I fell to the wooden floor of the tavern, my head swimming a little. I rolled and looked up at the group of miners laughing at me. The one called Bartol laughed the loudest.
“Oops, you fell down.”
I scrambled to my feet. Bartol picked my satchel off of the counter, held it out and deliberately dropped it.
“No,” I yelled, lunging for it.
I watched it, in slow motion, hit the floor with a soft clink. I snatched it up and held it to my chest, and then realized everyone in the tavern had frozen, mid movement. Beer, pouring from a pitcher the bartender held, overflowed a mug and spilled on the counter, but the bartender didn’t move. Bartol had his arm out, his hand open, his face stuck in a sneer. The miner to his right had just been turning back to the bar.
A movement at the far end of the room caught my eye. A man in a charcoal colored hood stood up and our eyes met. His seemed to stab into me.
His movement brought movement back to the room. An elbow caught me in the chest and I spun back toward the door, and into a pair of men who had just walked in.
“Watch it,” one said, and the other pushed me away from him and, unstable, I fell again. The strapless satchel skidded across the floor and thumped into the bar under one of the miner’s feet. A greenish glow shown through the cracked leather.
“Yeah, freak,” Bartol said, aiming a kick at me, “Watch where you’re going.” His hobnail boot came within centimeters of my face.
I’m not one to pick a fight, but if someone starts it, I’ll finish it. Rage and power bubbled up in me and I sprang to my feet.
“You watch it,” I said, swinging my fist into his face.
The fight got dirty after that, with at least six of them against me. I ducked and dodged to the best of my ability, which seemed more impaired by the moment. I only had the one beer.
Someone’s fist caught me on the chin and my head thumped back into the white-washed wall. I saw sparks. Another fist caught me in the stomach and I doubled over.
I spotted the green glow of the satchel and I reached for it with my power. It came to my hand like a pet dog, twirling around my legs and sinking into me.
I blocked my opponent’s next blow with my arm as I stood up, and used the boost of power to throw things at my attackers. Bottles and jugs from the behind the bar and all of the vases from the tables flew toward them, pelting their backs and heads. Someone opened the door and the wind came in, swirling around me and picking up the projectiles, turned them into deadly shards of glass and crockery.
Everyone started to rush the door to escape and I, perforce, went out with them. The crowd and I stood, watching the wind tear the tavern apart.
Had I done that? I looked at my left palm, where a faint flare of green showed along the life line and then faded. I’d used magic again, and not to save anyone but to harm. Nauseated, I had the feeling I’d find out this city’s opinion of magic and it’s use sooner than I wanted.
Would Sentinel Vytar stand by me this time? Where was he anyway? I didn’t spot him in the crowd, so I backed away toward where the boy had taken my horse. A gloved hand pulled me around the corner.
The charcoal-hooded man looked me up and down. He was taller than I, and thin but not a stick like Torgood. Wisps of gray hair peaked out from under the hood, which framed high cheekbones and a eyes the color of the winter sea. His skin had a pale, bluish tinge to it. What he saw in me, I don’t know, but he nodded and handed me my satchel, which I clutched to my chest.
He peeked around the corner and then ducked back, grabbing me by both shoulders and giving me a shake.
“Control it,” he hissed.
Control the wind? I tried; nothing but a dull roar filled my ears.
He slapped me and the shock made my newly healed skin sting. The wind stopped. Among the wood falling to the ground and the crowd’s murmur, I heard the shrill whistle.
“Who…” I started to ask.
“Guards. Run,” the man said. He turned and scampered directly up the side of the building across from me. I watched, amazed.
“Run,” he said and he used the voice – the same voice that I’d used earlier – and I found myself running away from the tavern as fast as I could.
I’m not sure how long I ran or how far, as I turned and turned again around corners, going down alleys and up cobble-stone streets. I felt dizzy and sick and my head pounded to the rhythm of my footsteps. I heard the guards’ whistle again and I spun around to look behind me, tripped on my own feet and fell down a stairwell into darkness.