Sword & Sorcery Volume 1 – Chapter 4

“Come out kid! We won’t hurt you… Much!” Yelled a loud voice in the distance. It was Drungal, no mistake about it. He had the same feeling like Hasti and Thragoth, warm and friendly unless angry.

As such then Thakeo did not really want to run into him, nor his men, again, especially not with the reward of 100 Gold Coins offered for his capture, at least he hoped that it was capture and not kill.

Just then, half a half a dozen men passed by Thakeo’s current position, clutching the thick underbrush of the forest, bidding his time to escape but it was quite hard.

“This is all that intruders fault!” Growled Thakeo and cursed inwards from inside his hiding place amongst the bushes.

The poachers had proven to be relentless in their pursuit of him, having chased him across the woodland for an hour or so. Thakeo could not help but feel like he was one of the magic beasts they hunted and it was very annoying as he could not seem to get rid of them but if it was that easy to escape them they would likely not have been hired in the first place.

While he did not have much confidence in neither his athletics skills or magic skills then at least his ability to remain unseen should prove useful or that was what Thakeo was hoping as simply being ignored by others didn‘t really count as a skill but rather a sad position to be in.

Still, just remaining hidden was not really a long term plan but sadly then Thakeo did not have any other ideas on how to get out of this mess as he was stuck in as he was literally stuck in the middle of No-man’s land.

It was no like he could just stand up and run away because where would he go? The town was a long distance away and the Dwarven Mountain even further off and the area between here and there was crawling with money grubbing poachers.

He certainly could not flee towards the alliance territory as that was too far away and he would likely get arrested there and in the opposite direction was just more woods and mountains so that was off limits as well.

That left south as the only direction he could go however there was a problem with that as he was not sure just how close to the Fire Elf Territory he was.

Thakeo had never met a Fire Elf before but they were said to be very territorial and suspicious of outsiders. Not that one could blame them as their attitude was closer to that of a dwarf than that of other elves.

Some people would call them primitive due to this comparison however the fire elves he had read about was a proud race like other elves but they tended to use their emotions more so than other humans, often leading to sparks flying between them an outsiders, even more so for humans.

The reason for this was that decades of encroachment on their territory by the empire had left some resentment between the fire elves and the humans who inhabit the region.

It had been a close call a few times during those decades with the elves being on the verge of war with the humans on more than one occasion, sometimes fueled by accidents, others by intent at the hands of bad people, much like that alliance merchant.

It was not until around 20 or so years ago when the newly crowned Emperor met with the fire elves and drew up an agreement with them.

They would ‘belong’ to the empire yet retain fully autonomy. In return they would aid the empire by serving as a vanguard in the region while the Empire itself took on the duty to protect the fire elves territory and lands.

Of cause, this move by the new emperor did not sit too well with most of the old nobles so several of them immediately began to make things sour for the emperor by openly defying him and venture into fire elf territory, stealing wood, beasts and what not from the elves.

However, when things came to light the emperor, by some considered a fool, took strict action and stripped all of involved nobles of their titles and lands and banished the ring leaders form the Empire. It was sad that some of those banished nobles were now working with the alliance as they, with their old age views, seemed to fit in quite well there.

This led the fire elves to at least recognize that the emperor as a man who kept his word, even if he was a fool and as such, they would not openly attack humans even inside their area without reason.

As such then as long as Thakeo followed their rules he should be fine, or at least he would be alive long enough for them to hand him over to the Imperial Officials or that was at least what Thakeo was hoping for.

Of cause there was also the scare stories he had been told as a kid but he hardly doubted that the fire elves would eat him as he was neither a child nor a naughty one, at least as far as he could remember.

“Better get away while I can.” Mumbled Thakeo to himself as the voices died down in the distance.

Slowly, Thakeo got on his feet and looked around just to be sure that there was no one nearby before he finally walked out into the open.

“Phew… Seems like I am in luck…” Mumbled Thakeo as he breathe a sigh of relief.

However, fate would it otherwise as the first step he took caused the sound of a branch being broken underneath his foot to sound throughout louder than a cannon being fired.

“Hey, I heard something from nearby!” Said a male voice all of a sudden from within the woods but outside the field of view.

“What? Which direction?” Said another voice which clearly belonged to that of Drungal.

Thakeo looked out from amongst the bushes and could see Drungal and his usual sidekicks heading directly towards his current location.

“Damnit!” Growled Thakeo, cursing his rotten luck.

“There he is! Get him!” Command Drungal as the trio took up pursuit.

Even if there was still a good distance between them and the woods was giving him shelter, Thakeo would not be able to outrun these trained men if he kept running but he had issues with coming up with a solution in the dark woods.

“Stop already kid! It’s not fun anymore.” Yelled Drungal from behind.

“It’s wasn’t fun to begin with!” Cried Thakeo a loud.

Thakeo knew that he likely would not be hurt but he could not remain with them as whatever it was that was going on, the hooded clown seemed to think that he was a liability for some reason and that was reason enough to get as far away as possible as he did not want to experience another series of bad events.

The trip had been bad enough so far even if he had met the requirements and obtained a sealed magic beast, even if he had no clue what might be inside.

“Damn it slow down!” Yelled Drungal in the distance.

Thakeo did not respond even if he wanted to. Revealing his exact position would be very bad but it did seem that the woods was giving him more cover than he thought. In fact, it was giving him too much cover as the underbrush was beginning to hamper his speed.

“Bloody woods!” Growled Thakeo as he jumped off a fallen log and nearly lost his balance.

With these thoughts Thakeo continued to run but due to being preoccupied with thinking, he noticed only all too late before he suddenly found himself balancing on a steep hill inside the forest without being able to see the bottom.

“Wha… Eh? Wait? WAAAAAHHH!” Cried Thakeo, hoping to stop himself, however it was too late and before he knew it, Thakeo was rolling down the hill, unable to stop or slow down or even see where he was going.

Was he going to die like this? Rolling down a hill? Had that ever happened before? Death by rolling, what an utterly ridicules way to go thought Thakeo as he flew down the hill at amazing speed, through bushes, grass and trees.

However, the end was not what he would have expected as he, somehow reached the edge of the hill and was sent flying through the air like the hill had a build in ramp for silly acrobatics stunts, even if it was by accident.

“Sky? No… Water!” Cried Thakeo just a split second before he crashed into the cold water with a splash, scraping his knees as he hit the bottom, however as dizzy as he was he had great difficulties realigning himself with what was up and down, yet somehow managed.

“Wah! I… live? I LIVE HAHAHAHA … eh?” Cried Thakeo out loud as he sat up in the knee deep water, however, what had stopped his outburst of happiness for being alive could not be described in words.

As Thakeo looked at the person sitting in the water right in front of him, he realized that it was an elf, it was a girl and that said girl was only wearing her birthday suit.

The two of them just starred at each other for a while in utter surprise. This Elf girl had shoulder long hair, red as fire. Her skin was smooth and pale and her ears, like other elves were large and pointy but more horizontally aligned than vertically.

She had to be a fire elf, but what was she doing here? This was out their territory and why was she in this state? Those were the questions Thakeo should have asked himself, but instead, his still childish attitude took over.

“So… You come here often?” Asked Thakeo gently with a goofy smile on his face, trying to look away but as to why he had used a pickup line instead of apologizing, only the gods knew, but they sadly did not intervene this time either.

“KYAAAAAAAH! PERVERT! MOLESTER!” Screamed the girl out loud, having finally realized what was going on, quickly covering herself up.

“WAAAAH!” Cried Thakeo as he jumped out of the war due to the girl’s scream.

Quickly running through the water and to the nearby shore, Thakeo suddenly spun around and look at the girl, who was clearly still in shock, causing her to shudder when their gaze.

In this situation there was only one thing which could be done, the ultimate skill Thakeo had learned from his father.

Thakeo took a deep breath, a step forward, and finally sending a stern look towards the elf girl, causing her to back off slightly.

“MY SINCERE APOLOGIES!” Cried Thakeo out loud as he suddenly prostrated himself on all four like a dog. This was the secrete skill he had learned from his father who, due to his often eccentric behavior had performed to perfection; The Ultimate Apology via Submission!

Thakeo hoped that this would be enough and shortly after, he slowly raised his head thinking this but as he raised his head he did not see the girl, the trees nor anything else but the fireball which came flying directly at him.

“YIKES!” Cried Thakeo out loud as he hugged the ground, covering himself in mud and whatnot as the fireball races above his head, impacting the ground behind him, sending dirt, rock and everything else flying into the sky.

Quickly looking up, Thakeo saw the elf girl, still sitting in the water with her arm held towards him. She was breathing heavily and sending a stare full of hatred towards him.

“Y-Y-YOU PERVERTED PIG!” Cried the elf girl out loud as she quickly formed another fireball in her hand.

“I SAID I WAS SORRY!” Whined Thakeo as he jumped up and began to run away, just as the fireball struck his previous location.

“JUST DIE!” Cried the elf girl as another fireball began forming in her hand.

“CRAP!” Whined Thakeo as he took off and ran towards the forest, seeking shelter amongst the trees as the third fireball missed its mark and collided with a nearby tree, splitting it in two.

Whatever or not the girl’s aim was affected by her anger or she was just a lousy shot, Thakeo knew that staying here meant that he would be fried to a crisp if hit by one of them and thus, could do nothing but once more run for his life as the fireballs just kept coming at him.

“A FIRE ELF TOSSING FIRE? HOW? WHY?” Whined Thakeo as he ran, not aware that he had already answered his own question.

Soon thereafter, Thakeo stopped up to catch his breath, hopefully having escaped certain death yet once again, or at least avoided severe bodily harm. Even a cat with its 9 lives would likely not survive what he had endured this day.

Hunted by a bear, chased by money loving poachers and a flaming inferno in the form of fire balls. He had even lost the cross bow and the remaining bolts and now only had some smoke and stink bombs left and of cause his bracelets but he had not even had a chance to use them.

This was the last time he would ever do a school assignment and decided to just do the detention from here on out, give damn the consequences to his future career.

The only bright side to all of this was that he had at least completed his objective, or so he hoped. Thakeo took a look at the tiny crystal he had obtained for all his troubles. It was so small and dark that he did not even know what he had caught. He had not really had time to think about it at all due to the poachers and the fire elf but at least for now he was safe.

“Why me? Why? Which gods did I offend for this to happen to me?” Mumbled Thakeo to himself, still gasping for air as he put the tiny sealing crystal away.

Leaning forward for just a second, the necklace slipped out from within his shirt, hanging in the air, however that was not what was an issue, it was the fact that the crystal at the center of the necklace was glowing red and the glow only stronger.

“D-don’t tell me…” Uttered Thakeo as he got a hunch and suddenly he jumped to the right, seeking cover behind a tree, just as a fireball struck the tree, erupting in flames.

“WAAAH! You still after me?” Cried Thakeo in desperation as he covered his face to avoid being hit by random glows from the tree. However, the only response he got was another fireball sent his way, causing him to jump away from the tree as the fireball collided with it and burst into flames.

Thakeo look up and saw the fire elf girl standing amongst the trees, forming another fireball.

“Stop that already! I said I was sorry!” Said Thakeo once again.

“Y-yo-you sa-saw me… Like that… A-and expect me to forgive you?” Stuttered the girl, clearly fuming with anger.

“Well… Erm no but… Can’t we talk about… WAAH!” Said Thakeo but stopped as another fireball came flying his way, however the aim was clearly off and merely passed by him, colliding with something behind him.

“Just get burned to cinders!” Replied the girl.

“With all due respect…. I DECLINE!” Said Thakeo with a stern voice and once again, legged off as fast as he could run.

“Eh? Hey stop!” Yelled the girl as she resumed chasing him down.

“Who would stop when being chased by someone unleashing fireballs at them?” Whined Thakeo as he ran through the forest.

“Coward! Pervert! Fight like a man!” Yelled the girl back as she continuously sent fire balls after him, however unlike before these were smaller, faster and less deadly but that was likely only to compensate for the reduced aim due to them moving rather fast.

“Rather a coward and live, than be a man and get fried!” Yelled Thakeo back.

The chase continued throughout the forest, but Thakeo knew that he would not be able to keep it up for long. Elves were by nature stronger, faster and more agile than humans and thus, should be able to easily overtake him but it seemed that the girl was more interested in shooting fireballs than use her racial abilities.

Thakeo understood why she was angry and could not blame her for it but he still had to curse someone and in this case it came down to his father who had thought him that stupid way of apologizing to others.

“Damn that old fool! This is all his fault! Cried Thakeo as he jumped over a fall log.

“Curse who you want but I will still fry you like a fish!” Yelled the fire elf girl as she jumped over the log as well, clearly shortening the distance as they ran.

“This is ridicules!” Whined Thakeo back.

As the two of them kept running the distance between the trees grew and the underbrush was replaced by grass and it did not take long before they ran out into an open field, however midway through the field, Thakeo suddenly stopped running and showed a stern face.

“Huh? Why did you stop?” Asked the fire elf girl suddenly as she stopped running, maintaining some distance between them, however before Thakeo could respond, someone did it for him.

“Finally we found you!” Proclaimed a deep, burly voice, causing Thakeo to sigh and the elf girl to look perplexed but she also looked in the direction of the voice.

The owner of the voice was the same mountain of a man Thakeo had met less than an hour earlier, the supposed leader of the poachers, Dongle, Bungle or whatever his name was as well as two of his henchmen. All three were heavily armed, like they had returned to their camp to grab some more stuff.

That of cause was bad enough but now that the poachers and a fire elf had seen each other, no one knew what would happen.

“An elf! Boss Drungal! It’s a fire elf!” Said one of the henchmen and went for his weapon, however the elf girl reacted to that by immediately beginning to form a fireball in each hand, this in turn caused the poachers to ready their own weapons.

“Yo-you bastard…” Said the girl and looked at Thakeo.

“Brat, you…” Said Drungal at the same time.

“…TO RUN TO THE POACHERS FOR HELP?” Yelled the girl.

“…ASKED HELP FROM AN ELF?” Shouted Drungal.

“I DID NEITHER!” Yelled Thakeo in his own defense.

This caused great confusion as each side thought that Thakeo had brought them into a trap and thus, this had now evolved into some sort of weird standoff between the poachers and the fire elf with Thakeo caught in between but luckily no one seemed eager to make the first move.

“Blasted elves! Always getting in our way!” Growled Drungal as he raised his sword.

“Filthy slavers! I will end your butchery today.” Replied the girl.

“Eh? Wait! No! Stop!” Said Thakeo, trying to stop any possible fighting between the two sides, it really was a bad position to be in.

The fire elf girl could easily take out one or two of the poachers with her fireballs whereas the three poachers could overpower her but not being sure who would get hit, they could not move easily however the tension was rising fast as it was clear that the two groups was not on friendly terms and now Thakeo had been caught up in this mess as well.

“Just how can this get any worse?” Mumbled Thakeo with a sigh.

However, barely had he said that before both the fire elf girl and the poachers looked towards Thakeo, or rather, something behind him which made them back away.

At first Thakeo was confused but as the sun suddenly disappeared, he just knew that he had just jinxed himself. Thakeo cursed his rotten luck he saw the large shadow on the ground, blocking out the sun from behind him.

“Why me?” Whined Thakeo with a depressed voice and slowly turned his head just to confirm what he already knew.

It was just as he had feared and the furry rock from earlier that day had seemingly managed to track him down again, likely looking for revenge or dinner. As their eyes met, Thakeo could have sworn that he saw the gigantic demon bear smile, just before it let out a thunderous roar which echoed throughout the forest.

“WAAAAAAAH!!! NOT AGAIN!” Cried Thakeo and ran off once more, right between the two sides who were about to have their standoff, bear hot on his heels.

The fire elf girl and the poachers could only standby as this scene which had completely removed the tension from the air and watch as Thakeo ran all across the small clearing trying to get rid of the bear.

“Is he someone you know?” Asked the girl and looked at the poachers.

“WAAAAAHHHH!” Continued Thakeo to cry aloud as he ran between the two sides again.

“No… He stole something from us… But… He is not one of yours either I guess?” Asked Drungal back as he scratched his neck.

“I’d rather jump off a cliff than be associated with that pervert!” Replied the girl with a stern look.

“WAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” Whined Thakeo once more, running in weird patterns.

“Hmm? Well… What now?” Mumbled Drungal and looked at his men but neither of them had any idea what to do in this sort of situation.

“SAAAVVVEEE MEEE ALLREAAADY!” Cried Thakeo in desperation.

“I don’t care! I am rooting for the bear!” Yelled the girl to Thakeo as he ran by once more.

“How cruel!” Yelled Thakeo back, tears of fear streaming from his eyes.

“This is your own fault! Just get mauled already! Go bear, go!” Yelled the girl, smiling seemingly satisfied with the current situation.

“I won’t go out like this!” Cried Thakeo and suddenly changed his direction and ran towards the elf girl, bear still in hot pursuit, growling and leaving a trail of drool behind it.

“Eh? No, wait! DON’T COME THIS WAY!” Yelled the girl desperately.

“Then help me!” Yelled Thakeo back.

“N-no way, stop! Kyaaah!” Cried the girl as Thakeo came closer.

However, instead of using her fire magic the girl seemed to panic and started to run away, barely ahead of Thakeo. Thus, the two of them now ran through the forest as the giant bear did not stop either.

Left behind, the three poachers could only watch as the giant bear chased down Thakeo, who was running after the fire elf girl.

“G-guess we should… Leave it at that?” Asked one of the poachers to which the others just silently agreed as the duos screams died out in the distance.

– ₪ –

“WAAAAAH!” That screamed resounded throughout the forest and had done so for a while. It was of cause Thakeo who was screaming for his life, following the elf girl whom he had decided to follow as revenge, thinking that doing so would force her to help him, however she had instead decided to run away was well.

“Why did you run towards me? Go away already!” Yelled the girl.

“This is your fault because you chased me!” Yelled Thakeo back.

“You were peeking on me you lecher!” Growled the girl.

“That was I an accident! I apologized already!” Whined Thakeo.

“I will still burn you for it!” Yelled the girl back.

“This is not the time nor the place for that! Just do something!” Said Thakeo as the two of them kept running.

“This is your fault! That bear is clearly after you so do something about it yourself!” Said the girl as she increased her speed and moved slightly ahead of Thakeo.

“Why me! This is unfair!” Cried Thakeo as he began to rummage through his pockets.

“What is that?” Asked the girl but Thakeo did not reply but merely looked at the various flash and stink bombs he had in his hands, unsure which to use, however it seemed that the bear clearly remembered those vials as it growled loudly and increased its speed even further.

“Whatever that is, use it fast! It’s gaining on us!” Yelled the girl.

“Tell me something I don’t know! WAAAH!” Yelled Thakeo as the bear let out a roar and tried to bite him, but only managed to tear his coat.

“Tsk! Seems you survived that one you lucky bastard!” Growled the girl as Thakeo narrowly escaped becoming dinner for the bear.

“Wh-who’s side are you on? Don’t sound so unhappy about something like that that… Ah screw it!” Yelled Thakeo as he began to toss all the bottles he had over his shoulder, spreading foul smells and smoke everywhere as they ran.

Just like when he had encountered the bear earlier, the combination of flashes and smells caused the bear to veer off and stop.

“I-it worked?” Said the girl surprised.

“Not for long! I managed to get away earlier like that but it looks way more pissed than last time.” Yelled Thakeo.

“Wh-what? You met it before?” Asked the girl confused.

“Enough about that! Just keep running if you don’t want to become Elf Ala Carte!” Replied Thakeo.

“This is your fault!” Yelled the girl next.

“I can’t deny that, at least not the bear!” Said Thakeo as the two of them began running down a hill.

“Grrrr! If we die, I will skin you like a rabbit!” Yelled the girl in desperation.

“Like a rabbit… You catch a rabbit… Using snares… Slings… Swings… Rope… Some rope and a stick will do! Hey you, elf girl!” Said Thakeo showing a rather sinister look as he had suddenly come up with an idea.

“My name is Tiarazara! Not ‘hey you’ nor ‘elf girl’, Tiarazara!” Yelled the fire elf girl.

“I am Thakeo, nice to… To hell with that! Tia, can you use other fire magic than fireballs?” Asked Thakeo as he dodged a low hanging branch.

“That’s not my name!” Cried Tia.

“Who cares? Can you do it?” Yelled Thakeo.

“Why don’t you do it? You look like a mage so act like one!” Asked Tia.

“True, I am a magic student but I can’t use spells!” Replied Thakeo.

“Wh-what? What kind of mage can’t use magic? I have never heard something so stupid!” Said Tia.

“I know that! But I have an idea but need your help. Shoot some strong flares spells or something like that at anything green.” Replied Thakeo.

“How will that help?” Asked Tia next.

“Just do it! Aim for Grass, leaves, water, just make as much smoke as possible! It will confuse the bear’s nose.” Replied Thakeo.

“Th-that is clearly a magic beast! There is no way something so simple will work!” Protested Tia.

“True, it is a magic beast and a dangerous one at that but don’t forget, it is still an animal and thus must rely on its five natural senses. If we can disrupt that we should be able to get away.” Said Thakeo, dodging another branch.

“Th-that is too…” Began Tia, but Thakeo interrupted her.

“Also, is there a steep cliff somewhere near here?” Asked Thakeo next.

“Eh? Yea… There is a ravine with a deep river nearby but the other side is our territory. Outsiders are not welcome!” Replied Tia.

“You try and tell the bear that!” Growled Thakeo as he looked over his shoulders and while he could not see the bear, he knew that it was gaining on them again.

“Ahhh! Fine! But we are not done talking about what you did to me! Follow me!” Yelled Tia as she changed the direction of their flight and began forming flames in both her hands, igniting trees, bushes and grass, creating a smoke trail as the two of them ran towards the ravine.

It did not take long for them to reach the ravine Tia had mentioned. Thakeo stopped up and slowly moved towards the edge and looked down towards the river which was flowing at a rapid page.

“Uwaah… That does not look like fun.” Mumbled Thakeo with a weary smile as he considered his options.

“What is your plan?” Asked Tia from behind him as she continued to put things on fire.

“Just a second! Keep creating as much fire as you can!” Replied Thakeo as he raised his head and looked across the ravine, trying the measure the gap between the two sides as the bear continued to roar in the distance.

“Grrr! This is all your fault!” Yelled Tia as she shot a fireball into the woods.

Thakeo could hear impact after impact and was quite impressed about the amount of fire balls this girl could toss. It was clear that she must have received advanced training as her skills had to be several years ahead of what they taught at his school but now was not the time to comment on this and Thakeo turned his attention back to the issue at hand; the distance between the two sides.

“It’s a bit far but we should be able to manage…” Mumbled Thakeo and quickly looked around and found a thing tree near the edge of the ravine.

“Hu-hurry up will you!” Yelled Tia desperately as the bear’s roar came closer, seemingly not affected by the smoke or fire.

Thakeo did not respond but merely raised both of his arms as Tia looked at him with disbelief over his stupid pose.

“Appear! Nr. 3!… Appear! Nr. 5!” Yelled Thakeo out loud, pausing slightly between the commands to avoid electrocuting himself again.

“Huh? What is… Eh?” Started Tia but stopped talking as bright circles of light originated at the fingertips of Thakeo’s hands as space time was warped around them.

Instantly, Thakeo pulled out a rope in his right hand and a large wooden branch in his left. The light vanished as soon as he had pulled out both items from the void, leaving not a trace behind.

“Wh-what was that magic? I thought you said you could not use magic!” Asked Tia surprised.

“It’s not magic but rather a magic tool I had created, but skip the details and keep an eye out for the bear and keep up with that fire.” Said Thakeo as he ran over towards the tree and kneeled down.

Next, he proceeded to the remove the Magnotronicon he had placed on the rope and put it in his pocket, it did cost a lot of money after all. Finally, he quickly tied the rope around it the tree and pulled it hard a few times.

Having double checked that it would hold, he tied the other end of the rope around the Ironwood branch he had found earlier, smiling softly as he had not expected that it would come in handy like this.

“Okay, I am done!” Said Thakeo with a V sign for victory.

However as he quickly turned his head and realized that instead of a few small fires, it seemed more like the entire forest was ablaze.

“Wh-what did you do to the forest?” Asked Thakeo surprised and looked at Tia.

“Huh? You told me to put it on fire!” Replied Tia confused.

“Not the entire forest! By the gods… My dad is going to kill me…” Whined Thakeo as he quickly kneels down and hid his face in his hands, having blissfully forgotten the predicament they were in.

“I-I am afraid it is too late for that.” Said Tia as she slowly backed towards him.

Thakeo looked up just as a humongous roar echoed from just a dozen or so meters away and there stood the gigantic demon bear, starring at the two of them and just as predicted the smoke and flames, even more so in their current amount seemed to make it a bit hesitant in its next action.

The duo just stood there and watched the bear as the flames and smoke became more intensive but that was not their concern as the bear seemed to be looking to some way to get past the wall of fire.

Turning its head left and right repeatedly before finally settings its eyes on a large tree nearby which had not yet been touched by the fire. Both of them could have sworn that the bear was smiling as it moved over to the three and began to use its massive strength to pull it up, roots and all.

“Wh-what is it doing?” Asked Tia, who now stood next to Thakeo.

“I don’t, but I don’t plan to be around to find out. Come on!” Replied Thakeo as he quickly grabbed the Ironwood branch and dragged the rope to as far as he could increasing the tension. Next, he turned towards the edge of the ravine, once more looking down towards the racing river below, however just as he did that the sound of a tree being ripped apart could be heard from behind, indicating that the bear had broken the tree.

“It’s coming across!” Yelled Tia who stood next to Thakeo, with nowhere to go.

“Grab hold of this!” Said Thakeo as he held out the branch with the rope tied to it.

“Eh? What? Why?” Asked Tia as she looked back and forth between the branch and the bear which was now crawling along the log it had placed on top of the flames, creating a safe path to follow.

“Just do it and don’t let go!” Said Thakeo as he forced Tia to grab a hold of the inner part of the branch while he himself put his arms around her, grabbing the out ends of the branch leaving the two standing at the edge.

“Wh-what? Where are you touching me?” Cried Tia surprised as Thakeo accidently touched her hand.

Thakeo took one last glance at the bear which had now crossed the flames and was preparing to charge at the two of them.

“Punch me later, but for now just hold on!” Said Thakeo who then took one last glimpse over the edge before suddenly pushing off just as the bear charged.

“What? Kyaaaah!” Cried Tia, clinging to the branch as the two of them swung through the air just above the raging waters.

However, it did not stop with just that swing as they continued to swing back and forth several times before they stopped and now found themselves dangling between fire above, raging water below and an angry bear, prowling and growling above them.

“Th-this… This is not what I thought you would do! This is utterly stupid! Pure insanity!” Whispered Tia as she clung to the branch, barely able to maintain her composure over the ridicules situation they were currently in.

“Well… I can’t deny that.” Mumbled Thakeo with a sigh.

His original plan had been to make a rope bridge What his plan was all about came was rather simple and something he had remember from his childhood; A simple rope swing, suspended from above in a single rope tied to the trunk of a nearby tree. It was such a silly thing but it was the only thing he could do with the items he had with him.

“I had intended to make a rope bridge but… The rope was not long enough.” Said Thakeo next, letting out another sigh as he could hear the bear growling and roaming around just a few meters above them as the river raced by below them.

“Th-this is embarrassing!” Growled Tia with a dissatisfied voice.

“I know, but…” Replied Thakeo as he was looking upwards but was interrupted by Tia.

“This is your fault! I will get you for this!” Said Tia.

“Well I…” Started Thakeo but once again he was stopped before he could finish talking.

“The worst day of my life! How can this get any worse?” Whined Tia.

“Well… The rope’s on fire…” Said Thakeo with a nonchalant tone of voice.

“WHAT?” Cried Tia and looked up and true enough.

The fire she had started had already spread to the tree which to which the rope was tied and it was making quick work of the rope.

“Sorry…” Said Thakeo, showing a stupid smile.

“Yo-you Bastaaarrrd!” Yelled Tia just as the rope snapped, sending the two of them into the river where they were quickly washed away by the strong current.

– ₪ –

Thakeo collapsed on the ground, still holding the broken rope with the branch at the end of it whereas Tia was coughing and gasping for air nearby, tired after their unexpected long swim down the river but even from this distance, Thakeo could see the smoke in the distance so they could now have been washed too far down stream.

“Ar-are you okay?” Asked Thakeo with a tired voice as he looked at Tia.

“Go drown yourself!” Replied Tia with a hoarse voice before she sat down on the ground, exhausted from the ordeal.

“Thanks but no thanks… I am too tired to move.” Proclaimed Thakeo, still lying on the ground.

“I can just burn you then!” Said Tia next.

“Oh! Speaking of that, what happened back there? You sure put up a fine display with your fire magic and now the forests on fire.” Said Thakeo who sat up as he spoke.

“YOU TOLD ME TO DO THAT!” Yelled Tia as she grabbed Thakeo and began to shake him like a ragdoll.

“You misunderstand! I did not mean to criticize you!” Whined Thakeo desperately.

“Then what did you mean?” Demanded Tia to know, not letting go of him.

“I-I merely wanted to know how you could create so much fire in such a short time span. It did not take me long to tie up the rope but in that short time you managed to create a ring of fire and I want to know how.” Explained Thakeo.

“You are a mage, figure it out yourself!” Growled Tia as she finally let go of Thakeo.

“I may be a mage but as mentioned earlier, then I can’t use magic, I lack the skill in control.” Explained Thakeo.

“You are lying! You can use magic.” Said Tia and stood up.

“I am not! I can’t use magic the way you do since I have no ability of control.” Replied Thakeo, also standing up.

“Then how did you create that rope and branch?” Asked Tia and pointed at the items on the ground.

“I used this.” Said Thakeo, raised his arm and displayed the bracelets he had on each wrist.

“What is that?” Asked Tia confused.

“A magic tool. While I cannot control magic, I can use magic tools.” Replied Thakeo.

“Impossible! Magic tools requires control abilities as well! Even someone like me knows that!” Said Tia, with Thakeo not understanding what she meant with someone like her but that was beside the point.

“Normally yes, but I had these two specially made just for me. They combine mage script with dwarven runes and thus allow me to summon items within a certain distance. It’s sadly the only way I can use any magic.” Explained Thakeo, finishing with a sigh.

“That’s impossible! You can’t combine the two!” Protested Tia.

“Well, me and my friend did…” Mumbled Thakeo.

“Then show me!” Commanded Tia.

“Eh? Well… Fine… If you insist.” Said Thakeo who was too tired to argue.

“I do insist!” Said Tia while crossing her arms.

Thakeo moved a bit away and raised his right arm.

“Appear! Nr. 1!” Said Thakeo and once more a bright light appeared right at the fingertips of his hand and soon thereafter he stood with the short sword in his hand, showing it to Tia.

“Th-that’s… it?” Asked Tia, clearly disappointed over the weak display.

“What was you expecting? Some sort of fireworks display?” Replied Thakeo with a dry tone of voice.

“Well… I was expecting… More.” Mumbled Tia.

“Bleh… Oh well… Return! Nr. 1!” Command Thakeo and soon thereafter the sword was returned to its previous location, somewhere far away.

“Said Tia, how strong are your fire balls?” Asked Thakeo suddenly.

“Why? Do you want to try getting hit? Because that can be arranged!” Replied Tia, who then slowly raised her hand and formed a fireball within a matter of seconds.

“Eh? Ah! No… But… You see… I told you I can’t control magic but I am curious… How can you cast so many and so fast? Given your magic power that is.” Asked Thakeo next.

“By Training every day, something you have apparently not been doing.” Replied Tia without delay, showing a gleeful smile.

“I tried and failed that but… Still… If you would not mind… Could you show me how you shoot them? AGAINST A TREE! NOT ME! A TREE!” Said Thakeo but felt the need to press the last part an extra notch.

“Eh? Wh-why?” Asked Tia surprised.

“I showed you my magic so please show me your magic!” Asked Thakeo with a firm voice and bowed slightly.

“Eh? Bu-but… Argh! Fine!” Replied Tia who could not understand why this fail-mage wanted her to do this.

“Really? Thank you!” Said Thakeo and smiled across his face. Tia could not help but wonder if he really was her age and not just child.

Thakeo did not have any ulterior motives and it was only fair that he saw her magic as well. He was truly impressed that she was able to cast them so fast after each other as a fireball is normally a spell thought in the later years of school.

Even for a fire elf, it seemed too early for her to use such powerful spells, especially without any incantation what so ever which was a huge achievement for someone so young, however there was still something… Odd about them and it was bugging him as it seemed oddly familiar.

“Stand back and let me concentrate!” Ordered Tia and moved a bit away and quickly found a large oak to use as a target.

“Please throw it like you would normally do. Aim at the center please.” Said Thakeo, who stood several meters directly behind Tia.

“I know how to aim you fool!” Growled Tia and formed a fireball in her right hand, raised it up and released it, causing it to strike the oak center spot with a pop, sending pieces of bark and flames across the area.

“Hmm… Aim seems fine… Okay, do it again.” Said Thakeo next, however this time he changed position and now stood directly to her left.

“Why? Was once not enough?” Asked Tia confused.

“Please, humor me.” Replied Thakeo who seemed overly serious all of a sudden.

“There better be a point to all of this!” Said Tia with a stern look but did as she was told and formed another fireball and let it go, with the same result as before with sparks flying left and right.

“Good speed as well… Again!” Said Thakeo with a commanding voice, this time moving to her left while holding his chin like he had seen many people do when instructing others in magic, or at least that was how every single mage his family had hired to help with his issue had done.

Tia did not respond but just did what he told her but inside she was puzzled as to what he was doing. As such, for the next few minuet’s Thakeo moved around observing from various angles as Tia fired off one fireball after another, scorching the innocent tree without remorse.

After a dozen or so fireballs Tia was clearly losing her patience with Thakeo and the way he was acting but he did not seem to notice.

“Okay… I see no issues with your aim, speed or ability to strike the same target with ease… But… There is something off still…” Said Thakeo, nodding his head like an old man telling a story.

“Wh-what is that supposed to mean? Are you calling my magic odd?” Asked Tia as she grabbed Thakeo by the collar, shaking him like a rag doll.

“N-no! Please… Trust me on this…” Replied Thakeo desperately.

“Tr-trust you? After what you did?” Growled Tia next.

“I-I will explain please… Just once more…” Said Thakeo, turning slightly blue as Tia was more or less strangling him.

“Grrr… FINE! This is the last time and if you don’t explain this weird perversion for magic you hold, I swear I will burn you to crisp and serve you as fried pork to those poachers!” Said Tia and let go of Thakeo, who fell to his knees, gasping for air.

Once more, Tia formed a fireball in her right hand, however just as was about to release it, Thakeo sudden grabbed her wrist.

“Hold it! Do not let go! Maintain this shape!” Said Thakeo as he moved his face closer to the flame.

“Eh? St-stop that is dangerous!” Said Tia who could not fathom that Thakeo would risk injury.

“Hold it!” Repeated Thakeo as he focused on the fireball.

As the sweat ran down his face, Thakeo observed the flame at close range. From this distance he could hear how the flames burnt the air and observed them as they moved around in a pattern similar to that of a small vortex.

“Okay, you can dispel it now.” Said Thakeo as he moved away from the flame.

“What was the point of this? If you try to steal tips from me I will punch you silly!” Said Tia.

“Even if I tried that, I would not succeed as many people tried to teach me control and I failed each time but…” Said Thakeo as he shook his head but stopped speak as he closed his eyes.

“But… What? Why is this so important to you?” Asked Tia confused.

“To me? Not so much but to you… You aim, strength, speed and the shape of the fireball is excellent, in fact I would say that this is the perfect and most beautiful fireball I have ever seen.” Replied Thakeo.

“Eh? Re-really? I-I… Thank you…” Mumbled Tia who all of a sudden turned her head, blushing but of cause Thakeo did not notice this.

“But… Come over here and look at the tree.” Said Thakeo and walked towards the oak and pointed at the various impacts Tia had made.

“What? You asked me to make those holes.” Said Tia as she joined Thakeo near the tree.

“Look at the shape… What do you see?” Asked Thakeo, changing the hole he pointed at.

“Good penetration, decent cluster hit, the shape is a perfect sphere, right? I already knew this you know!” Replied Tia.

“Yes… Each of these strike marks are identical to each other, they are perfect once more.” Said Thakeo.

“And? What is the problem?” Asked Tia, confused as to what Thakeo was going for.

“The problem is… There is not perfect spell…” Replied Thakeo and looked at Tia with a serious look.

“Huh? That makes no sense what so ever!” Yelled Tia.

“I do not claim to understand it fully myself but none of the mages who tried to train me and who are much stronger than you and I have ever once used perfect level spells such as this.” Explained Thakeo.

“Wh-what are you saying?” Asked Tia, rather shocked over this revelation.

“Your problem is the exact opposite of mine… I cannot control spells but you… You use too much control.”

“WHAT? Th-there is no such thing as too much control!” Said Tia with a stern voice and reach out for Thakeo’s collar once more.

“There is! If you try to control everything, you will never grow stronger!” Said Thakeo as he grabbed her hand and pushed it away.

“H-HOW DARE YOU? I have tried since I was old enough to walk! Don’t you dare insult me like that!” Yelled Tia with an angry voice as she slapped Thakeo with such force that he could have sworn he heard an echo of it in the distance.

He could understand why she was angry as he had more or less said that her entire way of thinking was wrong and her spells, despite being perfect was not so, but he felt that she still needed to know, but he could not say why he had this feeling.

“Then tell… What is the nature of fire? Explain that to me then.” Replied Thakeo with a calm voice as he turned his head back and looked at Tia with a stern look.

“Nature of fire?” Asked Tia surprised.

“What is fire? Fire is wild, fire is hot and is the primary source of destruction spells. It burns and destroys things but… It is also alive, just like any other magic in this world. Even with your skill at control you have forgotten this most basic thing… You should not force magic to work for you but instead work with it, like you would a dear friend. Once you understand this you will learn to evolve beyond your current capabilities.” Explained Thakeo with a stoic look on his face.

“Yo-you actually…” Began Tia, however just then the wind blew strongly from above.

“Bravo! An exemplary explanation young man! Truly excellent deduction into the nature of magic! There might be hope for you yet.” Said a rather light voice from above, but Thakeo could not locate the origin of the voice.

“Who is there?” Asked Thakeo surprised as he looked up, unsure what to do.

“That matters not… Tiarazara, bring him to the village!” Command the voice.

“Eh? Village? What villa…. Gyofu!” Said Thakeo but suddenly felt a strong impact to his stomach, causing him to collapse to the ground.

“Oh my… Such brutality should not be needed…” Said the voice again followed by a giggle.

“Like I care! It felt good and I owed him that!” Growled Tia, clearly furious with Thakeo.

However the person in question could not even focus on who was talking. It as the strike had such power that his strength left his body and soon after he passed out on the shores of the river.

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