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Erica knelt to the ground, squatting as she ran her fingers delicately across the palm of her other hand, fragments of ice stuck to her fingertips and palm briefly before melting away leaving cool drops of water; she raised her fingers to her mouth, savouring the water, as little as it was, as it passed over her dry lips.
It was her third day without proper nourishment, her rare talent of Indigo Weaving useless to sustain her and the little ice magic she could conquer, not enough. She was starting to notice it. Slowly she stood and surveyed the area before mounting and taking up the reins of her horse once more, setting off towards the valley below.
She hoped and prayed she would find safe harbour or water...at least for the day.
As Erica approached the bottom of the vale her hopes where soon dashed, the area was scattered with rocks and rubble, there was no water and no animal life lingering in the desolate area. She slipped off her horse and gently led the mare through the safest route, weaving between fallen logs and rocks, past bones -both man and animal - she slipped past discarded and rotting packs and rusting weapons; no blade of grass grew here, not even a wild flower. She stopped and sniffed the air, her magic aiding her in detecting any foulness. While she could detect no toxins there was still a nothingness all around her, a wrongness that touched at her magic and she pulled in her senses as the void crept closer. A shiver ran down her spine; this was a no mans land of memories and destruction.
Hesitantly she continued on, only stopping to search clusters of abandoned items for things she could use, things that weren’t tainted by the area. She walked, leading her mare on wards, her saddle bags a little heavier than when she had set foot in the area. She walked, watching the valleys far ridge growing closer when a sudden sound made her drop to her knees. Looking skyward a vulture, wings heavily flapping, flew over her, his penetrating eyes watching her, waiting for her to succumb and yield her body to its sharp beak. Their eyes locked and a shiver went up her spine before she sighed. She was about to stand when movement from the corner of her eye caught her attention. Erica released the reins of the horse and dropped to the grounds just as an arrow hit the rock beside her. The horse, spirit in nature with its icy blue coat, reared and whinnied as its smouldering ice blue eyes, widened in fear; the creature then vanished into thin air. Erica sighed, knowing Elkie could take care of herself, no matter which plane of existence she materialised on, even if she wished the spirited horse had stuck around so she could ride away...
Rolling to her feet, she drew her bow and a single arrow from the quiver on her back, crouched behind an outcropping of rock and quietly drew the bow taunt.
Erica waited two breaths, another arrow struck the stone and she followed the trajectory back using her ethereal sighed; then letting out a steady breath she eased around the rock and released the arrow towards what appeared to be a wall of rock.
There was a scream and a man appeared clutching at his chest, he stumbled forward and dropped to the ground. Erica ducked as another arrow speed past her, just missing her face by inches; she drew another arrow, jumped up and released it. Another man half screamed, if only for an instant, as blood welled in his throat, the arrow protruding from the side of his neck. Erica half turned half dropped as sorcerers fire swiftly came towards her. Once hidden again she placed her bow back in the quiver and darted towards another rock as the one she was behind exploded in a shower of hot pebbles and dust, as the fire hit it.
She quickly called her wits about her, hissing as a hot pebble ate through her leathers, burning her arm a little; she brought ice to her finger tips, tracing them over her burnt flesh, soothing it as she murmured a few words. A small wave appeared in her mind, sweeping out across the area, searching for her foes. In her minds eye the wave flashed purple every time it hit one who meant her harm; she counted four before the wave vanished. She swore under her breath and called forth a mass destruction spell. She had only done this once before with a small army of rats who had decided they wanted her for breakfast, never had she done this on humans and never while she was being shot at with sorcery fire and arrows.
A mass of Indigo Fire formed in her minds eye, she pushed it forward into reality, using all of her strength to conjure it as she visualised the four humans being engulfed by the flames. She opened her eyes as she was about to release it and watched in horror as sorcery fire speed towards her, the downside with her location spell was they now knew exactly where she was.
Erica hurriedly released the pulsing ball of purple flame and dropped down as low to the ground as she could go.
Three screams then a deafening explosion as the Indigo Fire met with the sorcery fire, a few moments later a fourth scream met her ears, then she felt it, the void, speeding towards her as if drawn by magic. She cursed her luck as exhaustion claimed her and she was thrown darkness.
Erica moaned and rolled onto her side; head pounding she opened her eyes and cautiously brought herself to her knees. When the swirling, throbbing mess that was her her brain slowed a little more and she no longer felt like she was going to throw up, she stood surveying the area around her.
No longer was she in the no mans land, the cool long grass and thicket of trees she was in paid testimony to that.
She whistled quietly and was answered by a soft whinny, Elkie meandered into the thicket followed by a young man in jade cotton pants and a dirty white tunic.
He smiled and put down the bundle of sticks he was carrying and bowed.
“I’m glad you are awake...”
“So let me get this straight…” Erica took a bite out of the dried meat and looked to Alik as she chewed. “You just happened to be wandering past when the Indigo Fire happened and you somehow managed to escape without any harm at all…”
Alik nodded. “That’s pretty much it, yeah…” He smiled, tore off a piece of semi stale bread and placed it in his mouth, chewing it a few times before swallowing.
“How did you get me here? And Elkie…how did you get her to show herself?” She asked, watching the young man with caution.
Alik smiled, shrugging as he continued to chew then looked at Elkie a moment before glancing back at Erica with a smirk. “I have my ways…that and Elkie came and got me.”
Erica’s eyes widened and she turned to her horse. “Oh, so now you like strangers.” She sighed, looking back to Alik. “Okay fine, my mare is selective and she chose you...wonderful, but what are you doing out this far from civilisation?”
Alik looked at Erica, not saying anything as he finished his bread and dusted his hands off before he slowly stood up and went to his bed roll. He lay back, drawing the worn woven blanket over him and rested his arms behind his head; he turned to look at her; his eyes heavy, red rimmed and tired. “I could ask you the same question.” He responded softly.
Erica glared at him across the fire, as he closed his eyes and said no more; a small huff escaped her lips as she stood up and retreated to her bed roll, shooting another glare at Elkie.
"We'll talk about this later." She mumbled to the horse as it turned it's back on her, tail swishing in response and meandered away.