Sam looked at Tariff stunned, she had basicly lost him after 4212.
“wh-what year is it?” she asked putting her tea down very slowly, Tariff looked at her calmly as if she was a small child.
“4212,” he told her pronouncing it 42-12. Sam felt her stomach drop, the men looked at her worried while Squorc just poured himself another cup of tea. She felt Tariffs gaze on her but she couldn't bring herself to look up at him, instead she stared at her tea. “miss,” he asked bending his head to look at her, “what time did you come from?” Sam felt her blood turn to ice, it wasn't 2012?
“my names Samantha,” she told Tariff looking at the swirls in her tea, “but you can call me Sam.” she saw Tariff move closer to her from the corner of her eye, probably to catch her if she fainted.
“ok, Sam,” he whispered comfortingly, “can you tell me what year it was before you came here?” Sam gulped trying to wet her dry throat, she nodded.
“it was 2012,” she told him with her eyebrows scrunched together, “how could I be 2200 years in the future?” she asked turning her head to look into Tariffs eyes searchingly, he looked sorry. For what? Sam didn't know, but she felt like it was toward her.
“magic,” he told her smiling not lifting his gaze from hers. Sam looked at him for a long moment before she completely busted out laughing.
“right!” she laughed, “this is all real! Your joking, is this some kind of prank or something? Wheres the cameras?” she looked around smiling, but all she saw was the men confused faces. Rusl mouthed something across the table that Sam couldn't make out but she saw Tariff shrug. Her smile fell.
“it is a joke, right?” she asked looking from one face to the other, both men shook their heads fairly serious while Squorc was looking confused probably trying to understand what was so funny.
“Sam,” Tariff said Patiently, Sam looked at him, “whats the last thing you remember before coming here?” she looked at him confused, the last thing she remembered was fainting from exhaustion. “before that,” Tariff whispered calmly his hand on her shoulder, Sam looked at him shocked.
“did you just-”
“read your mind?” he finished for her looking serious, “yes, but that’s not the point. I need you to focus on everything that happened before you fainted,so close your eyes and think.” he told her smiling reassuringly after seeing her uneasy glare. Taking in a deep breath in and out Sam tried to ready herself to see the men who tried to hurt Evangeline and herself, looking at her hands in her lap she saw Tariff move one of his large hands over her two small ones. Sam didn't look up content on hiding her blush through her hair. Taking another deep breath she closed her eyes thinking all the way back to the graveyard.
It put the rose on my fathers grave than stood up and meet- Levis conversation rolled through her mind in perfect detail. She remembered the conversation and scenery around her in almost perfect detail, she could practically feel the dried leaves under her shoes and the smell of winter in the air.
The conversation ended in her mind flowing into snippets of what happened next. She remembered walking to her jeep with his eyes heavy on her back, this time she thought she saw a black van in the parking lot while she got into hers from the corner of her eye. The scene changed from the parking lot to the highway to her house. She had checked the mirror several times but thinking back she remembered seeing a black van several cars behind her. This changed to her home when she had walked through the doors to meet Evangeline's scolding. Smiling inwardly Sam remembered how her friends white-blond hair was in a messy bun that day with strands of run away hair always getting in the way of her innocent and compassionate blue eyes. Sam wondered if she would ever see her again. She remembered talking to her maid but the faint sound of crunching gravel was in the background this time right before she ran up the stairs to get dressed. This flowed into the part where she was struggling to get her top over her head while looking for the remote again, that’s when she heard the crash just as loud and clear as it had been the first time.
“hah!” Sam gasped jumping a little, she had forgotten about that part. Anxiety washed over her remembering the robbers in her house. Did she really have to remember? She didn't want relive the pain of realizing her mistake, she just couldn't see Evangeline's face again. Tariff squeezed her hand probably reading her memories with her, taking the little courage this offered her she continued. She remembered looking at the T.V and she could feel her stomach drop once more at the sight of poor Evangeline being held hostage. Her eyes wide she had pleaded for Sam to escape not knowing if she was getting the message or not. Sam tensed remembering the horrifying moment when she had heard Levis voice, remembering that it was all her fault that those men were in her house. Reluctantly, she let her mind move on to her escape. She had tried to open the window while she heard the men coming for her, starting her claim down the rose bush, and the intense pain of each new step. Sam rubbed her hands together subconsciously under the warmth of Tariffs large ones, they didn't hurt as much anymore.
that’s how, she thought directly to him, that’s how I got these cuts. . . after her thought she flowed back into her visions. Now she was in the forest and was running for her life.
Their going to get me! She thought, or her memory did, and when they do they'll- but she couldn't keep up the thought, the images that had ran through her mind next were to gruesome to bring up again. But the harder she tried the stronger the images came, eventually they came on full force just like they had the first time. Sam squeezed her eyes together even tighter than before willing the images gone. Beside her Sam could hear Tariff taking in deep breaths in and out while his hand held protectively unto hers as he saw the pictures with her.
What happened next? She thought forcing her slow moving mind on, that’s when she remembered the blue flames.
Her body froze remembering the sensation of cold flames racing across her arms and lags. She saw the neon blue fire dance across her vision as they engulfed her body in a swirling mass. She felt the scream rise in her throat again and then the terrible sensation of her body being smashed against concrete cutting her short. Gasping, Sam fought the erg to open her eyes at the sensation, but Tariff gave a quick squeeze to remind her she was almost at the end. The flames clearing from her vision she was able to focus on the gray figure beyond the circle of flames she was in. this time no exhaustion swept over her as it did last time so she was able to make out the area she was in along with the hooded man, what else could he be with his tall frame and lean body structure?
All around her were unrecognizable scents of flowers, fruits, and creatures that she couldn't put a name too but made her eyes water at their smell. The scents in question, however, were in clay jars hanging from trees and laying about the ground, she counted about 20 before the she turned back to the man in the hood. He was saying something, this time it was clearly ringing in her ears by the time her memories ended in a black wave.
“please don't be afraid,” Tariff told her repeating the exact words as the man had in her memories, Sam opened her eyes to look at him terrified. How could she not after such visions of her body being on fire only to be put out by arriving somewhere she had no memory of going? Sam's eyes moved to Tariffs hand where he held a blue flame that swirled around just above the skin of his palm. watching it a sudden realization struck her square in the head making her feel stupid of how she didn't see it earlier.
“your him,” she whispered looked at the blue flame, “and everything you said was true. . .” Tariffs hand closed around the fire extinguishing it, Sam didn't look up.
“Samantha,” Tariff said gently putting his finger under her chin then lifted her eyes to meet his, “please, don't be afraid. I promise not to hurt you, ok?” Sam watched his sad eyes study hers, he was grieving something that had to do with her. But she still couldn't make it out.
“i believe you but. . . .why me? Why am I here?” she asked looking from him to Rusl who's expression was unreadable. Looking back to Tariff she could see the grief multiply.
“I’m sorry Sam, it's all my fault your here. I should have thought my plans through, I should have listened to-” but he stopped short, Sam looked at him puzzled. “i should have acted clearly, and because I didn't you ended up here,” he told her with a long sigh, Sam looked from him to Rusl hoping to find some kind of answer hidden in ether mans eyes.
“Tariff,” Sam said carefully trying to look him in the eye, but he wouldn't meet her gaze, “Tariff thank you,” she whispered shyly her old self returning. This got his attention.
“what for?” he growled to himself, but he wouldn't look her in the eyes still. It was Sam's turn to sigh. Turning her whole body to face him she threw her arms around his neck while still kneeling at the table. Taken by surprise Tariff's arms went up in mid air near his sides before, slowly, he rapped his arms around her back pulling her tighter to his chest.
“for saving my life,” she whispered in his ear, she closed her eyes remembering how scared she was, how the men had looked at her, and the thoughts and images that ran through her mind when they did. As she remembered this she could feel Tariff hold her tighter in a protective manner while a small unheard growl vibrated through his throat against hers. But the action was so quickly undone that she had a hard time remembering if he had really done so or not, pulling back from him to sit again she saw that Rusl and Squorc had left and gone off somewhere leaving the two alone in an awkward silence. Turning so that she was facing the table again she picked up her now cold tea to take a quick sip before setting it back down again. Tariff contented himself by looking at the fascinating ceiling while clearing his apparently very clogged throat.
“so. . . .” Sam started, “Squorc is a Ork squirrel huh?” she could see Tariff nod his head in agreement while taking a sudden fancy in twisting his ring around his finger.
“ya,” he said plainly, “it was kinda of an accident. . . .” Sam looked at him eyebrows together, she wanted to reply with a sarcastic no but she didn't think that this was the right time and place. Who was she to judge?
“how so?” she settled on asking instead. It seemed appropriate.
“um. . .” Tariff gave another cough, “it. . . . well. . . . I kinda. . . .you know. . .” Sam looked at him strangely, he gave her a weird look back.
“no, I don't.” she told him not looking away this time, something that he couldn't help but do.
“um. . . well it was at the middle of my training and I was just beginning to learn the hard stuff,” he started twisting his ring round and round on his middle finger, “i was about 10-11 by then, just five years after my master had found me, and I was practicing the body snatcher spell-” he stopped seeing Sam's puzzled expression. “i was training to be a wizard, or sorcerer, which ever you prefer,” he explained, Sam made an Oh with her mouth understanding. He continued. “but anyways, the skin snatcher spell is where you take over anothers body, obviously, but that day I was tired because I had been studying all night and I was preforming the spell on my masters new servant who had been brought to the castle only days before. We had been out in the woods to practice my spells while he watched over me with a river nearby encase anything backfired like it had the day before, which meant my usual training room was under contraction because of all the things that had exploded-” Sam looked at him smiling sadly, she could relate with chemistry, “- but anyways, we where in the woods and I was trying to keep my eyes open while practicing the skin snatcher spell but I mixed up that spell with the transfiguration one and he was kinda standing to close to a squirrel and, well. . . . I kinda turned him into a half squirrel half Ork cross that lowered his IQ a bit making him talk the way he does, and his tail and nose,” he told her cringing painfully at the memory, “till this day I remember my masters punishment, had to spend a month at Suuzens castle in the arctic,” he said with a shutter. He turned to look at Sam smiling again, “fire wizards hate the cold almost as winds hate the heat.” Sam smiled understanding, she personally loved the cold but she could see where he was coming from.
“so,” she stated, “your a wizard. . . . is there more of you?” she asked absently taking a sip of her cold tea, Tariff chuckled deeply somehow amused by her question. He nodded a yes.
“yes, three others than myself. Fire, Earth, Water, Wind, Four Wizards or Witches for the elements. Each of us holds power in our own areas. I hold power in the volcanic region, while Kaveh, the earth wizard, has power in our thickest jungles that shares borders with mine. Suuzen, the wind sorceress I told you about, lives in the arctic where it's mostly blowing all the time with snow storms and the such but she also has power over the mountains separating me and Kavehs land. Azariel, the water wizard, he controls the ocean and any islands even if they are in our province,” Sam nodded paying close attention, the world she was now in was just like the books she had read in her time.
“were you always a wizard?” she asked folding her lags crisscross under her while trying to recirculate blood flow to the numb limbs. Tariff smiled at her again as if she was a small child, he shook his head no closing his eyes as if remembering a sweet memory.
“no, I was born in a village near the mountains around my borders,” he told her keep his eyes closed smiling at the memories that must have been running across his eye lids. “it was a happy enough child hood,” he said a little sadly his smile fading to a frown for a few seconds before coming to a smile again, “well, my parents didn't kick me out of our home so I couldn't complain.” he said, Sam was puzzled once again.
He sure likes to talk in half made riddles doesn’t he? But she shushed herself while he continued his story. “my parents were full elves and all my brothers and sisters where too . . . my inter village was made out of elves, and not the high noble ones that your time had some how made up in your story books but the same everyday elves that wore dirtied cloths from farming and had to deal with everyday things such as hurt children and stolen food,” his frown returned while he opened his eyes to meet Sam's, “no my village was normal by any standard if not a little poor, but then you had me,” he told her pushing back some of his hair that had fallen over his ears to reveal their roughed curved surface, they looked like hers but had a raised line in the middle at the top like they had started to grow larger but had stopped suddenly.
“so your not-?”
“human?” he finished, Sam nodded, “ yes,” he told her smiling down at his ring again, “i'm an elf, I was just born. . . deformed as everyone in the village had put it. Since my birth my parents had rejected me, what is an elf if they look like a human? No offense.” he nodded to Sam, she smile.
“none taken,” Tariff nodded again continuing.
“I had lived a long 5 years of constant torment by my piers and strange looks from their parents before Chakier came and brought me away.” a faint look came to his eyes while he told her about his discovery from his master, “he was a very kind man, my master was. When he had first came to my village he played with all the children and help the women with their chores before talking to the men. He was there on a mission he had told us, he was on a mission to mind his successor. Naturally this was a great thing to the villagers, it had meant that our small village held the next great Wizard to rule that region,”
“so how does that whole wizard thing work?” Sam asked during his pause, “are you born with powers from some sort of bloodline or does he give it to you or. . . .” she trailed off drinking the rest of her tea, she was also thinking about where Rusl went but she kept the question to herself.
“um. . .” Tariff started staring up at the ceiling thinking, “well, magic is sort of alive in a way. It travels to were it wants to go and does things it wants to do. The first Wizards were able to harvest most of the wild magic but they believed that not only one man could hold all of it so they split it in four groups, Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire. They then chose, or the magic chose rather, which of the four men would have which type of magic. When those men became old, about 800 since magic allows each wielder to live to 1000, half their magic ran out of them to find a new host that would rule in their previous masters place. Now when that happens the older Wizard is suppose to go out and find this new host which is an seemingly imposable task accept for the fact that the magic which remains with them is drawn to it's separate half, And when this Wizard finds his new Apprentice he spends the rest of his life devoted to teaching him the arts away from his home and in the old Wizards castle which was built specifiably for this purpose.” Sam nodded frowning soaking in all she could about how this new world worked.
“so,” he continued smiling at her like she was a small child again, “i wasn't born with it, it found me,” Sam smiled knowing how special this must had made him feel as a child, to be chosen for something grater than life. “well my master was in the village a full 10 days, always paying close attention to me and my family, before announcing that he had found his heir. He had walked right into our house and told my mother, father, and 4 older brothers and sisters how proud they must be to have one of their children Chosen. Naturally they beamed at my oldest brother who was 14 at the time and was the hero of the town, constantly helping the women, hunting down food, being perfect at every job. But was a real snob, he picked on me the most when I was a child. Brought me near tears most days. But anyway, Chakier strolled around our three roomed house excitedly telling my parents about all the plans he had for this heir, they nodded excitedly in return. Finely the moment came when he told them he most depart with his heir to begin train right away, and just as my brother stepped forward he turned to me and asked me if I needed to bring anything along. My mother was outraged, she had demanded why he was not taking my older brother instead of her mutant child. This earned a blazing look from my Master which silenced her right away, he asked again if I needed anything or if I wanted to say goodbye to anyone else. When I said no he walked across the room, grabbed my hand, and practically dragged me out the door muttering under his breath that the magic had done right to chose me, I deserved to get away from such a home. Right before we departed he announced me to the people and like that I was off to train under him for the next 100 years,” he gave a great sigh finely coming back to reality, he looked at her happily with his hands folded on the table in front of him.
“and Rusl?” she asked giggling at how such a small question could turn into such a story, Tariff chuckled too.
“he's a bred of elf, Elvaan.” he told her, “much less common around these parts but I just so happened to stumble apone him 20 years ago when he was in trouble, quite big trouble for a six year old. But he'll have to tell you about that.” he muttered lastly looking at the door leading to a room radiating wonderful smells, a large clanking came from it fallowed by soft thuds like some one dropping a pan with balls in it.
“sorry master Rusl,” came Squorc's rumbling voice, “Squorc no mean to drop food, bowl to hard to carry.” Sam stood hearing his voice, looking to Tariff she saw he was looking toward the door also with an amused look on his face.
“i should go and help,” she nodded to the room but waited to see if Tariff would stop her or not, he only smiled and stood up beside her.
“I'll help, also,” he told her picking up his cup along with Rusl's and Squorc's, he put out his hand for Sam's also so she gave it to him while reaching for the tea pot. “no,” he told her taking it from her grasp, “you go to the Kitchen and help while I get this.” he told her, Sam blushed lightly turning on her feet to walk to the open kitchen door. While she did this she noticed how her feet hurt quite a bit less then that did how ever long ago she had fainted, or was knocked out, but she doubted the men would admit to this now that she was calmed down enough to think properly. She could practically hear their denial when she walked into the kitchen coming across an odd sight.
Squorc was squatting near the wooden floor picking up small oranges then putting them in a large clay bowl, this was quite a feat since he was 7 feet tall and weighed about 300 pounds. Sam had wondered how he could stand let alone squat like that without falling.
“hello there Samantha!” Rusl's head popped up from around the corner of the long, narrow kitchen. Sam cringed at her full name, she didn't particularly like it all that much. It sounded to girly to suit her tomboyish personality. She put up a hand in a half wave.
“Sam, just call me Sam,” Rusl's face feel at this but before she could full understand that he was frowning his energetic smile came back into place.
“well then Sam,” he said walking around the corner into the bright sun lite kitchen, “while your here you might as give a hand before we eat,” his voice rumbled, she felt Tariff step behind her.
“that's what we plan to do,” Tariff sated walking past her into the kitchen. While he placed the cups in it's makeshift sink he nodded Sam toward Squorc who was attempting to pick up the oranges with his clumsy over sized hands, she could see him sniffling slightly while he dropped another orange over and over again. Taking the hint, Sam dropped to her knees to help the frustrated creature. As she picked up two oranges then plopped them into the bowl he gave her a confused startle look.
Like a dear in headlights . . . she sighed inwardly smiling at him comfortingly, seeing his awkward smile back reminded her of a small child getting a piece of candy. She giggled to herself realizing that he acted like a child almost all the time from what she could tell. They continued to pick up oranges in silence for several minutes, nether one attempting at conversation until the last orange went into the bowl. When it did Squorc began to stand with the bowl but Sam put her hands on ether side of it making him stop mid-stand.
“no,” she told him gently, taking the bowl from his limp hands, “I’ll take care of this so you can help Rusl,” Rusl, hearing his cue, waved his spatula backwards from around the corner where he had apparently been cooking.
“i need someone to stir this for me while I chop up the fruit!” he called his spatula disappearing behind the wall, Squorc gave Sam a grateful look, at lest she thought he did but she really couldn't tell, before walking around the corner to help Rusl. This left Sam alone with Tariff once again.
“where should I put these?” she asked lifting the bowl slightly, Tariff looked from the bowl to her, the counter space behind her.
“ummm. . .” he hummed putting down the dishes he had been washing to see the cluttered counter better, “i guess you could put it on top of the pickled dragon root,” Sam gave him a strange looked before looking at the counter again hopelessly at a loss. “sorry, forgot you don't know. . . it's the jar with weird black water in it with a orange top.” he told her turning back to his dishes. Sam turned to the counter still confused on what he meant when she heard Squorc from the other room say loud and clear.
“Master Rusl? Why those men carry swords toward Sacred place? Squorc thought those weapons bad.” everything at once became still and silent, Sam could practically hear Rusl's breathing from the other room. She had counted his 3 long breaths before everything flipped to high speed.
Tariff was grabbing her by the waist before lifting her bridal style, Rusl was demanding Squorc to be quite and never speak to the men unless he was given orders by him and him only. Next Rusl rushed into the Kitchen passing to look out the window above the sinks Tariff had been at, looking out them also Sam saw elven men carrying long silver swords and bows toward the Monastery doors.
“we have to hide her,” Tariff whispered looking around franticly, Sam was puzzled by his statement but didn't fight him seeing the serious look in his eye.
“why?” she asked timidly while the men carried her around the kitchen looking for a hiding place. Rusl smiled at her kindly opening a wooden door that she hadn't seen earlier.
“meany things have changed since your time dear,” he told her gently while pushing some pots and pans aside in the cluttered closet. “one of them is the existence of humans. Your kind has died of long ago, and for good reason, no offense, so to bring one back is a crime against nature you see. And it doesn't help that there has been resent reports of humans in the far west reeking havoc on villages. Of course this is just a rumor that's been spreading but it's put great fear in our peoples hearts,”
“and for good reason,” Tariff mumbled looking out the window at the approaching mob. Sam looked at him terrified.
“so if they find me they will-”
“kill you, yes. Now please get in the closet,” Tariff brought her over to it before setting her down, this only took a few steps so she had no clue as to why he had to pick her up. She guessed it was instinct but she had a lot of other things running through her mind while she made her self comfortable in the cramped closet space. Rusl gave her an encouraging smile while Tariff watched the doorway to the kitchen muttering something about being and idiot and clay jars. Seconds latter Rusl shut the door leaving Sam in almost darkness with only a small light coming from the cracks of the doorway, putting her eye to them she tried to look out but saw nothing but a lag. Giving up she turned to the ceiling while she laid her head on the wall behind her. Minutes crawled by in silence leaving Sam nothing to do but to keep her mind from thinking the worst.
They wont find you. . . she thought at an attempt to calm her racing heart, they don't even know you exist. . . there could be plenty of reasons for those swords, maybe they're going to fight in some war and want Rusl's blessing. But that hope was shattered when she heard the men voices in the room just outside the kitchen.
“where is she!” one deep voice called out, “we know you have the human, give her to us now or else we'll burn down this church!” everything was silent for a few heart beats. Have you ever heard the term, quiet enough to her a pen drop? That's what is was like, except no pen. Just burning torches.
“i'm afraid I have no idea-”
“shut up Rusl!” the same voice yelled again, “you may have been our friend for many years but if you are holding a human you are no longer welcomed to this village,” several voices muttered in agreement. More silence.
“gentlemen, I’m sure we could work this out,” Rusl spoke calmly, a pause carried out his words for several heartbeats as if the men were wondering what to do now.
“look Rusl, we don't care for your smooth talk! Give us the girl by the time I’ve counted to five and we wont set your place on fire,” there was a pause. Then angry mutters broke out from the crowd of men, Sam's heart seemed to stop beating.
“one . . . ”
no! please, no! Sam thought, they would all die if they didn't give her up.
“two. . .”
how can you do this to him? Sam thought terrorized and angry.
“three. . . .”
how can you make a man choose between his lively hood and a life?
"four. . . .”
just do it Rusl she thought near tears in anticipation, maybe they wont kill me, so just tell them so you don't have to go up in flames too!