Hex 7 – Unexpected

Hex had not noticed when they had reached the western entrance of the city. The next thing he knew they were fighting beneath the huge portcullis of the gate. The two guards that manned the station were long gone; probably went running for more soldiers.

The night sky was moonless and dark clouds had gathered up above. The main source of light came from the two torches that stood at both sides of the gate; these made their shadows dance and wave.

Hex felt his body getting clumsier and clumsier. His movements had considerably slowed down. He knew he’d have to end the fight before the poison had taken complete control of his body. He guessed the antidote to be in the hooded man’s possession. He could barely form a fist with his hands. Something was odd though. Even with his movement impaired, he was still able to evade most of the hooded man’s attacks. He was also still able to hit him with some of his own. Why’s that? Unless…

The flash of the knife was enough to bring Hex’s mind into focus. He ducked just in time and then dropped to the side to evade the follow-up attack.

Hex tried to quickly get back on his feet but his body just felt so heavy. The hooded man smiled and started walking towards the downed Hex.

Hex felt the fingers of Death closing in around him. His heart pumped fear through his veins. Hex got on his knees, pushed himself, but fell down halfway into standing.

“GAAHHHH!!!” He pushed himself up with his arms. In front of him, the sound of the hooded man’s footsteps grew closer.

“You look pathetic right now,” the hooded man said. Hex started to breathe heavily. He was on his knees again as if worshipping the hooded man. The hooded man raised the knives…

***

The sound of leaves being rustled by the wind felt soothing to Hex. He was on the ground with his head on the moss-covered rock, eyes closed.

The mastery of the lightning spell came easier to him as opposed to the fire spell. Hex had a hunch that maybe it’s because the basics of all spells were the same. Merlon also said that Hex had a knack when it comes to magic.

Hex opened his eyes and stared above. The sky was barely visible from the crisscrossing branches of the many trees. He squinted his eyes and a face seemed to form from the skinny branches. A woman’s face—one with full lips and eyes that could seduce any man’s heart.

“Stand up and be ready,” Merlon’s voice said.

Hex got into a sitting position with his legs crossed. Merlon emerged from behind some foliage. He had a backpack in one hand and a small pouch with the other.

“Take these,” Merlon tossed the two items into Hex’s direction.

“And what’ll I do with them?” Hex asked.

Merlon smiled and answered: “To the next part of your training. There’s a city south of this forest. You’ll go there and that’s where I’ll meet you. Stay in the inn written on the note within the backpack. I’ll meet you there.”

Hex picked up the stuff and got on his feet. “Where are you headed then? Why can’t we go together?”

“I have some errands I need to attend to and, no, you cannot come with,” Merlon answered.

Hex knew better than to argue with the old man. He opened the pouch and saw silver and gold coins. While the backpack contained food and water that, he estimated, were enough for a five-day trek. Hex took one last look at Merlon, gave a nod, and then walked away.

***

Hex directed both his palms towards his hooded foe and mustered the last bit of strength he had left. Fire and lightning burst forth from the rune spells tattooed on his skin. The twin spells made direct contact to his foe and it sent him flying backwards.

His foe, enveloped in flame, stood up and removed his burning cloak. Hex’s assailant uttered a spell unknown to Hex and immediately the fire vanished into wisps of smoke.

Hex felt the helplessness swallow him whole. How was that possible? He thought to himself. He watched as his foe stepped towards the light. What Hex saw caught him completely off guard. The man very much looked like Merlon…a much younger version of Merlon.

“You…” Hex said.

His foe smiled. “A nice little trick, yes? Shaving off a few years.”