Adiran strode down the corridor, his robes fanning out behind him. Though he strode swiftly, the heavy linen robe hid a frail and wiry body. He was never athletic, his brother was always derisive of the fact that he never had any skill for the sword. Adiran did not even regularly ride a horse, preferring other modes of transport.
His quick steps took him to a tight spiral staircase that had him huffing by the time he got to the top of the slender tower that housed his library, study, and bedchamber. He cursed under his breath because he could have done this in a simpler way, but some of the mages in the castle were rather nosy and he did not want to attract unnecessary attention to himself.
As long as they think that I am insignificantly talented as a magic-user, they will leave me alone.
He stopped before his door and traced signs in the air, undoing the ward that he cast on it before. He clutched the amber jewel that hung from his neck on a silver chain while he did so, drawing from the stone instead of his own reserves.
And thus, these fools never sense me.
He chuckled to himself and pushed the door open, latching it shut behind him. He repeated the process and cast another ward on the door. He would not be leaving for many hours, he had much to prepare.
The immediate room was a study, filled with bookshelves and tables, illuminated by torches and a fireplace.
As a member of the royal family, it was strange for him not to have any servants to clean his rooms. Neither did any servant ascend his staircase to assist him in getting dressed or to bring him food.
This was not to say that he was alone.
“Sssk!” He hissed a questioning note.
A pair of bright icy eyes seemed to materialize above the roaring fireplace. They both liked it warm in his rooms. The rest of the saurian creature materialized and uncoiled its slender body and hopped off the mantel.
“Did the birthing go well?” Its speech was sibilant as it craned its long neck upward to Adiran's chest, who caught its head and began scratching under its jaw.
“Yes. Well as expected.” Adiran replied. “My brother was beside himself when he beheld his daughter."
“And the boy?”
“I did not stay. But he was imminent.” Adiran let the scaled head go and it opened its eyes. He strode to his writing desk. “I have much to do.”
“So your prophesy came true?” The saurian asked, walking beside him as he walked. “You never did explain that to me. How could you be so sure?”
“Well I foretold your birthing as well did I not?” Adiran sat down at his desk and reached for two wooden boxes. He opened the one and revealed a velvet-covered globe. He pulled it out and set it on a stand at the table.
“Yesss. I was birthed in the cold, alone. I might have died had you not found me.”
“And I am ever grateful that I found you Rhyn.” Adiran reached over and scratched the reptile's head once more. He then turned to the crystal and signed over it. He did not have to use his crystal here, the mages could not detect anything through the wards. Part of the reason they never discovered Rhyn.
The clear crystal ball turned black and twelve tiny flames appeared in a circle inside the darkness. All of them were light blue in colour. Adiran stared at the flames intently. One of the flames in the bottom right corner of the circle flickered for a second and Adiran gasped.
He reached for the other wooden box.
Rhyn hissed and retreated. “I hate it when you look at that thing.”
Adiran ignored the saurian and pulled the glass case from the box. It contained a desiccated human hand, grey and molding. “It is necessary,” Adiran murmured as he set the case next to the glass orb.
Once more he stared intently at the flames in the ball. Rhyn retreated once more to his place on the mantlepiece above the fireplace and seemed to disappear.
Hours passed. The tiny flames were constant.
Adiran finally let out a long sigh. He was hungry and thirsty. He half-turned in his seat. “Perhaps we can get something to...”
He was interrupted at that moment by two simultaneous actions that sent a chill down the robed man's spine, despite the heat of the room.
The same tiny flame flickered and with it, the gnarled grey hand's fingers twitched.
Adiran flung himself up from his seat. “Rhyn! It is happening! We must go to the West Marsh!”
There was a loud bang and a flash of light as the saurian exploded into view, its eyes wide. “Your brother will not be pleased with your absence.”
“My brother can be angry all he wants, but I will reinforce the totem!”
“Then let's get to it. I haven't been outside in nearly a year.”
“Did you miss the fresh air?”
Rhyn gave a hiccuping hiss that was the closest to a laugh the creature had. “Not in the slightest. Let's get this done so we can come back home.”
“Indeed. A strengthening should not take us long.” Adiran turned to the glass ball. One of the flames flickered again. “This cannot be good. That's twice now in an hour. The totem should not be deteriorating so quickly.”
The hand began twitching more and with it, the light flickered. Rhyn hissed, this time with fear and anger.
The flame turned red and the hand clenched into a fist. As the little red light died out the hand began beating itself against the glass of the enclosure. Adiran started at the sudden movement. His heart felt frozen in his chest.
Cracks began to appear in the glass. Adiran snapped out of his terror and grabbed the box and with swift strides hurled it into the fireplace. The glass shattered and the hand was engulfed instantly by the flames.
“What does this mean?” Rhyn enquired.
“The totem has fallen.” Adiran's voice turned hard. “Our time is now shorter than I had hoped. We will be gone for a long while. I cannot be certain that we can return. My friend... I would not ask you this. You could stay here or travel to the Eastlands.”
The saurian shook its head. “Where you go, so do I.”
There was a pounding of bare feet in the stone corridor.
Her breathing was hard but she could not contain her laughter. Gripping the helmet in one hand and tucking it in the crook of her arm, she sprinted around the bend.
Harder, heavier footsteps followed with the clanking of armour. “Stop right there!”
She giggled and kept going.
She would have gotten away with it too but she found a lone figure standing before a narrow door.
“What are you doing here?” She said stopping short of the boy with the dark hair. He had a thoughtful look as he stared at the wood and iron beams.
“Hey Magna.” he said. “Do you know what is behind this door?”
“Well, duh! It's Uncle Adiran's tower, but you know nobody can open that door. Not mages, nor knights nor the muscle monster of deer coven! So what about it Adrian?”
“Got you!” They were interrupted as an armoured arm whipped around Magna and lifted her off the floor.
Mortis Custos Parts:
|by @lex-zaiya||by @zakludick|
|Part 1||Part 2 - you are here!|
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