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Infuriated by Teron’s words, Ime stomps a foot onto the ground. The earth shakes and the wind picks up.
Teron quickly points to his men, who lean Meah further out over the deep chasm. She stands on her tiptoes, trying to remain on solid ground. The earth ceases shaking and the wind stops, as Ime immediately cuts off his magic. He raises one sword in front of him and the other behind.
Teron shoots fire from his hands, taunting Ime. It works.
Ime runs at Teron. Teron throws small balls of flames at Ime, forcing him to change course multiple times. Ime dodges easily and slowly makes his way closer. When he is too close for Teron to risk being attacked, Teron throws up a wall of fire and pushes it, causing Ime to move back to avoid the thick flames. But once he clears the wall, Ime continues advancing on Teron. Teron tries using the wall of flames again. This time Ime doesn’t move back. He uses Teron’s sword to cut through the flames, creating an opening.
The heat of the flames melts Teron’s sword and Ime throws the useless weapon away. He uses Jaxon’s sword to attack Teron, but the man is ready to dodge. He encases his arm in fire and swings it at Ime as the blade swings past, harmlessly. He connects with Ime’s side. The force of the hit causes Ime to gasp and he moves away to prevent another attack.
The clothing where he was hit is burned away. Luckily, the flames didn’t burn long enough to affect his skin. Teron follows Ime, both arms now covered in flames, and swings at Ime. Ime blocks Teron’s swings with Jaxon’s sword, surprised to find the metal more sustainable against the heat. However, the flames engulfing Teron’s arms prevent the sharp blade from cutting into his skin.
Ime feigns an upper slash so that Teron blocks with his arms. But he changes the direction of his blade at the last possible second and slices at Teron’s legs. Before his blade hits Teron’s legs, Teron increases the flames around his arms so suddenly Ime is momentarily blinded. Staggering back, Ime covers his eyes with his free arm.
Thinking he can catch Ime unguarded, Teron sets the ground beneath Ime’s feet afire. But Ime feels the flames and quickly leaps away. His vision returns and he angrily prepares to use his wind to kill the flames.
He stops when he sees Meah held over the edge of the cliff by Teron’s men. She meets his eyes and a shock runs through Ime. He takes a deep breath and runs towards Teron.
Teron throws more flames at Ime’s feet, attempting to dissuade his advance. But Ime ignores the flames and keeps pressing forward. Teron tries to throw the small ball of flames at Ime, but Ime uses Jaxon’s sturdy blade to destroy the fireballs. Ime feels small remnants of the fireballs land on his arms and legs. Burns sting his skin, but he ignores the pain and continues running for Teron.
Teron covers his arms in flames when he realizes he can’t stop Ime. When Ime is close enough, Teron swings his arms at him. He knocks Jaxon’s sword from Ime’s hand and hits him in the same spot as before. Ime winces as the flames burn his bared flesh. He yells and kicks Teron in the lower gut. Teron gasps and the flames on his arms go out. Ime grabs the back of Teron’s head and pushes it down as he brings his own knee up to meet Teron’s face.
A crack of bone signals Teron’s nose breaking and the man instinctively pull himself back, falling to the ground. Ime grabs the cuff of Teron’s shirt and pulls him to his feet. He uses his wind magic to pull Jaxon’s sword into his hand and stabs Teron through. Teron’s eyes go wide and he grabs Ime’s burn wound on his side. Ime cries out in pain, lowering to his knee, and bringing Teron down to the ground with him.
Pulling Jaxon’s blade from Teron, Ime punches the Blood King’s second in command in the gut. Teron leans forward and Ime brings his elbow down on Teron’s back. Before Teron can fall to the ground, Ime uses the last of his strength to uppercut the man, sending Teron onto his back, unconscious.
Gasping for breath, Ime stands. The pain in his side almost brings him to his knees again, but Ime uses Jaxon’s blade to steady himself.
Ime lifts his head to stare at the men holding Meah. They both have their knives drawn and held at Meah’s throat. Their eyes give Ime a threatening look, but he can see the fear hidden behind.
Ime laughs, but it’s cut short by the burning pain on his side. Taking deep, calming breaths, he approaches the men slowly. “Let her go.”
The men move the blades closer to Meah’s throat, almost touching skin. Ime rolls his eyes and raises one hand. Wind knocks one man away from Meah and the earth beneath his feet launches him into the canyon. His screams echo all the way down.
The second man grabs Meah by the throat and holds her dangerously close to the edge. Ime bends his arm at the elbow and water from the man’s jug shoots into his eyes. He releases Meah, wiping the water from his eyes and the earth beneath him launches him into the canyon.
Meah loses her footing and falls off the edge, but wind surrounds her and pulls her back to safety. When she’s safely on solid ground, she runs to Ime and wraps her arms around him. “Thank the gods!”
Ime takes in a sharp breath as she tightens her arms against his wounds.
“Sorry. Let me help you,” Meah says, placing her hands above the large burn wound on Ime’s side.
Ime grabs her hands in his. “I’m fine. Let’s head back into the city. We don’t want to be caught by any of his men he may have hiding out here.”
Nodding, Meah hugs him again, gently this time.
Teron, regaining conscious, laughs from the ground behind them. “There’re no other men. I sent them back after I learned where you were ultimately heading.” He coughs and blood rolls from his mouth. “You think the Blood King doesn’t know of this city? You’ll never defeat him with its pathetic army. His army grows stronger everyday. You will die and everyone who stands with you will die. And you will die, Life Healer. You will die most horribly of all.”
Pulling away from Meah, Ime crosses to Teron’s prostrate figure. He stares down at Teron, holding Jaxon’s sword above Teron’s heart. With one quick motion he ends Teron’s life.
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