• Clang!!
    The sound reverberated through the normally silent forest.
    “Yes, that’s definitely the sound of a struggle.” Bastien thought aloud.
    He looked around at the hundreds of trees. Trees so tall and close together as to create twilight in broad daylight. So many trees deflected the sounds in many directions, and distance didn’t help either.
    Bastien focused, he had to find the struggle quickly or he might never find the cause.
    This time he heard it. His elven ears pricked. Due west, the direction of the demon’s fortress. The elves knew to stay away from there, and no civilian ever wandered in this forest.
    “An….Assassin?” Bastien mused, “Whadayaknow, the old man isn’t just getting paranoid.
    The elven mage spoke of his meeting with his master not an hour before. Bastien had been in the library of the Arcane Sanctum, a guild of wizards devoted to understanding the mysteries of magic. He was interrupted in his studies when his master contacted him, calling him to his study. Books lined the walls, more than one of them magically reorganizing themselves. A plain oak desk sat in the center with an old man in regal silver robes sitting in a tall chair behind it.
    As Bastien walked in, the old man said “Someone is about to attempt to kill me.”
    Bastien gaped, unsure as to what to say. He started to speak and stopped. He swallowed and tried to speak again, this time the words came out, “What do you mean by this?”
    “I mean I have mentally probed the area for the emissary that is to come and by chance noticed someone with the intent to kill me. I now wish you to investigate this revelation.”
    “How do you expect for me to find a single person?”
    “Use your ears.” With that the elder sage dismissed his apprentice.
    This seemingly useless suggestion had worked out perfectly once Bastien had left the Arcane Sanctum and he now neared his destination.
    The demons would have no intruders and the assassin was no exception. The fiery warrior fought the slim figure with reckless force and wild abandon. Luckily for the assassin, he was an incredibly able blade wielder. Unluckily, he failed on the brute force test. He was able to hold his own, but just barely. They traded blows the demon swinging his axe and the assassin parrying it with his blade. It seemed this would go on until the assassin ran out of energy.
    That is, until a pinecone fell in his hand. He stuck it on the demon’s armor. Bastien smirked. ‘What’s that going t-‘ was all he managed to think.
    The pinecone exploded.
    It didn’t pop or shatter, rather a fiery blast burst from the center, sending red hot pinecone shrapnel flying. Such a display surprised the demon even if it didn’t hurt him. But a surprise is all an assassin needs to slit something’s throat. As the demon landed on the ground, the green ooze that was its blood flowing from its neck, the assassin started to brush himself off.
    Bastien noticed a second demon about to behead the assassin. While this would solve one problem there could be more assassins nearby.
    With reflexes only an elf had, Bastien jumped towards the demon. Out of his robes the mage pulled an immaculate sword hilt. Shouting, “Ætherblade!” he concentrated and a blue blade of pure magic formed, instantly impaling the demon.
    The assassin looked up, which allowed Bastien a look at his ears. The assassin stood a head shorter than Bastien and might have passed for an elf if not for the dog ears and tail marking him as a beastman.
    “Thanks, I didn’t notice the second one” the assassin said.
    “The demon was the least of your problems, beast!” Bastien snarled, already swinging the ætherblade at him.
    The beastman reacted just in time. Sidestepping, he readied his knife. Bastien swung again and was parried. Suddenly, the blade flashed and cut right through the knife. Startled, the assassin barely had enough time to dodge and was nicked on the shoulder. The beastman jumped out of reach, putting his hand into a pouch on his belt and pulling out a small black berry. He tossed it at his adversary and it exploded. The beastman took this moment to escape.
    “No, get back here, beast!” Bastien shouted, starting after him despite bad burns. “ I’m not finished with you yet!”
    The assassin leapt past a boulder. Bastien climbed up the same boulder and looked around.
    The beastman had escaped.
    The mage swore. “I have no time for these games! I guess all I can do is warn the old man…”
    The elf leapt off, not noticing as a tailed figure detached itself from the boulder and head in the same direction.
    About ten minutes later, Bastien burst through the door to his master’s study. The elder sa was startled and a couple of the books he was reorganizing dropped to the floor. The master was about to was disturbed in such a way, but Bastien spoke first.
    “You were right, there is an assassin nearby and-” he paused. “Look out!”
    Bastien leapt, pushing his master out of the way just as a black berry dropped to the floor and exploded. The beastman leapt from the rafters and ran towards his quarry, but Bastien got to him first.
    Their blades clashed, sending both æther and metal sparks to fly everywhere. Bastien’s blade shined again, but this time the beastman flipped over him. The assassin landed next to the old man, slit his throat, and ran out the room before Bastien had finished swinging
    “Damn him he’s fast.” Bastien cursed. Then he noticed his master. Bastien’s eyes widened. He stares and, after a few seconds, kneeled down and shut his master’s eyes. Bastien suddenly turned and glared at the door where the assassin had fled. “I’ll KILL him!!!”
    With great speed, the elf ran outside, located the retreating figure of the assassin and gave chase. Bending forward to stand on four legs, an ætheric version of the beastman formed around Bastien, further increasing his speed. With a snarl of anger he leapt at his master’s killer.
    The beastman sheathed his blade. In Bastien’s gut.
    A howl of pain echoed from both of them. As his blade dug through the ætheric energy, an identical mark formed on the assassin. Bastien and the beastman collapsed on the ground. Unfortunately, Bastien had spent his energy while the assassin could still flee. Bastien watched the assassin run as he struggled to remain conscious.