Torshael and Tayne's Story: A New God for a New Mission

Chapter Six

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


It wasn't much later that everything that could be done immediately, had been done, and there was no more need for a pair of supernals and a kirin-kin to clutter up the courtyard. Lady Ashka came to them, herself, bowing her head respectfully. "I am very sorry that you all have become so involved in this, though I thank you for your assistance. Is there anything I can do to assist you?"

Torshael glanced at his bond, and received a shrug in response. The "tug" that had brought them thus far was still quiescent: it was there, but not powerful enough to act upon in any way. This, then, was as far as their supernatural guidance was leading them, for the moment. So, he answered the lady, "Perhaps just with lodging for the night. This appears to be the place we are supposed to be, for now."

"Of course," Ashka nodded, though her eyes went worriedly to the Sentinels, who, in the absence of more civilians and more evidence to examine, were now talking amongst themselves about the problem.

Or, it seemed like, arguing amongst themselves about the problem.

"I know you would like to give Valar the benefit of the doubt, all things considered," the leader of the mages told the Sentinel captain, "and I'd like nothing more than to agree, but you don't know enough about the Art to realize exactly what that would take."

"Oh, enlighten the ignorant one, then, Mayad," the captain retorted, sounding quite irritated.

"I won't say that your team is wrong, but they don't know any better, either. They've never once worked alongside one of the Exalted. Their theory is sound, I'll admit, but you'd better hope and pray they they're wrong, that Valar was responsible for this."

"And why would I want that?"

The mage, Mayad, narrowed his eyes. "Because unlike you and everyone else, the Exalted are not so easily fooled by mental tricks and misdirection, even of the kind that your amateur team suggested." He crossed his arms, looking more serious than ever. "If Valar isn't responsible for this, then we've got something infinitely worse and far more powerful to deal with."

"Like what, exactly?" Tayne asked, lowering his great muzzle over the conversation. "Just how much power would something like that take?"

"The Exalted follow the divine bloodline of the Kirin," Mayad explained. "It is likely that only someone possessing an equal or greater skill would be responsible. Which is why it is of such great concern. The problem is, we're not getting much in the way of clues on where to look, if that is the case here...."

Before Torshael could reply, his words were cut off with a terrible scream from someone behind him. A double scream. He whirled to the sight of one of the advanced mages, who had been in the middle of a spell of some sort, collapsed to the ground and thrashing wildly. Her dragon bonded was the source of the second scream, but her fellows pinned her down before she could roll onto anyone. Tayne was one of many who rushed forward in an attempt to help, but the screams both cut short as the mage simply... died.

::Don't touch her,:: Torshael warned his brother shakily. Something was very wrong about her, about her dead body, but he didn't know what.

::She's so cold,:: Tayne replied with his paw still in the air, halted in the act of attempting to do just that. ::Too cold!:: As a master of Heat, he ought to know, at least. But what in the world could that mean? Unnatural death was obviously already established, but merely stealing away her heat couldn't possibly account for the violence of the death.

The dragon, still alive after the death of her partner, started up a grief-filled keening that wrenched the heart, and both Torshael and Haiiro gave a shudder. Tayne, however, was staring so intently at the mage's body that it looked like he didn't even notice. He was growling, low and under his breath, and when Torshael followed his brother's gaze he took an instinctive step back. The mage's blood was flowing, somehow, unnaturally and far too swiftly, out of her body and onto the cobbled courtyard. It's path spelled out words.

Those That Interfere

Shall Die.

There was a silence, at first. Haiiro was the first to break it. "My lady," he said faintly to Lady Ashka, eyes on the corpse, "perhaps you should let yourself be taken into some kind of protective custody."

Ashka merely nodded: she, like others, was staring at the horrific scene in frightened shock. At least those in charge didn't seem to be. The captain of the Sentinels looked largely disgusted, and the mage, Mayad, was cursing in some foreign tongue, fists clenched and eyes narrowed. He made a sharp motion, only barely recognizable as mystical rather than just frustration, which seemed to clarify something for him-- and which obviously wasn't the clarification he'd wanted.

"Ah... sir?" one of the other Sentinels questioned him timidly.

"Dead magic," Mayad said shortly, looking away from the corpse at last and scowling. "Necromancer."

"Necromancer," Torshael breathed. He'd read about necromancy, but he'd never, until now, actually had the possibility to go against one.

"Do you know of any necromancers with enough power to fool one of your Exalted?" Tayne asked Mayad. "Or with allies with that kind of power?"

Mayad's return gaze was furiously cold. "In this case, I wish I did. But necromancy is forbidden here, as well as many other areas. And it is far more foul than most people understand. If I knew a necromancer already, it wouldn't last long."

"It's more than just necromancy," another of the mages interjected, frowning. "Enja was attacked through her divination...."

"Whoever or whatever is doing this, for whatever reason, it is very skilled in forbidden arts." Mayad considered a moment, while Torshael experienced a little bit of guilty relief that something incredibly powerful and dangerous at work here had been established, rather than some cheap trick somehow capable of fooling his unsuspecting bond. It wasn't a particularly pleasant or even rational relief, given that wounded pride was far less lethal than necromancers or other forbidden arts, but he could be glad that no one would be blaming Haiiro for a stupid mistake. 

Mayad turned his gaze on Ashka. "My lady, for the moment, I do not believe you to be in harm's way. Those that practice such arts cannot enter the city while the Warden is present within its walls. The fact that we felt no retaliation until a divination was attempted only confirms this. We will continue our investigation, but in the mean time, I suggest you leave the scene of the incident."

Before answering, Ashka looked up at Haiiro, as if silently deferring to him. Torshael smiled a bit, and his bond shook his mane nervously. "If there is somewhere you know to be completely safe," he told her, "or as safe as anywhere can be, particularly from outside magic, that might be best. The workers of this magic might not be able to enter the city, but obviously their agents and their magic, itself, can."

"Agents, yes," Mayad agreed. "Magic, only if we give it a link, as Enja did-- though I do not fault her, she could not have known what would have happened when she went looking for the source."

Haiiro nodded. "All right."

"Completely safe, I don't know," Ashka said, considering. "But the safest I can think of? It's not far."

The Sentinel captain, looking understandably put out at being shown up so thoroughly, summoned a pair of the others, one being the dark elf Nerith who first proposed the difficult theory about Valar's innocence and the other being the hunter who had attempted, without success, to track the assassin. "Nerith, Djen," the captain ordered once the hunter had returned, "if you would please act as escort to the Lady Ashka...."

As Ashka obviously wasn't leaving without Haiiro, and Torshael had no other reason to remain behind, the pair of them started towards the soon-to-be departing group. Tayne sat himself down. "I'll be staying here to see what I can do to help out," he said firmly. "You're better at that politeness thing, anyway."

"You can find us when you're done?" Torshael asked.

"With ease, I'm sure," his brother grinned.

"All right. Don't scare anyone unduly."

Tayne just laughed as Torshael caught up with his waiting bond and Ashka's entourage. "Shall we?"


Chapter Seven

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