Inés spent the night peacefully. “Tonight’s the night, huh,” she muttered. She went out to wander around.
From a safe distance, Max monitored her movements with a scrying spell.
“What’s she doing wandering around town?” Serena wondered.
“Sending a message,” Sylvie answered. “She’s showing that she has no fear of the monotheists or their threat.”
“Which means they’ll be more driven to succeed,” Max stated. He rose. “We might as well get something to eat and rest.”
“We don’t need to keep watching?” Serena asked.
“They said tonight,” Max reminded her. “They won’t make a move before then.”
“I think I’ll see what Illyana is doing,” Sylvie said.
“Is it okay if I stay here?” Serena asked.
“It’s fine if you want to,” Max said. He chuckled. “You really like Inés, don’t you?”
“I love her!” Serena declared.
It was starting to get late. Inés knew that it would be dark soon. she headed back to her Inn.
How would they attack? The question was foremost on her mind. Max had said that they were never seen at the scenes of the incidents. Invisibility spells, perhaps? Intermediaries? Possibly even long distance magic. Whatever it turned out to be, she was confident that she could handle the situation.
She went to her room and sat against the wall, facing the door. She leaned against her staff and waited.
“Another scrying spell is coming through,” Max reported. “I’m going to try to definitively trace where it’s coming from without getting spotted.”
“Can you counter it?” Serena asked.
“I could,” Max said. “but they’ll sense our own if we do.” He shook his head. “No, it’s better to let them see what she’s up to.”
Sylvie put a reassuring hand on Serena’s shoulder. “Don’t worry. She’ll be able to handle herself until we arrive.”
Serena watched the scrying image. She trusted in Inés’ strength, but it was still unsettling to know that malevolent eyes were also watching her.
Inés tensed up. A sensation, like she was being watched. A feeling, like she wasn’t alone in her room. Her hair tingled and her gills spread in anticipation. She kept still, ready to make her move as soon as there was any sign of trouble.
She looked and listened, her instincts screaming at her that there was danger but finding no sign of it with her senses.
That’s when it came. Movement, out of the corner of her eye. She swung with her staff, feeling it connect to something solid very briefly.
She brought her staff up over her head, feeling something solid come down on it. Was the enemy invisible after all. From the right. She moved her staff, saw something black and shapeless collide with it only to coil back and vanish.
Shades. Summoned monsters without form. Deadly and fast. Faster than her. She briefly contemplated what things would be like if she had incredible speed instead of strength. From below. She jumped back, avoiding the dark tendril.
She wouldn’t be hurting them with her weapon, she knew. She needed magic.
The chant was complete in seconds. “Flash flood!” Instantly, the room filled with water. It poured out from beneath the door The vague outlines of the creatures were visible, their movements slowed by the flooded room. There were two of them.
She had to act quickly, even now the water was draining. Inés hurriedly chanted. “Crushing Wave!” The water rolled back and slammed into one of the creatures, slamming it into the wall. The wall cracked and broke open, tossing the beast and the waters from the flash flood spell into the next room. The young couple that had been sleeping there hurriedly ran out, shocked awake by the sudden deluge and the battered shade.
Inés moved to block the attacks of the second creature. Unencumbered by the waters, its speed had returned. Inés ‘ left arm got torn open when she acted a fraction of a second too slowly. A glancing but painful blow.
“Lightning Lance!” Sylvie’s voice cried out. The creature was vaporised by the blast, leaving ash scattered behind it.
“About time you showed up,” Inés said.
“”Show some gratitude,” Sylvie stated. “I just saved your life, you know.”
“I could have beaten it,” Inés protested.
“Freezing Chains!” Max cried. The second creature, stunned but alive, found itself bound with thick chains of ice.
Serena ran over to Inés and began bandaging her arm. “Are you okay?” she asked. “It doesn’t hurt, does it?”
“Don’t worry,” Inés said. “It wasn’t a solid hit.”
“Good, you can follow me,” Max said. “I’m going to cast a forced return spell. We’ll be able to follow this thing all the way back to its master and I have the feeling it’s going to be another battle.”
Inés and Sylvie looked at one another and nodded.
“We’re ready,” Sylvie said.
“Let’s show those scam artists what for!” Inés added.