Sylvie watched the temple burn. it had started out small, fire in one small area, but it had quickly spread. Had something happened to Inés? Experience told her that Inés’ water spells should have been enough to douse the fire and she would have unless she had been busy fighting for her life or… Sylvie shook her head. No, Inés was fine. She’d emerge from the temple, smile her cocky smile and then Sylvie would yell at her for being reckless. That was the way it should be.
“We have to go in!” Serena yelled. Sylvie hurriedly pulled her back.
“It’s too dangerous. Even if the barrier is down.”
“But we can’t just leave her in there!” Serena cried, tears were already streaming down her cheeks.
“The me… Inés will be fine,” Sylvie reassured her. “If anyone alive can survive in there, it’s her.” She looked back at Max. “Can you do something about this?”
Max looked it over and shook his head. “I may know some pretty strong ice spells, but they won’t release enough water to do much here.”
“Try!” Sylvie demanded.
“All right,” Max said. “I’ll do what I can. Hopefully, when Luc arrives, we’ll be able to do more together.”
Inés limped towards the exit, smoke filling her lung from both her mouth and her gills. She felt her skin burning. Still she struggled. She would get out. She would embrace Serena and she would continue the journey to Drahaven.
She just had to take it slowly. Force one foot in front of the other. That’s all she had to do.
That was when she tripped over a board. She struggled to regain her footing, to get back up and, for the first time in her life, she wondered if she had the strength to endure.
“Empowered Blizzard Blast!” Max cried. A gigantic blast of blowing ice flew at the burning temple. Some melted before reaching the blaze. What was left did clear some space, but the fire quickly reclaimed it.
“Max, stop,” Luc stated. Sylvie and Serena turned to face her. Professor Mord stood beside her and a tall, but thin figure stood behind them. “You won’t manage to put it out like that. We may have to let it burn itself out.”
“But Inés is inside!” Serena protested.
Luc raised an eyebrow. “I see. Then we need to get someone in there.”
“Let me go,” Bastian volunteered. “A protection from fire spell and I’ll just run in, grab her and get out.”
“It’ll wear out too quickly,” Luc said. “Given the size of it.”
“Allow me,” a small voice said.
“Illyana, you can’t,” Sylvie protested.
Illyana moved out from behind them and smiled. “It’s all right, Sylvie. I may be the only one who can.”
“Bu…” Sylvie began. She was interrupted by Luc bringing her hand up in a silencing gesture.
“If you’re sure,” Luc said.
“I am,” Illyana stated. She stepped forward and began chanting. Unlike Max’s incantations, hers were in the common tongue. “Flames that burn and destroy, preserve forever for all to enjoy. But safely, say I, and do I insist. Soothing and solid, time’s touch to resist. Transmutation, fire to crystal!”
She held out her hand and, in the blink of an eye the fire solidified and cooled into a crystal formation. Illyana fell to her knees, breathing heavily. Sylvie ran to her side, helping her up.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Fine,” Illyana muttered. “Just tired… is all. So… very…” She stopped in mid-sentence, her breathing steady.
“Inés,” Serena cried. She ran into the temple past the fire crystals. They were a bit warm, but not dangerously hot.
In the first hallway, she saw her. Inés was limping towards her. “Hey,” Inés gasped. “You made it.”
Serena ran over and let Inés put her weight on her. “By the Gods, you’re all burned up. Let me help you out. We’ll get you treated.”
“Sounds good,” Inés said.
With some difficulty, Serena managed to get Inés out of the temple. Inés had lost consciousness shortly after leaning on her. Outside, Sylvie was sitting with Illyana’s head in her lap. Luc and Bastian ran over to help with Inés.
“We’ll get her to a cleric,” Luc said. “Bastian, help the young lady with her. I’ll go ahead and tell them what to prepare for.”
Bastian nodded and Luc chanted a quick spell, melting into the ground into a dark shadow. The shadow dashed ahead faster than the eye could follow.
“This way,” Bastian said.
Serena nodded. She glanced back at Illyana. “Will she be all right?”
“Just fine,” Bastian reassured her. “Using that much power is just exhausting. Especially for such a youngster.”
“That spell…” Serena muttered. “I’ve never heard of anything like it.”
“Because a normal mage can’t do it,” Bastian said. “Most of us have a strong affinity with one or two elements of magic. Illyana… Illyana is different. One like her only shows up once in a great while. An omni-mage with a strong affinity for magic, all magic. The only other living person like her right now is the great dwarven Magi, Entrik.”
Serena knew about the Magi, a group of six incredibly strong mages. “That’s amazing,” she said.
“Perhaps,” Bastian said. “But it comes with a price. Entrik’s body doesn’t work from the waist down. For Illyana, her body is frail and she was born without sight.” He glanced to the side. “We’re just about there. come on, let’s give it a last spurt.”