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They sat in the damp and dark cave. The darkness was so thick, visibility was the reach of their fire. It was as if the rest of the world did not exist. There was only Eric, Tiza, Anuzat, sleeping Nolien, injured Basilard, dead Aio, and their fire.
The feeling made Eric paranoid. Every drip, creak, or crack could be the xethras. His heart would race and he would spin his staff in the direction of the sound, only to confront nothing. It was more a security blanket now than a weapon. He knew it was useless against the xethras, but it was all he had; he held it so tight his knuckles turned white. With Basilard unconscious and Nolien exhausted, he and Tiza wouldn't stand a chance. He could only hope the xethras didn't find them.
It was the first time Eric wished to go back to his home world; his own Threa. The dangers he'd been in before were nothing like this. He was too busy panicking or planning against Laharg, the Cecri, and Dark Staff to think about anything else. Now, as he sat in the darkness, he wished he were snug in his bed in his safe apartment and monster-free world. It didn't matter that in Threa he was jobless, friendless, and soon to be homeless. At least he was safe. Is this Tasio's idea of helping me? Putting me out of my misery?
“Sncagsraf,” Nolien snored.
“Ahaaaaaa!” Eric cried.
“Hahaha!” Tiza laughed.
Eric stared in disbelief. “What's wrong with you!? Aren't you scared?”
Tiza looked at him with the same disbelief. “Why should I be?”
“Hello! We're stranded in a dark, damp, smelly cave, our sergeant is badly injured, we could be surrounded by C class, and you want to know why you should be scared!? You should be scared because we're gonna die! Die! Just like Aio! Stone cold dead! Like the stuff we're sitting on!”
“You should stop screaming . . .” Tiza said deadpanned. “. . . or you'll alert the xethras.” Eric's hands flew to his mouth as his eyes widened. Tiza chuckled. “Relax, Dimwit. We'll be fine.”
“And you know this because?”
Tiza shrugged. “I just do. Would you rather I was a nervous wreck like you?” Eric dropped his head in shame. “Dimwit, look at me.” Eric tilted his head. “I'm not calming you like Tenderfoot. Forget it. But I will tell you the story of a mage who didn't think his team could handle a Cecri—”
“Nolien did most of that . . .”
“Don't interrupt me! But they killed it without getting a scratch in return. Or how about the story of the same mage who didn't think he and the fighter of his team could handle a band of kidnappers—”
“It was two against one and we still almost lost . . .”
“Are you gonna let me finish or not?!” Eric apologized and she continued. “And they succeeded in capturing one of them, thanks to the fighter's miraculous aura power.” Nolien snorted in his sleep and Tiza was tempted to swat him. She didn't because that would wake him up. “Once we get back to the Guild, I'll tell you the story about how this mage and his team escorted a merchant safely through a deadly cave without their mentor's help.”
“But we haven't done that yet.”
“That's why I think we'll make it. Cause it's gonna make a great story to tell back home.”
“I don't know whether to admire your confidence . . .” Anuzat said. “Or think you're crazy.”
Tiza gave her a lopsided smile. “Daylra says all mercenaries are a little crazy; like chaos, we overturn our own fortunes every day.”___________________________________________________________________
To learn more about Tiza and A Mage's Power, visit Tvtropes at http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/AMagesPower.
A Mage's Power, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, are available for purchase at