Here’s the next installment in “Heritage!” Be sure to vote for your choice this week!
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Noshli spun around and stared at the front of the room in shock. A large tree crashed through the front window, sending shards of glass flying in every direction. Several patrons ducked down at the first sound and missed getting hit, but there were a few who held their faces in pain, trickles of blood seeping through their fingers. Noshi dashed down the steps as another tree limb slammed against the side of the tavern, the whole building shivering at the impact. A creaking noise, barely loud enough to be heard over the raging storm outside the broken window, was the only warning Noshli got. One of the beams in the ceiling began a slow descent towards a group of people, a few who had been hit by glass, and a few more who were trying to help them. Noshli dashed further into the room, her arm raised towards the beam.
“Orean ceall pakres scollen naedri,” she shouted. A surge of energy filled the pit of her stomach, flowing up through her body and towards her outstretched hand. Her hood slipped off her head as magic flowed from her fingertips and coated the beam and the walls. The beam stopped in midair and hovered over the people, who had finally realized that they were in danger. They scattered, the injured grasping at the others for help. Noshli held the beam up until the last one was safe. After what seemed like an eternity, she let it drop. The table where the people had been sitting was reduced to splinters.
Noshli took in several gasping breaths. It had been a long time since she had summoned any magic. She tried to breathe slowly, to bring her heart beat back to normal. Her legs felt jittery and she had to lean against the railing of the stairs to keep from falling. As she got control of herself, still weak but at least able to think, she realized that everyone in the tavern was staring at her. She put a hand to her head and felt that her hood had fallen off, her cat-like features vividly on display.
“What’re ya on about!” one of the men shouted. He had been hit by the glass, but not badly. The thin red line on his face wasn’t bleeding any longer, but the rest of his face was contorted in anger.
“It’s one a’ them elves,” another man hissed. “We shoulda known.”
Noshli’s heart sank. Her eyes darted back and forth between the faces staring at her, looking for someone who might take her side, but there was no one. A hand touched her shoulder and she whirled around. It was the bar man, presumably the one who thought it was funny to name a tavern after a fox in a monk’s habit. He didn’t seem to have a sense of humor now. “You need to get your things and leave,” he said. “Now.”
“But sir,” Noshli said. “Please . . .”
“I’ll not be havin’ your ilk tearing up my tavern,” he said, gesturing towards the window, which still had most of a tree stuck through it. Noshli understood. They thought she had caused everything, instead of only intervening when people were in danger. It would take too long to explain, and no one would believe her anyway. She should have known better. Drawing her hood back over her head, she dashed back up the stairs as tears dripped down her face. Luckily she had few belongings. She hadn’t even unpacked anything. She hoisted her rucksack onto her back and made her way back downstairs, hoping they would just let her leave and not try to take things any further.
The tap room was quieter. The storm, having made its point, was beginning to die down now. The people downstairs had decided to ignore Noshli as she made her way to the door, a fact for which Noshli was grateful. She passed the bar man and felt as though she should say something, but when she met his cold gaze, she found that no words would come out. With a sigh, she opened the door and stepped out into the drizzling rain. She’d have to find shelter somewhere on the road.
The road, however, was less accommodating. Noshli had hoped to find some sort of abandoned building, or at least a grouping of trees that could provide some shelter, but the land stretched on either side of the road, perfectly flat except for the occasional scraggly, useless tree. If I can’t find good shelter, I might as well keep walking, Noshli thought. The decision made her legs feel heavy, each step taking more effort.
“Hey!” said a loud voice behind her.