“I’m surprised you would let me in so willingly,” his smooth voice cooed from across her study. “You obviously know who I am. Aren’t you afraid?”
The sorceress leveled her eyes at the assassin, the legendary wizard without a name, and calmly replied, “It is far too great a honor to have you here to do anything but rise to the challenge.” There was a slight pause before she continued, “Though, I will say that my fight is not, and should not be, with you. The cowards that hired you should be here in your place.”
“I’ve heard they have been here,” his eyebrows raised ever so slightly and he licked his lips as he spoke. He was enjoying this exchange with an equal. It had been a long time since he’d been in the same room with someone he would consider a peer. “They didn’t much care for how that encounter ended.”
The sorceress smiled wickedly. Normally she’d keep her emotions guarded, but she had taken great pleasure in springing that trap on her tormentors and didn’t care who knew it. They had deserved the whipping they’d received by her magic. She didn’t dignify the wizard’s comments with anything further than the smile.
He nodded in understanding. His eyes shifted from hers to sweep in the contents of the room. He picked out some tomes he’d love to study if given the chance. He noticed a few relics that must have been difficult for her to obtain. He nodded again, appreciating that he truly was in the presence of an equal.
“I think I must apologize now,” his words were crisp, jumping off the magical energy that swam between the witch and wizard. “I can see that you are up for a fight, but I am not here to fight you.”
The sorceress tried unsuccessfully to keep the look of surprise from contorting her expression. He noted the minimal change, and catalogued it for future use, should the need ever arise. He licked his lips again, and let his black eyes find her gaze again.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but while they did approach me for the job, I’m not actually as morally flexible as the stories about me imply. I know you by name and reputation, and would never hire myself out against you in the employ of cowards too afraid to face you again. Perhaps if their reasons were just… but that is not the case at the moment.”
“Then, why are you here?”
“Telling you that I would not take the job seemed as good a reason as any for the two of us to finally meet.”
He smiled then, and for the first time since he had appeared at her gate, a flicker of emotion played across his eyes. The sorceress recognized it. She finally saw him as a peer rather than an adversary and she returned his smile. After long last, after years of struggling and fighting and advancing through the ranks on her own, she finally had a friend.
The laughter that followed her smile was the most joyous that had ever passed her lips.