A Forsaken City
Feeling completely paralyzed, Feregreth tried to break away from Gathon’s unnatural stare. Although, it wasn’t before Fraya grabbed tightly around the wound on his arm that his focus shifted. Moaning in pain, he glanced over at her in confusion, but she took his hand before he got to say anything.
Dragging him with her, she spoke lightly, “we need to get out of here, now! Just keep listening to my voice, and don’t mind what’s happening around you, okay?”
“W … what are you saying?”
“I’ll explain once we’re out, just hurry,” she ordered.
The cave started swaying back and forth. It felt similar to being completely wasted. The sound was diminishing, and his footsteps vanished. Feregreth was about to lose control over his body, or so that was how it felt like. Grabbing hold of her arm, he tried to speak, “Fraya … I’m, I’m losing … myself.”
“Breath and listen.”
She started humming as the two were rushing through the tunnel. The theme was soon the only thing that was on his mind. Eventually, his vision began to fade into a black moonless night, and shortly after, he saw someone appear right in front of him before he lost consciousness.
The sound of rustling leaves, a gentle breeze, and the birds singing from the edge of the forest. That was what Feregreth heard and felt as he slowly opened his eyes. Feeling drained and exhausted, he raised his hand before his eyes, seeing the blurriness dissipating. A conversation between two people caught his attention as he looked to the side. Fraya and another elven man were sitting next to a campfire. From what he gathered, they were on a cliffside next to a forest, which was surprisingly tranquil. Catching a small part of the conversation, he listened to what this man said.
“I know that, but you can’t just venture out like this when you’re highborn. What if the elders found out about…?”
“Hush…” Fraya noticed that Feregreth was awake and gave him a little smile as she approached him. The man walked alongside her over to him with a displeased look in his eyes, listening to Fraya speak.
“Hey, are you feeling better?” she asked.
Grunting a bit as he sat up, he nodded and replied, “yeah, I’m fine. What was that back there? Some kind of poison?”
“Not exactly, it used to only be an elven trait. Some elves have mastered the ability to paralyze their prey by merely staring into their eyes. I’ve never seen it be this strong before or even worked on humans, he must have…”
The elf next to her interrupted her by lightly grabbing a hold of her arm. “By Ashira’s Light, what are you doing? You don’t even know this man. He is not entitled to learn about us,” he complained.
“Quiet, Vulner! I’ll make up my own mind about who I share what with. I’m so tired of Ni’rosh…” she cut short and stared at him.
Taking a deep breath as he scratched his chin, Vulner turned around and took a few steps away. Apparently, there was no point arguing with her.
Squinting slightly at her, Feregreth asked curiously, “but that thing is a vanghoul? How can he do that?”
She took a moment to look at Vulner who was shaking his head, trying to tell her that she shouldn’t disclose anymore. Moving over to him, she sat down beside him on the ground. “It’s not important right now.”
Feregreth acknowledged that she wasn’t going to share more on the subject, so he nodded slowly. As he was getting back up on his feet, he searched his pockets with a bewildered look on his face. Once he had emptied them, he glanced back at her. “Have you seen a carved stone, an artifact of some sort?”
“I think I dropped it in the cave. I’m not sure what it was, but my old mentor was adamant that I shouldn’t lose it.”
Breaking the silence, Vulner said as he adjusted his sword sheath, “you can’t go back in there, you barely made it out alive.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right about that. Besides, dressed like this, I won’t be able to take a single hit from one of those things without getting split in half.”
Hinting at a smile while rolling his shoulders, the elf pointed at an old wooden crate on the ground. He informed him that he had procured it for him on Fraya’s behalf. The captain walked over and knelt beside it, gently unlocking the crate. It contained brown leather garments with plated iron protection. The armor looked aged, yet it was in decent condition. A plain brown cloak and tabard was also part of the set, which indicated that no organization or faction was represented. Feregreth gazed up at Vulner and asked with an intrigued tone of voice. “Where did you get this?”
“It was part of an old rebel fleet that fought against the tyranny of one of your kings. A ship of theirs had capsized on these shores. I discovered it a long time ago and chose to bury the crate. Not because I intended to give it away like this, but it was an interesting piece of your people’s history.” Shifting his attention over to Fraya, Vulner continued as he readied himself, “I need to get back to my post, are you sure you’re not coming back with me?”
“I’m certain. I’m going to stick with him until he gets back to his people.”
“As you wish. May Ashira’s light guide your path.” He respectfully bowed to her and gave the captain a quick nod before heading out. As he was walking away, Feregreth thanked him for his troubles and for the equipment, which he replied with a simple wave.
The glare of the sun shot gently through the clouds in the sky, reflecting off a silver necklace Fraya held in her hand. She seemed troubled by it as she was staring at the fine engravings, the elegant shape, and the sheer beauty of the jewelry. Kneeling beside the campfire as he looked over at her, Feregreth said, “That’s nice, did he give it to you?”
Hesitantly nodding, she sat down next to him and held it up against the sun. Glimmering in the light as it swung back and forth, she took a deep breath before she replied. “He’s a Temple Ranger, it’s similar to what you would call a Knight.”
“I figured he was a soldier, but he is also nobility, huh?”
“He is. His family has control over legions, which makes him a powerful ally to my grandfather.”
“Uh-huh, I see. I caught the part where he said you were highborn, which means you’re probably nobility too, am I right? That also explains why he gave you a gift rather than forcing you to go back home.”
She glanced over at him without saying anything for a while. Her expression was enough for the captain to understand what was going on. Clearing his throat, he continued as his eyes met hers. “Have you told him how you feel?”
“Aren’t you blunt? Of course, I haven’t. Vulner and I go way back. We grew up together and have been friends for a long time. I know I’ll lose him, lose everything if I did.”
“I’m sorry. I’m not a noble myself, but I’ve been working with a few over the years so, I can somewhat understand the responsibility.”
Hinting at a little smile, she got back up on her feet and started covering up the campfire. She informed him that they needed to get moving and that she would teach him a few tricks for how to protect himself. Walking over to the crate that Vulner had brought forward, the captain picked up the garments and began to equip himself with the armor set. The new objective was to regroup with the Stormhold soldiers. Based on the information she had obtained from her friend, the survivors were fortifying themselves in the ruined city of Al’huran, near the coastline.