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The Mages of Braidwood:

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#41 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 06:15 AM

- 2 -

“Mother!  She’s back finally!” Arwen’s little half-sister Ini’dil called out.  The older girl nearly dragged her dusty booted feet while climbing up the huge, sand colored stone steps of the family’s valshath. Only the very wealthy could afford such a home as this. The steps were inlaid with colorful glass and crystals from far off in Nineveh that sparkled in the late afternoon sun.

Arwen gave the younger girl with the pale yellow hair a frown and brushed roughly past her. She threw off the hood of her cloak and removed the garment. Her stepmother, Jys’ayne, stepped in front of Arwen with her hands on her hips. Arwen glanced up and barely stopped herself from shaking her head. Apparently Father had already handed out the gifts and new riches to the family. Jys’ayne was wearing yet another elaborately jeweled necklace and pair of richly decorated, black leather boots. She must be wearing them to the party that evening because the drow woman was already wearing a short, form-fitting outfit suitable for the sultry spring night.

“You’re a mess,” Jys’ayne said with distaste on her dark, triangular-shaped face. “Why must you get so dirty? You’ve never cared about your looks,” the woman continued, shaking her head.

Arwen rolled her eyes. A true drow—male or female--adored beauty and was fascinated with having the perfect body and appearance. Arwen refrained from pointing out that she was only half drow and therefore not interested in this worthless pursuit. She glanced down at her black, leather top and yanked one strap back onto her dark shoulder. She noticed some dust streaks on her black skirt.

Arwen shrugged. “Whatever,” she said.

It wasn’t as if her stepmother really cared, she was just worried about what other people-drow really, human opinions were of no concern to most drow—would think of their noble family.

“You are of the House of Zau’neld…have truly you no concern when it comes to what others will think?” the older woman hissed as predicted. “Ohhh, of course you don’t, look who I’m talking to…go on with you…go see your father.”

Arwen said nothing as Jys’ayne turned away in frustration. What would be the point. Anyway out of sight, out of mind, Arwen thought, meaning that for both of them. The less she saw of the woman who’d been her so-called mother since she was a small child the better.

Ini’dil shook her head slowly at Arwen and followed her mother out of the entryway and into the valshath. The little girl’s own head was held high with distaste for the older half-sister she had once been fond of when a baby.

With a mental shrug of indifference Arwen began to glide silently through the huge house she’d grown up in. She carelessly dragged her cloak behind her. Luxuriously decorated inside, the valshath of the House of Zau’neld was one of the finest in Hassuna…among the rich drow and the few wealthy human families. The lowering sun shone in through the large, thick glass windows and provided most of the light in the house. Preferring their homes dimly lit, drow rarely had bright lights indoors and lit their homes with candles and oil filled lamps that were tended by the servants.

She headed reluctantly for her father's office.

#42 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 07:46 PM

- 3 -

“Where is that girl?” Yas’raena Zau’neld admonished her son. The yathrin matriarch of the noble family reclined in a ornately decorated chair with her slender, shapely legs crossed. Her distinctive robes fit her slender body with perfection. Yet despite her casual posture, the drow priestess was firmly in control of herself and everything around her.

“Mother, I’ve just returned. How should I know where she is?” Belar’eth answered defensively. His first-born daughter, Arwen, had certainly not turned out like he’d hoped.

He’d been fond of her once, his first born, and her human mother…until he’d seen the error of his ways regarding his first wife.

“You’d think the girl would at least show up for her presents,” Yas’raena said with a toss of her upswept, white hair. Unlike many of the women, the drow yathrin  did not dye her hair one of the hideous, pale shades of which many seemed to be fond.

Hearing voices from her father’s office, Arwen paused at the arched door way. Instead of entering through the partially open, heavy wooden door, she slipped into a hidden passageway and crept up the small steps in the dark. Her natural darkvision allowed the girl to find her way to the spot near the vent that sat high on the wall of the office. She crouched at the top of the steps. Through the small, ornate bars she could see her father—tall for a drow with long white hair pulled back. He was dressed in an expensive cream colored jacket and pants and leaning casually against his desk. His warm weather cloak—more to protect his clothes from the dust and his eyes from the bright sun--was flung carelessly over the chair.

“She cares nothing for things, that one,” her father answered, shaking his head. “Ever since her mother die…,” Belar’eth cut himself off at a sharp glance from his mother. He shrugged. Talk of Arwen’s mother was discouraged.

What good are things when you are alone, Arwen thought from her dark hiding space. Nothing. Just as she was nothing to her family. Luckily she didn’t need anyone anyway. She was fine by herself—just waiting until she was old enough to leave on her own. Arwen refused to allow her thoughts to drift toward the mention of her mother. She remembered only a little of her, but the love between the two had been strong. That feeling was what Arwen tried to protect herself from. She would never love someone that much again--if at all.

“Well, something must be done about Shri’onia,” the priestess of the House of Zau’neld remarked.

Arwen physically winced at her drow name. She hated that name. Hated it with a passion.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 14 February 2008 - 07:47 PM.

#43 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 09:04 PM

Yas’raena went on. “If she’s not to be a functioning member of this family…we’re already the topic of conversation behind closed doors, let me tell you!” the woman insisted, “--then perhaps she’d be better off somewhere else. She truly has nothing of value for this family or our kind. Thank Iloth that the drow features always dominate. I shudder to think of the talk if the girl looked human.”

Arwen grimaced. If only her grandmother knew…if only the old woman knew her secret, then she’d think differently of her. But, of course, no one ever could know. Arwen knew the drow were left only with simple tricks, their charm, and their poisons. Even their family and house name, Zau’neld, which meant Children of the Arcane and referred to magic that used to run in the family, was now meaningless.

Arwen assumed it was a fluke that she, half human and half drow, ended up with the drow magic. Her mother had taught her to hide it when she was small. It was a lesson Arwen never forgot.

“Look, could we please talk about this later. I’ve just returned from weeks of dealing with the business, and we have the party to attend soon,” Belar’eth interrupted.

Secretly a part of him would be glad to be rid of the reminder of his ‘youthful mistake’ but another still felt enough guilt to make him try to protect his daughter. He’d have no part in getting rid of her…like he did her mother.

Belar’eth went on before the priestess could interrupt. “We also need to discuss how to get the House of Teken’ar to side with us. One more vote for our side and we tip the council’s vote in our favor.”

Arwen rolled her eyes. She was disgusted by the way her family and the other drow pretended to be friends with each other, but all the while plotting and scheming behind each other’s back. Not to mention being suspicious of each other. And the worst part was, they all acted like it was some big game—only everyone wanted to win and would literally do anything to do so. Her father was on the noble council that ruled the cities of Hassuna and Manetho, although everyone knew it was the yathrins—the drow priestesses from each noble family—that truly ruled over all.

“The ships, the caravans…all is well?” the matriarch of the family asked, her thoughts turning to what was really most important in her life—the family riches gotten and maintained through trade. “Did you get what we were waiting for?”

Her thoughts drifting away from the scheming and plotting of her family, Arwen crept further along the secret passage until she emerged in the hot, stone kitchen. She escaped unnoticed by the human and half-drow servants to her own rooms on the same level.

#44 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 07:47 PM

- 4 -

Arwen had not been allowed to refuse attendance at the lavish party. The entire Zau’neld family was expected to be present. She had left with her two younger half-sisters, older step-brother and step-sister, step-mother, and father in the family carriage. Of course they rode in the fancy one that required four horses in order to show off their wealth, as if no one else was already aware of their status. Arwen was disgusted with her family.

As soon as they had arrived at the grand party, Arwen had walked ahead of her family into the crowded house and got lost in the throng of drow and wealthy humans. The difference in cultures was obvious, although the drow outnumbered the humans in the large, open and elaborately decorated rooms of the House of Teken’ar.

Slipping through the guests Arwen took in without thinking how the humans preferred loose-fitting garments, usually pants and a long, thin jacket top—either belted or loose--, or clothing that wrapped and draped in lovely folds, or simple, loose and long dresses. Their color choices were boring as far as the drow were concerned--earthy tones, pale and subtle. Women wore their hair naturally colored and upswept or in some fashionable, long or short style, while men usually kept their hair cut short, although long hair on a human man of Nineveh was common as well.

The drow, on the other hand, always chose bold and deep colors for clothes that were usually revealing and short or snug for the women and tight pants with jackets or loose, flowing shirts for the men. Rarely did a drow female dress without some sort of  adornment, be for it hair, body, or clothing. The sparkling jewels, shiny gold, or lustrous silver were coveted by all drow, no matter their station in life.. And tonight was no exception. The thousands of candles and the oil lamps allowed the women to sparkle and show off their beauty.

Arwen, in her short, sparkling black dress blended in more so than most of the other female drow.

On her way to the back of the house, the drow girl slipped past the band playing the soft, melodic music of Nineveh. Back when humans were slaves to the drow—in the time before the great upheaval of land, magic, and the races—the drow had adopted the slaves’ music as their own, thus adopting it as the common music of the land for all. She snatched up a cahallin on her way past the laden food tables. As the familiar music drifted away from Arwen, she boldly exited out one of the back entrances. It would take hours for her family to realize she was gone, if they even cared to notice during the revelry. They at least had brought her, which was what Yas’raena had insisted upon.

Methodically eating the sticky ball of seafood, rice, and vegetables that she’d grabbed, Arwen began the walk home, cutting through the Teken’ar’s expansive property toward the road. The party would last until the sun began to peek over the horizon.

#45 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 07:56 PM

* * * *

Yas’raena had remained behind in order to arrive late with the other noble House priestesses and the First House premier high priestess. The zathrins rode together in order to discuss council business if needed—or so they always claimed.

It was unfortunate for Arwen that her grandmother was passing by the back kitchen door that the drow girl chose to use to quietly enter the house. Arwen had been positive the old woman would be gone by now. She had dropped her guard.

“You!” Yas’raena hissed as she witness the door open to reveal Arwen. The older woman drew her face into a snarl. “You were supposed to go to the party. You were ordered to go to the party!”

Arwen stared at the white-haired woman, her own pale eyes flashing just as angrily. “I did go to the xsa party,” she said slowly. “But no one ever said I had to stay!”

Yas’raena raged and yelled until her polished-black face was several shades darker—if that were possible. Her pale red eyes grew more intense and seemed to spark. But Arwen refused to yield and bow down. Finally she was fighting back. Her small, verbal battle was short-lived, however, when the priestess snatched up the iron fire place shovel and brandished the tool above Arwen. The drow woman struck the girl on the back with all her strength.

“Now, you’ll shut up,” Yas’raena said through clenched teeth.

The white haired girl practically flew into one of the kitchen’s polished stone walls. She smacked her head hard and crumpled to the floor. She sat dazed for a moment, then felt blood dripping down from the side of her head. She glared up at the priestess… nevermore would she think of this hateful woman as her ‘grandmother’. But Arwen was done yelling anyway—she’d said what she wanted. There was no point in saying more.

She waited for her punishment. Arwen didn’t doubt it would be death. Something cruel and horrible and probably including a painful poison of some sort.

But surprisingly she watched as Yas’raena regained control of herself and returned to her usual calm and collected self. Arwen swore she could even see the transformation as if it were magic. Maybe her grand…the yathrin had more magic than Arwen had suspected. That was a sobering thought indeed.

“You will remain here. In the house. I am now going to the party. I will decide what to do with you later. In the meantime, this stays between us. One word…” Yas’raena narrowed her eyes and lowered her voice, “…to anyone and you’ll regret it.”

Arwen watched from the cold floor as the drow priestess walked slowly from the room with her head held high. The slender, dark girl gave a small hrmph. Who would she tell anyway? Who would care?

#46 Raeven


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Posted 19 February 2008 - 01:42 PM

Spoiler: click to show/hide
Yas’raena is a nasty nasty woman, I hope something 'bad' happens to her  :grr:

#47 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 08:28 PM

*laughs* I like how you spoilered that. :wink:

- 5 -

The quiet after the storm had dragged on and on. Even after a full seven days Arwen heard nothing more about the night in the kitchen. The Zau’neld priestess was barely even around. Even her family mostly ignored her, although that wasn’t so unusual. It seemed that the previous fighting was forgotten. But the silence made Arwen nervous—even though it gave her even more freedom to go where and do what she pleased.

She was out late this particular night, heading home from prowling around Hassuna’s active tourist district where the young drow enjoyed just watching the travelers from distant lands. The drow people thrived at night and were most at home in the darkness and shadows, and Arwen was no exception to this. Nightlife in Hassuna was vibrant, loud, colorful, and only sometimes dangerous. Although she also enjoyed the daylight more than full drow did, night was when Arwen felt most alive.

Under the full, milky white moon the mid-spring weather was—as usual for Nineveh—pleasantly warm at night. The light of the Planting Moon shone brightly over the lands, which were soon to be cultivated for the spring and summer plantings along the mighty River Du'ased. The desert lands of Nineveh—hot, dry, and dusty—were tempered by the cool oases and fertile lands that lay several miles wide alongside the life-giving river.

Walking by the light of the full moon Arwen could smell the rich soil of the earth that lay near the river. She had long ago stopped talking about her love of nature—of the earth, of the air, of the water, and of fire. The dark skinned girl stopped in the middle of the deserted road and inhaled deeply, something far down inside of her stirring and wanting to be released. She felt even more restless now, as if there should be something more to her life than whatever it was she had.

“Oh, Gaeiti and Manat,” she said quietly, invoking the great Earth and Moon goddesses--Arwen refused to worship or acknowledge the ancient drow goddess, Iloth--, “please, there must be more to life. Show me what else there is!”

Arwen’s mistake that night was not that she was walking along a dark road alone, for she’d done that many times in her life and knew her city well. Arwen’s mistake that night was casting her attention upon the Planting Moon above her and the earth beneath her and allowing herself to drift back in time…not to just her past but beyond…beyond to the drow’s past which she could sometimes almost “see” when her mind was empty enough of the turmoil and anger she usually felt.

That was when the dark shapes seemed to rise from the shadowy ground and from behind the tall frond trees along side the road. Seemingly without substance, the shapes slowly began to surround Arwen. She froze in the moonlit night. Despite her belief that she could take care of herself, being surrounded and ganged up on was not something the girl could easily handle. Taking a deep breath to still her pounding heart, Arwen slowly turned in a circle. Her pale blue eyes were narrowed and angry. She prepared herself to fight for her life.

But as she stared at those silently surrounding her she became confused.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 19 February 2008 - 09:17 PM.

#48 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 07:58 PM

At first Arwen had thought the black figures around her were wearing large cloaks and hoods, but she couldn’t tell if they were men or boys…drow or human. However, once she began to allow herself to really see, Arwen couldn’t be certain that the figures had any real shape or substance at all. They seemed more dreamlike than solid—floating above the road and undulating in the night.

Then, before she could think about her situation further, an amber circle of light suddenly hurled towards her as if thrown hard by someone. Arwen screamed and threw up her crossed hands to deflect the sphere that seemed to be made of golden fire. She felt the ball strike her upraised arms but instead of hurting, Arwen felt as if she were being quickly enveloped with something warm and oozing. Her struggling movements grew slower and more labored until she could move hardly at all. She watched in disbelief as a rectangular shell formed all around her trapping her motionless inside.

Seconds later Arwen couldn’t even move her head, but her eyes remained open and staring.

The young half-drow girl was helpless as the shadows surrounded her creating an artificial darkness in which she could see nothing but blackness. She felt herself being lifted up and carried inside her amber sarcophagus. To where she was going or how she was getting there she had no idea. Magic? Could it be? Was this the Zau’neld priestess’ doing? Was she going to her death? Arwen’s thoughts began to spiral in all directions as she slowly felt her mind begin to tear itself apart with disbelief, fear, anger, and most horrible of all, the thought that all this was real.

From the road—had anyone been traveling along--a darkness could be seen floating across the desert sands, drifting in and out of the shadows cast by the moon. Then over the great river and beyond, toward the ancient temples the darkness flew in haste. Soon the night was still and the moon shone down on the empty road.

#49 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 08:06 PM

- 6 –

As bright as it was the Planting Moon was not bright enough to penetrate the artificial darkness created by Rai’ana as she materialized in a deserted plaza in Hassuna. Her dark blue cloak swirled around her as the teleportation wind slowly diminished. Small swirls of sand drifted back to the ground and the tall frond trees became still as the air calmed. The mage lowered her hood and threw back her cloak so it hung down behind her, then switched the traveling bag she’d brought to her other hand. She hoped she would blend in with other travelers and tourists of Nineveh if it were dark. Rai’ana began to walk toward the center of the busy city.

With her pointed ears and triangular face, Rai’ana would obviously be taken for part elf. But her stark white hair and tan skin would give away her drow heritage to those living here in Hassuna. Only the dark blue streak was unusual for a drow. The ancient mage wasn’t so much concerned about her appearance, it was her magic that she wanted to protect.

She would have to find another way to approach the House of Zau’neld about Arwen. The drow zathrins had enough magic left in them to at least detect the power of her gifts…she couldn’t risk the priestesses discovering her before she was ready to deal with them.

Rai’ana had finished settling Kesari in only two days ago, then had had some other business to take care of. Then she had felt that it was time to do as she had promised Arwen’s mother—to collect the girl, take her back to Mercia, and train her at Braidwood in the use of her magic. For it was a given that Arwen would have inherited her mother’s talents.

Rai’ana continued on in search of a room to rent for the night so as to draw as little attention to herself and her magic as possible. The mage searched for something safe but also hidden away from the common public.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 27 April 2008 - 10:44 AM.

#50 Raeven


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Posted 24 April 2008 - 07:00 AM

YAY :) I love this story

#51 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 12:55 PM

^^^:D :hugs:

- 7 –

Arwen awoke instantly. There was no gradual awareness of being conscious nor the opening of one eye then the other to figure out where she was. No, the obsidian skinned girl awoke with a gasp and nearly flew to her feet, breathing in and out in a panic in the near darkness. Her eyes darted around her, searching for more danger as everything came back to her in a flood of memories. She looked all around her for the strange, amber enclosure that she’d been trapped motionless in, but there was no sign of it.

Arwen raked a hand through her short, white hair and turned in a slow circle looking at the stone room she found herself trapped in. With the help of her darkvision and the small glowing flames spaced along the wall, Arwen saw that the room was built of red stone blocks, like the ones used in the ancient, triangular temples the dark skinned humans had built to honor their gods and goddesses in the time before they became slaves of the drow. The drow girl knew her history and was not proud—like many of the drow were—of her people’s brief enslavement of the human race of Nineveh after the world was nearly destroyed by the chaotic forces of nature and magic.

Determined to be a prisoner for as short a time as possible, Arwen straightened herself up and scowled, anger replacing fear. She checked herself over quickly and decided there were no injuries from her recent experience, besides the few rips in her leggings and slim tunic and scrapes on her arms.  She then began to walk the entire way around the medium sized room. She trailed her hand along the wall searching for the crack of a door or any way out, but found nothing. She did think it was strange that she could breath so easily if the room were truly sealed, so she took her gaze to the ceiling and walked until she felt a slight draft. Arwen discovered a small opening above her that was delivering air but was too small to even think about climbing out...besides there was nothing around for her to step up onto in order to reach the opening.

She took her attention back to the walls and found strange writing, ancient drow writing that the humans had adopted for themselves. There were also drawings on the walls of a Nineveh human god ruler surrounded by his people before the destruction of magic. Behind the god were drow priestesses flanked by the male drow kyorls, or ancient guards for the gods. Arwen knew that it was believed by the drow that the priestesses and kyorls were the real power behind the human ‘gods’—if they were really gods at all—but, of course, the humans refused to admit or think about that. They believed their rulers were supreme over all, whereas the drow knew their ancient drow goddess, Iloth, had been the ultimate power.

But Arwen could have cared less about the battle of the stupid gods, all she wanted was to find a way out. She’d figured out by now that she’d been kidnapped and had a feeling of who was behind it. She kicked at the wall in anger and suspected her grandmother, or rather Priestess Yas’raena--as Arwen had no intention of claiming that evil woman as her family any longer—was behind all this. And probably her whole family as well. She’d show them, she thought, as soon as she found a way out of this place, she was gone. Gone from their home, gone from the city, gone from Nineveh for that matter.

Suddenly where there was nothing, a door appeared and slid open with barely a hiss as rock moved smoothly against rock. Arwen whirled around staring for a moment in disbelief, then she began walking forward intending to make her escape.

#52 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 08:39 PM

Before she even made it a few steps across the hard-packed dirt floor a robed figure appeared in the door, the long, thick white hair bright against the darkness beyond. So wrinkled and thin was the figure's pale black face that Arwen could hardly tell if it was an old man or woman. She knew it was a drow but she’d never seen one so old looking.

“You let me out of here now!” the brave young girl ordered, even though her voice wavered in her sudden feeling of fear of the drow in front of her. She started to march toward the figure at the door.

Instead Arwen found herself sailing through the air backwards, having barely registered the casual flick of the ancient drow’s hand. She felt herself stop before she crashed too hard into the wall. The impact was enough to jar her but not to have seriously hurt her, but she felt helpless hanging several feet in the air. Her legs dangled annoyingly down the side of the wall. It was a very strange feeling to be attached to nothing yet not falling down.

Holding one dark hand up with the palm facing her, the dark-robed figure blew into the palm of the other hand up into the air. The lights in the stone room burned brighter and for the first time Arwen saw the lights weren’t candles at all. They were flames of fire hanging in the air. She gaped slightly at the sight. Magic…and strong magic at that, she thought in awe. She never dreamed this sort of magic still existed and wondered if the yathrins, the priestesses, had such magic still or knew of its existence. Perhaps Arwen had underestimated their powers.

However, with the increased light she could now tell that the person in front of her was a male—old, wrinkled, and ugly. Arwen frowned angrily.

“Listen, you old usuud!” she shouted, basically calling him what a beast might leave on the ground, only in more vulgar terms. She began to struggle in the air. “You don’t know who I am, and you’ll be sorr-,” she began, then began to choke.

The old drow was holding his free hand as if it were wrapped around something…and, to Arwen, that something felt to be her throat as she struggled. Arwen became frightened at the inability to breathe as she clawed at her throat to release the nothing that she could feel tightening around it.

“I know exactly who you are, little girl,” the old drow said, lowering his hand. “And I fear you’ll be very sorry to be who you are once I’m done with you.”

Arwen was too busy gasping air into her burning throat to really understand the threat of death the old drow was making. Then she was suddenly released from the air and her only thought was not breaking a body part upon landing.

“Ooomph!” she grunted as she collapsed on the hard dirt floor, the wind briefly knocked out of her. She opened her mouth to hurl more insults but stopped when the old drow’s hand came up slightly. Arwen narrowed her eyes in hatred and stared, but remained quiet.

“Ah, there’s a good girl. I was told you like to talk back and make trouble,” he said with a crooked smile that was all teeth and no sincerity. He began to pace slowly and methodically back and forth, tapping a long, wrinkled finger against his chin. “Now, you are Shri’onia Zau’neld from the noble House of Zau’neld. See I do know who you are,” he said accusingly.

“Great. Super. You know who I am, good for you,” Arwen muttered, ready to feel her throat close up again but unable to remain quiet. “I bet you won’t tell me who you are, though.”

“But of course, I will…no need for secrets. You won’t be able to use the information anyway where you will be going,” the wrinkled drow said with a cold laugh. “Allow me to introduce myself, Nath’vayas, one of the last of the drow mages, at your service,” he said with a quick bow, his long white hair cascading forward. “Well, not so much at your service seeing as you won’t be around long enough to require anything.”

Nath’vayas laughed in amusement at himself. The sound echoed slightly in the fire lit room.

“You listen to me, you old…,” Arwen caught herself and swallowed the insult, “my family will be looking for me…and…and...”

And what? They’d come looking for her? Not a chance. They’d agree to pay a ransom? Hardly! Nope, she was on her own here, Arwen thought, with no one to come to her rescue.

“And what?” Nath’vayas echoed her thoughts, with a chuckle. “My dear, I’m not going to ransom you or keep you around long enough to be found…you’ve not gotten it yet, have you? Tsk tsk. Not very bright, are we? I’m going to kill you…kill you and leave your body behind somewhere out in the desert for the wild dogs to feast upon. I’ve already been paid, you see.”

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 01 May 2008 - 08:51 PM.

#53 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 08:37 PM

Sneaks in and starts writing again...for how long is the question :angel:

Arwen’s pale blue eyes seemed to drain of color altogether. Kill her? Would they really do that? Her mouth fell open, then closed as her eyes hardened. Of course kill her. If it were her family behind this kidnapping, and she had no doubts as to that, then why not? The drow were known to be cruel and treacherous in all aspects of life, and Arwen knew Yas’raena would be no different in order to have her way. Arwen knew she shamed the family and that they really didn’t like her, and had often thought they might kill her…but she’d never really believed that last part, not deep down anyway.

Until now.

She took a deep breath and looked the old drow mage directly in the eyes. If she was going to die, she was going to die bravely. “Nice family I have, wouldn’t you say?” she said sarcastically.

Nath’vayas narrowed his eyes and smiled. “Did I say it was your family?” he asked, taunting her. “I never said it was your family.”

Arwen was confused. She rose to her knees on the ground, her back pressing into the rock wall. Then who…? “Then who,” she asked. “Who would want me dead?”

“Ah ah, that would be my secret,” the drow mage said, wagging a long, wrinkled finger at her. “Mind you, I’m not saying it wasn’t your family, but I’m not saying it was, either. You’ll just have to die wondering.”

The anger welled up in Arwen again. This was ridiculous, she thought. This is just some crazy old drow with a bit of magic playing me for a fool, she fumed. Without thinking about what she was going to do, Arwen glanced around and saw a small pile of rocks on the ground. She flicked her hand at them. In an instance the rocks were zipping through the air toward the old drow, and Arwen hoped they smashed his xsa head in.

But they smashed into something invisible instead and crumbled to the ground in small fragments and dust particles. Arwen wanted to cry in despair, but refused to let the tears flow. She found Nath’vayas staring at her in shock, then surprise, then glee.

“No,” he said, drawing the word out in a long breath. “Could it be?” He rubbed his ancient hands together. “Could it truly be? Is that why they want you out of the way? To be rid of your magic?”

“My what?” Arwen exclaimed. She had to pretend not to know what he was talking about. She’d promised her mother not to show off her ‘tricks’ and now she’d gone and given a dramatic example of what she could do. Great. Way to go.

The drow mage shook his head dismissively. “Don’t deny it, little girl. I saw it…and now,” he paused and stared at her intently, “and now I can see it. Yes…yes, still weak, still untrained but it’s there, in you...just waiting to be nurtured and brought forth.”

Nath’vayas did some crazy little hopping dance that made Arwen raise her eyebrows. Was he insane on top of everything, she wondered with apprehension.

“So…now what?” she asked tentatively, wondering if she was going to live or die.

“Why…why now I don’t kill you,” he said with triumph. “How could I kill the remaining possessor of the famed Zau’neld magic? Although how it showed up in you after all these millennia I can’t figure out yet,” he added. “And you being part rivvil," he said, looking like the word for 'human' was an unpleasant taste in his mouth. "But the important thing is that I now have you to train, I now own your magic and you’ll do my bidding.”

Arwen nearly choked. “Say what?” she nearly shouted and stood quickly, but Nath’vayas barely noticed. “I’m thinking that I’m not going to be anyone’s assistant nor do anything that you say. I’d…well, I’d rather be dead!”

She wouldn’t, of course, and truly the longer she stayed alive the better chance of escaping. Perhaps the old mage hadn’t heard that part. Luckily he was ignoring her now, muttering to himself and tapping his fingers against each other in front of himself.

“You,” he pointed a finger and magically shoved Arwen back against the wall, “stay here. I have plans to make, then we’ll leave.”

As the hidden door began to slid shut after Nath’vayas’s departure, Arwen abruptly flicked her hand at a rock fragment on the ground. It flew toward the closing door and lodged itself between the heavy stone door and the wall. Arwen hurried over and tried to wedge her fingers in the small space that was visible. But there wasn’t enough room even for her slender fingers. She would need something thin and strong to pry open the door.

#54 Nikki Peppermint

Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 08:27 PM

- 8 –

Hassuna's exotic and crowded night life made a perfect cover for Rai'ana. She'd secured a small room just on the edge of the city where the sensible did not dare to travel at night. Rai'ana wasn't worried about the common criminals but rather keeping herself hidden from the Zau'neld zathrin, Yas’raena. She walked casually through the city as if she belonged, a beautiful, graceful woman not altogether young but nowhere near old, either. The smells of the city drifted around her—from the decadent, sweet-smelling Rilau flowers that were everywhere, to the strong, spicy aromas of food, to the sour, unwashed smell of those who spent their days living under the hot, Nineveh sun.

With her white hair now pulled back, the blue streak was less noticeable but not completely. Rai'ana had also discarded her dark cloak in favor of only wearing the long tunic and slim pants of the more common city dweller. She would look more out of place with her cloak anyway due to the dry heat of the night. Rai'ana stayed away from the crowded shuk--or market—center and kept to the perimeter. The market was brightly lit by flaming torches casting their lights and shadows all around. As she walked, the mage cast about her with a simple spell to detect any magical auras of those she passed. She merely glanced into the astral plane, a simple feat that she didn't even have to think about. At the same time, Rai'ana had an astral ward encircling her to protect her own strongly magical aura from being detected by any who had the ability. The ward was in continual activation from the necklace the mage wore at all times. Although she encountered no one capable of detecting her own magic, she did  come across a few drow who seemed to have a bit of latent magical ability...but the powerful mage wasn't here for them, she was here for the daughter of her friend.

Soon an uneasy feeling began to steal over Rai'ana as she made her way around the city.

#55 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 09:30 PM

Although Rai'ana didn't personally know Arwen, she was connected to the young woman through her mother. The two women, both magical, had bound themselves and the baby Arwen by blood so when the time came, Rai'ana could connect with the girl. Arwen's mother had been attempting to hide amongst the drow but knew there was the possibility she would be found by those searching for her—and killed. If her own drow husband didn't turn on her first, that was. Rai'ana had met with her friend secretly just after Arwen had been born.

But now Rai'ana's triangular face drew down into a frown. She shook her head as she walked past the colorfully draped stall of a drow merchant selling the bright, luxurious material—besides leather-- that drow women preferred.

“I've got the best quality material,” the stall owner called out, directing her pitch toward Rai'ana. The potential customer's white hair gave her away as drow, the woman thought, but she was mixed, too. At least some elf. The lilac-haired women wrinkled her nose slightly as if there was a bad smell near her. Elves, she thought to herself for a moment. “Something more stylish to wear, perhaps, my dear?” the drow merchant continued.

Rai'ana paused for only the barest of moments, taking care to remain half hidden in the shadows and shook her head. “Maybe later,” she answered pleasantly, although she'd picked up on the lilac-haired drow's dislike for her. Still, no need to call attention to herself, it was better to act like a prospective customer.

She continued on through the night and walked past a small restaurant housed in a beige stone building. Elaborate tiles made of colored stones and common gems were arranged in a pattern on the neutral colored wall. The awning over the door swayed gently in the night breeze. The oil lanterns inside cast warm, inviting pools of light along the cobbled rock and hard dirt street.

Turning the corner Rai'ana began to make her way back toward her rented room, passing by an edge of Hassuna that overlooked the dark desert sands. She stared toward the twinkling lanterns of the more affluent homes and cast about for signs of Arwen, as she had been attempting to do all night so far. Not once had Rai'ana sensed the girl or her magic, which was odd. Unless Arwen had left the city or her home, the mage should have been able to at least receive an impression of where the girl was located.

“Something's wrong,” Rai'ana murmured into the darkness. She glanced up into the sky at the bright clusters of stars, then headed for her rented room.

Once inside the room at the back of the building, the mage gave an almost casual wave of her hand and muttered something under her breath. A arcane door lock spell wove its way around the door and one small, shuttered window. Rai'ana could see the silvery web of her magic crisscrossed tightly like a metal barrier. With just a small lamp flickering, Rai'ana settled herself down on a wooden chair with arms and leaned back. Her eyes closed as she fell quickly into a trance. Her now unconscious body slumped slightly sideways as the mage left her body and projected her spirit onto the astral plane. She gazed briefly around the room. Everything was gray, faded-looking, and not totally “there". Her body, though, glowed with life and magic, its aura bright and healthy. Rai'ana hoped she wasn't away too long, although she felt confident her body was safe enough.

#56 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 09:49 PM

Rai'ana merely had to visualize what she wanted, and suddenly she was outside her room, but on the astral plane of existence—a plane “next” to but removed from the physical plane. Here it was easier to detect magic, but also to be detected in return. She flew to the highest point in the city, a tower that soared over the other buildings, and gazed around her. It was still night but the people down below were bright and glowing against a faded dull-gray background.

Looking for magical manifestations, Rai'ana filtered through the magic she encountered. But still no sign of Arwen. Trying to hurry so as to spend as little time as possible on the astral plane—where her presence was already being noticed—the mage finally discovered the remains of an evil spell along a road that led between the city and the outlying homes. With a quick swoop Rai'ana was literally flying over the road and following the magic signature across the huge desert.

Now that she had the trail, it didn't take Rai'ana long to track the use of Arwen's weak magic to an old burial pyramid where the long-ago humans had buried their supposed gods. The humans of Nineveh refused to see that the ancient drow priestesses and mages had been the power behind their gods. But that wasn't Rai'ana's concern as she stood outside the huge, stone structure. Made of red clay in the physical world the stone was now gray in front of her.

Rai'ana sensed another magical presence as well, much more powerful than she had felt in hundreds of years. She could sense old drow magic and wondered who it could be. She thought she knew of all the old magic users that remained. This surprise was definitely unexpected and unwanted. Knowing she couldn't risk meeting this other being on the astral plane without being more prepared, Rai'ana discarded the idea of manifesting herself to Arwen.

She needed to be here physically to meet the other. The girl would have to manage a bit longer on her own until Rai'ana could get to her on the physical plane. Also her presence was attracting more and more attention from spirits and other astral beings—those who lived here permanently and those who were passing through. Rai'ana soared up into the air and sped back across the dark sands of Nineveh. The dark ripples flew beneath her in a blur. In a matter of seconds, the mage had reclaimed her body and was standing up from the chair.

She grabbed her cloak and swept it over her shoulders, fastening the ornate clasp at her neck. The night had progressed to the still dark, very early morning since Rai'ana had arrived and there was no more time to waste.

The ancient mage pictured in her mind the pyramid she had just visited and whispered the powerful words that would teleport her there. This time she physically slipped into the astral plane on another, deeper level, leaving the room a disaster in the whirlwind that sent her on her way to her destination.

Continued here

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 20 September 2009 - 11:40 AM.

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