Chasing After Power
by Reuben Hinman
Necromancy, unlike the other magical arts, relied upon a limited resource to fuel it. To cast necromancy spells, a necromancer had to capture a shape shifter and perform a month long ritual which drained the shifter's spirit into a device. From this device, the necromancer could harness the life force of the shifter's drained soul to cast spells. The advantage of necromancy over the other magics, was that it didn't take countless years to develop the talent to cast powerful spells. All that was needed was enough life energy from a shifter to cast a particular spell, though collecting this energy was sometimes easier said than done.
The elf was excited to finally getting his hands on a shifter. It had been some time since he had drained a soul, and he felt that is supply of life energy was running low. On top of this, the drained spirit of a dragon shifter provided more energy than the spirits of other shifters.
When Tirfani and Ames reached the place the elf had seen in the "eyes" of his scrying device, the necromancer pointed down the dark alleyway they faced and mumbled a command word. A shadowy area of the alleyway began to grow a hazy shade of purple around a tall stack of crates. This was something that only the necromancer could see.
Tirfani could have leapt for joy. He couldn't believe it! Instead of running for the forest like any intelligent shifter would, she stayed in the city, cowering in an alley! The elf motioned to Ames and they both made their way down the stack of crates.
* * *
Rhena's ears flicked when she heard footfalls coming from down the alleyway. She peeked from behind the stack of crates and saw the forms of two men, one very large and the other relatively small and thin, walking directly toward her hiding spot. Quickly ducking back down behind the crates, she squatted and tightened her grip on the rusty dagger she had taken from the man she had killed. The sounds of the two men's footsteps stopped when they reached the crates. Then, she heard a soft voice.
"My young lady," the voice made Rhena's skin crawl, "my name is Tirfani Ashleaf. I am the bailiff of this city. You are under arrest for a murder you committed earlier this night. There is no need to profess your innocence, for I have irrefutable proof that you murdered a man in the alley on the other end of the city. You..."
Before the elf could finish, Rhena darted from behind the crates. Ames tried to grab her but as he reached out, he received a stinging cut from her dagger. Growling in pain, the soldier ran beside the necromancer as they began to give chase.
Rounding the corners of several buildings the Tigerean ran, trying to lose her pursuers. But every time she looked back they were still there. After running for what seemed like an eternity, her breath began to come in gasps. Her legs grew heavier and her strides shorter. A sharp hitch formed at her side. Rhena knew that they would catch her soon. It would not take long for her legs to give out. So she resolved to go down fighting. So with dagger in hand, she turned and charged the two men.
Ames did not see the girl coming, but Tirfani did. He dodged out of the way as the Tigerean ran toward the soldier. Before he could draw his large sword, Rhena wildly lashed out with her dagger and stabbed him in the neck. The large man dropped like a stone and gurgled as his blood began to trail from his mouth down his chainmail shirt.
Rhena was suddenly frozen in horror. She could hardly believe that she had killed another man. Tirfani took the opportunity to cast a spell at the Tigerean. Raising his hand in the air, he screamed and a ray of crimson light shot from his hand and hit his target in the chest. Rhena fell to the ground, unconscious.
The necromancer chuckled to himself. It wasn't his easiest capture, but it most definitely wasn't the hardest. It did not irk him that Ames was dead. On the contrary, he was quite happy. The large spy was easily replaceable, and he could get his shifter without having to part with the gold he had promised to the soldier as a reward.
Tirfani smirked and made his way over to the shifter. As he reached down to pick her up, he heard a roar from above. When he looked up, he screamed.
The largest dragon that he had ever seen was flying toward him. It was easily the size of three normal men, and its bat like wings spanned about as wide. In the pale moonlight, its blue scales glimmered. The sound of rolling thunder could be heard as the magnificent beast flapped its wings. It drew closer, letting out another deafening roar. Without a moment's hesitation he turned and began to run. Peasants looked upon the dragon in fright as it reached out with its front talons and picked up the Tigerean girl. With the girl firmly in its claws, it took off and flew in the direction of the forest.
* * *
Rhena woke up propped up against the trunk of a tree. Through blurry eyes she noticed someone was hunched over her. When her vision came into focus, she recognized the Tigerean female she saw before her.
"Mamma," Rhena shouted, throwing herself into her mother's waiting arms. "I-I'm sorry for not being home on time," tears formed in the younger female's eyes. "B-but something strange happened. It was really odd, Iâ€¦" Rhena slumped back against the trunk of the tree when her mother hushed.
"I know of what you speak my daughter," Tara began, "it was only a matter of time before this occurred."
Rhena looked puzzled, "What do you mean mother? I don't understand."
Tara nodded, "I know you don't, but you will in time. Do you remember all of the stories I told you in your childhood about those wondrous adventures of a young heroine who fought the oppressive rulers in this land?"
Rhena slowly nodded, "You mean about the Valarians and the good shape shifters?"
"Yes, well all of those stories are true. I was the young heroine in those stories. I knew that it was only a matter of time before you shifted for the first time."
The younger Tigerean's eyes went wide as she heard this, "Really, all of those stories are true? But I thought shape shifters and Valarians were evil?"
"Those are lies spread by necromancers. But do not worry about that, the truth will be revealed to you soon enough. Just close your eyes and get some rest. I doubt Lord Tirfani will organize a search party to come looking for us in the forest, so you can rest easy. After you awaken we shall go to Hamlin, a Valarian village that is hidden within in these woods. There, you will meet Myla."
"Who is Myla?"
"She is a priestess of Elethay who lives in Hamlin."
Tora sighed, "Yes Elethay, the true goddess of life, not Jikadel. There are many ideas put into your head by that vile necromancer and his lapdog nobles that need to be dispelled. But let us not worry about those things now, close your eyes and sleep my daughter. When you awaken, we will make our way to Hamlin."
Rhena obeyed her mother and closed her eyes. Many thoughts filled her mind as she nodded off to sleep, dreaming of the exciting things that lay ahead."