The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

18Sep/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0064

The assassin had left a trail of magic. His camouflage spell had been on himself, it had followed him for the entire duration. The Tarvoni expected the Magehunter to be able to follow it. The trail he had taken went across several traps. He only needed one trap, but it was possible to miss one or more of the traps by sheer luck. It was the only way to make sure they were concealed well enough that an experienced Magehunter would not spot them.

The Shadow Cult assassin circled around to watch his trail. He would watch how the Magehunter tracked him. He would see how Beren handled his traps. Then when the Agonish man least expected it, the assassin would strike. The Tarvoni watched and waited for his prey. He was prepared to end this quickly, but he knew that it was easy to disrupt a well laid plan. If his first attempt failed, he had a few backup plans. He was a professional. He was careful and took his time. It was why he was still alive.

He sat in wait, using only his natural skills in stealth and camouflage. His spell had long since worn off. From what he knew of the Magehunters, the magical trail would not lead to his current position. As time passed, he worried that the trail he had left would fade as well. He had seen Beren Gendar enter the encampment. He was surprised the Magehunter was not immediately out to track him down. Each hour that passed meant that the assassin's trail became harder to track. Finally the Tarvoni admitted defeat for the moment. He needed to learn what had kept his prey from following.

He slipped through the woods silently and swiftly. He soon arrived at the encampment and watched the walls from the forest edge. Things were moving normally. The assassin did not dare move closer. He might be spotted. Using magic while a Magehunter was near was certain to draw unwanted attention. He merely surveyed the situation, waiting to learn more. He hoped for an opportunity to learn more, but he knew how to be patient.

***

After a chat with Jenner Gann, Beren noticed that the magic aura was quickly fading. If it had not been woven by the Gearwork Master, the base needed checked. It was possible that a Tarvoni had slipped near and done something. The base quickly went on alert and searched for any signs of trouble. After making sure the base was secure, the trail had faded to a point where the Magehunter could not easily follow it. He was able to discern that it led into the woods. That certainly cleared the Ravaleian of doing anything.

Finding no sign of trouble worried Beren, but it may have just been a scout determining the defenses of the base before he struck. That was worrisome enough. Yet now Beren was around to hunt down the mage and discover his purpose. The Magehunter had found his purpose for the moment. There was no need to wander far to find a mage, one had now come to him. That did not make his job any easier, however. If the mage had any idea that a Magehunter was near, then hunting him down would be quite difficult.

Mayitso sniffed around. The scent of his enemy was muddled. Whoever it was knew how to disguise themselves in more than one way. The lycanthrope kept his nose and ears on alert for anything odd. Eurysa's sharp eyes found some use on top of the walls. Kava, Aldebaran, and Ritter rested for the moment, although the vodyanoi was itching for a fight. Enzi chatted with Cassius as the two discussed what the intrusion of a mage might mean.

The scream of pain broke the growing tension, only to replace it with a different tension. One of the guards fell from the wall. Beren could see the sharp electric blue of magic in the air. The Magehunter dashed past the fallen man as medics rushed to the hurt soldier's side. A blast of acid had struck the guard in the face. It was a brutal attack. Eurysa moved to that wall with her bow in hand looking towards the area the spell had come from. Beren dropped over the wall, sliding down it to land on the ground. It was not the softest landing, but he was unharmed.

Mayitso took a longer path towards the area, exiting the gate. With his four legged speed, he could eventually catch up to Beren. The rest of the Irregulars were left behind, much to Kava's disappointment. Eurysa remained on the wall, prepared to provide support with her archery skills if needed. It would not be much help if the mage had retreated deep into the woods, but it was all she could do for the moment. Eurysa trusted that Mayitso would be enough back up, especially as Beren was more than capable of defeating most mages.

Beren saw a trail of magic that led into the forest. The mage must have woven a spell on himself to leave such a blatant trail. The Magehunter thought it was his lucky day. The mage's scouting had come before Beren had arrived. Beren assumed the mage had not realized a Magehunter of Agon was near. Beren expected the mage to find cover and hide once he heard someone chasing him. He would not see what was chasing him until it was far too late.

Beren let his eyes wander, taking in the whole area around him. The trail of magic was still clear, although it was weak. Such a weak mage did not seem like much of a challenge. Even the weakest foe could strike a deadly blow if they caught you by surprise, however. This was why Beren tried to keep his focus wide, watching for trouble from any angle. That was why he suddenly tumbled forward. He rolled back to his feet, sword in hand, to face the foe he heard behind him. However it was only Mayitso.

The lycanthrope barreled past Beren, nose to the ground. He was tracking the foe by smell. The Magehunter followed Mayitso's lead. Beren kept his senses sharp, allowing Mayitso's inhuman senses aid as well. The massive wolf suddenly yelped. A trap snapped shut on one of the lycanthrope's legs. Beren's mind filled with possibilities at the discovery of such a trap. The assassin knew his time had come and pounced at the distracted Agonish warrior.

The poisoned blade of the assassin met the buckler on Beren's left arm. The distraction of the trap had not been enough to dull the Magehunter's reaction time. Beren slashed with his broad sword but the Tarvoni spun and almost seemed to flow past the blade. The assassin moved into position for a strike at Beren's now unprotected flank. However a kick from Mayitso kept the assassin off balance long enough for Beren to bring his guard up. The fight drifted slowly away from Mayitso.

The lycanthrope began to gnaw at the trap on his leg to try to free himself. It had not been able to actually harm the lycanthrope, but it was limiting his mobility. The assassin stabbed at Beren who parried the attack. The Tarvoni seemed to flow past the parried blade again, moving with uncanny grace. He was a professional warrior. The assassin might have been a match for Beren, especially with the poison on the blade. One cut would end the fight. It put Beren on the defensive. The Magehunter could see the gleam of the liquid on the blade as the sunlight filtered down through the trees.

Beren watched his foe as the assassin pushed the assault. The Tarvoni's acrobatic twists, spins, and rolls kept Beren on his guard. The Tarvoni rolled towards a bush and came up from behind it with a small crossbow. The bolt flew fast and true. Beren was able to catch it with his shield but the assassin used that opening to diver under the Magehunter's defenses. The Tarvoni's blade struck true, shredding the magehunter's tabard. However, the mail shirt that Beren wore kept the blade from doing any real damage.

Beren kept calm and pressed his foe, hoping to wear down the Tarvoni. The assassin was using a lot of energy in his acrobatic moves. Beren made a few conservative strikes, keeping his defense up. However, Beren saw the Tarvoni grin. The mage had not used up all of his tricks. With a leap the mage danced back from Beren, then unleashed a magical spell. It was a blast of acid, similar to what had burned the guard on the wall. It splashed on Beren's chest, burning his armor and his skin.

The Magehunter grunted as the pain swept over him. The assassin took advantage of the new opening, charging in for the kill. Beren fought through the pain and brought his buckler up to stop the blow. The assassin grabbed Beren's arm with his free hand and drove the blade home. Beren tried to avoid it as best he could but the blade still sank in the Magehunter's shoulder. The Tarvoni ripped the blade back out with a slight chuckle. The laugh was cut short as a mass of fur erupted up over Beren.

A snarling maw gnashed its fangs upon the surprised assassin's face. Blood flew as Mayitso tore the Tarvoni man apart. The lycanthrope shook himself off and turned to look at Beren. The Agonish man was laying on the ground, burnt by acid, bleeding, and twitching as the poison began to flow through his veins. The great wolf carefully nabbed Beren's clothing with his jaws and began to drag the man back towards the encampment. There was little else that Mayitso could do, he was not good at dealing with wounds.

Aid came quickly once Eurysa spotted the pair. Sweat rolled down's Beren's forehead as his body tried to fight the toxins coursing through it. The medics bound up his wounds but they had nothing to help against an unknown poison. It was very possible that the assassin had succeeded, even in death. There were few ways to aid a person with toxins in their blood. It was something that if it was solved was only done with the aid of magic. There was only one person with magic in the encampment, and none trusted him. That man sat in his tent, mostly unaware of the situation.

Enzi approached Jenner, “Do you know anything of poisons?”

“I am no expert. I do carry some Rava herbal tea to flush out toxins. Is there a problem? I saw the rush of people.”

“An attack by a Tarvoni mage. He killed one soldier with a blast of acid and has poisoned a second man.”

“Take the tea then,” Jenner said, “Our alchemists make it. It is slightly magical and will lower the toxicity in anyone who drinks it. It might not be enough to save your man, but it will certainly improve his chances.”

“Then come and administer it,” Enzi said.

“As you wish.”

The Ravaleian and the Feergrus man approached the convulsing body of Beren Gendar. The Ravaleian pulled out a vial of liquid. Enzi held the Magehunter's head up as Jenner poured the fluid in the Agonish man's mouth. One of the medics nearby used his knowledge to force Beren to swallow. The next few minutes were harrowing. The convulsions slowed but did not stop. Within an hour, however, Beren's condition seemed to improve.

Finally Beren coughed out, “Is everyone safe?”

“Thinking of others first?” Jenner asked, “Yes, the mage only killed the guard on the wall and hurt you. Everyone else is fine. The poison does not seem to have killed you, but I would take it easy for a while if I was you.”

“Thanks. That foe was not a normal Tarvoni mage. He was not trained in magic, his skills in that area were weak. This was someone who had spent his life learning to fight in melee.”

“An assassin then,” Jenner stated, “Not of the Abyss Cult then. They hired one of the Shadow Cult I would expect. They are incredibly deadly in combat.”

“I noticed,” Beren chuckled.

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