Anna’s Friday Five (Hundred)

Oh, hey, a WoW post.

The lovely Anna issued a ficlet challenge to her readers last Friday.  The original question was posed to my Alliance-side guild (by our favorite Pretentious Bastard) with slightly different rules (write about a character that’s not your own, and do it in 1,024 characters)  but the scenario was the same:  a character is walking somewhere and is mugged.  What is his or her reaction?

Anna gave us 500 words to do it in, and I confess, I’ve gone over.  My final wordcount is 610, but considering that’s cut from 830-something, I’ll take it.  I went with Davien, my undead mage, since it’s been a while since the ol’ girl had herself a Moment of Badass.

So.  Here ’tis.

Krintas Meriwether lay in the sewers, waiting for his prey.  Cold water weighed down the fabric of his stolen robes and made him shiver.  He groaned in case someone was nearby.

Awilo Lon’gomba sent mushroom-hunters down here twice a week, and twice a week, some sympathetic soul discovered the washed-up Krintas, pried the grate out of the wall, and helped him limp out into the light of Dalaran.  They never noticed the coin purses being liberated from their persons until he was long gone.

Splashing footsteps echoed down the tunnel.  He groaned again.  The footsteps paused, resumed, grew closer.  Gentle waves lapped at him.  “Ah, now,” said a voice from above.  He cracked one eye, looking up and up into the glowing golden eyes of a rotter.

She had a well-worn satchel hanging from one thin shoulder, its sides bulging with mushrooms.  A black smudge marred the wide brim of her grey hat, like someone had held charcoal before touching the felt.  “Are ‘ee all right, sweetling?” she asked, kneeling down in the muck on the other side of the grate.  The cold didn’t seem to faze her.

What do hot and cold matter to the dead? Krintas pushed up onto his elbows, then fell back with a feeble whimper.  “The spell…”  He gasped.

“Aye, that’ll happen if y’re too heavy-handed with the arcane.  It’ll be guided, but if ‘ee try shovin’, it’ll shove back.”  She tilted her head and sniffed the air.

This isn’t the time for a lecture, you rotter bitch. He nodded anyway.

“Come, then, let’s get ‘ee out o’there.”  She curled long, pale fingers around the bars; Krintas shied back from the heat.  The grate came away melted and misshapen, hissing when she set it in the water.

He hesitated to take her outstretched hand — surely his skin would burn — but he swallowed the fear, and when she helped him up, her touch was merely warm.

They made their slow, shuffling way to the surface.  Near the top, he stumbled.  This was the moment where he’d take his victims’ earnings.  Krintas reached for the woman’s belt pouch, felt its weight in his hand…

Her iron grip closed over his wrist.  “Impersonatin’ a mage is a fool’s game, sweetling.”

Krintas froze.  Down below, she’d looked thin to the point of frailty.  And I looked like an out-of-luck mage.  The gods are laughing.

“There’s not a speck o’ the arcane around ‘ee.  Not a whiff o’talent in y’r blood.”  With her free hand, she slipped a coin from her pouch.  Her fingers brushed his.  Now they were hot.

He squirmed, but she didn’t let go.

“Y’want a coin?” she asked.  She turned his hand, pressing the gold piece into his palm.  Krintas howled as he smelled his own flesh cooking.  It wasn’t entirely unlike Awilo’s hot ribs.  “I’m doin’ ‘ee a mercy.  The Tor finds out y’re usin’ their colors, they’ll do far worse.”

She let go.  The coin fell to the ground and rolled away.

“Now run, love,” she said, hefting her satchel, “an’ find an honest trade.  Mayhaps one outside o’Dalaran.”

Krintas Meriwether fled, clutching his branded hand and sobbing in pain.  He didn’t stop until he’d flung himself through the portal to Undercity, where he fell to his knees and plunged his hand in the waters of yet another sewer, this one green and putrid.

When the burning subsided, he held up his hand and whimpered.

From inside a perfect circle, Archmage Antonidas glared at him, accusing.  At the top of the curve, where Dalaran’s motto should have been, was one word.

Thief.

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