Chapter 37: Torvan

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It is not our place to fight these Eight. Even though they had killed our families, revenge is not an option for us. They are too powerful to withstand. Today, we are charged to weather their threat, survive it, and then move on. Vengeance will one day be ours. We will not remember it. Nor will we be there for it. But the Eight will.

***

Thaen stopped before the iron-studded door. "Shh," he said. "There's someone else past here. Only one, though," he whispered.

Laidu nodded. "We rush him?"

"I'll try to nail him," Thaen said, drawing a nail. "You kicking open the door?" he asked. Laidu frowned. "You know," Thaen said, "to make an entrance?"

Laidu shook his head. "I got a better idea." He grabbed the door handle, and twisted. And, of course, it was the one door in the entire place that creaked.

The bandit was crouched in a hallway, peering at something on the ground. Unlike the rest, he didn't wear the patchwork armor. Instead, what looked like a rough hood covered some of his face, a checkered cowl obscuring from the nose down. It looked like he was drawing something.

His hood looked up, and Laidu saw bright eyes, glittering with malice, stare at them. He scrawled something on the ground, then slammed his hand on the drawing.

Many people had told Laidu that, at some time or another, their hair stood up on end, or their skin got goosebumps. Seeing as Laidu had neither skin not hair, he didn't know what precisely they meant. But he imagined that what he felt now was very similar.

Chills went up his spine, lingered there for a bit, then went right back down and soaked into his flesh, a feeling of dread that was palpable. He shivered ever so slightly. Laidu knew that feeling from Ranger training.

That was the feeling of aether.

The man's hand began to sparkle, it seemed, before erupting into a shifting cacophony of light. The aether, like a glowing gas, surged out of his skin and twisted around the drawing. "Get out of the way!" Laidu ordered Thaen.

Both Laidu and the Vesperati leaped up. Laidu grabbed the Weightless Blood within, and grabbed an iron sconce. You thief! Kasran roared. It is mine! Not yours! My birthright! My gift! Don't touch it, you whoreson! Luclky that they did. The red carpet ripped and burst into flames as a fissure ripped the floor apart, and a grey boiling sludge poured out. Flames flitted across the turgid liquid.

Laidu forced the thoughts down, still holding onto the sconce. "What in the brightin' world is that?" Thaen asked. The flames sprung up to the faded and frayed tapestries, and the blue and green cloth sprang alight with red and orange.

"I think he liquefied the stone." Laidu looked over to the man. He was drawing something on the wall.

"Like magma?" Thaen asked. "Shouldn't we be cooked by the heat?"

Laidu did notice the heat, a muted feeling against his scales. "Don't think it's magma. Not natural looking. Besides, he used a mage glyph to make it," Laidu said. His shoulders were beginning to ache. He drew more from the power of the Weightless Blood. "I'll get him."

Thaen was about to say something, but Laidu interrupted him by kicking off the wall. "You... what... HOW ARE YOU DOING THAT?" Thaen asked, eyes wide as Laidu floated through the air, completely weightless.

Laidu smiled. "Magic," he said. Thaen's expression soured, but he didn't press the issue. That was smart, seeing as Laidu noticed a trembling in his arms. He pushed off of a wall, soaring towards the bandit-mage. Now, it was time to try something else.

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