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Irsquo;m going with the.., p.4
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       I’m Going With the Flames., p.4

           Tobias Gavran
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will work. After the first day, it becomes apparent that we’re occupying ourselves to deal with the anxiety rather than really prepare. We’ve done all we could, but I still end up with leg-guards made out of wood, and I find a sickle to use as a weapon. We know the mage is coming, but I guess we both understand why we aren’t fleeing his approach.

  If I don’t kill him, now, I’ll have to do it later or lose my family.

  If he doesn’t kill someone important, now, he’ll have to do it later or find another career.

  Well, maybe he should flee, but I can’t. That’s why I don’t argue with him. Still, I keep in mind that he might bail at the worst moment, leaving me vulnerable. I can’t count on him.

  It’s the afternoon, and we just ate meat rolls which I cooked with a foreign spice supposed to ward us against fire – unless we burn for too long. It should also make us stronger, which I clearly need more than him. We’re working on each side of the tavern. I’m trying to improve my wards while he’s making some more javelins in the back. I don’t hear hooves coming from a distance. I don’t see a silhouette in the horizon. When I know that the mage is here, it’s because I feel the air being pulled out of my lungs. It isn’t painful, but I panic. I can’t breathe. I can’t even struggle to breathe. I’m not coughing, I’m not making a sound, there’s just no air in my throat anymore. I kick my bag, next to me, and start banging on the pot with the sickle.

  I suddenly catch my breath and the air burns its way through to my lungs. The mage is wearing the same blue robe I’ve seen him wear in my parent’s restaurant, his short black hair is slickly pulled back and he has a smirk painted on his face. With a grace you’d expect from a dancer, he dodges every blow the warrior is trying to deal, but at least he lost the concentration he needed to asphyxiate me. I try to come up behind him, but there’s a loud bang and I’m swept off my feet. My back collides against a stand.

  A few other invisible explosions echo on the market place, but the warrior’s stance his far more stable than mine. In fact, much like the sneerer’s, his magic his mostly corporal, it developed out of survival on the battle field. When the mage tries to pull the same trick on him, to steal his breath, it doesn’t work. Still, the mage is too fast to get hit, and he’ll eventually have the time to cast a spell strong enough to defeat his natural defenses.

  I charge once more and don’t even see the mage’s foot move to catch my chin. The powerful kick leaves me on the ground, and he grabs my weapon. Once again, the warrior displays his physical prowess. The tool doesn’t quite have the edge to penetrate his hardened skin. Another gift from a life on the battle field. Still, he can’t catch up with the mage. A block of steel fighting against the wind, one is too resilient to be hurt, the other to swift to be caught. I’m but a dandelion in the storm, weak for sure, but full of seeds, ideas.

  “Be careful he doesn’t get his hands on your sword!” I cry out. “If he enchants the focal stone, you’ll be done!”

  Blue eyes stare at me in disbelief seconds before a flurry of blows forces him to part with his sword.

  “Curse you, girl!” he shouts.

  I see the warrior coming for me while the mage is casting a spell on the stone, but I glance at the tavern. Thankfully, he catches my meaning and starts running. I do too. The blade goes through me the very second I step inside. I turn around and see the crazed, dark eyes of the mage staring at the wound. To his disappointment, the blood dries almost immediately. A side-effect from having to counter his blood curse.

  I force a laugh out of my throat, and he’s too mad to hear it’s fake. I take a few steps back and he comes closer to stab me again. He’s awkward with a sword, I can tell, because I’m not dead yet.

  “Now!” I yell at the top of my lungs.

  There’s the sound of glass breaking and the floor is suddenly set ablaze. I dig my nails in the mage’s wrist, his sword still deep in my flesh, and the warrior send another bottle which breaks right on top of his head. The mage screams as the brandy dresses his face in fire.

  Another projectile passes inches from my face, a stalk of wood which ends up buried in the mage’s chest. He falls flat on his back. I turn around and run as fast as I can, my skin starts to smolder, the effect of the spice vanishing. The warrior looks worried when I finally make it out of the inn, and I realize his sword is still stuck in me.

  I smile.

  “I’m okay,” I say. “But it’s not going to last.”

  I chuckle and my legs suddenly fail me.

  A message from the author

  First and foremost, thank you for downloading and reading this short story.

  I’m going with the flames is the second offspring of a little challenge I called “Goodreads friends with benefits.” The idea is simple, people on Goodreads give me a genre and all kind of indications, and I try to write something. Of course, I try and go my way, both to pretend that I’m original and to avoid lawsuits. In exchange for me writing a book they might want to read, people review it (giving it 1 star if that’s all it deserves). The purpose is to try and tighten the author-reviewer relationship in a positive way. If you like the idea, consider swinging by!

  In the meantime, have a good day, a good evening, or a good night, depending on the time you read this.

  Tobias Gavran

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