He had already covered enough ground to be out of the mountains. Before him is the rest of the thinning forest and, beyond that, the vast plains of ice to cross. So far his only troubles were a group of goblins. Apparently he had gotten a bit too close to their encampment, and he certainly didn't mind a bit of sport.
Suddenly Drathlaen felt a bit heavier. He fell from his usual ten foot traveling height to the snow below, landing with a soft crunch in its white fluff. He thought for a second, trying to recall when he last cast the spell, since it didn’t seem that long ago. He immediately dismissed the possibility of anything unusual and sat down to rememorize. In his surprise, however, he had failed to notice a cloaked man who had emerged from the trees some twelve feet away. "You are transporting something that belongs to me. I want it back," he demanded.
Drathlaen looked up from his studies and regarded the man. He was certainly no threat by himself, but, now that he was aware, Drathlaen's keen ears could sense the many others in the trees around him. This was not looking good. "I am simply heading to a temple to visit some old friends. I carry only my dusty spell books, food, and some water. You are welcome to the water. After all, I think it's frozen." He turned the page in his book and looked up a quick spell.
"You cannot hide your actions from the undead! We know you have the satchel in your robes, and we will not allow you to leave here alive if you do not cooperate!" He motioned to the trees behind Drathlaen where his men dropped from the branches into view.
The fact that these men knew his purpose bothered Drathlaen more than a little bit, but it could not fall into their hands. He had to think quickly. He stood up, calmly facing the cloaked figure with his hand slipping into the folds of his robes. He grinned at the cloaked man, bringing a surprised look to his face and teased, "You will be greatly displeased, I'm afraid." The man growled and sent his men into motion. Drathlaen pulled his hand from his robes and began a quick chant.
"Knock him down!" the man shouted, but it was too late. Drathlaen threw out his hand and uttered his final words. A large spear of ice formed and hurled toward the cloaked man. He knew it was coming, though, and narrowly dodged it as it passed by his head and nearly split the large tree behind him completely in half. The man looked at the spear and put his hand to his neck. He looked back at the mage who was now at the bottom of the pile of his men. "I don't care if you have to cut the seams of his very robes! Find it, now!" Any resistance was met with heavy blows until Drathlaen was simply too dizzy.
After a short while of searching, ripping, and throwing, Drathlaen weakly looked up and stated, "I told you, a simple traveler."
He looked at the mage and, in frustration, kicked Drathlaen hard in the head. "You are foolish, mage. Now you will die out here." He looked to his men and ordered, "Take his belongings; we will make him suffer in the cold until he freezes to death." A sly grin crossed Drathlaen's face as his world became black.
* * *
Drathlaen awoke some time later to the sound of an owl in one of the nearby trees. He stood up slowly, so as not to aggravate his growing headache. "Bastards..." he muttered. "I suppose I shouldn't walk up to the temple naked." He found his spell book a few yards off where he had thrown it, pretending to be aiming at one of his assailants. After making himself some meager garments and a new satchel, he took a deep breath of the freezing air. The wind was strong now, whipping his long hair about. They were right of course; no-one could have survived in this weather without freezing to death. However, like most devoted followers of Auril, he had been granted a natural protection from the harsh climate by his goddess.
He slipped into his new garments and walked over to where the cloaked figure had stood. Drathlaen chuckled quietly, "Two birds with one stone." He bowed low as an offering to the Cold Goddess. The felling of the tree would surely allow the passage of her breath. With a single word the ice spear shattered into a thousand pieces. The valuable satchel fell into his hand and he turned into the wind. "Well, at least I shall not have to fear any other ambush in this blizzard." He reenacted his flight spell and floated through raging snowstorm toward his destination: the ice temple.
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~Drathlaen Winterfyre / Dronak / Sselir / Serae / Cerona / ... and my very happy [8th] shaman Bijo and her tiger! ^_^
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