Tap. Tap. Tap. Every third step, tapping his cane on the moldy wooden planks of the docks, making a rhythm to follow. Second step was a breath, which he would release quickly on he fifth step. The salty sea air felt… foreign. Not unwelcome, but unfamiliar. Alien, he was hesitant to say with the circumstances. Hard to think one such as Innes would be on a quest from a god. Especially one as, frankly, ridiculous as this.
Tap. Tap. Tap. His mind had a habit of moving fast, trying to trip up Ragnorak. Mask his doubts behind sarcasm and wit, unrelated memories, experiments from his youth he’d practice with L’Archel. Often times, just views from the top of his mountain, a literal ivory tower from which he saw the world. A gleaming beacon of society, magical and proud. A rare sight for any other race, yet he saw a few wandering his families halls before he left.
How much of the world had he seen? It had been years since he left the mountains of his home, an escape or vacation? That depended on who you asked. The Archmage was beginning to think it was fate. Rolling plains, in the company of orcs. Half dead on the side of the road they found him, nursed him to health. Why? Fate, likely. A decade he spent with them. Their ways were ingrained into him, their honor too. Was that why he stuck to that group, of criminals and anarchists and tomb raiders and thugs? Perhaps he was too fond of them. Perhaps fate, again. They had their charms, even the little one who knew too much. Had she told them? How much did she know? That fire, the smell of burning flesh…
Innes stopped, too familiar. Kat, she knew. Or he thought she knew. How long ago? Innes stood his cane on the flat bottom, stretching out his arms as he looked over the city. A month or two he was gone. His body felt no different, no lack of training or severe aging. Not that he would have noticed that anyways, his elven heritage let him live so long. Days blurred as hours. If it wasn’t for his spells and hunger, he’d have no internal clock at all. Like Tana. She tinkered away in the basement for so long, but she always came up for special occasions.
Like his birthday. Innes thought, months had passed, if Bjornn was reliable… today was his birthday. Innes looked over the city, a wry smile dancing on his lips. His gift was power, from a goddess herself. The pillars of smoke breaking the skyline were his candles, his company murderous rebels in a city ruled by harbringers of the apocalypse. He was reminded how truly alone he was. Not like when he was with the orcs. The orcs, their short lives meant every day was an achievement as well as a struggle. Innes had never known that feeling, the date of his birth was only an excuse for his father to invite other politicians over, show off his perfect family.
Almost perfect, he reminded himself. No one spoke of him for so long, did they remember he existed, or were they simply being polite? “A tragedy,” some said, “a waste,” said others. Neither to his face, for fear of Gerik’s wrath. They simply let the forgotten boy play in the basement, with Tana. The boy without a mind and the girl who acted like it. Innes heard their rhymes, their rumors and mocking whispered as he beat his practice dummy, till his hands grew blisters and bled. It made mommy proud, before her accident. Then it was simply honor to her memory. A true prodigy, was he, stronger than most adults and a mind for magic. His skill were a gift of superior breeding. Simply fate in his favor again.
Had he ever worked for food before his time with the orcs?
His knuckles had grown white, gripping his sword so hard he could hear it scream in his mind. His grip slackened again. His mind always came back to that, and he always lost himself. Innes took a deep breath, looking up at the stars, not as beautiful as up in the mountains he found. Close second. He exhaled, only a minute this time. Or was it 10? Another breath in.
The salty air felt foreign. Welcome, but unfamiliar. The archmage smiled a cynical smile, tapping his cane on the molded wood as he started back. Tap. Tap. Tap…