The men were growing closer shouting at them as they hefted their weapons. Senture’s men readied themselves, circles of magic appearing around their hands.
Just before they got close enough, though, a large circle appeared on the ground, too hard for Sorik to see clearly with the people ahead of him, but it was big enough to catch his attention anyway.
Suddenly, a huge column of ice shot up from the circle on the ground and slammed into the ceiling above, completely cutting off their enemy’s advance. Senture let out a breath, her spell finished. From what Sorik had learned at the college, Kitsuyan magic was based in the mind. One had to envision every detail of a very specific circle to be able to cast it. And from the depictions in the books he had read, even small fireballs were intricately drawn patterns of geometric shapes and symbols. Calling up a specific spell like that so quickly was probably no small feat.
Evidently, her underlings thought so, too, because they were staring at her in awe. “What are you looking at?” she snapped. “We’re not done here. We still need to get out.” Almost by way of answer, they heard chipping against the ice column.
Senture nodded. “It won’t take them very long, either. Saruyen,” she turned to one of her men.
He stood at attention at mention of his name. “Yes, milady?”
“What does your memory of the building tell you about how deep we are right now. Can we get out with earth magic?”
He thought for a second, looking down. “I’m not sure. I don’t think so. We’re probably around twenty feet deep, and none of us are really adept at earth magic.”
“Excuse me?” she asked. “You told me earth was your strongest element.”
“It is, milady!” he panicked. “But, as I’m sure you’ll remember, I’m not a very strong mage. My memory doesn’t hold Circles very well. They all kind of look the same to me.” He shriveled back in embarrassment.
She growled in frustration. “I thought you would all be at least competent enough for this one little job.”
“Why don’t we just use wards?” Sorik put in.
Senture looked back to him. “What a-” Saruyen started to ask, but Senture cut him off with a hand gesture. The chipping at the ice had grown steadily louder. Time was running out.
“Our people aren’t very familiar with that type of magic,” she explained. “Are you capable of placing wards on others?”
“Honestly I didn’t know you could do that,” Sorik replied. “But your people don’t use defensive magic?” He found that hard to believe.
“Of course we do. But every style of magic has its strengths and weaknesses. You should know that.”
“I do,” he said. “But it just seems strange to me that you came to rescue me and you’re relying on me to get you out.” Maybe he shouldn’t have said that last part.
“Can you do it, or not? Five wards shouldn’t be too difficult.”
“Well, if it’s possible I suppose I can.”
“Just be sure to disperse the spell so every shield is the same strength,” she instructed.
He nodded in reply, concentrating. He put a hand on each person’s shoulder, infusing them with magic. One by one, a purple haze appeared around them like a translucent fire. Something about this entire scenario felt wrong to Sorik, but he couldn’t quite tell what it was. Perhaps once they got out of the building he could find out more.
When he got to Senture, he noticed that she was staring at him with a barely masked veil of… horror? It was hard to be sure, exactly. Evidently she saw something wrong, too, but she made no comment.
“These wards should protect you from any aggressive action taken towards you. Their spears will be useless. We’ll charge straight through, and if we meet any opposition on the way, have spells ready. We’ll be protected from friendly fire. Senture,” he turned to address her.
“You want me to drop the ice column,” she stated. She looked a little irked at having been addressed by name.
“Yeah. On my mark. Everybody ready?”
How did this happen? Why was he suddenly in charge? But everybody looked prepared to follow him.
“Three… two… one… go!”