The intimidating entity did not move. It just stood there, letting out his rasping breath as if in concentration. … Beads of sweat were on Nomis’ brow as he fought to maintain his ‘thought shield’ against the grating at his mind. Just as he was nearly exhausted from the effort, the horrible footfalls started moving away, down towards the exit that Nomis had used.
The frightened Elfin stayed where he was, petrified, like the stonework illusion he had built around himself. What should he do if the footfalls returned? He pondered anxiously. He felt so exhausted, that he did not think he could hide that way again if the intruder returned.
He waited quite some time before he dared to move, certainly until he could no longer hear the slightest noise of those fateful steps echoing back.
Just as he was about to make his escape, he heard yet more footsteps coming round the far end of the corridor! He listened … frozen to the spot. This time there were a lot of them … and they were running directly towards him!
“Come on men! I feel quite sure he’ll be making for the eastern entrance!” a loud voice boomed.
Nomis sighed with grateful relief. It was someone he recognised, one of the Elfin Quarter guards. He relinquished his illusory stone shell and hastily stepped out from the alcove, glad not to be alone. However, he wasn’t quite prepared for what happened next.
“Halt! Stand and declare yourself!” the guard shouted at him down the corridor.
“Please sir, it’s only me … Nomis … Master Hiral’s apprentice.”
The guard moved stealthily closer, his long-handled battle-halberd at the ready, followed by several of his comrades, taking similar postures with similar weapons.
“What are you doing here at this time of the night?” the guard asked suspiciously, once he had seen that it really was only a lad from the tower.
Before Nomis could reply, a tall, powerfully built Elfin appeared from the rear of the throng.