Several knocks roused me from my sleep. I stirred slightly, tired. The knocks came again, I counted them. Four, Verulus was seeing if I was there. I knocked back four times. He answered with five; we were going to start moving again.
The cart jolted and started on its way out of the town. I remained still, willing myself to stay awake. It was quieter, perhaps early morning.
That is, until the dogs started barking.
I stiffened and quickly checked to see if my bag was shut, slightly relieved that it was. I was fully awake now, waiting.
“Halt the cart!” Another cart check, as Lynx had said.
Verulus knocked twice quickly, before he was told to get off the cart.
“Alright, I’m getting off. Geeze.” He sounded annoyed.
“Search the cart for the girl. She’s supposed to be in one of the hay carts.”
The hay started rustling; they were thoroughly searching this time. The dogs barked loudly, I was certain they could smell me. I gripped my staff tightly, debating on what I should do. Something louder than the dogs howled.
I bolted out of the hay, shoving aside the guards to get out of the cart. A large wolf, a red and tan vaarg came charging towards the cart, carrying a black figure on its back. An arrow lodged itself into the cart, another whizzing by my head into the eye of a guard.
The guard shouted in pain. “My eye! My eye!”
Another guard tried to grab me. “Get the girl!”
I was quick, already shoving one guard away by blasting him with quick spell work. I jumped off the cart, moving quickly towards Verulus. Arrows rained down around us as we moved to protect several other people from being hit by the arrows.
“Alys, shield the people, get them on the carts and go! I’ll hold off the guards!” Verulus commanded.
I ran over to a cart driver. “Take on as many people as you can haul! Hey! Over here!”
People ran towards me, frightened and in a panic. Verulus blasted away the guards, using spells I didn’t know. I set a shield spell over the cart, keeping the driver, terrified horse, and innocent people safe. Another cart lost its horse, it kicking itself free from the worn harness by rearing and kicking. The vaarg and its rider were close enough to terrify the horses even further.
The rider jumped off and uttered a command I could not understand, sending the vaarg to defend Verulus.
“Surprise! Had a feeling you’d get in trouble, Alys!” Lynx shot a guard running towards me.
I grinned; glad the assassin had stuck around. More guards were coming from Irinis.
I sent the first cart away, my grin turning into a grimace as I saw another cart had broken due to people swarming it. Someone was trapped under the wreckage, I ran over to help.
The chaos was starting to become overwhelming.
“Alys, get your friend and let’s get going! These guards are coming out of nowhere; this is getting to be ridiculous!” Lynx shouted at me. “You should definitely go before the necromancer guy shows up again!”
“What about you? I can’t leave you here!”
“Swiftpaw and I will be fine. Now go!”
I ran over to Verulus, grabbed his hand and ran. The vaarg followed us for a while, making sure we weren’t followed. We finally hit a thick grove of trees, taking shelter.
“Who was that, Alys?! How did she know you?!” He heaved between words, trying to breath.
“Her name is Lynx, I met her last night. She’s a member of the Sjyno Vaul.” I responded, tired from the run.
He looked at me, dumbfounded. “What did you do?”
I sighed and recounted my little adventure with Lynx. Verulus grew angry with me at first, but simmered down as I told him she had warned me of the dogs and her promise to find information for us.
“You saw the necromancer last night too?”
I nodded. “He revealed he had been ordered to attack us when we are on the road. He probably didn’t show up since we were close to Irinis. He also called me a name.”
“Eilonwy, the name I gave your niece… I don’t understand why or even how he got that name. He didn’t attack, or use that spell you used on me.”
“Very strange.” Verulus got up and offered me his hand, helping me up. “Let’s keep going, be on your guard.”
We continued on, watching and waiting for the Necromancer to attack. Night quickly settled, so we stopped finally, quickly settling in to a lesson on magic from my books. I quickly recalled what the Lady of Irinis said about my power.
“Verulus, what are the odds of be being stronger than my mother?”
“What do you mean?” He stopped his page flipping, looking at me confused.
“In my vision, the Lady told the Dark One my power was stronger than what laid dormant in my own mother.”
“Well, it’s possible your mother came from a powerful magic family, or even was a descendant from one.”
“What of the possiblility of having both parents being of magic?”
“Doubt it. The old human families have a pure breed thing about them, a silent rule that extends out to the smaller families of avoiding mixing magic families. Even if your mother didn’t use her power, she most likely married one of the people in Irinis.”
I frowned. “I don’t think she even married… which would make me a bastard child, wouldn’t it?”
“There’s no proof of either. It’s best you don’t think about it.”
I sighed. “Is it that bad I want to know my true family history?”
“No, but promise me one thing.”
“What is it?”
“Do not try summoning your mother’s spirit. Necromancy is forbidden, you know this. I’ve seen what it does to practitioners, and I don’t want it to happen to you.”
“You’ve seen a practitioner?”
“My master dabbled in it once, and it killed him on the spot.”
I went silent, unsure what to say.
“He was trying to summon his wife back from the dead. I had just come back from a visit to my sister, and there I saw my distraught master, frantically trying to call her back from the dead.” He continued and tensed. “Flesh was ripped from him by unforeseen forces, and he disappeared.”
“I-I’m sorry Verulus… were you close to him, your master?”
“I thought I was, but apparently I was wrong.”
“Did you ever meet his wife?”
He shook his head. “No, my master kept me from meeting his wife. Not sure why, but that’s how it was. I didn’t bother him too much about it.”
“Anyway, we should think about getting some sleep. It is late; we have at least a half a day’s journey ahead of us tomorrow.”
I nodded. “I’ll take first watch? I could use the time to study.”
He nodded and laid down on the ground. “Wake me up when you can’t stay up any longer.”
“I’ll try.” I smiled. “Rest well Verulus.”
I watched as Verulus quickly dozed off before flipping through my book, returning to where I left off in my studies.