Previous: Late Night Magic
The full moon stood watch over the small town, dimly illuminating the street around Leera with a silvery lining. The pale light cast deep shadows creating pools of darkness up and down the street. As she shifted on the wet paving stones her boots scuffled slightly. The scraping sound of sand and gravel grinding on hard stone under her weight. It had been raining and moisture still hung suspended in the air as though the clouds had come down between the buildings to rest. The warm sticky air clung to her skin and made it glisten.
She turned to the strange young man. A stern look settled on her face.
"What is the meaning of all this?" She said.
He smiled playfully, bringing a pale slender hand with a single outstretched finger to his lips in a gesture to suggest she not talk. She was irritated with his silence but she could do nothing about it. She was firmly under his spell with only the power to do what he allowed her to. It was a peculiar thing. She felt that she had control of her body but anytime she tried to move it was as if her body had fallen asleep and wouldn't respond. It was a curious feeling. She could only do exactly what he asked without complaint or hesitation. He was still smiling at her knowingly. There wasn't a malevolent look to him but the lack of control frightened her. Her fear collected like a chunk of ice sitting in her stomach. It's chill slowly creeping into her body.
"Here. Listen, don't make a sound." He said as he gently pulled her arm and consequently the rest of her deeper into the shadows next to the tavern. She did as he said but her face twisted into a mask of anger. With her teeth bared in something closed to a silent snarl she willed him to burst into flame. In this case her will proved inadequate as he stood rocking on his heels a bit. He seemed to be waiting for something.
They stood there like that for a time. Her snarling soundlessly and he smiling comfortably back at her. Leera hated to admit it but there was something comforting about him. There was a strange feeling of tranquility that he radiated. She still snarled at him, but he was now looking down at his hand and idly twisting a gold ring on his middle finger.
Then she heard it far off in the distance. The unmistakable clop of horseshoes on stone echoed off the buildings and bounced its way down the street. By the sound of it there was more than one horse coming their way. Leera's eyes narrowed as she listened to the horses' progress. She couldn't stay here like this. She was too vulnerable and if those horses were who she thought they were then she needed to be moving fast. The ball of ice heaved in her stomach and began to throb with the rising rhythm of her heart beat.
The light from the riders' torches spilled into the street in front of the tavern and painted everything with a harsh flickering red tint. The group of riders rode up to the tavern and milled about. One man who appeared to be the leader began giving orders to dismount and what the sleeping arrangements were to be.
Leera's eyes bulged as she recognized the man giving orders. He was the Captain of the Guards. She fought the spell that held her but the rest of her body did as her companion had asked. On the outside she appeared casual and relaxed. Inside she was all crashing waves and falling rocks. She screamed silently inside her skull, her heart hammering as if trying to free itself from her chest.
The man who had been giving orders was tying his horse to the hitch post and calling for a wretched stable boy to come tend his aching horse. She had to get away. Any moment now he would look up and recognize her face. Narrowing her eyes she turned her gaze to the man standing next to her. Her companion was laughing silently now. The mirth in his eyes infuriated Leera. She knew he was enjoying her panic and he didn't seem to care despite the murderous looks she was giving him.
A couple sleepy eyed unkempt stable boys trailing hay came stumbling out of the stable to take the horses. The soldiers went into the tavern straight away. The Captain hung back. He gave the stable boys a few coins then kicked the mud off his boots and opened the door to the tavern as the boys led the horses away. Dozens of loud drunken conversations spilled out the door. He paused briefly at the doorway, sweeping his gaze right over Leera and her mysterious acquaintance. Then letting out a quiet sigh he stepped inside.
Leera raised her fist as if to strike the tall man standing next to her.
"Lets not let things come to blows just yet…" He said. He raised his hands in mock surrender. He continued smirking at her. The gleam had never left his eye.
She realized that she had regained control over her body. The shock of it was enough to make her forget how the Captain had looked straight through her as she stood next to the door.
"I'm sorry about that. I really didn't have much choice. I had to get you out as fast as I could and I knew you'd never believe me if I had tried to explain first. You understand?" He said. The last part was only half a question.
Leera frowned at him. Who was this man who took possession of her body and not a breath too soon pulled her out of danger? How did he know that those men would be looking for her? She continued standing there with her hand raised. She really hadn't decided not to hit him yet. That was about when she realized how close she had just come to being discovered and captured. The Captain knew her on sight and probably had some other magical means of uncovering her as well. Her face must have changed to show what she was thinking because he began to talk again, eyes still sparkling.
"I did a little trick with the light to hide us. It's really very simple, I could teach it to you some-" he said. Leera cut him off with a look. Her eyes narrowed to slits.
"What makes you think I need you to teach me anything?" She said. She knew she was acting absurd but she didn't care. She was ashamed and a little frightened at how close she'd been to capture and so soon after she had escaped. He didn't know that though, nor would he. "And how did you know I was being chased? How did you know who I was? How the…?" Her voice had risen to an exasperated pitch by the end.
He simply smiled at her. It infuriated her and she stalked off to get her own horse from the stable boy. She did not wait to see if the strange man would follow. He did, just as any other man would have. Leera was quite attractive after all and what kind of man would let a woman like that walk off to a dark barn all by herself?
By the time the strange man's eyes had adjusted to the dim light of the barn she was already checking the straps on her saddle and was preparing herself to mount. Holding the reins to her horse in a gloved hand she turned her head to look over her shoulder at him.
"You know you haven't even told me your name stranger." She said.
"My name is Saemar" he said. Grinning, he turned and jabbed his finger into the air. The tip of his finger disappeared and the air around it rippled. He drew his hand down slowly until he reached his knees. He took a step into the tear and disappeared. The air rippled around the tear and then it dissolved as she stood there gaping. It was as if the inside of the stable behind him had been nothing more than a paper backdrop that he sliced and walked through. Leera stood there awestruck.
"You can teach me that trick Saemar" She said under her breath.
She mounted her horse and trotted away into the night.