Dragoneyes continued his battle with Koteph. Dragoneyes would throw a tree, only for Koteph to swipe it aside. Dragoneyes would burn Koteph, but the shade would regenerate, and burn Dragoneyes back with lightning. Dragoneyes focused. He called deeply upon the True Name of water. Doing magic directly upon another sorcerer's body is always difficult. The water, for instance, is rarely pure. Many scholars believe that to truly exercise control over the blood of another, one must learn the True Name of blood. Nobody has ever accomplished this.
Dragoneyes was hoping for something easier. Koteph's body looked dessicated and parched, but perhaps there were still beads of sweat on his skin, or spit in his mouth. Perhaps this purer water could be used as a weapon.
And as Dragoneyes channeled the Name, he felt every drop of water around him, from the water in the sky to Dran's frozen water, to the water locked in human flesh. And he felt a great shifting. That's when he realized Koteph had become about thirty times taller than he used to be.
Dragoneyes tried to harm Koteph, but the shade's recent magical growth spurt was too much. It seemed no amount of fire and water could slow this titan down. Dragoneyes ran, the ground shifting beneath him to carry him towards and away from his enemy. He pelted his enemy with rocks, with ice, with metal. He tried to burn Koteph, drown him, to strangle the shade with his own robes. All to no avail.
So Dragoneyes attempted another tactic. He called upon the True Name of soil, and Koteph began to sink into the ground. The shade began to weave a spell. Dragoneyes could see the spell taking form, and erected an opaque barrier just in time. A thick slab of stone. Dragoneyes willed it not to melt. He muttered the True Name under his breath. Koteph shattered the stone with a bolt of lightning.
Dragoneyes knew he was losing. He needed a good idea.
Dran tried to maintain the initiative in his fight against Kyotr. He attacked, and Kyotr blocked, and Dran attacked. Dran needed to keep his focus. Kytor was more experienced than he, and had become mightier under the tutelage of Koteph. Dran knew this was unsustainable. He would need to finish the fight soon, or Kyotr would gain the upper hand.
Dran created a staff of ice, intent to drive it through Kyotr's eye. He missed. For a moment, Kyotr's and Dran looked at each other. Then, Kyotr slammed Dran with a ball of water. Only Dran's thick skull and a few protective enchantments prevented the brains of Dranarius Caesorium from being strewn across the ground.
Dran called upon the True Name of ice... but it wouldn't come. His mind was too clouded. So Dran took a different approach. He tackled Kyotr to the ground.
Kyotr hadn't been expecting such an attack. He had never in his life been struck before. He didn't know how to respond.
Physically, they were a rough match. Both had spent the vast majority of their days inside. Neither had any real experience with the mundane world of fists. Dran was younger, maybe half Kyotr's age. But Kyotr was taller, and more solidly built.
Ar-Alam and I were struggling against Terix. He was faster than us. We commanded the wind, sailing away from him, trying to keep our distance. Ar-Alam seemed to take the whole thing in stride. I did not. A single touch could kill me. I could die. I had known this was a possibility when we first left the White Tower. That I would face monsters with extraordinary destructive power. And I had been afraid then too. But it was nothing like this. The feel of having certain death-
I dodged one of Terix's swipes. He had caught me ruminating. Even thinking about danger was dangerous. I dodged again, and tried to knock him over with a gust of wind.
Terix unleashed a new spell. He must have been working on it as he battled Ar-Alam and myself. He shot forth powerful bolts of magic, and my old teacher and I found ourselves immobilized.
This meant I couldn't run, or guide the air with my hands. But it also meant I couldn't breath.
I tried to focus. I still new the True Name of air. It didn't come easily. The mind can only handle so much at a time, and mine was handling quite a bit of panic and confusion. But I was still able to muster enough of the Name to keep from suffocating.
This brought me to my second problem. Terix. The monster was almost on top of me, ready to end me with his deadly touch. He stretched out his hand. I could see smugness in his eyes.
Suddenly, that smugness turned into surprise. I saw what looked to be wood bursting forth from his chest. Terix gasped. A creature such as him could survive a shaft through the heart. But he was impaired. He turned around to face... my little sister. As he swatted at the dark-haired girl, and she effortlessly dodged his hands, I thought about how impossible this was. For one, Dragoneyes had encased Cassinder in a protective sphere of iron. I looked at it. It was intact, and unmoved. I doubted a dozen horses could budge it. When Dragoneyes realized it was empty, he got it moving at a speed that would shame an Etoran catapult. Khoteph sliced it in half, and the two hemispheres passed into the distance.
Cassinder had maneuvered out if Terix's range. The monster was now pelting her with bolts of yellowish energy. I have to say, the experience was somewhat embarrassing for me. I was probably the first person in history to stand by, paralyzed, as his little sister saved him from a sorcerous Touchkill.
She began to erect a barrier, a sorcerous one. I wondered why. Then, a volley of Terix's yellow sparks bounced off it, and I understood.
Cassinder was strong. Stronger than anyone had ever realized. But she couldn't stand up to something like Terix forever. He scored several hits, lacerating her forearm and burning her leg. She seemed to ignore the pain. For everyone's sake, I prayed for a miracle.
Dragoneyes continues his minor war. He used the True Name of ice, and pierced Koteph's body with icicles. The shade didn't even both removing them. While he had not transcended his corpse-like body entirely, his magic wouldn't be affected by another flesh wound. An advantage his enemy did not share. He began working on a hex to shred the mage's flesh. The True Name of fire wouldn't be much help as Dragoneyes died of a thousand lacerations.
As fate would have it, the True Name of fire was useful before then.
Dragoneyes summoned a searing flame. The ice in Koteph's chest was instantly vaporized. This meant that a man-sized body suddenly contained as much gas as a large room.
While this is a common occurrence among the politicians of Condoran, Koteph was not able to handle all of the hot air. His physical form burst. His strength was nearly broken. He needed to retreat. He disappeared, taking Terix and Kyotr with him.
With Terix gone, I found myself able to move again. I rushed towards my sister. Dragoneyes got there first. I heard him talking to Dran. "What's the point of being an expert in potions if you can't even fix a cut?"
"I can stop it getting infected. What more do you want?"
"What more do I want. I want her to not walk with a limp for the rest of her life. I'm going to need to fix this."