Surveying the arena below with blazing eyes, Taintheus stepped out of the shadows with bright flames licking his body.
‘Welcome,’ He called out to the two women below, his voice echoing around the cold stones, ‘I assume you’re both wondering what you’re doing here. You have the honour of being chosen to compete in the Arena of Champions. You have the privilege of being chosen to represent your Element in a battle to decide which is truly the strongest. The battle will take place in rounds, the winner continuing on to the next stage. The Champion shall go home with the gods favour. The losers will live with their shame for the rest of their short lives. Now begin!’
Glancing across at her opponent, Lyra couldn’t help but laugh. ‘My Lord God, fight her? Look at her. I worry the fair lady would chip a nail…’
Turning to face the loud mouth, Willow narrowed her eyes. She didn’t ask for this. Why were the gods constantly messing around with people who had far more important tasks at hand. She didn’t even bother to listen to the nonsense spouting from this child in front of her. She clearly had no idea of the situation she had been dragged into. Breathing out heavily, Willow tightened the long ribbon around her waist. The quicker this was ended, the faster she could return to her work.
‘… and such a lovely dress. Scorch marks could stain such a delicate fabric…’ Lyra hadn’t paused in her torrent. Whoever this other woman was, she was clearly chosen for a reason. Lyra had to gather energy before she could produce flames. If this lady attacked before Lyra was ready, the battle would be over very quickly. But this place was soaked in magic. She could feel her energy filling at an unbelievable rate. It was almost full already. Time to change her tactic. She had to know what she was up against. There were thirteen other Elements. Which was she?
‘… and I hear it’s very expensive to replace. I have an idea. I will attack you gently and if you just fall to it, it’ll save you the shame of running away once you see my true power.’ Turning slightly, Lyra flicked her hand at Willow, a small flame sprouting from her fingertips. It rushed across the distance between the women. A smile twisted Lyra’s lips. The flames looked small but they were powerful and hot. They could scorch rock with the lightest touch. Moving fast, Willow’s hands came together and parted, a blast of air extinguishing the flames before they reached her. She didn’t stop. Spinning, she raised her hand in the air before dropping it fast to the ground. Wind surged from all around her, picking up the dirt as it raced across the ground. Lyra’s eyes barely had time to widen before her legs were taken out from under her. Falling back, she felt the bottle slip from her fingers. It sailed high into the air. Scurrying along the ground, Lyra managed to catch it before it shattered on the hard rocks. She sat up with a growl. Taking a deep drink from the bottle, she slowly climbed to her feet.
‘Will you be careful please! Do you know how expensive this stuff is?’ She cried, outraged at Willow, ‘It’s really good. Truly the best.’ She paused again to savour the liquid. Willow continued watching her with her unfaltering stare.
‘You would appreciate it so much more if you knew what I was talking about. Here. You have some.’ Flipping the large glass bottle in her hands, Lyra gave it a small twirl before throwing it at Willow’s head. Raising her hand once more, Willow deflected the bottle, blowing it to the side with a flick on her finger. But too late did she notice the flames racing up the trail of liquid gushing from the bottle. The fire disappeared into the bottle moments before it was ripped apart, glass flying everywhere.
Staggering, Willow took the full force to the side of her body. The glass fragments sliced through her clothes and flesh. Taking a deep breath, she straightened, flicking her hair back out of her face. Meeting Lyra’s rather amused eyes, Willow paused for a moment to drag a length of glass out of her cheek. Two can play at that game. Running her hands over her body, Willow flicked loose all lodged glass, knocking them to the ground. Taking a step back, she spun on her heel, crouching down slightly. She stood, continuing around. Lyra’s loose hair was thrown up in her face as the wind picked up speed. In the small space between them a twister was forming, its edges sparkling with glass fragments it had picked up from the ground.
Shaking her head, Lyra cursed her temper for giving her enemy such a weapon. Taking to her feet, Lyra tried to dodge around the razor air. But she wasn’t fast enough. The wind twisted, engulfing and trapping her in the centre as the wall started closing in. Lyra yelped as her skin erupted in cuts. If she didn’t act quickly, she would soon be nothing but a pile of meat. Taking a deep breath in, she focused her energy and released. Flames gushed from her arms, roaring in every direction. The fire hit the glass, melting it down to molten globs. Her flames continued through the twister. Dropping her arm, Willow had to jump back, quickly rising into the sky to avoid the seeking flames. The flames broke and retreated as Lyra stumbled out, gasping for breath.
Dropping quickly, Willow continued her attack. She dived down, her knee connecting with Lyra’s back. The Fire mage hit the ground hard. She had used up to much energy with the last attack. She wasn’t going to last much longer. Lyra pulled herself quickly to her feet. Willow was right behind her. Throwing her body to the left, she dodged Willow’s blow. Lyra moved behind her, gripping the long ribbons of her dress. A mere thought made them start to smoulder. It was moments before they were fully alight. Gripping the ribbons, Willow tried to put them out, air rushing around her. But they were blazing too strong. Bringing her hands together, Lyra summoned her remaining energy. The blast hit Willow hard. She tried to block but it was too powerful. It threw her off her feet and into the stone wall behind her.
Her magic spent, Lyra dropped her hands. Willow was slumped at the base of the cold stone. Gasping, Lyra staggered over to her. She bent down. Not dead. Just knocked out. A harsh breath of relief escaped her lungs as she sat down next to her. That was harder than she thought it would be. Glancing at her hands, she dropped them into her lap. She would need to get her energy back before her next round. Sitting back against the rock, she watched as the Gods transported the next two poor souls in and idlely wondered which she would be facing next.