the wisdom to flee

Her altered vision swam in waves of green and red surrounded by a pulsing gray.  The warm signature of the wizard melted away into the crimson air of the superheated cave as he advanced away from her.  The condensation on the walls shimmered in a gloss of shifting jade.  The space between the colors, where the darkness would have been the darkest without the help of her magic, spun back and forth in throbbing shades of cobwebs.

The air was so thick and sticky inside the maw of the mountain that the sorceress momentarily blanched at the feeling of having walked through the webbing of a monstrous spider.  Of course, she steadied her nerves quickly, the monster that truly dwelt at the bottom of the pit was far worse and deserved her full attention, her full concentration.

“Who dares to disturb my slumber?”

It came as a voice in her mind and reverberating off the slick walls, sleepy yet full of power and menace, and it got her feet moving again.  She didn’t dare answer.  She didn’t dare acknowledge the surge in magical energy that accompanied the growling and gravelly question.  Her training returned and her mind grasped the mantra she had formed.  Her pace quickened and she shortly caught site of the wizard again.

An eye of light, the size of her study, opened in the distance.  It swirled in a purple deeper than the sorceress had known existed.  The heat coming in the cave intensified and her flesh crawled as her skin dried and cracked in the onslaught.  The red and orange mingled pupil lazily shifted back and forth until it found the reason for the broken sleep and interrupted dreams, and then it shrank into a focused glow of burning red fire.

“I remember you!”  The dragon’s snarl thundered and the ground shook.

The wizard laughed in response.  It was low and sinister, unafraid, and the sorceress took heart in his confidence.  She strode forward and took position next to her new friend so the dragon would know who it faced in the coming battle.  She would not attack from secret as her bullies so often had done throughout the years of her life.

“I have no quarrel with you, witch,” the beast spoke and the ground trembled as the dragon rose from its slumber to find its feet.  It swung its head to face them, the two blazing eyes narrowed to giant angry slits.  “Though your presence here does not speak well of your intelligence or your choice of companions, I will overlook those flaws and if you leave now no harm shall come to you.  Stay a moment longer, and you are as doomed as the wizard next to you.”

The sorceress mimed the words to the first of the spells from her mantra, hopefully shielded herself from the dragons’ sight, and she moved away from the wizard in small steps.  Then, as she readied her first offensive spell, she threw her voice into the pit, knowing the echoing chamber would keep her true location secret, “I think I’ll stay.”

The growl of fury that followed was deafening.

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