Athan stopped to catch his breath. It eluded him, billowing from his nostrils. The air around him was tight with the fumes of magic. They tickled his nose and cloyed at his throat. Turning behind him, Athan could make out the gleaming white armour of the Witch Guards, red fumes streaming from their pores, a simple seeking spell – with his name whispered on the wind.
Athan glanced to the east, the market was crowded with sellers and their wares: spices, glittering cloth, ripe fruits and heaps of gold. It would be easy to lose the guards in the crowds. However, the market boasted dead ends where he could be cornered like a genie faced with a journey back inside its lamp. On the other hand, if Athan went west into the temple district, he could hide within the many golden cloisters and hidden catacombs. Athan’s feet quivered West without hesitation.
His hand still itched from the Moon Juice potion he’d distributed that morning. Red, angry hives coated both of his hands. The price he had to pay for a few gold markers. The gold jingled in his cloak pocket as he glided unseen down the back alleys of Holton. The concrete pathways vibrated as the silver-plated boots of the witch guards pounded the pavements after him. Athan was no stranger to being hunted; it was his entire resume.
Athan soon reached the exact spot he had been hoping to scout out. In the spider’s web of alleyways that looped behind the templar, there was a drain cover that led down into the priest’s sewage system. The witch guards would be stalled for a good ten minutes taking off their clunky armour before they could descend after him.
Athan bent down, closed his eyes and placed his hands over the rusty, circular cover. After muttering a few words he heard a click and the screws in the bolt holes vanished. Athan lifted the cover with one hand and began to lower himself into the pit beneath. Abruptly, the witch guards came clattering down the alleyway towards him, trailing amber miasma. Athan dropped into the pit, allowing the cover to rattle back into position over his head.
He’d been lucky this time. But a cat only had nine lives and a necromancer had even fewer.
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