Hidden Magic - Chapter 8

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Meren was greeted by raised voices when she neared her kin's camp. From the sound of things, Tawarthel had found a new target to berate. It was nice to not be on that side of the scout leader's temper for once, so Meren crept around camp towards her tent to avoid being noticed. She froze when she heard the timid voice speaking quietly in reply. Kryro. There went Meren's plan to avoid confrontation.

Changing course to head in the direction of her brother, she remained out of sight in order to catch what was going on. From the sound of things, Kryro wanted permission to go out and find her, claiming some sort of hunch that he was needed. Tawarthel was not impressed by this and wouldn't let him leave, and part of her anger seemed to come from confusion over why Meren was gone in the first place. That was when Meren realized her mistake. The unintentional forgetting spell that had hit her father hadn't extended to anyone else in the camp.

Maybe she could actively try to get it to work this time? It would be worth it to get Kryro out of the mess he'd stepped into because of her mistake. Closing her eyes and focusing on the woman standing a few yards away, Meren began to softly chant. But as she stepped out, about to begin speaking with Tawarthel to complete the spell, something went wrong again. Her hand grew tingly, as it had last time, but that was where the similarity ended. Instead of Tawarthel being struck by a mind control spell, the energy flew off behind and above her, settling on top of the tents where it formed into four globes of light.

How was Meren going to hide that? As she prayed silently that no one would notice, Kryro's head raised. Tawarthel tracked this movement even though her back had been to the lights and spotted what Kryro saw. Meren cursed under her breath and attempted to cancel out a spell that she hadn't meant to cast. She tried calling out a few words in elvish ranging from "dim!", "darken!" "snuff!" and a last desperate "go away!", but none worked. Tawarthel was now looking from the flickering torch-bright globes to Meren and back to the lights, her mouth agape. Kryro met Meren's eyes and shrugged helplessly, mouthing silently to her "Now what?"

Meren could only shrug in response. About to dart out of the temporary village when no other plan presented itself in her head, she stopped when she heard more shouting, this time outside of camp and in a harsh, guttural language. Kryro's eyes widened and Meren saw his lips move. This didn't look as though he was trying to talk with her this time, however, and if she had to guess, he was trying to translate what was being said. When his face went pale, she knew she was right and that it couldn't possibly be good news.

"Orcs!" he said, turning to Tawarthel and grabbing her arm to get her attention. "Orcs have found the camp and are attempting to surround us!"

Tawarthel blinked, then aimed a glare almost as fiery as the newly created globes of light at Meren before bringing her fingers to her lips and letting off a series of shrill whistles. Both Meren and Kryro recognized that alert; it was a warning that an enemy was close to camp and everyone was needed with their weapons ready now. Tawarthel didn't need to say a word for Meren to know what had happened. Her newly created lights had allowed the orcs to find a camp that was normally well hidden. But how had they gotten past the sentries around camp? Meren's heart sunk into her stomach. Of course. They'd probably followed her. She'd led them here. 

Feeling a strong mix of shame at being so preoccupied that she hadn't noticed something trailing her, anger that something had, and distress that something could happen to her kin, Meren took off running east, the direction she'd heard the orcs calling from. One elf might not be enough to keep enemies away, but she was going to try. Fear for herself was the least of the thoughts running through her head right now, but she'd admit to feeling a lot better when pounding hoofbeats followed her. 

The two reached the edge of camp just as a group of orcs did. As Kryro began swinging the large club he carried, Meren held back, her hand paused above her quiver. She could trust her bow. The arrows wouldn't go astray. But she also knew that she possessed a spell that would work far better in a time where there was no need for stealth. Torn between magic and weapon, it was the orcs that decided it for her. A handful of them moved in formation to surround Kryro, their spears and swords raised in preparation to attack. An arrow would only be able to bring down one, but magic would have a better chance of clearing them all away from him. 

Meren lowered her arm and brought her hands in front of her, her palms down. She began to chant again, this time calling on the fire spirits to aid her. Please, she pleaded silently, I need this to work! Her hands grew warm and with a sigh of relief, she took a step to the left to move around her brother. Keeping her attention on where she was pointing, small jets of flame shot out of her fingertips and into the band of orcs.

Her elation of driving them away from Kryro was short-lived when something caught her eye. Some of her fire must have gone errant because smoke rose from the bushes at Kryro's back. To a wood elf, fire was always much, much more dangerous than any kind of enemy. Orcs may carry swords, but fire could jump from tree to tree at an alarming rate, destroying the land the elves were responsible for keeping safe. Now Meren began to panic. She didn't know any water spells and she doubted any water spirits could hear a non-shaman when this camp was so far from the nearest river. Fire, earth and air were always far more reachable, but she couldn't think of anything she could ask of them to help. As far as she could tell, her magic differed from that of a shaman, but as a wood elf, spirits played an important roll even to a scout. But what else could she do? 

Kryro's shout brought her attention back to the small battle in front of her. In her distraction, Tawarthel and two other elves had come up and begun firing into the melee. The original orcs were still there, six still singed, but another two had joined them. Kryro had a gash on his flank and seeing him hurt brought Meren back to action. She unslung her bow from her shoulder and fired an arrow ahead at the orc swinging at Kryro, bringing it down. The centaur gave her a quick, thankful smile before swinging his club at the next.

Aiming at a second one, Meren froze with the bowstring pulled back. The fire in the woods was shrinking, seemingly to be putting itself out. In a few moments it had all but vanished, fading into a few smoldering embers and curling leaves. There was a singed gap in the foliage, but that was it. What? How? I didn't-- Meren started to think before realizing that this was the least of her problems at the moment. Her kin had the upper hand, though, or at least more luck. When two of the orcs tripped over their fallen comrades, the elves were able to take those down, and when the remaining ones tried to flee, a hail of arrows brought those down, too. Recognizing an arcane slumber when she saw one, Meren opened her mouth to warn her kin that three of the fallen orcs weren't actually dead, but Kryro had that covered. Odd time for it though it was, Meren couldn't help smiling a little at that. They did make a good team.

Now if only she could figure out why those orcs had been knocked out. In theory she could have caused it, a sleeping spell being one she possessed, and having spells that infamously warped into other spells could have been another factor, but not this time. Two spells couldn't happen simultaneously and that fire one had gone off perfectly for once, even if it hadn't quite done as intended. No, someone else's magic was at play here.

(Originally written and shared in October 2011)



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