Photo Credit: ArtStation – Pablo Palomeque

Magic sparked in the elf’s hands as she realized she was outnumbered. The brigands encircled her, holding an assortment of their own weapons.


“Easy now,” she said in her own tongue. Of course, they wouldn’t understand. They were only human.


The trees that surrounded the footpath loomed over them, oaks and birches all seeming to vie for a view of the tension.


“Don’t speak your cursed words, elf,” one brigand spat. He seemed to be the leader of this rough group. She called upon the power within her, and soon it began to feel that she’d burst.


“Just give us some of your g-” The leader of the thieves was cut off by a fireball exploding against his chest, throwing him against a nearby tree. The other men surged forward to the elf while she prepared another spell. She cast, and wind pushed those closest to her away.


“Didn’t have to be this way,” the elf murmured. She spun, hand outstretched, and stones flew as tiny missiles to their targets. Half of the brigands were cut down by this.


The elf felt a wave of nausea. The lead thief was standing and holding a golden amulet.


“Magic’s not gonna help you now, elf,” the man sniffed. A sneer spread across his face. “This thing blocks your deviling magic! How incredible is that?”


The elf’s face twisted into a grimace as she loosened the longsword in the scabbard that hung on her waist. With a rasp of steel on leather and brass, the sword was in her hands, held defensively in front of her. “Try me,” she spat. Still, the humans could not understand her.


The light that filtered through the trees gleamed on the blade, making the thieves hesitate. They were half expecting her to be powerless without magic, and now they could see they were wrong. The sword looked light in her grip, and she held the weapon with such ease that they could’ve suspected she was a master at the craft. Yet the humans only saw the quality of the longsword. It was simple: lacking adornment, save the opal set into the pommel. Practical leather wrapped the hilt, and the blade had a channel that ran the length of the blade. Light flashed off of it as she flicked the blade around with little effort – a testimony to the balance of the weapon. In the brigands’ eyes, though, it looked simple to them, and they missed the practicality of the weapon.


The elf also appeared simple – unarmored, with pointed ears and long raven hair, pulled into a braid. She wore simple clothes, but not baggy. A satchel hung from her shoulder and rested on her hip. A dagger was hidden underneath. Despite this, all of it was practical. 


The first thief stepped up with a cruel grin on his face. He held a saber and buckler and was armored with random scraps. Boiled leather covered his chest, and steel protected his arms and legs. This was the only one that was armored, she noticed. She moved her right hand midway up her blade for more control.


The armored thief swung in a large, overhanded sweep. The elf sidestepped easily and maneuvered the point of her sword at his unprotected side. The blade bit deep, and the man’s eyes lost their luminescence. She withdrew it quickly and spun to the others, a sheen of red coating the silver longsword for four inches of its length.


“Which of you is next?” she asked the appalled brigands. None of them showed signs of understanding her words yet.


She heard whistling air and ducked as a studded club passed by where her head was only moments before. She gripped her blade by the hilt and pushed up, meeting slight resistance. She looked up into the lifeless grimace of the man with the club. The elf swung the blade backhanded and cut the next who was approaching her. One thief with a backsword struck out with his blade, drawing a thin line across her thigh. She frowned but cut deep into the neck of the one who scored the cut. She glanced about now.


The other thieves seemed hesitant to engage. The one who held the amulet was screaming curses at the others, but most of them stepped back. The elf spiked her blade in the ground, resting on it, curious to see what they would do. She was confident, now, that she could fight all of them and come out on top.


All but one of the brigands fled back into the trees, not wanting to risk their lives fighting this elf. The lead thief remained, an amulet clenched in one fist and a zweihander in the other. He shoved the amulet in a pocket and adopted a low stance. The elf tugged the sword free of the ground and held the sword across herself.


“I have somewhere to be soon,” the elf said conversationally. The brigand just snarled and launched himself at her. The giant sword swept towards her waist, which she caught on her blade and allowed to slide past. The hiss of steel on steel grated on their ears until the small spikes a short distance from the crossguard bounced them apart. The thief pulled the big sword up and around, bringing the sword on a path that would rend her from shoulder to opposite hip. She stepped back, but not quite enough. The point of the seven-foot sword nicked her upper arm, and she retaliated with her own cut, slicing along his hands. The man dropped the weapon in pain but soon recovered, tackling the elf to the ground. Her longsword was flung from her grip.


They rolled across the path, both trying to maim the other. The brigand tried to take the elf’s satchel, while she tried to pull the dagger from her belt. Finally snagging the bag, the man tried to escape the brawl, but he was quickly flipped and pinned. The elf’s face displayed no emotions as she surgically brought the blade down on his neck. Still holding the satchel, he caught her wrists and pushed to keep the threatening blade from his neck. Still, slowly, ponderously, the short blade grew closer to its target. The elf put her other hand on the back of the blade to provide more pressure.


“It’s bad business to try to take something from me,” she said through clenched teeth. She leaned forward for more weight on top of the blade. When the man’s arms finally gave out, she nearly flipped over his head as the blade lost the resistance. She stared at the headless body for some time, exhausted from the fight. She extricated herself and the satchel from the man’s grasp and looked about for her sword. She frowned at the blood covering the steel of both her knife and her longsword. She chose to clean them on the dead brigand’s shirt before she sheathed them. Placing the satchel back over her head, the elf continued on to the harbor.


It wasn’t too much longer before the elf stood on the pier looking at mastheads. She found the one she needed soon enough – it sported the flag of the Sylvan Kingdom and a darker, black one underneath. A device meant to scare; the skull and bones. She stepped lithely onto the wooden bulwark.


“Ah, Kastantala, you’re back! D’you get what I wanted?”


“Yes,” she replied. “It should all be there, Captain.” She tossed the satchel to an elf who stood behind the barque’s wheel. The satchel contained the orders from the elven king for the crew of this ship to continue their privateering, in addition to a provision of gold for their previous work.


“Oh, and please welcome aboard our guests on the Specter!” the captain said after inspecting the satchel’s contents.


“I thought we didn’t take passengers, Captain Tarilas,” Kastantala responded, noticing the two other elves near the rough captain. One was old – of that she had no doubt. The other seemed to be around her age. The older of the two stepped forward.


“Hello, Rrae Kastantala,” he started. “My name is Evaerin Tevan. My friend here is Val.” Rrae nodded to them and stepped onto the deck of the sleek pirate vessel.


“Rrae,” the younger one called. “Evaerin and I would seek your help.”


“With what?” she asked, spinning on them.


“I want to destroy the Iron Republic,” he said quietly.


She gave it a moment’s thought. The Republic had been a looming threat for quite some time; since before her time. The people ruled by them were miserable, especially the closer to the capital one was. “Did you even have to ask? Of course, I will!” Evaerin stepped in.


“We’ll discuss it more once we are closer to Sylvan Kingdom territory,” the wizened elf said.


“Fine by me,” Rrae answered, rubbing her palms together.