Allewyn looked out over the burning village of Vwelyaen. It will never be the same, she reminded herself. Just hours before, it had been a peaceful land inhabited by loving country folk. Now look where you've got us, Catya, she thought bitterly. The smoke from the fire choked her lungs and the screams of the dying people rent her heart, forcing tears to her eyes. It wasn't supposed to be this way. She shouldn't be feeling sorrow or compassion. Blinking back the tears, she turned her midnight black war horse towards the rest of the Drizhal. Her delicate face pinched tightly with stress; her hands quavered against the reigns, strained from the use of magic. As she approached, her companions gazed upon her fair face and features. Allewyn was, undeniably, an excellent addition to the Drizhal. Her light blonde hair and green eyes accentuated her petite features and made her appear trustworthy, although her companions knew this was far from the truth.
However, in her heart, Allewyn dealt with a far deeper danger than shifty companions. Her heart was changing; she felt it shifting within her very being. The things she thought she believed firmly in were wavering before her very eyes and she was scared.
The clomp of her steed's steel-clad hooves resounded atop the small hill, bringing her back to the present situation.
"Shall we go down?" she asked the Drizhal. Her voice rang out loudly, drawing her men to attention.
Dael, her right hand man during these last few weeks, as well as the tallest on the crew, nodded his head, "Of course."
Allewyn exhaled and led her contigent towards Vwelyaen. The rumbling sound of their steeds hoofbeats on the hills soothed the Drizhal captain's taunt nerves. She pressed her heels into her mount's side, urging it faster. The wind captured the free strands of hair that poked out from under her helmet, tossing them back and forth along her shoulders.
The gates of Vwelyaen loomed ahead. Once, not too long ago, they had stood tall and proud, defending the civilians within their walls; now they were war torn. A battered and broken heap of smoldering rubble. No longer would this village be considered beautiful for the magic of the Drizhal had scortched it beyond recognition. The magic of Catya, thought Allewyn as she brought up her shield around herself and her mount, signaling to Dael and the others that they should follow her lead. Flickering energy hissed in her ears as she stared out from the secure inside of her shield; the outer world was tainted green, the same mysteriously vibrant green that coloured her eyes.
The company entered the gates in pairs of two. Dael let his horse have its head as it fell into step beside Allewyn's steed.
"She did an excellent job." he stated. His head swivled back and forth as he took in the destruction. Allewyn nodded; she strengthened her resolve as she stared out into the wreckage. Her horse carefully picked its way over the broken cobblestone and crushed remnants of wagons. They passed the bakery, its sign, which would have once pushed proudly out onto the street, now hung on a broken beam like some decrepit beast. It squeaked in the wind as it arthritically wagged back and forth.
The company was silent as Allewyn lead the way. She clenched and unclenched her gauntleted hands, the spikes on her knuckles chink-ed with each motion. Ahead was the city square, the place where their mission would begin. Allewyn bit her lip and guided her horse around a burning street vendor's cart. The square looked nothing like it once had; she remembered coming here with Catya before it was destroyed. The place had been brimming with activity; little children were running here and there, crossing the streets with little care for safety. Each horseman and vendor looked out for one another, each making way when possible and all putting self last. Putting self last, Allewyn thought to herself. I wonder what the world would be like without so much hate and self concern.
Reigning her horse to a halt, she dismounted and signaled for her men to do the same. Her mount snorted and pawed the ground, anxious to get away from the smoke and silence. Dael wrapped his reins with Allewyn's and tethered their horses to a piece of wood protruding from a collapsed house. He then turned and rejoined Allewyn at the center of the square; the glow of her shield flickered around her body making her appear pale.
Once the men had found a place to leave their horses, Dael acquired their attention and Allewyn addressed them in a loud voice,
"Drizhal, you are the finest men in the land. I have hand picked you for this task, for I know you alone have the senses sharp enough to detect what must be found." Allewyn clenched her hand, "We look for the Mark. As you know, it is medallion worn by the Shwiyaer. Embedded in their palms, to be more precise. According to Catya, this village was a location of their illegal gatherings. Now that every man, woman, child, and beast has been destroyed, we shall search the bodies for the Mark. Should one of you find it, send for me and our mission will be complete and we may return home."
Allewyn paused and then continued, "If the Mark is on the body of the deceased, we shall remove the part that we require. If, by some chance, the Mark is on the body of the living, you shall not sever the hand from the arm. Instead, we will take the entire body with us. Have I made myself clear?"
The men nodded their agreement; their energy shields crackled as their excitement pulsed through their bodies.
Allewyn allowed herself to smile, "Then be at it. You are dismissed."
With that, the contingent of men broke off into pairs and began the tedious search for the Mark. Allewyn sighed and, taking off her helmet, rubbed her forhead with a finger and thumb. Dael furrowed his brow as he looked at her,
"Are you alright?" he asked. The blue energy from his shield gently collided with hers as he stepped closer.
"I'll be fine." she said as she returned her helmet to her head and gave him a reassuring grin, "I'm just not used to wearing all this armor. Catya trussed us up like turkey's before feasting day. If I didn't know any better I'd think she was nervous about our well being."
"Perhaps she is."
"I hope not. It wouldn't be like her at all."
Dael stepped away from Allewyn and motioned to the town, "Such things we can debate about another day. Let us leave the philosophical for the halls of Zyehyr and complete our mission while there is still sunlight."
Allewyn pursed her lips and nodded, then fell into step beside Dael as they crossed the square to the northern side.
That's all for now! This section has been edited once :) (yay for editing! lol)
Signed with spice and everything nice,