The human wore a black robe, the hem and sleeves weighed down by white embroidery. A strip of white cloth made a wide belt around his waist while the sleeves trailed down below the back of his hands, swallow-tailed. His hands extended like claws from his wrist, lines running through them down to where long, black nails pushed out of the tips. Pale blue eyes illuminated the red light issuing from the torches around the walls while thin lips smiled a welcome, showing stained teeth beyond. Trastorm Dreant's skin stretched across his face, pulled so thin the veins below were like threads through it, visible to the naked eye. A short crop of thin white hair fell around his shoulders, pooling on his shoulders like snakes.

Kiowa touched the brim of his hat again. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance," he replied. "Kiowa Sinafey welcomes his victims to a quick end."

"I know who you are," Trastorm Dreant said, his voice casual. "I have been watching you invade my castle through my scrying bowl. It has been interesting but I have looked forward to your arrival to end you and . . . put bloody stop to such futile attempts."

Kiowa smiled. "You may have been watching us like a coward behind a bowl of magical water, but you cannot have been listening, you Zvithrahned smelch! I do not take up a quest to fail!"

Trastorm Dreant held up a hand. "But it is a quest taken up for your own selfish reasons."

Kiowa drew his swords, the firelight running across the surface of the sharp metal. "Rrhea, like I care. I am dark elf and it is clear you know nothing about our kind. Come and die!"

"Me against you six?" Trastorm Dreant exclaimed, recoiling. "Why, it hardly seems fair. I challenge you to a duel."

Kiowa considered. A duel would be a challenge of his abilities if the man were as powerful as an enchanter as he believed. Kiowa Sinafey had searched for a challenge strong enough to kill him for centuries but none had he found. Now here was an offer most tempting and sure to make his heart pound. And what better way for a legend to end one born of evil then through the honor of a duel the surface dwellers seemed to value so much?

"I accept your diensted offer," Kiowa said, confident he could take the enchanter. "Let commence the fighting." He glanced at his brothers as he strode forward to the middle of the floor. "You watch the door and end any groveling fool who dares enter whilst we are busy."

The room was marble floored, with a great window opposite the door. Black tapestries hung from the walls, reaching down to inches above the heads of the oily torches. The white embroideries on them depicted old runes and sacrificial rituals. In the corner by the window the stone pedestal stood, its base carved with vines and its flat surface covered with a ring of symbols. Within the ring sat a brass bowl, the metal hammered and the torchlight dancing on its surface. In the center of the room sat a great desk of polished wood, its surface covered with papers arranged in neat piles held down by heavy glass paperweights, small boxes arranged at the corners and rows of inkstands stood accompanied by pens with slender, glass handles. The front of the desk had a place cut out for the knees with a row of deep draws to either side of it.

Trastorm Dreant concealed the smug smile on his lips but the conceit showed in his eyes and Kiowa stared right into it. The human clasped his hands behind his back as Kiowa came toward him and the room paled before him as he sank into the throes of a powerful enchantment. He cast out the invisible spell and, his words layered with magic, he spoke to Kiowa's mind.

"You wish not to attack me," he said, coiling like a serpent around Kiowa's conscious. "I am a friend, not a foe. Relax and sheath your blades so we may talk cordially of better things. Your violence is not due, Kiowa Sinafey."

He felt Kiowa's arms lower his swords as the drow came closer and Dreant's fingers tightened on the dagger concealed in the sleeve of his robe. He felt the spell break before him, cracking and shattering and came back to reality with a gasp as Kiowa halted his approach and eyed him with disdain.

"Fool human!" Kiowa said, with high levels of scorn escaping in his voice. "I am a dark elf, once exposed on a daily basis to the enchantments of my homeworld where such methods might sow havoc and entice betrayal if not for the partial resistance we have against such magic, worked into our blood over generations."

He broke into a run, his grip tightening on his sword hilts, flinging the last hints of enchantment from his mind as the distance between him and his foe diminished. As he reached the tyrant, his blades cut forth and grated against an invisible force before him as Dreant flung up his hands.

"You can hide behind your rahned shield of puny magical rrhea for only so long," Kiowa hissed as he withdrew his swords and circled the human. "My strength will not yield and the duration of your pathetic spell will end long before I give up."

"I will kill you first," the enchanter replied. He flung out his hands and a wave of energy assaulted the room, spreading out in a series of semicircles like waves rippling toward the shore. The tapestries on the walls rippled, flapping against the walls, and the length of the floor the energy ravished cracked and split, breaking into rough chunks.

Kiowa leapt backward, tilting his weight as the force of the energy flung him clear of the devastating force of energy. He landed by the far-left wall in a deep crouch and straightened, contemplating his next move.

"Impressive," said Trastorm Dreant, swinging around to face him, his hands still outstretched as he advanced step by small step toward the dark elf. "But I will corner you and break the smallest of the bones in your body!"

"At least you are worth something," Kiowa returned. "If you were an enchanter alone, I would be bloody disappointed. I enjoy a challenge and you are a diensted good one; you have power. Come and use it against the great Kiowa Sinafey. You will soon know how good you are."

Arryn left the main force of her Myanmar in the command of her trusted second. Taking a small force of ten of her best warriors, she made haste toward the quarters of her father. The fight went well for the forces of the castle were considerably weakened and the surprise they had had on their side had been effective against the guards when they had broken into the main halls.

The halls she ran through were empty save for the scattered heaps of dead guards she came across. She cast puzzled looks at their corpses as she passed, leaving bloody footprints upon the carpet behind her.

"If I knew not better, I might say you were in the employment of my traitor daughter," Trastorm Dreant snarled.

"We come to complete our mission," Kiowa returned. "And for it we must do a good deed. We know nothing of your foul family matters and I give not a rahn!" He tested the strength of the enchanter's shield with another sword blow, putting his muscle into the blade as it made contact to keep it from bouncing back into his face. But he could feel the magical force holding him back weakening.

"You amuse me," Dreant said, with laughter on his lips.

"The sight of your rolling head is the only amusement I look for today," Kiowa declared. "And I have come a long way for the satisfaction."

"You have made it further than most," Dreant agreed, moving backward as Kiowa advanced again. "But you will be repulsed."

Kiowa sprinted forward and swung his swords down over his head and, as they made solid contact with the shield, he pirouetted on his feet and brought them crashing into the force field again. He felt the energy buckle beneath the brunt of his attack and explode.

The negative energy rolled through the air and hurled him back with its unexpected materialization, tearing through the cloth of his tunic and burning into his skin. His fingers scraped across the ground and slowed his slide toward the wall. He heard Sou'Tern murmur to Afagi, "Useful spell. I must find his spellbook once this delightful show is over."

Kiowa rolled to his feet as the ground heaved beneath him, lurching as his boots came down on splitting ground. The thick stone peeled apart to create a deceptive fissure but it was too thick to split all the way down into the ceiling of the room below. As he curved his body to even out his weight and regain his balance, Dreant pounced upon the opportunity to cast another spell and the persuasive mind assaulted Kiowa's distracted mind once more.

"Why do you waste your strength, Kiowa Sinafey? I know your struggles and wish to see them end without despair. Give up this fight and come live in the splendor of my castle, where you may bask in the fine food and reap the pleasures of a dozen ravishing woman."

But even while focused on regaining his balance, Kiowa's mind held him off and Dreant felt the enchantment fizzle out. He snarled in a fury, gnashing his teeth, one fist clenched white around the hilt of his dagger. His most powerful mind whispers and charms seemed useless against the dark elf and without the ability to twist Kiowa's desires and body to his will, he felt the infuriating feeling of helplessness coupled with a small spark of fear. He reached his hand up to the ceiling and shoved it down, out toward Kiowa, releasing a roll of energy. It hit Kiowa in the chest, flinging him off balance and hurling him back against the wall. Wisps of smoke wound up from the burned ends of the dark elf's shirt.

Kiowa gritted his teeth, his elbows digging into the hard ground as he used them to push himself to his feet with a slight stagger. His ankle jerked to the side as his foot fell into the narrow crack in the floor and he cursed in his native tongue.

Trastorm Dreant smiles and moved closer, his footsteps the soft ones of a killer moving in on his victim. "Words will not save you now, Kiowa Sinafey. I will kill you and move on to each one of your companions."

Kiowa tugged his foot free, feeling the bruises forming around his scraped ankle. The sharp ends of the rock had cut through the leather of his boot and into his skin. He felt the warm trickle of blood coursing down his foot and pooling at the bottom of his boot.

"Kelhg, these boots are bloody finished," he said.

Trastorm Dreant's head tilted back as he gave vent to a hearty chuckle. "In your last moments of life, your ruined boots are foremost on your mind? You are a simple child in the guise of a warrior."

Kiowa looked up from the inspection of his damaged footwear with a glint in his eyes. "Snake rot! You have felt the power of my blows and know you speak filthy, Zvithrahned lies. My brothers will not play fair and, if you kill me, you will be butchered. As for my bloody footwear, I have my eyes on the charms of your boots."

Trastorm Dreant's laughter died at Kiowa's mockery and his lips drooped into a sneer but the feeling of defeat tainted the edges of his disgusted lips. He cast out a hand, his fingers curling inward as though he grasped an invisible ball. He drew back his arm and hurled his hand at Kiowa.

Kiowa's eyes followed the arc of the enchanter's throw and he dove from the range of its possible landing places but the spell seemed to follow him. His head grew heavy and a band of metal tightened on his forehead, squeezing inward on his skull. He winced as he felt the bone struggling to resist the pressure of the cruel band of metal.

"Your head will combust," Trastorm Dreant laughed. "And I will stand by and watch it explode. You have minutes to live and minutes cannot kill me!"