All things can become a manner of routine. This includes frequent attacks by an evil sorcerer and his army of monsters.
A pattern began to emerge. Every two days or so, Koteph would breach our defensive walls, usually in two distinct places. His armies would pour in, and the sorcerers would rush to fend them off. We spent most of our time in anticipation of these moments. We lived near the wall, and had prespecified sections to defend. I was stationed in the city of Allus, and my section intersected with Arelin.
I was surprised to see her. Even in the most progressive parts of Irin, you would never see a woman fighting. Then again, you wouldn't be likely to see a woman sorcerer, either. She really was a wonder.
Dragoneyes, too, was part of the pattern. He would rise up to meet Koteph. Dragoneyes would wear a suit of iron. But at the mage's command, it would become far stronger than any material had a right to be. The two of them would fight, standing on the sky as normal men would stand upon the ground, moving great masses of magic and matter like normal men would move a sword or an ax.
A pattern began to emerge. But patterns do break.
Koteph drew his enemy further and further from the cities he was defending. Dragoneyes was hesitant at first, worried that he was leaving his allies defenseless. But, after a few more moments thought. he began to cooperate with Koteph's strategy. He could use his power without fear of collateral damage. The balls of fire emanating from his hands became all the larger. The iron spikes and icy spires he threw like javelins became longer. The stones he and Koteph batted back and forth became faster, and more forceful in their collisions.
Dragoneyes was no fool. He saw the potential for a trap. He saw that Koteph wanted this. But also saw opportunity. The chance to use his power to its fullest extent. To annihilate Koteph, and end this was before it could progress. So he redoubled his efforts.
The fight continued. Soon, they were doing battle outside Koteph's camp. Monsters of all sorts were slayed where they stood. Koteph's lighting, redirected to hit a giant. A tongue of flame, flowing around its intended target to reduce a Sassile to so much ash.
The mage scanned his enemy's forces. What was his plan? Why had Koteph brought him here? Dragoneyes knew his opponent was no fool. But Koteph's mind was too complex to read like a book. Least of all in the heat of battle. So Dragoneyes was forced to spend a moment staring at each and every one of Koteph's monsters, all without losing focus on his duel with the shade.
But Koteph was on the retreat. Dragoneyes had the high ground, both literally and metaphorically. He pelted Koteph with a hundred types of missile. He forced his enemy downward. Deeper and deeper. Eventually Koteph was underground. It mattered not. Both Dragoneyes and Koteph could see through soil like water from a spring. Sure the dirt might absorb some of the strength of their impacts, but that disadvantage affected both of them equally.
Dragoneyes grew tired. His stamina was depleted. Koteph's body was a mass of cuts and burns. Both titans had endured enough to kill a hundred of the mightiest sorcerers in the world.
Koteph began to make a resurgence. He forced Dragoneyes upwards. The two of them neared the surface, preparing to reenter the world of air.
Too late, Dragoneyes saw what Koteph's plans must have been. Koteph wasn't trying to kill him with brute strength. Instead, the crafty sorcerer had surrounded him with more than a dozen Touchkills.
Touchkills are strange beasts. They look almost like men. Their most prominent distinguishing property is their namesake one. Their touch means death. It does not matter if you are the mightiest mage or the lowliest worm. It doesn't matter if you are a fair maiden or another Touchkill.
The rules are not well understood, perhaps because no sorcerer in his right mind would decide to study them. It is known that Touchkills need not make contact with bare skin, and that they can kill a man through a suit of armor. But it is also believed that they wear their linen coverings so as to avoid accidentally killing each other when they are forced to act in close quarters.
Stranger still, even magic cannot touch these beings without being extinguished. Any object in contact with a Touchkill will become inert, dead, devoid of any sort of enchantment.
Maybe, one day, an exceptionally foolhardy sorcerer will find out more about these beings. Then again, maybe not.
Dragoneyes was trapped. He was surrounded by these beasts. Koteph seemed to have disappeared, and the monsters were closing in.
Dragoneyes calmed himself. He could solve this problem. Created an iron barrier. The Touchkills began to tear it down. Did I mention Touchkills are strong?
Dragoneyes tried to force the Touchkills away with jets of water or stone, but the elements dropped to the ground upon touching the monsters. Dragoneyes only had one strategy remaining. To create something in such volume, such quantity, that it would kill the Touchkills upon expose. He knew just the thing.
The True Name of fire shone bright in his mind. The True Name of stone was solid in his thoughts. And with great effort, Dragoneyes drew those two names together. Stone and fire were one in his thoughts. Which mean that the Touchkills discovered, all to quickly, that each of them was standing on a small patch of dirt, atop a vast cavern of fire. The explosion was visible from the University. The large cloud, reminiscent of a mushroom, was bright enough that I could see it with my eyes closed.