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Chapter 8

Magus_Anon Aug 13th, 2018 875 Never
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  1.     On the continent of Monsters, a thin swath of human-controlled land stretched in a thin strip north from the South Sea, surrounded on all sides by monster infested wilderness. The territory itself was dubbed New Lescatie, and was established in retaliation for the sacking of the holy city. During more prosperous times for the humans, entire armies were brought over to carve out more territory and venture deeper into the demon realms. Now, New Lescatie was a backwater province with little to offer humanity. Trade with the human continent of Argen was difficult due to the abundance of aquatic monsters. Only a few select merchants and slavers had the skill and luck to transport their goods to Argen.
  2.  
  3.     Despite New Lescatie’s close proximity to monster territory, the region was known for having an astonishingly low killed/captured rate, only about ten out of every thousand were taken. In fact, slavers took more monsters hostage than monsters took humans. Since the armies no longer came, and there were few natural resources in New Lescatie, the pragmatic populace had decided to find a new source of income; monsters.
  4.  
  5.     Every city and town had at least one band of slavers. Many cities had even become specialized in tracking and capturing a specific type of monster. Excursions into the realms were common, and out of necessity most of the population was now skilled in wilderness survival and self-defense. Once captured, the monsters were appraised by certified guild members, and sold based on their qualifications. Strong monsters were often sent to the desolate mining towns near the fringes of New Lescatie, while others were sent to lumber processing towns in the eastern forests. Most were loaded onto ships and sold in Argen.
  6.  
  7.     Stream’s Edge was a modest town that had once been at the frontier of New Lescatie. It would likely have been abandoned when the forest was depleted, if not for the founding of a small university by a timber baron who had made is fortune in the town. Stream’s Edge University was only home to a little more than 500 students and faculty, but prided itself on being one of the only institutes of higher education for humans on the continent.
  8.  
  9.     It was to Stream’s Edge that the elven messenger Taraxa had been sent. Had the order come from anyone but Lady Irin herself, she would have refused. Humans were a stupid and brutal race by nature and had no respect for higher beings like elves. They were almost as bad as monsters. Bracing herself for the excruciating encounters with the local humans, Taraxa stepped out of the forest and into the field.
  10.  
  11.     The town itself was surrounded on all sides by barren earth. For a mile in any direction, only weeds and grass grew. The earth was too difficult to farm thanks to all the decaying roots and tree stumps in the ground. A road snaked its way out of either end of the town, traveling north to south. It twisted and wound in an ineffectual way, following a path through trees that had long since been cut down. Taraxa stepped out of the weeds and onto the roughly-cobbled road. As she approached the town, she paused at a massive tree stump at the side of the road.
  12.  
  13. Savages.
  14.  
  15.     This noble tree had no doubt been turned into a hideous piece of human furniture that would break as soon as it was used. Or perhaps a weapon, used to wage war and slaughter women and children. Already regretting her task, Taraxa pushed on towards the town in the distance.
  16.  
  17.     As she approached the north gate, a bell sounded out from the town. She could see the attendant frantically pulling a rope to swing the bell back and forth. Perfect.
  18.  
  19. “MONSTER!! IT’S AN ATTACK!! GET YER’ WEAPONS THERE HERE!!”
  20.  
  21. “No, no, listen, I’m just here to talk to the humans at the “college” so there’s really no need fo- WOULD YOU STOP RINGING THAT DAMN BELL!?!”
  22.  
  23. The guard froze in fear for a moment, before tugging the rope again with even more zeal.
  24.  
  25. “SHE’S MAD TOO!! FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHIEF GOD GET OVER HERE BEFORE SHE KILLS ME!!”
  26.  
  27. “I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU IF YOU DON’T SHUT UP AND STOP RINGING THE BELL!” screamed Taraxa “To hell with it…”
  28.  
  29. Taraxa drew her bow and readied an arrow. The guard screamed and disappeared from sight. Taking aim at the rope that rang the bell, she fired an arrow through the rope. The bell slowly came to rest, swaying gently.
  30.  
  31. “Finally.”
  32.  
  33. “THAT’S HER! THERE SHE IS!!” screamed the guard.
  34.  
  35.     By this time, several other humans had appeared in various states of preparedness lining the walls and blocking the entrance to the city. The gate keeper was pointing a pudgy finger at Taraxa from behind a muscular man in his mid-forties. Judging by the detail of his armor and the fact that he was the only soldier holding a weapon that was in decent condition, Taraxa judged him to be the guard captain.
  36.  
  37. “I can fucking see, you drunk, she’s the only one out there! What the fuck happened to the ‘invasion force’?” asked the
  38.  
  39. “She’s the scout.” Replied the gate keeper, not taking his beady eyes off Taraxa.
  40.  
  41. The guard captain gave the fat little man a swift slap to back of his head.
  42.  
  43. “Scouts don’t walk up and introduce themselves you imbecile! She isn’t even technically a monster! You have one fucking job. A job that I GAVE you so that you would have enough to put a roof over your head. If you can’t watch a gate properly then I’ll just kick you out of the town, got it?” said the Captain
  44.  
  45. “Yes capn’ Felsper…” the drunk looked down in humiliation.
  46.  
  47. “However,” started Captain Felsper, turning to Taraxa, “I cannot deny that your presence is disconcerting. Why have you come, elf? Your kind has no business with us.”
  48.  
  49. “There it is.” Thought Taraxa. She hadn’t even entered the town and she was already being interrogated and condescended by this uppity guardsman.
  50.  
  51. “Actually, I do, ‘captain’. I need to speak to the humans at the college. I will not be long, now please step aside so I may be on my way.” Taraxa folded her arms defensively.
  52.  
  53. “There it is.” Thought Felsper. This damn elf hadn’t even set foot into Stream’s Edge and she was already breaking out that insufferable arrogance. Who did she think she was, telling him to move aside, he was the highest-ranking member of the guard!
  54.  
  55. “Well if you have an appointment, can you tell me who you are going to see?” asked Felsper
  56.  
  57. “I don’t have an appointment, I just need to speak to some of the instructors at the college.” replied Taraxa curtly.
  58.  
  59. “Ma’am, if you can’t tell me who you are here to see, I’m afraid I can’t let you in.”
  60.  
  61. “Can’t let me in?! You dare deny me entry?!”
  62.  
  63. “I dare alright. So if you can’t give me any information about who you’re seeing, or why you are seeing them, then you can go back into that forest!”
  64.  
  65. “Y-… you INSOLENT little- RRRGGHHH!” Taraxa began to rummage through her bag swearing and muttering. She produced a scroll, stamped with an ornate crest.
  66.  
  67. “HERE. That is a message from Lady Irin, ruler of Oreath. Read it if you must, though I doubt one as STUPID as you could accomplish such a menial feat of mental labor!” said Taraxa holding the scroll out.
  68.  
  69. Felsper muttered as he walked over to the elf and took the scroll. Breaking the seal he began to read.
  70.  
  71. “Alright, let’s see here… human of unknown origin… came out of the forest… requesting help from human scholars… and, please come at once? Seems like this is urgent. Fine, you can enter the city” said Felsper handing the scroll back “but I’ll be watching you. If I even think you’re going to do anything wrong I’ll toss you out myself.”
  72.  
  73. “You can try, insect.” said Taraxa wrenching the scroll out of his hands.
  74.  
  75. Felsper grit his teeth and took a deep breath. It was going to be a long day.
  76.  
  77. ~~~~~~~~
  78. Captain Felsper knocked on a mundane door on the top floor of one of the college halls.
  79.  
  80. “Professor Pyritta? There’s some…one here to see you…”
  81.  
  82. There was the sound of paper rustling and the sound of a chair sliding across the floor before a short woman with messy hair and a shirt that seemed a bit to immodest for a professor opened the door to greet her visitors.
  83.  
  84. “Ahh, Captain! So good to see you! Who did you bring for me?” said Professor Pyritta.
  85.  
  86. “Er, yes, always a pleasure. This i-“
  87.  
  88. “My name is Taraxa and I am here on behalf of Lady Irin herself, the benevolent ruler of the illustrious town of Oreath.” interrupted Taraxa.
  89.  
  90. Pyritta raised her eyebrows and looked from the elf to the captain.
  91.  
  92. “Yeah, that. Apparently, they need our help. Must be pretty bad if they came all the way out of the trees.”
  93.  
  94. The professor gave a short gasp. “Oh how delightful! An elf! Tell me, did you live you whole life in Oreath? How far is it from Oberdon? Is the culture different? Oooh, what a beautiful cloak, is that only for travelling or does everyone dress like that?”
  95.  
  96.     Taraxa stared as the professor rambled on and on about various aspects of elven life. Glancing to the side, she could see the captain staring straight ahead with a blank look in his eyes. By the Chief God, was she ever going to shut up? Wordlessly Taraxa shoved the scroll into the woman’s face. Pyritta stopped her ramble mid-sentence to take the paper.
  97.  
  98. “What’s this? Let’s see here… hmm… oh? A ‘human of unknown origin?” she looked up at the elf. “I’m not quite sure I understand, are you saying that a man from a hitherto uncontacted civilization of humans just bumbled into your village?”
  99.  
  100. “No, one of the citizens found him in the forest, near death. The letter says all that we know about him thus far, which isn’t much. The dullard cannot even converse in common.”
  101.  
  102. Pyritta stared at the elf, then reread the letter. “W-well this is just fantastic! To think that there is an entire civilization that has yet to make contact with the rest of the world! The implications are staggering!”
  103.  
  104. “Implications indeed.” said Taraxa dryly. “What I am worried about, as with the rest of the elves, is what it would mean if this civilization was discovered by monsters first. It’s bad enough that the world must endure the presence of humans, and even worse that your kind serves as fodder for monsters. As soon as you find out where this one came from, make sure that the rest are integrated into your ‘civilization.’ I don’t want monsters making a meal of them so close to my home.”
  105.  
  106. “So sorry our deaths are such an inconvenience to you…” muttered Captain Felsper.
  107.  
  108. Taraxa ignored him and Pyritta was too excited to care.
  109.  
  110. “I’d be delighted to help! I’ll pack my things right now! Captain, could you track down my husband and tell him to get ready as well? It’s important he accompany me.”
  111.  
  112. “Certainly professor. Is he teaching right now?”
  113.  
  114. “Yes, in the south hall, first floor. Tell him we’re going into the forest for a trip, and to pack a week’s worth of clothing and supplies.”
  115.  
  116. Captain Felsper nodded and left to find the professor’s husband, eager to leave the arrogant elf and the eccentric academic behind.
  117.  
  118. “Pack light, we need to travel fast and you’re only retrieving him. You will not be staying more than one or two nights, just long enough to get acquainted and set out again. We need him gone as soon as possible.” said Taraxa
  119.  
  120. “Sure, sure, believe me, we’ll have him out of there in a heartbeat! I’ll be ready to leave in an hour.” said Pyritta. She left the elf and guards standing in the door as she began frantically searching shelves for books and papers.
  121.  
  122. “R-really? An hour?”
  123.  
  124. Pyritta looked up at her past an armful of papers and tomes. “Is that a problem? We can leave later if you aren’t ready to go, but I want to leave as soon as possible.”
  125.  
  126. “No, an hour. That’s quite alright. I’ll… just be by the north gate then…” said Taraxa.
  127.  
  128. It was strange to hear that a human would be prepared for the journey so fast. Normally humans were slow to do anything, especially pack.
  129.  
  130. “Err, the trip will take several days. Maybe a dozen with you and your husband dragging along behind me…”
  131.  
  132. “Don’t worry about that, we can keep up I promise. This expedition isn’t our first, and the jungle isn’t the worst obstacle we’ve faced.”
  133.  
  134. Taraxa was a bit surprised by the confidence in the woman’s tone as she bounced around the room stuffing various odds and ends into bags.
  135.  
  136. “We shall see. Your words may be bold, but I have no doubt that when it comes time to prove your claims you wi-“
  137.  
  138. Taraxa was cut off by the sound of wheezing and heavy footfalls coming up the stairs at the end of the hall.
  139.  
  140. A man with a thin layer of stubble burst out of the stairwell with several bags in hand. Without slowing down he sprinted down the hall to the professor’s office.
  141.  
  142. “Are you the elf?” he asked panting.
  143.  
  144. “Yes?” replied Taraxa hesitantly
  145.  
  146. His hand shot out to seize her own, shaking it vigorously. “Great, nice to meet you. Hey baby!” he called shoving past Taraxa. “I got the stuff, I’m ready to leave, all we need is-“
  147.  
  148. “Provisions from the market.” finished Pyritta. “I can take care of that if you can get-“
  149.  
  150. “Clothes from the house. Got it. See you at the north gate!” he said.
  151.  
  152. Pyritta walked over to him and the couple exchanged a brief kiss before her husband bounded down the same stairs he had just ascended. As Taraxa watched him go, she couldn’t prevent her mouth from gaping in disbelief. The sound of the door slamming shut shook her from her stupor and she turned to see Pyritta locking the door before turning to her. In just a few minutes, she had collected a sizeable amount of literature, and even more impressively, organized it neatly into a few bags.
  153.  
  154. “Oh, you’re still here? You should head over to the gate if you don’t want to be late.” said Pyritta hurrying past her and down the stairs.
  155.  
  156. The guards snickered at Taraxa, but snapped back to their professional composure under her glare.
  157.  
  158. Fucking humans.
  159.  
  160. ~~~~~~~~~~~
  161.     Day broke over the walls of Oreath. Hucha sat in silence eating her breakfast, while watching the thin most dissipate in the first rays of dawn. In town, the populace began to stir in their dwellings. The most diligent shopkeepers and tradesmen were already preparing their shops for the day. Hucha suspected that there would be far less commerce than usual. True to Captain Stellora’s word, a search party had been sent out into the jungle, and the town had been put on high-alert. Trade could proceed uninhibited, but the threat of an attack from an unknown enemy would be enough to keep the citizens of Oreath in their homes.
  162.  
  163.     Hucha took another bite of bread. By now, more than half a dozen people were past due to return. Even more concerning was that most of the elves that had disappeared had been travelling east. Hopefully the scouting party would be enough to find the missing elves, and put an end to the string of disappearances.
  164.  
  165.     Hopefully it wouldn’t be anything too dangerous. The demon realms were far to the west and north, so a full-scale assault was unlikely. This was most likely a small band of thieves, or a pack of wild animals desperate for food.
  166.  
  167.     Or amazons. Hucha gulped. While she had never had the displeasure of meeting an amazon, there were plenty of rumors and stories from Oreath’s veterans about the mysterious warriors. They had been the primary danger of Oreath when the town was founded, pillaging, raping, and on occasion murdering the elven settlers. Only after walls were erected and a special ranger force from the capital was brought in were the demonic savages pushed back. When the amazons attacked again, the rangers dispatched the mages, and made short work of the remaining amazons with combat magic.
  168.  
  169.     Unfortunately, Oreath’s image had forever been tarnished, and the town was doomed to forever be remembered as a dangerous backwater outpost. Not that Oreath’s citizens minded. To them, this was a haven for those who wished for a quiet, simple life. There were no strangers in Oreath. Except the human.
  170.  
  171.     Hucha snapped back to attention as a small cry cut through the mist. It was faint, almost to quiet to hear. Rising from her stool, she scanned the tree line. The guard on the opposite side of the gate stood as well, trying to see what had caught Hucha’s focus.
  172.  
  173. “What is it?” she asked.
  174.  
  175. “Did you hear that?” said Hucha.
  176.  
  177. The guards stood perfectly still, staring into the forest. From a thicket, a gangly figure stepped out onto the road. Hucha fumbled for her telescope and brought it up to her eyes.
  178.  
  179. An amazon.
  180.  
  181.     A hulking mass of tattooed muscle and haphazardly placed demonic appendages, she dwarfed the elf being towed behind her. The elf was struggling, apparently restrained with thick ropes. Her face was badly bruised, and caked with fresh blood. The amazon turned and gave the elf a quick jab in the gut. The slender figure crumpled to the ground in a heap. With a single arm, the demon picked up the elf and began to carry her under her arm. With long graceful strides, the warrior strode with confidence towards the gate.
  182.  
  183.     Hucha lowered her telescope. It really was an attack. Where were the rest of the amazons? What was going to happen to Oreath? To her? Her mind went blank as her hands trembled and wrapped around the cool brass. Her compatriot was the first to recover, shouting for reinforcements and sounding the alarm bell.
  184.  
  185.     Before she knew it, Hucha was surrounded by the rest of the guard. She scarcely registered their presence. Her eyes were still fixed on the advancing figure, and the limp body she carried. She couldn’t help but imagine her friends or loved ones slung under the arm of the beast; even herself.
  186.  
  187. “Hucha, HUCHA!”
  188.  
  189. Hucha’s trance was broken as Captain Stellora stepped in front of her and began to shake her.
  190.  
  191. “C-captain… it’s an amazon…”
  192.  
  193. “Hucha get a hold of yourself!”
  194.  
  195. “Captain… are we going to die?”
  196.  
  197. Stellora could see the other elves stiffen at Hucha’s comment. A shell-shocked guard was the last thing she needed to deal with.
  198.  
  199. “We are NOT going to die. I absolutely REFUSE to let this city fall to those barbarians. There is only one amazon out there. There are probably more, but a raiding party of amazons is nothing we cannot handle. But, I need you to be able to help us. So either pull yourself together and shut up, or I’ll throw you over the wall to distract the amazons, got it?” growled Stellora.
  200.  
  201.     Hucha nodded lightly, but never managed to make eye contact with Stellora. With shaking hands she picked up her bow and slung a quiver over her shoulder. As Stellora looked around, she could see that Hucha was not the only soldier with doubts about battling amazons. Other guards were busy taking deep breathes, muttering prayers, or staring straight ahead. This was not good. Oreath’s guard had never faced something this substantial since the original amazon raids back when the city was founded. Even when the guard was actually deployed, it was usually against animals who were nesting too close to the walls. None of the guards had much in the way of combat experience besides sparring with each other. A single amazon may not be a threat, but even a small raiding party would be enough to turn a brief confrontation into a siege.
  202.  
  203. “No one fires while she has that hostage! How many of them are there? Do we know exactly how many of them are here?” said Stellora.
  204.  
  205. “No captain, that amazon is the only one that has been spotted so far. That can only be said of this post though. For all we know, they could be massing at the eastern wall.” replied a guard.
  206.  
  207. “Send a messenger to the eastern bulwark and tell them to keep in touch. I’m garrisoning most of out troops here at the main gate. If the savages want to get in, they’re going to have to go through the whole guard, or a solid wall.”
  208.  
  209. A soldier broke away from the throng of elves and began sprinting across the empty town.
  210.  
  211. The elves were now organized into a respectable fighting formation, though there was still only one amazon to point their bows at. She was well within earshot now, but showed no sign of stopping or releasing her prisoner.
  212.  
  213. “HALT!” shouted Stellora.
  214.  
  215. The amazon took a few more steps and stopped. She dumped the elf she had been carrying at her feet and let out a throaty chuckle.
  216.  
  217. “And here I thought that I was going to be able to walk through those gates before you cowards found your tongues.” said the amazon with a sneer.
  218.  
  219. The elves on the wall shifted uncomfortably at her words. The amazon’s voice was deep and stern, and her common was heavily accented. It was neither light nor pleasant, as it was when spoken by elves.
  220.  
  221. “Tell me why you have come here, demon.” said Stellora in an indifferent tone.
  222.  
  223. The amazons grin grew even wider. Lifting one of her gargantuan feet, she rested it on the elf in front of her. “Well, as you can clearly see, I have something you want. And it just so happens that you have something we want.”
  224.  
  225. Stellora tensed. “We?”
  226.  
  227. The amazon feigned shock, bringing her hand to her mouth and widening her eyes. “Oops. I wasn’t supposed to let that slip, but yes, there are more amazons in the forest. Though I’m sure such an ‘intelligent’ and ‘noble’ race such as yours has already figured out that something has been happening to the fools who venture out beyond your pathetic walls.”
  228.  
  229. Stellora’s mouth felt dry. She had goosebumps that her armor thankfully hid. If the amazon was telling the truth, more than half a dozen elves were in amazon custody. For a small town like Oreath, this was a significant loss.
  230.  
  231. “Why are you here.” repeated Stellora.
  232.  
  233. The amazon used her foot to roll the elf over so that her bruised face was visible. Thankfully, she was too far away to see any gory details; the only thing that could be gleaned from this distance was that she had been beaten senseless.
  234.  
  235. “As I said, you have something we want.”
  236.  
  237. Captain Stellora scarcely managed to stifle a gasp.
  238.  
  239. The amazon’s grin broke into a full-bodied laugh. “Yes, him! I can see it in your eyes, he must be quite interesting for you to think of him so fast. I am a bit offended though; amazons do enjoy things beyond putting men in their place. I’d love to get my hands on some of those blankets you weave. They're just so soft! Ohh but I am interested… tell me, what does he look like? I’m so tired of my sisters’ wild speculations. Can he really use magic?”
  240.  
  241. Stellora was silent. Her knuckles were white as she clenched the hilt of her sword.
  242.  
  243. The amazon’s smile faded as the silence drew on. “Hmm? Not giving any hints? That’s respectable, I do like surprises after all.”
  244.  
  245. The amazon took her foot off of the elf and took a step back. “The deal is this; give us the human male that you took in, and we will return your people. Fail to deliver him, and we burn your city to the ground and tear up the roots of those trees you love so much. You have until sundown to produce the human.”
  246.  
  247. With that, she strode off into the forest. An elf handed Stellora a telescope.
  248.  
  249. “Captain, look.”
  250.  
  251. Stellora raised the telescope to her eye. At the edge of the forest, a dozen more amazons stood watching the city. In their hands were elves, all the people who had gone missing from Oreath over the past week.
  252.  
  253. “LOOK! TO THE SOUTH!” shouted an elf somewhere to Stellora’s right. Every head on the wall swiveled to see what the guard was pointing at. It was a figure trotting just inside the forest. Behind it, another figure stood watching the city.
  254.  
  255. “I see something moving to the north as well!” cried another elf.
  256.  
  257. “There’s one! Right there!”
  258.  
  259. “Behind that tree! I just saw her, didn’t you see?”
  260.  
  261. "That's just a shadow."
  262.  
  263. “That log wasn’t there the other day was it? They moved it! There must be more amazons hiding all over the forest!”
  264.  
  265. The wall descended into chaos as the elves all began to call out amazons, or what they thought to be amazons. Stellora could tell that many ‘amazons’ were just figments of the guards nerves. But censusing the amazons would be impossible with all the erroneous reports of the novice guard.
  266.  
  267. “Captain, what should we do?!” asked Hucha
  268.  
  269. Stellora stared at the amazons in the distance. “Call Lady Irin. And the archivists. And Arsofina. We have to get rid of that human.”
  270.  
  271. ~~~~~~~~~~
  272.  
  273.     An hour later, Lady Irin’s office became an impromptu war room. Extra chairs had been brought in, and a table that had been set up in the center of the room was filled with papers denoting supplies, weapons, and people in Oreath. Lady Irin, Arsofina, Captain Stellora, High Priest Salvica, and several of Oreath’s aristocrats were crowded into the room, sitting in silence.
  274.  
  275. “We have to give him to them.” said Stellora.
  276.  
  277. “ABSOLUTLY NOT!” shouted Arsofina slamming her hands down onto the table. Papers fluttered to the floor.
  278.  
  279. “She is correct Arsofina. There is no reason for us to harbor that filthy creature here at the cost of elven lives. Your time with Anon has warped your perspective of this situation. The amazons would be doing us a favor if they did not have hostages…” said Salvica.
  280.  
  281. “As much as it pains me to say this, I believe that surrendering the human would be the best course of action.” said Solidago, head of several mercantile ventures in Oreath.
  282.  
  283. “How can you say that?! Anon is a guest in our city! You know what will become of him if he falls into amazon hands. We have not even confirmed that the other elves are alive!” said Arsofina.
  284.  
  285. “The elf who was captured confirmed that the others were alive, but that some had… fallen…” said Salvica.
  286.  
  287.     Silence fell over the group. There was no way to save elves who had succumb to the demon’s curse. They would be exiled so as to prevent the taint from spreading, but they could not be allowed to stay in Oreath. Most elves viewed being transformed into a lecherous hedonist who sought to lay with humans as a fate worse than death.
  288.  
  289. “I believe Arsofina is correct.” said Lady Irin.
  290.  
  291. All heads turned to her. Until now she had been silent on the matter.
  292.  
  293. “Milady, how can you say that? These are OUR people that the amazons have! Would you really trade their lives for a human?!” said Stellora.
  294.  
  295. “There are several pieces of key information that are missing, dear captain. We are still unaware as to the true size of the amazon’s force. We know that the elves that have been captured are accounted for, but we do not know how many have fallen. It would be foolish to surrender Anon only to find out that they numbered less than a dozen, or that all of our comrades must be exiled immediately after we save them.” said Irin sipping her tea.
  296.  
  297. Stellora rose from her chair. “WE ARE ABOUT TO BE INVADED! THE ONLY WAY TO PREVENT THE AMAZONS FROM ATTACKING IS TO GET RID OF THE HUMAN!” she shouted.
  298.  
  299. “Stellora! I understand that you are upset, but please do not ye-“ Salvica began.
  300.  
  301. “Who says they will keep their word?” said Irin, unphased by Stellora’s outburst.
  302.  
  303. “Huh?”
  304.  
  305. Irin raised herself out of the ornate chair behind her desk and strode over to the window. Below, elves were scrambling to and fro, moving crates of weapons and supplies. The gate had been barricaded with carts and large crates.
  306.  
  307. “Do you truly believe that the amazons will leave once they have claimed their prize? They are warriors. They thrive on combat. One’s position in the tribe is determined by martial prowess; and how effectively one can lead a fighting force. What can you pillage? Who can you defeat? That is what drives them. No, Anon or not, they will assault Oreath. I am certain of it.”
  308.  
  309. “So we are doomed to fight?” asked an aristocrat.
  310.  
  311. “Yes. I see no other way. If Anon is withheld from them, they will attack us out of spite. If he is relinquished to them, they will see our capitulation as a sign of weakness and attack us to loot Oreath.” said Irin.
  312.  
  313. “There must be SOMETHING we can do!” said Salvica.
  314.  
  315. “Perhaps, I have had a certain… theory that Anon may be more than he appears to be.” said Irin.
  316.  
  317. “What do you mean?” asked Arsofina.
  318.  
  319. “Have you not sensed it Arsofina? In all the time you have spent with him, have you never felt the energy within him, caught the whiff of storm-scent around him? I am convinced that Anon keeps within him a vast amount of magical energy. Why he has not revealed his abilities or used them to escape the jungle is a mystery, but if my predictions are correct, he can help us in the coming fight.”
  320.  
  321. “That’s insane! Anon has never once used any sort of magic, not even a simple cantrip!” said Salvica
  322.  
  323. “I have tasked the archivists with testing his body to determine if he really does have magic potential. They should be finishing their reports as we speak.”
  324.  
  325. “What if he CAN use magic? Then what? Do we throw him over the wall and tell him to zap the amazons? He can barely speak, and you expect him to breakout advanced combat magic and waste an entire raiding party of amazons?” said Stellora.
  326.  
  327. “He will turn tail and flee!” said Salvica.
  328.  
  329. “NO! Anon may be a human, but I do not think he would abandon us so easily. He truly does care about us, I can see it in his eyes.” said Arsofina.
  330.  
  331.     Several merchants began to voice their opinions, but the argument was cut short by the arrival of Lythris. She was out of breath, and her appearance was even more unkempt than usual. She had dark circles under her eyes, and her fingers were stained with ink.
  332.  
  333. “Milady!” she said. “You were right! It is as you said, Anon does possess magical potential!”
  334.  
  335.     Lythris hurried across the room and handed Irin a thin stack of papers. Irin’s eyes grew wide as she flipped through the pages.
  336. “It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.” Continued Lythris. “Not only does he produce more spirit energy than any human has a right to, but his magical fingerprint is impossible. It’s as if there’s some sort of interference in his soul!”
  337.  
  338. Lady Irin turned over the last page and set the stack of papers down on the table. The others quickly took what pages they could grab and began to read.
  339.  
  340. “Thi-this is… how could this be…?” muttered Salvica.
  341.  
  342. “It is… impressive… but is it enough to win? We have yet to see him perform any magic!”
  343.  
  344. “Perhaps he has not had a reason to use combat magic. He could have been fending off beasts and amazons in the forest for all we know.”
  345. “It’s too risky. I don’t like it.” said Stellora.
  346.  
  347. “I agree, it would be foolish to place all of our trust in an illiterate ape. Surely we can fend off some filthy barbarians.” said Lythris.
  348.  
  349. Lady Irin looked out at the sky. It was just past noon.
  350.  
  351. “Bring Anon here.” she said. “It would seem we must fight no matter what outcome is decided in this room. If that is the case, he must be willing to offer his aid, guest or not.”
  352.  
  353. Arsofina clenched her fists under the table. She just couldn’t picture Anon as the type of person who knew combat magic. She couldn’t picture Anon as the kind of human who knew ANY combat skills actually, he had almost died in the woods. The poor bastard probably couldn’t nock an arrow. Chances are he would probably just get in the way.
  354.  
  355. “Arsofina, could you fetch Anon?” said Irin.
  356.  
  357. “Yes, milady…” said Arsofina. With a quick bow, she hurried out of the office to retrieve Anon.
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