Most of the lizzies popped back inside. One who didn’t had rifle butts smashed into his face by two soldiers who rushed forward from the line. One lizzie made the mistake of stepping outside while holding an obsidian encrusted wooden sword. He was cut down by at least five rifle bullets, even though he had made no move to raise the weapon. The rifle shots were the signal to all the lizzies outside the perimeter of human soldiers to get away and get away as fast as they could. Senta suddenly realized it was a signal for something else as well.
“Uh oh,” she said, stepping over to the doorway where the dead lizzie was making a large bloody puddle in the dirt.
“Get back here,” hissed Staff, but his attention was pulled away from her.
“We have contraband!” called one of the constables.
Senta ignored the others. Stepping onto the body of the dead lizardman, she pushed aside the animal hide door and peered into the hut’s interior. It was dark, but not so much that she couldn’t see. Four large lizzies stood against the walls, watching her, but she paid no attention to them. At the far side of the room was a fifth aborigine, his back turned to the girl, but when the light flooded into the room around Senta, he turned to look at her. He was shrunken and shriveled, and his skin had faded away with tremendous age or maybe disease. He wore a necklace of human hands held together with woven grass. In his own hand he carried a small lizard, its four legs sticking straight out, mounted on a stick like some strange lizard lollypop.
“Kafira’s Tits!” shouted Senta. “I know you!”
She did know him too. The dried-out old creature was none other than the chief shaman of Suusthek, the great city-state that had sat two hundred miles southeast of Port Dechantagne until Zurfina had called down a meteor strike to wipe it off the map.
The shaman suddenly held up his lizard talisman and hissed. Senta felt herself fly out of the doorway, sailing through the air to smash into the back wall of another hut. All the air was knocked from her lungs and her ears rang. She climbed to her feet just as the witch doctor emerged from inside.
Several riflemen fired at the old lizzie, but he simply waved the lizard on a stick and the bullets ricocheted away. He raised his other hand and a stream of magical energy bolts shot toward the young sorceress. Senta snatched one of the glamours floating invisibly around her head, activating it just in time to counter the witch doctor’s attack. The ricocheting energy bolts flew in every direction. The lizzie hissed and a blast of frost and snow flew from his fingertips directly at the girl.
“You’ve got a lot of nerve,” she said, countering. “That was the first spell I learned. See what you do with this. Uuthanum uluchaiia uluthiuth!”
Senta stretched out both hands and a small ball of flame formed, shooting directly toward the shaman. In the scant score of so feet between the two, it grew to a diameter of ten feet. The witch doctor held up his talisman as the fireball engulfed him and he remained safe within a little bubble as the flame exploded outward, setting fire to a dozen or more of the lizzie homes. The buildings popped and sparked and burned like they had been soaked in kerosene. In a few seconds, every house within sight was at least partially ablaze.
“Oops,” said Senta. She could see lizzies running in every direction and hear the soldiers calling to “fall back!”
The lizzie fired back again with a spell that Senta didn’t know, but she knew it wouldn’t be good for her if it hit her. She blocked it with a shield spell that also protected her as the burning building behind her popped and spread burning embers all around.
“Time to put you down for good,” she said. “Uuthanum uastus corakathum paj.”
The shaman raised the hand with his lizard talisman, but then hissed in pain and surprise. His hand, talisman and all, crackled and hardened, turning to stone. The transformation followed up his arm and then across his shoulders, down his body and up to the top of his head. In a brief moment, the lizzie had been turned into a statue.
“One final bit,” said Senta. “Uuthanum uastus carakathum nit.”
The stone statue that was all that was left of the lizzie shaman, changed color as the stone turned to mud. It slowly collapsed down upon itself until all that remained was a puddle with the vague shape of a head and a hand on the top of it. The mud turned white and cracked under the heat of the fires.
Watching the mud remains of the witch doctor reminded Senta that her own skin was under assault from the surrounding heat.
“Uuthanum rivah-necht,” she said, casting a spell to protect herself.
Then she walked between the burning buildings, navigating the narrow paths through Lizzietown, which was now completely engulfed in flames.