The hooded figure only stood there with his hands crossed in front of him, being examined inch by dark inch from his onlookers. The shroud over the man's head shadowed his face to only give the group a small first glimpse of his pale skin. The only performance that he had offered this group was a hushed whisper of chants that saved two of their knot.
"Who are you?" Ady stepped forward, trying to get a better look at him, water dripping from every part of her body.
"My name is Anrick. Anrick of Geloraha and you are welcome."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Thank you," she said, backing up a little.
"What brings you through these woods, traveler?" Silveraven questioned on, wary of the new face.
"I'm just a wanderer, that's all."
Ady's hand mindlessly went to her stomach, flinching at the pain and the blood that flowed gingerly over her fingers. Makaila's hands did the same, realizing that she too had cuts from the Dracae, Keena ushering them back to camp to be bandaged.
"I can heal those if you wish," Anrick moved with grace next to them, still not offering his face.
"You know, that reminds me… Makaila, can't you heal?" Ady asked feeling slightly light headed from the loss of blood but showed no signs to her companions.
"That is true. You might as well try, Makaila. You will need to learn how to harness your abilities some time or another," Tolren took a piece of cloth from his bag to place over her cuts.
Makaila moved her hands over the cuts and concentrated. It didn't take long for her to feel warmth emitting from her hands and transmitted to the spliced injuries. She smiled with excitement, moving from one cut to another, feeling eager at this.
"Wow! I didn't think it would be that easy," she hugged Tolren out of instinct.
"In this world your powers are to their full potential. Eventually you will earn the chance to use each of them," pulling her away from him, their eyes met in an awkward moment before looking towards Ady. By now she was falling away from Silveraven and onto the ground, eyes hazed over.
"It… would be nice… if I could have… some of that…" a lurch grew from her cuts, feeling excruciating pain rising. It hadn't felt like that before, but now with her on the verge of passing out it grew with fierceness. Moving to a fetal position to clutch her stomach, the others stirred to try and heal her. Even Anrick couldn't get to her to do his healing as everyone hunkered over the pained woman to help.
"The Dracae must have poisoned her," Keena blurted out, whining once more, hopping around.
Ady absentmindedly kicked anyone who came near her, Silveraven finally having to pull her beneath him as he sat on her hips. Grabbing her hands, he pulled them above her head and pinned her down, yelling to anyone to quickly heal her.
"It's not working!" Makaila screamed after minutes of trying anything she could.
Anrick fell to his knees to place his hands on the wounds and chant something incoherent. The watchers looked horrified when the injured membrane began to bubble with the sounds of burning skin filling their ears. Silveraven yelled at him to stop but seized his demands when knowledge hit him. Anrick had to kill the poison first before any healing could be presented. Slowly the struggle subsided and Ady lay there, overwhelmed with exhaustion.
Two days had passed and the company obtained horses to make their way to Cranaso Mountains where they would find the next piece of the mirrors. Even though Ady tried with all her might to convince her friends to let Anrick come with them, they wouldn't give in. There was something about him that set the others on edge, no matter if he saved the women of their group or not. His timing of arrival was questionable to the others.
The only information that they received from him was his name and nothing more. The tips of his black hair that fell through his hooded cloak looked scruffy and dead. Even when they went to sleep, Anrick stayed up, claiming that he would keep watch in light that he couldn't sleep. Ady decided to stay up with him in hopes that she may obtain more from him…
"So what did you two talk about?" Connor beckoned, rejoining the group with smiles, trotting along side the group who rode atop their steeds north to their destination.
"Not really much. He just said that I have a bright aura and asked to see my hand," Ady replied, her mind reluctant to remember every event.
"… I don't remember. I just recall giving him my hand and then waking up in my tent," her eyes furrowed to remember. Thoughtlessly, she gave her hand to Silveraven who only gave the same face as she offered. There was nothing there nor any signs of something amiss besides the lack of memory.
"Hm… well, if you start growing horns then we'll know who to go after," Makaila smiled, trying to make light of the taut situation. What made the group laugh was when Ady's hands went to her head and patted down her body to find any deformities.
"What? You can never be too sure!" Ady pouted, not finding anything funny about it.
It took the travelers a week of long riding to finally make it to a town where another day's travel would bring them to the base of Cranaso Mountain. It rested in the middle of no where; torches alight at each entrance of the community. Not many people roamed the streets as they entered, it almost seeming dead and void of life with the exception of a few townspeople walking briskly into their homes at the sight of the travelers. An inn with a vacancy sign welcomed them with unenthusiastic arms and cagey eyes. Tethering the horses to the posts outside, everyone entered to the creaking of floorboards beneath their feet and hushed drinkers at their front.
Three or four little creatures scurried around to clean up messes that were made by the humans, wearing ragged clothing. Looking like tiny hobgoblins, their faces were flat with pinhole nostrils with a variety of hair surfacing over their scrawny bodies. They paid no heed to the new comers who asked for two rooms.
Sitting down at the bar before heading to their rooms for the night, each ordered ale except Ady who seemed to not be interested in any. Keena and Connor resided to stepping outside to converse on relinquishing the item to Ronanth. Little conversations could be heard around the room as the imbibers took back to their condolences in a bottle of alcohol. Ady turned briefly when one of the little creatures stopped next to her and gave her a most disturbing look of detest. Looking to Silveraven, he only chuckled for a moment before explaining.
"They are Bwbachod, much like Brownies who work for humans. The only differences are they can be easily offended and really don't like non-drinkers. They are very spiteful and destructive if affronted, so please, don't do anything to offend them. We would not want to upset the owners of this fine inn," he answered respectively, a bit sarcastic about the last part. He only smiled when she just offered a nod, drinking down her water.
"Are you feeling okay, Ady?" Makaila asked, noticing her friend seeming more out of place than ever before. Something about the expressions on her face weren't like her at all ever since the incident with the Dracae.
"Um, no. I think I am going to retire to our room. Can I have the key please?" even something in the way she spoke sounded off set. Standing up after receiving the key from Silveraven, she walked up the stairs in a slow manner, seeming to take every ounce of energy from her.
"I don't know, can you?" Silveraven joked, the smile fading quickly from his face when a red spark filled her eyes as he withdrew the keys.
"How was Ronanth?" Keena asked, watching the night life of the city, quiet and calm. They became slightly distracted when a Banshee hovered over to a door of a home and commenced in wailing. A white cloth draped around her flapped slightly in the breeze, frail arms lifting upwards as tears flowed down the sunken in face in her death cry, "Such a pity whenever you see one of those…"
"Ronanth is good as far as health wise, but he seemed a little off. Not his normal vibrant self," Connor concluded, noticing the concern on Keena's face.
"Well, he's not the only one who's not their normal self. Ady's not the same either since the battle in the river… even her scent has changed," Keena was becoming troubled with this news, adding it to her own, but had chose not to include the others in on this.
"I agree," Silveraven came up behind them, crouching down to their level.
"You have noticed this as well?"
"Unfortunately, yes. It is almost as if she is pulling into herself. Before she could not stop talking, but now I cannot get her to speak willingly, like she is constantly deep in thought," Silveraven looked down at his hands that were clasped in front of him, worried that the trial he endured may actually come to pass.
"I know you love her, Silveraven. We will not lose her to whatever it is that seems to be taking a liking to her body and mind. Would you like me to watch over her tonight?" Connor proposed, seeing the familiar look in his friend's eyes.
"Yes, I would like that very much, but I think that she might prefer a human over a canine," Silveraven pleaded with his eyes.
"No worry. Even in human form I will still be able to detect any changes in her scent," Connor offered with a smile on his furry lips. Moving away from the other two, Connor bid some words into the air and welcomed the warmth of light covering him, turning him into his true form. Standing before the inn, Connor pushed his long glossy black hair away from his darkly colored skin to reveal his silver eyes. Tall and muscular, his leather clothing didn't do much justice to conceal his good looks.
Silveraven had known Connor for his true human form over the years since they were just younglings, but parted ways when Connor came of age to start learning his second identity. Keena and her mate met in the training they joined at a small school tucked away from society that taught them the many arts of being half human and half wolf. Her tail wagged now, feeling her stomach flipping at the site of her lover.
"Calm down, Keena. My presence is needed elsewhere tonight," Connor bent to place a kiss on her furry head before heading up the stairs to join Ady, who was already fast asleep.
"Who was that?" Makaila saw Silveraven watching the man in front of him with much interest.
"Connor, in his human form," Tolren replied without breaking concentration from his drink.
A few more hours passed of beverages being bought, drowning their sorrows and worries away with the throat stinging liquids before withdrawing to bed. The three of them filed up to the second level where their divans called to them. Silveraven sat on the edge of his, wondering what was going to hop upon them next, still not feeling sure about the abrupt announcement of Anrick. The man portrayed himself hidden and yet wanted to be friendly, but only to Ady for some reason and not to the others. What was it he had to gain from her that the others couldn't offer? There was the factor that she was an elemental, but so was Tolren. Something else about Ady caught that strange man's eye and Silveraven only prayed he would find out what it was before time took that chance from him.