He had to go for Haku. She needed his help! The failed mage wasted no time.

“Watch out!”

That had been The Masked Demon. Lawrence jumped to the side, rolled just in time to dodge whatever attack came his way.

The water. It was cracking.

An electric shock attack. She wasn’t going to let him go. Soaking with rainwater, Lawrence turned. The Masked Demon was no longer watching him, instead the huge samurai was facing the witch standing in the street.

“I was hoping I wouldn’t have to get wet,” she said, “but we do what we have to. “I’ll make your deaths quick. Well, yours anyway,” she said, addressing the samurai, who tensed at her words in a defensive posture. “And you, Mage. I’m going to draw your magical energy to me and absorb your powers. I’m going to leave you a broken husk!”

Gritting his teeth, Lawrence stood firm. “We can take her,” he told the samurai. “If we work together.”

She giggled, much like the younger witch.

Together, the two men neared each other, ready to defend against this woman. Lawrence had no idea on a strategy to defeat her. “Why are you here?” he asked the samurai.

“To kill her. Ninja!” he bellowed. “Attack her!”

She was not pleased. “Tch!”

Shuriken came at her, but she used a similar blinking magic to evade their attacks. As she blinked about, she raised her hands in what looked like a summoning of magical powers.

Something came out of the machiya beside Lawrence and into the street. Instinctually he recoiled somewhat at the sight of the eight legged monstrosity. It was a spider, larger than any he had ever seen, the diameter of its reach at least three paces.

“Look out,” he called to the huge samurai and his ninja, should they be able to hear him. “She brings her minions.”

She spider lunged at him, its legs outspread. He slashed it along its underside and it curled up into a ball, landing in the wet street. His sword was oozing with a viscous fluid.

Two more spiders scurried forward into the street.

“There are many,” The Masked Demon said. “Be on your guard.”

They came scurrying forward. Lawrence swiped at one, taking its leg off. It recoiled, but was far from dead. Normally spiders did not fight so much as simply ambush their prey, but these were unnaturally aggressive.

Stumbling forward from an impact in his lower back, Lawrence raised his sword in defense as the spider jumped at him. His blade didn’t damage it, so he pushed on its underside as it wrapped its legs about his body. “Gahh!!” he cried, using his magic to burn a hole in the spider. Its legs released and it fell, a husk at his feet.

“I said watch out, mage. She just kicked you.”

“It’s a little difficult,” Lawrence said, “when you’re fighting foes all around you.”


Instinctually both men moved back to back as his ninja revealed themselves. It seemed he had half a dozen of them here, but that wouldn’t be enough.

They came in with their katanas, attacking the spiders or hitting them with ranged shuriken.

“Why didn’t you bring more men?”

The huge samurai threw a spider to the ground and punched it dead right there on the spot. Lawrence was impressed. “Battles don’t fight themselves,” he said.

“I don’t appreciate you killing my spiders,” the witch said, making herself known in front of them.

Two shuriken came at her, but they clattered to the street as ripples of magical energy revealed her defensive barrier.

“We’re outmatched,” Lawrence said.

“I see that, mage.”

“My name is Lawrence.”

There was a pause. “I knew you were lying before....”

Lawrence almost laughed. “And you? Mujo? Maji?”

He narrowed his eyes. “Muji!”

“All right, Muji,” he said enthusiastically, “we can still take this hag.”

“Hag?” the witch asked. “That’s rude. I’ll have you know I’m not much older than yourselves.”

Two ninja dropped down behind her, their blades at the ready as they inches toward her.

Lawrence lit a fireball in his hand. Despite the rain, his magic energy was far too concentrated for it to affect his ability to cast fire magic.

But in her own hands appeared magic energies as well. She sent a yellow pulsating orb into the street that resounded in a thundering blast, spreading the pooling water in all directions.

Lawrence grunted as the water attacked them. On his back with his face covered, he realized the pain of that water was far too intense and long-lasting to have simply stung due to the sheer ferocity at which it hit him.

It had been electrified.

Somebody cried out, but Lawrence was too busy getting back to his feet as the spiders approached to worry about who was getting killed.

He sent a fireball into one spider, its companions to both sides recoiling in fear as the spider in the middle roasted in an instant.

One of the ninja was down, though his comrade aided him in killing the spider that had attacked him.

“Oh,” the witch said with a smirk. “He’ll be dead in no time. The poison, you see, is quite deadly.”

The ninja began to convulse there on the ground, the other stealth fighter didn’t let him suffer and swiped the blade of his katana across the other warrior’s neck.

Muji growled, raising his katana, which was nearly twice as long as the katanas of the other fighters. From a dueling standpoint, he was a force to taken seriously, but against this witch, he was probably more ineffectual than Lawrence.

“You sick bitch.” The failed mage called as he hurled a fireball directly at her.

The way she moved, he thought she would somehow bat the magical energy aside, but instead, she hurled it back at him.

He jumped, barely dodging the fireball. It exploded into the machiya behind him, the flames and fire licking about immediately affording them all a yellow-orange light to see better by—not that the ninja needed it.

“This isn’t going well,” Muji said.

“It’s time to die!” the woman screeched!

She raised her hands, summoning enough magic energy to make Lawrence gasp in surprise. This woman—she was powerful.

We don’t stand a chance.

She twirled about on her heel, her arms making complex movements as she summoned the energies.

The ninja flicked their shuriken at her from the rooftops, but she blinked out of their paths. Lawrence bounced a fireball toward her feet, but she kicked it aside and it dissipated into a flare of bright light, blinding them, all.

The spiders scurried away just before she slammed her fist into the street, shocking them all again.

They all went to their knees. Muji held out for several seconds longer, but he too dropped to one knee, growling with the pain.

But it wasn’t over.

Great, the failed mage thought. What’s next?

“You…” the witch said, manipulating her magic with her swaying body, her complex hand signs almost a dance, “have no idea what you’re dealing with.”

She dropped to her knee and her body spun about, a shockwave of air and water blasting them all into the air.

Lawrence crashed into some planters.

The force of the shock had nearly knocked him unconscious. Straining to rise, his immediate worry was the spiders. Now was the perfect time for them to come forward again and attack their prey.

I fought in dozens of conflicts and wars, only to die from a spider bite?

There was no way he would let that happen. He rolled to the side, realizing he came directly into the path of one of the spiders. It attacked him, but he managed to light a fireball in his hand, incinerating the things fangs, which would have pierced him there had he not done so.

The thing recoiled silently, curling into a ball.

He glanced about, getting back to his feet. But there were more spiders on the machiya wall. He hurled fireballs, incinerating them both. Turning, he looked to the others, hurling fireballs behind them, either to light their way to evade the spiders, or to kill those beasts lurking in the darkness just out of their own reach as they made to pounce on their victims.

Muji was already getting up. He dove for his sword as the spiders behind him scurried back or were burned to bits.

The ninja had been quick enough to evade the witch’s initial attack, as they were not the sort of warriors who faced their attackers head on.

Stumbling forward, Lawrence watched Muji rise to his feet. He didn’t think The Masked Demon could continue this fight. Not in this manner.

We haven’t even touched her yet.

How would Lawrence save Sakura if he died here in this street at the hands of this powerful witch sorceress?

He growled, a new determination and resolve to defeat this woman invigorating him. “We have to change our strategy if we’re to defeat her.”


About the author


Bio: "I’m a businessman. My family has a seat in the Dwarven Merchants Guild. Merchants buy and sell goods. Businessmen buy and sell stores. In my spare time, I manage a spy network. And occasionally, I write books."--Varric Tethras

Wakiagaru is complete.
The Reconnoiters is complete.
More stories on the way.

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