Chapter Fifty Nine
A Battle That Could Not Be Won


Omar started with a slow probe of my defenses, tapping my staff with his, stepping forwards as I stepped back. His smile widened as I struggled to block the fiercer stabs and swings from his staff. He was still adept and swift, despite his girth. And I was too slow, to tentative, and to old.

“You are slow, venerable one,” he told me as he began to press his advantage as we moved to and fro across the marble floor of the hall. As the cracks of our strikes echoed around us I began to sweat in the chill air far from the hearth as I struggled against his swifter, more powerful attacks. I couldn’t break through his defenses, as hard as I tried.

“How long has it been since you have faced a skilled opponent. You are like all the others, a slave to your spells,” Omar challenged. “And you knew what would happen when you brought those stone. I will defeat you, it is only a matter of time. Surrender and I assure you of a swift passing.”

He rapped my knuckles, stabbed hard at my ribs, my knee, as I failed to defend any of them. I struck back, almost reached his throat, but he easily defended the thrust, swiftly and surely knocking my staff aside. Through the pain, I was already wheezing. I had been a fool. And I would pay the final price.

“This is a farce,” he told me, parrying my blow and striking me hard against the side of my skull, a blow which knocked me to my knees. “I will save you further humiliation by putting and end to this now. Understand, Greyslan, I will try to find some way to offer a dignified eulogy for you in my missive to council, if I am able.”

I tried a desperate defense, but he swung his blackwood and knocked my staff out of my aching fingers, leaving me on my knees staring up into his confident and arrogant countenance.

“But I cannot allow you to stop me, old master,” he crowed in his appreciation for his impending victory. “Not when Arcory’s secrets, not when Arcory’s power is within my grasp!”

He readied himself for the final blow. I raised my aching hand to offer up my last defense. Then felt a blinding pain shoot through it, felt assuredly his blow had shattered its bones.

But it wasn’t his staff at all that had struck my hand. My staff, yes, Elowyn, had taken on a life of her own, and had flung herself back into my grip. I was, for the first time since our bonding, being pulled along as she violently attacked my former apprentice. I could barely make out his look of surprise as he was forced to defend himself against her Cathali strength he had little defense against.

I hung on best I could, but the violence of it was more than my throbbing head could bear. After her first flurry of attacks I cannot remember at all how the renewed battle went; I was swallowed into utter darkness.

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