’s cave to play his orcana for her until dawn. That didn’t change the fact, however, that he was involved now. So the question spurred him to think about what he should do next.
He took a moment to sheath his knife and slip it back into his boot. As far as protections went, his lucky throwing knife was his only trick. He lacked any kind of combat skill, besides some rudimentary magical abilities strengthened by his bond with Deloi. Deloi may be a formidable opponent one day, but for now, she was too small to tip the scales in a fight. Considering his options, it would probably be best to take the stranger’s advice and put as much distance as possible between himself and the drow. As his dragon grew, he would need to put his small village behind him anyway, so this incident could provide some good motivation to leave.
But when he looked back to the dark-haired drow, he knew that leaving him behind may very well be leaving him to die. Deloi was right. If not from his injuries, then certainly from his attacker once the sleeping serum wore off. Raunien didn’t necessarily believe in fate, but there would've been no point in getting involved if he was just going to let the drow die on him now. So, he squinted in the darkness, noting the other’s suspicious tone and sighing heavily, “I’m not asking you for anything, but you’re worth more alive to me than dead. I don’t know why you've come here, but in this village, I doubt there’s a single elf that could square off against that one,” he gestured to the silver-haired drow, “So consider this a kindness? I’d at least like to see the extent of your injuries. I don’t know if you know this, but us surface elves are about blind as bats this time of night.”
At that, Raunien pointed vaguely in the direction he had in mind, "So figure out what you're doing with your captive and follow me, it's just up over the hill if you think you can make it that far?"
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/24/0f/92/240f926e809aebaa6ac32ddff83eb163.jpg]] Alvér hummed, eyeing the individual as he brought out the container for his serum and then the serum itself. He reached out towards the material to discover it was magic, if it would spark and complete a circuit with his. He focused for a moment, with what senses weren't crying out in pain or panic knowing his very angry, undead brother was grunting and slumping inside a magical barrier not too far away from him. Alvér was beginning to feel the oncoming dread finally sink in about what had just happened and swallowed through a cottony mouth, eyes slipping to the side as he gathered himself. It made his shoulders bunch a little with discomfort, for that in addition to growing exhausted with his stance compensating for the wound in his torso.
His attention was caught again by what he assumed was a pseudo-dragon prancing back towards the elf before him. The drow's eyes traced her movement up the man's body to his shoulders. A curious, fearless creature, but so was the nature of beasts large and small. Often it was the smaller ones that were more aggressive and full of 'personality', as it were.
He was beginning to feel the oncoming prickle of chills run down his back and shoulders, and creeping along his chest. This wasn't a good situation to be in: bleeding, exhausted and among strangers and enemies. He wondered if it was the blood-loss that was making him feel so faint. He could practically feel how pale he was getting.
Reilain's bleary eyes snapped back up to the stranger as he looked upon him, stolidly trying to keep upright in his crouched position on one knee even as his back bowed and his body sagged. His blinking was labored and slow with eyes drugged and eager to stay closed, the silvery strands of his hair catching what light there still was over his face, twisted in rage and concentration.
Alvér followed the man's attention and gazed back at his brother, moving with the weight of a rapidly tiring body. His movements pendulous and studied, careful as he felt around how badly he hurt, and the places and positions he would steer clear from now. Grunting softly, he relinquished the attempt to glance fully at his sibling and pursed his lips. Feeling eyes on him, the elf's gaze returned to the stranger in front of him.
His eyes narrowed in suspicion, glancing over the other, "[+purple And what would I owe in return?]"
He had already inexplicably been assisted by this man. Alvér could only fathom what was making him decide to intervene. Certainly Alvér knew he was finely dressed, in his long coat, the stone on the piece around his neck shone purple in the light, carved into a relief of a spider, the silvered etchings on his bracers and the shoulder pieces depicting delicate, elven spiderwebs and such... But what else on him but the clothes on his back would attract the attention of an overworld elf? What would attract any [i good] attention, at least? No one simply helped another without recompense.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/DFyWToG.png]] “Not sure, I normally use it to dose myself to sleep,” he responded. Raunien was an elf of average stature, though considerably shorter than his target and not nearly as muscular, from what he could tell. He fished the vial of sleep serum from his bag to investigate, “I’d say he has a good night’s worth in him, if his body reacts the same as mine, which I doubt.”
Deloi returned to Raunien, fanning her wings indignantly as she walked. Now that she’d gotten her curiosity out of the way, she appeared poised and obedient once more. Raunien would find her behavior amusing or even endearing if it hadn’t led them towards so much apparent danger. Still, he smiled a little as she fluttered up to rest on his shoulder, back legs supported by the hood of his cloak. As much as the elf disapproved of her willfulness, he wondered what insight she might have gained.
[i “So what did your vision predict next?”] he asked her, grimacing as the rough scales of her tail coiled against his neck. He looked from one drow to the other, unsure what to make of the situation now that the fight was over. His eyes lingered on the captured one, watching with disdain and already worried about what might happen once he recovered.
[i “You know my visions do not ‘predict’ anything. But I smell death on the standing one.”]
At that, Raunien’s gaze flickered to the dark-haired drow. He looked him over carefully, noticing the way he was clutching at his side as he moved. Between the two drow, it was impossible to tell how much blood was coming from where. It seemed to manifest everywhere, but now that he was more scrutinizing, he noticed how much was staining the drow’s side.
As he took his knife back, he lingered a moment, brow furrowed. He looked into the drow’s eyes for a few seconds and tried to judge his character. Was it worth the risk? At the very least, he might need this elf alive in case his attacker wanted revenge upon waking.
“You’re hurt,” he said, finally, “I know someone who could help you, if you'll let me take you there?”
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/24/0f/92/240f926e809aebaa6ac32ddff83eb163.jpg]] Reilain was fading, it was obvious by how little his eyes stayed on his brother, and how seldom he was doing more than leaning on the magic keeping him in, smearing blood across it from his bleeding palm. He was panting audibly, intermittent with frustrated growls and glances cast up at the mage approaching him.
Alvér watched the stranger bend underneath what seemed illness, and his strange little charge finally wiggled free of him. Seeing a form rushing towards him, the drow drew his arms up- his free arm, the other stolidly kept to his middle- and watched the thing with suspicion, expecting her to bite. He watched her as she looked up at him and around, the elf staying still.
But there was no time for distractions, not when his magic would be fading in a matter of minutes. The spiritual weapon had disappeared by now, and turned towards his brother again, shifting to step over the distraction wending her way around his legs and smelling at the hem of his coat, the heels of his boots.
"[+purple You're in my way,]" he informed the little draconic creature, frowning. Alvér looked back at Reilain.
His attention was taken again by the trembling voice behind him, looking over his shoulder at the stranger who had thrown the knife. He was about to ignore him when his question was finally answered, eyes returning.
"[+purple How potent?]" the sorcerer asked, eyeing all 6'5" of his brother. To memory, it took a lot to get the man drunk, and it would likely do the same to get him poisoned. How feared how long the serum would work in him.
He reached into the magic trapping his brother and laid a hand on his shoulder, bypassing the man's front entirely as he leaned over him to take and pull the knife free. Reilain groaned with it and closed a hand on his coat.
"[+purple Be still, you stupid oaf,]" he said, the familiar words bitter on his lips, and pulled his hand off. He hesitated here, looking down at the little dragon with his brother leaning partially against him, the stranger's knife in his hand and then sighed, stepping away and turning more fully towards the stranger. There was nothing more he could do now. He would have to regroup, and now he had an objective.
"[+purple It would be wise to put as much distance between he and you as possible,]" he rasped, pressing his arm harder across himself to support his walk. He felt ill, brushing more at the blood on him, drying down sticky on his face now.
Approaching, the tall elf looked over the young man before him. He held his knife out.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/DFyWToG.png]] Raunien dropped his hand and watched the rest of the struggle with wide eyes. Since his only weapon was now blade-deep in an angry drow, he took a few cautionary steps back in case he needed to run for his life. Though, he was told that running from a drow at night was a waste of time. The dark elves of children's tales were cold killers, expert assassins, and lawless raiders.
Still, it seemed that he had managed to save the dark-haired drow's life, or at least he gave him the opening needed to win this fight. Raunien hoped that would play in his favor now. A magic shield went up around the other, still conscious drow, and then the victor turned to him with a question which Raunien barely registered.
"Uh...I-" Raunien tripped over his words. The adrenaline which surged through his veins during his moment of heroics subsided. But instead of returning to drunken bliss, he felt a hard wave of nausea instead. Words eluded him for the moment, as he doubled over with dizziness. Of course, Deloi took his moment of weakness to finally escape from his grasp. As he collected himself he watched in horror as she bounded towards the pair of elves ahead.
"Have you no sense of self-preservation?" he accidentally whispered aloud to her as she stood, wings flared, at the foot of the stranger.
[i "Even small, I am still a dragon. Dragons do not know fear,"] she replied through their link.
[i "Small and stupid,"] he thought, knowing she could hear him.
She huffed a plume of smoke in response as she circled the drow, sniffing him curiously. It was true that even hatchling's scales were hardened enough that mere metal could not penetrate them, but that did not protect her from magic. But he had to admit that her curiosity, as well as her ignorance, was his fault. This was her first glimpse of the world outside her cave, and she knew nothing about the danger all around her. Raunien tried to pull himself together.
"Please, don't hurt her. We didn't mean to pry, just passing through and we'll be on our way now," he said, trying not to sound nervous. Then he remembered he was asked a question, "Oh, and sleeping serum. I coated the knife in a bit, nothing deadly. You can keep it, I suppose."
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/24/0f/92/240f926e809aebaa6ac32ddff83eb163.jpg]] The blade sank deep into Reilain, suddenly from behind. Alvér, his eyes widening, saw it as his brother cried out as the spiritual weapon then cut into him from the front, knocking him to a knee, his head suddenly spinning, heavy. His hand went to his forehead.
The fallen's sorcerer's eyes blew wide at the sight, eyes snapping to a sudden, oncoming figure who he could only assume had thrown it. He flinched at the appearance, and the speed with which he was approached.
"[+purple Wha-]" he drew back, wariness leaping into his eyes, especially seeing the struggling, reptilian form caged in his other arm. His eyes flicked back to the extended hand. "[+purple No.]"
He looked back to his brother, panting, on a knee as he batted back another strike from the weapon. Alvér stilled it with a thought as he attempted again to pull himself to his feet, hand plastered to his side. "[+purple I must save him.]" he groaned.
Reilain's hard, vicious eyes arose to them, glinting a golden-red, an unholy light in the backs of his eyes, face twisted in a snarl even as panic lurked in their backs.
Alvér put his hand out, whispering the spell, a glimmering ring of magic surrounding the man. He was pushed back by it, trying to rise. He shouted to Alvér in Undercommon, "[#76baff [i What have you done?!]]"
It wouldn't last long, not with Alvér fading like this. "[+purple Ellistraee help me,]" the elf whispered, lurching over towards the other man.
Reilain dropped his sword, bleeding hand thudding against the magic keeping him trapped, "[#76baff [i I will kill you!]]"
A breathy laugh rasped from the thinner man's chest. "[+purple Not if I don't first,]" for this was the first time he had ever attempted something like this. But it was inescapable now. He had seen how this had changed his brother, and he wanted- for the first time ever it seemed- he wanted his brother back. It was the least he could do after all of this.
With that he turned back towards the stranger. "[+purple What did you give him?]"
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/DFyWToG.png]] “That’ll be three silver or a swift boot, my friend,” the bartender said. He stared down at Raunien with the kind of hardened disdain that the elf was quite used to by now.
“Oh come now, I’m not even drunk yet. Surely, you don’t mean to cut me off so early?” Raunien tried. But the bartender continued to stare.
“I won’t be serving to vagrants. No coin, no ale.”
Raunien rolled his eyes. The night was still young, but in this small town his choices for drink where few. There was the Hammer and Swan towards the town center, but that was usually packed with unwelcoming regulars he’d rather avoid. He much preferred this tavern, the Owl’s Eye, since its location on the outskirts of town drew in a passing crowd. Travelers and strangers were always less likely to recognize him, and even if they did, they were much less inclined to approach, which Raunien preferred. Gods be damned, he just wanted to drink in peace.
He thought against bringing up his tab, since last he remembered it was now over ten gold so he doubted that would go over well. Instead, he got up from his stool and tried to leave with some dignity, only stumbling once on his way to the door.
When the cool night air hit his skin, he realized he might be drunker than he thought. Although the trees of his native forest had not yet begun to turn, the chill of autumn loomed on the wind, threatening an end to summer. Raunien shrugged into his overcoat as he walked, stumbling and struggling with the arms and cursing under his breath. His homeland offered notoriously mild winters, but the elf still hated the cold and dreaded its return.
The changing seasons also reminded him of his dragon. As the weeks turned to months, she continued to grow alarmingly fast. She would soon outgrow the little hiding place he had magically sealed for her, and after that, she would be near impossible to hide away. He was already having trouble hiding his bond mark, which had grown from a small green bruise shape in his palm to a tendril pattern nearly reaching his wrist. From what he remembered of his parents, it was only a matter of time until the tendrils encompassed his entire arm. On the oldest riders, the mark covered their entire body.
Raunien slipped into the treeline towards his hiding place. As soon as he was close enough, he felt his dragon’s mind link to his somewhere in the back of his consciousness. Her emotions came flooding through, melding with his own in a rush. For some reason, she was distraught.
[i “Deloi?”] he reached out to her through their link, trying to disguise the panic she was causing in himself. He quickly unsealed the small cave entrance he kept her in, but before he was able to squeeze through the opening she came dashing out between his legs.
Bewildered, Raunien chased after her as she bounded towards town. She was about the size of a small dog and twice as fast. She couldn’t fly yet, but her leathery wings helped her balance as she leapt over obstacles in her way. The elf tried to reason with her through their mind link, but was only met with a wall of steadfast determination in response. Whatever she was running after, he could do nothing to change her mind.
This was typical of their relationship, anyway. They may be bonded, but Raunien and his dragon were far from friends. In his eyes, Deloi was a stubborn creature, unwilling to compromise and lacking empathy towards his situation. This was probably another one of her “destiny” stunts, designed to ruin his night further.
When he finally caught up to his unruly dragon, she was hiding behind the side of a building, her mind tense. He came up behind her, panting and annoyed, but couldn’t help but look around the corner to glimpse whatever it was that piqued her interest so acutely. He immediately wished he hadn’t. There in the narrow alleyway were two drow, clearly fighting to the death.
He scooped up his dragon and tried to back away as silently as possible, knowing that drow had superior hearing and night vision. Though he’d never seen one in person, he knew enough about the race to understand the kind of danger they were in now, all thanks to Deloi’s little game.
[i “What is wrong with you?”] he said through their link as she struggled against his grasp. She stopped struggling for long enough to send him a pointed glare.
[i “I had a vision,”] she said. [i “It’s imperative that we save that elf.”]
[i “Not a chance.”]
Deloi resumed struggling, [i “You always complain to me that you hate this place, yet you refuse to take action to change your own fate?”]
Raunien peeked around the corner a second time, just in time to watch the taller, scarier drow cut his blade through the other’s torso. It would be over soon unless he did something, and he wasn’t looking forward to witnessing his first murder tonight.
[i “Alright, fine. But if I die this is your fault.”]
Frantically, Raunien rummaged through his bag until he found his sleep serum and spilled it over the blade of the dagger he kept tucked in his boot. He wasn’t sure if it would be enough to put the assailant to sleep, but the effects would at the very least give him a chance in what would otherwise be a very quick fight. Wishing he was more sober, Raunien threw his dagger, hitting his mark somewhere in the back. For a few very tense moments, the drow continued standing. He took the opportunity to reach his free hand out to the injured drow now struggling to stand. His other still cradled a struggling hatchling.
“Take my hand,” he said.
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