Narrow Escape

“You can’t fool me, you know,” said the half-elf, dagger pressed against the halfling’s throat as she crouched in the brush. “I can see you plain as day.”

Damn him and his dark vision, thought Skrie. She had just picked the ring out of the dirt and stuffed it in her belt pouch when Illeryl revealed himself.

“I knew you’d come back. I didn’t believe you dropped it down a well, and I was right,’ the fighter said, tightening his grip. “Now, give me the ring.”

The cleric reacted. She grabbed a handful of dirt and flung it behind her with a short incantation. Divine light burst into the darkness, blinding her and her attacker. The dagger moved. Skrie went limp, then rolled to the side as she slipped from his grasp. He slashed out, and the halfling took a deep gash to her shoulder. That hurt!

Darting toward the river fifty paces to the east, Skrie dove into the cold water. The halfling struggled to keep her head above water and forced herself into the swift current. After what seemed like hours, the river dumped her out into a pool. Crawling onto the beach, she lay there long enough to catch her breath before climbing into a sturdy oak a few paces in the forest.

Skrie had just settled in and healed the dagger cut when she heard something crash through the forest below. She looked down to see Illeryl following the river, looking for her, she presumed. A while later, he trudged back, muttering to himself. Keeping as still as possible, she hoped her clothing wouldn’t drip on his head as he passed below.

Wedging herself into the crotch of the tree, Skrie drifted off to dreams of soft beds and warm blankets.

The following morning, she woke nose-to-nose with a black cat. The halfling managed to keep from falling from her perch as she jerked back and watched the feline. It reminded her of when she was in Blackford, on one of her first jobs for The Guild.

Skrie looked up at the lone cloud that covered the sun. Odd, a moment ago, the sky had been clear. The halfling continued walking through the alley, hands stuffed in her pockets, eyes on the ground, stepping around piles of filth. Deep in thought about the job she had taken for Master Hollan last night, she almost didn’t hear the light thump of feet on wood. Looking up, she saw the cat sitting on a barrel at the far end of the narrow lane—and stopped short.

A shiver crawled up her spine. Gooseflesh rose on her arms as the cat looked up from cleaning its face. Skrie could swear it was the same animal she saw last night after leaving the Veruta manor. Born and raised in Blackford, she’d only seen a handful of the beasts this far from the pier. And now, she had seen the same damned cat twice in less than a day. That was not a good sign.

A few moments later, the halfling was back on the ground and working her way back to Suncall and the warmth of the common room.

Previous: The Ring

Next: Afterthoughts

To read from the beginning: Exploring Everine

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