Hidden Magic - Chapter 7

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When the smoke cleared, Phillip's drastic change of appearance had startled Meren. She knew better than to mention it, though. If he reacted the way she assumed he would, his narcissism would be a horrible distraction and he was already distracting her enough. His previously tanned skin was now tinged a definite purple, as far as she could tell from the bits she could see, and that long hair of his was now scattered on the ground in black clumps, but even this was less strange than the fact that the purple smoke had returned when he'd spoken to her. This time, however, it was issuing from his mouth along with the words. Meren was no stranger to magical unexpectedness and she very much hoped she hadn't been the cause. This wasn't a reaction she'd ever experienced, but her magic regularly did some odd things. She had been reaching for the trees behind her when the smoke surrounded him...

But that magic was her best chance at protecting her forest and themselves. With a silent prayer to the earth spirits to let her magic work this time, she began the first words of the only spell she could think of that could help. Focusing her power into the ground beneath her, she called to the roots, vines and bushes not far from where she knelt. This time the plants answered as she wished and the green energy flowed towards her. It moved quickly, much faster than it had done in the past, and when a thick tendril headed towards Phillip, she tugged at it to keep it from harming him.

She opened her eyes. A dense thicket of plant life filled what had once been clearing, serving as a barrier between them and most of their enemy. A lone orc caught on this side of the thorny wall shook off his bewilderment all too quickly and lunged at her with a heavy club. Reacting rather than thinking, she rolled to the left, the ground jolting her ribs as she dove. Frantically she felt around for her bow, knowing she would never be able to fire an arrow off at this close of range at such a disadvantage. She raised her bow to serve as a makeshift club to block-- only to have the orc fly over her and into the new thicket.

Meren climbed to her feet and winced as her sore side protested. What happened? I didn't do that... 

Phillip, coughing uncontrollably with smoke blooming out of his mouth, brought his quarterstaff back to the ground to lean heavily on it. Injured and unable to breathe fully, he had found enough strength to swing his staff around in her defense. This, as nothing else he'd done so far had, impressed the guard-trained elf. Impressed and shocked; she honestly hadn't thought him capable of such an act, physically or by inclination.

While Phillip dropped to his knees in another coughing fit, Meren pushed through the circle of forest surrounding them to look for any sign of the other monsters. She circled outwards, finding bits of bone, which she kicked further apart in case they could somehow reknit together. As the trees grew, they must have pulled the slow-moving skeletons into pieces. This was a relief, but less of one was the lack of any orcs. They hadn't seemed too happy to be working with skeletons in the first place, so perhaps trees springing up under their feet had pushed them too far and they'd fled. She could only hope they'd become so frightened that they wouldn't come back.

She and Phillip were safe, at least for the moment, so she retraced her footsteps to where she'd left him. Her knowledge of the woodlands and a good sense of direction meant she was positive of this fact or else she would have thought she was in the wrong place. The small clearing now lacked any wizards, purple or otherwise.

(Originally written and shared in October 2011)

CONVERSATION

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