Quagmire 9 the Cold War

Rob Thomas songs

To ease Ilkar's stress, I insisted on taking him out for regular outings. I believed the word is called 'excursions' hehe. We built an impenetrable strong bond of friendship. He continued with lessons and when not too tired, instructed my talents on magic.

Basically both of them weren't on speaking terms for quite a while. I had managed to persuade Ilkar, but he had made his point about not trusting killers. Drizzt did make some visits, with plants and recommendations of herbs. It touched me he persisted in caring for the mage, though Ilkar remained silent. Usually he was very engrossed in his readings and research, but surely not to the extent of not having contact with Drizzt ! I still chatted with the ranger.

"Psst, aren't you happy? Your fever is lifted," I nudged him. The ranger was giving Serif a good scratch on his ears. Ilkar sipped from the mug of Feverfew, looking up.

"I thanked him," he said curtly.

I didn't hear anything. "You did. Good, good!" I waved to the ranger who smiled. "So can we eat a meal together? Please!" I did my act of soulful eyes.

Drizzt stopped at the opposite side of the table and waited. "I would like to. The food comes soon eh?"

Ilkar glanced at me. I estimated we had not talked for ages, almost like weeks! I did meet with the drow at nights but otherwise I didn't see him much. "Pleeeease." I begged.

"Argh don't beg me Fel. Sit down." He sounded gruff but at least he was acknowledging the other elf! Yay! If my name got shortened it meant he was softening. I acted as the middle person, asking how the day was and updating on Serif's activities, how many shapes he had morphed into. At first the Julatsan didn't speak. He just cleaned his plate.

To our astonishment, Ilkar added, "I remember Guen the panther figurine. One day I tailed someone with a cargo of animal figurines, but there was a barrier I couldn't follow." He put aside his plate and unrolling the map, indicated the spots.

Drizzt swallowed, his voice thick. "I am truly grateful that you still aid me, Ilkar. There are people guarding this place? I will do it alone, if necessary."

"Why? Are you a mage?" I demanded, irked. Generally I also wanted to hit the mage for not letting me know he had done some exciting tailing.

"No. I have troubled you both enough."

"It won't be so easy. I went with an expert on barriers to check for its weakness. Only some people are allowed access though they have no magic talents. We were repelled but not painful. Perhaps there is a time limit to which the entry is accessible. Do not be rash."

I said, "Why didn't you tell me, Ilks? I would be able to help."

He smiled. "Didn't want to wake you. It's too dangerous for an apprentice with unstable mana to go near this kind of traps." I opened my mouth to protest- after all the trainings I had done! Didn't he believe in me, he said I could simply make things happen with my will. Ilkar tapped my shoulder. "Let me continue. I know you have made progress elendil, I do worry that a Night may be triggered if you go near the forcefield. Remember I knew people who died from that."

I did not feel a flinch of fear from that consequence, worth it to help friends.

"I ain't being idle here." Serif nosed me and then looked meaningfully at Ilkar.

He beamed and said, "Good boy. He's agreeing with me for a change, haha. Ain't is not correct English." I glared.

Drizzt had been looking at the map. "Oh you can understand the Familiar now, Ilkar? Since when?"

"Yes, hmm I pet and train him to listen to instructions. I don't get all of his body language, Felicia is the master of that. I just understand when he agrees." I beamed.

"I see. Do you- forgive me?" the drow ventured. He produced a small roll of paper.

Ilkar didn't answer and got up to pace on the other side of the room. He whistled for Serif to go to him and as the dog ran he bounded into Ilkar's open arms. I chuckled, for a non-animal trainer, elf had made progress too!

"I thought this information might come in useful. During a mission I found this."

Drizzt said, placing it with me. I thanked him. He said he'd leave. I held out my hand.

"Are you sure he doesn't eat? I swear he's getting heavy." The mage grumbled. Serif came back looking proud of himself, nose held high.

"Nah. He doesn't need to. Let's all be friends again. I miss those times we had quiet time together," I inserted sincerely.

The hazel eyes of the Julatsan reminded me of the time he condemned me for being a Familiar demon's bond. He stood at his chair, his voice was calm, "I can't forget what happened, Drizzt Do'urden. When I was too ill to move, you took care of my needs and still continue with the making of herbs." Ilkar paused, one hand on my head. His fingers rested gently where it was most comfortable. "I've been lectured time and again not to stay angry with enemies. To be honest, I am not sure how much I forgive you. I will remain neutral."

I smiled. "Awesome speech. I'm touched."

Drizzt smiled and nodded. "That is perfect. I won't raise my blade to any of you again. When can we survey the place?" I tried to restrain my impatience of wanting to tag along.

After Drizzt left for his sleep in the day, we took it easy too. Occasionally, I still remained awake in the afternoon unless I was too tired for some reason. Ilkar noted I did not need much sleep. He kept all these observations to discuss with me and I did not mind. My mana aspects were fascinating, everytime Ilkar and I touched hands, he expressed that sentiment.

He wondered if my locket influenced the amount of power I had. So I tried casting without it, using a Hardshield. After months of honing it, I seemed to be able to make it tougher. The locket simply glowed. He had his hand near but winced at the heat. "I don't feel weak though… it just gets warm sometimes. I have a hair inside it."

Carefully I pressed open the catch. A wavy lock of silver hair curled inside. The picture was disfigured by ash. Ilkar nodded. "Could be your mother. You don't have to tell me. It's fine to have secrets. We'll stop here. I'm sleepy."

He gathered the pens and paper in a neat stack. I was dreaming still with my back to him when Serif whined, pulling my pants. My pet was attuned to both of us. That indicated something was wrong, either Ilkar was in pain or the animal saw spirits.

The elf staggered and knelt. I ran to him. "What's wrong?"

He trembled violently, his face contorted. I supported him. I checked his tattoo, damn! It was hurting him again. This time I didn't panic so much, Serif acted as a pillow while I guided him to lie down. After a while, Ilkar whispered meekly, "He's dying, no no! please!" Panting, Ilkar clawed at me, I narrowly avoided his scratches. When he was all right I should see about cutting his nails. His eyes suddenly opened, no pupils showing. Chills shuddered through me. He whimpered things in some string of incantations.

Serif told me to hold him. When Ilkar laid against the fur, he swooned. I touched his sweat covered skin. To make sure he didn't get up or hurt himself, I gripped his good arm for a while. The elf's breathing became less unstable. "Don't worry, I'm here. Don't move."

I went to the kitchens for a bucket of cold water. When I returned, Serif was still the elf's head support on the floor, and the mage was coming round. My dog gave him encouraging yips, turned slightly to lick him. I knelt to sponge him.

"Hey you know, going into a faint is seriously freaky."

This time, Ilkar was pale but his pupils weren't vanished. He coughed. "Sorry. I felt the pain but couldn't get to bed in time. What did I say?"

I told him. He looked sorrowful. I asked him if he could sit up, the bed was only a distance away. Ilkar could not make sudden movements, so Serif gently used his body to lever him up. He gasped for breath when he leaned on me. Together we brought the stricken elf to his bed. "Want some water? There's plenty."

"Not that. I need something warm, thank you." Ilkar gathered the blankets and leaned back. Without telling him, I used my skill simply rubbing my hands to produce the needed small flame to make the water warm. Checking the jug, there was some tea.

I gave it to him.

He drank and lay down. Feebly he asked if I would stay awhile. "What is it? Don't make speeches of abandoning you again."

He smiled. "I won't. I think, someone was killed… the curse is linked to all of us. Might not be able to move properly tomorrow."

I blinked back tears and shook my head. "You'd be fine. Don't talk nonsense, rest easy."

He was quiet, when I looked at him he hadn't closed his eyes though. "Sometimes I can tell when it will worsen, didn't want to hit my head when I fall over. Hey boy come here. What a smart boy," he coaxed, and Serif came up wagging his tail. My pet generously laid his head on Ilkar's stomach, knowing he would be needed.

"Ah, this Feels nice. Want me to tuck you in bed? Come to this one." He pointed to the nearby cot.

I just wanted to bawl and fall to pieces. He sounded so kind and concerned for us. I hugged him and sat down. "That's ok. I can sleep on my own. Eh it's not night yet."

"Umhm. We agreed on night action. Tonight I won't be able to." Ilkar sighed. He hated lying still, that time despite being feverish he insisted on reading.

Since we were quite near, his hand reached out to adjust my blanket. "Sleep tight."

"Ok. Good-day." I suppressed the tears leaking out on my pillow. It's not fair that Ilkar has to suffer. Why doesn't anyone help him?

I turned to the other side and tried to stifle my sobs. Ilkar's breathing deepened.

He told us there used to be six mages, now two were dead. One had tried to fly across and was shot down. Including him four were left. "Not sure if they have caught a few more. Damn." He grumbled while we had a light dinner. He actually managed to get himself on his feet to make some tea. I didn't like the funny sweet taste. But it would hurt his feelings and spurn his effort. My eyes must still be swollen, but thankfully they didn't comment. It's a great thing about elves, they just don't embarrass me like that.

Drizzt smiled at me. "How're you?"

I nodded and smiled weakly. "Yea I'm fine. Did you, um go to hunt and fight? Your hand is bandaged."

"Umhm. The arrow came too fast. It's a flesh wound. Don't worry."

"Come and sit down. Don't you feel woozy?" I glanced at Ilkar who was walking back and forth.

"Ah I feel worse lying down. My head hurts. Drizzt, can you wait one more night? I'm sorry." My heart ached. I wanted to hug him and heal him.

"Don't be sorry. Yes I will. I have seen the area, cannot go through it as well. Not on my own. We will need help. What about the other mages?"

Ilkar sighed and told him to wait. The mage sat down gingerly, rubbing his temples. I said to let me see the scrolls about the Ritual. He frowned. "Please. Though I can't understand it." I picked out the one he marked and pointed. "How about point 3?"

"It means people must be killed for my freedom. Has to be done during a fullmoon night, outside. Dawn coming would spoil the spell. I don't know, the others aren't open."

Oh shit! The drow cocked his head. "Maybe there is something wrong with the translation. I will check when the full moons will be."

Serif looked at my friend in compassion. The elf kept his eyes closed. I rubbed his back.

"The tea should help you," Drizzt suggested, in concern. "Why not sit up in bed to sleep? When I coughed it helped."

"Never mind. I know you are worried about the panther. She- won't die right?" he murmured.

"No she won't. She will probably be used to hurt people. That's all," the drow said in a worried tone. Ilkar fell silent, his headache must be quite serious. He wanted to remain still, elbows on the table, head down. So we went to the other end of the room. To console myself, I used Warmheal to help with his arm. He was grateful.

"Thank you for taking care of him. When I'm sleeping," I said shyly. Up close, the drow did have a black kind of beauty, with his bright white hair and intelligent lavender eyes. He smiled and told me calmly everything would work out. "He is not weakwilled. That has to count for something."

Later, the fair elf said he needed help. They went slowly to the bathroom.

I didn't expect to get into an argument. Somehow we talked about how to improve the chances of Ilkar surviving the deadly ritual that could free him for ever. That triggered his anxiety.

I said, "Don't worry about it. We're here. We'll buy more time."

His face showed the angst he felt when I had not come back early, and like the moments I didn't trust him. "No don't you understand? The priority is that you must leave safely. Drizzt you too. Don't waste all the efforts I've done." He breathed hard. Drizzt took him by the shoulders and said something in elven. Ilkar sighed and sank on the chair wearily.

"You don't understand, I am not leaving anybody behind. Stop being so negative!" I snapped, jumping up. The drow shook his head and put up his hand.

"Neither will I promise to leave you, Ilkar. They would hunt you down. Try to get some rest. All right," Drizzt soothed. His voice was like a balm on painful burns.

I swallowed back my pain.

"It's not easy. I have no regrets," the mage whispered. He seemed upset.

The drow stood between us. "Hard for me too!"

I wanted to make him see sense, that I liked him a lot! 'He gave me lessons and listened to me, is my companion too! Yet he wants to give up and die?' Gently the other elf said, "I see. Don't worry so much. Umhm, I will."

Then firmly, Drizzt said we should go outside. He ushered me to the door. Serif was tensed. He chose to stay with my friend inside though. I regretted yelling at him. Oh god! I should be patient with Ilkar, he's not well. I cried a little. Drizzt didn't look at me, simply stayed as a solid presence. "I- I'm really upset. He can't just give up. Why did he say that?" I sniffled. "You know yesterday, suddenly a mage died and it was terribly painful. He fell on the floor and went into- the stiffness stage. His eyes became white."

Drizzt nodded. "Convulsions. That sounds serious. I am not sure, but he is just concerned about us. It is best you stay apart for now. Ilkar has to rest. Want to go outside for a while?"

"Ok." I smiled thinking of the birds and nature. "I took him outside last week or so. He was grumpy but happy too. Will you be so odd? Maybe an elf thingie."

He laughed. "Oh I don't know. A thingie? I can become very angry sometimes, you won't want to see me in that rage." I frowned at that. Now I noticed, the ranger didn't wear armor but was in a simple cream tunic and blue inner vest. He seldom took off the armor.

"Yea thingie for feature. You- share the same language. I don't understand, at first got annoyed like I can't join in… but it's ok. What did you say that got him to relax?"

"I see. All right, you don't have to know. We talked rubbish mostly." He smiled. "I simply told him sleep everything will work out. It's a mantra I use when I am agitated."