#FridayFlash: Die, Wizard!

Purple-white fire licked and danced, filling the north wall of the Last Throne Room with death. Dagger-shards of ice gleamed and darted in the freezing air to the south.

Between them, sat the wizard. Stripped of her staff, her seven nightblades, all of her rings of power, and her circlet of warding, stripped of every rune-bedecked magical device, she should have looked weak, frightened, and helpless. With instant, burning death facing her, and with slow, agonizing death behind her, she should have at least looked tense. Instead, she simply sat naked on the wooden stool and looked calm. Despite her split lip and broken fingers, despite the iron shackles around her ankles and wrists, she looked... calm.

Her serenity made the Dread Lord pause before he began the torture. She had surprised him with the ferocity of her attack and he had barely beaten her. Straining every magical sense, he leaned closer to the wizard. His eyes searched for any trace of the magical runes wizards used to store energy, but saw none. He looked harder, considering her artifact-weapons, now safely locked in one of the Council's war chests, carved with as many warding runes as the ancient weaponmasters could fit on the olivewood surface. A lot had changed in the world during the thousand years he'd been held in the Council's prison. Although there was much he had yet to understand about this new age, some things did not, and would never, change. He inspected her minutely, but saw nothing.

Although humans now had strange machines and they no longer feared their gods, they remained weak and stupid, eager to follow a fearsome leader. Although the Council was intact and powerful, its members remained arrogant and overconfident. And, although this wizard, woman though she was, had shown herself to be clever and resourceful, the laws of magic remained immutable. Her Power was as bound to physical manifestations of summoning as all Power had always been bound. Without a rune to store, shape, and guide the Power, it could not be bent by any will, no matter how strong. The laws of magic did not allow a user to simply summon Power without first carving the appropriate runes.

She held nothing, she wore nothing. He had seen to that after the battle. Her several tattoos and scars, he ignored. Runes of Power could not be carved into living flesh. He inhaled, searching for the scent of metal, wood, gold, or gemstones, anything that could have been carved with a rune. The more runes that could be carved onto an object, the greater the Power it could hold and guide. In the ancient days, the most skilled magecrafters could carve a rune no larger than a pea, putting dozens onto a ring, hundreds onto a blade, and thousands onto a staff. But she held... nothing. He leaned in closer, yet still, he sensed nothing. Was the wizard's mien, then, merely a bluff, an attempt to prolong her life?

"Two words," the wizard whispered.

The Dread Lord froze. Though he had defeated her, taken her weapons and stripped her bare, she was a wizard sent by the Council to return him to his cell, and therefore not to be taken lightly.

Seconds passed, his senses straining, searching. He saw nothing, smelled nothing.

"Two words," she repeated, so softly that he could barely hear her over the rushing of the fire and the moaning of the ice.

After another long, agonizing moment, when she said nothing further, the Dread Lord replied, "No words will save you, wizard. You have no way to channel whatever Power you would summon with them." His voice was harsh from a thousand years of disuse, his suspicions tearing at him.

She looked up, raising her eyes from the floor to lock her strange, calm gaze onto his.

"Two words that you should learn, Dread Lord," she said, "if you are to live in this age of humanity."

"Oh? And what Powerless words would you teach me before I kill you, wizard?"

"The words are these: 'laser' and 'microengraving'."

And from her eyes, the stored Power of a thousand thousand runes tore through the space between
them, caving in the breastplate of the Dread Lord's stolen Armor of Night. Between one heartbeat and the next, fingernail shards of the darkmetal smashed back through his sternum and through the armored back plate like a handful of gravel thrown through a windowpane. His huge frame lifted off the ground more than a hand-span with the force of the impact. When he landed, blood fountained front and back from the cabbage-sized hole where his chest had been. An instant later, his stiffened legs gave way. He was dead before he hit the floor.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.


  1. well, I guess he won't learn those words, then.

    I mean, unless he's one of those wizards that comes back to life.

  2. Now THAT is how you blend magic and technology! Very nice set up for those two words. When she said them, I was like, "oh crap, he's screwed big-time."

  3. I confess I didn't know what that was, but the photo made it clear. Nice setup!I was wondering how she was hiding her runes!

  4. I just knew she had power he didn't understand (that power of which he knew not -- Hee!). I was just waiting for the reveal and it was awesome! Well done, Tony!

  5. Well, she was certainly someone not to mess with. Good story Tony ^_^

  6. Thanks, folks! Yes, the magic weapons of today are MUCH more powerful, thanks to the density of runes that can be written on them. It means that only modern defenses, made with equally-densely written warding runes, are of any use. Anything less is like wearing a set of ring mail to fight an opponent armed with an AK-47.

  7. Oh wow, Tony. "...of a thousand thousand runes..." There's power in the very sound of that.

    The Old Ones need a crash course in the modern world before taking on their enemies. But too late for the Dark Lord.

    Nice work.


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