Xenicena darted to her left. Grass flattened under her feet, the surface glossy with morning dew. Her eyes were puffy and red. The small branded diamonds below her lower lashes nearly disappeared. Tears streamed down her pale cheeks.
Growling overcame the sound of
mockingbirds off in the few stray ash trees in the field. Xenicena didn’t dare to look back at what
pursued her. She knew well enough. The giant scar on her right forearm looked like
snow despite the lightness of her skin.
“Please go away,” she whimpered
as she stumbled down a knoll.
An owl hooted in the sky, his
brown feathers ruffled and missing in places.
Xenicena sighed, her eyes sparkling anew. “I bear grave news, milady,” said the bird.
Xenicena stopped in her
tracks. “No help,” she said. It wasn’t a question.
“It is time.”
“But my skills have only just
developed.” Xenicena’s face was damp
“The wizard said that you are
the strongest mage he’s met in decades.
You must use your skills.” The owl
swooped around, shooting into a dive at the creatures only yards behind
Xenicena. He pecked at the gnarled head
of the lead monster.
Xenicena whipped around. She lifted her shaking hands and formed her
fingers into several gestures. “Levin, I
call you forth!” Power filled her voice,
the boom of it mingling with a crash of thunder. A lightning-bolt shot from the sky. One fork hit the broad torso of a creature;
the other set the grass to flame. Howls
destroyed any chance of silence after the strike.
“Bravo, milady,” the owl
cheered. He dodged a swipe from one of his
opponent’s massive paws.
Xenicena smiled wildly. “Pyro, engulf and burn!” The dying embers from the lightning-bolt
blazed anew, spreading into a circle of perilous heat. A single beast exited the fire, his back only
singed. The owl perched on its head.
“Venom, stop its wicked heart!”
The creature stared at
Xenicena, his black eyes locked to her blue.
Blood dripped from his jaws, the first drops hitting inches from her
feet. It collapsed in a heap.
“I must disagree with the
wizard,” the owl said. “You are the
strongest mage I have seen in centuries.”