Chapter 14

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The encounter however, did not proceed exactly as Eyrmysse planned. An hour and more had passed and the two witches had tested each other from near and far, using magic and not. Jhaezyyre had inflicted a great deal of punishment on the young black robe. In fact, Eyrmysse so far had been beaten in every way imaginable. She was bloodied, exhausted and in excruciating pain. Meanwhile Jhaezyyre was relatively unmarked. She had allowed Eyrmysse few opportunities and though Eyrmysse had taken full advantage of her scant chances, the effect was minimal.

There had been few verbal exchanges during the battle but now Jhaezyyre's voice rang out through the tunnel. "Your spells are losing their effect and you are losing your energy as well as your blood. Even I take no pleasure in continuing this. You cannot stand against me. Leave now while you still have your life. Your lesson has ended."

Lesson, Eyrmysse thought sardonically. It had, to this point, been a costly education for the young black robe. She had learned of techniques and spells that she had not encountered elsewhere but the price was likely to be too high to pay. If she accepted the offer to walk away, she did not know if she could live with herself. If she remained to the end, she probably would not have long to live with herself.

Though mind and body were weak and her spirit near broken, Eyrmysse answered as only she could. "You offer leave only because you yourself are unable to vanquish me. The lesson has not ended, Jhaezyyre, it only now begins."

Jhaezyyre immediately responded with an assortment of magical firepower that had Eyrmysse cowering behind her small shelter. The debris that fell on Eyrmysse caused her to recall the weakest area of a barrier and now knew how she could exploit it against Jhaezyyre. The difficulty would be in distracting the master warrior.

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