The Rat and the Dragon
The light of the tavern spilt over the cobblestone street, the laughter and merriment drifting out along with it. The night was fresh, and no one thought anything of going home just yet. Neither did Roan as he opened the door, walking into the well lit room. His single green eye scanned the room, resting for just heartbeat on each person. He then calmly walked to the bar, his knee high leather boots thudding softly on the floor boards. His black cloak did little to hide the fact that he had a sword at his hip despite being held closed at the front.
He sat at the bar, seemingly nonchalant. He ordered a meal. The barmaid did her best not to glance at his other eye. The light of the chandelier overhead did not help. It gleamed in the light, seemed to move and swirl a molten silver. A single scar bisected his otherwise handsome face, running from the line of dark brown hair on the left, through the silver eye and ended at the bridge of his nose.
He ate his food slowly, almost, one would say, carefully. Upon his left hand was a small tattoo. If one looked close enough, they would see a rat, though the rat seemed to have a silver eye instead of a black one. Above the rat tattoo was another, slightly larger, but was the reason why no one sat near him. In fact, people moved away from him, eyeing him warily. Whispers moved through the crowd, and the sounds of enjoyment hushed a little.
The door to the tavern opened again. No one really thought to look twice at the older gentleman that strode in. Had anyone been paying any attention, they would have seen Roan's head tilt ever so slightly. He continued to eat, though, not making any other motion that he noticed anyone around him. The older man came up to the bar, asking for a glass of wine.
The barmaid walked away. At that moment, the older man looked down at the younger one sitting next to him. His black eyes focused on the young man's hand. A hiss was all he could get out before he found a stake through his chest. He bared his teeth, his fangs growing longer. He glared at Roan, but the last thing the vampire saw was that silver eye, swirling, moving, drawing him in, reflecting him, something the vampire had never seen as he had no reflection. But the vampire never got the chance to ponder this, nor to finish his transformation before his head rolled along the floor.
It stopped, staring up, at another pair of soft leather boots that had just entered the tavern. Roan gave hardly a glance at the cloaked figure as he slipped his silver scimitar back into its scabbard. He had accomplished his mission, the whole reason why he had been sent to this small town. No one else mattered at this point. He turned away from the twitching, bloodless body, going to finish his meal with more vigor now that he didn't have to watch his back so closely.
Not a moment later, a black gloved hand held the head into his field of vision. "I do believe your friend lost this. I would take his fangs, but he's not my kill."
The voice was soft, raspy, neither male nor female. Roan glanced to his right, his eyes narrowed in some annoyance. The cloaked figure looked back at him from the shadows of its hood. Somehow, he knew the person was smiling. The only thing he could see in the shadow were two small shining globes, sickly green in color, like a cat's reflective eye shine.
"I don't waste my time with such trinkets." Roan turned back to his meal.
Shrugging, the person tossed the head over its shoulder, which struck a disgusted patron squarely between the shoulders. No one had really bothered to leave despite the grizzly scene. They all knew Roan to be a Seeker, one of the powerful mages who sought out the beasts of nightmares, creatures born of chaotic magicks that ran rampant through this world. Although his people often protected the innocent, they were also above laws, as the laws were made by them. They could do whatever they damn well pleased, and no one dared push their patience.
The cloaked figure sat next to Roan, obviously not concerned about his status. This alone intrigued Roan. He was used to being feared. That this person had no fear made him curious. He turned his head slightly, looking at the person with his normal eye as the person had smartly sat on his right.
"I'll take that wine our patron here didn't get the chance to finish." The voice was slightly stronger, but still a little raspy. Though now Roan's sharp ears could detect a feminine note. Turning, the woman looked back him, those glowing orbs indicating their target: him. "I assure you, I'm no vampire."
"That wasn't my concern." Roan looked her up and down a little more closely. He had already noticed the bulge of the sword.
He heard a humorous snort as the gloved hands came up and pulled back the hood. Premature white hair was cropped close to her head. She was certainly very beautiful despite the masculine hair cut. Her eyes flicked to Roan. They were oval, slightly slanted and the deepest green he'd ever seen. Long ears tapered to a point, each pierced multiple times.
Heads turned. A smirk crossed the elf's face. No wonder her voice was so raspy, Roan thought, she was coming out of raa'haar, the age when elves, much longer lived than humans, became able to have children, like human puberty. She was no doubtablly older than anyone in the tavern though she looked equivalent to a human in her early 20s. She peered back at Roan, her gaze steady, never once focusing on his odd eye. This also he found strange, as all beings were attracted to it, whether they wanted to be or not.
"Elves are rarely seen around here." Roan turned back to his food. "I would think just the dirt between the cobblestones would disgust you back to your home."
As he reached for his fork, he found it flipping in the air, then snatched by the gloved hand. The elf grinned back at him as she spun the fork between her fingers nimbly. His eyes flicked in her direction. He noticed her elongated canines, something most elves ground down to make sure they could not be considered beasts. He then knew she was a wild elf.
"The dirt is the least of my worries." She stabbed the fork into a piece of meat on his plate before he could react and placed it in her mouth, all the while her eyes upon him. He snorted, his patience running out. Putting several coins on the table- even though he didn't need to- he stood. He stepped over the pile of ash that had been his victim, and walked out the door without another glance.
A huff drew his attention as he opened the door to the outside. He looked to his left, searching the shadows. He then noticed a darker shadow that shifted. At first he thought it was a large dog. Then the beast sat up. If it was a dog, it was bigger than any he'd ever seen. The beast's head easily reached his sternum, and it's glowing eyes watched him more like a predator than a friend. The growl that came from it was not canine.
As Roan reached for his sword, the elf suddenly brushed past him. She smelled of the woods, of meadows in bloom, of clear rivers and gentle rain. Distracted a moment, he blinked a few times before noticing that the beast was purring, not growling. It was a giant black panther. It rubbed it's enormous head against the elf as she stroked it. "There, there, dark one. Did the Seeker give you a fright?"
Roan snorted. It was he who had gotten a fright. The panther easily rivaled a tiger in size. It was like no panther he had ever seen. It was solid black, no darker spots visible. The glowing eyes were the most piercing icy blue he'd ever imagined. The panther huffed again, rubbing that giant broad head against its mistress.
Without a word, Roan turned away and strode down the street, heading for the stables where he had left his large black and brown stallion. After acquiring his horse, he headed out of town, ready to head back to the massive castle that was considered the Seekers' Headquarters. It was where they lived, trained, and could let their guard down. All he wanted was to get home, to see his friend and partner, though this mission had not required the two of them.
When he had gotten out of town and deep into the woods, Roan dismounted easily and built a small fire. He got about to setting up his camp when he heard a sound. The slightest rustle. Off to his left. He continued about his chores, pretending to not hear. The rustle again. He whipped around, sword drawn, but it would do him no good against the beast that reared up, its red eyes glowing of unnatural power. He cursed himself. The vampire's familiar! How could he have forgotten? Older vampires often conjured up powerful demonic beasts to protect them. Without its master, it was now rogue, its only thought to avenge its master and then it would only think of filling its need for souls. No sword could cut this demon.
A spell on his lips, Roan was stopped short by a blood curdling roar, a giant shadow leaping out of the brush, white claws as long as Roan's strong fingers gleaming in the firelight. Eyes glowed icy blue with magical power. The demon screamed eerily as the shadow collided with it and they disappeared into the brush.
"Tsk, tsk, didn't think it'd be that easy, did you, my dear Seeker?" The voice was deep, evil. Then Roan knew. He really hadn't thought much of it at first, thinking he had caught the vampire by surprise. But now he knew, it had been a decoy, a conjured being. Now he would face the real vampire.
The vampire appeared before the fire, midway through transformation. Thick, fleshy wings sprouted from his back, his face only vaguely resembling a bat, his spindly front arms ending in hideously large talons. His legs were short and squat, barely looking able to hold up the large bloated body. The skin was an ashen grey.
Roan was the first to move, tossing a stake with enough force to pierce through a tree. The vampire swept it aside with a thick wing. It laughed, a horrible sound that Roan had never gotten used to. It lunged at him with unnatural speed, its talons catching the Seeker along his side as he attempted to dodge. Spinning to the side, he brought his sword down between the vampire's wings. Coated with silver, the scimitar cut deeply. Black, half rotted blood exploded from the wound. The vampire screeched in pain, twisting unexpectedly. Its massive talons snagged Roan by the arm.
Its grip was crushing, the points digging into his flesh. The pain of his snapping bone was intense, but he pushed it aside, his other arm coming down with the sword. It bit into the vampire's wrist, causing it to screech again. But that was not what caused it to release Roan. It gave another cry and tossed him aside like a toy. He hit the ground hard, sliding through the soft dirt. He looked up as the vampire turned from him. He noticed in the flickering fire light that an arrow stuck out of its back.
The vampire leapt at some unseen foe. While he heard it fight in the darkness, he quickly sat up, his lips moving in a spell. He ran his good hand over his broken arm, feeling the healing warmth of the spell mend the bone back together. He quickly ran his hands over the deep gashes in his side as well, the wounds closing up.
His healing done, he turned his attention back to the battle he could hear in the darkness beyond the fire's light. His horse whinnied, but stood still as Roan rushed over and grabbed his crossbow. He cocked it, speaking a word of magic. The tip of the bolt burst into a magical silvery flame. As he turned back, he heard the wing beats of the vampire. It landed heavily. He recognized the short white hair. The elf had her teeth bared and was kicking the vampire, as it had her wrists in its talons. Its gruesome face was twisted in an evil grin.
Before Roan could fire, the vampire was knocked forward by something very heavy striking its back. It stumbled forward, screeching. It spun about, trying to dislodge the giant panther that clung to it. Massive fangs sank deep into the undead flesh. Its claws rend through the soft flesh, again and again until it had cut so deep that one of the vampire's wings hung limp with barely enough flesh to still be attached. It screamed and kept twisting in pain. It finally tossed the elf into the darkness. Its long arms reached over its head and grabbed the panther, dragging it off and bringing it to the front where it could bite the offending creature.
Roan lifted his crossbow, aiming for the back of the head. The bolt struck true. The vampire slumped forward, falling on top of the panther. At last, the night went silent. The only sound was that of the fire crackling and Roan's horse snorting. It was a very well trained animal. It had been near enough undead and fierce battles.
Cocking his crossbow again, Roan cautiously approached the vampire's body. It suddenly moved. Roan leapt back, but held his finger. The panther's head twisted out from under the large beast. It gave a rumble, looking up him. "A fair job you did," Roan stated to the giant cat, doubting it could understand him. His eyes looked over the mangled corpse. Using a foot, he shoved the vampire's body with great strength. At the same time the panther heaved up and rolled the corpse off him. It quickly bounded past him into the darkness.
Shrugging, Roan looked back to the vampire. The elf had also done considerable damage. He could see evidence of magical attacks. He heard the low bellow of the panther, as if it were calling to him. Cautiously, Roan followed the sound. He saw the darker form of the panther, its eyes glowing slightly in the dark. He remembered how the beast's eyes had burned with icy fire when it had attacked the vampire's familiar. Was the creature sentient? Certainly he had never seen or heard of such an animal, it was possible it was a beast made by magic.
He noticed the panther nudging a crumpled form at its massive paws. Roan knew this to be the elf. Shouldering his crossbow, he reached down and found the elf's slender throat, feeling for a pulse. She was definitely alive. Roan lifted her carefully, not sure if any of her bones were broken. Carrying her back to the fire, he laid her down and removed her cloak to better examine her wounds. The giant panther's head peered over his shoulder, its lips drawn back in a silent snarl. Roan knew this to be a warning. He turned his head slightly, careful not to meet the panther's fearsome gaze. "You have my word I won't harm her." As if this satisfied him, the panther eased back, giving the Seeker room to check his mistress.
The vampire had tossed the elf into a tree. A broken branch had impaled her in the back, under her ribs. Other than that, a few minor scratches, and a large, swollen bump on her head, having struck a rock when she fell from the tree, he saw no other wounds on her. He spoke softly, a warm light moving from his hand onto the wound on her back, then he moved to her head. After he had healed her, he moved back with a sigh. Now he was exhausted. He quietly prayed that nothing else would bother him that night.
He slowly got to making some tea, all the while glancing at the panther. The large beast laid next to the elf. It gently worked one of its massive paws under her head to act as a pillow. It made a low moaning sound, as if trying to wake her.
Sitting back with a cup of strong tea, Roan watched as the panther gave up and laid its head next to hers, purring quietly. "Don't worry, dark one. She'll be fine after a bit of rest."
It simply flicked a large, knicked ear to indicate it had even heard him. Shrugging, exhaustion quickly took its toll. Figuring it was safe enough, he wrapped himself into his thick cloak, his sword in hand. Sleep washed over him quickly. Almost too quickly.
The bright sunlight told Roan he'd slept much too deeply to be normal. He remembered then the hypnotic purr of the panther. It was most definitely magical. Rousing himself from sleep, he sat up and looked around. He immediately noted that the panther and his elf were gone ... as was his horse and his things! Snarling in rage, Roan leapt to his feet. That bitch!
He quickly found the trail his horse had left. He pressed into the woods, cursing the whole while. The sun was near the horizon for night before he heard what sounded like splashing. Crouching, he crept behind some bushes, his sword drawn. He peered through the spaces of the branches. His eyes narrowed.
The elf stood naked waist deep in a stream. Her pale skin shone wetly in the waning sunlight. The panther was dripping with the cold water, glaring at his mistress who giggled at him. He gave a huff, turned to leave the water. She grabbed his thick tail. "Aw, Draen, c'mon, you aren't clean! You still smell like wet dog!"
The panther spun. Roan thought surely it would attack her as its giant paw swiped at her. But there were no claws. It struck her side, nearly throwing her slender, very feminine form into the water. She stood back up, laughing. The panther pounced, pushing her under. Then it pounced off, landing on the shore, shaking, strategically spraying the elf as she surfaced. She splashed him, giggling. "Certainly not!" she suddenly remarked, putting her hands on her shapely hips.
The panther huffed and went over to Roan's horse. It sniffed his horse, who whinnied and kicked out at the beast. "No, Draen. You cannot eat it." There was a pause as she rubbed sand against her skin, getting off as much dirt as she could. "Well, it doesn't really matter. We can deal with whatever they think to send after us. Hardly a concern." Another pause. the panther now turned to her. "I doubt it." She rinsed the sand off. "Go hunt if you're that hungry. I'll catch up tomorrow." With a huff, the panther licked Roan's horse's haunch before bounding off, dodging a kick. Shaking her head, the elf continued her bath.
Roan waited patiently. He waited until the elf finished her bath and walked over to his horse. The beast whinnied, knowing this person was not his rider. But elves were known for their way with animals and her gentle elven words soon calmed the creature. She pulled a white, knee length tunic from her pack she had strapped to the horse. She was about to pull it over her head when the horse gave a pleased snort, making the elf reach for a dagger on the saddle.
Too late. She felt the cold metal press against her throat. She could feel Roan's hard male body press against her back. He grabbed her wrist with his free hand, making sure she couldn't cast any complicated spells. "You made a serious mistake, elf!"
"Not as serious as you," she hissed back. With a quick word, she brought up her other hand, opening it in front of his face. A brilliant light flashed from the middle of her palm, blinding him. He snarled, feeling her slip from his relaxed grip. Luckily, most of the light had struck his silver eye. He blinked, looking about as his vision quickly cleared. He parried the dagger that was swung at him from his side. The next swing she made, he was able to hook the dagger and wrench it from her grip. He heard her speak, a spell he knew would send fire at him.
The spell died as he suddenly shot out his hand, open toward her, a quick short word. A wall of magical force threw her back. She landed heavily on her back, gasping as her wound, though healed, throbbed in pain. Before she could leap to her feet, Roan's weight pushed her down. With a few words, roots shot out of the leaf litter, wrapping about her wrists and dragging them to the ground. He smirked down at her. He sat back, using his weight to stop her thrashing legs.
Beaten, the elf stilled under him. "What, will you kill me now, oh great powerful Seeker?"
Roan sneered at her. "I really probably ought to. You and your furry friend have been more trouble than I'm willing to put up with." He didn't bother trying to hide the fact that her breasts were quite attractive to his male eyes. He felt her squirm under him, her struggles renewing. He merely grinned. He knew he could do anything he wanted. She'd stolen property of a Seeker. He had killed men for much less, just because he was in a bad mood. However, he didn't forget that she had helped him with the vampire. That was the only reason he hadn't already slit her throat.
Finally, the elf tired herself out. The roots were simply too strong. Panting, she glared up at his grinning face. He was enjoying himself far too much. He idly drew something out of his belt, but she didn't recognize the blowdart until Draen fell from midleap, stumbled a few steps, then dropped with a dull, heavy thud. His breathing was deep and even. The elf cried out, again struggling with all her might. But now she was just too tired and Roan was much stronger. She could have beaten him in magic if only the roots hadn't also twisted around her fingers.
"There. I was waiting for him to get here. Interesting creature. Perhaps I'll keep him, any creature made by magic can be turned."
The elf snapped at him. "He's not made by magic! He is his own being! You can't turn him, he'll hunt you always!"
"Oh, pity." Roan continued to smirk at the elf. He'd actually never met an elf. He had heard of their beauty, but he had never thought they were quite so visually endowed. Despite being slender, her strong muscles rippled, her form was perfectly feminine. He could feel his blood burn. How easy it would be to sample this delicacy with her held so immobile.
He knew she was afraid despite how she glared at him. Because of that, he decided against his instincts. Anyone without fear was a fool. She was very obviously no fool. "Tell me, elf, what does your panther call you?"
A delicate brow arched. "What does it matter to you?"
Roan shrugged. "Just thought it would be nice to have a name to call you by while I take you and your friend back to headquarters. I figure I'll let them decide what to do with you. Even though you're out of the elven lands, I'm still not entirely sure whether I'm allowed to kill you or not."
The elf suddenly bared her teeth. "You bastard, you think you'll make it there alive with us in tow?"
Roan laughed. The deep sound of his humor echoed in the woods around them. The elf squirmed uncomfortably. He looked down at her, grinning. "Such hollow threats. I can keep your panther asleep the whole trip, and you I can keep bound."
The elf suddenly spat at him. He jerked back just in time, but his grin had turned into a snarl. He leaned forward. She found his knees between hers, his strong hands pulling her slender hips against his maleness so there was nothing but the strings of his leggings that separated their genders. He felt her go rigid. "If I were you, I would mind my manners. While there is a chance I'm not allowed to kill you, there are a lot of other things I could do worse than death." He saw her throat move in a dry gulp. Grinning again, Roan knew he had her attention.
"So, do you have a name or not?" He hadn't moved from his position.
"Cylthan." Her voice was subdued.
"Very simple for an elf, but at least it's a name." Finally, Roan stood, albeit with some effort. It had been a long time since his last lover. He quickly turned away from her so as to not tempt himself more. She was completely at his mercy. He could do anything he liked to her. And she knew it as well.
She squirmed. "You can't very well take me anywhere while I'm still pinned to the ground."
Roan chuckled as he stroked his horse. "I'll let you up when I'm ready."
Cylthan snorted in anger, but her eyes moved over to Draen. In the back of her mind, all she could see was darkness. She knew she could not wake her friend. He was too deeply in sleep. Giving up trying to mentally contact him, she glared back at Roan, who had turned to look at her again. He chuckled. "Your panther won't be getting up anytime soon." She looked away from him as if in submission. He approached her. "I guess elves aren't so tough without their pets."
Cylthan twisted and kicked up, catching Roan in the gut. The wind knocked from him, he couldn't cast any spells for a moment. His concentration had also been broken. Cylthan squirmed hard, feeling the smaller roots at last start snapping. Some of her fingers free, she attempted a spell. She couldn't finish before she screamed in pain. Roan stomped down on her hand, the crunch of bones and the searing pain telling her he was not lying when he said he could do terrible things to her. She grinded her teeth, tears in her eyes. The last thing she thought was that she never should have gone to warn the Seeker when she saw the shadow of the vampire follow him into the woods.
A dull pounding in her head brought Cylthan back to consciousness. Slowly, she opened her eyes. Roan's stoic face greeted her. "I admire your bravery, but it borders on stupidity."
She moved, realizing that she was clothed, but her hands were tightly bound behind her back and she was gagged. She had no idea how long she had been out, but it had been long enough for Roan to purchase a large draft horse for the sole purpose of carrying the massive Draen. His paws had been tightly bound as well.
She glared at Roan. She couldn't wiggle her fingers, but she could tell he had healed the hand he had stepped on. She knew now to be more careful.
Roan smiled smugly. He grabbed her arm and pulled her easily to her feet. "Traveling should be much easier now that you're awake." With hardly any effort, he hoisted her into the saddle. Cylthan figured that for now it was in her best interest to behave. She shifted uncomfortably as Roan drew himself up into the saddle behind her, his strong arms wrapped around her as he took the reins. With a click of his tongue, the horse started off.
They rode in silence for several hours. Unable to handle it any longer, Cylthan squirmed, making some muffled noises. Roan stopped the horses and, with a small growl, pulled her gag out of her mouth. "I'm sure as a male, you could all day without stopping, but I need to relieve myself. If you'd be so kind..."
With a grunt, Roan dismounted easily, helping Cylthan off the horse. He gave her a threatening look. "If you try anything, I might very well forego taking you in, and just deal with whatever consequences that may come from my ill-tempered decision." Cylthan pursed her lips, but gave a single nod. Roan untied her bruised wrists. She rubbed them tenderly, glaring at him. She then vanished into the brush like a shadow.
After a few moments, Roan got a little restless. He drew his dagger, ready to go into the brush after her. Something very heavy struck him in the back. He was knocked to the ground, the great weight pressing on his elbows, holding his arms still. He felt claws, heard and felt the mighty rumbling growl behind him. He looked up in time to see the giant black head come down, felt the massive fangs against the back of his neck.
"No, Draen." The panther eased the pressure of his jaws. He gave a little moaning sound, his piercing eyes flicking up to Cylthan, standing there with Roan's sword. Roan clenched his jaw in anger, but held his tongue, knowing any second the panther could snap his spine. His only hope lay in the elf's mercy.
Why not? He was more than willing to kill you! And to do other things to you. I could see it in his mind. I will not let him harm you, Cyl. Draen stood still, barely breathing.
Cylthan looked down on Roan. She knelt down to look at him. "You never did introduce yourself, Seeker. It's very rude to take prisoners without offering your name." Growling, Roan muttered his name. He could hardly breathe with the giant animal on him. The elf smiled. "Well, Roan, I'll be sure to remember you. It was an interesting time."
As she stood, Roan's world went dark.
Roan woke with a groan. He tenderly touched the side of his head. The panther had struck him so hard it had left an open gash. Sitting up slowly, Roan croaked out the healing spell, his throat dry from laying in the leaves.
Once he was done with that, he looked around. The elf bitch had taken both his horses! And, after checking himself, he realized she'd taken all his weapons and his money! Now he was truly angry. The truth was, the reason he'd really been taking her back to the castle was because he had wanted to see if he could bring her into the Seeker organization. But now, he was gonna kill her.
Picking himself up, he headed off after the trail of the horses. Night closed in quickly, and he was soon forced to stop. He started a small fire. Closing his eyes, Roan's lips moved slowly in a complex spell. He took some dry Grey's Beard lichen, sprinkling it over the fire as he continued to chant. The fire flared blue, then died down to the coals. In the shimmers of the intense heat of the blue cinders, a wavering image appeared.
"Roan, my boy, did your mission go well?" He could hear the voice as clearly as if the person truly stood before him.
Bowing his head, Roan took a deep angry breath. "No, Sir Jorsam. I was able to dispatch of Lord Zandavir, but I ran into a bit of an ... issue."
The shimmering figure cocked its head slightly. "Oh?"
Clenching his hands, Roan continued. "I met a Wild Elf in the tavern, accompanied by a giant magical panther the likes of which I've never seen. They happened to aide me in the slaying of the vampire, but then the panther magically put me to sleep, and when I'd awoken at last, they had stolen my horse. I tracked them down, put the panther under a powerful sleep spell, and bound the elf girl. I was going to bring them back to headquarters, but somehow the panther got out of my sleep spell and attacked me. They stole both my horses and everything else, left me with only my clothes."
The image suddenly burst out laughing. Roan flinched. His old teacher laughed long and hard before finally went down to a chuckle. "Pray tell, boy, whatever were you thinking of to have let your guard slip so drastically?" His voice was nothing but sarcasm. Roan shifted uncomfortably. This only made Jorsam chuckle again. "Either she is really good, or you allowed yourself to be terribly distracted."
"That panther of hers! Alone, I could deal with her, but that panther has taken me by complete surprise. I have no idea how he managed to get out of my sleep spell!"
Jorsam laughed again. "Well, I guess I can't blame you entirely. I have heard of a powerful race of sentient panthers that live deep within the magical jungles of Thirbor. The rumor is they are telepathic by nature, and are loyal to the death should they chose to associate with any humanoid. Though for them to venture out of the jungle or the surrounding area is incredibly rare. The Council of Seekers would greatly appreciate a chance to study such a beast."
"I will do my best to bring it in alive, but it is certainly loyal to the elf..."
"As for her, a Wild Elf is not held by the same contract as the others. I would say dispose of her, but since doing so would likely enrage the panther, if I were you, I'd keep her alive." Jorsam chuckled again. "Did you at least catch her name?"
"Cylthan," Roan grunted, hardly thinking it anything of import. But when he noticed the image of his trainer stiffen, he knew the old warrior mage knew something.
"Cylthan was all she gave me. Why?"
Jorsam rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "She may be even more useful than I thought. Make sure to bring her in alive. If she is not who I suspect, then we'll get rid of her."
"Who do you suspect her to be?" Roan had always hated being left out when it came to information.
"You have heard that the daughter of Maelicxatrasia went missing a hundred years ago, and the giant bloated lizard has been searching for her ever since, tearing apart the lands as she goes?"
Roan stared dumbly at his old teacher. "You cannot think that that elf bitch is that dragon's daughter?"
Jorsam shrugged. "That's why I say bring her in. If she is, then we can use her power to rid the world of that monster. If she is not, then she is of no use to us. Do be wary of the panther. It could get out of your sleep spell because a small portion of its subconscious was still awake and reading your mind, sensing the spell and countering it."
Roan nodded. "Very well, sir. I will do as the Council wishes."
"Good luck, boy, and keep your breeches tied!" Jorsam chuckled as the shimmering image blew away, the flame flaring up again and turning back to a normal campfire. Roan sat back and thought about what Jorsam had said. With a growl, he covered himself with his cloak as he laid back. He hoped she wasn't the dragon bitch's lost daughter. He would enjoy torturing her.
Draen felt a stirring in the back of his mind. He placed his massive paw over his eyes, moaning pathetically at Cylthan. I don't want to get up. I want to sleep. I only got 8 hours.
"Only!? Bah, you kitten! Get up, Draen. No doubt that Seeker is on our trail. It has long been since I've had a luxury like a horse, much less two! I don't want to give it up." Cylthan put the saddle on the black and brown horse she had decided to call Seeker in honor of who she had stolen it from. Seeker shifted, nuzzling her for a treat.
The panther peered at her from under his paw. Long has it been since I've had a luxury like horse meat! Your point? And besides, if the Seeker is that foolish to come after us yet again, I'll kill him this time. I still don't understand why you wouldn't let me! The giant cat turned onto his belly, tucking his paws under his chest, watching Cyl through lidded eyes.
"Because I don't need more than one Seeker on my fat scaly tail." She tightened a saddle strap.
It's hardly fat. And besides, you were a mere hatchling when you took this form, and you haven't changed back since. How could you know if your tail was fat?
Cylthan looked over her shoulder, then smiled at her friend. Even though he was younger than she by far, he had a deep wisdom. However, amongst his kind, he was actually quite old, in his later prime at 34 summers. But he still looked exactly as he had when she had first stumbled into the home of the giant panthers, not but a tiny hatchling, confused, scared, and hungry. If not for Draen taking an immediate liking to her, protecting her from the other panthers, she would have been killed right then and there. He couldn't explain it, but he knew he had to protect the odd little blue dragon with six legs, six wings, and two tails. He had taught her the magic to transform herself.
Easily settling into the saddle, she clicked her tongue, making the horses plod forward. "If you don't hurry, I'll leave you behind!" she called over her shoulder.
With a huff, Draen stretched lazily and started to bound after her. Damn Seek...
Cylthan whipped around, a spell on her lips. But there was no one to cast a spell on. Draen lay on the ground, his mind black in unnatural slumber. She turned the horses, looking about with great concern. The Seeker was hiding, knowing that he had time. It would take Draen's subconscious some time to work through the sleeping spell again.
Cylthan didn't have the time to cry out before she was knocked off the horse. She smartly got her foot against Roan's hip and shoved up, forcing him off her. The horses shied away from the fight. Roan hung onto her, his hands going for her wrists before she could take hold of any of her weapons. They grappled on the ground for a while before at last Roan's superior male strength won out. He forced her hands to either side of her head, leaning over her, panting.
"You and your panther are very lucky," he growled between heavy breaths. "The Council of Seekers wants an audience with you!"
He could tell by the look on her face that she most definitely was hiding something she didn't want anyone finding out about. He narrowed his eyes dangerously. "Hopefully you'll behave this time. I was told to keep you alive, but I don't have to keep you comfortable."
"I don't have to go with you, scum!" She squirmed hard, trying to break his grip. She almost succeeded, but he dug his knees into her sides.
"Oh, but you do, my dear elf, for you don't have any choice in the matter." Roan chuckled at her. "This time I'll be much more careful, now that I know your friend can get through my sleep spells, I'll have to keep several on him. As for you, I actually like keeping you awake. I have quite a few questions for you."
"And you think I'll answer?" She spat back angrily.
Roan grinned. "Oh yes, I think you will."
Cylthan's head was pounding again. She squinted at a small campfire. She could feel that her temple was swollen. She knew Roan was not going to heal her anymore. She was laying on her side, bound even more tightly this time. She squirmed a little, her hands numb. Her stomach growled, twisting when she smelt the cooking pheasant. She looked at the fire again, noticing it spitted over the flames.
Roan strode into view, carrying more wood. He dropped the branches and glanced at Cylthan. She glared back at him. He smiled. "Too bad I can't trust you enough to ungag you, or I'd offer you some dinner." He used his dagger to cut off a chunk of the pheasant breast, biting into it as he went over to check on the horses.
Cylthan snorted. She would not give him the satisfaction of begging for food. She looked over to Draen who lay motionless but for his deep steady breathing near her. She wiggled over to his side as even her feet had been bound. Roan watched her carefully. She curled up against the giant panther's side, using his body heat to stay warm and his large paw as a pillow. She wasn't really tired, but she just didn't want to deal with the Seeker right now. She buried her face into the cat's powerful chest.
Roan continued to watch the elf and her giant black cat. He thought about tormenting her. But he thought better of it. He would only increase his violence in proportion to her resistance. He found that tended to be much more effective as compared to causing massive amounts of pain all at once. Unlike his partner, he'd found that the desire for rewards was a greater motivator than the fear of pain. As long as she cooperated, he'd heal her, feed her, and loosen her bounds. For now, he left her to snuggle with her unconscious pet.
In the morning, Roan got up and checked his prisoners. They were both still there. The elf was still cuddled into the panther's side. As Roan moved around, he thought about how he would take Draen. He couldn't keep the panther asleep the whole trip. He figured he needed a large, strong cage. Roan knew there was a town not too far, less than an hour's ride. He looked back at the elf. He had bound her so well he doubted she could ever get out of it. And he knew the panther was going to be out for a while longer. So, saddling his horse, he quickly galloped away.
It was not hard for him to find a large metal cage, a wagon, and another draft horse. Money was not an issue for Roan. It wasn't like he had to pay, even though he did simply out of courtesy. Getting back took him a little longer with the heavy wagon in tow.
As he approached the camp, he was suddenly knocked off his horse. Cylthan put her slender but very strong hands around his throat. Roan didn't know that she had used Draen's claws to cut through her bonds. He had thought that he had taken all her weapons. And now she was going to make sure the Seeker didn't take her back to the Council. They would do to her exactly as her so called mother would have done to her had she stayed. A power so deep and ancient lay within her that not even she could fathom it. All she knew was that she would do anything to keep anyone from getting it.
Roan grabbed her wrists, trying to pull her off his throat. Now he learned her true strength. It was said elves were stronger than humans. She had only been holding herself back because she had had no desire to harm him up to this point. Now she would do what she had stopped Draen from doing. Her nails dug into his skin, causing him to gasp slightly in pain. She bared her teeth, showing her fangs. She would have bitten him had he not reached down and punched her with all his strength in her ribs.
With a sharp yelp, her grip was loosened enough for him to wrench her hands off his throat. He shoved her up, then got his booted foot under her and threw her off him. She landed heavily a short distance away, giving him enough time to struggle to his feet, panting. He drew his sword, turning to her, expecting her to use magic.
Instead, she graceful leapt to her feet, and in the same motion, leapt toward his horse. Before he could produce a spell, she had pulled her sword from the saddle strap and turned to face him.
"You won't take me anywhere, Seeker. Might as well kill me and Draen now. Because if you don't, one of us will kill you." She took a quick swing at him, which he parried and moved away.
"And what is it that you're willing to die for?" Roan stalked around her, watching her carefully.
She remained silent. Lunging forward, she swung up from the side, her form fluid and perfect. Roan almost couldn't parry. Off balanced, he stumbled back to give himself some room, but she pressed after him, her movements without flaw. She had been very well trained. It quickly became apparent to Roan that she was much better at physical combat than magical. That was fine with him. Most of his concentration had to stay on holding the sleeping spell he had on Draen.
Cylthan swung high. Roan lifted his sword to parry, only to find the elf, almost his same height, close to his body. Her knee found his gut without effort. Winded, Roan quickly retreated. He expected her to follow, but instead he blinked and she was gone. He glanced about, then pressed himself against the wagon. The horse whinnied in a little bit of panic, having never been around a sword fight. Roan stalked around the wagon, knowing she was hiding somewhere around it.
He came around it quickly, looking down its length. A small scrape sound made him throw his sword up as she swung down at him from the top of the wagon. Her sword solidly against his, she put all her weight down, and effortlessly used it to flip over the Seeker. He had never seen anyone make such a move. She had more flexibility than he could have imagined. The ripples of her muscles, her perfect form moving over his head, then landing squarely and nearly silently onto her feet a short distance away, distracted him to her booted foot. She swung around, that foot catching him across the jaw.
Stumbling, Roan cursed himself for being so loose with his concentration. He parried her next sword swing, continuing to retreat. She swung hard again, but Roan spun around the corner of the wagon. Cylthan's blade bit deep into the wood. She tugged, but the sword was stuck. She heard Roan behind her and quickly turned to face him, leaving her sword. But Roan was not there. Blinking, she could have sworn he had been right there.
The cold blade against her throat told her he had used a very simple spell to confuse her. She growled, angry she had fallen for it. Despite the threat of the blade, she dug her elbow into Roan's ribs. He grunted in pain, but instead of moving away, he pushed the blade deeper into her throat, drawing blood. He grabbed the offending arm above the elbow. she tried to kick out at him, but he hooked his leg with hers, quickly pulling the sword from her throat as they both tumbled forward into the leaves.
Screaming, Cylthan struggled with a strength Roan almost couldn't conquer. His muscles trembling, he finally managed to shove her wrists down, his legs holding hers. Both of them panted hard. Roan blinked the sweat from his eyes. Normally, he'd be quite angry, but he was instead very impressed by the elf's fighting style and spirit. Hell, if all she was was just an elf and not the dragon the Council thought she was, then he'd take her as his apprentice. He had at first wanted to torture her to death, but that quickly melted, feeling her lovely body trembling under him.
"You need to learn your place," he grumbled as he twisted her arms behind her back again. She growled ... or was it her growling?
Pain finally made its way through the fog of unconsciousness. Roan knew immediately that he was bound. He opened his eyes, looking up at the snarling face of Draen.
If you move, you will lose about a meter of intestine. Roan would have vomited if he had anything in his stomach. He'd never been spoken to in such a manner. The panther had to force a portion of his consciousness into his mind, which, since he wasn't used to it, brought waves of dizziness, nausea, and pain. Through it, he could feel a massive claw press against his abdomen. Cyl told me not to kill you, but she didn't say I couldn't eat you alive.
He was in a half sitting position, his arms behind his back. Swallowing dryly as there was nothing for him to swallow, he squirmed slightly, uncomfortable in his position. The panther allowed the small movement, obviously knowing he wasn't even thinking of escape just yet, only trying to ease the pain in his arms.
He carefully avoided the panther's gaze, instead looking around at his surroundings. He had no idea how long he'd been out, but they were far away from where they had been. The forest was more open, and there was a stream only a few meters away.
Cyl is off hunting, and I've had you under a sleep spell for the last 4 days. The panther's muscles moved as he shifted a little. His claws eased off Roan's empty belly. She felt it would be alright to let you wake for a short time.
Roan looked at the cat. "Why am I not dead? I thought that's what you both wanted?"
Draen peered deeply into Roan's eyes. Cyl decided to take you to a ... friend of ours for safe keeping until we could get far enough away that you wouldn't be able to catch up. Huffing, the panther eased all his weight off Roan, sitting back. Cyl is but a child still, naive and innocent. She is much too kind. If I were you, I would be thankful for her merciful nature, and that I would not disobey her.
The panther then shook his head, huffing again. I cannot let you take us to the Council. I cannot let you know where my kin live, hidden safely at last. I also will not allow you to take Cyl. She is my friend. Roan could swear he heard a small twinge of regret in that last word. Did the panther wish for more then that? He quickly banished the thought lest the panther heard it. He could still feel the consciousness of the big cat in his mind. His nausea was slowly easing as he got used to the sensation.
A rustle made Roan jump, but Draen only huffed, his mind suddenly receding from Roan's. Cylthan threw her bow down in frustration. "No, I couldn't find anything. Not a single deer. Not even a rabbit."
She glared over at Roan, then threw some more wood on the fire. "I don't care. If you think you'd have better luck, be my guest."
Roan saw the blue eyes turn back to him, the threat within them so obvious the panther didn't need to invade his mind to say it. He then drew himself off his powerful haunches and slowly strode off into the brush.
Roan wiggled up into a better position, watching the elf. He ignored the growling in his stomach. Cylthan didn't look at him. Roan licked at his dry lips. He glanced over at the stream. "Think you might be so kind as to let me have a drink?"
The elf looked at him, thinking. Roan wished he had the panther's power to read minds. Finally, Cylthan got up and came over to him with a water flask. She let him drink his fill before backing away and going back to the fire. She sat silently for awhile. Roan didn't need to read minds to see the loneliness in those eyes that shone in the firelight.
Finally, she tilted her head slightly toward him. "If it weren't for some ... certain circumstances, I might have allowed you to take us to the Council. But as things are, it's better if Draen and I vanish back into the shadows of the world."
Roan decided it was best to stay silent. Maybe she would reveal more. He knew he would be unable to press her for information, not in his current predicament. He gave a small groan as he moved, feeling his bruises from whatever thrashing he had received when the panther had knocked him unconscious. He turned away, trying to get comfortable. The sleeping spell had left him tired, even though it was no longer on him.
He didn't realize he'd actually fallen asleep. When he opened his eyes, the night had closed in. He looked up at the bright moons, peering down at the world below them. He examined the camp, noticing the horses all tied around a tree where they grazed on a bush. It didn't take long at all before his eyes settled on the pale form of the elf standing waist deep in the stream.
Cylthan poured handfuls of water over her skin. She enjoyed the feeling. She liked being clean. Living among the panthers for 20 years had taught her to maintain her cleanliness. She liked bathing at least once a week if not more. It helped her clear her mind. The cold water refreshed her, helping her think about what she had to do next.
A sound made her turn back toward the camp. Roan was sitting back on his ankles, looking at her. She smiled. Now would be the perfect time to torment him, get back at him for the trouble he'd put her through. He was helplessly bound, unable to hurt her. And the only time he would be getting unbound was when they reached their destination, a wyvern by the name of Sso'olarr. The sly beast would hold him hostage for a few days, allowing them to escape. And Draen was gone hunting, so he couldn't say anything about her behavior.
Turning, she left the water, going over to wagon where she put all the packs. She pulled her cloak out and slowly, rather seductively began to dry off. All the while she could feel Roan's eyes burn into her. She slowly bent down, drying her legs. She watched Roan's jaw clench from the corner of her eye, smiling a little in enjoyment. She could tell he knew very well that she did it only to annoy him. She saw his arms move, his whole body shifting slightly, figured he was very uncomfortable at the moment.
Grinning, she tossed her moist cloak over the side of the wagon and strode arrogantly toward the Seeker. "I do hope you aren't too uncomfortable. The rope's not too tight is it? Or is it your breeches that are too tight?" She grinned ear to ear, enjoying herself far too much.
Roan's eyes narrowed dangerously. He squirmed his arms. "Release me." His voice was very low and husky.
Giggling, Cylthan put her hands on her shapely hips. "Oh now, now, a mighty Seeker can't possibly fall to such pitiful temptations." She pouted slightly. "Just a mere girl couldn't possibly turn a powerful warrior mage into a squirming mass of hormones."
"Release me." His voice was even lower, almost pleading. She was a little surprised by it. She drew a step closer, confident in her power over him.
"Poor Seeker. Don't clench your jaw so hard, you don't want to ruin your fine features." She reached down to his face, running a slender, calloused finger along his jawline.
The next moment she found herself straddling his lap, her arms twisted behind her back. She stared dumbly at Roan's grinning face. She suddenly started to writhe, trying to get out of his grasp, but in the position he had her she couldn't get enough leverage. Fear clenched her. She had thought he was bound and helpless. But when he held both her thin wrists with one of his large strong hands, the other holding a dagger to her throat, she knew she had made a mistake. While her back had been turned, he had taken a dagger she had left laying next to the fire and had cut his bounds.
She looked at him wide-eyed, her heart pounding. "Oh now, now, a mighty dragon can't possibly be afraid of a pitiful Seeker." When the fear in her eyes deepened, he knew he had struck home.
Roan's lips cut her off. She went rigid, trying to pull away from him. His strong arm pulled her lithe body against him, drawing her deeper into his kiss. He could feel her heart racing in her chest. Breathing hard, she couldn't match his unusual strength at that moment. She wiggled, trying to pull her wrists lose, but he held her tightly. She hadn't realized the dagger was gone from her throat until she felt that hand against her hip, pushing her down.
His blood burned, his whole body ached. He pushed down on Cylthan's hip, feeling the warmth of her slit. He felt her tremble, felt her resist, but it was almost half-hearted. His lust gave him immense strength, and he brought her down on his hard rod. She struggled, trying to pull away now, but his arms wrapped around her, holding her close and pushing down harder until he was sheathed within her. He felt a shudder run up her spine.
He could tell it had been a long time for her as well for she was tight, but certainly wet. He moved almost effortlessly in her, lifting her and pushing her down with his powerful arms. She panted against his lips, shivering in both fear and lust. She was trying to pull away even as she returned his kiss with a fevered passion. She'd never been with a human, had never felt so filled. She had only ever been with other other elves, and never more than once with each. She hadn't wanted to get attached, knowing she had to always be moving.
He suddenly pulled her arms to her sides before pushing her back, holding her down by her wrists, still buried deep within her. He left her lips, leaning back as he began to stroke in and out of her powerfully. She panted, a small moan escaping her, which she tried to hide. "No, stop, please..."
Roan leaned over her, his lips nibbling at her throat, making her shudder. As he moved down, her chest rose to meet him and he chuckled in amusement. "Your mouth says no but your body doesn't agree."
Already flushed, her blush was lost. She attempted to stammer something, but Roan didn't give her the chance. He kissed her again, moving with sharp, hard thrusts, amused by her attempts to choke back her moans. She continued to twist her wrists, trying to wiggle free.
He felt her shudder in a way she hadn't before, her whole body arching, her inner walls contracting around him. She couldn't stop the deep primal moan that forced its way out. Her pale skin flushed brightly. He smiled, risking to release her, stroking her heated skin. She may not necessarily be wanting it, but she was certainly enjoying it.
His moment of distraction cost him as he felt her nails rake across his face. He growled, grabbing hold of the offending hand, shoving it back to the ground. He thrust sharply up in punishment, smirking when her eyes rolled back for a moment. His fingers intertwined with hers as he felt her hips move up against him. He grunted slightly in effort, kissing her again hard as he felt himself grow close to release.
When his body tensed, he felt Cylthan shiver under him, another small moan escaping her while his seed filled her. By the time he bothered to withdraw from her, she was almost asleep. He smirked again. He looked around, figuring it was the best time to escape. But something told him to stay. A presence he could sense nearby. Shrugging, he laid down next to the elf, a sly smile on his face as he wrapped his arm around her, holding her close as it grew chilly.
Cylthan woke to the sound of steel being placed into a scabbard. The sight that greeted her would have had her jumping to her feet had those not been bound. She cursed herself. She was bound so tightly, even her fingers so she couldn't get the chance to get to any weapon like Roan had. Not that she could have done anything with a weapon against the leviathan that stood next to Roan.
The giant turned, grinning down at her. "You sick bastard, you got all the fun." His deep, inhuman voice made her clench down on the rope that had been shoved in her mouth. He crossed his four massive arms over his barrel chest.
Roan snickered as he turned. "I figured it would be alright to let the sleeping beauty wake. Don't worry, Bern, you'll get yours when we get back home."
Cylthan growled, straining against the bonds. She should have known better then to have allowed herself to relax around the bastard. The giant Bern guffawed at her attempts. It sounded like a roll of thunder. He had to be easily 3 and half meters tall. Bugling with muscle, with legs like tree trunks and four arms almost as thick. "Well, should we wait for her kitten or just pack up and go?"
"Draen will no doubt be following us. He's not stupid enough to attack while we're expecting him. Let's just get a move on, he's bound to show up sometime." Roan tossed a cloak at Cylthan to cover her nakedness. She squirmed against the giant as he hoisted her without effort and stuffed her without tenderness into the metal cage.
Bern mounted a massive iguana like beast that groaned under its rider. He rode behind the wagon, keeping a close eye on Cylthan, as well as making sure Draen didn't attack from behind. She glowered at the giant, grinding her teeth against the rope.
I told you so. Draen lilted in her mind.
Don't patronize me and get me out of here! She squirmed in the cage, sore from its constant little jolts.
Don't worry. It'll be days before they get anywhere near civilization. I'll get you out of there. Draen's voice sounded all too smug. He must see some kind of weakness that she couldn't.
He receded from her mind for the rest of the day. As night fell, they came to a stop. Neither the giant nor Roan bothered to pay her any heed as they got the camp ready. They spoke about what they had been up to since they had been separated. As she listened, she heard the leviathan speak about his children. So he had a family. That may come to use eventually, she figured, storing away everything they said. They ate some rabbit that Roan had shot while they had been traveling.
Cylthan felt her stomach clench. She ignored it, figuring there would be nothing by the time the men were done. She did her best to get back under the cloak as she rolled onto her side to sleep. She was on the verge of the blissful oblivion when she heard the lock to the cage click and the door swing open. She looked up in anger. Roan raised a brow at her. "Well, I guess if you're that mad at me interrupting your sleep, I can forgo the dinner."
Her stomach spoke for her. Roan chuckled as he reached in and untied the gag from around her head. Cylthan had to sit up for him to give her water and food, which he fed to her with a fork, not trusting she wouldn't try to bite his fingers off. The cloak shifted, and she drew her knees up to her chest, to which he snickered. "Now, now, I do believe it's too late for modesty."
She sneered at him. Once she was fed, he produced the gag again, grinning at her. "I like it better when you can't talk."
Drawing back, she tried to think of anything to not have the nasty rope back in her mouth. "How about we make a deal?"
His grin twisted evilly. "Oh, but my dear, you forget, deals are for between equals." His voice was dripping with sarcasm. "I do believe the word you're looking for is terms." His voice grew cold and serious with the last word, causing a shiver to run up her spine.
She gasped when he pulled the cloak off her with a slight tug. She drew back, her knees pressing against her chest. But she couldn't stop his touch, his rough fingers finding their way into her. She clenched her jaw, trying desperately to not show any reaction to his assault, but he moved his finger expertly within her. She whimpered, squirming, trying to get away. She felt the unwanted touch within her cause a warmth that quickly spread up through her belly, making her pale skin redden.
"P-Please, stop!" Her voice was less fearful then she had wanted.
Roan grinned still, laughing quietly. "Oh, now why would I do that? I think you're enjoying it."
"No" she whimpered. She tried to kick out at him with her bound feet, but he grabbed the rope that held her ankles together and jerked her closer to him while forcing her legs up into the air. She cried out, unable to fight off his advances. Little sounds escaped her, no matter how she tried to stop them.
"Oh, leave her alone. You'll get plenty of time to torture her when we get back to HQ." Bern grumbled next to the fire. "You're making me jealous."
Roan laughed, but he finally pulled his fingers from her, dropping her legs. She quickly squirmed into the back of the wagon. With a humored grunt, Roan wiped his fingers on the cloak before tossing it at her without much care, closing the cage door again. "I can't help it, she makes me hot," he snickered as he joined his partner next to the fire where they spoke for awhile longer before Roan bedded down. Bern's kind didn't need to sleep but one day a week, so he kept watch through the night. Never once did he even glance at Cylthan, for which she was grateful, although she didn't get much sleep.
She was only barely dozing when she heard Roan rattle her cage. "We're going to be back to HQ sooner then we thought. The wizard Zoliac is going to be meeting with us soon and open up a portal. I do hope your cat arrives in time." He flashed his teeth in a wickedly amused smile before going to the front of the wagon and getting the horses started.
Cylthan prayed quietly that Draen would hurry up with whatever plot he had in mind. If they were portaled away, he may never get the chance to rescue her. She closed her eyes, trying to get comfortable in the little jolting cage.