As it turns out, I had problems to deal with besides the giants. Larger problems, at least in a metaphorical sense.
Terix. Koteph's most able adviser. A Touchkill warped and altered by the shade's powers. Under his the tutelage of his master, the servant had grown more powerful than any mage in the world, save two. And neither of those mages was ready to step in and save me.
I had Neriel and Arelin to back me. Othin was off fighting a monster. Everyone was off fighting a monster. Just my monster was rather more formidable.
I was terrified. Mortified. So was Neriel. But it seemed like Arelin had her wits about her. She cast a spell, lifting up a small piece of rock and flinging it at Terix. Neriel did the same, with a much larger rock. Terix stopped them both in midair. Then he redirected them towards us.
It occurred to me that I ought to do something about that, so I summoned a wind and blew the stones off course. Which meant that they hit a building which was already ruined.
Terix waved his hands, and knocked the three of us off our feet. I spoke a word, trying to do the same to him. But it didn't work. "We've fought before," he said. "If I recall, your little sister saved you. You don't have a little girl to hide behind now." That's when Arelin set his robes on fire.
Terix screamed in either pain or frustration. He cast another spell, more in anger than in self-defense, and a great gash opened in Arelin's skin. Terix tried to smother his flaming robes. I had an idea.
There are several different substances that go into air. Most of them are rather inert. But one of them is responsible for fires, rusting, and quite a few other phenomena. I decided that Terix deserved an extra dose of that particular flavor of air. He burned a lot brighter than before.
Terix ran towards me. No, that isn't entirely accurate. Perhaps it would be better to say he blurred towards me. He was definitely moving through physical space. He was traveling between two point by occupying a sequence of intermediate ones. But I don't think his legs had much to do with it.
Strange modes of transportation or not, Terix was right on top of me. And I knew that if he touched me, his burning skin would be the least of my problems. So I suppose it is rather fortunate that Taerin showed up then.
Terix found himself squeezed between two exorbitantly large stones. "Hello, Arelin."
"Excuse me," Terix hissed. "Could you save your father-daughter chat for some other time? Like after you're dead?" He cast a charm, and the two boulders disintegrated. He was about to lash out against the Archmage, when Neriel hit him with a needle. Then another. Then another. My cousin was conjuring them at an impressive pace, and driving them into the creature's skin. I sucked the air away from the creature. Often when you do that to someone, their lungs explode. That didn't happen this time, but Terix was struggling to with a distinct lack of things to breath. Arelin hit the monster with a wide variety of painful spells, and her father bludgeoned the monster with every piece of rubble he could lay eyes on. Things were going well, until Terix blurred again. Out of sight.
"You could have died," Taerin said. "You could have been killed."
"So could you," his daughter responded.
"That isn't a valid comparison. I am old. Old enough to make that decision, and old enough that the world can go on fine without me. I am also powerful enough to handle myself."
"There are plenty of people out there younger than me. Less powerful too. You let Othin fight."
"I don't let Lothorin fight."
"Lothorin would be no use, unless you think the monsters would run from his performance on a lute."
"Even if he had begun his magical training-"
"Begun? Lothorin chose not to study magic. He is too old to be a student here."
"Don't try to change the subject, Arelin. My point is that you are risking your life, and I cannot abide by that."
"What would you have me do, father?"
"You could stay in the Tower, and care for the sick."
"That is not what I'm good at. And the Tower is already full to the brim."
"I could switch someone out."
"Oh, send someone else to their death."
I didn't exactly feel I needed to be present for this conversation. But I felt that leaving would only add to the awkward situation. It seemed Neriel felt the same way.
"Ariane, at your age, death seems like such a small thing. A sacrifice you can make. But please, Arelin, I cannot let you-"
That's when I left the Archmage's office. I really should have exited sooner.
"Interesting," Dran said, when I told him about the encounter. "I wonder why he didn't kill you."
"I think he rather tried."
"No, no. This blurring he described. If he had gone just a bit further, if he had touched you, you would have been killed. Why didn't he do that?"
"I don't know."
"Maybe he can't?"
"I assume he was just using an acceleration charm. No reason that would preclude him from touching me."
"You're probably right. Well, one possibility is that he was afraid of what would happen if he ran into you at such speeds."
"This is interesting news."
"Let me show you."