The Rogue Wizard
Year : 321
The Kaliois loomed high above Yessi, their peaks greeting the approaching moon as fingers trying to breach the surface of a lake to pluck a stone from its waters. The stars were out, awaiting their cousin anxiously, and a serene peace fell over the young woman. She had not many moments of these lately, and she had no one but herself to blame. The night waited for no one, and she knew there would be others. Just the other day she ran into a pair of men in the woods. They immediately realized who she was and attacked, caring not that she was alone or female. If not for her training, she would have died, or worse, been taken captive. Her body shuddered at the mere thought of the latter as she pressed on through the cool autumn air.
She knew there would be others. How many, she did not know, though she was no fool. The risk was great, but the reward substantial. She needed the money despite the consequences.
Soon she heard the calls – bird whistles, owl hoots, wolf howls – all manners of nocturnal animal sounds rose up in the night. By her estimates there were at least six groups, maybe seven. However, she had no idea how many individuals there were. She would have her work cut out for her tonight.
She followed her instincts, allowing herself to be guided through the woods. She dared not to risk a light, lest she bring attention to herself. It was better to keep them guessing. She made her route illogical, weaving in circular patters, backtracking on her own path before taking to the trees for a while, and making sections full of numerous tracks. Anything to throw off those behind her.
As the night reached its pinnacle, she noticed the tree line breaking in front of her, a small clearing ahead, nestled in the bosom of the Kaliois. She slowed down, apprehensive to dash forward into such an open clearing. Caution was her friend. As she stayed within the trees, eyeing the clearing, she noticed some movement near a boulder.
“Damnit!” she thought, “How’d they get ahead of me?”
That’s when she realized all her cautiousness of fooling those behind her would only work if they had found her trail. The others knew she was headed toward the southern Kaliois on the eastern slopes. There were many routes through the forests.
Cursing her luck, she circled around the clearing as best she could, careful not to draw attention to herself. “Maybe I can get rid of them before the others get here…” Her hopes rested on a long shot.
When she was in position, the forest erupted again with the sounds of animals. This time, however, the calls all came from the trees she had just vacated. “No, not yet!”
Beneath the light of the moon, groups of men and women broke through the clearing and charged straight for her. The figures at the boulder sprang forth, their forms seeming to merge before her eyes. As the others continued their charge, their voices echoing through the night, a single light illuminated the clearing; as though the moon itself had been captured and brought down to Delagraad. The voices of battle ceased as people covered their eyes and cursed the suddenness of the light.
Yessi had a sudden realization. “This is my chance,” she thought, as she sprang forth from her hiding spot. Her movements were greeted by a wave of power that knocked her over, sending her sprawling among the pine needles and mulch of the forest floor. Before she could right herself, her world became that of the night sky – complete darkness.