I’m confused–naturally, as I’m only seeing things in a dream state. You’d think this was natural. But I fail to understand the reason the smells of the prison have faded to be replaced by…I don’t even know. But it makes me feel nonplussed. We’re moving toward a large entrance. The woman known as Syria stops us, her hand cupping her ear to the door. “It seems we left some of our fellows still waiting for us.”
The doors open, by no one’s hand it seems, revealing a beautiful garden. Just as she said, there’s more people outside, but…I question this. I make my concerns known to my sapien counterpart. Just an empathic strike void of words, I’m not sure I can adequately describe what I’m feeling anyway–but as I receive Nyx’s dismissal (“Creature, keep quiet,“) I feel a simultaneous stab of pain through me. Alarmed, I fall silent, shrinking into the cold mists of my world. It smells of animality and desperation. My face bunches as I gaze up into a sky that has turned cloudy. Then all at once…I can see nothing more.
“Nyx! What treachery is this! What’s happened!? Why can’t I see–” my voice is cut short as the ink closes in around me.
A voice echoes from afar, but I recognize it…I know it because I’ve only just heard it…
“Animals should not speak,” the voice says, just as the shadows rise over my head…
Syria bowed to the new guests, all smiles, all warmth. She invited them into her home, but gazed out into the garden with dismay. “Oh my,” she breathed, a hand at her lips. “The dogs must be hungry! We must let them in.”
Elmiryn’s gaze hardened as her eyes trailed the wave of carefully pruned rosebushes, neat green grass, and tranquil flower beds. The mountain wind was somewhat nippy, but the woman didn’t feel the need for a cloak. Their group of five stood aside to allow the dogs in, a pack of mixed breeds, and the animals scurried into the enchantress’ home. Their claws clicked on the polished floors. The warrior heard laughter, but the sound echoed with something else. She started to look over her shoulder when she saw the others moving forward, chatting together like they were old friends. Farrel flirted with Syria, and the woman flirted back. Lethia giggled with Nyx. Elmiryn listened once again to the sounds behind her, and as Syria traveled farther ahead, she heard it. Clearly.
The warrior moved to catch up with the group, the edges of her vision blurring as they traveled farther away. When she was within a few feet of them again, the blurring was gone, and so were the screams. She had to keep up. She tried to take some pleasure in the scene presented to her by looking up. The sky was open to them, revealing stars–gods tears, caught in a veil that concealed heaven. A veil, a screen–
Elmiryn cursed under her breath.
Lethia fell into step next to her, looking shy. She was wearing a blue frilly dress with light pink laces. Her hair was pulled back with a jade clip. Hands behind her back, she smiled at Elmiryn and met her eyes. “So…what do you think of my mistress?”
Elmiryn sighed, turning her gaze to look at the drink in her left hand with dissatisfaction. “Yes. She’s very nice. Pretty.” Then she did a double-take.
Wait a fucking minute…
“Hey, your eyes–!” Elmiryn started.
“Hmm?” The girl tilted her head to one side.
The woman faltered. Then she shook her head and turned her face away. “Never mind.”
Lethia looked forward again, carefree. “It’s great that so many people were willing to come to celebrate Syria’s birthday. After all she’s been through, she deserves it! She has you and the others to thank too, of course,” The girl’s smile turned somber. “Thank you, Elmiryn…for helping. I know…I know I complicated things. But you saved me. And my mistress.”
“The last part is what worries me,” the woman muttered, sloshing her drink.
The girl looked at her, blinking. “…Sorry?”
“Nothing.” Elmiryn looked up at her. “You’ve been having fun, it seems. Have you thought about it much?”
“How you got here?”
Lethia’s smile turned uncertain. “Um…Elmiryn, are you having a good time?”
The woman gazed at her. They were walking at the same pace. Left, right, left, right, left…and yet somehow they still managed to be out of sync. How annoying. “I’m having a great time, kid,” Elmiryn eventually said. She pointed at the girl, “Hey, by the way, how did you manage what you did back there…? In the staircase.” She elaborated at the teenager’s look of confusion. “At Holzoff’s, I mean, with those two guards you controlled.”
“Oh!” Lethia’s eyes went wide. Then she tapped her jaw. “Ah…lemme see…wow that seems so long ago. But I can try and tell you,” She held up both her hands. “You see, there are two categories people fall into: believers and skeptics. Believers are easier to convince that an illusion is true. Skeptics need a great deal more work and effort before they’ll buy into anything, and more work if you want them to do as you tell them. Walt was easy to control–he was a bit simple-minded. The matrix of his animus was very easy for me to infiltrate and thus control. But Redford wasn’t so easy. His matrix was much more complicated. I had to first present him something very innocuous, something that he could easily agree to, before gradually increasing the level of my commands.”
“Ah, that’s why he seemed to keep acting normal, up until the end.”
“Yes! Usually that control would take weeks to achieve, but I didn’t have time to wait. I had to shut down his thoughts altogether.” Lethia’s brows crashed together as she looked off to the side. “Come to think of it, I can’t remember how the man fared after we escaped Holzoff’s. Typically…typically a subject would experience a great deal of mental damage given…given what I did…” The girl’s expression turned anxious and her eyes fogged with her concerns.
Elmiryn gripped her shoulder. “Lethia, you did what you had to.” Skepticism at this point was dangerous, especially coming from the young enchantress. The woman steered her forward, so that they caught up with the others. “Don’t dwell too much on it right now. We’ll figure something out.”
“It’s just…odd. Even for me. How could I forget that?” Then the girl paused, thinking over her words, and without warning she burst into a nervous fit of giggles. “Gosh, what did I just say!”
Elmiryn started to chuckle.
How ridiculous this all was!
Farrel, walking arm in arm with Syria, turned to look at them over his shoulder. His wisterian eyes, sharp and cool at the same time, were like bowls that held liquid curiosity. His light lips broke apart in a smile.
“What has ya in such a humorous mood?” he asked. His accent was back.
“You don’t hear that noise behind us?” Elmiryn asked, gesturing behind her.
The halfling frowned at her and Syria looked back at her now too. The warrior smiled toothily at the enchantress. “Your dogs seem to be having a good time with your guests…”
[It is a cold place. A thankless, unforgiving place. A place devoid of all but the basest of understandings. But she feels a hook in her. A way to the surface. A thread that goes up–but it is too weak to return her. Still. Not all had been snuffed out. Not all had been lost. After all she still had–]
[–Of Expression still quivering in the surreal breeze like cobwebs still clinging to their warm corners. This place is rank with fear and self-loathing. In a bizarre way, the Expression brings her pain, because it brings her understanding, but she cannot do away with it. She needs it. Still, her understanding still fails to reach the answers she seeks. How long had she been there? A minute? An hour? A week? She is a shard, lost within a vast sea of broken unwanted things–things her other self, her other personality had long since locked away. This dark ocean once surrounded her sanctuary, threatening to swallow her too, and now it finally had her. Was it possible to come back?]
[What if you could bring this chaos together? — She wonders. Would this take away the cold? Would this end her turmoil? She cannot rid herself of the pain, but instead, she decides to embrace it, for it is the one thing she has to tell her she’s alive. Still existing. She starts to draw together the cobwebs and the whisperings. The Dark Matter that made up this sea of unwanted things. Somethings and Nothings that once were. She brings these things together, joining them. The darkness swells around her. A thought occurs to her and she pauses. What she was doing could bring trouble for her. It could hurt Nyx. It could grow and manifest and hurt the others–like Elmiryn. It could grow and grow. Could She stop it? The thread she has to the light is not strong enough to bear her so she needs more to bolster it, but this Dark Matter is nefarious. Only…she sees the art cobble together, and she sees a new beast, an unrelenting strength, that could be hers.
She stares at the–]
[–And decides she’d rather live, fractured in pieces with her Twin, than be lost here for eternity.]
The woman couldn’t say for certain how far they’d gone. Things had dimmed to a grayscale, failing to keep her attentive to the happy chatterings that passed through her head. She started seeing snow in the garden, and felt colder. Her broken arm ached more and more. But amidst the blurry indefinite shapes that paraded and caroused in jovial fashion, there was the ever-colorful, ever beautiful art that she had come to know as uniquely belonging to Nyx. The girl here, in this pretty pretend world, was radiant. Her smile was broad. Her hair was no longer in a mane, but in soft, even curls that bounced and teased her porcelain shoulders. The girl was laughing. Smiling with Lethia and with Farrel and with Syria. Up ahead, there was a glow, over the tall hedgerows, and Elmiryn surmised that the dream would soon end.
The woman looked skyward again, and took a deep breath.
If the dream could last a little longer, than why not let it?
They trudged up a hill. A large tree rested off to the side, disrupting the mountainous skyline. There was barking in the distance. Then Argos appeared, bursting through the bushes, leaves in his fur and his ears perked as he set eyes on Lethia. The teenager squealed, gathering up her dress as she ran forward.
“Argos!” She cried.
The great big shaggy dog ran to greet her, barking excitedly. Well behaved, he didn’t jump on her, but when she crouched down to hug him, he froze, jerking out of her embrace to sniff the front of her dress. At the injury she had so conveniently forgotten about. Two silhouettes appeared at the top of the hill, backlit by campfire. One was taller than the other, though that could’ve been because the one on the left was leaning on his knees.
“Oye! You people look terrible!” Graziano.
Elmiryn shouted back up at him, glad to hear his voice. “Yet surprisingly, we’re still fuckable!”
“Elmiryn.” Nyx glared at her.
The woman grinned at her in return.
They were getting close enough now that she could see his face. He was smiling a little, but his eyes were on Farrel and Syria. Then Elmiryn noticed the gun in his hand.
“I don’t believe it. You made it,” he said.
“Barely,” she said, glancing at the weapon, then at the man. “Where’s the wizard?”
“Wasn’t he just behind us–?” Graziano started to look over his shoulder.
Paulo straightened, taking a shuddering breath. He looked at Syria and grabbed the front of his shirt with both hands. “Hello…Miss Syria. I was told…you could help me. P-Please…”
Elmiryn raised an eyebrow at him. She was half expecting more of his tantrums. It sounded like he’d rehearsed this in his head. Or maybe it was Graziano’s doing.
“You have others here,” Syria said suddenly. Her brusque ignore on Paulo’s request made Elmiryn’s eyebrow quirk. “More guests.”
Paulo blinked at her. His eyes had dark circles now, making him seem more haunted than when Elmiryn last saw him. “Guests? Oh you mean–”
Nyx let out a choked noise. She fell to her knees, her expression drawn in blank shock. Elmiryn let go of the mirage she had been holding–and the image of her “wine glass” vanished into nothing. She was once again wearing a ruined doublet with a broken arm, her hair in a sweaty, tangled braid. The beautiful garden wavered and fell away. They were knee-deep in snow, almost to camp. The warrior knelt by Nyx quickly, her eyes trying to make out what was happening. Argos came up at her side, snarling–but it wasn’t at her or even the Morettis.
The large animal drew his teeth back, hackles raised as he stared up at Syria. Lethia tried to pull him back from behind, but it was like trying to move a boulder.
“Argos! What’s gotten into you!?” The teenager looked at Elmiryn who hugged Nyx with one-arm. The Ailuran was struggling to breath, and she was burning up under the touch. “Elmiryn, what’s going on? What’s happened to Nyx?” Lethia’s oval-shaped face now sported a light sheen of sweat and a healthy dose of fear.
The woman looked up at Syria, who gazed down at her from the corner of her eye. She no longer seemed that beautiful anymore. She was dressed in rags and there were shadows in her eyes. Her slight smile had something twisted tucked away in it. Her injuries didn’t seem to faze her, either.
The warrior smirked. “Kid,” she said, “Stop and think a moment. Why can you meet my gaze without emptying my head? How did you get here to this party? What day is today?”
“I–I don’t–” the girl’s voice cut short.
Elmiryn looked at her again and saw that a sleepy, blank look had taken over her face. She sat back and Argos turned to look at his owner, his ferocity dying out with a whine.
“I was hoping,” Syria drawled over them. “That the animal in Nyx would stay quiet. I’ve never quite come across a mindscape like hers. I was very tempted to risk everything in probing further. Perhaps I should have invested more time investigating how her split personalities work…then maybe she wouldn’t have slipped from me. It doesn’t matter. It seems her malady removes her as a concern for the time being.”
Elmiryn closed her eyes. “The Twin is all about survival. On top of that, she’s intelligent. She knows a cage when she sees one, and won’t allow herself to remain trapped. Now whether or not her sudden rebellion was wise, that’s left up to debate,” the warrior shrugged her good shoulder.
The dark-haired woman looked at her, a wry smile on her lips. “Your mindscape is quite interesting as well, Elmiryn. It’s just beginning to show signs of deterioration, but nothing of your thoughts gave you away. I’d thought you were under my thrall. It’s as though you’re smoke.”
Elmiryn opened her eyes and smirked up at the woman. “I’m not so easy to manipulate.”
The noble laughed. “I’ll remember that next time.”
“There won’t be a next time.”
Farrel was staring between the two women. Argos licked Lethia’s cheek and hand in an attempt to get her to wake. She didn’t move.
Graziano held up his pistol. He placed a hand on Paulo’s chest and forced the boy back. “Elmiryn. Tell us what’s going on…” he said, voice wary.
“Why are you doing this?” The warrior asked the enchantress.
Syria looked at Elmiryn, eyebrow raised. “You’re an inquisitive ghost…aren’t you?”
Farrel stepped away from her. “I’m…not following any of this…”
“I was trying to wait this out, to see what Syria had planned,” Elmiryn said nodding at the enchantress. “Making us believe in her illusions just as much as the guards wasn’t in keeping with someone who was innocent. But she spared us, unlike those men in the tower. I wanted to know why. She could’ve killed us right away and been done with the whole matter.”
Farrel clenched his fists as he looked down at himself as though seeing his armor for the first time. He glared at Syria, all his affection and humor gone. “What did you do?”
Syria laughed again, but the sound was dryer–harsher. “Silly man, I saved you all!”
“What did you do!” He snarled.
“She let the daesce into the tower,” Elmiryn spat. “Those men are all torn apart by now. What about the prisoners, Syria? Didn’t you care about them?”
The woman shrugged. “They’re in prison cells. Unless help doesn’t arrive, I imagine the worst they’ll suffer is starvation…so long as they stay away from the bars.”
“You’re insane!” Farrel shouted, pink-faced. He drew his dagger and held it before him, but it was like holding a twig to a raging fire, and the man knew it.
Syria looked at him mildly. She gestured at Elmiryn. “I’m no more insane than this woman here.” She looked at Lethia. “Up, girl. There are magic users near, but they won’t be able to interfere. At any rate, this won’t take very long.”
Lethia stood, a breath rattling from her lips.
Everyone around had stepped away from the enchantress and her apprentice, Argos included. He whimpered, a last appeal to his owner who stared at Syria like she were the only thing in the world that existed. Paulo drew his rapier, swallowing loudly. Elmiryn dragged Nyx back by her clothes. She lay the girl at her feet, who was still gasping, still lost in her mind. The woman didn’t know what was wrong with her–but there was not much she could do. Her eyes were still strained on the dark-haired enchantress, who now gazed skyward.
“I’m not going to indulge you all with a speech.” She smiled, her expression sad. “You wouldn’t understand anyway.”
Graziano pointed his gun and Elmiryn saw his finger flex on the trigger, but he didn’t pull. Sweat rolled into his unblinking gaze. She made to push into a run, to charge with her blade, screaming. But her body couldn’t move. At first she thought she was suffering another episode–but then it occurred to her that such things weren’t supposed to be noticed by the subject in question–and at any rate this was happening differently. She was still aware of her body, still aware of the size of the world and her place in it, but an invisible force was physically preventing her from moving. The woman could still move her eyes, and she saw that she was not alone in her entrapment. Graziano was similarly stuck, as was Farrel, and so she guessed, was Argos. They were like grave statues. But then Paulo walked forward, dropping his weapon. His face now sported the same blank expression Lethia’s did.
Syria held her chin, her face turned away. She seemed lost in thought. Paulo stopped before Lethia, and the two faced each other. The boy removed his shirt, and Lethia crouched down to pull at his pants. Within a minute, the boy was standing naked in the cold. His limbs were wiry and he sported an erection (“Quite a feat in this cold!” the woman thought.) The dark-haired enchantress waved one hand. The snow crunched and hissed as it shifted to make a flat relief in the slope. Paulo lay down in the center of the newly cleared snow and Lethia stood over him, both hands held palm up at either side of her.
Syria stood at Paulo’s feet, her eyes shining in the dark. She gazed at her captive audience. “Enchantment is not the only form of magic I know. It was my secret for years. But you can all still walk away, today, without ever knowing the extent of my power. You can live long lives, and I can wipe your minds free of the burden of these memories. For freeing me, this I can offer you. But I have something I must finish first. I’m sorry, but this will not be pleasant.”
Then she looked at Paulo again.
Lethia raised her hands.
At first Elmiryn didn’t understand it, but then Paulo began to rise in the air, perfectly horizontal as though he were still lying at his back. Then there was a roar, and in the next instant, a stream of fire flowed over them. Syria was taking the fire from the camp and multiplying it. Elmiryn would have ducked, would have shielded Nyx. But the woman still couldn’t move. She couldn’t even blink. She could only watch with watering eyes as the brilliant fire encircled Paulo. Then…
Flames licked out, with purpose, over every part of the boy’s body, tracing shapes into his skin. He didn’t scream. He didn’t squirm. It were as though he wanted it, wished for it to happen.
Syria was murmuring, her face a tight scowl as she worked.
Then there was a voice that drifted on the wind.
“I see, so you see. I hear, so you hear. I know, so you know. Illuminate this for the eyes of the blind. Reveal what is hidden, bring forth what is desired!”
Syria didn’t even turn her head. Simply pointed with her arm, and a surge of flames broke away from the ritual to fly back toward camp. Something flashed overhead, a bright white light. Elmiryn’s mind felt as though it were electrified. Thoughts flashed through at miraculous speed.
“Syria’s using Lethia as a puppet. I’ve never heard of it–I don’t know shit about magic, really–but I guess it’s possible isn’t it? It’s like she’s possessing the girl. She has Lethia levitate Paulo while Syria burns those symbols into his body–sacrifice, he’s a sacrifice, a seed–but what’s it all for? Take out Lethia and Syria’s power is halved. The girl…her eyes. She never needed those glasses. Syria had just done something to her, to control her–Lethia must be powerful for Syria to put such a cap on her. But none of this solves my problem of fucking moving–”
I start to rise forth, all gritty vengeance, the vestiges of a world nameless and unwanted slowly stripping away from my spirit as I spearhead my way into the forefront of this shared intellect. I’m gripping onto my newfound weapon, the Dark Matter, my force of primal instincts gathered together with these lost thoughts and feelings. It is a black ribbon, a rope that takes me higher. It lashes in my grip, but I command it still. With this, I am the forgotten and unwanted daughter. But I will have my say.
My return from the darkness brings Nyx to her knees, and I feel the ghostly wave of shock and inertia take hold of our body. I’m pushing into her consciousness, but I’m not seeking to conquer it. I feel like the entire world is pressing down on me, squeezing my limbs, gripping my spirit.
Two souls cannot be in control. Two souls cannot fit here.
The mind struggles to make a stage for us both. Within seconds we stand opposite the other, staring each other down–me upright, but with fur and claw, she looking just as she had in Syria’s illusion.
Nyx starts, trembling. It could be rage or fear or both. “What’re you–”
I cut her off. We do not have time for the usual dance of words. “Nyx. You must remember where you are. Do you really think you’re at Syria’s home? Do you remember anything of Holzoff’s? Of how we got there?”
“Of course I do!” she snaps. “But that doesn’t explain–”
“What’s my name.”
Nyx blinks. Stares at me as though I’ve suddenly turned into a human (scary thought.) “What sort of question is that?”
I bare my teeth, my tail lashing behind me. “You self-important baboon…you forget so easily!?”
“What? What did I forget?”
“That you would give me a name! After Holzoff’s Tower, I would’ve raised the issue, and yet you cannot even recall sparing a thought for it! What happened to all those guards you left behind? The prisoners? What happened to Belcliff? Why is Syria’s tower suddenly a castle instead?” I’m screaming at her now. Why is my life tied with this fool?
The girl hugs herself. Her breaths–imaginary in this place–turn to fog. “How do you know this? All you see is just a dream to you, how do you know this isn’t just your misinterpretation?”
“Our malady doesn’t quite work that way, sister.” I spit the word out. I crouch and point a claw at her, the black ribbon snaking up my arm. “Whatever you experience, I still feel. I still sense. When the prison suddenly vanished, I knew something was wrong–but when I moved to speak to you Syria tried to silence me.”
“Not as she seemed.” I look up at the black overhead that looms over us. “I imagine something is happening now.”
“Moron. Because she hasn’t tried to stop me yet.”
Light flares around us, and riding on its hot intensity comes a deep understanding. Then the stage tears away, unable to hold us both. I willingly slip back into the subconscious, back to the sanctuary I have made. Given the look that had crossed Nyx’s face before sight and sound had been torn asunder, I decide that for once, my sister can handle it. It’s a surprise, and not an unpleasant one.
I don’t really envy her position.
At any rate, I’m always here in case of disaster, and I have the Dark Matter to aid me…
Nyx shuddered and rose, her nose and ears bleeding just as the light overhead vanished. She was heaving breaths, her eyes wild and glassy. Syria didn’t think it necessary to restrain her, it seemed. She looked at Paulo, Lethia, then Syria. She didn’t need long to make a decision about the scene before her.
“No, NO! We have to stop her!” Nyx screamed, scrambling to her feet.
The Words echoed in Elmiryn’s head. There was something spiky about it, that made her body tingle pleasantly. She had felt tired, despite her determination, her body shuddering on the last stretches of its strength. But she suddenly felt rejuvenated. Nyx said they had to stop this, and she was right. Elmiryn took as much breath as she could, and…
Again, Syria didn’t even move her head. A slight flick of her hand, and the flames surged forth, reaching angrily. There was a muted boom. Snow exploded before them and the ground shook. A black gauntlet struck away the flames, where they perished in the cold air in a hiss of embers and heat. Nyx stared, dumbfounded as Hakeem, dressed in his mage armor, stood over her and Elmiryn both.
The warrior grunted, forcing her muscles to move against the invisible force. When she gained an inch forward, the woman screamed and pushed her body harder. There was a rush of air around her, and she tumbled into Hakeem’s side. She was free. The man was still crouching before them, his arm held up as he maintained some sort of gravitational shield against the fire that lashed at the group. They were literally caught under a bordello of flames. Snow turned to slush, turning their boots and pants damp.
Panting, the woman winced as her broken arm stabbed with pain. She looked at Hakeem, “We have to stop this before she kills Paulo!” she shouted over the roar of fire. She pointed forward with her sword. “Give me cover, I think I know what to do!”
The man nodded, his face tight with exertion. “Go now!”
Elmiryn returned the nod, and with a breath, she pushed forward into a run. Hakeem roared, pushing with all his body as he rocked the shield forward so that it cleared a way for the woman to run through the flames. As she passed beneath Paulo’s body, she saw Lethia, her face slack and disconnected from the chaos before her–indifferent to the hellish flames that came frighteningly close to scorching her. With a shout, she slammed her fist into the girl’s mouth. The teenager’s head snapped back, her eyes rolling back into her head. Lethia fell backward…unconscious. The warrior continued her run, legs pumping through the snow.
Behind Elmiryn, there was a crunch. Without the gravitational force keeping Paulo aloft, his body had crashed down into the snow. The woman started to wheel around, her gaze flickering to Syria. From the corner of her eyes, she saw Graziano and Farrel freed of their bonds. The Moretti moved, his face drawn in horror as he took in his brother’s mutilated body but Hakeem held him back, saying something that was lost in the resulting commotion. Was the boy even still alive…?
“Your therian friend possesses an ancient magic, it seems. I thought that art form was dead. Somehow I missed that,” Syria sounded more exasperated than angry. Her arms swung, and her eyes held the flames of the fire she now orchestrated toward Elmiryn. “Something wrong was bound to happen, it’s been so long since I’ve had to command so much at such levels. But do you really think you can win?”
…Only, the fire died, sputtering as they fruitlessly stretched through the cold air. The warrior stopped and watched as the flames literally flickered out to nothing before her face.
Overhead, there was a bright and orange glow. Elmiryn looked up, her eyes widening. Were those the suns…?
Like a bolt of lightning, the light condensed together, then flashed down with a crack. Syria stirred the snow about her feet, sending up a snow wall as she stumbled backward.
Standing in a crater of melted snow, steam curling about her, Quincy pointed her golden blade at Syria–her body glowing with a bright light. “You thought yourself supreme, and thus underestimated us all. Perhaps Hakeem and I aren’t enough to stop you. But these people will not just sit back and let you carry out your sick plans.” The woman drew back her blade as she fell into a fighting stance. “Let me be the first to show you the error of your ways!”
Elmiryn laughed and charged forward, her sword poised to strike.
“Somehow I’m not surprised you’re here, wizard!” She cried. Syria turned, her eyes widening with surprise as the warrior drew back her blade. “But the right to first blood is mine!”