Chapter 8

The Lady of Hellfire

"Sure, we can begin, you go first, I hate to already finish the fight before it begins," Seledra sarcastically answered as the heat started to build slowly, but steadily. A thick haze started to veil the streets, a haze of heat like nothing ever seen on a hot summers day.

"Don't underestimate me Seledra, I could surprise you," Celedren answered as she unleashed two rays of scorching heat aimed at Seledra. One missed, but the other engulfed Seledra, yet she didn't flinch, in fact, she basked in the heat like a turkey in an oven, yet without getting cooked. She cracked her neck and smile wickedly. She responded by firing two blasts of dark flames about the size of her hands at her opponent, both hit and although she resisted as best as she can, the flames did some damage to her body. Her fine-looking clothes were somewhat burned at the edges, and some severe burns were present on her arms and legs.

"Are those all you got, they barely tickled," Seledra chuckled as she unsheathed the rapier on her hip, a work of metal art, she then slowly closed in with Celedren, who pulled out her own rapier which went aflame. Both then crossed swords and proceeded to fight in a sort of fencing match alight in flames. The sounds of clashing metal proceeded to fill the sweltering streets while the smell of brimstone wafted into the noses of the people who came by to watch, not knowing how much danger they are getting themselves into.

"Not bad Celedren, I actually respect your swordsmanship, and that is a compliment only heard once in a while from me, though your technique is a little rusty," Seledra taunted as Celedren's flaming rapier came very close to grazing her face.

Looking confused, Celedren asked, "How's that Seledra?"

Seledra answered by cutting her leg when she failed to parry her attack, "That's how."

Celedren stared at the wound and shook her free hand at Seledra while yelling, "You tricked me, you made me lower my guard so you could get in a free blow, you evil witch!"

"Sorry love, that's one of my good points, you need to learn that quickly, or your gonna die in a most unpleasant way," Seledra retorted as she pointed her rapier at Celedren, "Shall we continue?"

Celedren just growled and their blades once again crossed. The heat around them continued to rise so high that the asphalt on the streets started to steam. Seledra and Celedren's rapiers flashed in the sunlight every time they attempt a strike.

"I underestimated you Celedren, you are really good, I'm almost thinking about not killing you right here and now," Seledra said as her thrust was parried by Celedren and her thrust cut Seledra's hip. She looked at the wound and her left eyebrow was raised in awe, the only response she gave before retaliating with a thrust into Celedren's leg. Seledra's off hand then ignited with black flames and she grabbed Celedren's neck.

Celedren struggled to breath before in a raspy she said, "I thought you were not going to kill me."

Seledra laughed wickedly before responding, " Yes I said that, but I didn't say you weren't going to live unscathed, your going to be in so much pain, you wish you were dead."

After the conversation, Seledra clinched tighter on her throat and plunged her rapier into Celedren three times, purposely missing her heart and other vital organs, then she let go and back flipped away from Celedren with her off hand still burning. Celedren picked herself up and with outstretched hands, attacked Seledra with more scorching rays of fire, even though Seledra was immune to fire. The rays missed and hit the buildings behind her while Seledra stopped her back flipping and slid to a stop. After picking herself up, she started gesturing in the air, weaving invisible threads of power that she controlled. As she weaved her magic, one white butterfly flew from below her feet and landed onto her outstretched hand. After that one butterfly, dozens of butterflies like the first one followed it from below the earth and surrounded her like moths drawn to a flame.

Celedren stopped throwing the scorching rays in shock as the butterflies gathered around Seledra. She silently watched as Seledra kissed the one on her hand and mumbled a few words to it. She blew softly at the one on her hand and it took off towards Celedren, while the rest followed suit, now surrounding Celedren like they did Seledra.

"What are these butterflies doing? Are they going to tickle me to death?"

"Oh, you'll find out soon enough, my friends are not as harmless as they seem, in fact they can be quite deadly" Seledra answered as she waved her hand and the butterflies landed on any part of her body they can find, turning Celedren into a squirming cocoon of madly flapping wings.

"Ha, this is what you call deadly?" Celedren answered before a butterfly landed on her mouth, "Throw your worst."

"Fine, your funeral" Seledra answered and finally after a snap of Seledra's fingers, they glowed a bright red and exploded into a stunning display of reddish white flames. Grogan and the others watched in amazement, and so did the other team, though they were more stricken with sorrow than awe.

"I thought Seledra was not a druid," Grogan said as he watched the display end and Celedren slumping to the floor, almost all the way burnt despite her protection against fire.

Seledra sauntered over to the elven lady and kneeled beside her, "You said bring your worst, I did, now...... do you fear death?"

Celedren coughed and answered with much remorse, "Yes I do." She then tried to get up, but she slumped back to the floor.

"Well then, say hello to the afterlife, cause that's your final destination," Seledra responded as she ended her life with a blast of black flames at point blank range. As she rose to her full height, the other surviving members of the team ran out of their hiding place and looked at her in anger. She merely looked at them and both of her hands combusted into flames, and this was enough to make them back up and start running away from Seledra and her team.

The rest of her teammates ran toward her and congratulated her on her victory, though she retain the same emotionless expression.

"That was amazing Seledra, though a little brutal I think," Gablien said as she patted her on the back, "Good job."

Seledra scowled a little and answered her with, "If you think that was brutal, you haven't seen how merciless I can truly be."

"Well done kids, " said a voice all too familiar to Gablien.

As they all turned, they were greeted by Jenivre herself, dressed in a ruby red gown and a black as night cape. She smiled that smile that would make any man or woman's blood freeze in their veins. In the middle of the blazing heat, she was just standing there unaffected.

"Hello Jenivre, nice to see you in person," Seledra answered with mock courtesy.

"Same to you," she responded as she turned her gaze to Gablien and both of her eyebrows, trimmed thin by the best she can find, raised upwards in delight, "Sister dear, it's been too long since I last saw you, how's life treating you?"

"You can stop with the joyous expression, I'm not happy.....sister," Gablien answered with a glowering face.

"Fine then, I was just trying to be civilized, not that it matters right now, anyway, congrats on winning your first match in this tournament."

"Tournament?" Grogan growled, "What tournament is this were the fights are taken to the streets, with no regard to the people that live here."

"I would advise to shut it, Grogan, before you join that woman in the afterlife," she said while pointing to Celedren, now just a barbequed corpse on the streets, far from the beautiful elven maiden she once was, "Well then, you may have won your first match, but you got three more to go before you can go on. Get some rest at the hotel near the center of the city. It's called the Letos Hotel, all competitors get in for free for as long as the tournament is going on." Jenivre said as she handed them a map, "Find it on here, and good luck on your next match, you probably will need it."

As she turned around, she disappeared in a portal of darkness, leaving Seledra and her team with the map and some lingering haze under a mid day's sun.

"So, where do we go now?" Kane asked.

"What else are we going to do, we're going to the Letos Hotel obviously to reserve a room," Seledra answered.

"We're probably the first to get finished with our match so that will be easy," Gablien chimed in as she picked up a broken piece of cement and threw it at a sign. It clanged near the center of the sign, leaving a small dent before the sign fell.

"So which way is it Seledra?" Rene said while struggling to see the map due to her height.

"It's that way," Seledra answered as she pointed to the right. They looked that way, looked back at the map, then just started walking the same way.

The streets stood silent after the conversation between Seledra and her team ended, save for the lingering warm breeze that kicked up the fragments of glass and small rocks littering the ground. Now a desolate zone devoid of people, littered with craters and fallen buildings, it would take many months to rebuild it, and in the meantime, only one person remained in the area.

A man, only about the height of a seven year old boy, was leaning over the ledge of a still standing building, looking at the fleeting images of Seledra and her team. He had snow white hair streaked with ice blue and pale, marble colored skin. His eyes were an ice blue that twinkled in the sunlight. He was wearing a white undershirt and an ice blue vest that was styled similar to a medieval gentleman or a swashbuckler, and ice blue pants styled the same way. Hooked onto his leather belt was a rapier with an ice blue hilt in an ice blue sheath that looked like liquid in the sunlight. He was holding a small portrait of a girl that looked awfully similar to Rene and was currently looking at it with a smile on his face.

"Ah, ma chère, we will meet soon," he said as he put the portrait away and slinked away into the growing shadows of the approaching night.