26 – Anguish

Rakhanar tore his gaze from the bloodstained sheets and pressed his hand to the wound in his side again.  Could this all be my blood?  Where is Anyah?  Why can’t I remember?

“Anyah!  Anyah! Are you here?”  He waited, tense, hoping for an answer from downstairs, but only silence returned to him.  Dark foreboding settled on his shoulders with the weight of an anvil.

He pulled his hand away from his side again and peered at the cut.  It sliced red against his dark skin, only about an inch across, but it was hard to say how deep it was.  He knew that when he went berserk, his metabolism also ramped up his healing ability, so it might have been a vicious cut, but by now nothing more than a sting.

Did I attack her?  Did she do this to me to defend herself?

Springing from the bed, he lurched to the mirror like a lion on the attack, slapped a palm to his shoulder and turned to examine his back.  Streaks of red glared back at him, a stark accusation.

She raked my back!  I must have hurt her! She must have been fighting me …   Ye gods – what did I do?  Please, please, don’t let it be that I … killed her. 

Rakhanar shoved his hands into his hair, grimacing into the mirror.  His heart hammered against his ribcage and his stomach did backflips, worse than the day before, his first hangover. He had the urge to howl, something, anything to relieve the pressure building up inside of him.

Don’t panic.  Maybe it’s not what it seems.  Maybe we fought, but she just left.  It’s not like her body is right here …

He turned and jumped up on the bed, stood looking out the round wide window, panting.  Remember …  I have to remember …

25 - Anyah Anguish 3

* * *

~Diaman Darshan~

Wizard of Wildfire & Shadow Walker Wordsmith ((a/k/a  The Real Me ))

Diaman Fighting with Fire

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25 – Anyah Agony

25 - Anyah Anguish 1

Awakening was a struggle, swimming up from depths unknown into a shot of sunlight, piercing from the round window above his bed.  Rakhanar’s back stung in streaks and the sheet clung as he groaned and sat up slowly.  An ache down his left side twisted him.  He grimaced, slapped his palm to his side and brought it up to peer at it.  It came away bloody.  Nausea churned in his gut.

What in the world?  Was I in a battle?

His brain resisted him, stubborn; the memory of the night before hiding from him like a relentless assassin.

Wait… I didn’t go back to Crushbone Keep, I went to the hall.  He closed his eyes, tight, and bit his lip. It all came back in a rush, up to the point where the world went black.

Anyah …

Opening his eyes, he snapped his head to the side and plunged a hand into the tangled mass of sheets beside him.  They were blood-stained.  He was alone.

Rakhanar stared, in shock.  Ye gods, what did I do?

* * *

~Diaman Darshan~

Wizard of Wildfire & Shadow Walker Wordsmith ((a/k/a  The Real Me ))

Diaman Fighting with Fire

24 – For Love or Money

Her breath in his ear formed soft words that kicked him in the gut with a stiletto heel.

“… When I was in Neriak, I used to have sex for money.”  Anyah pulled back slightly, grinning as he turned his eyes to meet her mischievous gaze, close.

Rakhanar stared at her silently for a long time, stunned.  Sex for money? I never would’ve imagined.  The idea didn’t appeal to him at all. If I want a female, I want her to want me, not my gold.

Amused by his reaction, she smirked up at him, reached up to stroke his hair.  “You’re just too cute!  You had no idea, did you?  What, have you never been with a female?”

Instinctively, he yanked his head back, startling at her touch like a high-strung stallion.  He took a step back, disentangling himself from her, and grabbed her wrist.  He forced a laugh.

“I’ve been with lots of females,” he lied.

He didn’t think she was buying it.  “Right.  I see.”  She pursed her lips, nodding sagely as she extricated her wrist from his grip and slowly dropped her hand.  He caught her quick glance at her bracer, as if he might have … damaged it?

“How old are you, anyway?” she said, her one revealed eye narrowing, the other still hiding under the veil of her white hair.

“Si – Eighteen.”  Damn.  Blew it again.  I really suck at lying.

 “Mhmm .”  She crossed her arms under her breasts, again pushing them up in a tantalizing display of cleavage.  He could barely keep his gaze from dropping.

She said ‘used to.’  Maybe she doesn’t do that anymore?  Maybe she’s making a new start and she just wants a friend after all?  He licked his suddenly dry lips and opened them to ask her, hoping …

 “I know another game I’m sure you’ll like…”  Slowly uncrossing her arms, she drew her hands over her own flesh in a caress, then slid them up to cross again, higher, stroking over her collarbones.  She slipped her fingers under the straps of her dress at her shoulders and watched him from that one intense blue eye as she teased them down ever so slowly.

His heart went into overdrive.  A shadow of red broke at the corners of his eyes.  Dangerous.  His body started responding, in spite of his resolve.  Does she just want money, or does she really want me?

Her blue-black fingers moved ever-so-slowly, revealing her smooth flesh, until her dress slipped down over the top of satiny bits of clothing that cupped her breasts magically, sans straps.  She let it fall lower, exposing a flat stomach and a tiny waist with such a sweet curve inward.  Lower, over her hips…  And then she was standing with her dress piled at her drop-dead sexy stiletto heeled boots, in nothing but tiny white satin panties and that matching magic creation that lifted her breasts to his hungry gaze.  And those silver bracers, shining against her skin.

Anyah stepped closer, and he stood frozen as she slid her arms around his neck and brought her face so close to his, he felt her sibilant breath on his lips as she spoke.  “Like what you see?”

He just stared at her, silently, red throbbing at the back of his eyes.

“I’ll let you do anything you want to me.  I’ll even let you … finish inside me…”  She whispered, barely brushing her lips against his.

He moaned.  His black vanguard greaves were suddenly binding, as his shaft pulsed with heat. Why is she doing this? I don’t want a female who just wants my gold.  I want her to want me. She doesn’t even have to do that for me, if she doesn’t want to.  I’d give her money for nothing if she needs it. 

It came to him then, how he could find out what he wanted to know without revealing his ignorance to her.  He narrowed his eyes, gave her a slanted smile and managed to speak in a low, casual tone.   “How much for that trick?”

Anyah chuckled, low, sexy.  “I’ll let you decide that.”

Damn.  Damn, damn, damn.  I was really hoping she’d say she didn’t do that anymore.  He reached up and grabbed her wrists from the back of his neck, prying her off of him as he stepped back.  “Wrong answer.”

It was her turn to stand gaping in shock as he flicked her wrists away and headed for the stairs.  Maybe he was just a romantic, but he didn’t want his first time to be with someone who didn’t care about him, didn’t really want him, just his money.  As he headed up the stairs, he looked down to see her watching him, pouting as she pulled her dress up over her shoulders again.

“Well, my dear berserker, if you change your mind, I’ll be around …”

“Right.”  He scoffed.  He was so disappointed, he nearly went on up without another word, but he paused.  “I don’t need to pay for it, Anyah.  If you needed money, all you had to do was say so.”   Meeting her stunned gaze for a moment, he saw something flash across her eyes. He hoped it was regret, but in all honesty it looked … darker.   Anger?  Shame?  Or humiliation?  Rakhanar continued up to his room, not waiting for her answer.   He thought he heard the click of the door as he tugged at the straps of his new cuirass, then peeled the heavy dark armor from his chest and tossed it in his war chest.   His body was raging, burning for release, but he knew how to handle that.  He stretched and sighed heavily, preparing himself for a long, lonely night, the red still humming behind his eyes.  It’s for the best.  No telling what might have happened.  I might have lost control, and hurt her.  I need a friend, someone who understands, someone I care about, someone I know and trust.  Otherwise, I might mark her as a threat if I black out…

He turned, and …

Anyah was there, in his room.  She pierced him with hot, dark blue eyes, her beautiful black body nearly bare again, so enticing with that stark white wild hair matching her panties and bra.  Heat flared in him instantly as she jumped up, wrapping her arms around his neck, and slung one leg up to hook around his still armored hip.  Her satin sheathed breasts pressed against his bare chest as she spoke, breathless.

“I don’t want your money, Rakhanar.  I just want you.”

Seduced by Anyah

Rakhanar didn’t have a chance. Flashes of fire spiked through his body, red flared in his eyes, throbbing with his quickening heartbeat.  Her hands were deft and demanding, hungry.  She knew how to strip him of his vanguard greaves, and the next thing he knew she was writhing under him in his bed, naked but for the silver flash of her bracers.

“Take me, NOW!”  Her eyes were wild, her voice demanding.

He did.

The red …

… flashed white.

And then, everything went black.

* * *

~Diaman Darshan~

Wizard of Wildfire & Shadow Walker Wordsmith ((a/k/a  The Real Me ))

Diaman Fighting with Fire

23 – Seduction

As it turned out, teleporting into Kelethin in black full plate armor with a dark elf by his side was a mistake.  It wasn’t immediately apparent to Rakhanar, who was used to getting odd looks from the fae as he moved through the city with his hood up or his helm down.

His first clue was the dead silence. The next was when the Fae scurried away quietly, while the Chrono Masters who were posted near the globe glared.

Anyah looked around and bit her lip. “Do you think you could show me where the palace is real quick?”

Rakhanar looked down at her. “I don’t see why not. To be honest, I’ve never been there myself.” He headed off in that direction, moving a little more carefully since his helm, in visible mode, made it slightly harder to navigate across the high hanging walkways; even if the fall from the walkway didn’t kill him, it would certainly kill his chances with Anyah.  Strangely, the friendly Fae guard on the lower levels seemed to have disappeared. As they approached the palace platform, Rakhanar heard shouts and clashing metal, as if the palace guard were readying for battle.

“This may not be a good time for a visit,” Anyah said quietly. “Well, at least I know where it is.” She looked up at him and gave him a sly smile. “We can always come by later. How about you show me your home?”

Rakhanar peered down at her and, nearly forgetting his need for concealment, started to open his helm. He caught himself, glanced around warily, and then leaned over to see her better. “Uh… Wait, what… My home? Oh, sure, yeah…”

Whoa, Rakh, that was smooth. Now Rakhanar was glad for the helm which hid his darkening skin. He tried to remember if he had left anything embarrassing out in full view in his drunken state, and he found to his dismay that his heart was beginning to race.

She slipped her hands around his elbow, as dangerously plated as it was, and he turned to head back to his little acorn house. Suddenly his armor felt like an oven, stifling hot within the helm. He desperately wanted a friend, especially a female friend, but something about this didn’t feel right.

Anyah glanced over her shoulder and then back up at him. Although there was no heavy march of plated boots as with human soldiers, there was a definite sense of approaching chaos as the Fae guard floated closer. It was a silence broken by the slice of shifting armor and drawn swords.

“Maybe we should hurry. I don’t want to get caught in their way.” Anyah looked up at him, dark blue eyes widened slightly. He sensed her fear, along with a strange scent – excitement. Stepping up the pace, he rounded the top of the walkway connecting to the platform where the crafting Hall and the Silverleaf Inn were. The innkeeper, Twiggy, cowered back as he marched by nearly dragging Anyah as she clung to his arm. It was amazing how differently the Fae responded to him simply because his armor was no longer the shining silver of their protector, but the foreboding black of the unknown.

Is that all it is?  It occurred to him that it might appear to Twiggy that he was forcing Anyah into his house until she giggled just as he snatched open the door.

He had the distinct feeling that he was doing something wrong, but he didn’t know what. Guilt, confusion, the world spun too fast, and dammit, his helm was suffocating. Snatching it off, he slung it to the wall, yanking the door shut behind them. He shook his head, swinging beads of sweat from his wild hair.

“Tainted Tunare!  What was that all about?”

Anyah clapped her hands together, clasping them between her breasts in a fetching pose. She beamed, her smile wide with mischief.  “That was about fun!”

“Fun? Something’s not –” Rakhanar growled, but she interrupted him with a dainty skip forward, to catch his arm again. Her scent struck him like a wave she was riding, wafting over him, strong, murder in thistle, myrrh in smoke. Enticing, but somehow deadly.

“Oh, come on, lighten up! Let’s play a game. I’ll even let you go first. This game is called, ‘Secrets,’ and it’s wildly popular where I’m from.”

“Neriak, eh?”  Rakhanar narrowed his eyes, but he allowed himself to be mollified, even while his instincts screamed that it was against his better judgment.  She’s a guild mate, surely Lord Toran checked her outRelax, Rakhanar. He tried to convince himself, taking a deep breath to reinforce it, but it barely stuck.

“Yes, Neriak…  Delightful place!  You’ll love it there.  Er, I mean, you would love it there, if you ever came to visit.”

Rakhanar scoffed, flicking up a brow.  Well, let’s see where she takes this.  “Okay, so, this game? ‘Secrets,’ you call it?”

“Yes. You tell me one of yours and I’ll tell you one of mine.”  She smirked, shimmying a little closer to him.  “All right?”

He studied her.  My secret.  Not much of one, now, but one she should definitely know, if she wants to be my friend.  “All right.” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “I have a problem… Controlling myself.  I have these rages. I have to be careful not to kill people close to me.  My friends, allies… I can’t tell, sometimes. I just go blind with it.”

Her eyes widened slightly, and she shivered, but she was smiling.  “Ooooo…  Dangerous!  How thrilling!  You’re a berserker!”

He looked at her askance.  “Aye.  So I’ve been told.”

“We have quite a few of them in Neriak.  We… well, we don’t see them around much, though.  Only in battle.  Surprising to see you here, in Kelethin, unchained.”

“Unchained?”  He gaped at her in shock.  “You chain them up?”

She tightened her lips, clearly realizing she’d said too much.  “Hmm…  Well, I’m sure they’re not nearly as strong-willed and self-disciplined as you are.”  She leaned into him and pressed her palm against his armored chest.  “Anyway, my turn.”

“So…”  She lifted up onto tippy toes, reaching up to cling to the back lip of his armor at the neck with one hand, while cupping her other hand close to his ear. Her scent was overwhelming now, and if not for his armor, her soft flesh would’ve been pressed against his hot skin, smothering. And his skin was hot, ratcheting up with every passing second and every oh-so- casual, accidental brush of her fingers against his chest and arm. But her next words, meant to be whispered seductively no doubt, hit him like a bucket of ice water in the face.

* * *

~Diaman Darshan~

Wizard of Wildfire & Shadow Walker Wordsmith ((a/k/a  The Real Me ))

Diaman Fighting with Fire

22 – Anyah

After sleeping off his all-nighter in his brand new man-sized bed, Rakhanar woke up with his head strapped to his own anvil and his stomach cursing his stupidity in sickening waves. His first hangover.

If I try to fight today, I will definitely die.  With a moan and a slow stretch, he decided to go in to the Elements guild hall and do some work at the forge, instead.  After all, he might run into some guild mates there who would know more about the interior of Crushbone Keep.  He could plan his next mission with some back-up.

Throwing off the covers, he found that he did, at least, manage to get out of his battered armor before crashing into bed. Stumbling naked over to an old battered trunk he’d found in an orc’s tent, he scrounged around inside until he found a pair of threadbare pants, boots, and his craftsman’s vest.  As he stepped into the pants, balancing on one leg, his head started spinning.  He threw himself backward on the new bed, sending the boots skittering under it.  Spread eagle after the crash, he let loose with a dramatic groan, and after a moment to recover, finished pulling his pants up.  Then he shoved himself upright, pulled the vest over his head and leaned over to fish the boots out from under the bed, nearly losing the contents of his grumpy stomach. Boots on and he was ready.

A call spell later and he was standing in the wide circular entranceway to the hall, staring at the fluttering tapestries. He headed into the crafting hall, but there was no one but the staff around. The table of food had been cleared.  For that he was thankful; the smell of ham at the moment might have been too much to take.

“Morning,” he muttered, as he tossed a few coins to the feline female who kept up the supplies for the hall.

She slung a bag of coal over the counter with an odd flick of a whiskered brow.  “Somewhere, I suppose,” she smirked.  “Sun’s setting outside, last time I looked.”

He rolled his eyes at his own error and her snide reminder, but kept his mouth shut.  A memory flickered in his muzzy brain — Rhygar, the frogman armorer, had come in to do a stint of bartending the night before, taken one look at the mess Rakhanar had made of his armor and shook his head in disgust.  “Ruint,” he’d muttered, clicking his fly-catching tongue. “Long overdue for mumble mumble…”

So, as fast as Rhygar was, at least his late start meant his new armor should be ready.

After stoking the forge, he picked up the tongs and hammer, grabbed a hunk of iron and set to work.  At first, the heat made his head and belly roar right along with the forge, but after he worked up a good sweat, he began to feel better, as if the toxins he had consumed were pouring out through his pores.

Lost in his craft, he didn’t know he was being observed until a soft hand alighted on his shoulder, even as he brought his hammer down to strike.  He snapped his head around to peer into large, dark blue eyes framed by blue-black skin.  It was not Lady Lhasa, but an unfamiliar female.  Her hair was a sultry drape across one eye, and flowed, stark white, around her face.

“Hello there,” she purred.

Rakhanar slammed his hammer down at the wrong angle, sending sparks careening dangerously and a shiver of pain up his arm.  He grimaced, grunted, and dropped the hammer and tongs, steadying himself as red sparked across his eyes and then straightening to look at her.

“Ah… uh, hello.”  Brilliant opening line. “You need help?  I haven’t seen you here before.”

“I just joined the guild today.  I’ve hardly met anyone, yet.” She pouted.  “I’m lonely.”  Her gaze dropped slowly, and though her eyes were hidden under long white lashes and partially concealed by the hair that fell to her shoulders, he could see her appraising him.  A coy smile tugged at a corner of her full, bow-shaped lips.

Rakhanar raised a brow. That’s rather straightforward. He gave a soft snort of surprise. I’ve been lonely myself.  Somehow I don’t think that approach would work with me.

“I am Rakhanar.”   With a polite bow, watching her eyes, he added, “Now you know one more person here, at least.”

Her smile widened.  “Not nearly well enough.  I am Anyah. Where are you from, Rakhanar?”

“I have a place in Kelethin.”

“Kelethin? Really?”  She smirked, a brow up.  “I can’t say I’ve ever been there.  I’m from Neriak.”

“Hmm.  Never been to Neriak, either.”  In fact, he didn’t really have a clear idea where it was.  He’d only heard the name of the city once, as a child.  It had stuck in his head because he overheard his father say that he thought Rakhanar belonged there.  If he’d ever hurt one of the fae in a rage, he would have sent him there.

“Can you show me around Kelethin? A big, strong man like you could protect me there, don’t you think?”

He tilted his head.  Protect her there?  Why would she need to be protected in Kelethin?  The thought barely crossed his mind before he dismissed it, grateful to find a female who was kind to him and apparently willing to be his friend.  Maybe, in time, more than a friend?  He shrugged.

“Of course.  It’s not exactly dangerous.  Except for the orcs, but we manage to keep them at bay.  They’re constantly trying to burn down Tunare’s Sapling, though.”

“Ooooh, orcs!  Nasty creatures!” She shivered and hugged herself, pushing her breasts up, drawing his gaze down.  Suddenly the cleft between them became fascinating.  He stared a second too long, pulled his gaze back to her face, but not before she noticed.  He felt heat rise to his face, but she didn’t seem perturbed.  She just turned her head and offered a sidelong glance, mysterious under her white veil of hair and long, shadowed lashes.

He narrowed his eyes for an instant, studying her.  Something about her made him feel on edge.  She wore silver bracers that ran the length of her forearms, but her dress was a satiny, form-hugging short shift that was definitely made to show off her curves.  He shook off the nagging uneasiness, assuming he was just having a bout of shyness with this assertive and friendly female.

“No need to fear, they’ll never get up on the platforms,” he assured her. He studied her for a moment, thinking. Touring Kelethin.  I need to change, to conceal my face… armor or robe?  Considering her desire for protection, unwarranted as it might be, he glanced over the counter to find the new armor crate waiting for him.  Vaulting over, he snagged a crowbar from the shelves underneath, cracked open the crate and pulled out the armor, setting each piece out on the counter.  This armor was black, shining dully, larger and heavier.  He liked the look of it.

Rakhanar bit his lip, pondering. There was no separate dressing room in the hall.  So does that mean…? He had never been allowed to go skyclad with the fae, though he knew they had no taboo against it among themselves, and he also knew why that had not applied to him, now.  But now he was among humans and elves, so that should mean he was no longer under any such restriction. Making a quick decision rather than display ignorance by asking what would undoubtedly be considered a stupid question, he pulled his vest over his head, kicked off his soft leather boots, tugged at the lacing on his pants, and stripped them down.  When he looked up, Anyah was staring at him, but she did not seem offended in the least.  She actually seemed … slyly appreciative?

So, that answers that question.  If I’d been wrong, she’d be looking away and blushing, right?  He shot a slanted smile toward her and stepped into the soft sweatpants he wore under his armor.  In minutes, he was geared up.  The new weight of the black armor was noticeable but comfortable, making his old, wrecked armor seem light.  He vaulted back over the counter easily.

He hesitated, then offered Anyah his arm, smiling down at her. She slid a hand around his elbow and gazed up at him with her eyes half-closed, a smile on her lips that had a trace of satisfaction in it.  He headed back to the entrance hall to the magic globe across it, tapped the gem on the helm to make it visible, hiding everything but his eyes, and willed them into Kelethin.

* * *

~Diaman Darshan~

Wizard of Wildfire & Shadow Walker Wordsmith ((a/k/a  The Real Me ))

Diaman Fighting with Fire

 

21 – Shadow Walker Wordsmith

This isn’t about me. And this isn’t the time to question the worth of the tale. I will continue, because this is what I do. I write because I love to write. I will honor my half-sister, and perhaps find some peace in the emetic miracle of this craft.

But yes, I digress …

That night at the Frosted Brew when Rakhanar met Eigengrau was to become one of his fondest memories in the last days of his true innocence. He’d found a friend. A furry friend, true, but loyal to a fault. Yes, with her dog-like brain, she had a tendency to run off, chasing butterflies or whatever interesting stink wafted her way on the wind, but her heart was pure gold.

Rakhanar stayed for a while, charmed and soothed by the gnoll, having no idea that this creature’s kin were at that moment camped on the outskirts of the City where he had been born, planning their next attack. But then again, neither did Grau. She was no spy. She was the exception to the rule, a reminder not to take anything for granted, not to typecast anyone or anything.

He stayed, he drank a few ales, and drank a few more ales. He listened to the chatter around him and scratched the scruff of the gnoll; she promptly fell asleep with her head in his lap and her feet in the air. Before he knew it, the night was gone and the gray of dawn was perking up to pink through the snow-framed, wide bay window that looked out over the icy waters surrounding New Halas.

Now this is a strange part of the narrative, because this is the day he met … me. Diaman Darshan.

It’s quite an experience to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. And this is what I see, when I hold this sparkling memory crystal, tapped from a young human berserker’s mind, and let my mind go empty.

***

It was a shock for Rakhanar to walk out of the fire-warmed tavern, even into the shelter of the ice caves of New Halas. Only then, it occurred to him; he really didn’t have much of a home to go to. The upstairs in his tiny little giant acorn home was barely furnished, the bed a gift that was really more suited to someone not quite so big. The furniture downstairs was fae sized, too, for the most part. Sitting and drinking and petting Grau while listening to the tales of his guildmates and the other warriors who frequented the Frosted Brew had put his conscience to sleep with the gnoll, temporarily.  The thought of the fae city brought it roaring back. Guilt. Guilt over Siffy, and about failing in his mission at Crushbone Keep. The thought of going back to Kelethin while there were fae still captive …

He was still in his battered armor. He had to get some rest.

I probably stink to high heaven, too.

Rakhanar headed toward the circular platform where the crafting guild of New Halas, the Ravens of the North, had set up a workspace. He stumbled as he hit the steps, feeling the brews, and of course he had to turn back and scowl at whatever it was that had tripped him. Walking a few steps backward, he then turned and slammed into a slender, robed, dark-skinned male with shaggy white hair, sending him sliding across the icy stone on his rear. The fireball the male had been juggling turned into a missile, screaming off like a bottle rocket to zing off of a rafter, shriek past the ear of a mohawked barbarian, bounce off a sales counter and explode into a sizzling puff of steam in a snowdrift at the edge of the ice cave.

Dead silence.  All eyes turned to stare at the two.

Rakhanar grimaced, peering at the male. Pointed ears peeked through the mass of white hair, but his skin was more chocolate toned, like Rakhanar’s, than the usual blue-black hue of the Tier’dal. Half-elf then. Ayr’dal. And apparently a magic-user of some kind.

The wizard gaped back, blue eyes in bright contrast to his burnt umber flesh. He flapped his hand, just realizing that the fireball had left its painful mark when he’d lost control of it.

“Ouch. That stings! Duds and dalmations! I wasn’t ready for that.” The wizard stuck his finger sideways in his mouth to cool the burn and glared up at Rakhanar.

“Bu big dupid oath,” he mouthed around his wound.

“What?” Rakhanar, drunk and tired, felt a flash of anger, but he managed to stomp it out before it got out of hand. It sputtered and died, smothered by his exhaustion, and was replaced by a flush of shame. “Never mind. I… I’m sah… sor… ” he started, but he couldn’t quite get the words out, surrounded by all these menacing bruisers with their scorecard eyes.

“Let me help you up. You alright, old man?”

“O – old – old man?” the wizard sputtered while Rakhanar stood poised with outstretched hand. “I’m hardly that old. Maybe to you, punk. I’ve half a mind to… “ He muttered something under his breath, but he did reach up and accept the proffered hand. Once on his feet, he slapped his flame-embroidered robe fussily, and then seemed to shrug it all off.

“Well. No harm, no foul, eh?” Looking up at Rakhanar, he nodded curtly, with a tight, cat-ate-the-canary smile. “Diaman Darshan, Wizard of Wildfire. And you are?”

Rakhanar paused, then said, more slowly than he intended, drawing out the last ‘r’, “Rakhanar…” Somehow after that introduction, he felt naked without a title. Rakhanar what? Roaming Rager? Nah. “Er, aye, uh, Rakhanar.”

Diaman barely batted an eye, simply met his gaze with a bit of a humorous twinkle in his eyes. “Just … Rakhanar?”

He nodded, feeling a flush rise to darken his cheeks. Botched that. Making it pretty obvious I don’t want my last name slung around.

“How intriguing.” The wizard made a little humming sound, his gaze thoughtful, and lifted a hand casually, palm up. Another fireball began to form over it. Behind him, a barbarian cleared his throat.

Diaman startled and snapped his head back to glance at the glowering giant. “Oh. Right. Maybe not.” He turned back to Rakhanar and shook his hand, dissipating the spark. This time he managed not to burn himself.

“Aye, I think they’ve seen enough of that today,” Rakhanar chuckled. “I’d buy you a drink for your trouble, but I just closed out the tavern.”

“Ah, that’s just as well. Not much of a drinker. The alcohol they sell in there is, um, flammable.” The wizard barked out a staccato laugh, just an octave too high.

Rakhanar tightened his lips, trying not to laugh at the image that called up in his mind. This half-elf’s a lit match. And here I am, a walking powder keg. Fun combo.

***

And that’s the moment I decided to be his scribe.  I’d just cast my little modified version of  “Bind Sight.”  I was reading his mind, of course.

I didn’t tell him that for a long, long time, however. With a bit of prying, I found out about his furnishing problem, and as it turns out, I dabble a bit in carpentry. So I offered to make him a bed and a couple of chairs, and when he left, I slipped into the shadows and earned my second title. Shadow Walker Wordsmith.

I’ve been following him ever since.

* * *

~Diaman Darshan~

Wizard of Wildfire & Shadow Walker Wordsmith ((a/k/a  The Real Me ))

Diaman Fighting with Fire

20 – Invisible

I stare at this note from this anonymous fan, and my hand begins to shake.

Me? My life?

In my other hand, I’m juggling a fireball, my usual nervous habit. It’s why all my notebooks are specially made, fire-proof.

My life? Nobody gives a damn about me. Nobody even sees me. Even when I’m NOT invisible.

I toss the note into the air and flash the fire from my hand to incinerate it, dead on.

Dead on.

 

* * *

~Diaman Darshan~

Wizard of Wildfire & Shadow Walker Wordsmith ((a/k/a  The Real Me ))

Diaman Fighting with Fire