A flash of tiny bright dots blinded Merryn from the spell

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A flash of tiny bright dots blinded Merryn from the spell. Rubbing them, she stumbled onto the cobblestone walkway. She pulled a map out of the pouch on her hip. Now, where was it again? The port and the book were at opposite ends of this city.  Yes, it's off ahead, near the northern district.

The paved jade streets and marble lined walls bled of status and wealth. No, there wasn't any point bothering to try to fit in and ask people questions, no time. It would be a lie to say their disdainful looks didn't sting, of the men and women who passed by each haughty face and glare were as subtle as a kick in the gut. She glared back.

The corners of her mouth drooped. It was bad enough having to learn the darker arts, let alone be dumped into this human city. Couldn't blame the elder adepts, they were already pushed past their limit keeping everyone at home from succumbing to the arcane spirits. Now wasn't the time to give in. Concentrate on the mission, and need to hurry now. They didn't say how long the runes would hold. It was hard calling him, but had to be done.

"Feared Kage, pull the shadows and wrap them tight, with a kiss of the night." She whispered.

A shaded figure arose out of the street, he touched her hand. As he did a coolness flowed over starting at her feet spreading from end to end.

"Ah, the spirit adepts calls. So, you pledge to be bound by my pact and accept the cost?" His voice a soft breath that whispered in her ears.

 She swallowed. "Yes." Generally, the cost was exhaustion.

He curtly nodded before flipping over and dispersing back down through the street.

Majestic trees dotted in the city, providing cool shade, she edged away into the shadows; avoiding the light, one touch would break the spell of hidden. She pressed to a house wall, working her way forward.

Crouched down, she breathed slow and even. Soft pink petals floated down, carpeting the streets. People sat under them, chatting; ignorant. The petals created a false sense of serenity to the city, it masked the evil here, contained in a fragile cage; its magics within weakening. It was already breaking out.

The shadows moved of their own, gliding up the sides of the buildings. A thin tail lead back to the castle were it hugged the walls and buildings as it trickled back before sliding through a crack. The humans couldn't see them. She shivered. It was awake. The other adepts should never have agreed to let them guard it, hell they can't even see its spirit.

Can't just sit here. She worked her way towards the back-end of the city. The elite lived here in their white houses, decorated with paintings of the spirits. While most other houses had the spirit of fire, this one had three fish heads encircling each other. Along the edges of the house, the blue foamy waves crested over the doorway, offering peace and blessings to those who resided or visited.

Padding closer, her footsteps, but of a whisper; her outline, but a shadow. The spell absorbed the surrounding darkness, wrapping about. Stopping as she crouched near the high outer castle brick wall. The old woman had lied! A seer still patrolled the castle. This could be a problem as some guards could detect fresh cast spells. Prowling the alleyways through the large gardens, she hid behind some small bushes and potted plants. There, it's clear now. Crouching low as possible, she sprinted to the house ahead.

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