I couldn’t sleep that night. Every time I closed my eyes I could see only destruction around me. I could hear the screams of everyone who had died that fateful day I had relived just hours earlier. For the moment, I lay in my bed and stared at the sky through rough pine branches. The clouds moved slowly and threatened to cast snow on us at any moment. We decided to use a few trees growing close together as our shelter. The fire was small but still burned through the few small branches we kept on it. The air around was cool and my blanket was wrapped tight around my body; my coat was by the side of my head. I had kept it there to sleep under. I feared that otherwise my nose may become frostbitten.
My thoughts continued to race. I was too distracted to sleep and a little disturbed. I couldn’t shake the brutal scene from my mind. Visions of those crushed to death under the weight of the buildings they lived and worked in, the blinding crystals searing the land around us, and the smell of burning land, flesh, and tar. I felt a pit in my stomach with each of these thoughts and it made me want to hide beneath my blanket forever.
A small crack of a twig caught my attention. I sat up and looked towards the wooded area behind us; my hand clutched my wand from beneath my blanket. There was a small doe patting at the ground with her hoof. I sighed and let go of my wand. She saw me and we stared at each other for a moment or two before she gracefully pranced off.
I stood up, taking in the moments that I could escape my previous thoughts. I had to busy myself with something. In the distance, there was a large clearing full of snow; It was the perfect place to practice my wandwork. I picked up my wand and dressed in my coat before walking out into it. I made certain it was far enough away not to wake Ragnvaldr before I started twirling my wand around. I could shoot the basic flames from the wand and I could do minor spells as well as use the fire of the wand to my advantage. With a little practice, I could become better, and I hadn’t had much practice as of late. I chose my victim- a solid granite rock jutting from the icy ground. I played around with different movements, hoping to achieve at least something unlike what I already knew.
The night sky turned around me. Stars were sinking in the horizon while others peaked out. The moon had already hid behind the mountains. I practiced for hours. Without a good spellbook to teach me, I had no luck in learning the movements. I wasn’t ready to give up yet, though. I racked my brain for information. I had learned it all before, even staff mastery. If I dug far enough in my mind, I might remember it. Cicada’s hummed in the flora around me; though they were loud, it was also a lulling tune. In this new trance I realized a new spell. The circle of flames surrounded me suddenly and I feared that I was trapped in a spell that had backfired. It was only seconds before I realized that the flames weren’t giving off heat, at least not to me. I could touch them without being burned, but they scorched the ground underneath them. I threw a twig into the fire and watched as it lit up and slowly burned to ash. As it did, the fire burned down and eventually disappeared. It was beautiful and yet so terrifying. The worst part of it all was that I didn’t remember the motions I had executed to create it. I sat down on the rocks after dusting the ashes off. Staring at my wand, I tried my hardest to remember what it was that had created that inferno. The friendly fire interested me enough to think until I couldn’t bear to think any longer. My mind was exhausted, and it was time to return to camp.
I had to cross the well traveled road to get back to camp. We were just on the other side and beyond a few trees. I could have chose to be back in less than a couple of minutes, but there was trouble on the road and I wanted to investigate. My curiosity got the better of me and I found myself sneaking through the trees lining the road until I came upon a simple Sylvari merchant and a Charr bandit brute.
“You just came back from the Citadel, and you’re telling me you didn’t make a little money?” The Charr growled at the leafy merchant.
“I transferred it all to the bank before I left,” His accent was enchanting, “I know better than to travel with money with your kind running around.”
“MY KIND? What’s that supposed to mean?!” The Sylvari had managed to anger the Charr even more.
“Big guys who are all bark and no bite.” The bandit tightened his fist as the Sylvari continued to taunt him. His other hand gripped a gun in his pocket out of site to the merchant. The angle I sat in, however, allowed me to make out the shape in his pocket clearly.
“I’ll show you bite, foolish salad.” As the Charr lunged towards the Sylvari, I cast a flame upon him from behind the trees. As far as I could tell, the Sylvari didn’t even have a weapon on him, so I acted quickly.
“Who’s there?! Human, step out and fight like a Charr!” I stepped out as the bandit called to me. His gun sounded; he had missed me, but just barely. From the location of the bullet, he appeared to have been aiming at my legs. The Charr didn’t mean to kill me, likely for moral reasons similar to my own. His aim was to cripple me.
I lashed my wand out towards him and red hot liquid fell from the tips and flew towards him. I was taken by surprise at the actions of my wand. Perhaps something had broken from inside it. The liquid landed on the ground around him, missing completely. I shook my wand while he was distracted, trying to figure out what had happened. The Charr laughed and I looked up. The merchant had escaped, but I was now here alone with a bandit.
“This should be easy.” He growled. I tried to take a step back and realized that I was caught in a sticky glue. He wasn’t aiming to cripple me at all, he had shot a round of glue to the ground around me. When I cast my spell, I had stepped right into it. He aimed his gun at me again.
“I’m going to play a little game with you. If you can guess the next type of bullet in my chamber, I’ll give you a fair chance to fight for your life.” He teased, “It could be filled with explosives- hitting your body would blow you into several pieces, scattering your guts across the terrain. Or it could be filled with a deadly poison that will kill you slowly from the inside as you writhe around in pain.”
“No.” I replied.
“No?” He asked quizzically.
“No.” I continued to reply. I mustered up my strength and threw everything I had at him with my wand, “I won’t play your silly games and bend to a bandit Charr. I’ll choose my own way and cut you down where you stand!”
Fire and liquid alike flew from the end of my scepter. I slid out of my shoes and continued to cast whatevery I could at him as I ran towards him. As the smoke cleared around me, I saw that I had singed all of his fur and scarred him with the liquid flame. His gun was partially melted and he kneeled on the ground.
“Go.” I demanded, “Go now and don’t let me ever see you again. Hopefully you’ll think twice before threatening an innocent merchant.”
The Charr stood, “You’ll regret this one day, human.” He began to walk away, towards the direction the merchant had ran. “One more thing. You humans are as gullible as they come, luckily you were strong enough to best us!” He laughed weakly and continued on his way.
I wasn’t trying to make sense of what he said. Charr were known to insult us like that, and it didn’t seem any different. As I made my way back to camp, though, I had come to a realization of what he meant. The merchant wasn’t innocent after all. They both knew I was there, especially with the noise of my practice in the background. They had staged the entire argument together to kill and rob me. I’m sure the Sylvari would have stayed had I not been a fire elementalist. I played the scene through my head from their point of view. It was genius, but they could never know the strength of the person they were facing. They had underestimated me because I wasn’t actually casting any spells at the time of my practice. Perhaps it was lucky that I was even awake. They could have easily robbed and killed us in our sleep. I shuddered at the very thought.
The icy grass crunched beneath my feet and the sky was turning lighter with each passing minute. Morning was here and the sun was beginning to rise. It hadn’t quite made it over the horizon, but I had managed to stay up for most of the night. Short shadows around me started to elongate and the ice began to glitter softly. I could see the road in front of me clearly as the sky began to provide more and more light.
When I returned, Ragnvaldr was still sound asleep. The fight had tired me and I was ready to finally rest. I looked to my empty cot and then to Ragnvaldr. I stripped myself of my coat and set my wand down before I lifted the blanket and snuggled under it. It was nice and warm and I felt particularly safe as I lay beside him. Closing my eyes, I fell asleep without another thought.