The Tale of a Mage (part 13)

Nyx awoke with a start as something collided with her ribs. It wasn’t exactly violent but it wasn’t gentle either. Her eyes snapped open. She squinted through the darkness unable to make out the shape of her assailant. It was not difficult, however, to deduce who was responsible. Livia’s boot prodded her again.

“Your turn to keep watch, little elf.” She smirked, as Nyx whined in protest. Satisfied Nyx was now awake Livia turned and made her way back to her pile of furs on the other side of the campsite.

Nyx pulled herself into a sitting position, grumbling under her breath, and wrapped her furs more tightly around her body. While Izzy’s spell was still in effect, sheltering the campsite from the wind, the night had grown colder. Nyx yawned and turned her face upwards. The thick canopy above blocked out the light of the moon, obscuring its position. Nyx wondered what time it was. Most likely early morning if both Izzy and Livia had already taken their turns on watch. She also wondered how she was supposed to keep watch when she couldn’t see anything. She supposed she would just scream loudly if she heard any strange noises. Then fighting in the dark could become Livia and Izzy’s problem.

She sat in silence straining to hear anything that might indicate a potential threat. The forest, however, remained quiet asides from the usual forest noises. The wind still blew through the trees in the areas left unshielded by Izzy’s spell, however with less strength than it had earlier in the day. The sound of the wind combined with the chirping of crickets interspersed the occasional hoot of an owl. It was kind of peaceful, relaxing in fact. As the sounds of the forest washed over her Nyx’s eyes drooped. She shook her head, trying to refocus, stay awake. The longer she sat in the darkness the stronger the drowsiness became. She fought to keep her eyes open but it was becoming increasingly more difficult. Everything looked the same regardless of whether her eyes were open or closed and closing them felt so much better. Slowly the sounds began to fade into silence.

Nyx awoke again to the sound of shouting. She forced her eyes open. The soft light of early morning overwhelmed her senses and she blinked several times. The first thing she noticed, when she finally managed to keep her eyes open, was Livia pacing back and forth cursing. The contents of their packs were strewn across the forest floor and Cassandra was frantically rifling through her own bag throwing items in all directions.

“What’s going on?” Nyx mumbled rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

“You!” Livia bellowed, stalking in Nyx’s direction. Nyx leapt to her feet, veering out of the way as Livia lunged at her. Nyx glanced questioningly at Cassandra who ducked her head and continued rummaging through her bag.

“It would appear we were robbed during the night.” Izzy’s eyes met hers, her face unreadable. “An event which could have been avoided were there someone on watch.”

“Oh…” Nyx blushed profusely, keeping her attention on Livia in uneasy anticipation.

“You owe me three bags of gold, little elf!” Livia snarled. “And you had better believe…”

“You can exact your pound of flesh once we reach a safer location.” Izzy interjected.

“Fine” Livia snapped “but she had better get me my gold or I’m going to hurt her… badly.”

“Mine’s gone too.” Cassandra glanced up dejectedly. “So much for buying supplies at the next town.” Cassandra began to pick their possessions up off the ground and repack them. Nyx assisted her in silence. While she didn’t care about Livia and Izzy’s opinions of her Nyx felt bad about upsetting Cassandra. She had to think of a way to fix this.

Once their belongings were repacked they had a quick breakfast then headed off once again. The day’s journey should have been an improvement over that of yesterday. The sun was shining and the wind had died down to a light breeze. The mood, however, was subdued. Livia’s feet fell against the forest floor more heavily than usual as she fumed in silence, a murderous scowl painted on her face. Cassandra pouted. The extent of Izzy’s feelings on the situation remained unclear although Nyx couldn’t imagine she was pleased. Most of the gold had been hers after all.

As the day drew on Nyx’s guilt intensified. Evading the Queen and her armies was going to be challenging enough. She must be aware of Izzy’s betrayal by now which would mean members of the royal family would be joining the hunt. If they still had the gold they could have used it to bribe bystanders for their silence and maybe even gain assistance from lower level members of the army. Without it, this was going to be much more difficult. Nyx’s failure had put her sister in further danger, unnecessarily. Not to mention the only thing standing between her and an irate Livia right now was Izzy who didn’t seem entirely opposed to her taking revenge.

The mood had not lightened by the time they made camp for the night. This time Izzy sent Cassandra and Livia to gather food, presumably concerned that Nyx and Livia might kill one and other if sent unsupervised into the woods. Nyx was momentarily relieved before realising she would have to set up camp with Izzy. The princess still unnerved her more than she cared to admit. Still unable to light a fire, and lacking the need to shield the site from the elements it didn’t take long to put a campsite together. When Cassandra and Livia returned, the group ate in silence.

As soon as she finished her last bite of food Nyx retired to her pile of furs. She was vaguely aware that Cassandra was practising her magic with Izzy again but this time she didn’t watch. She wracked her brain for a solution to the problem she had created. Finally, it came to her. Cassandra mentioned a town, towns had people, and people frequently had gold. When they reached the next town, she would steal them more gold. Nyx drifted off to sleep feeling proud of her superior problem solving skills.

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