Istariel, Mistress of the Flame

A short story featuring Istariel, mistress of the flame.

Elmo lay motionless beneath the undergrowth, lungs burning from his recent efforts, struggling to keep his breathing under control for fear of alerting his assailant to his location. His sources ensured him she was not meant to be home, he took a mental note to extract greater payment from them should he get out of this one alive. Athien contained only a few living souls that could survive pursuit by Istariel, Mistress of the Flame. He cursed for allowing himself to be caught in this position, he was better than this. He had become too blase and it looked like it would cost him his life.

Istariel closed her eyes and calmed her senses, listening for the slightest sound of her quarry. The audacity, a human no less, trying to steal from her. Her rising fury made it difficult for her to focus. The mere touch of her feet on the forest floor charred leaves and produced trails of smoke, smoldering from the heat of her soles. Despite this she moved silently, at one with the woods, as was habitual for her kin. Istariel was well known across the realm for her mastery of fire, however at her core, she was still an elf.

Elmo knew it was only a matter of time before she would find him, hiding like a frightened child would not get him out of this predicament. In a heartbeat his mind was made up and he was once again scurrying through the forest. All sense of caution thrown to the wind, he ducked, weaved and tumbled to make himself as difficult a target as possible. The heat of a searing bolt of fire passed over his right shoulder before cannoning into the trunk of a huge oak. It seemed that she was prepared to burn the entire forest down to get him. Perhaps these jewels were worth more than he first thought...yes, he would extract a greater payment than was agreed…

The adrenaline coursed through Istariel’s body, as did the searing hot flame. It was pure ecstasy. Her prey would not get away, none ever did. The elf’s thought pattern suddenly shimmered, strayed and then broke. A searing pain burned her chest. Could it be she underestimated the one she chased? Was he more than a mere rogue? The pain intensified until she doubled over on all fours, unable to do anything else. Thoughts of pursuit left her as her basic survival instincts kicked in.

Istariel looked at her hands, they were translucent. This was magic she had never seen or heard of. Who was this thief? Consciousness threatened to abandon her, the dark deep beckoning. Cold enveloped her body, an unusual sensation for the Mistress of the Flame. She had a feeling of weightlessness, a lack of knowing which was up or down. Not an altogether uncomfortable experience, albeit an alien one.

With a thud she hit the soft earth, her consciousness returned. Instincts kicked in and she sprang to her feet, expecting some kind of threat. Her surroundings were familiar although somehow not so, grey, drab, lacking in colour and life. Four others stood near her. Two humans, an orc and a hulking minotaur with manacles around his wrists, broken chains hanging loosely. Before them stood a 12 foot tall stone structure, some kind of obelisk, crackling with energy and lightning. A searing blue arcane symbol burning brightly near its top. As her eyes gazed into the symbol she felt a slight tingling in her chest. Looking down she saw the same symbol glowing upon her skin. Istariel was snapped out of her reverie when the human barked something about protecting him, so he could gather souls for his master. Soon after the sounds of battle echoed. The four others immediately darted towards the noise, weapons drawn, she followed. Eager to learn more of this mysterious grey place and hopefully make sense of the madness she had witnessed in the last few minutes of her life...

- Andrew "Guns" Galea -