Riana ducked to the side as the wild boar leapt past her. One of its wicked tusks gouged her upper arm as it passed. Gritting her teeth against the pain, her eyes flashed bright violet as she countered the noxious cloud of vapor spewing forth from the goblin chief’s fingers.

Thinking that this would be as easy as the other goblins had proved to be, turned out to be a foolish mistake. There was a very good reason this fellow was their leader. The creature was tall for a goblin, somewhere around five feet, but looked exactly like his brethren in all other respects. The same long, pointy nose and protruding eyebrows, gaunt, angular features, and cold black eyes made up his visage. He turned out to be an accomplished mage, conjuring up wild boars and lightning bolts as soon as he had seen the pair approaching.

It had also turned out that Jumah was quite adept at dealing with magical attacks. His weapon seemed to absorb most of the attacks and his speed allowed him to block even lightning bolts with it.

Averting her gaze when he flashed a winning smile while dodging a fireball without looking, the rustling of leaves and branches drew her attention. The return of the conjured boar reminded her that she had to deal with it herself, while Jumah was keeping the goblin occupied. Her ears splayed out and she focused on the sounds behind her. Keying in on the animal’s snorting, ragged breath as it charged her, she waited until she heard its feet leave the ground as it leapt, then cast a stop-time spell.

The world around her turned grey and bleak, everything in it frozen in place. An eerie silence caved in on her ears like an explosion in the sudden absence of the sounds of battle. She pivoted on her heel, spinning around to face the boar. The creature was suspended mid air with a foul look in its eyes. Positioning herself to one side, she placed her hand on Elkorine’s handle and prepared to draw the weapon knowing that she would get only one chance.

She pulled in a deep breath of bestilled air and glanced toward Jumah just as she pulled the magical weapon from its sheath.

‘What the…?’ She thought to herself as the world suddenly sprang into full motion again. A cacophony of sounds smashed in on her sensitive ears like a tsunami breaking over a high cliff. Her focus snapped forward just in time to complete the graceful arc of her short sword as it swung out of its scabbard upward toward the startled looking boar. The boar ricocheted off Riana, knocking her to the ground. In a flash of electrical light the boar’s lifeless body collided full force with the chief’s head, stunning him. Jumah took the opportunity to land a killing blow with his swift blades.

Rolling to a sitting position Riana scanned the clearing to make sure they were safe. ‘That’s not possible… time was frozen. He couldn’t have…’ She replayed the scene in her mind once more and she was sure of it. Just as she had glanced in his direction… ‘He winked at me!’

On to Chapter 3