Fictober, Prompt 19 – “Yes, I admit it, you were right.”, Original Fiction
Warnings: none. Fantasy, follow-up with Day 3′s raven friend.
On the fifth magical blast, the last of the Constructed soldiers finally fell apart and dissolved into black dust.
Lowering my hand, I panted, gulping in enough air to get my breath under control. I couldn’t risk speaking an incantation incorrectly, but I had to be sure there weren’t any more of them in the area.
When I was sure I could speak steadily, I enacted a magic-seeing spell and then turned slowly in a circle, watching for the cloudy glow that would mark the presence of an active spell or magical being (including Constructs of any kind) for at least a mile around.
It was a relief to come back to my original position having seen nothing.
I let the spell collapse, and staggered off the road just enough to be out of sight before putting my back to a tree and slumping to the ground, all the strength going out of me now that the danger had passed. It would take food and rest before I would be able to manage that kind of magical battle again.
The soft displacement of air by feathered wings was sufficient warning, and I did not open my eyes as my companion dropped out of the trees and landed on my shoulder. The raven croaked in an inquiring way, nibbling at my sweat-soaked hair.
“I’m fine,” I told her, summoning the energy to reach a hand up and gently stroke her chest feathers. She switched her gentle nibbling to my finger, then croaked again.
“Yes, I admit it, you were right,” I said, laughing a little. “That was definitely the best place to set an ambush for them.”
My enemy had not ceased his pursuit, even though I had gained distance over the last several weeks. He had resorted now to the Constructed soldiers, since I was well outside the territory where he had the authority to order human troops after me. The Constructs gave him an advantage in that he would know immediately when they were destroyed, as I had just done.
My advantage lay in the fact that they were costly to make, both magically and financially, and while they did not need to eat or rest on their own sake, it was the maker’s magic that powered them. He was powerful (far more powerful than he should be), but even he could not make his constructs move at above-average speeds indefinitely.
More would catch up to me before I could hit the next border, but I would have enough time to recover before then.
My raven muttered imprecations at me, apparently disliking how drained my magic was, and I did my best to soothe her concerns. I had been frightened when I had first realized that there were Constructed soldiers on my trail and might have run myself to exhaustion had it not been for her. She had forced me to stop here hours ago, refusing to let me go any further.
That had given me the moment I needed to break out of my fear, and to realize that I could wait and set an ambush for the Constructs. Destroying four of them immediately when they arrived had been crucial to my victory; if I’d had to face all ten together, I would not have won.
“I’m all right, thanks to you,” I told her again, forcing my eyes open so I could smile at her. This seemed to ease some of her worry, as she fluffed all her feathers up and shook herself before settling again. A softer croak seemed to say that she would keep watch if I wanted to sleep.
I made myself look around again. This was not an ideal place to camp for the night, but I could take a short rest here before moving on. There were several hours of daylight left, and I’d be able to keep up a good walking pace after a little sleep.
“Thanks,” I whispered, and sank back against the tree, eyes drifting closed.
With her dark, intelligent eyes watching over me, it was easy to fall asleep.