A brilliant flash of blue lit up the cavern. The pebbles on the ground rattled. Malagandrian dodged a bolt of blue lightning from Salazorster’s crystal-tipped staff, and returned a blazing fireball. Their dragon mounts screamed and flapped desperately to avoid the pillars of the cave as the two mightiest wizards in all the world battled over the thing they had spent half a life-time searching for: the relic of the ancients, which lay on a crude altar at the center of a deep pool in the middle of the cave. Locked in battle, the two mighty opponents flung bolt after bolt of magic at one another, toppling rock formations and making the cave itself shake as if it would collapse.
This was my chance.
I hitched up my apprentice robes and slunk from the spot where I’d been hiding. A chunk of flaming rock crashed beside me, and I dashed away to avoid getting my cloak scorched. Murmuring a spell of protection, I stayed behind fallen boulders, darting from one patch of cover to another, until I reached the edge of the pool.
My master was still up there, his dragon clinging to a curtain of stone at the top of the cave, while he wove a voiding spell. His opponent was busy with the counter-spell. I pulled off my outer robes and slipped into the water, gliding in a silent stroke across the black, cold pool. I tried not to think of what might be living down there in the water, maybe some huge beast meant to guard the relic.
I reached the altar without being eaten by anything, but had to duck my head under the water when the blast from the two spells sent a ball of pink fire that engulfed the entire cave. When I came up, the surface of the water was steaming, and Salazorster was laughing like a lunatic. It only lasted a moment before he said, “What? No!” and Malagandrian’s dragon rose from the cave floor along with a green whirlwind of magic power that sucked Salazorster’s dragon from the air and bashed it into a wall.
Yep, they were still busy, the two of them. If I was lucky, they’d kill each other.
I took a sopping wet pouch from my belt and stuck my hand inside it like a glove, then picked up the relic from the altar. It was a perfectly smooth moonstone, blue-white like ice, and would look great on the end of my own wizard’s staff. My ticket straight to the top. I drew the string on the bag, tied it back on my belt, and slipped back into the water.
About half-way across the water, I noticed the other wizard’s apprentice creeping around the side of the pool to intercept me. Great, I was going to have to use the relic and blow my cover to blast this goon out of my way.
“Get back, I’m warning you,” I threatened as I got close to the shore.
“No, wait,” the other apprentice said, “I’m with you. You’re genius. Come on, let’s get out of here.”
I didn’t want to trust him, but I knew a fight would cause a scene and get the attention of our masters, so I gathered up my robes and followed him out of the cave.