Wissinger waited for almost two hours, but when she stepped out of the doorway, he immediately knew that he had made a mistake. This wasn’t Zurfina—at least it wasn’t the Zurfina he knew. This was a mere girl, and yet she looked like the woman that had twice visited the writer in the ghetto and once more on the S.S. Waif des Vaterlands. And that similarity went beyond the bizarre leather clothing. If she wasn’t Zurfina, she had to be associated with her somehow—her daughter maybe, or her sister.
The girl was accompanied by three men and a boy, who surrounded her like a cordon as she walked through the street. She carried a bulging carpetbag in her hand and Wissinger was bothered that none of her male companions offered to carry it for her. The five of them stepped out onto what passed for a main thoroughfare in St. Ulixes, and Wissinger followed along right behind them.
No sooner had they turned the corner, than there were several loud cracks of rifle fire. Two of the men with the Zurfina girl were shot, the older man though the chest and the younger man wearing a fez, right through the head, spraying both the girl and the boy with blood and brains. Before the two bodies had even fallen, bolts of magical energy shot from down the street at the remainder of the party. More rifle fire followed.
“On the roof!” shouted Wissinger involuntarily when he spotted half a dozen men with rifles on the roof across the street.
The girl raised her hand and a massive ball of flame shot from her toward the riflemen. The entire building on which they were perched exploded. She gave Wissinger a quick glance before turning her attention to the attack coming from down the street.
Human beings and trogs alike fled the area, some diving into open doorways, others simply running for their lives. Walking down the center of the street were three men. Wissinger felt a little thrill of fear as he realized that Von Grieg was one of them. The others were the two Reine Zauberei that he had seen at the train station. They waved their hands and bolts of energy shot from their fingertips. The girl waved her hand and the bright blue balls of magic ricocheted away, crashing into buildings and starting more fires. She waved again and thick black smoke rose from the ground which, added to the smoke from the fires, quickly engulfed the entire street.
“Come here,” she called, and it took Wissinger a few seconds to realize that she was talking to him.
He ran over before the smoke made it completely impossible to see.
“Help them get him off the street.” She pointed to the man who had been shot through the chest, and the writer saw that he was still breathing and awake.
Wissinger took one arm and the boy took the other. They dragged him away as the remaining man fired off his own magical missiles through the smoke in what could only have been the most general direction toward his enemies.
“Come on, Geert!” called the boy. “If we can get him back to the lodge, we have healing draughts for him.”
The young man pushed Wissinger aside and took his place with the wounded man.
“We’ve got him,” he said to the girl. “You need to get out of here.”
“Right,” she replied. “You have fire wards, I trust?”
“Yes,” he said, now thirty feet down the alley. “Good luck.”
The girl grabbed Wissinger by the shoulder. Even though he was several inches taller than her, it seemed as though he was looking up at her. “You stay with me.”
She took three steps back out into the street, stretched her hand out into the smoke filled air, and said “Uuthanum uluchaiia uluthiuth.” Another gigantic ball of fire shot down the street, but this time it ignited the thick black smoke. The buildings burned. The very air burned. It was as close to the Kafirite description of Hell as Wissinger ever wanted to see. He could hear people screaming close by and further up the street.
“Gott in Himmel!” he cried, as what had once been a man, but now was nothing but a torch ran past him. He hoped it was one of the Reine Zauberei. He wouldn’t have wished such a fate on anyone else.
“Come on then,” said the girl. She led him down the alley after the others, but turned down a different direction. “Who the hell are you, anyway?”
“Um, I… I’m a friend… of Zurfina.”
“Huh,” she said with a frown.
“Are you her daughter?”
“Kafira no,” she said. “I’m her apprentice, Senta.”
“I’ve never seen magic like that before.”
“Well, it was no Epic Pestilence, but it was all right.”