Episode 4: Fire and Ice

          The story of our own invasion ended with a bang in a grassy field, when the majority of the Shadowsleepers were taken down by Stonehaven soldiers. As the dust settled, I thought about returning home, but Iliera was adamant that we needed to continue purging the enemy from her world. She began to take the reins as the protector of her realm, and I stuck around, slowly growing more curious about her role in my life, more curious about how Lady Sonea played into all of this…

         In the fields of Narshann, wild elephants stomped down a grassy knoll with an added urgency that set off dozens of alarms in my head. The herd was surprised by something, and that meant we still hadn’t lost the Yunai rogue that tried to ambush us a few miles outside of the last town.

         Iliera, the only other one out here with me, was riding close as I gauged how to proceed. She didn’t seem concerned, but she was clearly aware of the same fact. We weren’t just being casually pursued. The rogue on our tail wanted to find us.

         We rode together, closing in on the heard of elephants that had been startled. They moved quickly for such big beasts, so we had to avoid getting caught up in their path. They were rushing into a large field, and I felt like we could use them as cover for now.

         Then, I felt the hairs on my neck stand up.

         The rogue appeared out of thin air, swiping at me with a poisoned dagger, then slipping away in a poof of smoke. I shot a fire blast at the place where the attacker had been only seconds before, but missed the intended target and seared one of the hides of the elephants. The creature reared back in pain, and the rest of the herd lost it. The chaos that erupted caused Iliera and I to flee into the open grass. Fortunately, the rogue was forced to do the same.

         The enemy was quick to regain his stance, and with a flash of surprising speed, he was up and running at us with weapons in hand. I hit him with a ball of fire and he tumbled for a moment, rolled once, and continued his approach. I thought about going invisible and slipping away, but he would just hunt us down in a few hours.

         No, this had to end here.

         The rogue closed in fast, I could see his face, looking sick from his time with the Yunai controlling him, and also full of anger. I tried to seem vulnerable, unprepared for his attack, but in my palm I was busy focusing enough fire magic to destroy a mansion. I would need him to be close, and then I would burn him to ash.

         He was nearly within range when he froze in place.

         He stood there for a moment, then took a few steps back, looked behind me, and threw down some vanishing powder. He disappeared instantly, and I had no way of tracking him, so I grumbled and turned around. At the top of the hill I spotted Iliera, mace at the ready and standing atop her mount, ready to strike.

         “Where is he?” she yelled, her voice determined. “I will end him!”

         “You scared him away,” I yelled back. “Come down here.”

         “Can you use your magic to track him?”

         I shook my head. “No. Don’t worry though, he’ll find us again.”

         “You don’t make it hard,” she said, her voice growing softer as she got closer to me.

         “Look, Iliera, if you don’t like…”

         My voice drifted as I looked back over our path. Black smoke rose from the green fields, at least one poor elephant had not survived the stampede, and a very clear path of destruction led to where they were standing. “Okay,” I admitted. “Stealth isn’t my strong suit.”

         “Your fire is going to get us killed,” she pressed. “You are a Flamecaller, but you let the flame control you. Perhaps you should turn to the magic of ice and frozen things?”

         “You want me to use ice magic?” I scoffed. “Are you kidding me?”

         “I want you to stop leaving a charred mess everywhere we go,” Iliera replied. “How you do that is not my concern, but if we are going to stop the Yunai, we are going to need the element of surprise.”

         “I have used fire since I was a kid,” I said, feeling a little helpless. “I’m not adept at other magics.”

         “I’m not challenging your abilities or your prowess, Sionis.” Iliera assured me. “I just want you to consider using some magic that doesn’t call so much attention.”

         “Fine,” I grumbled. “I’ll consider it. Let me start by putting this fire out.”

         I turned toward the burnt field and held an arm out. I called upon the water in the air, hoping to control it with my power, but instead of a frozen water shield, I ended up with nothing more than a moist hand.

         “What was that?” Iliera asked. “Did you do something?”

         “That was me not using ice magic,” I replied.

         “I see.”

         I felt my face grow warm. I turned away from the Musfurin and started to conjure a portal. If I was going to actually be able to do this I was going to have to reacquaint myself with some of the elements behind the spells.

         “Where are we going?” Iliera asked.

         “Starfall,” I replied as the portal stabilized. “The Yunai rogue isn’t going to leave us alone, and clearly I’m not getting us around without leaving a literal blazing trail. I’ll need to check in with the other magic users about… alternative options.”

         “I thank you,” Iliera said, suppressing a smile. “I”m sure you’ll have it mastered in no time.”

         “Sure,” I said. “No time.”

         It should be noted that, to this day, I still have trouble throwing an ice lance properly.

To Be Continued…

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