The Shadow Watchers leap down from the surrounding cliffs and circle the group. Their knives shine bright with the morning light against their black and grey clothes. The group throws magic at the men to keep them back, but the shadows they control cancel everything out.
The only ones seeming to do any damage at all are Daniil and Kylii. Even Tanith and Saunem struggle to land blows, especially with Saunem’s injuries.
“We have to retreat,” Ime calls over the fighting.
They try to escape the way they came, but the Shadow Watchers block their path. Daniil and Kylii use their magic together and the men blocking their exit clear a path or, for the unlucky few that couldn’t move fast enough, are killed. The Shadow Watchers regroup into a solid mass in front of the group, their expressions mixed with confusion and abject fear as they stare at the brothers.
“Why does your magic work and not ours?” one of Kordeaux’s men asks.
Kylii eyes his brother with a sly smirk. Daniil takes a deep breath, “Because they’ve never fought against our magic before.”
“What do you mean?”
“These men can only cancel out magic they’ve fought against before,” Kylii explains. “Hard to do that when you’ve never seen magic like ours.”
“You should leave,” Daniil suggests to Ime. “Go back to Kellahn and tell everyone about the Shadow Watchers and what Jaxon said.”
“And you two are going to stay behind and fight two hundred men alone?” Ime asks.
Several of Tayli’s men approach as they speak, but the ground beneath them melts into molten rock and the air around them burns hot. The men scream as their skin burns and the ground eats them alive. “Our magic is the only thing working against them, so get going,” Kylii says, lowering his arm.
“We can’t abandon you like this.”
Daniil smiles at Ime. “Are you worried about us?”
“Aw, someone’s gotten to like us over the past years, hasn’t he?” Kylii asks in a high-pitched voice.
The clouds growing above the mountain begin releasing snow and a freezing wind blows through the mountain pass. Kordeaux’s magic users gaze at the sight with confused, yet wonder-filled eyes. They speak of how it’s only spring and yet this low on the mountain snow is falling.
Watching Daniil, Ime can feel the magic flowing from the brother and understanding widens his eyes. “You’re doing this?”
“We haven’t really been very honest about our magic,” Kylii says.
“You never asked us why they threw two ten year old boys into the Arena. You must have noticed it never happened again while you were there.”
“I wondered, but I didn’t think it was any of my business,” Ime answers.
“Here’s the reason,” Daniil holds his hands out to catch some of the falling snow. The snowflakes dance over his palm and his eyes change to a matching icy white. “I’m a winter mage.”
Kylii’s eyes glow a burning orange as the heat emanating from his body melts the snow around him. Steam rises as the snowflakes turn to gas. “And I’m a summer mage. It’s always been easier to say fire and ice to keep people from treating us any differently than other magic users.”
Several of Kordeaux’s men release surprised gasps. “You can control the seasons?” one of the women asks.
“The weather more like, but basically yeah,” Kylii says, smiling at the woman.
The snow gathers on the ground of the pass, covering it in white. The Shadow Watchers move away from the brothers, hearing the truth of their magic. Magic exudes from Kylii and half the mountain pass grows hot, reaching temperatures higher than the deserts.
Tayli’s men struggle deciding which fate is worse, freezing or frying. They send their shadows out before them to try counteracting the brothers’ magic as best they can.
“Go back to Meah. She needs to know the truth,” Kylii says.
Daniil leans down to Tanith. “Please go back with him. Once Kylii and I release our full magic we can’t really promise not to hurt everyone nearby.” Tanith whimpers and rubs her snout into his hand. “I remember our promise. Think of this as your chance to cut our contract early.”
Tanith licks his hand, but Saunem gently pushes her towards Ime. Kordeaux’s magic users hesitate, wanting to stay and watch the rare magic. But they can also sense the danger Daniil speaks of. They look to Ime for instruction.
“Everyone, we’re heading back.” Sensing no movement behind him, Ime spins around and angrily yells, “Go!”
Kordeaux’s men and the two khorgois run out of the mountain pass, disappearing through the narrow opening. The snow is falling more heavily and the heat grows hotter.
“Don’t do anything stupid,” Ime says before leaving, not wanting to hear Daniil and Kylii’s response. The brothers wait until Ime is through the opening before stepping towards the men waiting patiently, and fearfully, before them.
“Looks like it’s time to stretch out the old magic, right Kylii-li?”
“Just don’t get mad if I burn you, Daniil-li.”
Daniil punches his brother in the arm. “Like you could. I’ll freeze you first.”
They begin their attack on the Shadow Watchers, splitting apart to different halves of the mountain pass.
Snowstorms cut across half the pass, blinding any who are trapped inside, making it impossible for Tayli’s men to see when and where Daniil attacks them. Some he freezes into statues before blasting them into tiny pieces. A few he sends flying into the air with a sudden powerful rush of air, throwing them off the side of the mountain. The ground turns to ice sending many men sliding into walls or each other.
Heat waves so hot men can barely breathe trap Shadow Watchers until Kylii moves in to deliver the final blow. The earth grows so hot the men can feel it through their shoes. Sudden flashes of sunlight blinds some, sending them into panics. They slash their swords at every sound even if it’s one of their own. A few poor souls manage to maneuver close to Kylii only to be turned into dry husks as the liquids in their body immediately evaporate.
Tayli disappears in the confusion, managing to avoid both brothers and their powerful attacks. All two hundred of his men are easily defeated and the heat and snow calms, allowing the carnage to be seen. Kylii clears his side of the pass by burning the bodies as Daniil shatters frozen corpses with his feet.
Whining, Kylii walks up to his brother once he’s finished. “That wasn’t much of a stretch.”
Daniil waves his hand at snowflakes still falling from the sky sending them into dizzying patterns. “Still more fun than pretending to only use one kind of magic.”
“Maybe we can still catch up to Ime.”