Senta and Zurfina both looked up to see Suvir Kesi standing beneath a large pine. He wore his usual bright blue clothes and yellow fez with a blue tassel on top. He held his right hand straight out and dangled an 8 ½ x 11 inch sheet of paper.
“Uuthanum,” he said, and the paper burst in flame from the bottom, burning upwards as if it had been soaked in lamp oil.
“What the hell was that supposed to be?” asked the sorceress.
“A bit of mathematics,” Kesi giggled. “A result of the mechanism, you might say.”
“Silly thing to die over,” said Zurfina, “Uuthanum.”
She pointed to him with her right index finger, but nothing happened.
“Uuthanum uluchaiia uluthiuth!” shouted Kesi, raising both hands, and pressing them together, palms up.
A sphere of flame formed as he pulled his palms apart. Only two inches across, it surged and swirled there for a second, then shot toward the sorceress. In the thirty feet or so between the two of them, the ball of flame grew until when it hit Zurfina, it was six feet across. It exploded into a huge flash, knocking Senta away and into the water. When she looked back, she saw Zurfina completely on fire, her clothing and even her hair in flames. She too fell into the water, in a cloud of steam and smoke. Kesi let out another shrill laugh.
Senta couldn’t believe it, but Zurfina climbed back to her feet. Most of the black leather pants and leather corset she was wearing were gone, as was most of her blond hair. Her skin was scorched and when she moved, it cracked hideously. She pointed her finger again at Kesi.
“Uuthanum uastus corakathum paj,” she hissed. Again nothing happened.
“Bechnoth uuthanum pestor paj,” said Kesi, stretching out his hand.
A cone of cold, like the simple spell that Senta had learned her first day with Zurfina, but much larger and more powerful sprang from the wizard’s hand. The frosty air cut through the space between the two spellcasters, centering on Zurfina. In seconds, frost formed to cover her entire body, even freezing the stream for ten feet or more around her.
Senta let out a shriek and ran for the protection of the nearest tree on the opposite side of the river from where Kesi stood. She ducked behind a redwood three feet in diameter and dropped to her knees.
“Don’t go far!” called Kesi. “I have something I need to show you!”
It wasn’t the wizard, but a crashing sound that made Senta look around the tree. Just as she had suspected, Zurfina had broken out of the icy prison, melting the frost on her body and the ice in the stream. Senta had always thought that Zurfina could not be harmed by magic, but now the sorceress looked very unsteady. She reached up and snatched something out of the air near her face and threw the invisible object at Suvir Kesi. Whatever it was must have hit near him, because from out of the ground around his feet sprang a dozen black tentacles, each more than ten feet long. They immediately began grappling with the man. Zurfina dropped backwards into a sitting position in the chilly water.
Senta watched as Kesi pulled out a large curved dagger and began to hack at the tentacles, which wrapped themselves around his legs, arms, and neck. There was a real look of panic in his face, but after a moment, he began cutting more of the slippery black tentacles than grew to replace the ones lost. A look of triumph came over him and he slashed with renewed vigor until the last of the squiggly conjurations were gone. Throughout it all, Zurfina sat unmoving, the six-inch deep water flowing around her.
“Nothing to say?” asked Kesi, looking down at the sorceress. “Power all gone? I don’t think so. You still look a little feisty to me.”
“Uuthanum rechthinov uluchaiia,” he said.
Even as he did so, the sorceress grabbed another of the glamours floating around her head and threw it. It looked as though it took all her energy to do so. A bolt of lightning shot from Kesi’s hand directly at her. But a misty form, shaped like the spectral hand of some ghostly giant appeared out of nowhere, palm raised up like that of a police constable directing traffic, and the lightning bolt ricocheted away at a sharp angle.
“That was it, wasn’t it?” said the wizard. “Now you’re done. Thank goodness for that mechanical contraption. Without it, I never would have been able to formulate a spell powerful enough to counter magic that, well let’s be honest, is normally greater than mine by a factor of four.”