Note: this got away from me. Sorry. I hope you’ll read it anyway. :) You don't have to. Also, I know the prompt was a library, but I thought it looked like a bank... so yeah.
“I don’t like this.” Arriani told Kallin the Warrior for the third time. She pulled at the end of her dark braid, worrying at it nervously.
“You’ve said, youngling. I know. It’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a bank.”
“It’s big,” said the village girl. She knew he was just preoccupied, but it was still a little upsetting. She’d been a part of his band for six months now, and she no longer hesitated to tell him her thoughts. “There’re so many people here. I just don’t like it.”
“Come on, both of you,” ordered their companion, Zara Shieldmaiden, brushing dark hair out of her eyes. Arriani looked up at the tall stone pillars of the huge Vernaluna Bank. They were there to collect their reward for their last quest: the rescue of the Lord Magistrate’s son from kidnappers.
She frowned. Her fingers itched to hold her glaive, a teak staff capped with finely tempered Isani steel. She’d left it, as Kallin and Zara had left their swords at the inn, with Sir Kilona. Usually Arriani remained behind, as the youngest member of the group, but Kallin had said she needed to get experience with what came after the rescues.
They entered the shining, busy building; it was just one main room, with stalls for money changers and clerks, a table for arranging for loans, and a large iron door barring the way into the vault room.
Arriani was awed how large it was-- her whole home back in the Isani Hills could have fit inside it.
Zara eyed her. “You’ve never been to a bank, have you, magelet?” the tall woman asked, not unkindly.
“No. And there’s nothing this big in Lune’s Bond- nothing like it in all the Hills, ‘cept for the Temple.”
“Sounds sensible there.” Zara said. “Maybe we oughta take some quests thereabouts, eh, Kallie?”
“You know as well as I we take the quests that come to us. And don’t call me that,” snapped Kallin.
Zara laughed. “There,” she said, pointing. “ I see his Lordship. Let’s go get our gold.”
As the others walked over, Arriani felt uneasy. Her dark fingers touched first her Goddess-token in a silent prayer, then the Sight pendant she wore on the same chain. There was much to see, as her sense sharpened-- Arriani let the magic fill her from worn boots to dark hair.
A woman was arguing with a man behind a set of large brass scales to her left, to her right a boy in Apprentice green was checking silver coin for coles. Above, at least 20 feet up, was an image of a dragon and her hoard. Arriani sharpened her Sight and saw it was mosaic, with real silver for the scales.
“Arriani! Youngling, come!” Arriani tore her gaze back down to eye level and felt wrongness surge. She whipped around, her left hand going for the glaive that wasn’t in its strap on her back.
Men and women dressed in dark clothing, with animal masks, carrying swords stood in the entryway, pulling the heavy doors shut. There was a moment of panic as people ran for the side door, screaming, but they too were blocked by the armed folk.
“Keep quiet or we’ll set off the Mageblasts! Face the walls!” came a woman’s voice from behind a goat’s mask.
Thinking quickly, Arriani touched another of her charms. From the coolness in her veins she knew it had worked-- as long as she held the spell, she’d be invisible.
“What do you want?” asked a well dressed old man.
Goat-mask snapped. “Open the vault door. Now!” She kept her sword-- fine steel, not a mere bandit’s weapon at all-- pointed at the man’s back as he took a key from around his neck and put it to the lock of the heavy iron door.
Arriani carefully wended her way through toppled scales until she reached Kallin-- his jaw was set, his hands clenched into fists, his pulse beat wildly in his neck. Beside him, Zara was muttering curses.
She’d been in skirmishes, but here she was without her glaive-- all she had was a boot knife and that would do little good. And Mageblasts-- she could counter binding spells and work healings, but Mageblasts, especially more than one, were big magic, more than she could counter, or at least, more than she had ever tried to counter. She was a strong mage, but there were few that could outright stop the explosive devices. One, maybe, but even that was a risk; it could drain her lifeforce if it proved to be too much. Arriani looked around. There were at least 20 people, not counting the Masked. The thieves that hadn’t already entered the vault room roamed the bank, disarming the bank warriors and keeping everyone quiet.
“Kallin,” she hissed, softly. “What should I do?”
“What?” he turned, looked around. Zara grabbed his arm.
“Kallin, Zara, it’s me,” she kept her voice low. “Arriani. It’s my new charm. Now, what should I do? What do they want?” They were near the black vault door.
“Arri, Moon’s tears, don’t scare me. They’re after Aria’s crown. They’ve a map, that says it’s in the King’s Box.”
“It’s a fake, the map.” Zara added quietly. “Sir Kilona checked into it ages ago. Aria’s Cown’s gone.” Arriani noticed that Zara had a long cut on one cheek. The woman shrugged. “I tried to tell them, but no one ever listens to me.”
Kallin reached out and took her hand. She squeezed it.
“I’m fine, love.” She managed a small smile, wincing. “ Our Magelet can heal me up if...”
Arriani spoke again, careful that no one else was close enough to hear. “ What should I do? Please.” She didn’t want to admit that she was terrified, but her heart hammered in her chest, trying to burst free.
“Will that charm cover other folk?” asked Kallin, looking at the air to her left, light eyes darting.
She shook her head, then remembered they couldn’t see her. “No, sorry.”
“See if you can find where the Mageblasts are with that Sight charm you’ve got. Then get out of here. The Provost’s men should be here by now. Tell them. They may be able to help. It’s not likely, but still. Without our weapons, we can’t do much.”
Arriani flinched; Goat-mask was nearing them. The woman glared at the heroes. “You keep quiet and as soon as we have what we came for, you lovebirds can go home to your nest. Faces to the wall or you’ll get another taste of my blade.” She walked on, circling the room. More masked folk walked the room, keeping order, more still were past the wide open iron doors.
“Go.” Zara told Arriani.
“No! You’re my band! I can’t leave you!”
“Youngling, it’s going to go sour in here. You’re only fifteen. I want you out.” Kallin’s voice was hard.
That’s Kallin. Noble, chivalric, brave. Protective. They all are. But I can’t leave them, not my friends-- my family.
And there were children: the boy apprentice, and another boy with his head pressed into a well dressed man’s side. Arriani may have only been a first year hero, but she was a hero all the same, and that meant she was not going anywhere. She was the only one who could act.
She focused her Sight and searched for magic. Maybe... maybe she could disarm the blasts. Goddess help me.
There, by the main doors where high pillars supported much of the roof, was a patch of coppery light. One Mageblast. But there had to be more, so she strained her Sight until her eyes filled with tears-- nothing. No other lights, except a flicker in in the vault where a pig-masked man and sheep-masked woman sent light into a gold box, trying, Arriani guessed, to force it open.
She turned back to the Mageblast, trying to think what to do. I can’t stop it. But maybe I can contain it, for a little while. Or muffle it. If they get that box open and don’t get what they want, we’re all dead anyway, and I think I can hold it. Maybe. Goddess, please. Lend me strength.
She returned to her band, stopping by the pile of weapons the Masks had taken from the bank warriors on the way. Swords found places besides some of the strongest looking warriors, others were pressed into the hands of her band.
“You’ll have to act fast,” she hissed. “I think I can hold the Mageblast-- there’s only one.”
“Arriani Gold, get out of here while you can. That’s an order.” Kallin said, his face ashen. White fingers clenched the sword hilt, hiding it with his body.
“My word is my bond, I am a Hero of Kallin’s band and I will not let innocent come to harm so long as there is blood in my heart.” The oath she had taken when she joined Kallin, Zara, and Kilona, fell off her tongue. “I still have blood, sir. I can hold the blast, if not all the way, enough.”
Zara nodded. “What do you need us to do, Magelet?” she asked softly.
Arriani checked over her shoulder for Masked, but none were near by, they were busy filling their purses with coin from the moneychanger’s stalls.
“When I say the word, get this door closed, and hold it. All their mages are inside. The iron will help cut them off from their spells, I think. I’ve gotten weapons to the warriors. I’ll hold the blast. You’ll have to get these Masked, and get the main doors open.”
“ You could be killed.” Zara said, trying and failing to meet Arriani’s invisible eyes.
Arriani didn’t answer, just slipped back to the doors. She sent up a quiet prayer, took a deep breath, and broke the silence with a yell.
She dropped her invisibility spell, and thrust everything she had into creating a box of bronze light, her magic, around the copper Mageblast; if she could only hold her box, it would muffle any explosion. The thing started to glow even to her unSighted eyes, and she strained. Around her she heard but didn’t comprehend the sounds of battle, swords on swords, a cry of pain that she knew as well as her own heartbeat: Kallin’s’s. Fire burned in her throat as she held the Mageblast. Her vision started to go gray but still she forced her bronze magic to hold the box form and keep the Blast dormant.
Sunlight streamed across her outstretched and shaking hands as the wooden main doors opened; men and women of the Provost’s guard streamed in, adding to the clamor as they clubbed down the Masked.
At last a cool hand was laid on her shoulder-- Zara, bloody but grinning, and beside her Kallin, violet eyes full of concern. “You can stop holding it. We’ve got the mages. Rest.”
As she breathed, in, out, in, in, in, out, the Provost, a stocky, scarred man who had entered with his warriors, turned to them.
“Kallin the Warrior. I might have known. Lucky for us that you were here, or this might have been a bloodier day. They had a Mageblast, it might have killed everyone. I hear you boxed up the mages. We owe you.”
Kallin shook his head. “Don’t thank me. They got the jump on us,” he indicated Zara and himself. “It’s our magelet, Arriani Gold, who ended up the hero of the day. She held the Blast, singlehandedly. And all this after we told her to leave.” The Provost looked down his nose at the girl.
“Well done, young one. You have courage.”
Arriani felt her dark cheeks go red.
“I should like to reward you all,” came a second voice- the Lord Magistrate. Or rather, the father. His young son, the same that they’d rescued a few days earlier, stood beside him, beaming at Arriani.
“And it seems I owe you for twice saving my son. Please, you are all welcome at my home for dinner this evening. Thank you, especially you, young lady.”
“Truly, Youngling. You’ve done us proud today.” Kallin said, squeezing her shoulder.
For more Arriani ( a much shorter Arriani) check out "Finally"