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 A Carriage o' Tricks II 
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He hissed an explanation to her, Two men, heading this way, probably more on their way.

Wide-eyed I nodded my head in acknowledgment and lay still in the position in which we had fallen. I couldn't help but become aware of the warmth of Taffs' body, his closeness. The subtle odour of his body mixed with a touch of saltpetre was intoxicating. I could barely hear the outside world past my own thoughts and the roar of my heart thumping in my ears. Taff pulled me closer as if he was about to kiss me, I started to respond when a twig cracked near by and the moment was broken by the gravely voice of a male. Well, well, well, what do we have here?

What does it look like? Taff snapped in reply. The ensuing conversation and lewd gesturing caused me to blush. He got to his feet offering his hand to help me to my feet and whispered his apology. He turned his attention back to the men.

I listened to the conversation as I dusted myself off and rearranged my clothing. When Taff got to the part about the rabbit, I laughed. Touching his arm to gain his attention, no you got that wrong, it wasnt a rabbit. It was a roach. I will never forget the sound as he crushed it under foot. I dropped my head and covered my mouth in a mock response of sadness, but really I was trying not to laugh.

Suddenly a pair of rough hands had hold of me, which quickly quenched my mirth.

Where did you get this cloak the large man brought his face close to mine as he asked the question. Its mine I answered without thought. It was only as I lay sprawled on the ground again holding my face where the back of his hand had caught it, with the words Liar ringing in my ears did I remember I was actually wearing Alexs' cloak.

Ahhh fiddlesticks I thought to myself and I stared at him blankly not able to come up with a suitable story. He pulled me to my feet and made a cursory search of my being. He pulled from my pocket the Vurumai crest that I had removed from my own cloak many moons ago. He may have looked gormless but he was not slow. Looking to the Lad, that now had a sword resting precariously on Taffs exposed chest. Search him, I think Lord Daval will be interested in speaking to these two.

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Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:31 am
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Taff was about to say something witty about how he'd forgotten about the less than cocky cockroach when the man noticed something odd about Brett's cloak. He almost leapt forward when the man back handed her to the floor, the point of the sword stopped him but not before it had drawn blood. Time seemed to slow for him as he watched the blood run down to his amulet, as it touched the blood fizzled and the green gem swirls set into the gold disc turned red. He'd never known this to happen before, infact he'd come to the conclusion that this amulet that had been a wedding gift from his old mentor was totally mundane. A chill ran through his body and then the amulet looked as if nothing had happened, except the blood had gone.
Search him, I think Lord Daval will be interested in speaking to these two.
The lad quickly complied, removing the sword point from his chest, and deftly working his way down Taff's body, dropping various phials of potions onto the floor as he found them. He reached Icanthus and gripped it.
No Taff said firmly, and placed his hand on the top of it.
Nuh uh, I'm the one with the sword the lad flourished it. and then tried to grip Icanthus hilt again.
Through gritted teeth he repeated the words he'd told the last person who had tried to forcibly remove Icanthus from his person.
You will have it, when you pry it from my cold lifeless hands!
Quick as a flash he spun round, drawing the fireblade. As his eyes met the lads, he brought the blade down on his arm. The lad shreiked like a girl before fainting as he saw his severed hand bounce on the floor. Not stopping to look where he had fallen, Taff rounded on the man but not quick enough.
Wizzzard the man said, part question and part announcement, You may be powerful but can you heal a sword through the chest?
Taff sagged slightly, the man stood behind Brett, sword resting on her back. Reluctantly he replaced Icanthus in its sheath.


Fri Mar 12, 2004 6:17 am
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I watched as the lad searched Taff, dropping phials carelessly on the ground. I remembered that at times when Taff was developing new magic spells that it his magic would often behave unpredictably. I kind off hoped that none of the phials would break open and their contents mix. I shuddered as I considered the possible reaction.

I watched on as the new scene unfolded. One moment he was staring coldly at the lad whispering through gritted teeth and the next the lad lay limp on the ground in front of him. At that moment the large man grabbed me from behind crushing my throat with his powerful arm, a sword pressed roughly into my back.

I pulled at his arm in an effort to release the pressure from my throat as I began to gasp for air. Wizzzard the man said, part question and part announcement, You may be powerful but can you heal a sword through the chest? Taff sagged slightly as he re-sheathed Icanthus. I sensed a feeling of regret about him.

Now that the large man thought he had the situation under control he motioned to Taff to move ahead of him into the clearing. As we came into view of the camp he barked orders to several of his cohorts. Sending a two and the healer off to help the unconscious lad that had been left lying on the ground. I was shoved roughly towards one of the others. Tie 'er up and put her over there he nodded to the wagon and then again turned his attention back to Taff.

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Sun Mar 14, 2004 5:22 am
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The man seemed so smug as he used Brett as a shield. Taff guessed that even without his magic he'd outmatch him, but whilst he had Brett that was not something he could test. Instead he walked defiantly in the direction the man pointed. As his body passed between his pile of potions and the man, he called a handful into his hand and palmed them off to various parts of his body. He looked back reluctantly at the pile, much time and effort had gone into them, and he didn't like to leave them lying about. As he thought on it, most of them were fatal if not opened carefully, and he doubted that the men who collected them would be careful. He walked on.
They soon came into view of camp, the man started bellowing orders, clearly some sort of officer. Soon three men were heading back to the lad in the forest and Brett was being tied up next to... His carriage! His eyes flicked with anger at the sight of it, here. He fought the urge to burn all the men in the camp, they were too close to Brett, and should the carriage catch fire, he doubted even he could survive that at this range. He turned to the officer and looked defiantly at him.
I am Taff Callineb, Last of El Calentro, Mage to Isonia! I will see this Daval of yours.
And I will see him. a voice boomed across the clearing, with a texture almost like an echo in a cave.
Taff kept his composure far better than most of the men in the camp. He undid his sword belt and tossed it to the ground by the side of Brett, the opposite side to the wagon as he wasn't taking any chances. A ward caused a circle to scorch itself around Icanthus, leaving Taff's warning almost moot, but he announced it to everyone anyway.
Do not touch my sword, or what I did to your boy over there will seem merciful compared to what it will do to you.
He added almost as an after thought,
Unless of course you consider yourself immune to my magic.
He hoped his subtle hint was enough for Brett, he didn't want to leave her defenseless.
And remember that She is the only thing that has stopped me burning you to a crisp, so I'm sure I don't need to tell you to treat her well.
He smiled hopefully and winked at Brett before turning back to the officer.
So lead on, you heard your Lord.


Mon Mar 15, 2004 8:56 am
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Sicarius was busying himself with the usual mundane taks associated with the life of an aethetic. The water carry back up the hill from the spring creek was causing more than a single bead of perspiration on hie brow, when he spyed off in the distance a most unusual sight. A man leading a horse bearing a litter was all that he could make out at first. But as time passed and the apparition moved steadily closed, the bodies in the litter became obvious.

Today was not going to be one of those ordinary days...

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Tue Mar 16, 2004 3:37 am
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I was shoved towards a slightly shorter unshaven man. The four-day-old stubble was mottled with grey indicating his prime was passing. He leered at me closely, grinning and salivating at the same time. His grin revealing teeth missing and darkened with decay. He sort of dragged me towards the wagon and pushed me to the ground as he bound my hands tightly behind my back. I felt his boot on my arm as he pushed me off balance to tie my legs together. Once immobilised he traced his hand up the outside of one leg and dropping it to the inner thigh of the other.

Get your hands off me, I hissed. He laughed, there'll be plenty of time later and you'll be begging it from the likes o' me. Yeah! when hell freezes over, I retorted without flinching, but to say that his words did not scare me would not have been the truth. Gratefully his attention was drawn away when Taff spoke, I am Taff Callineb, Last of El Calentro, Mage to Isonia! I will see this Daval of yours.

And I will see him, a deep resonant voice boomed across the clearing.

My heart leap into my throat as I watched Taff remove Icanthus from his body. He held it for a moment before tossing it to the ground; it landed not far from where I lay. The instant it hit the ground the earth around it burst into flames that soon extinguished themselves leaving a scorched piece of barren earth. As the last wisps of smoke vanished Taff spoke, warning those present against touching Icanthus and drawing their attention to the thinness of the thread that was their life if anything happened to me.

He looked at me directly smiled and winked before turning away I heard the muted words, so lead on, you heard your Lord.

I hope that my silent acquiescence of my situation would lull my captors into a false sense of security as quietly I observed the comings and goings of people within the camp.

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Tue Mar 16, 2004 4:53 am
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He followed the officer through the woods for several minutes until they reached a cave opening, leading underground. The man motioned for him to head down into it, while making no effort to go in himself. Taff shrugged and entered the cave. He heard a rustling behind him and when he looked back, the man was gone. He continued into the cave, which soon became a tunnel. Just as it was getting dark enough for him to consider lighting a flame to see, a torch flared into life on the wall. He looked at it suspiciously before walking on. Again as he were about to step into darkness another torch flared to life. On the third occasion he took a careful look at the torch.
He lifted it from it's holding, and spun it in his hands. He could feel the magic running through it, but the signature was not familiar. Soon he found a city mark on the end of it.
Tiavain, I should have guessed. He said to himself before moving on.
He passed another four torches, before stepping into the darkness and being almost shocked as it stayed dark.
So you are the one who has been troubling me of late? A voice boomed and torches flared up around him, illuminating a large cavern. He looked about taking in what appeared to be a vast cache of magical artifacts. It took a few moments for him to identify the source of the voice as a droben, almost invisible against the stone wall.
Amongst the cache, there were more than a few items that had disappeared from him in the past year or so.
He gritted his teeth.
Yes, indeed. And I presume that you are Daval? and incharge around here
Daval's laughter resounded through the cave.
Yes, I am incharge here. Your puny fleshlings serve me
Then, I suggest that you return what you have stolen from me, before I decide to take it.
Insolent fool! What would you do to me?
With that Daval charged at Taff. Taff hastily tried to cast a wall inbetween them, to his horror, he couldn't feel the magic he grasped for. Before this could fully sink in, Daval hit him like an avalanche, hurling him across teh cavern where he he the wall with a thud.
His vision began to clear and he focused on the rocky figure towering over him. He needed to buy some time to figure out what just happened
Well, at least you stopped your tacky stolen parlour tricks. They may impress your mundane followers, but did you really expect to impress me?
He rolled out of the way as Daval's fist came crashing towards him, small chips of rock flying everywhere as he hit the stone wall instead.
I assume you asked me here to lure me to work for you?
Daval stopped. You work for me? what could you offer me?
Still surveying the room for an answer, he chose his words carefully.
You've acquired enough of my work, I'd have thought that if I could make what you require it'd be easier than sending your men out for it.
His eyes settled on a white crystal, glowing in the corner. Unable to control himself he burst out.
you bastard, I ordered that months ago
Yes, its qute good isn't it. A mana nulling device. Making anywhere it is, magic free and safe from wizards
Daval grinned at him proudly, smugly. Taff really hated smugness, his hand fell to his belt, where miraculously no phials had smashed on hitting the wall. He held a yellow one in his hand.
You seem like an educated Droben. If I were to work for you, I'd expect no less, so here's riddle for you.
What looks like magic? Acts like magic? But isn't affected by mana annulment?

As Daval looked confused, he hurled the phial at his face. Alchemy! He said gleefully as the acid cut into Daval's rocky face, and clambered past the droben. He gave the glowing crystal a swift kick before the Droben had a chance to recover.
As the power rushed back through him, he was hit with a wave of euphoria. So much so that he didn't here the hum of two of his lightning traps as they also filled with power. In fact the first he knew of it was when he was struck by a lightning bolt in his chest.


Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:10 am
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It didn't take long for the people in the camp to begin to move about their normal business. They took little to no notice of me, but I did observe that often they would glance hesitantly in the direction that Taff had gone. I moved further under the wagon pretending to be seeking shelter from the sun, or at least that was what I wanted it to look like. I could not see Taff and I hoped he was all right.

Icanthus lay on the ground not far from me, which was somewhat reassuring. Being a thief by trade I relied less on a large sword and more upon my ability to blend into my surrounds and move about unnoticed. My choice of weapon was typically small and well hidden. At least hidden well enough that these oafs didn't find it.

Scanning the camp I took in various details. One of them being that the horses were not hitched to the wagon, but were corralled a short distance away. This posed a problem, but certainly not one that couldn't be overcome given time.

I leaned heavily against the wagon wheel with my eyes shut as my mind churned over and considered several possible scenario's, all of them seemed to rely heavily on some sort of distraction. I sighed as I let go of the thoughts and my mind cleared for a moment. Almost instantaneously I sat bolt upright, perspiration glistening on my brow. Something was wrong, every fibre of my being was telling me something was amiss, but what?

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Wed Mar 17, 2004 7:34 am
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Daval was waiting in anticipation, he'd been expecting some sort fo wizard sooner of later and then he would dazzle them with his collection. Once they realised his greatness, then he'd be pronounced the ruler of this land officially. Then he'd bring his mountain people down here, and they would crush the fleshlings and build a great Droben city here and the mighty army would roll over the puny fleshlings defenses. But they wouldn't come down until he was officially anointed by a wizard.
Now that the time finally came, he was anxious to savour it. And then the wiry little elf came here claiming to be a great wizard. He knew what wizards were like, this one didn't even have a hat! This one just toyed with magic, he was useless.
And then the wizard presumed to threaten him, well he was in for a surprise. So he slammed the elf into the wall. This was one of the advantages of the fleshlings, he could stomp part of them to a pulp and they still lived, not long, but long enough to cry out.
Well, at least you stopped your tacky stolen parlour tricks. They may impress your mundane followers, but did you really expect to impress me?
Parlour tricks? He had enough power in here to level a mountain. He would show the fool. But the fleshling dodged his blow, and the shockwaves ran through his arm as his fist crashed into the wall.
The fool wanted to work for him, he must have seen the futility of fighting. Maybe he could make use of him after all.
You work for me? what could you offer me?
The elf started to make a good case, he was almost on the point of accepting it when a look of clarity crossed the elf's face.
you bastard, I ordered that months ago
He'd never really wondered where it had come from, He'd just accepted it as a gift from Darden, saving him from any wizards that passed. So he hammered the point home, this elf was helpless.
Yes, its quite good isn't it. A mana nulling device. Making anywhere it is, magic free and safe from wizards
And he grinned, expecting to see resignation from the elf, but instead he seemed indignant. Almost as if he knew something Daval didn't, which apparently was a riddle. His mind raced, all magic required mana, except the cheap illusionist, the elf was bluffing. He was sure, just as he felt glass smash on his head.
Alchemy! He heard as the burning sensation cut into his face, he put a hand up to block out the flames but there were none. his hand felt aflame too. He pulled it back to look at it, it smoked and bubbled. He panicked, what was this alchemy that tore into him so? Some of it dripped down his left eye, a searing pain like he'd never experienced. He rubbed sand from the floor into it, which seemed to help, gradually the pain subsided.
He turned his attention to the elf, who was lying amongst the shattered remains of his mana nuller.
No! he cried out and ran over to it. He grabbed the elf's arm, and tossed him out of the way caring little for the snapping sound that accompanied his grip. He looked down on the shards of crystal, and started pushing them frantically into its holder. Surely all he needed to do was put it back together before the elf woke up.


Thu Mar 18, 2004 6:11 am
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Taff jerked awake as pain shot down his arm. A moment later he found himself crashing into a pile of magical paraphernalia. He started to catalogue his wounds, his chest was sore where he had been struck by lightning bolts, his back ached and was painful where he leant on spiky metal objects. Finally, his left arm hurt like hell and when he brought himself to look at it, there was a worrying lump where his bone should be, even with his non-existant healing skills he realised that it was broken.
He looked about, Daval was piecing together the crystal, it would never work again but he wasn't about to tell the droben that. Instead he quietly pulled a sturdy wand from the pile he was on and tied it to his broken arm, in the hope that it wouldn't get any worse. Content that he'd done what he could there, he pondered the Droben problem. The moment he moved, Daval would start pounding him again, unless he figured a way to definitely hurt him, but fire magic was rarely effective on rocks.
After what seemed an age of thought, he remembered something very simple. As he had done so many times before, Taff drew heat from one place to another, only this time it was in Davals arm. As rocks by fires expand unevenly and crack, so did Daval's left arm. It took a moment for the hulking Droben to figure out what was going on, but when he did he rounded on Taff with surprising speed, nevertheless the damage was done, and his arm had started to crumble.
Keeping his concentration, Taff pulled himself to his feet with his good arm, and faced down Daval. He was slightly shocked by how bad the acid damage was to his face, there were black grooves cutting deep into it, disfiguring his eye socket.
Return my things, and I will let you live.
Maybe he had pushed him to far, for before Taff had finished speaking, Daval had begun to charge again. This time when he called a shield, a flaming wall sprang up in front of him, and Daval bounced off it. He almost laughed at the futility of Daval as he picked up an club and pounded the wall with it. In fact he might have still laughed, had not he been caught by the shockwave from the club, which passed through the wall as if it weren't there.
It struck his bad arm heavily, and he staggered backwards. A second one caught him square in the chest. Evidently, this room was filled with anti-mage weaponry. He gritted his teeth and pointed, the club burst into flames. Daval dropped it and picked up an axe.


Thu Mar 18, 2004 8:53 am
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Something was wrong but I had no idea what. I had a sense that I had dallied too long and I needed to be ready for when Taff reappeared. The idea that he wouldn't was not a thought I would gladly entertain. I made a quick check of the camp noting that people seemed to be busy about their own business. Now was probably as good a time as any, to attempt to free myself. I manoeuvred myself so that I could reach the small dirk that was strapped to my leg. Extracting it I set about working at the ropes that bound my hands.

The rope began to stretch as each strand was cut and just as it felt like they were about to give a loud explosion was heard. I jumped and almost dropped my knife. Screams of agony could be heard and people rushed to investigate. Gathering my composure I took full advantage of the distraction. Quickly I untied the ropes around my feet and retied them so that I could release them quickly when the time came for me to act. I replaced the dirk and sat with my hands apparently still tied behind my back watching and waiting.

I didn't take long for the man that had found Taff and I to return. I watched him as he stalked across the clearing. He towered above me blocking out the light of the sun. Bitch! That is three of my best men I have lost today, he voice was thick with anger. I looked up just as I wore the back of his hand again. I whimpered as I was sent sprawling across the ground. Instinctively I put my hands out to break my fall.

What the? Urik get your fat lazy arse here, he bellowed as he hauled me to my feet. Urik appeared, I told you to tie this heathen cow up! He pushed me at him. Unsteady on my feet from the closed-handed hit I slumped to the ground again. I did Urik replied. Well somehow she got free. Tie her up again and do it properly this time he roared as he marched off.

While the exchange went on between the two men the fogginess began to clear. I could taste blood and gently I touched my mouth. I sucked in air as a sharp pain spread from the site across my face. My mind suddenly became aware of Icanthus lying on the ground. So close just inches away. All I had to do was reach out and grasp it.

Get up, Urik kicked me.

I groaned as the pain from the kick travelled the length up and down my leg from the point of impact. Without thought, without considering the ramifications I reached out and grasped the hilt of Icanthus. Time slowed and from the moment I grasped it and swiped the blade in the direction of Urik seemed to be an eternity. I felt the impact reverberate up the length of the sword and into my arm as it bit into flesh and then bone. The man screamed as he crashed to the ground beside me. The smell of burning flesh hanging thick in the air.

Getting to my feet; still a little woozy I leaned against the carriage. I hefted the sword; I had been trained in the use of a similar weapon, but that had been years ago. Instinctively I felt its weight and balance. As I practiced a few manoeuvres it got lighter and time returned to normal. I took a defensive stance as a few of Davals' men began to gather.

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Fri Mar 19, 2004 4:30 am
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