“You shouldn’t be out alone,” said a heavily accented voice. She didn’t need to turn around to recognize its owner, but turn around she did.
“I thought you were hiding in your apartment,” she told Streck. “I heard you got quite a scare on your hunting trip.”
“This place is a hell-hole. It’s not fit for a civilized man, and it won’t be until the monsters and the Eidechse are wiped out.”
“The Eidechse? You mean the lizzies? You can’t wipe all of them out. There are millions, not just the lot around here. They have some big cities to the south and west. I’ve seen one.”
“You would be surprised what can be done.”
“What do you want anyway? You want to finish our duel?”
“Oh, I have seen your shield spell and I am suitably impressed. It is clear you are a gifted, if boastful, child.”
“I think I asked already… what is it you want?”
“I’m just here to say goodbye, little bit.” Streck smiled. “My ship is here and I’ll be leaving soon.”
“Good riddance then,” said Senta.
Steck’s face turned even more sour. “I am inviting you to come with me. Not only will you learn to respect your elders, you will learn the true magic—far more than you will ever learn with your Zurfina.”
“What is it with you exactly?” asked the girl. “Do you want to open up my brain and scoop out the magic, or are you one of those weirdoes that like little girls?”
“I want to join the Reine Zauberei.”
“I thought you were one already.”
“I was, but I didn’t advance as fast as I should have… as fast as I could have. They suspended my studies and I was left to work as a solicitor. But now I have a chance to return, you see. The Reine Zauberei will appreciate you. They appreciate power, and you have more power than I at first thought. Even if you can’t do all that you say you can, a shield spell from one so young will be impressive enough. And in return for my bringing you to them, I will be reinstated.”
“So, you want to use me for your own benefits.”
“Oh, it will be good for you too, little bit. In the Reine Zauberei, you will…”
Steck’s voice trailed off and his mouth went slack. All the color drained from his face. At the moment Senta realized that he was looking at something behind her, she heard the tremendous bellow. Turning around, she saw not one, but two tyrannosaurs striding quickly toward them. One was smaller, perhaps only ten feet tall and thirty five feet long. The other was a huge fifty-footer, and judging by the scarred and uglier-than-usual face, it had to be the one that she had hit with the fireball a month earlier. It opened its mouth wide and roared, its teeth looking like a hundred daggers.
“Run, you wanker!” shouted Senta, rushing past Streck and making a diagonal path toward the edge of the road.