It was supposed to be a job just like any other here in Kirkwall. That's what Craig Tucker tells himself as he looks out from the thorny bushes he's hidden himself in as he watches the bandits accosting a mage. The Wounded Coast is chock full of these sons of bitches (the bandits not the bushes) and fuck if he isn't sick of them making his job harder than it already was.
They have it just so easy riding his coattails as they pick on the stragglers that don't get out of the open like they're supposed to. Mostly this is due to stopping for potion ingredients or breathing in their first breath of free air and judging by the bulging sack at this mage's feet, it was the former that got him caught.
“There's a toll 'round these parts, boy,” one of the bandits was saying. “Think you got the money to pay?”
'No. He's a fucking mage and they never have the shit you want,’ the thief thought to himself bluntly.
The mage was twitching with fear; wild golden hair framing a terrified face just barely visible through the crowd of unwashed bodies surrounding him.
Fuck. Craig really wished he hadn't seen the guy's face. Now he'll feel guilty if he turns away like he did desperately wants. He could have turned around and slunk back to Athenril in Darktown to collect his payment then head to the Hanged Man and his shitty room right next to that weirdly wealthy dwarf.
“N-No! You can't have that! I n-need it for my friend!” The mage cried out as one of the thugs grabbed the bag at his feet. Though he tried to lunge, muscled arms soon held him in place; practically lifting the male from his feet and bringing a choked sound from his throat that made Craig wince.
“The fuck is all this? Grass? Flowers? WHERE'S THE FUCKING SOVEREIGNS?” The man searching through the blond's belongings bellowed as he upturned the bag and stamped a foot into the pile of herbs.
“Don't… have any…. Just… a mage,” the male choked out as he was squeezed roughly I am iron grip.
Okay. Now was the time to step in before blood was shed. Well… mage blood, that is.
“So this is where you ran off to, huh? I told you you shouldn't wander off, y'know.” The dramatic nature to his entrance was unnecessary, but at least it got the bandits to look at him.
“I know, I know. You don't need to thank me yet. How about you introduce me to your friends first, yeah?”
“Oi, wait… I know you,” a thug spoke up with eyes narrowed at Craig.
“No. you don't.” Shit. He'd assumed these guys worked only on the Coast or were passers through like a lot of the assholes around these days. If word got up to Kirkwall that he was seen aiding a rogue mage and that word traveled to the Templars, he'd be strung up for more than just the stolen goods stashed in his room.
“I do! You're one of Athenril's brats! What was your name? Fluorspar? Fluoride?”
The shik of metal blades sliding from sheaths on his back cut through the air. Any and all merriment in his eye disappeared to be replaced with cold iron of a killer as fingers pulled up the fabric from his neck to cover his nose and mouth.
“The name's Feldspar.”
It was the last thing from his lips as he dashed forward. A small clay ball was in his hand, tucked neatly between his palm and the hilt of his dagger only to be smashed into the hard ground to release its contents into the air. Though the bandits and mage all started to cough as choke, Craig's mask helped him breathe even as his eyes stung slightly in the smoke.
‘'Definitely too much dragon shit this time,’ the oddly calm voice in his head noted as his blades slid across the nearest pair of throats he could reach.
The iron tang of blood mixed with the sulfur stink of the smoke bomb but there was already a third body falling from a blade right through the ribs and into a heart before the bandits managed to react. Unfortunately his cover was dissipating, however, and soon he'd be exposed and outnumbered.
That's when he was shocked to hear a loud cry to his left soon followed by the smell of burning ozone.
“GET OUT OF THERE!”
It was the mage, and judging by the way the hair on the back of his neck was prickling, he'd just summoned lightning. His reflexes reacted quicker than his mind and in the next second he was looking at a chain of lightning fry at least four people at once. Eyes followed the line of electricity to where the blond stood with hands raised. Behind him the overly muscled thug was nursing a bloody nose leading to a few possibilities in Craig's mind (all that brought an uncharacteristic grin to his face under the mask).
“Thanks! Now do it again if you can!” Craig shouted and kicked up a rock to vault over at the broken nosed thug in order to stun him for a few seconds longer.
“I'm t-trying!! T-Too much-!” The mage screeched before a ball of flames erupted from his hands and collided with a bandit on the other side of the clearing. “I'm sorry!”
That time Craig laughed as he leapt forward and drove his daggers into another man's neck. Kicking the body away, he turned just in time for his luck to hit a bump in the road.
A blow collided with his jaw; splitting his lip and filling his mouth with blood as he reeled from the hit. Before he could recover, the blade of a sword raked across his ribs from a missed thrust. Okay, even though he was now dizzy and his side was on fire, at least some of his luck was still intact.
“Motherfucker,” he growled as he stumbled. Another cry filled his ears right before another jolt of lightning hit his attacker. Before the man could recover an turn his attention to the mage, Craig's dagger found his back. “Finish me off first, you fucking asshole.”
He tried to move again but the fire in his ribs made him stumble again.
Across the clearing, big, bloody and muscly had the blond in an iron grip. Dammit. Not now. Craig still had to-.
“GET OFF ME!” With this final cry came what felt like a blast of air which sent the final bandit flying right against a cropping of rocks.
A sickening crunch and wet thud was all Craig heard as the man landed in a thorny bush. Seconds that felt like hours passed and when the man didn't resurface, the thief let off a relieved sigh followed by a flinch of pain.
“Shit,” he groaned pressing a gloved hand to his injury.
Soon the mage was scrambling over to his side with a face that looked more panicked than ever. “Oh Maker! Are you okay! I-I can't believe that all just happened!”
“I can't believe your fried like six dudes at once,” Craig chuckled then regretted it until he saw the blush quickly flaring on the blond's face.
“I-It was only four guys. B-Bur that doesn't matter!” He stammered and crawled over to the ruined pile of herbs and gave a whine. “They're ruined! There was elfroot here we could have used to stop the bleeding!”
“Aren't you a mage?” Craig said rumbly as he pulled the mask from his nose and mouth in order to breathe a bit easier. “Can't you just heal me with your magic?”
Teeth worried the male's lip as he knelt next to Craig again. “I-I was never good at that kind of thing. I-I get too anxious and end up setting things on fire.”
“.... Maybe there's some elfroot that survived.” When he tried to move, surprisingly forceful hands pushed him back down.
“No, don't move! You're already losing a lot of blood!”
“Well what do you suggest we do? Wait for the next batch of assholes to come along and get revenge for us killing their friends?” He knew it was unfair to snap the moment he said the words. “Just… do what you can, okay? As long as you don't set me on fire and I don't bleed out.” And no one else unfriendly came across them.
A shaky hand pushed under his and against the wound. “I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.”
“Deep breaths. Okay?” It was all he could offer as he gave the hand against him a squeeze.
When he felt heat warming the mage's palm, he had a split second of panic before the warmth spread almost the same as an elfroot salve. A tingly little sensation crawled up his veins to his sore jaw and he could swear he could taste cinnamon. After a few looking seconds basking in the feeling, the mage pulled his hand away and when Craig looked down he only saw clean, knitted flesh instead of a gaping sword wound.
“See? I knew you could do it,” he said with a grin as he sat up from where he'd been shoved down.
“Like hell you did!” The blond practically sobbed as he rubbed a bloody fist against his eye.
“C'monnnn, I totally did. Just look! You did almost as good fixing me as you did frying those eight dudes!”
A shaky, huffed laugh escaped the mage's lips as he wiped the rest of his tears on the sleeve of his robes.
“I'm Tweek. Tweek Tweak.”
“I remember.” Craig had made a joke when the blond introduced himself in the same manner (albeit much quieter and with more stammered breaking the syllables). “That's why I stopped. I was heading back to the city when I saw you and those assholes.”
“You saved me,” Tweek said softly with a hint of pink high in his cheeks now.
“I'm the one that got stabbed, but if you wanna regail me as some hero, can you at least keep it humble? I'm not looking to be the next Champion of Kirkwall or anything.”
That got another little laugh from the other male (Craig was already beginning to like the sound of those) as they both picked themselves up.
“So then, Tweek Tweak Tweak.” Just to keep up with the joke from earlier. “We have a couple choices here. Either we book it and try to catch the carrivan taking the rest of the Circle Mages from your group into the mountains, we hole you up in a cave until I bring the next batch through in a few weeks, or we just go back to Kirkwall- ah ah. I'm not saying back to the Gallows. I have other arrangements I can make for you. A lot more dangerous than escaping while you can but….”
Loosening the grip on his own yellow hair and relaxing his shoulders, his eyes dart around for a few moments. “H-How dangerous?”