“Enough,” he rasped. “I concede.”
“Wise man,” she said, and snapped her fingers. The flow of blood stopped, the shadows receded, and the monsters disappeared. “Unfair that I didn’t allow my pets to have you, but I will make it up to them.”
A silence stretched between them.
“I will begin again,” she gave a mock curtsy. “My name is Rizla the Red Witch.”
His head fell upon his chest. “Rizla the Red Witch,” he breathed.
Had he been given a choice, Elymas would have embraced the woman with the boar’s head. The evening that had begun so promising had turned into a nightmare. The powers of Rizla were legendary; pitting his strength against her was like a candle in the wind.
He cleared his throat. It was time to grovel, but he was new at it.
“What interest could such an exalted one have in me?”
“I’m not interested in you. You are a worm.”
“I am El-“
” A worm,” she repeated, with emphasis. “But sometimes even a worm draws interest from the Master.”
His world began to spin.
“The Master?” Elymas rose from the throne “But that would be. . .”
He hadn’t meant to protest, but she’d taken it as such. His throat was suddenly caught in a vice so tight that he couldn’t breathe.
“Who do you think I mean?”
Her voice sounded far away. He was dying.
The pain left and he collapsed on the dais, shaking. Even if she ordered him to stand, Elymas knew he couldn’t.
“You have acted without permission from the Dark One,” she said, “If it helps our cause, well and good, but do not expect to be elevated. However, if your interference has harmed our plans in any way . . .” she left the sentence dangling. “Tell me everything you’ve done, and don’t think to lie. If I put the vise to you again, you will be dead.”