Chapter 12 - Travel Per Deim
The sun was no longer visible, the tree’s hid it as it approached the horizon. The red glow filled the west like an alarm notifying everyone, night was coming.
“I don’t know, magic isn’t my thing.” Norman called out, while they were not riding fast the sound made normal conversation tones difficult.
“Magic, it’s got to come from somewhere, either within, or without. It isn’t wise to power necromancy with your own strength.” Elric said.
“If you say so, it is all foreign to me. Though the less I know the better I’ll sleep at night.”
“You work around it all day, aren’t you curious?” Elric felt a little uncomfortable speaking to the back of Norman’s head.
“Ha, curiosity is what got me in this position.”
“What does a handyman do?”
“Ha,” Norman shook his head, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Ok…” Elric let a little too much disappointment into his reply.
“We all have our own tragic back story. At least in our own minds. I’m not going to get into a who’s story is worse thing. Just know I work for the dwarf of my own free will.”
“Alright, I understand the need for privacy. Still don’t you question how or what is going on?”
“I breathe, but I don’t question how. I ride this horse but don’t question why. If Lichinstein wants me to know something he’ll tell me. Otherwise if it doesn’t impact my job, then I’m ok being ignorant.”
“Alright,” Elric said and stayed quiet. Mentally he wondered if he stayed quiet long enough if Norman would volunteer the information.
Minutes passed as they rode and the silence demanded to be broken. Neither man attempted to speak. Visibility was getting limited as darkness claimed the woods. A slight chill settled on the area.
Taking one hand, Elric reached into his jacket to pull out a cup. Speaking a word of power as he pulled from inside himself to conjure a light in the bottom of the cup. The light lit the way ahead of them turning the dim forest into a blinding swath of daylight.
The light almost made the dark seem worse. The shadows cast off by tree’s deepened the black beyond. Elric shivered a little from both the cold and the dark. A little cloud of vapor from his mouth hung in the air in front of him. The same little clouds manifested from Norman as well.
“Ah,” Norman said as he threw a hand up to his eyes. “Warn me next time.”
“Sorry, it was getting too dark to see.” Elric said
“But now everyone knows we are here.”
“How dangerous can it be?” and immediately as he said it, Elric regretted it. Swiftly he covered up the light, a faint red glow seeped through his hands.
“The energy from my employers lair draws powerful creatures towards it. We actually pay a tithe to the town so they can afford better trained guards.”
“Wow, thats rather magnanimous of him.”
“What? Mangamous?” Norman twisted and looked at Elric.
“Generous,” Elric said and Norman returned to watching where the horse stepped.
“He is not really that evil. He does care about the town and does what he can to keep it safe.”
“Yeah, I’m sure he is a regular saint.”
“Many owe their lives to him.”
“Sure,” Elric tried to sound as if he was convinced but was tired and still wary of Lichinstein.
The horse stopped, Elric felt Norman shift to the left. Sensing danger Elric started gathering up power. He didn’t have anything prepared, so it was going to be just raw power if it came to a fight. A small headache build up right behind his eyes.
Throwing over a foot so he was siting side saddle, Norman was able to turn enough to look Elric in the eyes. Neither of his hands went towards his sword or belt dagger. Chancing there wasn’t going to be a fight, Elric released the built up power as light. As Elric glowed they stared at each other.
“There is true evil in the world. Unredeemable, pure, kills without a second thought evil. Murphy isn’t that.”
“I’m sure he feeds orphans and helps old ladies, but he is no saint.”
“He does everything he can to protect his people and the town.”
“Including trying to mind fuck strangers?”
“There have been past instances with some contractors.”
Elric glared at Norman and a silent minute passed. Norman gave in first with a sigh, then he turned away. Slowly he moved his leg back over the saddle. Elric’s built up power faded and his glow dimmed before winking out.
“Just finish the job, please. When you get back to your boss, have him contact Lichinstein to work out a better company integration.” Norman sighed and nudged the horse back into moving. “If you have a henchman resource or employee resource person, feel free to talk to them. Just finish the damn job tomorrow.”
Elric didn’t respond, he kept a hand on Norman as they rode the rest of the way to town. The guards waved them in, but Norman stopped the horse outside of the gates.
“The protective spell on the town wont let the horse enter at night. I’ll pick you up in the morning in front of the tavern.”
Elric dismounted from the horse, using a grip on Norman to prevent himself from falling. Once his feet were on the ground he pulled on Norman’s leg.
“No one seeks that level of power with generosity in their heart.”
Norman opened his mouth to say something, then closed it. Slowly he turned the horse around and pulled his leg from Elric’s grip. Without another word he rode off back into the woods. Elric stood there and watched him go, waiting for his form to be completely consumed by the forest before turning towards the guards.
The guards pointedly ignored Elric as he approached the gate. Neither challenged him nor looked him in the eyes. When it became obvious he could just walk in, Elric started a brisk pace towards a tavern. A few drinks would help him sleep peacefully tonight.
Briefly Elric rubbed his hands together against the cold and blew into them. His warm breath helped stave off the cold. Little streams of vapor blew out of the gaps between his fingers. Stepping in front of his inn, he realized the horse never exhaled.