When Kyle could see again, Thomas was still there. He had apparently been knocked off his feet because he now crouched in the hallway rather then standing in it. His spell had been disrupted and he was blinking and shaking his head back and forth, but he hadn’t been cut in half. Kyle looked behind him, but decided if he ran now he’d get a spell in the back. From beside him Jessie fired her gun. The bullet flashed and vanished. He looked at her, “Do you have any ideas?”
“Can you fire another of those?”
“No I maxed the power, and I can’t hand cast because I only ever gave it a UUMID. There’s no manual trigger.”
“We could attack directly,” Jessie looked and sounded doubtful.
Kyle didn’t think it would work. If Thomas had managed to block both gunfire and the tesseract he probably had a fairly solid defense against a fist to the face.
Thomas stood, and shook his head again, “Good shot kid, but I’ve cast for blue light before. Now you die.” He drew in magic again and started to twitch his fingers and chant.
Kyle was about to try to run through the flames behind them when the ceiling above Thomas began to rain dust and shards of rock. Perversely, it most reminded Kyle of something out of a movie. The lights flickered and dust started to shift down around them. Then cracks formed just above Thomas letting more dust go. The cracks widened, and shards of rock and concrete tumbled away.
A normal person would have been buried. Thomas was still wrapped in his shield. The smaller rocks flashed into nonexistence like the bullets had. The larger ones went white hot on one side and sort of skittered away from him like water boiling and skipping on a hot pan. Thomas looked up at the ceiling. He seemed to have a better idea of what was going on than Kyle did. At least he started to trace lines of magic in the air segueing into another spell.
Kyle looked behind him considering running again. He decided not to. There was still a strong possibility that turning his back now would be a good way to get killed. He at least needed to cast a shield first. More than that, he hoped this earthquake was actually good news.
“What’s going on?” Jessie said at his elbow.
“I hope it’s a plan coming together!”
A green cylinder that looked a bit like the base of a small tree pierced the ceiling just above Thomas. It descended exposing first some thorns, then giant leaves, and finally a black rosebud.
“Is that the Registrar?”
Kyle’s eyes were wide and he was facing down the hallway, but he answered Jessie without looking at her. “I guess. I used the summoning spell earlier. I wanted to ask it for help. Thomas can’t have been acting in line with the compact, but I thought it would come immediately. When it didn’t I assumed there was some component of the spell missing. It wasn’t a shock, really, I just traced the symbols in the air while standing outside. I think maybe it worked.”
Jessie was interrupted by the voice of the Registrar. It boomed so loudly that a bit more dust shifted out of the cracks in the ceiling and they had to cover their ears. “Archmage Thomas, you have violated the compact, signed by your own hand, against which you have registered spells and enjoyed privileges. You have attempted, through murder and treachery, to withhold knowledge of the tekhnikos from those that rightly gained it. You have engaged in magical duels, and used spells that were not yours and to which you had no agreement. How do you respond to these charges?”
“With fire!” Thomas clapped his hands together and then flooded the lines of magic around his head with energy. Kyle suffered an instant of surprise when he noted it was a modern spell and the lines of magic spelled out altered equations. Then the hall was once again filled with blinding light as a lance of plasma erupted from just above Thomas aimed at the Registrar. It was now fully in the hallway, but still floating off the ground with its top near the ceiling.
The lance of energy never reached the Registrar. Instead it splashed off something invisible just in front of the flower forming a half hemisphere of pure burning death and cutting deep holes in the floor, ceiling and walls around them. Some of those flickered with brief lived flame, but there was nothing to burn in a sustained way. The hallway filled with stinking smoke that couldn’t have been entirely safe to breath.
If the Registrar was bothered, that didn’t show in its booming voice. “Your attack will be noted as an admission of guilt. I hereby sentence you to death under the rules of the compact.”
“Medieval justice is sort of swift,” Jessie said from beside Kyle. She sounded strange and Kyle looked over at her. She was breathing fast and her pupils were wide. Whatever was going on with her, she needed a hospital.
The Registrar launched an attack at Thomas. Kyle didn’t see exactly what it was, there wasn’t much light or any sound, but the temperature of the hallway jumped by at least 20 degrees in an instant. It felt like walking out of an overly air conditioned building in the middle of a hot July day. Kyle looked back at Thomas in time to see him stumble back a few feet. He was now surrounded by a glowing bubble of energy. Kyle had no idea if it was a new spell or the same spell that had been protecting him all along.
Thomas traced more magic in the air forming a circle with the writing. Again it was modern. It looked like a strange combination of the current equations and a mangled version of the laws of thermodynamics. Kyle didn’t have anything like enough time to interpret the glowing symbols, but he thought it might turn a small current into a larger one. Thomas then shouted something in a guttural language that sounded vaguely German, though not a modern dialect. He finished by slashing his hand down through the air leaving a glowing jagged pattern that resembled a lighting bolt.