“You don’t look like a stalker.” said Angiss carefully examining Gart’s attire.
“No?” Gart asked absent mindedly, his eyes still fixed at the now sleeping Sulafa.
“You have a big bag on you.” she sniffed the air. “Salted meat… elk. Stalkers don’t carry provisions, not this deep into the Birthlands anyways. They just slow us down. The greatsword is also a giveaway. A stalker is not a soldier, just a blade in the dark. Greatswords don’t make good assassination tools. Why the fuck did Command sent you as reinforcement?”
Angiss enforced a calm mask on her face, but the dangerous twinkles in her eyes remained.
“I was not sent as reinforcement.” Gart finally met Angiss’ stern gaze, smirking slightly. “I was sent to lead your cell for this particular hunt.”
His hand dipped into his robe and retreated, holding a small pouch. He threw the pouch lightly at Angiss. She caught it in the air and opened it. There was a tiny hazy gem inside – a memory orb. Her fingers carefully brought it to her lips and she swallowed.
The gem left no taste inside her mouth and she didn’t even feel it reach her stomach. Her eyes became unfocused as her mind recalled a memory that was never there. The fingers on her other hand curved into a tight fist as it faded. The man wasn’t lying.
“I have received stalker training, if that’s any consolation.” said Gart with a warm smile.
Angiss uncurled her fingers and used the hand to cover her face. A small headache was beginning to form inside her brain.
“How many Jine’eries have you hunted?” she asked through gritted teeth.
“None, I’ve mostly had to hunt elfs and sirh…”
“What?!” Angiss lifted her head, her eyes were wide with disbelief. “Then what’s the point of having you as a leader?”
“The fact that I have never hunted a Jine’ery is not as important as the fact that Jine’ery is a Gifted.” Gart threw a few twigs into the fire, he was feeling tired and cold. “Same as me.”
“Oh, well that bloody explains it.” Angiss’ voice was beginning to rise. “And you are gifted to do what exactly – annoying the living shit out of me?!”
She was almost shouting by the time she finished the sentence.
“No, not really.” snickered Gart. “Although I seem to have that one covered.”
Angiss was about to jump over the fire and punch him in the face when a discreet cough from the bundle that was Sufala instantly cooled her temper. This man was not worth getting agitated over.
“Fine. I hoped you were joking the first time you dropped that word.” said Angiss as she rubbed her nasal bridge with two fingers. “What’s a gifted?”
“You aren’t going to let me sleep tonight, are you?” Gart’s expression was turning sour. “Is that why your sister was in such a hurry to fall asleep?”
The woman ignored both questions and fixated two unblinking eyes on him. There was a promise of physical pain in her glare.
“A Gifted is an individual capable of utilizing the Elements that have forged Avalon.” Gart stifled a yawn. “Such an individual can be born within any race and is much more dangerous than his kin.”
“Elements? So you are telling me that you can, what, breath fire?”
“No.” he rolled his eyes. “The Element of Fire doesn’t let me breath fire, it enhances my power.”
“By how much?” her eyes narrowed with skepticism.
“Well, I can punch through wooden planks and when I tap Fire I can punch through stone walls.” there were joyful flames dancing in his eyes.
Gart tugged his robe closer to his body as a sudden wind ruffled the almost dead fire.
“So, you can basically do magic without a focus glove. Doesn’t sound all that impressive.”
“Have you ever heard of magic that allows you to punch through walls, girl.” Gart’s voice lost all of its humor.
Angiss clenched and unclenched a fist, she didn’t like the stranger’s sudden change in tone.
“No, I haven’t, ‘cause that would be a strength exaggeration of your ego. There is no magic that would allow you such a feat.”
“Give me one of your arrows.” Gart stifled a sigh and extended a hand.
The elf girl hesitated for a second then took out an arrow from her quiver and handed it over. Gart accepted the arrow and with it, lightly poked his left pinky. Blood immediately started gushing out. Angiss always kept her arrows sharp.
“If I give you proof of my words, do your promise to let me get some sleep?”
Angiss cautiously nodded in response.
Gart gripped the arrow tightly and inhaled. He slowly exhaled and once his lungs were empty, he tapped Earth and pierced his own hand. The razor-sharp arrowhead effortlessly split his flesh and emerged on the other side of his hand.
No blood came out of the wound. With a quick thug the elf removed the arrow from his flesh. He lifted his hand before Angiss’ astonished face. There was no wound to be found.
Gart handed back the arrow and slumped onto the ground, his bag served as a pillow. His eyes were droopy and he had no desire to continue talking. The realm of dreams was calling out to him.
“A’ight, let’s say for a second that what you said was true.” breathed Angiss her pupils almost non-existent. “What happens if I slash that Jine’ery’s throat while it sleeps? What happens if I slash your throat?”
“Nothing, my dear Angiss.” murmured Gart half asleep. “All Gifted are immortal.”