"It doesn’t count if you are already planning your defeat,” the haggard voice said from beneath the dark hood of the riding cloak. “You know you cannot win, leave while you have the chance.”
Just then, a wall of fire erupted around the two figures, separating them from their respective teams. Sonny DeForza knew that there was a skirmish happening outside this wall of flames, but for now, it was just him and the Dark Lord, Gothica. The rest of the world may as well have not existed at all currently.
“Here’s your last chance, Sonny,” Gothica taunted as even the flames seemed to whisper vile remarks at him, “Don’t let your friends die trying to be the hero you know you cannot be.”
Sonny only stood there silently, bracing himself to begin the fight. Despite the fire towering over him, the air felt ice-cold, biting at his skin.
“Very well,” Gothica sighed, throwing his cloak off to reveal a face of pure wretchedness. The head that once belonged to a handsome man, named James Cromwell,l was now reddened and misshapen- he looked more of a demon or burn victim than human. Gothica smiled with his thin, bloody lips to reveal a crooked mess of yellowed chips that were once perfect white teeth. “You draw first,” he bowed.
Sonny mustered all the energy in his body. He felt it flow like a tsunami from his feet, amplified at his heart, and out of his palms into a solid sphere of gold light. He directed the mass toward Gothica, who lazily flicked his wrist, sending the spell back to Sonny, who caught it in the chest. It had changed from gold to a sickly green when redirected, however.
Sonny felt the sensation of being hit by three trains at once as he was lifted off the ground and fell on his back, gasping for air.
“Such a pity,” Gothica spoke in mocking sorrow, “three years of training and you can’t even get one good shot in. I guess that’s what happens when we don’t listen about not being ready.”
“Uhn,” Sonny could only reply, the air still absent from his lungs as he coughed with watered eyes.
“Alright, get up!” Gothica yelled as he waved his hand to send an invisible force to violently pick Sonny to his feet. “I am a man of honor. I never kill a man without giving him his dignity.”
Sonny stumbled as he was forced to his feet, he had regained some composure, but breathing was still difficult. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a beam of red light shoot from Gothica’s hands. He barely had time to react, jumping to his left at last minute as the red light shot into the flames in a small explosion of embers and dirt.
“At least give yourself a fighting chance now, Sonny. You wouldn’t want to disappoint your old master, would you?” Gothica asked laughing disgustingly. “Then again, I guess this is what a kid gets for joining forces with that weak, old fool, Trihm.” He had struck a chord in Sonny. His old master, Trihm, was once considered to be the greatest warlock of all time until Gothica had murdered him in a Duel six months ago. The man had disappeared at the powerful curse Gothica shot at him and it had devastated Sonny.
“How dare you speak his name!” Sonny shouted in pure rage, sending what appeared to be blue lighting at the laughing opponent. He had caught Gothica off guard as the man fell to his knees yelping when the spell hit him.
The ancient warlock picked himself up and shook his head with a smile, “So he can fight,” Gothica spoke in mocking pride. “Tell me, Sonny, did you ever wonder why I was able to defeat Trihm so easily? Why he did not even use a protecting charm, despite me giving him ample time? Did he ever even reveal his past to you?”
“Shut up!” Sonny shouted, sending a line of white at the taunting man.
Gothica swatted the spell away like he was shooing a fly from his heart without any real attempt. It shot to the ground in a plume of smoke. “Because I taught him everything he knew, Sonny. He was my student for fifty years, wanting to take over the empire I had started. Your saintly, little teacher learned from the best. That is why he gave up against me. He knew I was too powerful and that it was too late. He has forsaken you, attempting to be a martyr instead of atoning for his sins.” Gothica shook his head like a disappointed father at this last remark. “Never mind, though. You will be the true martyr. The one who tried to save the world because of the teachings of some fool.” Another jet of green light shot from Gothica’s misshapen fingers. It acted like a rope, catching Sonny by the throat and pulling him to the ground.
Sonny felt his head hit the dirt before the rest of his body. The world went blurry and dark for a moment before Gothica used another spell to send what felt like fire ants across his body, burning every inch of flesh on his skin.
“Y-you, I’ll kill you,” Sonny forced out, he rolled to his front, getting up on hands and knees. He was just about to get to his feet when what felt like a charge of electricity ran through his body, causing him to scream and fall back down. He had just time enough to create a shield of energy as the next attack came from Gothcia. The indigo light hit the shield with the force of a comet. The protection charm had saved Sonny, but it still knocked him into the fire.
He quickly jumped up and away from the flames, expunging the burning jacket off his shoulders. He could still feel a nasty burn on his left shoulder that felt like knives being stabbed into one little area.
Gothica sent a rush of black smoke from his hands to Sonny. This time, Sonny reacted with true skill, he waved his hands expertly, sending the train of smoke back at the vile Lord, the smoke enraptured Gothcia’s body again, seemingly causing an implosion and until is dissipated, leaving the old man on the ground. Sonny took advantage of the handicap now.
He shot little blue forces at Gothica knocking him back. He waved his hand in an upward motion, levitating the man ten feet off the ground before throwing him back down. He was just about to deliver a final shot when he stopped.
It was like his blood was boiling inside his veins. Sonny fell to his knees. Gothica was using a very old form of dark magic. It was utter and pure agony. Sonny writhed on the ground, howling and crying like a child. His mind begged Sonny to outwardly ask Gothica for death. Anything to end this feeling.
“Ah,” Gothica spoke, ending the spell, “He wants death now. The hero of the west can’t even take an ounce of pain. Fine by me.” Gothica said. “I gave you the chance to leave, Sonny. Even had the mercy to let you die on your feet, like a man of honor, but no. You are going to die on your back like some coward. Goodbye, Sonny.”
Sonny closed his eyes, accepting death. A line from a T. S. Elliot poem ran through his mind, “This is the way the world ends/ Not with a bang but with a whimper.” Sonny was going to die with a whimper. No hero’s death, no incredible boom. Just sadly and slowly on his back. A nineteen-year-old child dying at the hands of a two-hundred-year-old sorcerer.
A white light entered the view of the corner of Sonny’s eye. It was hazy, but it looked like the silhouette of a man walking from a portal. Gothica was too busy raising his hands as he summoned a great mass of energy to hurl toward Sonny.
“I’m going to kill you, Sonny,” Gothica said gleefully. The white light had disappeared probably just hallucinations from the pain Sonny thought to himself. “Then I am going to torture everyone you ever loved.”
“No, I don’t think that will happen, James,” a kind voice distracted. The two figures looked up and back respectively to see where it came from. They saw the kind face of an old man with neat white hair and a thin mustache. The old man wore garments of pure white, almost brighter than the wall of flames. “Tonight is not your night for victory, my old master,” Trihm said.
“Impossible, you are already dead, Trihm,” Gothica spoke in horrified surprise.
“That may be true, James,” Trihm spoke, “but even in death, we are sometimes called to come to the aid of those who deserve- like our young Sonny here.”
“This was supposed to be a duel between me and him, not anyone else,” Gothica howled like a child who felt he was given an unfair deal.
“That may be true, my old master, however, you are forgetting one crucial thing that you were never able to accept,” Trihm said as he walked over to gently pick Sonny off of his feet. “That we are only as strong as the love we give and receive from those that support us, and we are only as weak as we are lonely.”
“I lead armies of men in my name, I have more than you or Sonny will ever know,” Gothica shot back. He no longer spoke with the bravery he had just fifteen minutes ago, however.
“Ah yes,” Trihm agreed, “however, you were never able to differentiate support out of fear and support out of love. I assure you they are quite different and one is infinitely more powerful than the other. At the end of the day, it is always better to bring a friend than to go in alone. Now, Sonny, if you would.”
The two of them mirrored each other in movement, taking a stance like martial artists as they brought two massive beams of energy together to make one, at the same time, Sonny and Trihm directed the incantation toward Gothica, who fell to his knees begging for mercy. He was nothing but a streak of smoke that was quickly carried off by the wind in mere seconds.
The pillars of fire died away as Sonny saw that his group had been the victors of their own battle. A few injuries here and there, but nothing serious. Every member of the group looked wide-eyed at the heavenly white figure beside Sonny.
The boy turned around to thank his former teacher, but Trihm had vanished back to where he had come from. You did great, Sonny. I am so proud of you, but I am needed elsewhere, Trihm’s voice spoke in Sonny’s head, remember that I am never too far.