“We are not so different, you and I,” the Dark Sorceress declares as I confront her at last in her great tower.
I grip my sword and grit my teeth. “You’re a cold-blooded killer who consorts with demons and whose idea of freedom is born of chaos and destruction.”
“And you’re a hot-blooded killer who carved a path of death through my forces at the bidding of a divine monarch whose idea of order and security always uplifts one deity above all.”
“That’s different!” I argue, ignoring the blood on my shimmering sword. “You just want power.”
She laughed. “So claiming new power is evil, but defending existing power is good? Such a thin line to draw to separate us!”
Her eyes pierced mine. I didn’t notice I was lowering my sword until I felt the tip scrape stone floor. My mind worked for an answer that did not come.
“No, my dear,” she continued, “not only are we the same, but we are each other’s only equal. They keep you in their service because you could threaten their power as much as I. They need you more than you need them.”
Eyes of striking violet continued to hold me. I’d stared into them so many times in so many battlefields before, but this was the first time they held something like empathy. “Do you really want to spend your life fighting the only one who could ever be your match?”
She had a point. To be Illumia’s Battle Princess was to be a one-woman army, held above, removed from all others. A tool. A god’s weapon. Prophesied about and named Chosen One, Champion of the Kingdom. In a strange way, the Sorceress was the only one who treated her as a person.
“You’re right,” I admitted aloud. “But I was born full of destiny, and that destiny is to slay you.” I summoned the energy at the core of my being and channeled it to the sword that was an extension of my being.
And her laughter shattered the air, dissipating the energy.
“Destiny is nothing more than the chain they bind you with,” the Sorceress said when she finished laughing. “Join me, and we will make a mockery of it while we crush their kingdom and build a new world that we decide. None could ever stand against our combined power!”
I froze. “That’s an option?”
“Of course. You would be welcome at my side. Not a tool I need, nor a figure of worship. An ally. A… friend, even.”
“A friend? Nothing more?”
“Ever bold,” she mused, caught off guard for once. “Perhaps more.” A rare smile graced her face.