Photo courtesy Athena-chan
Very powerful wizard
Creative and discerning
Thinks he is a coward
Too kind for his own good
Actually likes spiders
How we think the fight might go...
The strands of pearl entwined themselves around her arm, and she felt the world settle back in place. Eona sat on a stone bench in the moon garden. Although it had memories both sweet and bitter, it was the one place of serenity she could reflect in outside all the turmoil. Her responsibilities and fears fell from her shoulders like carelessly unbuckled armor. She took a deep cleansing breath and cleared her mind to call for her dragon.
“I told you to turn left,” a deep voice said, irritation fraying at it’s tone.
Eona looked up and around, sure that no one would have gotten through the gates without her knowing. She narrowed her eyes and flared her nostrils as the acrid scent of smoke tickled the back of her throat.
“Well, yes,” a querellous voice replied. “And I would have, if that’s where we were headed. But you wanted me to find the source. And I have. Now, if you don’t want to find the source, then I’ll be happy to follow your directions.”
There was a long silence, and Eona leaned forward, starting at the unaccountable sound of a heavy door slamming.
She got to her feet, fluid and silent as silk. The beads lay warm against her skin. Quietly, she pulled one of her swords from its sheath, the fire of the falling sun catching and tangling on the flat of the blade.
Eona crept forward, not afraid, only cautious. She could feel the shimmer of her dragon nearby. Whoever had come and disturbed her peace was going to regret it. Severely.
She nearly ran him through as the man collided with her, his head down, muttering.
He looked up, his eyes deep as moonlight, the gold of his hair lined with a fiery crimson. She gaped at him. He wore a silvery blue suit with sleeves as long and fancy as Lady D’s. He regarded her in silence for a long moment, looking at her through his long lashes. Then his gaze wandered over to her arm and she could almost feel him looking at the folio even though it rested beneath her sleeve. It took all of her training not to put her arm behind her back like a child guilty of stealing from the master’s table.
“Ah,” he said. “So you’ve found it.”
“Found it?” She blinked, her thoughts jumbled together. Shaking her head, she looked over her shoulder and saw her dragon sitting behind her, waiting.
The man smiled and it lit his face. “Yes. You really don’t know what a service you’ve done for me. I’d been prepared to slog through sand and dirt and mire all day looking for it, but you have it here.” He held out his hand. “Thank you very much.”
Eona blinked her eyes as a silver dragon appeared next to the man, eyeing him expectantly.
Without a word, she slid the other sword out of its sheath and dipped down into the fighting stance.
His smile spread across his face like a nobleman’s promise: beautiful, effortless, and false. “Come now,” he said.
That’s as far as Eona let him get. Summoning her dragon’s power, she felt the wind of a thousand monsoons well up within her. The wild power tugged at her, pulling her to pieces right before she released it.
The man’s eyes widened right before the wind struck. Eona rocked on the balls of her feet, knowing that should have taken care of him, but fearing that it hadn’t.
“I hate to do this to you,” the man murmured apologetically, not even a hair out of place from the wind, “especially if you didn’t recognize me. I am the dread wizard Howl.” He paused as though waiting for some scrap of recognition.
In reply, Eona moved through the first series of steps, nearly slicing through the butter bright hair, but the man moved faster than she would have thought possible.
“Look,” he said, holding up his hands. “I have an ailing mother I need to get back to, perhaps--” He ducked as she lunged forward, her twin blades whistling through the air in a deadly arc.
As her body fell into the familiar rythym of the fighting stances, his voice faded from her consciousness. All she could hear, could feel, was the warm scarlet power of the Mirror Dragon. One by one as her swords wove patterns of the past and future through the air, always just a fraction of a breath short of ridding her of the threat the man posed, the dragons appeared. Purple joined the silver, followed by the brown, the copper, the blue, and orange. Pink and gray shimmered into existence, followed by the green and ebony. A moment later the ivory glimmered at her left.
Eona smiled at the pale face of her fears. He might be after the folio, but she would stop him. What could one lone man do against the force of a dragoneye and twelve dragons?
A moment later she stumbled as the air around her seemed to shatter like glass. The dragons cringed and wavered although they didn’t disappear completely. The man stood before her, his face creased in an apologetic smile. She glared up at him, trying to make sense of what had happened. He held no weapon in his hands, only a strange bowl-shaped stringed instrument.
Taking in a deep, cleansing breath, she moved back into position.
“Really, we can resolve this without all the sword swinging,” he said, his glassy eyes locked on hers. “Someone might get hurt otherwise.”
She gritted her teeth. “If you leave now, you won’t get hurt.”
He nodded as though pondering what she’d said. “You don’t by chance have any . . . aunts, do you?” Was it her imagination or did he look a little afraid?
She ignored him, angrily shaking her head clear of the fog wrapped around it.
“Right,” he said.
Her attention arrowed toward him like the blade of an assassin, but he simply strummed the instrument, caressing a sound out of it like that of a cat caught under the wheels of a cart. The dragons all put their paws to their ears, and her dragon gave her a look of reproach. But that was the last time she had to focus on the dragons, because at that moment the man opened his mouth and began to sing.
Dropping her swords as though they’d burned her, she shoved her hands against her ears and glared at him. But regardless of the fact that even the dragon power couldn’t do more than slightly dampen the horrible screeching and out of tune cawing coming from his mouth, he watched her with a lazy look of contentment on his face.
And just when she thought her eardrums couldn’t take anymore, he reached a crescendo several octaves out of his range. He held the note and she watched with despair as one by one the dragon’s blinked out. Then he shut his mouth and dropped his hands.
Crying out as she lunged forward, Eona grabbed the hilts of her swords, determined to slay the dangerous menace standing before her. She looked with disbelief at the shards of her blades still resting on the ground in front of her.
Howl grinned and leaned forward. “Now, about that rather interesting piece of magic you have wrapped around your arm . . .”
Predicted winner: Howl
Howl Jenkins is from Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle and Eona is from Alison Goodman's Eon: Dragoneye Reborn.