“Lilly, report. Did you find her trail?” Zero was speaking into a scrying pool. A very feminine half elf with pale pink hair answered.
“Ummm, yes… I did find it.”
“Have you found her yet?”
“I… that is to say I…”
“You haven’t,” Zero said.
“Well, no. But I’m sure I’m very close. There is one thing that’s a little strange though… But I’m sure it’s nothing.”
“Out with it,” Zero said.
“Well… there are two dead dragons here… but… well… the strange thing is…”
“Lilly, you need to be assertive,” Zero said. “Just tell me the strange thing so that you can get back to following her.”
“They were… umm… killed by magic,” Lilly said.
“Magic?” Zero asked. “Maybe they were killed before or after Axra arrived in that area. Just keep following her tracks.”
“Of course… but… that is to say…”
“Lilly!” Zero cried.
“Can I… that is if you don’t mind…”
“What are you asking?” Zero asked.
“Can I… maybe send Velvet back?”
“No,” Zero said. “He’s a good fighter.”
“But… that is to say… he’s very slow. And when tracking… you know… time is important.”
“I’m sure he isn’t slowing you down too much,” Zero said. “I’ll contact you later.” He gestured and the light faded from the pool.
“Dragons killed by magic,” Zero muttered. Could she be responsible?”
Lilly moved back where she’d left her companion. He was lying down inside a small wagon, it was just large enough for him. The wagon had a harness in front of it that was currently empty. He was built like a dwarf, but slightly taller and with a fair face. He had a cap pulled over his face. Black disheveled hair peeked out above and around the cap.
Lilly poked him. He yawned and took the hat off. “What?”
“Well… we have to, you know, get going.”
“What a hassle,” he said. “I just let them loose too.” He whistled and six large dogs ran over, wagging their tails happily. Velvet hooked them into the harness. “Follow the nice lady,” he ordered. He laid down in the wagon, pulling the cap back over his face. His team followed Lilly while he slept.
Axra wasn’t sure where she was. After her encounter with the dragons and that strange mage she’d just sort of wandered. She’d expected an encounter with the hermit by now or at least some sign of the spiders. Why did the wastes have to be so vast? Her reverie was interrupted by the sounds of a struggle.
She dismounted and walked towards the sounds, Todberührung in hand. She walked slowly and cautiously, not wanting a repeat of her last encounter, until she could see what was happening. It was her, the mage she’d met the other day. She was being attacked by five gargoyles. Her dragon was darting around in the air, trying to keep them away from her.
Axra quickly went over everything she knew about gargoyles. Sharp talons, flying, weak mid-sections, ability to transform into stone for protection, highly resistant to magic… the mage wouldn’t have a chance. She had to help, to repay the kindness that had been shown for her.
Axra charged into the group. She managed to jab one in the heart. Then she pulled her blade free and swung, slicing one in half. One of the remaining gargoyles slashed her back open, but she didn’t let it stop her. She jabbed backwards, hitting the beast in the eye. The remaining two turned and flew away. Axra studied the damage. The dead gargoyles weren’t decaying. Neither was the one flailing around with blood oozing from its eye. She jabbed it again to finish it. Why wasn’t her sword working the way it had against the dragon?
“Thanks,” the mage said. “I thought I was in trouble for a minute there.” She dusted herself off and tipped her hat. “So, what brings you to the wastes?”
Axra opened her mouth bu then closed it again. She was suddenly drawing a blank.
“Oh, but that’s rude. I should introduce myself. My name is Twila Magia. This is my familiar, Fang. We’re here to explore the ruins. And you?”
“I’m Axra,” she said, trying to sound confident. “I came here to check the ruins out too.”
“I figured as much,” Twila said. “Most people who come here are. But you’re hurt!”
Axra felt the blood trickling down her back. “I’m fine. It’s just a scratch.”
“That is not just a scratch,” Twila said. “Here, let me take care of it.” Twila grabbed a small pouch from her belt. Out of it she produced antiseptic, some bandages and surgical tape. “This might sting a little,” she warned.
Axra let Twila lift her shirt and treat the injury. She didn’t feel any pain at all, but her heart was pounding heavily.
“There we go,” Twila said. “That’s better.”
“Thanks,” Axra said.
“Don’t mention it,” Twila said. “You got hurt helping me, after all. Hey, we should travel together!”
“You think?” Axra asked.
“Well, we do have the same goal,” Twila said. “And there is something to be said for the tactical advantage of greater numbers.”
“Yeah,” Axra said. “That sounds good.”
“Then it’s settled,” Twila said.