(May 28, 2004; written for A Dark Portal; I like how this is going, so I really should finish it. Oddly, when I dug this up, I had
no memory of writing it... but it looks like my style, doesn't it? Heh.)
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Clear as mud.
He slogged through the underbrush, muttering curses as the hems of his cloak caught on branches, ice-coated ferns, and randomly-strewn bones bleached white by the frigid sun. Sweat trickled down from beneath his fur cap, but solidified almost as soon as it left the relatively warm space, causing his face to twinkle in the moonlight. With every few steps, he plunged forward into the snow, and had done so on so many occasions that his clothing looked more white than brown. His muscles clenched instinctively, trying to produce heat, and he could force himself to continue only through sheer force of will.
Ruddy useless trek through the bloody frozen underworld, I'll be dead before sun-up and that damnable Jenni is to blame. Stunning getaway, she says! Opportunity of a lifetime, she says! Maybe so, but only because my lifetime's going to get a lot shorter...
It was a lesson, he thought. She was a magic-user straight out of Bardic tales and campfire rumours, able to change the world around her with little more than a thought and a wave of her hand. Every other person he'd heard of who used magic - Wizards, Herbalists, a score of different disciplines he could never keep track of - had to use a great deal of focus and spent a great deal of energy; Jenni's tea room had kept many such people safe as they slept off a night of spellwork. But she never fell victim to this exhaustion, never seemed to notice the feats she performed except in terms of what they brought, and this peculiarity had made her something of a legend. Visitors came from all over, even outside of Maheldanar, to ask her secret - it would make their towns safer! their lives better! their existences worthwhile! - but she could never give them a satisfactory explanation.
You need to learn it on your own, she says! I'll give you a push in the right direction and see if you come to the right conclusion, she says! Hateful witch...