Arcfirice and the Gnomes

94 Gnome Mage

The story continues: Gno'jin's Absence:

The Mage sat quietly by the fire in the hearth, and thumbed through an old tomb.
The two Gnomes were curled up, fast asleep in the other room. Funny, they were so much alike, and yet so very different.

The little Gnome covered in dust was quite quiet and shy. And had only shown up a short time ago. He had an innocence about him that Arfirice had not seen in another living being in a long time. Well, not in any adult. He seemed curious, and always intrigued by the mere presence of the weeds. Strange little guy, but quite endearing all the same.
He had come upon the small house quite by accident, and completely unaware. Or so Arc had witnessed it.

Arcfirice let his mind wander back to the memory:

The day was just dawning, and he was out at the well to get fresh water for the morning's meal. He heard a rusting sound coming from the underbrush on the dark side of the house. What ever was making the sound was definitely small, and not worried about making noise, it would seem. Then suddenly, out tumbled a very dusty, and quite suprised Gnome.

It had looked up at him, as it lay on it's belly in the dirt, arms slightly flayed, and some Cadgar's Whiskers held tightly in one tiny fist. The Gnomes eyes were wide with a touch of fright in them. Like those of a rabbit looking at a fox.

The Mage raised an eyebrow at the misheveled little thing, then gave a chuckle. "And what do we have here?" He asked rhetoricly.
The little Gnome squeeked out one frightened word, "Gno'jin".
"No what?" The mage asked curiously, and not realising it was saying it's name.
"Not what. Me. Gno'jin." The Gnome was starting to realise quickly that the mage meant no harm. And after all, the fright was simply out of unexpectedness.
"Ah, I see. Well, Mr. Gno'jin, perhaps you'd like to join us for breakfast?"
"Um, us?" the little Gnome asked quizicly as it looked around and saw no one else.
"Ah, yes, Microlux must still be sleeping. You'll meet him shortly, if you decide to share a meal." Arcfirice said this jovially. Then quickly added, "You'll want to wash up, I'm sure." and he pointed to the wash pail next to the well.

Gno'jin bounced up to his feet, as gnomes' are want to do, tucked his herbs into his pack, then looked down at his hands. They were quite dirty it would seem. "Yes, of course." He replied a bit sheepishly. He knew from his time in the Human city of Stormwind that the peoples of the "civilized" world looked down upon coming to the table dirty from a days work.

Back in the house Microlux was just coming out of his little room, all fresh and proper, as any self respecting mage would. "I heard talking Arc., do we have company?". He said this without looking up from his straightening his little purple and gold trimmed coat.
Edited by Arcfirice on 6/8/2013 2:39 PM PDT
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94 Gnome Mage
"It would seem that way. And I think you'll enjoy this one." The Mage said with a touch of amuzement in his voice.
"Oh, and why is that?" He asked matter of factly. The gnome was almost commical in his proper little manner.
"You'll see." Arcfirice replied.

A small little tap came at the half opened door, and slowly a little head apeared around it's edge. "Hello?"
And with that, Microlux's eyes widened. "Arc!"
"Uncanny, isn't it?" The human asked the gnome mage.
"It's like looking into a muddy mirror, is what it is!" Micro replied.
Gno'jin just stood there, halfway in the door way, gripping the edge of the heavy door, staring in disbelief. "You're me..." his voice trailed off.
The two Gnomes paddled toward one another across the wooden floor. Their little feet making the slightest quick whispering that is the footsteps of Gnomes. There, they stood almost nose to nose with one another, inspecting what they saw before themselves. They were identicle, right down to a whisker, save for their attire. Then ever so slowly, Microlux's hand came up and plucked a twig from the other's whiskers. His nose slightly wrinked and he said quite bluntly, "You need a bath."

Arfirice, came back to the here and now as his chuckle at the memory stirred the Gnomes. But they did not wake. And he went back to his book for only moments before his mind slipped back into memories.
Arcfirice had a gift. He could see and read auras. Gno'jin's was a bright green, and bespoke of innocence and curiousity. Though he needn't read his aura to see this about him. And Microlux's was the bright violet of the magi. But there was something else. Something in both their aura's that told him that the two Gnomes truly were twins. There was a trace of bright blue, and it was the same pattern in each of the Gnomes.

Gnomes could come from the same line and look identicle, but it was pretty rare. Their aura's however were always different. Never the same between any two beings, with the exception of those of a twin birthing. And these two had it. And on this matter they had spoken at quite length durring the morning meal.

Gno'jin knew he had a family that had been killed during a battle so long ago. His adoptive Troll father had told him the whole tale. Right down to admitting that he had fired the fatal arrows. But he had had no idea that there was another that day that had gone unseen by the Troll. One who had lay quietly unconcious under some debri not far away. One that would later be found by traveling Magi, and raised in the city of Dalaran.

Now, however, the months had passed, and the two Gnomes were almost completely unaware of a lifetime apart. They acted as though they had grown up together. They knew everything about one another. Microlux brought out confidence in Gno'jin. And in return, Gno'jin had brought out the Gnomish innocent curiocity in Microlux.

Arcfirice had no choice but to take in the new Gnome as part of the household.
And taught Gno'jin all that he would truly need to make it by in the large cities with out being so shy or terrified. He taught him further in the arts of reading and writing. So his little hands didn't scribble quite so much. Though he most certainly did not have the penmanship of his brother.
Edited by Arcfirice on 6/8/2013 2:40 PM PDT
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94 Gnome Mage
Something caught Arcfirice's eye. What was it? Something in the room had changed.
Then he saw it. There were new words forming in the margins of the book in his hand.
This was not something that happened everyday. Not ever infact! And it startled him to standing and the book dropped with a loud thud to the floor. This brought the two Gnomes wide awake, and casting about wide eyed for the sorce of the noise.
Arc pointed down to the book in disbelief. This was quite out of character for him, for he was a "Watcher", set to his duties by the Council of Dalaran themselves. He was charged with "feeling" the threads of magic. To listen for any major changes that would herald danger for the peoples of the Alliance. He was usually very calm, and unshakable. But not at this moment. This was ancient magic, and he slightly feared it's taste.

Microlux walked over quickly and picked up the book and looked at the words that were appearing. "Why, it's a mix of Gnomish and Dwarf. How odd."

Gno'jin looked over his brother's shoulder, and quietly whispered a name, "Genevra."

Arcfirice and Microlux looked at him. Arc asked, "Genevra, I've heard that name before."
"Do you mean to tell us you know of the Conclave?" Microlux asked astonished.
"Yes, She's my friend. And I bet she'd like to see this." Gno'jin said knowingly.
"You're quite right," Arc replied,"I don't read either language well. Maybe she'll know what it means." He then added quickly, as he took the book from the Gnomes' hands, "Pack, we leave at dawn."
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94 Gnome Mage
Arcfirice paced for a bit, deep in thought. The trip would be a long one, for they were in the mountains on the southern borders of Feralis. He knew he had to plan this trip down to a day. No time to be lost. They must reach the walls of Stormwind as quickly as possible. The lettering that appeared in the book gave him great unease.

After the packing was done, they all slept until just before the sun rose. There was a quick meal, and during this, Arcfirice laid out the traveling plans. They would travel South west until they reached the now flooded Thousand Needles, cut North through the Southern Barrens, then North East until they reached Ratchet. From there, travel by sea to Booty Bay, then North through the wilds, Duskwood, and then Elwynn.

The trip should take them some time. But it was the faster route. And time was of the essence.

A small smile played across Gno'jin's face as he listened quietly and munched his toast and eggs. All those places! My what a collection of Herbs and flowers he would have! Not to mention seeing his old homelands again. He was almost giddy with excitement, and wondered why his companions were so somber. Words couldn't be that important, could they?
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94 Gnome Mage
After their morning meal, Arcfirice rose and headed for the door grabbing up his saddle.
Microlux, seeing this trotted out behind the human mage.
"And just exactly where are you going with that?" The Gnome asked with a touch of sarcasm in his voice.
""To saddle up Molly, of course. Where else would I be going with it?" Arc replied in a matter of fact, but slightly annoyed tone.
"Molly! Oh, Arc, you cannot be serious. That old horse can barely stand let alone carry the three of us all the way to Stormwind!" and with that, the little mage let out a quite tickled laugh.
Arcfirice looked over to the little coral and the sway backed horse within.
"Well, if we walk it's going to take months!" His voice rose in peturbance.
"And if we take Molly, it will take about a day to bury her once she keels over." The Gnome replied.

Hearing the conversation going on outside, Gno'jin cleared the plates from the table, then made his way out the door. He arched a very bushy eyebrow at the two bickering back and forth over the poor old nag nibbling at grass stalks in it's pen.
Gno'jin, of course had another idea, and gave a very loud, and earsplitting whistle.
The two mages, startled spun on their heels and looked at him.
"Give it a moment." Gno'jin said calmly.
And a few moments later, a Zhevra trotted out of the trees and underbrush.
"Will he do?" Gno'jin asked as he pointed to his faithful mount.
"Where on Azeroth have you been hiding THAT?" Arcfirice asked, completely befuddled.
"I wasn't hiding him. I let him roam free, as he should." the little Gnome replied.

Microlux took the look in on the face of his compatriot, and again laughed.
"Well, I guess my brother still has a few suprizes left to show us!"
Arcfirice shook his head with a soft chuckle. "That he does my friend, that he does."
And with that Arcfirice started saddling and readying the Zhevra, who seemed a bit uncomfortable with the big hunk of leather strapped to it's back.
"So, what's your name?" Thte mage asked rhetoricly.
"Stripe." came Gno'jins answer somewhere behind the human.
"Fitting." the mage answered.

At last the saddle bags were added and they were just about ready to go.
"And just exactly where do you suppose we are all going to sit on that thing?" Microlux asked, pointing at the small riding saddle.
"Well, notice these saddle bags are empty." Arcfirice patted the bags.
"Oh you cannot expect us to ride in those!" Microlux's voice rose in pitch with the indignity of the thought. "Out of the question! I'm a Mage of the First Order, not a loaf of Pumpernickle!"
His distaste for the situation was quite evident not only in his tone but by the look on his face as Arcfirice picked him up and uncerimoniously put him in the left saddle bag. "This is completely out of the question!" Microlux was as red as one of the Kings apples and fuming to the point that a very blue vein was popping on his forehead.

Arcfirice turned to Gno'jin, half expecting even more drama. But to his suprise, the little Gnome was standing there with his arms up, waiting for his boost to the saddle bag.
The smile on his face was that of a childs, full of expectant excitement.
"You are a curious one, Gno'jin." Arc said as he reached down and plucked up the waiting Gnome, then gently placed him in the bag.
Gno'jin made himself comfortable in the bag. To him, this was a new experiance. And he always loved those...

Arcfirice loaded Molly with their provisions. She may not be able to carry the weight of a human and two Gnomes, but she could carry their light load of clothing and food. And, of course, the Book. He then tied her teather to the horn of the saddle on the Zhevra.
He smiled at his old mare. "Can't leave you to the Wargs, now can we?"
Once he was mounted, they started their journey.
Microlux bounced and tossed in his "seat", unable to catch purchase for a while. And had a completely undignified scowl on his little face. Whereas Gno'jin had got comfortable right away, and with his little hands gripping the side of the bag, rode along smiling cheerfully as the sceenery went by at a steady pace.
Edited by Arcfirice on 6/15/2013 11:39 AM PDT
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94 Gnome Mage
Hours had passed as they rode the long miles, and it was reaching late mid-day when Arcfirice finally decided to stop for a meal.
By this time Microlux had stopped complaining and sat scouling in his purchase.
Gno'jin was still wide-eyed and smiling, and eager to gather some of the specimens he saw in the area.

It was a small clearing next to a little river, with the trees growing up all around, and cliffs to one side. Arc set to making a small fire for cooking after lifting the Gnomes to the ground.
Microlux stretched his legs, then procceeded to straighten his disheveled clothing.
Gno'jin scurried over to the underbrush and started pulling and picking at the little weeds and flowers, completely uncaring of what was going on with the other two. Happy in his little discoveries.

Arcfirice made the meal of boars' meat and bread quietly. His mind ever on the Book. It had been some time since anything had him this perplexed. And he wished now that he had payed more attention to his language studies in his youth.

"You know, Arc., you could have just sent that thing by messenger." Microlux piped up all of a sudden.
"Well, if it wasn't so important, I could have." Arcfirice replied, " But this is something to be cared for by mages, not a courier. Not to mention, just exactly when was the last time you saw someone from AAMS pass our way?"
"You don't have to be curt. I was just saying that they most likely could have got that thing to those at the Conclave much faster than we can." The Gnome replied.
"No, you were thinking that you could have stayed safely back at the house." Arcfirice replied with a touch of sarcasm.
"That too." Microlux said matter of factly.

Gno'jin came back over to the fire and sat, legs splayed in front of him and carefully set his bundle of leaves and twigs in front of himself. He then sorted them into little bundles, tied them with bits of string, and then tucked them into his pack. All while quietly humming a song. The last few words escaping his mouth in a tiny sing-song whisper: "...any time, any where."

Microlux, sitting on a fallen log looked over at his brother, and his attire.
"Why on Azeroth, may I ask brother, do you not get some real clothes? Something a bit more fitting a Gnome?" Microlux asked this with out any ill intent, then added, "You look more like something a Troll threw away." This last he should have kept to himself.

Gno'jin looked down at his feathers, bones and leather strapping. One feather in particular caught his eye. It was bright red, and tattered beyond repair. He wore it with pride and love. It had been one of the few things he had left that Datso'jin had given him so very long ago.
He drew his knees up to his chest and buried his face in his folded arms and started to weep softly.

This startled Microlux, and he climed from his seat and tottled over to his brother. Without thaught he sat in the dirt next to the other Gnome and put his arm around his shoulders.
"I'm sorry, Gno'jin, I forgot. Please don't cry." You could hear the shame in his voice as he tried to comfort his brother.
"I miss my father." Gno'jin wept.

The hair on the back of Arcfirice's neck stood up for no seeming reason. He looked up from his food, and scanned the trees. They were being watched. "Time to go." He said quietly and very suddenly. Microlux looked up and started to ask, "What's wrong..." But was cut short by an early reply. "I said it's time to go. Now."
Arcfirice kicked dirt over the fire and quickly packed the few things that were out.
He scooped the balled up Gnome and his tiny pack up and carefully placed them in the Saddle bag. Then lifted Microlux to the saddle in front of himself. "I may need you out here with me." He said with conviction in his voice. Microlux knew by that tone, trouble was close, and he may be called on to help defend the trio.

Arcfirice gave the side of Stripe a good heal-kick. And they flew through the trees at an alarming pace. Arc felt the need to put distance between them, and what ever it was watching them.

The Troll sat quietly, high up on the cliffs looking down at the company of travelers below.
The bow across his back lay there untouched. He looked down, and wanted so much to tear down the rocks and through the trees. The Gnome, he would know that little being from a mile off. His heart clenched. "Son" he whispered to himself.
He, however was not going to get into a battle with two mages. He was a great archer, true. But two mages, he was not prepaired for.
Had it not been for those staves glowing with their owners power, he just might have made the foolish mistake of approching.
He looked on as suddenly the Human stood and moved them all quickly to their mount and shot off through the trees.

Datso'jin decided he would follow.
Edited by Arcfirice on 6/16/2013 7:13 AM PDT
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100 Human Paladin
((I love reading your stories!))
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94 Gnome Mage
The Troll flew down the side of the steap slope with the grace of a cat, and the speed of a strider. He lept the last thirty or so feet to the forest floor with a thunderous thudding of feet, and tore through the trees like a deranged raptor. His claws dug into the trunks around him, propelling him faster as his long legs moved ever faster. He dodged branches, and jumped deadfall. He moved with the speed and purpose only a Troll could. He followed the scent on the Zhevra and it's passengers. Woodland creatures flew in terror at the speeding Troll, hoping they would not catch it's attention.

Arcfirice urged the Zhevra ever faster, carefully and quite masterfully guiding it's direction.
They were like the wind, a blur to any who would have seen them fly by.

Suddenly there was a bright light ahead through the trees. And with a flash the company was immediately airborn. Flying over the edge of a clif that Arcfirice had not seen coming. Quick as a flash of lightning, Microlux's hands flew up in a gesture, as he cast a spell to keep them from plumetting to their deaths. He could hear and feel the tall mage behind him heave a sigh of relief.

The Zhevra was quite startled, and kept it's legs moving, seemingly trying to find purchase for it's feel. It's breath came in huge heaves, it's eyes wild and head tossing from side to side, as it tried desperately to figure out why it was falling.

Then just as suddenly, the entire troupe came to a soft landing just at the waters' edge. Stripe took a few more steps, and then just stopped. He was winded beyond any living things capacity. And needed to rest, or go no further in this life.

Dasto'jin raged forward trying desperately not to lose all sight or sign of those he followed. To the point he, too, missed the upcoming cliff. And just as he broke the tree line, the very tip of his bow miraculously snagged a broken branch. The immediate stop flipped the Troll backwards, and he landed with an audible thud on his back.

Dazed, he stood and looked down over the precarious rock ledge. Far below he could see those he followed. His breath caught in his rasping throat. He waited. Then, out of a side bag he saw what he was scanning for. Gno'jin's head popped up and looked around, seeming ever so slightly confused.
The Troll sat and rested.

((thank you Gen., I just wish my wordpad had spell check...))
Edited by Arcfirice on 6/16/2013 4:30 PM PDT
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94 Gnome Mage
Pulling a leg up over the edge of the saddle bag, then the other, Gno'jin hung for a moment a few feet off the ground before dropping with a plop and a backward roll.
Getting up, he tottled up to Stripe and started wiping down the Zhevra's legs with a small rag he pulled from his pocket.
"You can't run him like that, not for that long." he said with a touch of pleading in his voice. "You'll hurt him."
"Something is chasing us, I had little choice." Arcfirice replied.
Gno'jin rarely, if ever showed any anger, but it rose, uncharacteristicly in his voice now, "You're a Mage! Stand and fight!" The soft innocent look left his face and was replaced with a scowl that made both the mages do a double take. Gno'jin then grew quiet in his anger as he tended to his friend.

"What do you think is up there?" Microlux asked with concern in his voice.
"I don't know, but I don't like the feel of it." Arcfirice replied, darting a glance up to the trees far above them. "But it moves like the wind. And it's still there."
"Well, be that as it may, we are safe now, and something more pressing deserves your attention." Microlux looked knowingly over at his brother.
Arcfirice followed his gaze, and let out a soft sigh of resignation. He knew he had some attonement to do.
"Gno'jin," He said as he walked over to the Gnome,"I'm sorry, I did what I thaught best for all of us."
Gno'jin gave him a quick sideways glance then went back to the Zhevra's tending.
"We don't know what follows us. And we don't know if even we can stave it off. This Book must reach those at The Conclave, The Council in Dalaran is too buisy with other matters to look into this." Arc's tone was that of a parents explaining something to a child.

Gno'jin stopped his tending and looked at the ground. He didn't like these feelings. He was not used to them. "I know," he said resigned, "But don't hurt him." he hugged the great black and white leg the Zhevra. The beast looked down at the tiny being grasping it's leg, and gave a soft snorting.

"Well, here we are then, a bit ahead of schedule." Microlux piped up trying to lighten the mood. "The big puddle that used to be a trench."

The Troll watched the proceedings far below. And saw the change on the face of the Gnome he had raised as his own. He did not like that look. He had never seen that emotion come from the little being before. He would have to follow more carefully, and with a bit more distance. He'd wait for the chance when Gno'jin was separated from the Magi before leaving the shadows.

The Zhevra seemed to catch it's breath, but Arcfirice thaught it best to walk a while to give the beast time to rest. However, the journey must continue.
They made their way north along the shore until they came to a series of ramps leading up and out of the now flooded gully. It was slow, but what ever followed was now keeping it's distance. Though, it was still there, Arc could feel it.
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94 Gnome Mage
Molly stood in the little clearing, packs still on her back, and munched on a mouth full of grass. She turned her head this way and that, looking for the beings that always cared for her. They were gone. She slowly walked around, and kept feeding. The air was still and quiet. And she was alone.

At the top of the ramp, Microlux stopped short. "Molly!" he cried out in the dimming light of the days end. "We forgot Molly!"
Arcfirice, looked around puzzled, then brought a hand up to his forehead, and drug it down his face. "Oh, damn." he simply said as his head dropped.

"You go on ahead," Microlux said, "I'll catch up when I can. I'm going back for her."
"We'll meet you at the trench, Lux. But be as quick as you can. If you aren't there in three days, or if whatever it is catches up to us, we'll head for Ratchet." Arcfirice replied.

"Post haste!" Microlux said, and jumped from the edge of the revine, again making the same hand gesture and then gliding down effortlessly to the watery edge far below.

As he made the long slow decent, he heard Arcfirice's frantic voice.
"The Book, Lux! She still has the book!" He almost sounded frightened, "We'll be here until your return. One day!"

Microlux, upon landing, turned and waved his acknowledgement. He then turned toward the trees, and with a metallic popping sound, blinked out of sight.
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94 Gnome Mage
Arcfirice watched a moment more after the now gone Gnome. Then turned and sat on a nearby boulder. The ledge was dry, bare, and thorn bushes rose out of the barren ground here and there.

Arcfirice reached into a pocket and drew out a small clear orb. It shown dimly in the fading day. Soft transparent colors swirled within, as though the morning sky had been captured in time within it's crystaline shell. He held it before him, inches from his face, and seemed lost in the vision of it. It was a scrying orb, a gift years ago during Wintervail.

First he concentraited on Molly. The colors swirled, then focused and he saw the old mare wandering and eating peacefully. Soon however, he saw her ears prick forward and her head raise to look over her flank. She seemed startled by something. He watched as the poor beast lept forward and started to run headlong into the trees in the direction of the flooded gully. Arcfirice concentraited harder, scanning for whatever it was that had spooked the mare. The colors swirled and became as shadows. What ever it was, the orb could not discern.

He changed subjects to that of Microlux. However, he too was hard to pinpoint. Arcfirice half whispered to himself, "Must be blinking all the way back." A worried look crept over his face. And he placed the orb back into his chest pocket.

Gno'jin scuttled about looking at the thorny plants, but could find nothing new or exciting about them or anything else in the vacinity. So, seeming bored, he sat in the dirt with a small twig and started drawing pictures in the dusty ground. It seemed to make him happy as Arc noticed the small smile on the Gnome's face. "So childlike." The Mage thaught.

The metalic popping could be heard here and there through the trees as Microlux made his way back in the direction of their last stop. Small woodland creatures would franticly skitter away to their hiding spots upon his sudden appearance. Birds would fly away startled and the near vacinity would go momentarily quiet.

After what seemed an eturnity doing traveling this way, Lux heard the quick beating of horse hooves headed in his direction. He waited, and listened intently. He could hear just as well as any Troll living with his big round ears, and what he heard made him nervous. THe horse was heaving with the strain running was putting on her, but more so, with the terror that filled her. He turned in her direction, summoned all the power one tiny body could, mentally aimed, and POP! Blinked as far as he could toward the frightened animal.

Upon "landing" he could see her coming his way, and she saw him as well. Giving a great whinny she slowed her pace as she neared the mage. Her breath came in great heaves.
Microlux reached up and stroked her muzzle, "What's wrong, Molly? What has you so frightened?". Just as he said this, knowing the beast could not reply, the whiskers on his cheaks bristled. Something was coming, and whatever it was, it wasn't pleasant.

He put himself between what ever it was and the horse. A look of concentraition came across his face as he held his hands low at his sides. First a glow came around them, then fire blazed in his palms. He concentraited even more as he brought the two palms close to each other infront of himself. And with a sharp out striking of one hand, let sail a great blast of concentraited fire through the trees. The Blazing orb flew like lightning, exploding a hundred feet away with the sound of a thousand storms all letting loose at once.

A warning shot.

He turned and grabbed up Molly's reigns and started trotting back through the trees the way he had come. The warning would only hold so long before whatever was back there emboldened it's self to give chase once more.
Edited by Arcfirice on 6/19/2013 2:38 PM PDT
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100 Gnome Priest
((Riveting! Simply riveting!))
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90 Gnome Death Knight
((Bah! another wasted bucket of cold popcorn. Endearing characters, riveting plots, well paced events - I sit down every installment and read through it captivated and forgetting my refreshment (which just goes cold). I anxiously and hopefully await the next episode, wishing all the best to the foursome (well, fivesome if we count Molly). Bravo.))
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94 Gnome Mage
The light of the day had dimmed to the point that Gno'jin could no longer see his drawings in the dust clearly. He was sleepy and hungry, and his belly rumbled to let this be known.

Arcfirice gathered stones and placed them in a small pile. kneeling by them, a look of calm came over his face. He held out a palm over the stones and concentraited. Small flames played out around his fingers, and then true flames shot from his out-stretched hand into the stones, heating them quickly to glowing. He did this until the stone was close to the point of molting. He knew a fire made with wood, would attract too much attention with the smell of smoke and the blaze of light.
He set about making a meal for the small party, always one eye scanning the banks below.
Where was that Gnome? He was worried. Not only for Microlux's safety, but for the book, and what ever it was across the ravine that followed them.

Microlux moved as quickly as Molly could muster, but she was old as horses go, and her run had worn her out. He could sence that what ever he had stopped behind them was once again following. He could not keep letting off warning shots, especially in the darkness that now engulfed the forest around him. He might very well set the entire valley ablaze.

The hours ticked past as the Gnome and horse made their way through Feralis, and finally to the banks of what was once Thousand Needles. He looked up toward the ridge where he had left his companions and could see a faint glowing. "Must be time for dinner." He thought to himself.

Datso'jin had secretly made his way down the slopes to the waters, and through the underbrush to the far side of the valley. Keeping an eye on the ridge above, he ever so slowly and with the sound of a whisper, clawed his way up the cliff facing. He dared not go by the way of the ramps, as the magi above might spot him. He was very much the Troll in his stealth approach. At the top of the ravine, he found a thicket of brambles not too far away from the ones he followed, and settled in for the night with a supper of dried meats and fruits. He watched them quietly, and bided his time.


Arcfirice looked down the ramps as he heard the heavy footfalls of the Horse. A feeling of relief filled him and he let out a sigh. He saw the tiny Gnome raise a hand in greeting as he made his way, horse in tow, up the narrow path.

Upon arrival, there was much chattering that woke Gno'jin from his nap in the dirt.
Happy to see his brother, he joined the others at the glowing stone pile. He rummaged through his little pack and produced his contribution to the dinner Arcfirice had prepared. Three little red apples. He had been saving them for some time, and they were starting to show their age. Slightly bruised and getting a bit wrinkly. However, their sweetness had not left, and the three enjoyed them all the same as fresh picked.

Microlux told them of the trip and that there was something, or someone following them. Something other than that which had chased them through the thick wood.

"Are you sure it wasn't just a pack of wolves?" Arcfirice asked, the tone in his voice was slightly troubled.
"No, not wolves. It felt more..." Lux's words trailed slightly as he faught for the discription he wanted, "sinister than that."
"We've got trouble indeed." Arc replied, "Now we've got things following us, it would seem, from two fronts."
Datso, restless in his bramble bed, wanting so much to hold his gnomish son, moved with ever growing care, trying to inch his way closer. His want to hold his son stronger than his will to stay alive.
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94 Gnome Mage
Gno'jin sniffed the air, as he was taught when tracking something. "Troll." He whispered to himself.
Arcfirice looked over at him with suprise, "What do you mean Trolls?", the shock in his voice was not conceiled.
"Not tolls, a Troll, I can smell it." Gno'jin replied matter of factly. "There's one nearby."
He said this with little notation for he was accustomed to them, and they brought him no fear. Not the ones in this region any way.

SNAP! Datso's foot landed on a dried twig he had missed in the darkness, and the sound rang out like a gunshot. Arcfirice and Microlux both lept up and spun in the direction of the sound. Gno'jin instinctively rolled to the brambles for cover.

All stealth was lost now, and he had no recourse but to move from his hiding. Slowly the towering Troll stepped from the pitch black of the brambles.
Arcfirice's hand shot out and a searing ball of flame flew through the air and landed with a harsh spray of light and flame in the center of the Troll's chest, knocking it to the ground.
Gno'jin's eyes went wide as recognition came to him.
Arc's first shot had no time to muster any strength, and had only knocked the wind out of the Troll, and landed it flat on it's back. Now he raised both hands and the flame growing between them was going to be deadly.
"NO!" Gno'jin cried out as he reacted like a bolt of lightning. He raced from his hiding spot, and with an upward back flip, one tiny foot shot out and caught Arcfirice in the side. The foot hit with such force that it broke the mages' concentraition and made him stumble to the side and lose his footing.

Microlux, still startled, and feeling magicly weak from his trip of blinking and warning shots, could do very little but stair in disbelief at the events unfolding around him. He mustered what little strength in magic he had, and froze the Troll in place on the ground.

"Stop!" Gno'jin cried out in dismay. "That's my father!" He ran to the Troll and threw himself ontop of him, trying to shield off any further attack from the mages. In truth knowing this would be futile, but he knew he would die trying.

Arcfirice stood, stock still with shock on his face at these words. The flames around his hands dieing out. Microlux was able to choke out only one word, "WHAT?"
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