My hand trembled as I prepared to release a fireball. Feelings of inadequacy and doubt boiled in my mind. What effect could my limited knowledge of magic possibly have on someone as powerful as the Crusher of Worlds? What had I gotten myself into? I just hoped Tim knew what he was doing. After all, it was his plan.
I aimed the fiery projectile at a grassy area away from the trees and shot it off. It exploded in a fine shower of sparks and smoke. Now if only the Crusher would notice. I really didn’t want to have to go looking for him, not on his turf.
The Crusher didn’t take long in coming. He floated in, a few inches off the ground. His entire body was covered by a dark cloak, with a hood obscuring his face. Flames spouted from both sleeves. I took a step back, my eyes wide. I wasn’t sure what I had expected, but that wasn’t it.
“Human. Why have you intruded upon my lands?”
I swallowed hard before replying. “I have heard rumors that someone called the “Crusher of Worlds” lives around here. I came to see if the stories were true. I, uh, didn’t entirely believe them.”
“It is foolish to seek out a legend you do not wish to see. Unless you desire the death of your world, that is. How did you find your way to this place?”
“Through the, um, passages.” I wiped my sweaty palms on my pockets nervously. “I went in circles and revisited several worlds before getting here. The passages are so confusing. I don’t know how you get around without getting completely lost.”
The Crusher did not appear convinced. “You left something out. Specifically, how you found the passages in the first place. They are invisible. Furthermore, you appear to be from Earth. Only one person from Earth has a device to locate portals, and he doesn’t seem the type to give it away.”
“A device that locates portals? Now that would be handy.” I shrugged. “I wandered into some world on accident the first time, then it was trial and error to do it again. And again.”
“Now why don’t I believe you?”
I shrugged again. “Maybe because I haven’t provided any evidence, or because you’re overly skeptical. Then again, it’s entirely possible that you, being a person of obvious knowledge and power, already know the answers to these questions and have no need to ask me. The question becomes, then, why are you taking the time to ask questions you already know the answers to?”
“I thought we might have a nice conversation. Just because I’m the Crusher of Worlds, I can’t enjoy some company?”
“If nice conversation and enjoyable company is what you’re going for, why did you crush all those worlds?” I queried. “I’m sure there was plenty of both to be had before you wiped out all those people.”
“I do it... because I can. I have more power than you could possibly imagine. With a thought, I could wipe a village off the face of existence. The feeling of actually doing it is exhilarating. I have the power, should that not also give me the right? If someone more powerful were to confront me, would it not be within their rights to stop me? I would not complain about the injustice done to me; far from it! I would applaud the man or woman for standing up to me and winning. And should they deem it fit to kill me, I would accept my fate. But as it stands I am the most powerful, the one at the top. Nothing and no one can defeat me. I am the ruler of this planet, no, of all worlds I see! I am unstoppable!” The outburst seemed to wind him. He paused momentarily. “Hold on a minute. You just... no. You did! You got me monologuing! Enough of this!”
Without further warning, he raised his hand and fired an extended spout of flame in my direction. I jumped back. My mind fumbled for the magic words Tim had taught me. “Bara!”
The flames were abruptly halted by a force field, only inches from scorching my nose. The Crusher was obviously surprised by my resistance. “He taught you magic...? Strange. Let’s see how much you’ve learned.”
I was suddenly subjected to an onslaught of razor sharp icicles. It was all I could do to maintain my focus on keeping my forcefield up. Shattered ice pinged off my shield in all directions. Remembering Tim’s instructions, I resisted the urge to attempt a counter attack.
Finally, the icicles stopped. “What’s wrong?” the Crusher demanded. “Aren’t you going to fight back? You must know more than that one spell.”
I didn’t answer him. I just braced myself against the attack I knew had to come. When it did, I was quite surprised. A large rock burst out of the ground and broke full-force against my shield. The force of the impact threw me backwards several feet. I stumbled, trying to regain my footing, but didn’t retaliate. “Still nothing?” The Crusher sighed. “You are starting to bore me.”
He raised both hands this time. I winced in anticipation. Fire and ice hit my shield simultaneously. Overwhelmed by the sheer magic, my shield burst with a cloud of smoke and steam. I was thrown flat on my back. As I gasped for breath, the Crusher floated through the cloud in my direction. His hood was thrown back, revealing his face for the first time. His eyes met mine . . .
It was Tim.