“I don’t think,” said Elysia, between breaths, “that my magic can touch this guy.”

She turned to Illyra. “You have a plan?”

Illyra picked herself up, off the ground where she’d been lying, thrown off her feet by the mad wizard’s spell. Their malefactor stood close enough for Illyra to see an unhealthy gleam in his one, ugly yellow eye, but not so close that Elysia could affect harm on him with any of her fancy-shiny magic.

She straightened her back. “What to do, indeed?” Illyra flexed her magic, tested the grip she still had on the wizard. It was tenuous, a bond she’d formed with the intent to exploit. She knew he was aware of it, and he knew she knew he knew. It was why he tried to eliminate her first. “I always seem to attract the really bad ones, don’t I?”

“Is there time for this?” asked Elysia. She couldn’t take advantage of the connection Illyra had made with the wizard — she could barely even understand it. Elysia had never felt an enemy die at the hands of her magic, never felt their grasp on life slip as their spirit fled the world to become a shade on the banks of Acheron. But Illyra had.

Use us, the power said. Illyra hadn’t seen her power so agitated in some time — it threatened to consume her if she didn’t offer it someone else. The mad wizard would do. She raised her hand toward him and snarled, and dark energy coursed along the ground from where she stood to the wizard’s feet. Illyra’s magic seized him about the waist with a great, black fist — like the hand of Tartarus himself, come out of the ground.

“Here’s an idea, Elysia,” she said. “Let’s leave quickly.”

“That’s a course of action I can support,” replied Elysia.

Behind them, the wizard cackled as he strained against the magic.