Disclaimer: this story will make more sense if you start with the Prologue
Cynan had to wait some time for the woman to come around.
She had made quite a dramatic entrance, he had never seen anything quite like it. Her sudden appearance was abrupt and chaotic, but certainly not unwelcome.
If not for her… well he didn’t want to think about what Lectyr had planned, but it wouldn’t have been a pleasant time. Cynan was still hanging from the tree, suspended by his arms, tied behind his back.
And that strange light. He should be in agony, but he felt only a little discomfort. The healing talisman Lectyr had implanted in him to prolong his suffering had somehow been supercharged.
He felt as if he was brimming with energy despite not sleeping for days.
He didn’t know if Lectyr was dead, but all that remained of him here was his hand, still gripping his whip.
In his peripheral vision, Cynan saw the woman was beginning to stir. He called out to her to cut him down.
She still looked a little dazed and appeared to be confused. She uttered a few words that made no sense to him whatsoever.
“Oh, you don’t understand” he said rhetorically in a disappointed tone.
She seemed to come to a realisation.
She reached into a pouch hanging on a belt that ran from her right shoulder to left hip. She wore a fine blue robe and he assumed she was some form of scholar. The robe was a little tight and hugged her tiny frame.
She pulled out an amethyst crystal and cleared a small section of ground with her other hand, then drew a small star in the dirt. She placed the gem in the middle then drew a circle around the star. She closed her eyes with a look of concentration.
Cynan thought he saw the star glow for a moment.
She wiped out a portion of the circle before taking the stone and then looked at him as if to size him up.
Cynan was quite a short man. 19 years old, but only about 5 feet tall. He was lean and looked younger than he should, short brown hair with a scraggly beard that had never really filled out that well.
It was doubtful she found him intimidating, especially trussed up as he was but she was probably quite understandably unsure about the situation.
“You seem to be having a bad day” she said after a moment.
He turned his head to look at her in shock. “You speak Arelian?” he asked hopefully.
“Not quite, we can understand each other now, but we aren’t speaking the same tongue”.
He heard his own language but her lips didn’t move in time to what he heard.
“What an amazing use of magic” he thought to himself, he had never heard of a mage with a power like this.
I’ve never even heard of this language before. Just where have I ended up?
How far are we from Greater Sanzuena?” She queried, trying to get her bearing.
“Can we please talk about this after you cut me down?”
“I’m not sure if I can trust you.
This is an odd situation I’ve landed in” she said as she gestured to Pætryc’s very clearly dead body a few feet away. “There could be a good reason that you’re strung up like a smoked ham.
Why don’t you clue me in on this little situation here?”
Cynan figured he didn’t have anything to lose, it was unlikely anyone else would find him out here and he didn’t fancy hanging around until he died of starvation.
“Well. Pætryc and me… uh, Pætryc is the guy on the ground. We found something we shouldn’t have. we figured no one would miss it, so we, um, borrowed it.
It was a lot of, uh, stuff. We tried to sell it and we used a bit of it and the owner heard about us.”
“Ah, so you ran away.” Amara mused “Probably a good idea, but it looks like that didn’t actually go so well.
Where is this ‘owner’ now?” She asked.
“That’s his hand on the ground there, he sorta disappeared when you appeared.”
She spotted what was left of Lectyr, realising she must have traded places with him. He was most likely drifting through the void between worlds, frozen and almost certainly dead.
His story seemed to be reasonable.
“Okay, I’m getting you down, but be warned, I can kill you without even trying, so I would recommend not trying anything even remotely threatening.” She bluffed, as she moved toward the tree.
“My name is Amara by the way. As you may have guessed, I’m a sorceress.” She offered.
“Cynan, Miss Amara… Ma’am” he stammered, not sure how to show proper respect.
“Just Amara will be fine Cynan, I’m not some fine lady.” She muttered as she untied the rope, letting him drop to the ground.
As Cynan ungracefully flopped to the ground, There was a sudden gust of wind. He looked up to find no trace of his mysterious saviour, Amara had disappeared without a trace.
He started looking around for some way to untie his hands wondering what to do next. It was probably best if he didn’t go back home, there wasn’t much left for him now anyway with Pætryc gone.
Fumbling around with his hands behind his back, he managed to find Pætryc’s dagger and painstakingly sawed through his bonds.
“At least I’ve got a horse.” He thought to himself.
He wasn’t completely destitute at least, and after checking over Lectyr’s equipment, he had a decent amount of money and some travel necessities, flint and a bedroll, even a little trail rations.
Lectyr had put aside his bow before tying Cynan up, but he must have still had his quiver when he disappeared.
“Maybe I can purchase some arrows from a traveler later” he thought as he picked up the bow, still strung. He wasn’t a great archer but it might come in handy.
Lectyr hadn’t taken the time to unsaddle the horse and Cynan was full of energy so he climbed up. On a whim, he decided to head South towards Hothryr, he’d never been there before, it seemed as good a place as any to make a fresh start.
It’s been a long time?
Amara barely untied the rope and there was a sudden nauseating sensation.
Looking around, she realised she was no longer in the forest clearing.
She was in an unknown city, surrounded by stone and sand. A few feet away she saw a familiar figure, Cynan, held at knifepoint, apparently being mugged by two thieves who, noticing her, turned to see who was interrupting their business.
It was the distraction Cynan was waiting for. He rushed the two assailants, taking the knife from the first, and slashing his throat. He took a glancing blow to the ribs from the second thief, but it didn’t even draw blood.
Moving in, Cynan stabbed the second man in the chest, then stepped back and let him fall to the ground.
“Nice to see you again” he said, smiling “it’s been a long time, Amara.”