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A sudden cold wind bent down the long grass below the wall. Svert was walking along the ramparts with hardly any thought of it. It was well past curfew, but he didn’t care. There was no punishment that they could, or would threaten him with that would make him obey. The Council had made sure of that when they tortured him.
He looked over the grassy expanse toward the horizon, flashes of lightning, rumbles of thunder and dark clouds belied a coming storm. ‘It was raining that night as well, the night he ran’ He thought. He had always hated the rain, but since that night, the very thought of it made his skin crawl. “If only the Council would give me a chance!” He shouted at the sky. “Then, dear friend, I would find you!”
“The Council may yet give you a chance.” said a voice in his head “If Zoldák fails, they will have no other choice.”
“Dra, you know I hate it when you do that.” Svert said as he made a fireball around his fist “If you don’t shift back, I’ll just have to kill you.” he said to a crow that was sitting on a high tree branch that hung over the wall.
The crow flapped down to the rampart. “If you kill me, how would you know what they are planning and what they know about him?” Dra said to his mind again. “It would be rather inconvenient to you, wouldn’t you say?”
The crow suddenly froze, the began to grow until it was the size of a small child. The snapping and popping of bones and ligaments as they re-shaped themselves was enough to put Svert’s teeth on edge. Feathers, beak and claws retreated, leaving skin, mouth and feet in their places. The wings lingered for a moment longer, making Dra look like some grotesque angel of death.
Eventually the noises stopped and in the giant crow’s place stood a person of slight build, with ribs visible beneath a layer of tight skin and lean muscle, much like a hunting dog’s. Gray eyes nervously shifted around like a rat’s, always on the look out for danger, or opportunity. He opened his mouth to speak, but all that came out was a loud “CAW!” He held up a hand for silence as a final crack sounded from his throat.
“I hate it when that happens.” he said with a grin
“You would hate it a lot more if I burned your tongue out.” Svert growled
“Well, aren’t we in a bad mood this evening. Is it because of the approaching storm, or the Council’s decision to give that assassin all the time he needs to find Sovos?”
Svert had a fireball in Dra’s face before he had said the name.
“You know what I do to anyone who says that name in front of me.” Svert snarled.
“Indeed I do, friend. Last I counted it was eighteen, with burns so cruel the best healers that the Academy has “employed” took over a week to heal them and they all still have scars to this day.” he said matter-of-factually
“Well, knowing that, you would do well to not say his name again.”
Svert extinguished the fire with a flick of his wrist. “You are right though, I still have need of your talents. I must know if they decide to let me go out and find him.”
“Unless Zoldák takes too long, or fails outright, it’s unlikely that the council would even let you leave the Academy grounds.” Dra said
“I just have to be ready when the time comes,” Svert half whispered to himself “And when it does, I’ll make you regret the day that you ever abandoned me, that we ever became friends, the you ever came to the Academy, that you were ever even born!”
He could not hurt him directly, unless the Council ordered him to do so, but if he was caught, Svert would happily lend his fire to the following “interrogation”. Svert had long thought that his fire would be the deciding factor in getting him to break to the Council’s will. That thought always gave him a smile, a cold and dark smile, one that only he understood fully.
“So, what is the plan then? Or are we changing it at all?” Dra asked
“Stick to what you have been doing, listen and report back anything related to him.”
It began to rain, each dropped hissed as it hit Svert’s skin. Dra shifted back into a crow, and flew away. Svert began to walk toward the stairs at the corner of the battlement, cursing each drop as it hit him.
“One day Sovos, one day.”
He stalked across the grounds towards the doors, a cloud of steam swirled off his skin as it rained heavily from the sky.