Following Teron’s man, Ime stays a good distance away. He grips the sword Jaxon gave him tightly. He can’t see any weapons on the man besides the knife he used to kill the woman. But Ime can’t shake the feeling he felt earlier. He knows he felt his fire. It happened only for a moment. It can’t be coincidence the man appeared after Ime felt his fire.
The two men move through the city, using the largest bridge to cross to the eastern wall. They pass many groups of people celebrating the Festival of Magic. Several try to get Ime to join in the festivities. But when they see him trailing the strange man with a bloody knife they move away.
Ime stays silent as he follows. Teron’s man never looks back to see if Ime is following. They walk through the entrance of the city and begin the ascent to the top of the canyon. The tower at the top of the canyon appears and Teron’s man leads Ime past it.
The sound of a struggle is heard coming from the opposite side of the tower. When they emerge on the other side, Ime looks past the man and sees three figures standing close to the edge of the canyon. Teron holds Meah by the throat, his arm outstretched so that she’s closest to the edge. The third figure stands, waiting patiently for an order from Teron.
The man leading Ime stands on the opposite side of Teron and faces Ime. Ime stops walking, afraid moving closer would encourage Teron to do something stupid.
“Here he is,” Teron says, a cruel smile forming on his lips. “The star of the Arena. I’ve been waiting for you.”
“Ime,” Meah’s voice is high with fear. Tears roll down her cheeks, as Teron squeezes her throat tighter to silence her.
Ime keeps his eyes on Teron. “I did what your man asked. I came alone. Let her go.”
Nodding his head at the men on either side of him, Teron pulls Meah away from the edge. The two men grab Meah’s arms, allowing Teron to walk towards Ime.
Holding his hands out to his sides, Teron laughs. “Demands are not for you to give, slave. If you want her back, you must fight me. You must fight for her.”
Ime raises a hand and the rocks at his feet rise into the air. His anger reaches his eyes and he feels his blood boil. “I accept.”
Teron moves one hand to point at the men holding Meah. They move her closer to the edge, leaning her over the sheer drop. She shrieks in terror and tries to pull herself away.
“No. No magic. If you use your magic, I’ll have my men throw her off the cliff.” Teron glances at Meah. “I doubt you’d be able to save her in time if all three of us attack you at once.”
The rocks rising from the earth stop, as Ime’s breath catches in his throat. Dropping his hand, the rocks fall to the earth. Ime grips the sword in his hand, tightly. “No magic. I don’t need it to defeat you.”
Teron lowers his arm and the men pull Meah from the edge. She stares at Ime and Teron with wide eyes.
Drawing his sword, Teron moves closer to Ime. When he is close enough, Teron strikes, moving lightning fast. He swings his blade down on top of Ime, giving Ime only enough time to raise his still sheathed sword to block. Ime pushes Teron back, using the small opening to draw his blade and throw the sheath to the side.
Using the momentum given to him by Ime, Teron spins and slices at Ime from the right. Ime blocks again, pushing the opposing blade away, and following through with his own blade. He strikes from Teron’s left side and Teron moves away. But the tip of Ime’s sword catches Teron’s arm, creating a shallow gash.
Cursing, Teron spins to his right, bringing his blade around to strike at Ime’s right. Ime blocks, but while he is distracted by the sword, Teron kicks one of Ime’s legs out from under him. Ime falls to one knee, catching himself with his sword hand. Teron raises his sword and swings it down, aiming for Ime’s neck.
Instead of dodging to the side, Ime lunges forward into Teron’s gut, knocking both to the ground. Teron’s sword falls from his hand a few feet away. He kicks Ime off, but Ime uses the force to maneuver his way to Teron’s sword. He grabs it and aims both blades at Teron. They both rise to their feet.
“Let her go,” Ime demands.
Laughing, Teron raises his chin defiantly. “You’ll have to kill me first.”
Sneering at the man’s feeling of superiority, Ime runs at Teron, preparing to slice into him using both blades. Teron makes no move to avoid the strikes.
As he closes the distance between them, Ime feels a growing pressure in his chest. He stops inches from Teron, his eyes widening at the familiar sensation. Teron raises both hands at Ime and smiles.
Ime throws himself to the side, barely missing the flames. He falls to the ground, rolls away from Teron, and leaps to his feet. He stares at the Blood King’s second in command with a mixture of rage and shock on his face. “Impossible.”
Playing with a small flame on his palm, Teron says, “My King gave me a gift before sending me after you. He thought it would be a fitting death, a magic user killed by his own stolen magic.”