Somewhere, a distant tide crashed upon the shore. Qua’ Jon was vaguely aware of it, the rhythm of the waves matching the blood pulsing in his head. Each set of waves surged behind his eyes, increasing in pressure, never easing but only doubling their efforts with each contraction of his heart. Even more so, it started to become apparent in his shoulder, as if it wanted to burst out of his skin.
His eyes opened to a blurry world, the fire burning beside him more like a fog of light. The mage’s brow was soaked with sweat, yet a chill ran through his body. Outside of the cave’s mouth, the rain continued to pound down, having increased from when Qua’ Jon was last conscious to witness it.
A hard point was suddenly pressed against his throat. His vision cleared, letting him see the lanky Mirlethian man bending over him. His greasy blond hair hung down in front of his face, almost obscuring his toothy grin.
“Awake, huh, Elf? Maybe I put this point in your throat and you don’t wake up any more? I’ll do you just like you did Turgin.”
The pressure increased enough to puncture skin, allowing a slow trickle of blood to make its way down the blade. Qua’ Jon dare not answer, as any movement of his jaw would only push the point in further. It suddenly abated, however, as the boot of the large Mirlethian woman crashed into his ribs, sending the lanky man sprawling across the floor.
“What did I say, Vanlaug? I have plans for this one. You’ll leave him alone or I’ll be sticking you with the point of that knife.”
The man who must have been Vanlaug scampered off the floor and stood tall. It was apparent he didn’t want to lose face, but the woman loomed over him in an obvious display of dominance. She made no move for her weapon, but instead leveled her gaze unflinchingly at him.
“One day, Eernon, you’ll push me too far. Thats when I’ll push back, I will.”
He turned and walked away deeper into the cave to sit with one of the others. His knife point started scratching the ground, creating a constant scraping sound. He made sure not to look directly in the direction of Qua’ Jon or Eernon, instead starting a hushed conversation with his other companion.
“Little Elf, Little Elf,” she said mockingly, squatting before him “I have so many questions for you.”
Qua’ Jon propped his head up weakly, glancing around the room. “Where is my Queen? What did you do to her?”
“You must be half mad, Elf. You were alone in the wood. There is food and water by your side.”
Qua’ Jon didn’t see Wormchomper anywhere. He imagined that she must have gotten away. His shoulder hurt, but it had been bandaged. He could only guess why they were keeping him alive. It was obvious that they didn’t all share the same opinion on the matter.
His curiosity played itself out across his face. “Why have you kept me alive? Why am I not in a pot? The storm is coming. If I am not dead, I should be getting ready.
She stood back up, the fire casting a large shadow as her bulk blocked the light.
“I saw what you did in the woods, little Elf. I want you to teach me magic.”