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[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.
[center [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/45/da/ab/45daab7ad1b6fc105dec98752ed706f3.jpg]]
From afar it looked like an immense elven man in half-plate armor on a dark, heavy leather, hidden underneath a dark hide overcoat. His pale hair wild about his face, flown away from the half-up do during the intensity of the fight. His skin ash pale, and a large longsword in his grasp. The second, backpedaling away from the other, was similarly ash gray, with his long, black hair loose about his head, tossed out with a quick motion and his hand trembling near a spiritual weapon, hoping his reflexes would help him. He was also in an overcoat like the other, but with a notable lack of the amount of armor on the other. He had a breastplate, gauntlets, and a half moon of a metal collar hung with a purple stone on it. The one advancing on him had one set into his armor, red, catching the light as he moved.
"[#76baff Do you fear me, brother?]" Reilain snarled at him, a cruel grin on his lips as he pushed the younger of them back a few paces, which he stretched himself to keep him at a distance. Now that he had [i found] his younger brother, finally, after tracking him down this long, he would have his revenge. He had tried to take him back peacefully, but now his hunger for it was too great. His suffering too immense. "[#76baff You always were quick to cower when things turned against you.]"
Alvér was panting, watching his brother he hadn't even known was alive for certain until very recently. And now, with their reunion, he had a very different objective altogether, other than survive, potentially. "[+purple What have you done to yourself?]" he asked in response, glancing over the other, larger drow. He smelled of death and radiated a power he was unused to feeling off of his sibling. He had no magic. What was he now, then, that gave him this acrid tinge?
Reilain's face twisted down, "[#76baff It's what [i you] did to me. You left me bleeding, half dead, and [i I] survived. And it made me this thing. [i You] made this!]"
His brows twitched together, confusion and sickness crossing his features as he continued slowly backing away. And Reilain, in turn, kept closing the distance. He needed time, he was running out of energy to put behind any magic, and was in no way confident about his chances against his brother at close range. It had been a definitive mark on their childhoods, Reilain's superiority to him. And now it had turned into literal marks on each other.
"[+purple I don't want to fight you,]" Alvér responded, extending a cautioning hand out, a bid for Reilain to stop.
In the recent past, that was a bit of a lie. At the time, he wanted to destroy everything in his wake, especially the man that grew out of his brother whose shadow had fallen over him and never moved. And in it he had grown pale, bitter, and hateful, unwanted. It was only now, upon reflection, upon sobering up after he finally weaned himself off of Sarath's magic that he realized what he had done- what he had potentially done to his brother. It had shaken him deeply, and the terror at not knowing if he had killed Reilain ate at him. Cuz as much as he knew he hated him, there was a special weakness he had for his brother. Moments they had had, that had grown as they did underneath their mother. "[+purple I thought I had killed you-]" he breathed.
Reilain sneered, "[#76baff You can't kill me, you couldn't before, you can't now!]" With that his step skipped as he advanced, and Alvér's heart leapt.
The sword swung above Reilain, meaning to cut him down, and Alvér swung his arm defensively, calling the purple, glowing sword of magic to him to defend. The two weapons clashed as if they both were made of metal, pushing down towards Alvér. It was hard to resist with magic what Reilain put behind with sheer, supernatural strength now. But he had slowed the sword. It couldn't cut as well if it wasn't swung with ferocious speed. He knew that.
Thinking fast, Alvér released his position- arm flashing to his side to slip his knife out, and slashed upwards at Reilain's face. Reilain's hand snapped up and caught the blade, fearlessly, in his closed hand.
"[#76baff That won't work twice,]" he hissed. Alvér's eyes snapped to the scar that crossed his brother's face, up one cheekbone, over his nose, between his brows and mercifully missing an eye. But now he was caught.
Reilain's hand bled hot onto Alvér's skin as he felt the man thrust up and back with that arm, striking him with the back of his fist. Alvér's head snapped back with a grunt and he broke away, letting go of the knife to put distance between them again. He felt his own blood this time, swiping a hand over his mouth where his teeth had collided with the soft flesh of his lip. He tasted blood, blinking some from his eyes that had splattered over his face.
"[+purple You've always underestimated me,]" Alvér said, wiping a hand across his mouth. "[+purple Tell me, did it sting when I first cut you?]"
Reilain threw the sorcerer's knife away, wringing his bleeding hand once before he looked at it, watching the cut staunch its flow with a grin of satisfaction before he turned back to Alvér. "[#76baff I will drag you back home, alive, or dead to throw at our mother's feet like the dog you are.]"
The sorcerer swallowed, backing away, fingers twitching as he wracked his brain for an effective spell. He knew he had knives and that spiritual weapon for as long as he could handle keeping it up. But suddenly Reilain lunged, sprinting towards him and Alvér's heart leapt into his throat again, snapping a hand up to dissipate his body away from him. But he was too late- Reilain was faster than he remembered like this- and the hot, stinging impact of the blade to his torso pulled a shout from him as his body solidified as the magic snapped, breaking the spell.
Picked up by the force, the elf's body dropped on his back and he rolled to his side, coughing, his breath escaping him. He wasn't going anywhere now with how much that hurt. He angled his gaze up at the man approaching him, looking pleased with himself as he leered down at him.
Alvér's hand twitched and Reilain was bashed aside as the spiritual weapon collided with him, the man hissing with the radiant magic's touch to his skin. He raised a defensive arm to deflect another attack and turned back to Alvér only to be accosted again.
The mage used this chance to gather his legs underneath himself. It was slow going. He could feel the weakness of his side that signaled cut muscle. He rasped a swear in undercommon as he leaned onto his elbows and pressed a hand against the wound to try and raise himself, eyes focused on the fight before him.
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