Molin drew on Aure’s power. It coursed through him like an electric charge. He felt stronger, younger, and more alive than he had in many years. He embraced the feeling and the power grew more intense.
A malicious grin spread across his face as he cast his gaze on his surroundings. Below him, Molin saw a single-mast sailboat approaching from the harbor. He waited for it to get closer. He laughed when he saw Evan, Tindolen, and the other Grey Horse guards in the ship. They were pursuing him.
Evan saw Molin hovering in the air. “We need to knock him out of the sky or at least force him back to the ground. Options?”
“A fire strike,” said Brashani.
Tindolen’s eyes widened for an instant. “A rather severe course of action, don’t you think?”
“What’s a fire strike?” Evan asked. He looked from Brashani to Iriel to Tindolen.
Brashani cleared his throat. “It brings a column of flame down onto the person I direct the spell at.”
Evan raised his eyebrows. “I agree with Tindolen — that is severe. I don’t want to kill him, just get the gem back.”
“I doubt it will kill him,” said Brashani. “Not with that gem in his possession. And I doubt you’ll be able to pry the gem away from him unless he is stone-cold dead.”
Evan considered the wizard’s words. “Do you agree with that assessment?” he asked Tindolen.
The elf blushed and avoided Evan’s eyes.
“Do you?” he pressed, his eyes narrowing.
Tindolen sighed and met Evan’s eyes. “Yes.”
Iriel’s eyes grew round and her jaw fell open. “Uncle!”
The merchant turned toward his niece. “I’m sorry, Iriel, but look at the situation. Molin has stolen an Aglari. That very act makes him unworthy. Which means he hasn’t submitted himself to the Tahteem. If he had, he wouldn’t be flying. And that means he will go mad; it is just a matter of time. In that context, a fire strike isn’t really lethal force — not when he has an Aglari for protection.”
Iriel did not answer but a tear ran down her cheek and she turned away from him.
Evan turned back to Brashani. “All right. Do it.”
Molin watched the sailboat for a moment.
Time to fly away and find a place where I can sell this gem to the necromancers who want it.
He flipped that thought around in his head. It began to rankle him.
Why should they get the gem? No, I will not sell it; I will use it … to build a tower and destroy any who would oppose me.
He turned his attention back to the sailboat. They would be the first to die. Molin smiled at the thought. His fist began to crackle with electricity again when a column of flame shot through the sky, struck him, and knocked him back. He resisted the flames and struggled to stay afloat as he pushed against the blazing column; but it was no use. Molin lost altitude and fire seared away his clothes and hair.
Moments later, the wizard found himself on the ground in a large field, smoldering. A few tatters of cloth clung to his otherwise naked form. He felt old and fragile once more. The gem lay next to him. He seized it and lay there conserving strength. He would wait; Evan would come and, when he did, the wizard would kill him.