Disclaimer: All of these characters, places, monsters, realms, and world are mine-original. Any resemblance to other stories are purely coincidental.

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Chapter 4

Midnight Massacre,
Face in the Tides

"Tents," Reneran groused. "I hate tents."

"Oh, stop complaining," Jan told him cheerfully. "We've had to listen to you the whole time since we left, all three hours of it! Nothing spoils a good trip more than your whining."

"I'll tell you what spoils my trip more than anything," Zenry snorted. "My patient! Why should I even have a patient? I'm not a healer, not a professional one anyway., And worse, they always put me in charge of the stubborn ones! This is no exception!"

Racer chuckled. "You should be a healer. You're more skilled than half of them and you're the only one I know who can keep the difficult warriors in line."

"Difficult is an understatement."

"Watch it, scholar."

Reneran glanced over his shoulder in the direction of the voice and yelped in shock. "A Dark Elf!"

Leyar glared irritably at him. He was in a rather ill humor.

"How observant of you."

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Blood. Bright, burning crimson streaks that painted the roofs and dripped down to color the walls of the empty buildings, splashing in puddles on the road. The stench of death fogged the air, heavy and thick. Drawn in stark red in the center of the village square was an overlapped sword and serpent symbol, both stained with the substance of life shed so carelessly and with obvious malice. ~

Leyar's eyes snapped open and he sat up suddenly, wide awake and shaking uncontrollably. He was no seer yet the dream had seemed so real.

Don't be foolish, he chided himself, you don't just fall asleep one night and wake with the gift of Sight. You have never had prophetical dreams before and this is no time to start.

Trying to ignore the cold weight of foreboding the elf slid from the covers and out the tent flaps into the night. The cool air and quiet helped ease his nerves.

"What brings you out at this hour, your Highness?"

A tall adolescent emerged from the shade of a tent, the night coloring his long silver hair a ghostly gray-blue. Kind violet eyes searched surprised sapphire and the pale boy smiled.

"Something troubling you, Highness?"

"How did you know I-" he stopped, considering the stranger. "Never mind."

"Educated guess," he replied with a wink. "Name's Setran."

"Leyar. I was just thinking."

"Too much thought is ill for sleep," Setran told him cheerfully.

They stood in silence, gazing out toward the starry horizon. Leyar shivered, but not from the chill. He had the creeping sensation that they were being watched. He scanned the surroundings but even his keen eyesight was unable to pick up the slightest trace of unusual activity. His companion seemed to feel the same for his hand had drifted to the hilt of the sword across his back.

The attack came so abruptly neither of them had more than a split second to react. The hillsides exploded and suddenly they were crawling with shadowy figures. Setran reeled back to avoid a creature's raking claws and struck it with his sword. Leyar ducked under his opponent's scythe and lashed out with two, long, silver daggers that had materialized in his hands.

Racer fought his way toward them, his hair tousled from sleep and his eyes filled with confusion. "What in the world happened? Why didn't the sentries give any warning?"

Setran had no time to answer. They were outnumbered ten to one. How indeed had any of them missed such a large gathering of monsters?

Even with all his training, Leyar was young for an elf and had not the experience of most of his kind. As a Dark Elf, he was a skilled and lethal opponent, but whatever was driving at them overwhelmed him by sheer number. It didn't help that he had not yet completely recovered from his bout with the Ivory Stalkers. The next thing he knew, his weapons were sent spinning and vanished in a flash of silver light. Something hard hit him on the side of the head and his world went dark . . .

He was lying on something hard and somewhere close he could hear the constant dripping of water. Leyar opened his eyes with a groan. He was surrounded by near total darkness and the ceiling overhead was rough and decorated with various stalactites. With a hiss of pain, he levered himself into a sitting position and looked about.

The healer that had been in charge of his recovery was seated with his back against the rough wall. His friends were sprawled all around the cavern and there was only one exit. The others were just beginning to stir.

Racer sat up, clutching his head and moaning. "Why did it have to hit me so hard?"

"At least you only got bashed in the head," Reneran shot back, rubbing his shoulder. His arm hung at an awkward angle. "I think it's broken."

Zenry, who appeared mostly unharmed, hurried over to examine his arm. "It's not broken, just dislocated. Here."

Leyar couldn't see what happened next, Zen's back was blocking his view, but it was followed by a yelp of pain. Ren jerked his arm away.

"Ow! Jeez, why are you always so rough?"

"Just be thankful it wasn't actually broken and that I could fix it." The Scholar-turned-Healer told him matter-of-factly. "Come on, get up. We need to find a way out of here."

"Speaking of which," Jan interrupted. "Where is 'here'?"

Leyar stood and halted beside the tunnel. "Where is a difficult question to answer, considering out position at present, but as to how we can leave-"

"That's simple," Reneran snorted, walking toward the archway. "You just-"

The edges of the door glowed and the Wood Elf was sent sprawling across the floor.

"As I was saying," Leyar continued as if nothing had happened, indicating the runes above. "There is a spell on the exit that acts as a sort of force field."

"Can you break it?" Racer inquired. "I would hate to spend the rest of my life in this dreary place."

"Yes, but it will take some time."

"Just great," Ren grumbled.

At the back of their prison was a pool of murky water, so still it looked like fogged glass. Zen crouched, eyeing the turquoise liquid with misgiving. "I doubt we will be able to drink this, but if . . ." His words turned into a gasp of surprise.

The others, all accept Leyar, gathered around him to see what it was. Rising up from the depths of the pool was a face. Long, seaweed-like hair framed green, liquid features and the thing grinned up at them, watching with empty eyes.

"So, this part of the tale came about after all," it said, its voice rasping and gurgling. "It's about time, I suppose. But then, Seeing does prophesize."

"What are you?"

"Tsk, tsk, rude one aren't you. Ah well, you'll get your do, yes, all of you."

"What do you know?" Race asked, blinking. This was not what one would have thought to find in a prison.

"More than you, certainly. Ah, but one of you is missing. Hmm, unexpected. Well, his Majesty will not be pleased, no. But the Silver Guardian will be accounted for eventually."

Zen's eyes narrowed. "Who do you mean by 'his Majesty'?"

The face merely smirked and melted back into the water. For a moment, ripples spread outward from where it had disappeared, then it stilled.

Leyar cleared his throat. "It is done. We can leave."

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Setran shook his head and opened his eyes. Last night's events were hazy in his memory but he knew that the others had been taken by the enemy. He sighed and rubbed his eyes with one hand. Things were happening faster than he had expected and misjudgment would cost them their lives.

He sheathed his blade and strained to see around him. During the battle, someone had caught him from behind with a transportation spell. It had been to fast and he had had no time to combat the magic. How was he going to find the others?

He shook his head and bit his lip in concentration. Leyar, the Dark Elf prince had been powerful, an ancient kind of power easily traced if one knew how. Setran had to hurry. Time was flowing and every second was precious.

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AN: Thanks for reading and please review.