A Rift in the Woods "Make sure you have every single fiber of your straps tightened and pulling just below your waist lines, 'lest you desire for your manhoods to be shriveled like over-baked eggs. This isn't any half-pint magic we're dealing with, men. This wizard holds all of the spells that have ever been deciphered and cast upon since the God of Riv was a babe. You all better be lucky you have wives and maidens to come home to, for you need not worry about that once the Wizard is done with you lot. Word has it that he always go for the most sensitive part of a man before killing them, and I don't know about the rest of you lot, but I want my 'sword' polished when I return home from this hunt, am I right?" Of course he was. To every foolish, young, and brash knight that stood shoulder to shoulder listening to the speech, he couldn't have said it better than they would have. That was the basis for most of Commander Roffick's speeches. Valor, terror, warning, and their manhood. Whichever way the tide would turn, their genitalia was forever at risk of enduring some terrible fate. During the Riv famine? Merchants were going to resort to chopping off the members of all jail ridden men and sell them as food, all with a special sauce that was nothing more than spices crushed into a fine liquid. The Riv drought? Riv would have to drink their own piss if they were dying of thirst. When the bandits demanded that the High King give up every gem he owned or else they would bomb the castle? You guessed it. The High King simply relayed that his member was larger than all of the bandits combined, meaning that they were messing with the wrong man. To Miriel, it was the same old egotistical Commander Roffick trying to rile up his men for the upcoming battles, not that they had gotten much action in the past autumn. The most they did was help an old woman catch a thief that stole her 'prized pig', Maximum. Miriel refused to take part in the 'battle', and she definitely didn't make time to listen to the speech Commander Roffick told the men. She knew what would be the foundation of it. The elf twisted a lock of black/brown hair in between her forefinger and thumb, staying well away from the mass of soldiers that shoved one another in the arms, betting on who will get the first hit on the wizard. As if being a woman didn't already define her from the men, she also chose not to stand within 5 feet of them if it could be helped. She was the only female allowed to wage war with the Rivian army, only because the High King demanded it. An elf with her knowledge and her magic would surely make a stand against the bold and threatening Wizard of the Woods. Miriel scoffed, letting go of the strand of spiraled hair and sighing impatiently. This Wizard of the Woods will definitely know a thing or two about elven magic once Miriel was through with him. She didn't relay this plan to the men, however. They already didn't like the idea of a woman traveling with them and looking at their personals. They need not worry. "Now, men! Tighten those straps and walk with your heads low! This Wizard of the Woods could easily transfigure himself into an object or animal at his whim! We do not want to show him that we can easily be fooled!" Which is obviously wrong, she thought, hiding her amusement by looking towards the band of horses all prepped up and ready to be ridden. "The High King will praise us for we our men among boys! Not only does our length prove it, but so will the head of the Wizard and the book!" The men didn't give Roffick a chance to finish his speech, thrusting their arms into the air with a hearty shout of adrenaline, rushing to find their steeds. Roffick folded both of his large, burly arms over his chest in satisfaction, as if their confidence would have mattered naught if it weren't for his brave words. There was a twisted smile behind the brown, bushed mustache that matched his twig-shaped goatee. Miriel and Roffick made eye contact, and, instantly, she groaned from deep within her throat, already knowing what was to befall her in a mere matter of seconds. "Miriel! There you are! I didn't see you while I was preparing the men!"he said, lying through his teeth but wearing a mock expression of surprise as he clanked his armored boots over to where she stood beside her golden stallion, Sphynx. "Being the only woman in the group was not enough for your eyesight, Commander Roffick? I suggest you get that checked as soon as we get back to Riv,"she said, hiding back small bits of sarcasm before turning towards Sphynx's head and sending the horse a silent warning. Sphynx never traveled well with men. The two were peas in a pod, so to speak. Roffick bellowed out a deep laugh and slapped Miriel on the back, sending her flying onto Sphynx's neck with her arms outstretched. "Nonsense! I'm as strong as an ox's ox! As you can see..."he mused, spreading his hands out to point out his show of strength in the slap. He masked the movement as a friendly man-to-man thing, but Miriel was no man. She was also not a happy elf, swinging her dark, pitch black eyes to send him a spine-chilling glare. The reaction was fruitful, Roffick stiffening instantly at the two giant pools of black that were her eyes. "All I see is a man who would rather spend his time hitting women in the back than gathering up his steed and bringing his men to the so called 'battle' ahead,"she spat, relieving him from her glare only to check Sphynx's saddle and bag. "You must have me mistaken, my lady. I hit women from the back, not in the back. And you say I am the one who needs to have my eyes checked!" "Go piss up a tree,"she muttered, swinging her pale leg onto Sphynx and grabbing her reigns. Roffick found the order funny, taking the opportunity to get closer to Miriel's leg, trailing his eyes from her tanned sandals all the way up the length of her leg. "My my, what's gotten into you today, Miriel? You should be excited about this travel! This is where you can prove yourself to be one of the men!" "And why ever would I want to do that?"she asked rhetorically. Roffick huffed, bringing his fingers up to caress his beard, finally shrugging and tearing his gaze away from Miriel's leg. Good timing too, because her reflexes were beginning to settle in. "True. I much rather the thought of you as 100% woman. You don't know what traveling with a band of men could do to a poor Commander's thoughts. The vague, dull images of his fantasies, forced to come alive in the brute of the night, with nothing much as the memory of a woman's soft, delicate whispers, forever chanting--" "Commander Roffic! All have been accounted for!" Miriel enjoyed watching Roffick's grimace at his fantasy being shattered by a male's gruff voice. He momentarily lost color in his face, but regained it just as quickly, spinning around to address the blonde soldier. Miriel rolled her eyes once his head was turned, patting Sphynx's mane in satisfaction. It surely wasn't going to be the end of the torment Roffick was going to give her throughout the trip, so she took her wins at any chance she could grasp them. The sun did a dance across the horizon, painting the skies of Riv in a pink and violet tinge. The color was admirable, yet short lived. Another bundle of minutes and the pink would vanish, the dark purple completely enveloping the sky until the stars peeked out from their hiding. Miriel's favorite time of day. "Gather up your reins, men! We ride to gather the head of the Wizard of Woods!" Miriel's lips didn't move while every other man shouted up, raising one arm into the air while the other was clamped on their reigns. The horses whinnied in time as each man shot off in a high speed trot, following the brilliant white and black splotched horse belonging to Roffick. Miriel's eyes slid behind her to the gray colored flag, a bold black image of a moon and star intertwining each other waving at her through the wind. She couldn't imagine what cold-hearted cretin would want to harm the kingdom of Riv. The sooner the ancient book of spells was in the safe hands of the High King, the better. If that meant enduring all of Roffick's advances, then so be it. Without so much as a bat of her eye, she rapped the reign lightly across Sphynx's back, riding off into the black, twisted abyss to 'chat' with the Wizard of the Woods.