As warlords and henchmen grow ever stronger, an elven wizard seeks the help of unlikely allies to escape their oppression. An assassin, thief and Familiar. Danger, curses deceit, temptations abound.

Some F. Realms & Raven chronicles' Balaia. No copyright infringement intended.

An entire new genre I'm attempting… for now this is the title. I want to have something concise and mysterious. Haha.

Inspired by FIR'S Revolution! And nightwish Dark chest of wonders.


Quagmire of sorcery

Prologue

"You will never have any of its power!" I screamed, lunging against the captors. I had used the last of my zapping abilities and was no more. The bad man in front had my link to the past, what I considered my sole jewellery and token… My locket! He laughed gratingly, dangling the goldchain. It was out of reach.

I panted. "Give it back!" Tears burned behind my eyelids. I won't let them have the satisfaction of seeing me cry. Sweat poured off me. I didn't know how many hours passed Everyday they tried to sap me of maejic, since I refused I was hit. Somehow I got healed and it happened again. I had been a servant girl at Cloudscryer Inn until one day I was arrested for stealing. So it made me one of the most wanted list on dragonlords and kings. I should have tried harder to escape…

Slaps pained me to the present. Blood ran down my nose. "'t dream, give me the secrets of this thing and your blood! Then I'll let you go!"

I didn't answer, didn't know how to. If I made any tricks they were cheap stage tricks. The warlord had a huge tummy, fat fool with horrible glowing eyes and sharp teeth. I guessed he was not entirely a man. "So no talk? Then bye bye locket. Seems precious to you."

"What do we have here?" a new voice interrupted. My vision was blurry but I could make out a mage robe, green as leaves. Kalan guffawed. The sound of chain and metal was taken.i struggled. Oh god! Help me. They'll pay.

Kalan said, "This is precious to the bitch. She won't cooperate, no matter we'll beat the hell out of her another time, and then kill the pet." Serif! My magical pet, when he had no energy he'd revert to his small form again. I prayed Serif had escaped, no one would see him for he was so mini now.

The new voice continued, "Ah. I will take care of things. I made a discovery, that' d most please you. The ships are sailing for Kalimport and all the goods are ready to leave."

"Excellent! Ilkar, I have not hired you in vain. That's what mages should do, take orders well." What? I thought, that name sounded unique. Not a warlord or a gangster…Ilkar laughed.

He was a mage too. My heart fluttered. The henchmen let go of me and I fell senseless.

Everything hurt. I wish I was dead. From my slanted viewpoint, I saw the leather boots. Several times, the doors slammed and voices drifted away. Ilkar said, "I will manage from here. Get some sleep Pedric."

"Ah thanks I will." Then the rustle of cloth approached me. Boots. I let my tears fall, too weak to stop them. Now it was part two and I would die.

"They are gone now. Are you all right?" Ilkar asked in a different tone. A part of me wheedled, the cynical side felt indignant he seemed to see me as a baby.

I didn't believe him. Many had sold me out. I remained silent. "Who are you?" His hand touched my face and the pain was soon gone.

Gingerly I pushed myself up. I decided on a fake name. The mage prevented me from slipping on the floor. He had dark hair and golden eyes, and a really sharp facecut. Then I leaned against his chest.

"It's all right. I won't let them hurt you anymore. When there is a chance- I promise," he whispered. As he circled his hand behind my back wounds, he sent me warmth. It triggered an unknown inner surge in me. Then he supported me to stand.

"Felicia," I said, concentrating on one foot in front of the other. He nodded, leading along the dungeons of blackness, interrogation chambers. His voice was musical,I almost went to sleep. The men would go on some voyage until the fifth of the moon, plenty of time for planning. I wondered hazily what he meant. I would be under his care and somehow he would try to help prisoners escape. My name was in there.

Sure. But what about Serif ! My mother's last gift.

"Why will you help me? I'm a thief." I demanded.

Ilkar frowned, finger to his lips. Shadows glided past and loud voices were gruff, and mockery. He ushered me into one room and shut the door, remaining outside.

I balked. "Yes yes of course. She will be interrogated, I'm going to heal her so we can continue more smoothly. No, I lied. I won't side with peasants." His voice dripped with cool derisive cruelty.

I boiled. Looking around the room, it had a table and rough crude stools. I sank down on a small bed. My body demanded rest and embarrassing stomach growled. Ilkar returned, the sound of fluid being poured into a container. He fed me the drink. The taste loosened my sore mouth, sweet and forbidden. "I will heal you Felicia. Many spies around, be careful on our words. If you wish to leave and survive, listen to me," he hissed.

When I leaned back, he too drank from a bottle with the same thing. Maybe it was a wine, I was warmed. Then he rubbed his face down, showing fatigue. He slumped in his chair.

I bit back a retort of fury and turned my back. I think I fell asleep. When I awoke, Ilkar had moved nearer to me, nodding off and snoring softly. His hair was not as long as a usual elf's, just collar length. I tested the use of my limbs, noticing one hand was close to mine. Then I scrutinized him. He did not seem very old, pale complexion, could be athletic under those clothes. And one pointed ear poked out. So, a Gifted one.

He had healed me? Why? He allied himself with those beasts.


Chapter 1

A small voice inside cried out, then he should help me. We're on the same side. Right? Technically I'm no mage, a small trickster kind of thief. He might also betray and deceive me. I refused to believe in handsome princes saving me. Hm did the elf have anything useful to break out or a weapon? Slowly I shifted closer, fingers closing in to his shirt. My hand shook, damn, from starvation. The creak of the bed was loud.

Ilkar did not move. I wondered why he seemed so tired, he sure had yelled a lot. Gingerly I peeked. His chest rose and fell but nothing gleamed. Too bad he was not seated in another direction, then I could search his pockets

I put my feet on the floor. I needed to eat. After I did so I would run away. The candleholder on the table could be a defence! A loaf of bread and the jug, I took them. I licked the crumbs.

"Ah you're awake. Hungry?" He asked, turning to face me. His smile disarmed me.

"Don't pretend to be kind. I'm beneath you and your kind isn't it? When's the interrogation? I won't give anything!" I snapped.

Ilkar blinked, becoming solemn and puzzled. His golden eyes were shiny like a feline's. "That was to convince the guards. I don't want them to think I'm on your side or it will get worse. Calm down."

I grabbed the candlestick and waved it. Ilkar was about to walk to me, both hands out. Then he winced, as if someone had cut his arm, he sank down closing his eyes. He clutched his right sleeve. Feebly, he said, "I… am not the enemy.. so much at stake.. if you don't trust." Ilkar whispered something and an orange light glowed over his body. His face had just turned deathly white and almost grey like a ghost.

I was worried. Had someone thrown an arrow at him? Or perhaps he had pushed himself too far healing my wounds.

The explanation made sense. A deep sigh, as Ilkar glanced up. "What is wrong?" I queried. Some sweat slicked his face. He folded up the sleeve and I almost vomited, a red tattoo like a snake curved up from the top of the wrist to his lower bicep. I stepped back.

Ilkar leaned back. "This marking saps energy when I cast. I work for them but there is little trust. The other allies of Kalan want to force loyalty. Need this to work. "

I paused, and I had come closer. Despite my suspicions, Ilkar was in genuine pain and he would loath them too. From his look, I guessed he was studying me as well. My peripheral vision could reveal.

The candle felt heavy. Finally I dropped it. My head swam.

"Sleep. It will seem clearer in the day." He coaxed.

"Only one bed?" I replied. I was no weakling!

The elf nodded and stood up. "I will manage. See you in the morning." He yawned and went away from my field of vision. I lay down wondering if he had teleported.

"Um you still there?" I called.

His voice was near but some distance away. "Yes I'm here. Need to rest." A telltale creak, could be a cot over there. I heaved a sigh.

"We will need to work together to make them believe us that we're enemies. Can you act?"

"I will try." I said sullenly. How dare he manipulate me? Being a thief means I am the one doing that, not the other way round! Also, how beneficial could this be? Ilkar if he didn't lie about his identity had this problem. It'd slow us down.

Sleepless dreams, until suddenly a hand clawed my shoulder repeatedly. "Quickly! Get up! Now!"

What the hell, I rubbed my eyes turning away. Go away fuck, I cursed. Cold liquid splashed me.

"Oi!" I yelped, blinking. Knocking was urgent on the door.

The elf hustled me under the bed. "Shush. They're here!" he lifted the blankets. I scrambled underneath brushing cobwebs. I closed my mouth.

His robe swirled, the only vantage point I had for now. "Yes, how can I help you gentlemen? I need my rest. It's so early." Ilkar had the most imperious voice now.

They grumbled if he had interrogated the prisoners yet, especially me the Witchbrat. I clenched my fist. Hells, I only knew some petty tricks and had a pet dog mysteriously following me, that could change into a tiger. Alec the traitor! He befriended me. On that fateful day, thinking we could earn big money using our powers, he ratted on me. As I went soft at my knees, Alec waved merrily with a big bag of gold on his belt. He was moving up on some platform.

"Stop worrying. I have his gold and I will do my duties. I do things my way. Now, Kalan said I am not to be harassed. I'm his most important mage advisor."

If someone sent him flying, how would I survive?

"All right now it's safe." He said in a low tone, door shut. I sighed and came out. "Follow me."

He went to the other end of the room, which was shadowed. Elves can see better than us. A small square jutted out. He exclaimed. "Aha! A tunnel passage leading to another place, I'm not sure where it leads. A good hiding place."

Huh? I didn't like enclosed places, but didn't want to admit it. Ilkar waited. I caught his hand. "Er why are you helping me? Can't trust you yet. We don't know each other." It was quite narrow and only a tiny gloworb lit the way.

He smiled and touched my cheek. I would grow to like his charisma. "I hope you will, we are both magic users. I'm only sorry it will take some time. Are you afraid? It's just a while."

Yea I hated cramped places! He didn't want to torture me. "Wait how will I breathe?"

The mage produced a small bauble from his pocket and whispered at it.

"Use this, it will give you reasonable air supply. I will delay as long as I can so they may forget."

"Um be careful. Don't get killed," I said.

Ilkar pouted. He also owned a key, strange symbols on it and it was light. "This is to an important place. I hear them. Keep it for me." Then he strode back, I noticed the light dim as he pushed the door shut. I pocketed the key. This was like a bookroom, containing dusty volumes of books. They meant nothing to me as I am illiterate.

Hours seemed to crawl by. I sweated. The bubble was a consolation. What if they found out from behind? Other than the entry we'd come in, there was an old door too. I made myself tiny. Was that room his? And he risked so much for me?

In the next second, elf hissed my name. "Come, follow the light. Can't have them discover I'm gone too." He sent me a flare and I walked up to the passage. He smiled. "Eat." Wow a huge feast for more than two! Cookies, bread, cakes, wine. My curiosity overwhelmed me. "Hm if the mark is pain…. They shouldn't do that. So weird."

I tore into a chunk of meat.

The elf swallowed. "It is called Dominance. Kalan trusts me more now. But some allies don't- it's some kind of assurance I won't betray them. I'm a mercenary, paid for service. But I didn't expect this to happen. Why, you seem- worried for me." He raised his brows. I snorted.

"Of course not. A temporary alliance. If you get injured, how's that good for me? And I'm pissed."

Ilkar seemed hurt and quieted. I felt guilty. Finally he conceded, carefully placing down a fork. He did not look at me. "That is all right. I understand completely. I'm not sure where… your familiar is."

"He is called Serif. The locket?" I pressed. He shook his head. "Didn't you take it, I couldn't see but I heard it being passed." Shit lost too?

"I examined it awhile, then it was taken away. Do you truly need them?"

"Yes! I won't go anywhere without those… and my mother gave it to me."