I looked at the hundreds of tall mage spires that were spread across the city. I glanced back into the spire I was in, “are you sure he knows I am coming sir?”
The wizard Garme smiled, “he knows. He refused the city council summons by killing their messenger. Do not let your guard down and expect him to try to kill you.”
I rotated the ring on my left hand middle finger until the stone was to the inside. The ebony stone had a white moon stone in the shape of a hawk inset in it. I used my thumb to rub it as I crouched and then leaped up and out. It looked like huge ghost wings snapped out as I spread my arms and snapped them down.
I continued to beat my wings and rose higher and turned to circle. I started across the city and watched the brightly colored spires that passed under me. I kept my feet extended and if I looked back I could see ghostly tail feathers spread out behind them. Strange animals on the spires screamed or roared when they detected me.
I shifted and lowered my right foot slightly as I held my arms extended. I turned and glided to the right and began to descend. I straightened out and watched the spire I was headed for. I dropped faster and shifted to move a tiny bit to the right. Finally I snapped my arms together in front of me while curling and extending my feet.
I rubbed the stone of the ring as I went through the opening and onto the balcony. The huge bulbous top of the spire had several levels and this was the top. The ghostly wings vanished as I landed in a crouch and turned the ring. I pulled a short sword from over my right shoulder and a handle with blades with my left.
I snapped my left hand down and the blades opened into a fan and locked into place. I began to walk in and looked around the dazzling living and sleeping area of the mage. Riches were everywhere, jeweled mage lamps, small animated golden statues, bright silk hangings ... I shook my head as I moved towards the stairs in the center of the room, “magpie.”
The next level held a small kitchen and dining area with gold eating utensils and silver pots and pans. I continued down and stepped off the stairs and looked around the room at the strange objects. There were benches and shelves and racks and a furnace and ... I spun and lifted my left hand and there was a loud tone like a bell as a spell struck the fan.
The mage continued to chant and gesture and I started moving towards him, “surrender now and I will not have to turn your body over to the council.”
He continued with his spell and I blocked it with the fan until I was close. I shifted and turned as I lunged. The sword shimmered as it went through his ward and he screamed as it hit his chest. I yanked it back as fire and something black wrapped around him. He writhed around while still screaming and I watched as he was consumed.
When the fire died and the blackness vanished I knelt next to what was left. I closed the fan and put it and the sword away. I looked around and went to get a sheet from a huge cage. I stopped after I pulled it off and stared at the girl inside. She looked like she was in her mid teens and had long light green hair and pale skin.
She wore a grey dress that was very short. I hesitated as she stared back at me and then went to wrap the mage. I returned to the girl and knelt, “who are you?”
I meant to ask what but the words had slipped out. She glanced at the wrapped body, “Kit.”
I looked at the door lock on the cage and looked at her, “if I let you out will you attack me?”
She smiled and shook her head and I pulled a very slim knife and went to work on the lock. There was a click and I pulled the door open and held my hand out to her. She put her hand in mine and I felt a tingle go through me as I helped her out. I looked at the body and went back to lift it to my shoulder, “come with me?”
She nodded and I went all the way up to the top floor. I set the body down and pulled off the empty pack I wore. I began loading it with riches and even rolled up the bedding and took bolts of silk. I made a pack for Kitt and helped her. When I was finally done I lifted the dead mage to my shoulder.
I started down the winding stairs and it took awhile to reach the ground. I stopped in the main kitchen to add spices to her pack. I finally led the way through the bottom building and to the outer gate. When I opened it I looked at the city Watch blocking the street. I shifted the weight I was carrying and glanced at Kit, “stay behind me.”
I moved toward the Watch and one stepped out to block my way and I sighed, “do we have to go through this every time?”
The officer grinned as he looked around me at the girl, “did you take everything?”
I snorted, “not even close. Just do not touch anything in the work area before it has been checked by a wizard or one of the contracted mages.”
He gestured, “and her?”
I glanced back, “I do not know what she is yet.”
He blinked and then stepped aside, “pass.”
I nodded and started walking, “come along Kit.”
She followed me through the wagons blocking the street and then I stopped by a man with a hand cart, “how much to use it for a day?”
He grinned with broken teeth, “a gold piece.”
I shook my head and took a step and he hissed, “a silver!”
I stopped and turned before I shifted and dumped the body into the cart. I took the pack off and set it on the body and reached into my shirt for a small pouch. I pulled it out and opened it and then tossed him two silver pieces. I turned to Kit and put everything she was carrying into the cart and on the body, “I will leave it by the city council building.”
I took the handles and began to pull the cart and she fell in beside me and kept looking around. It took awhile to cross the city to the city council building and I had to unload the cart and carry the body inside. I crossed a large entry and entered the council chambers. Of course there were clerks and merchants and even mages.
I went to the head of the council and bent to set the body down, “he refused to come on his own.”
He snorted but nodded as he turned and counted out twenty gold pieces. He pushed them across the table and I moved to collect them. I slipped them into my money belt and turned to leave and he cleared his throat, “you need to pay the tax on what you took.”
I smiled as I turned to face him, “in that case I will put it back and inform the wizards you no longer wish to use me.”
His face reddened and I waited before he gestured, “out before I have the Watch take you.”
I snorted as I straightened, “you wish to test me or the wizards?”
The whole room was silent as he glared and I touched an amulet at my throat, “Garme?”
It was a moment before the ancient wizard appeared beside me. He glanced around and then looked at me, “trouble?”
I smiled, “the council wishes to tax what I take. The head of the council has threatened me with the Watch.”
He turned to look at the head of the council whose face had gone white, “in that case our deal is broken. You can take care of the magic users without our help.”
He gestured to me, “return to my tower Kyle.”
I nodded and turned as one of the other members stood to protest. This was not the first time they had tried this and I doubt it would be the last. I slipped my hand into Kit’s and she looked at me as I gave it a squeeze, “hungry?”
She nodded and I grinned as we left the building and I crossed to one of several food venders. I bought spiced sausage rolls stuffed with cheese and peppers. I juggled things and took what she was carrying and added it to the top of my pack. She ate like she was starved and I only had to guide her while we walked.
I opened the gate into the large garden and she looked around as her eyes brightened. I walked to the right and around and between several ponds and trees. In an open stone building with cloth covering the arches I pushed through and walked across several thick furs. I set everything down on a table and then turned and held out my hand.
I removed her pack and led her out and back through the ponds. We entered the large two story building with a spire sticking out the middle. It was a long climb up to the bulb on top and unlike the mage spires this one had a dozen levels. I stepped off the stairs and led Kit to a chair and sat in another beside her.
It was a minute before Garme climbed down the stairs and glanced at the girl. He blinked and looked at me before crossing to sit in front of me, “they will change their minds in a week, unless another mage crosses the line.”
I snorted, “just make sure they do not make things up.”
He nodded and looked at Kit again and grinned, “you do know what she is or was?”
I looked at her, “he had her in a cage.”
He nodded again, “probably to keep her out of his bed or from doing him violence. She is or was a nymph.”
Kit shifted, “this one will bed me?”
He grinned as he looked at me, “yes. He is yours now.”
I blinked and looked from him to her, “what was he doing with her?”
Garme stood, “my guess would be a sacrifice or to create something new.”
He headed for the stairs and I stood, “I will keep her safe.”
He laughed as he climbed up and I led Kit down. I looked at her and grinned, “you wish me to bed you?”
She nodded, “now?”
.... There is more of this story ...