Chapter 102: The Transfiguration of Aoife Corvain

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A wise word of advice for those young ladies under the tutelage of the Necromancer's peers; don't believe that her apprentice is weak. The Necromancer chooses not the strongest, but the most creative, and in a duel of sorcery, where knowledge is the weapon, creativity shall always supercede strength.

Also, before the duel, invest in poppy oil. It will hurt.

***

At some point, they had gotten horses. 

Maioran was too tired to notice. He sat in the saddle, his legs, inner thighs, and lower back ached and burned. He hated these things, these ugly, longfaced beasts. 

His was tired, he could tell, and so was everyone's else. Aoife had been giving them strength, but it only lasted so long (He also wished that Aoife had given him some of that strength, but no such luck).  They were pressing hard towards a port, and Aoife wanted to get there before... something. Aoife seemed to relish not telling people information, not filling them in. Maybe it was a thing with sorcerers. 

"Hold up," Aoife said. The horses gratefully slowed. Had they understood her? Maioran couldn't put it past her. Sorcerers, as mentioned above, were a weird bunch. Then again, they did touch strange and eldritch powers beyond mundane reckoning; it was hardly a surprise they were a bit funny in the head. "There are a few friends who have come to meet us." 

Friends? Since when did the freaky sorceress have friends? That was for normal people, people who didn't make a point of meddling with otherworldly forces. 

"Can we trust them?" Invidia asked. She, besides Finn and Aoife, seemed to be the only one who wasn't hurting from the long horse ride. No doubt from her training as a Ranger. 

"These three have been serving my family for centuries," Aoife said. Great. If these 'friends' were serving for centuries, then they weren't normal. Of course not. After all, they were the friends of a sorceress. "Dismount. Horses are no use to us now." 

"No use? We can clearly ride through the forest," Finn said. 

"And any more, and we'll kill the poor beasts." Aoife dismounted her horse with surprising grace, before patting her horse's flank lightly, as if to reassure it. She undid the strap and lowered the saddle onto the ground, before removing everything else from the animal. "We can walk." 

"And what about these saddles? Are we just supposed to carry-" Finn shut his mouth as Aoife held her palms over her saddle. There was a small flash of gentle light, and the saddle was gone. "I thought you said you didn't want to use sorcery." 

"Yes. However, our pursuers are close enough that whatever I do can be undone, or worked around, by a magician of even a fraction of my skill." Aoife frowned. "I wished we could have avoided a conflict, but it appears it is inevitable. Hence, the friends." 

"Who are these friends?" Finn asked Magnus. Maioran wondered the same thing. 

He dismounted, and helped his brother off. "That... hurts," Tieoran said. "My legs! I don't feel this bad after swimming around an island, and that takes a lot out of you!" he told his brother. 

"I know. I did that too." 

"Oh, right," Tieoran said. "She said friends. Are they nice friends?" 

"How should I know?" Maioran asked. "I haven't yet met them!" 

"Right. Sorry. Not thinking," Tieoran said. "She said we were being pursued? Shouldn't we be running?" Maioran fussed with the ties on his saddle, before unhitching the thing. He removed the bit, and, unlike the last few times, where the horse had nipped playfully at his fingers, this time, the thing was too tired. Froth flew from its mouth when it breathed in and out. Aoife did her trick, and with a flash of light and a gust of cold air, his and Tieo's saddle were gone. 

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