This week is Team Four's first live battle
Tiza spun to the sound, eyes bright with excitement. “What was that?!”
“That would be your monster,” Nolien said dryly.
A bird much bigger than the kind they had been messing with the past two days stalked the trees. Eric remembered it from his studies. It was called a “Cecri,” and the book warned its reader to hide as soon as they saw one. So this is why they hire mercenaries to collect poop.
Cecri stood on two legs and dwarfed Threan cars. Its feet were long talons, but it was the sharp beak that caught Eric's attention. These natural blades were so strong and finely honed that they were used as weapons in Tariatla's antiquity. Cecri were dangerous carnivores and this one spotted them.
“We should get the sergeant!” Nolien said. “We can't handle something like this.”
“Are you kidding?” Tiza asked. Her sword and shield were already drawn. “This is what I've been waiting for!”
“But—” Nolien protested.
“Too late!” Tiza shouted happily. “Here it comes!”
Nolien groaned and reached for his staff. Eric pulled out his own, despite how much his hands shook. He was determined not to freeze and let his teammates do the fighting for him. The battle mage took a deep breath and prepared the barrier Tiza would need.
Tiza meet the huge monster's charge head on. With a yell, she slashed its stomach, but was parried by its talons. The beak came down on her and a screen of solid light intercepted it. Eric grimaced at the impact and fell to his knees; his barrier dimpled and broke. Nolien's, however, gave Tiza enough time to plunge her sword in the monster's leg. It reared in pain and tried to rake her with its other leg, but Tiza dodged and stabbed that one too. The Cecri squawked in pain and fell backwards.
Tiza lunged to finish it off, but the Cecri spat gooey liquid at her. Caught off guard, she took it full in the face and screamed in surprise. While she furiously rubbed the gunk out of her eyes, the monster stood on its injured legs and struck with both beak and talon. Nolien blocked the beak, but Eric failed to stop the talon. It tore through his wall and struck her shield, lifting her off the ground and throwing her across the clearing. Her head collided with a tree and she went limp.
“Eric!” Nolien yelled as he ran. “Keep that thing busy!”
I have to fight this thing . . . alone!? Eric shook his head and steadied himself. He pointed his staff at the monster and concentrated. By channeling his mana through his staff, he could create a bolt far stronger than any he threw at Laharg. With a mental yell, he released the gathered energy at the monster.
The Cecri was knocked off balance and squawked in confusion. It turned from the fallen Tiza and towards the new irritant. Nolien used the distraction to chant a healing spell. Eric fired another bolt and sent its head reeling. Feeling confident, he met the monster's eyes.
Cold fear hit him like a tidal wave. He froze. Couldn't move, couldn't think; helpless. Forced to watch that murderous beak come slashing down—
--and clang on a barrier. Eric blinked and the fear was gone. A sigh of relief shook his frame and his legs gave out. Nolien's staff glowed faintly as he channeled his power through it. Tiza sat next to him, shaking her head. The monster continued to peck and slash the barrier, squawking in confusion when it couldn't reach its prey. The screen of light cracked under the pressure.
Tiza jumped on the monster's back and stabbed it. The Cecri let out a piercing shriek and all three dropped their weapons to cover their ears. The monster shook Tiza off its back and she dropped to the mud. It harpooned her. She rolled aside.
Eric looked for his staff, but to his dismay, he saw three. The bird's shriek scrambled his mind. The Cecri stepped on Tiza's stomach to hold her in place. Eric lunged for a staff and grabbed air. In horror, he looked to the monster in time to see it strike.
“To protect this friend of mine, make that monster blind! Dark Eye!” Darkness shot from Nolien's staff and covered the monster's face. It stopped an inch from Tiza's neck and squawked in confusion. Tiza was again forgotten in favor of its lost sight. Tiza wiggled from under its talon and scurried to her feet. Is that how spells work? Eric retrieved his staff and improvised a spell.
“From its toe to its head make that monster dead! Death Spell!”
Nothing happened except the monster heard him and darted in his direction. A mana bolt knocked it off balance. It ran toward Nolien and he ran to a new hiding place.
To learn more about Tiza and A Mage's Power, visit Tvtropes at http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/AMagesPower.
A Mage's Power, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, are available for purchase at
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Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).