“I teleported, of course.” Thomas shook his head, “Were you under the impression you know even a fraction of the spells I hold? Were you confused enough to think you might be able to begin to predict what I can and cannot do?”
“He’s better than he looks, and something has been done to the girl,” the bounty hunter who was still standing said from behind Kyle. “We managed to hold him, but he’s armed and has magic.”
Thomas gave him an annoyed looked, pulled in enough magic to make his eyes flare amber, then twitched his fingers through a couple of complex patterns feeding the power into a spell almost instantly. The bounty hunter fell backwards all of his muscles relaxing simultaneously. Kyle didn’t know if the man was alive or dead by the time he hit the floor. At least it allowed him to target Thomas with the gun he was holding.
“Sorry about that,” Thomas said apparently entirely unconcerned.
“Very impressive. But I can still pull a trigger faster than you can twitch your fingers. We’re leaving.”
“Leaving? You aren’t even going to live out the night! You have annoyed the hell out of me young man. Do you know what has happened? Tequnicos Lux. When those idiots published their stupid article with the light sensitive bindings 8 years ago they basically told anyone with half a brain about Tequnicos Lux. In the first year after that stupid article came out twelve different magi figured it out. Really, as an Archmage I was suppose to train anyone who learned something as important as Lux, but do you know what kind of position that puts me in?”
Thomas paused giving Kyle time to answer. Kyle didn’t for a long moment. The conversational train seemed to have jumped its track. There’d been some bragging then a death threat. Those two fit together, but the second half just sounded like ranting. If “those idiots” were the ones that had written the journal article from which he’d originally learned the light bindings then apparently Kyle wasn’t the first one to discover, or rediscover, his trick for making light. Kyle had no idea what position a bunch of people discovering it all at once would put Thomas in though, unemployment? He shook his head.
“For 800 years I have been Thomas the Illusionist. I’m not Thomas the master to incompetent apprentices, nor am I Thomas the School Marm, I am Thomas the Illusionist. So I got rid of the idiots who published that article, and the twelve who found lux the first year, and the five who managed it the year after, and the 3 in the two years after that. Then I thought I was done, really done, and you stagger along 8 years after the fact finally having worked out Lux. Just how slow are you? Then you wouldn’t even come out to negotiate a price for the ‘spell’. Honestly, that makes this hard. I made a contract with the others. We agreed to no disclosure then I waited a while and did a little spell where their hearts stopped, or they got a brain embolism or something. Very tidy, nothing to tie it to me. Oh, but you, you wouldn’t even talk! That makes this a real pain. I have to come to you and do the job in a single shot.” Thomas was red in the face and he was nearly shouting by the time he finished.
“Wait, you killed um, 20 people just so you wouldn’t have to teach them?”
Thomas waved a hand in the air. “So I wouldn’t have to train them. So they wouldn’t destroy my business. So they wouldn’t drag down the reputation of the Archmagi by just stumbling into it by an article in a magazine. I had plenty of reasons to kill them. Besides, you act like it was a big deal! That’s modern people for you, ‘Oh boo hoo hoo! Someone died!’ Big deal, I got rid of an idiot or two; we once killed people over magic all the time. That’s what the Compact was about, and I was born hundreds of years before it. I never saw the need for it, really, but I signed on because it seemed like there’d be trouble if I didn’t. Anyway, let’s hope there’s not someone even dumber than you waiting in the wings. I’d like to be done stepping on you idiots.” Thomas raised his hands and started to twitch his fingers.
Kyle fired the gun and kept firing it, emptying it in the direction of Thomas. In the back of his head he realized he should have exercised better fire control, but as far as he could tell Thomas had come alone and Kyle wasn’t that sure of his aim. In the end It, didn’t matter. Each crack of the gun was followed by a flare of light from directly in front of Thomas and when the spots cleared from Kyle’s eyes Thomas was still standing. He was, in fact, smiling slightly. “Oh please, you assumed you’d just shoot me? I cut that foolishness off well before I walked in here.” He started to twitch his fingers again.
Kyle grabbed the autocaster out of his pocket, dialed the power to maximum, and triggered it, barely finishing before Thomas fished his own spell. The tesseract that fired down the hallway was like a star. It was impossibly bright, Kyle had closed his eyes before he fired, and light coming through his eyelids was still enough to hurt until he clapped a hand over his eyes. It felt hot on his skin. When it hit there was a colossal bang and a wave of pressure washed back down the hall knocking him off his feet. Kyle fell to the ground and opened his eyes again, but he had to blink away dark spots before he could see anything.