Earth

Magic has been extinct for thousands of years. The use of magic has been prohibited for centuries. The king of ancient Dakraigon insisted it be illegal. But I am an enemy of the state. I am a Mage. *Awesome cover by Lady Tatertot*

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2. 1. The Hunt

Woolhope is a bigger town than the place I grew up in.  Inns and shops line the streets.  And the place is brimming with elves.

            I search for the cheapest place to stay for the night.  My seventeenth birthday was a disaster, as my grandparents were killed by an elite force called The King’s Hand.  They were specially trained to deal with magicians on scene, and kill them so magicians that specialize in death and life cannot resurrect the ones that were thought to be public enemies.

            I walk through the main street before I find a rundown house at the end of the street.  Woolhope is the crown jewel in the forest.  Or, should I say, was.

            After the king came into power, he wished for the destruction of anything beautiful or good.  Pretty towns like Woolhope never stood a chance.

            I walk into the house, expecting no one to be inside.  I lower my hood.

            “What can I getcha, miss?” the elf at the counter calls to me.

            I flinch at the sudden friendliness of the elf.  His ears poke out far beyond the reach of human ears, and they perk as he smiles.  His dark hair sweeps low over his bright blue eyes.  The whiskers on his face make it clear he has not been anywhere for a few days at the most, and basic supplies to this town have been cut off again.

            I sigh and compose my usual pokerface.  “A safe place to stay.  I am tired of running and sleeping on the forest floor,” I sigh.  “The Grove has been harsh to me.”

            The bartender chuckles as he sets down a mug.  “Vlidehm Grove was never a nice place to be.  I offer rooms for free, but I charge four Klipela per meal.  Feel free to stay as long as you like, miss.”  He gestures to an empty chair.  “Take a seat, miss.  Water is free here.”

            I nod my appreciation, but I remain standing.

            The elf’s smile disappears as he looks at me.  “Is there something wrong, miss?”

            “I prefer standing.  Don’t ask me why.”

            “Oh. . . .” He ducks behind the counter for a few seconds, and he comes back up with a single key.  “Here’s the key for your room.  My wife is looking after getting your bath and room prepared.  I can personally prepare your meal.”

            I sigh and I pull out my leather sack.  It contains what my grandparents had saved for emergencies.

            I dig out the four silver coins as he requested earlier.  It is all I have left for any form of money and I cannot assume a job anywhere because of my new status.

            “Here,” I mumble as I drop the coins on the counter.

            The elf looks up, and he smiles.  “Your supper will be ready, shortly, miss.  Mind if I ask your name?”

            I let the silence wash over me.  I must be careful about my identity as I am wanted by The King’s Hand.

            “Salihn,” I answer.  “I’m from Wellspring.”

            “Salihn.”  He nods.  “I can remember that.”

            I offer him a smile.  “Thank you.”

            I hear footsteps, and a small woman comes into the room.  Her grey dress sweeps the floor with elegance, and her ears poke through autumn red hair.  Her eyes are a bright green.  She holds her hands in front of her, resting on her snow white apron.

            “Your room is ready, my dear,” the elf’s wife calls with a smile.

            I bow to show my appreciation and I trek up the stairs.

*           *           *

I sink into a bathtub full of bubbles as lukewarm water.  I sigh as I feel my muscles relax.  A bubble bath is a luxury I know I cannot afford, but I thoroughly love the feeling of being clean for a change.

            I do not waste the opportunity to wash up.  I begin scrubbing my hair with the lilac scented hair potion.  It fixes the damage my hair has taken during my weeks spent in Vlidehm Grove, and strengthens my hair.  I heave another breath of contentment.  I love lilacs, and it doesn’t hurt to be pretty once in a while.

            I rinse it as soon as the potion has completed its work, and I begin cleaning the rest of my body.  Anywhere there is a wound, I wince.  The nymphs and faeries were not kind to me, as they assumed I was an enemy.

            I did not blame them.  I was stepping into their territory.  I should have thought the risks through.

            A knock comes at the door as the bar of soap slips from my hands onto the cold hardwood floor.

            “Come in,” I call.

            The door opens and the elf’s wife steps in.  “Begging your pardon, Miss Salihn, but your dinner is ready.”  She holds out her arm, and she displays my clothing from earlier.

            I have never seen my attire so clean.  The green of my shirt is back to its original lime colour, and the gold trim sparkles in the candle light.  My skirt is also back to its regular charcoal.

            “I can help you dress, if you wish,” she speaks shyly.

            I reach for a nearby bucket of water to rinse myself off.  I shiver.  I hate cold water.

            “May I have a towel, please?” I ask.

            “Of course, Salihn.”  She leaves the room temporarily and comes back with a grey blanket.

            “It’s the only thing we have,” the elf woman informs me as she passes it to me.

            I wrap myself in it.  I do not expect it to be . . . soft.

            And warm.

            “It’s fine, really.”  I snuggle into it as much as I can.  “Thank you, ma’am.”

            She smiles.  “You’re welcome, my dear.  We don’t have many customers since the demons came to trash it.”

            “But I thought Woolhope was supposed to be guarded by nymphs.”

            Her pretty smirk disappears.  “The king’s army overpowered them last night.  It was ... terrifying.”

            I shudder.  The demons had gotten worse since the new king was crowned on my seventeenth birthday.

            “I would like to hear more of this matter.  They’re after me, too.”  My voice comes out smaller than I am used to.  “The King’s Hand killed my grandparents.”

            Her hands fly to her mouth, my clothes long but forgotten on the floor.  “I’m so sorry for your loss, Salihn!  It must have been hard for you to see them!”

            I look down, hoping to avoid the subject.  “I’m going to get dressed now, ma’am,” I answer curtly.  “I do not wish to be helped.”

            The elf woman bowed.  “I will leave you to it, then.”

            And, with that she shut the door.

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