The Wrong Wizards Chapter 11
(Sorry again for not updating! I kinda, got it in my head no one cared so I just noodled around writing more chapters then got to work on other books. ^_^; I really need to stick with things so I am updating The Wrong Wizards again! I am going to schedule some updates both here and on Moonquill and Tapas!
Moonquill Mirror: https://www.moonquill.com/book/the-wrong-wizards
Tapas Mirror: https://tapas.io/series/The-Wrong-Wizards/info Things will update on Moonquill and Tapas on Mondays, twice a month. Chapters will go up here on my blog before that, today on Saturday and, maybe Wednesdays after that. We shall see if I can stick to this!
I will be speaking on a panel at Dallas FanExpo this month on June 18th at about 2:30pm, by the way. So that's going to be different. I am nervous about crowds and Covid. :s Thank you for being so patient and believing in me. Sorry there's no new art right now. Maybe in a couple months! Here's Chapter 11 of The Wrong Wizards!
-Sarah "Neila" Elkins)
Chapter 11: Scramble
I wake up a few hours before sunrise and fill my collapsible silicone cup with water from the clay pitcher in our room. I had forgotten it was in my bag until this morning. A few birds are beginning to stir outside, filling the chilled air with a stray notes here and there. Merlin is asleep on the floor under the windows with her jacket beneath her head like a pillow. I notice Nikola is awake sitting in the corner of the room silently inspecting his new coat. He's dressed in the plain cotton sleeping clothing he bought and not the suit he was wearing when he arrived. His new satchel sits next to his side. I suspect his suit is folded inside it since I don't remember him buying any other supplies and the bag seems to be full of something.
"You should get some sleep, Nikola," I say as I finish off my drink and press the cup flat again. I really should have gotten some cooking supplies yesterday.
"Thank you, but I have been unable to still my thoughts enough to do so," Nikola explains softly. He glances over at our weapons in the corner nearest the door. "Do you believe we will need them?"
I sit on the edge of the bed and let out a sigh. "Hopefully not, but it's better to be prepared just in case."
"When I was a boy, there was a war," he begins. "My family was frightened for me, as I was the only son. The military required service for all capable men."
I nod and let him continue.
"But I did not fight," Nikola says. He pauses and collects himself. "I am no fighter."
I try to think back on my research of Nikola Tesla. The war he's referring to was probably the one that lead to his family sending him on a 'hunting trip' in the mountains when he was about eighteen. He survived alone in the wilderness for at least a year before going to college. It had sounded like it was a lot for a teenager to handle.
"You may not be a fighter," I say. "But you are a survivor and that's what we need to focus on right now. Surviving."
He looks up at me, his eyes a bit brighter. "Thank you, Rhys. I believe I may be able to shut my eyes no-"
It feels like the air is sucked out of the middle of the room just before it's replaced by a figure wearing dark purple robes with silver embroidered floral designs on the sleeves and collar. I lock eyes with the person, it's the elf mage who warned me before kicking me out of the castle. She's still beautiful despite looking concerned and exhausted as hell as she looks around the room.
"What are you doing here?" She asks frantically. "This is Centrum. Why are you here? He's coming for you."
Nikola stares up at her then looks over at me as Merlin starts to stir from where she's been sleeping. I get up from where I've been sitting on the bed.
"What do you mean?" I ask. "Who's coming for us?"
"I told you to run," the elf mage says before collapsing. I barely manage to grab her before her head hits the wooden floor. She feels feverish, her brow hot and damp with sweat, but I have no way of knowing if that's normal for an elf.
"Holy crap," Merlin says.
"Help me get her on the bed," I say.
The three of us pick up the elf woman and move her. The light in the room is too dim for me to tell if her dark skin is paler than when I first met her or not.
"What are we going to do?" Merlin asks. "She's sick, right?"
I nod. "I think so. Did she tell you two to 'run' or just 'leave?' When she kicked me out of the castle she said to 'leave as quickly as possible' or something."
Nikola looks down and narrows his eyes. "I believe she said 'leave this place quickly' but I admit I thought she meant the castle itself."
"She said something like that to me too," Merlin says.
"I think she probably meant the city," I say. "Given that she was surprised to find us still in Centrum just now. And someone's coming for us? I didn't like the way she said that."
"Why, though?" Merlin asks crossing her arms. "Why did she show up in our hotel room? Why would someone even be after us?"
She was here to warn us, I think to myself.
"I don't know. We don't have enough information, but I think we should check out early. Grab your things and be ready to leave in ten minutes at most," I say.
"What about her?" Nikola asks.
"We're taking her with us. I'll carry her on my back, under my cloak. If she was running from someone or something that should help disguise her a bit. Merlin, you're gonna carry my backpack since you're more used to weight. Nikola, you will carry both of y'all's satchels, okay?"
No one objects and we get ready. Nikola keeps his eyes locked on the unconscious elf woman as Merlin and I dress. He even shields the sides of his eyes with cupped hands. When we're done we assure him neither of us will watch him dress. Despite him being hesitant to put on his suit while we're still in the room it still only takes us about fifteen minutes to be loaded up and ready to leave.
Merlin and Nikola follow me as I awkwardly carry the elf under my cloak. Thank goodness my boots give me super strength, she feels like she weighs a little less than my fully loaded backpack without the strength magic. I freeze when we get to the tavern area downstairs because it's packed with people in rather fancy clothing mingling with one another. Two very handsome men speak to New Look at the bar, until they notice me and glance over with crimson eyes.
"These must be your other guests," the tall man with short dark hair and warm dark colored skin says with a smile that reveals he does in fact have very pointed teeth.
"It seems our schedules have had us missing one another during our stay."
"Um..." I mumble.
"Forgive my husband," a beefier looking man with wavy strawberry blond hair says as he pats the dark haired man on the shoulder. He bows. "The family Vandrigen is honored to meet you."
"It's an honor to meet you as well," I say as I force myself to draw closer. I notice Nikola and Merlin are still hanging back and I can not blame them. They had to have seen these guys' fangs. I release one of the elf's legs so I can set our room keys on the counter for New to take. "We're checking out today."
New smiles and is about to take the keys when a woman, who is suddenly at my right, places her hand on them instead. She looks down at me and tilts her head before smirking.
"Ingrid, Va'al, Annika, Deirso, you will be using this room from now on," the vampire woman with pale skin and long crimson hair says. She places a sack of coins on the counter closer to New. "Should anyone ask they've been using this room the entirety of our stay, no one else."
My heart skips a beat.
These vampires are covering for us?
New takes the sack of coins. "Of course, Lady Vandrigen."
I awkwardly bow as I grab the unconscious elf's leg under my cloak and hike her back up on my back. It's hard to give someone a piggy back ride when they're not awake.
I hope she's not dead.
The vampires watch me as I back up nervously. "Thank you for giving us a room here, New. I'm sorry we can't stay any longer."
"It's no problem, you've been fine tenants. Please do remember us should you ever be in town again," she replies with a smile. "There will always be a room for you at the Look Inn."
Wait! That's the name of this inn?
"My husbands and I wish you and your party safe travels," Lady Vandrigen says. "May the Blessed Shadow of Night cloak and protect you on your journey."
Nikola and Merlin follow me through the crowd of vampires. They appear to be different ages, skin tones, genders, all look like a wide assortment of humanity at first glance at least until you see their red eyes and teeth. Some have slightly more pointed ears than others and I wonder if that's because they're vampires or if they were once elves. Does a human become a vampire if they get bitten and does that make their ears get pointy? None of them make any threatening moves as we leave. I lean back in the door after we exit.
"Thank you again! For everything," I say just short of shouting.
New smiles and the vampires near her nod silently.
Nikola and Merlin stay quiet as we walk down the dark street for a few blocks before they both break the silence.
"That was nuts," Merlin says.
"Highly unusual. I couldn't help but feel intimidated by those people," Nikola replies. "I can't explain it. They seemed rather...unsettling."
I glance back at them. "I...kinda learned last night the rest of the inn was rented out by vampires, but..."
"Vampires?" Nikola raises an eyebrow.
"Like Dracula," Merlin explains. "You know, spooky Eastern European guy from the Bram Stoker book?"
"It wasn't published till 1897," I say as I start walking again. "At best Nikola might have heard of Varney."
"I am familiar with the name 'Varney' but I have not read it," Nikola says. "I have heard of vampires of folklore, however. They feed on vitality in most legends." He adds,"Blood."
"Yeah," I say. "Let's not focus on that and instead think about how they're totally covering for us."
"What?" Nikola and Merlin say at the same time.
"I'll explain when we get to the shoe shop."
"Oh my gods," Cameron says after we've settled down in their shoe store and I've shown them the unconscious woman I've been carrying. "I haven't seen someone suffering from magic exhaustion like this in ages. And these robes!" The cover their mouth.
"Can we leave her with you?" I ask. "You'd know more about how to get her the proper help she needs."
Cameron shakes their head. "Unfortunately no, I can't take her. She's a royal mage, and not just any royal mage. I think this is the head mage. I don't have any way to help her with her sickness either, not here in Centrum. Maybe in one of the border towns of Regno, or perhaps you can find someone more gifted in magic and healing. The best I can do is to give you the boots you ordered and send you on your way as quickly as possible."
"Thanks," I say as I cover the elf with my cloak. She's resting on the floor where I set her down. I had to check to make sure she was still breathing and she is, just shallowly. Her head is still feverish as well. "I forgot to get a list of places to get supplies from our former innkeeper. Do you have any tips for camping equipment?"
Cameron shakes their head. "Best I can do is say to check the market. I'm sure some booths are starting to set up at this hour."
"Thank you," I say again.
Cameron claps their hands together gently and grins at Nikola and Merlin. "I have your orders ready, my friends. Please, this way."
My companions follow the cobbler to the workshop in the back of the store and I'm left in the front with the unconscious elf, all of our gear, and my racing thoughts. I catch a glimpse of gold and red outside in the dim morning light. At first I fear it's the dragon woman who's been following us, but when I look up I see a human. Sure he's big and his long hair is a mix of red and gold, but he's no dragon woman. His dark armor does look similar though, so I wonder if he's part of some organization she is.
Do adventurers guilds exist here like in video games?
I shake my head, grab a small notepad out of my bag, and jot down a quick list of supplies we need to distract myself. I'm not sure if I'll be able to find a tent but I want to at least get some kind of skillet or pot to cook in. I could cook meat using a flat rock but I really doubt Nikola would eat it and not just because it was meat. I'm wrapping up the list when the others come back to the front of the shoe store.
I thank Cameron and slip them a couple gold coins before we leave. Nikola and Merlin are excited about their new boots. Nikola's grant him resistance to electricity, which doesn't seem super practical to me but it makes him happy. Merlin's boots give her resistance to the cold which is just plain smart.
The market is pretty dead at this hour. A few stands are set up and others are opening but most of the more permanent looking ones are shuttered or non-existent. The sun is rising at least so it's easier to see. There are some lamps around the streets of Centrum but they're oil lamps hanging from posts that don't cast as much light as I'm used to at night. I think back to the list I wrote as we walk through the skeletal marketplace. None of the booths sell any supplies we don't already have.
"There's nothing here yet," Merlin says. "Should we wait?"
"No," I say. "We fill our water skins, grab some food, and find a ride out of here."
"Where shall we do that?"
"I have an idea," I say. "Let's just hope he hasn't left yet."
Ultra is excited to see us again when we buy bread after filling our water skins. There's few other booths with food ready so bread will have to do. We buy several small loafs to take with us, which wind up going into Merlin's satchel. We say our farewells to Ultra before continuing on to find a befuddled Image Notfound. His wagon is packed up and a large bunny horse that's gray with a white tummy and legs, is hitched to the front. The fur looks extremely soft. Image brightens up when he sees us but I can see sweat on his brow.
"Hello, Image," I greet him. "Are you still looking for someone to escort you where you're heading?"
"Unfortunately yes, I was hoping to leave today but will have to delay bec-"
I interrupt him, "We can do it."
"We can?" Merlin whispers.
Image beams. "Oh, thank the gods," he says. "Please, don't mind Airplane Mode, she doesn't bite unlike some orycturines. She's sweet as honey."
"Right," I say glancing back at Nikola and Merlin, only Nikola isn't there. It takes me a moment to find him looking in the back of the egg wagon, peering over the wooden slats that seal it partially. "Nikola?"
"Oh, my apologies," he says. "These racks are designed to hold your eggs so you can transport them unharmed, and these glowing crystals keep them the proper temperature?"
Image hurries over to Nikola. He's too short to look over the slats himself so he stands on his tip toes and points as he says, "Yes, see the larger eggs are in the back, and these smaller ones are here closer to the door as they're less likely to survive the trip anyway."
Nikola raises an eyebrow.
"They tend to scramble," Image says quietly.
"Mr. Notfound," I begin. "Can I put my...uh...bag in the wagon before we leave?"
He turns back toward me and nods. "Of course! This way, this way, please."
Getting into the sleeping area of the wagon is a bit tricky while holding the unconscious elf but Image doesn't say a word as I lay her on the bed. Merlin hands me my actual backpack and I set it on the floor. We close the wagon back up and follow it as Image guides Airplane Mode to one of the large gates that leads outside of Centrum. None of us have been to this part of town until now and I do my best to avoid looking surprised. The city's colorful medieval buildings abut a giant stone wall that surrounds the city. Some guards stand by the gates as people enter and exit. No one's checking for identification or anything and more people are entering than leaving. I try not to hold my breath as we walk out the exit. Outside Centrum's walls are quite a few smaller houses and buildings but nothing quite as grand looking as inside.
I guess this is Centrum's suburbs?
The road, paved in large stone blocks, stretches out to the horizon traveling down a seemingly gentle but very noticeable slope to a rolling green plain. We've left the city. Looking back at the towering walls behind us I spot a tall figure exiting the gate. It's hard to see at this distance but I can't miss the colors of gold and crimson, and the glint of light on dark steel armor.
Is that who's after us? I wonder. The guy I mistook for the dragon woman? Or is that really her this time?
( The Wrong Wizards Chapter links:
Chapter 11: You are here!
These Links will be updated as I write and post new chapters! - N )