Morkui prowled circles around Saijun. The Lich showed no signs of damage yet. A few metal shards he had thrown hard enough to breach her wards pierced her flesh, but she had repaired herself instantly. Despite this, he was calm; Envyborn was a brute-force instrument, a blunt-speaking, blunt-fighting woman with no subtlety to her. She hurled a floor-crushing kinetic burst at him, and Morkui promptly opened two portals: one behind, one in front.
Saijun’s own spell plowed into her wards with a mountainous din, and ripped the steel panels behind her to shreds. The leftover power blasted pieces of tortured metal in all directions, and Morkui knocked one aside with his spear before it reached his wards. At the same instant, Morkui closed his portals and pointed at the fires filling the Ironfish pens.
They converged against the Lich from all sides, climbing to an incendiary vortex. Saijun blew the fires away with another kinetic burst, and Morkui smiled grimly. Such a waste to move all that air and fire when she could simply move herself! Lingering embers cast their arena in a wan sunset glow, and made the Lich’s skinless, contorting face-muscles absolutely ghastly.
It was pleasant–having the chance to destroy something which eminently deserved it.
Morkui flicked a finger at the ceiling and charged in toward Saijun. He feinted a spear-thrust for her forehead, already stepping to one side. Predictably, Saijun used her magic to fuel her counter, a torquing downstroke that spun Morkui around and hurled him towards the pens’ back wall. He used a light frictive spell to burn most of the energy, and manipulated his ward to let the rest through.
The impact knocked a little wind from his lungs, but took no further power. An instant later, the acid he conjured by rearranging the ceiling’s molecules dropped on Saijun’s wards. A black blob swirled with ill purple foams and brown sludge and devoured steel clung to the wards, thick stuff which fought against gravity and spewed toxic fumes into the air. Each effect further burdened Saijun’s ward of presence, draining her power that much more.
The caustic figure spun, splattering acid across the room, and launched a light-beam at Morkui’s eyes. His wards stopped it hurting his sight, but it still washed out the rest of the room. He hastily dove through a portal to emerge near the front of the room, and spun to face Saijun again.
She was rushing him already, spear trailing negative energy that tore the air into a thousand nightmare shapes and substances. She lunged for his neck. Morkui laid his own spear on the center line and met the attack with a lean right and shove from the hips. Each spear, enveloped in its bearer’s wards, spat and cracked against the other. The air between the hafts caught fire and exploded in a dozen wide gouts. While the vibrations rattled Morkui’s arms, he gave a hard kinetic shove against his spear at the same instant Saijun gave hers.
He sensed her using the current, broke off the bind, and hurled himself straight up with a kinetic pulse an eye-blink before ragged metal shards whirred through the space he had just left. Saijun swept her spear up at him, leaping up behind it; Morkui doubled gravity on himself and dropped beneath her. An arcane shove helped his spear blast through her wards and tear her neck open.
Once again they landed some distance apart and took each other’s measure. Saijun’s peculiar eyes, glossy blue irises on yellow “whites,” glared and glinted in the dwindling firelight. Morkui made no move to press the attack. Saijun was trapped, with more Inquisitors soon to arrive. Every pause gave the Vigil more time to close the trap. The tear in her neck knit shut, and the Tonnish Lich stamped quickly back to her starting point.
Saijun thumped her spear’s butt against the molten mess of acid, steel and other runoff from Morkui’s earlier attacks, sinking into it while her wards sparked and spat. “Come, Inquisitor!” she jeered. “You’re a petty man indeed, to keep such an old woman waiting!”
“I am waiting for you to learn what complimentary colors are,” Morkui answered. “If you wish to blind me, you should cast light again, and spare your poor tailors the shame of clothing you.” Saijun snarled, raising a hand above her head and gathering a squelching sphere of acid from the ceiling.
Morkui raised an eyebrow. “Stealing my ideas, Saijun? Surely you have had time to think of your own.” He jabbed his spear out, exploding the acid-sphere all over Saijun’s wards. The whole mass splashed the floor at her feet. Saijun screeched in frustration beneath the roiling goo, and threw a barrage of fireballs at him, each larger than the last. Morkui broke up or redirected each in turn long before it reached him.
When Saijun sent forth a broad, roaring wave of flame instead, Morkui shifted all the room back towards Saijun. Her own fires turned on her, boiling the acid and sending up vast clouds of noxious smoke and gas. Morkui took the moment’s break to tap into the Sea-fort’s power grid again. He felt seven–no, ten now, excellent–cold anvil sensations rushing to his location. He concentrated on a kinetic spell, swirling all the acid in on Saijun’s presence, that jealous prickling in the midst of all the Sea-fort’s life.
At the instant the first of his fellow Inquisitors burst into the room, armored, black robes flying, wards already up, Saijun hurled the acid at him in a writhing mid-air torrent. Morkui extended a hand to redirect it, but it evaporated from existence before he could finish. He frowned; he must take time to caution his mentor on her inefficiencies later. For now, Saijun awaited.
The Lich stood several feet below the floor’s level at the bottom of a walkway, in a pit carved by acid and fire. Morkui realized suddenly that there was water filling it.
Saijun smiled benignly and disappeared downward through the weak point in the Sea-fort’s warded, armored shell. Her thunderous exit shook the room, and counter-pressure drove an immense spout of water up in her wake. Morkui and the other Inquisitors sealed the breach in moments, but the damage was done.
Of course, Morkui thought, she was never interested in fighting me. Only in distracting me from the fact I was digging her escape-tunnel for her. He turned, mortified, to confer with the others.