“If you kill them,” Zarrek replied, his tone stern and even, “I will not serve you.”
“Then you agree to kneel before me,” the demon god’s voice rumbled.
“I said nothing of the sort. What I did tell you was that killing Elezar’s family would guarantee that I will continue to refuse to worship you.”
“Should you refuse me,” Métius warned, “they shall die all the same.”
Zarrek stared at he Destroyer as thoughts ran through his mind. He knew that they were at a point in which their logic would become circular. He could fall to his knees and preserve two– no, three– lives, or he could maintain his independence and force Elezar to watch them die. It was unacceptable to him that he should have to choose between only those to options. He was prince an heir to the kingdom of legends; he would force his own path.
“I have a different offer to make to you,” he told Métius at last.
The Dark Lord seemed intrigued by the idea of a deal, and was eager to hear whether it involved the prince giving him what he wanted. “Speak, boy, but quickly; I cannot waste my time here on your foolishness.”
“I will fight your wraith,” Zarrek told him. “If it comes of of this ordeal defeated, then you shall set free Sallah and the child, and leave Elezar out of your dealings with me. As for myself, you shall let me go on as I have been, seeking my powers in trade for your scars, and if I seek no more, then you shall not come after me.”
“You ask for a lot,” Métius replied. “Yet you have not told me what you agree to if you cannot defeat my wraith.”
“If the wraith can defeat me, then I shall do as you wish,” Zarrek said, “and you shall have so reason to harm Elezar, nor his family.”
Elezar looked up the prince. “Zarrek… if it defeats you, then you would…”
“He would not allow me to be killed,” the prince told him. “If I can fight no more, then that is defeat enough.”
“But Zarrek–” A cold glare from Métius silenced him.
“I accept your terms,” the Destroyer said, his vice thick with finality. His form began to fade into the shadows. “Come, wraith; the prince awaits you.”
Screeching filled the room, and Elezar got to his feet, readying his broadsword. “I hope you understand what you have agreed to.”
The wraith rushed past them, its face hidden is the cowl of its cloak. It wrapped around the cage containing Sallah, taking hold of the bars on either side and peering over the top of it. Sallah trembled as the cage shook.
“Elezar!” she cried out, shivering at the sight of its bony fingers.
“We will have you out of there as soon as we can,” he called back to her. Then he looked to Zarrek. “We have to keep it away from her.”
The prince nodded. “Are you afraid of us?” he yelled at the wraith. “We are only mortals, and you need to keep your distance?”
With another screech, the wraith curled over the top of the cage and floated towards them. It stopped in front of him, hissing as it stared down at him. Though it had no eyes, the prince could feel the chill of its gaze. Beneath its ragged robes, filthy and black, he knew that it was something not quite skeletal, something with other-worldly flesh that hung from its bones like the tatters of some defeated kingdom’s banner. He knew how badly it wanted to defeat him, how it intended to serve its master, and he had no intention of letting it succeed.
“Fire, I call upon you,” Zarrek chanted, glaring back at the seething wraith. “Power of Veniishu, flames as bright as day, as hot as the the light of Ser, come to me.” Fire surrounded his body, wrapping around him withing causing him the least bit of harm, brighter on his right side than his left.
“Fill my blade,” he went one, glancing only briefly at Elezar, who was staring at him, watching him conjure up his power. The flames focused around his broadsword, brightening, expanding. “Shield me, elemental of fire, protect me from this vile creature that would have me sacrifice you to his dark master. I shall neither forsake nor betray you, Veniishu; I need only your guidance.”
Zarrek’s chest glowed with the flames, swirling into the crest of fire that represented the fire elemental. He grasped his broadsword in both hands, feeling the power and heat that flowed through them, and narrowed his eyes at the wraith.