By EM Malachi
The harsh winds attempted to push the king into the endless void. Blackthorn braced himself against the wind and summoned a field of energy to direct the unnatural gusts away from himself. He stood at the edge of a flat stone ruin with paths branching out in four directions. At the center of the plane, in the circle of glowing runes, were a few broken pieces of blackrock.
The winds ceased pummeling the field, and the air in front of him condensed into a feminine form. The being spoke with a voice like a silver bell, “You are everything we hoped you would be. We do not need to be adversaries.”
King Blackthorn focused mana into an attack spell before responding to the being that had just tried to kill him. “You really don’t understand who we Britannians are. We do not yield to threats.”
Stratos laughed. Her voice rang out, “I was testing you, just as some of our worshippers have been testing your people. If you consider this a threat, perhaps we overestimated you.”
Blackthorn replied, “We have dealt with would-be conquerors before.” He channeled raw power into a blast to dissipate the aerial being.
The Titan of Air reappeared an instant later, unharmed. She gave a cruel smile and said, “You have never faced anything like us, little human king.”
Blackthorn expected the air creature to attack him directly as she had before. Instead, he felt a tightness in his lungs, as the very air he was breathing thinned. He fought to control the primal panic and focused on the flow of mana around him, seeing the delicate weave of elemental magic. He made the motions of a powerful frost spell. As his motions whipped the spell around him, he cut the elemental tendrils choking him.
The air around him calmed. He watched the Titan of Air fade away, a mocking grin on her face. “I did offer you an alternative.”
Blackthorn had barely caught his breath when he felt a wave of heat coming from one of the stone paths. The temperature rose as the creature came into view. It held the shape of a daemon, but its flesh moved and rippled like living flame. Even from a hundred yards away, the king felt discomfort from the radiating heat. He expected it to move slowly, but it quickly closed the distance. He was still casting a spell to protect himself when the great fiery form smashed into him.
The burning claws of Pyros caused Blackthorn’s wards to sputter and spark. Believing this was his best opportunity, the king grabbed the dark shard from his belt. He plunged the blackrock spike into the creature’s chest and began chanting words of binding.
Pyros tore the blackrock shard from the king’s hands and tossed it out into the void. The terrible face snarled at him, “Better sorcerers than you have tried to bind me.” There was a crackle as the last of his wards died. Blackthorn felt the flames and the force of the Titan’s claws tearing at him. In desperation, he fumbled for the rune in his cloak. He had just cast the Recall spell onto the rune when the heat caused the marked stone to shatter.
Those waiting to do business at the West Britain bank heard a boom like thunder above them. Looking into the sky, they saw a man falling, desperately trying to cast a spell to save himself. Even though he managed to slow his fall, his body hit the ground hard enough to spook the horses tied around the bank. Those who rushed forward to help recognized the burned and broken form of their king.