The City of Lanterns

To Kill A Horse

Though it was a warm night on the Plane of Shadow, Mreelana shivered. She skulked just outside of the stable where Paralictor Rourk’s horse was housed. With a quick casting of Mage Hand, she opened the latch on the horse’s stall and then opened the gate. The horse, obviously well-trained, refused to leave its stall.

“Damned horse,” Mreelana said to herself. Cayden was somewhere inside the stable, but he had melded into the shadows and out of her sight. The horse however, must have detected Cayden, as it suddenly exited the stall and menacingly moved towards the rear of the stable.

Scanning the darkness for the Ranger, her eye caught a broken bale of hay. Casting Mage Hand yet again, she lifted a flake of it into the air before the horse. Moving the flake seductively, she attempted to lure the horse out of the stable. Unfortunately, the horse again refused to cooperate.

“_Fucking_ horse,” mumbled Mreelana under her breath. Though the stable boy was sleeping in the loft above, her frustration flared and she sent the flake careening into the horse’s face.

Her impatience was ill-advised. The horse wheeled around and moved to the door of the stable. Without leaving the structure, it reared up and smacked Mreelana in the face with a hoof. Mreelana’s head reeled as she tried to blink away the stars before her eyes.

When Mreelana’s vision finally cleared, the horse unexpectedly barreled out of the stable. As it hung a sharp left turn, Mreelana saw Cayden clinging to its back. Weary of the subtle approach, Mreelana loosed a magic missile from her fingertips. The missile flashed through the air, striking the horse in the rump.

Seconds later, Cayden leapt from the horse’s back as it turned and headed to the other side of town. Crashing violently through a fence, it disappeared into the village.

Mreelana hesitated for a few more seconds, then turned and charged to the main road passing through Quarry. She needed to kill that horse now. Rounding the corner and dashing out onto the road, Mreelana saw the horse cross the road far ahead of her. Undaunted, she charged on.

Outside of the village and away from the road, she halted where the horse had apparently crashed through the vegetation on the edge of a field. Yet beyond that point, she could she nothing.

Something ran up behind her. Spinning around quickly, she recognized Cayden’s dark, muscular form. He ran past her to the point where the horse had crashed into the field and scanned it briefly.

“Follow me,” he calmly ordered. Knowing that Cayden was her only hope of finding the horse, she obeyed. The Ranger swiftly tracked the horse to the middle of the field, where it stood defiantly. Cayden moved up to the horse and, with two quick strikes, ended the horse’s life.

“That was fun,” quipped Mreelana, trying to catch her breath. Cayden did not react to Mreelana but looked back towards the town.

“Guards,” Cayden said bluntly. He motioned for Mreelana to follow him, and again she obeyed. He carefully led her forward while at the same time hiding their tracks. Once they moved away from the guards, they both ran back to Quarry. While Cayden’s dark vision served him well, Mreelana stumbled awkwardly through the darkness. Twice she fell flat on her face, cursing each time.

The pair finally made it back into the village, concealed in an alley way. Now it was Mreelana’s turn to give orders.

“Feign an injury and let me do the talking,” Mreelana instructed. But Cayden waived her off.

“The stable body saw me,” he said. “I’m going to disappear for a while. I’ll meet up with you tomorrow just outside of town.”

Without another word, Cayden disappeared into the darkness. Mreelana stared intently at the space from which he vanished. For the briefest of moments, she had the desire to run after him.

Mreelana was abruptly snapped out of her reverie by the sound of heavy footfalls coming down the main road. A large mountain of a man, probably part of the town militia, ran towards her.

“Showtime,” Mreelana sighed, lowering herself to the ground. She laid down as if struck by the horse, lifted her hand to her blackened eye and forced out a few crocodile tears.

“Some one . . . please . . . help me,” she cried convincingly. The mountain of a man lumbered up to her, huffing and puffing and looking disappointingly stupid and ugly.

“Will we ever get to Balefire?” she thought.



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