Danielle watched, aghast, since the violent exchange was like a warrior fighting an opposing mirror. Blow for blow, defense for defense, Lement-Nor grew furious. It was as if he were combating himself because, in truth, he was. Just as he had absorbed the essence of Zarentil, so had Zarentil been imbued with the same from Lement-Nor. Thus, no sudden movement intended to surprise Zarentil worked, since it wasn’t a surprise. It couldn’t be.
Lement-Nor jumped back from the conflict. Only his next words provided Danielle the clue as to which Lement-Nor was speaking: her enemy or her friend. During the combat, she had lost track of which gargoyle was Zarentil.
Seething with malice, the true Lement-Nor railed, “This is all very clever, Zarentil! You are impossible to best, so it would seem, at least by me. It dawns on me that the transfer of knowledge and understanding was not just from you to me. I see that now. A miscalculation on my part, I grant.”
Bowing in mock deference, Lement-Nor said, “It matters not! You will find the task of fighting a host of this fortress’s guards beyond your meager ability to mirror or distract. In but a moment, you will die, old fool! You and your pathetic friends.”
Immediately, Zarentil shrank back to himself, small, childlike and translucent. “Again, I confess that you are an abomination. Further, you are, for all of your conceit and arrogance, oblivious to the obvious. For all of your intelligence and scheming, you failed to see the simplest fact. You cannot hope to kill what has already died.”
Finally, the truth of what had really taken place with Zarentil registered on the face of the hybrid. But before the hybrid could react, Zarentil struck him down. Danielle witnessed no blow. Zarentil simply closed his eyes, whispered something unintelligible and the hybrid collapsed, dismay now frozen in his eyes. “There are powers you’ve closed your mind to, creature of darkness. Even you could have chosen the way of redemption, but instead your embraced raw power, evil and death. A pity this is.”
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