★*´✫* Dark magic and three men? ✫*★*
Today you’ll met Maerva and two of the three men. The third? He is the mage imprisoned in stone, his soul bound to earth. Magic imprisoned his soul, but not his will. Love released both.
Maerva stood on the threshold of the hut while Colwynn prepared the arena. With each rune he sketched, her skin tingled from the gathering magic. The air sparkled with his power. When the torches flared to life, her body warmed as if she nestled in a bed of hot coals. She had never before felt such an attraction to a man. Was the firestorm in her veins the result of her magic calling out to his–or her womanhood responding to a magic as ancient as time?
A draft followed Gareth into the room and the chill returned Maerva to a semblance of control. Despite the ease with which he carried the canvas sack, it bulged from the weight within. He dropped it to the floor in a loud clank. His hands free, he stripped off his heavy garment and tossed it in a corner. Bowing to Tralin and Maerva he murmured, “I hope it won’t affront your sensibilities, but this room is warm.” A single tug and the shirt joined the coat on the floor.
Additional waves of energy raced up Maerva’s back. But why? None of the other men of her acquaintance had ever affected her this way. Between swimming and sails on Wayward Bound, it was not as if she had not seen a man’s naked chest.
Gareth noted the way Maerva’s gaze shifted from him back to Colwynn. As he had numerous times since the mage appeared on Tralin’s doorstep, Gareth cursed his lack of powers. Maerva will be a great wizard one day. I will never be a suitable match for her. Frustration fueled the anger until it became a simmering rage.
“Gareth,” Tralin said, “are there any changes you want made to the arena?”
“No, thank you, Mistress Tralin. There is ample room to move, and the sawdust will provide good footing.”
Forcing a tight control over his emotions, Gareth laid out the weapons to be tested. A wave of his hand offered Colwynn first choice.
Colwynn made a show of selecting one of the lighter swords. “This weapon is nicely balanced.” Just the way Colwynn held the blade told a lot about the other man’s experience and training–or lack thereof.
Gareth’s lips tweaked in a smile. I might not be able to have Maerva, but I am under no compulsion to make it easy for Colwynn. Stooping down, he rose in fluid motion with a sword in his hand. He tipped the blade in salute, first to Tralin and then Colwynn. Three strides and he stood in the middle of the room. His muscles rippled from the weight of the blade as he twirled it through a series of one-handed figure eights.
All motion stopped, turning him into a grim-faced statue. Light glinted off the hilt that now hovered at shoulder height. The steel shaft pointed on a straight line to Colwynn’s head. “Your move, my friend,” Gareth said.