The root system rippled outward. Soil shuddered and animals sang for their spirits. A wall of life force converged on the camp, latching onto is periphery, and swung around to bar the geomancer.
They flinched as the aura of the camp darkened. Visible branches of mana - tangled with the group, the forest, and themselves - were bisected by a barrier that interrupted magic no matter what they tried.
I reached out with an open palm and with the axis of the barrier I regarded the energy within, ‘You will not waver.’
Again, my instinct was to switch the spear with the barrier and bring the geomancer to me, but that spear was now powerful enough to energize the campfire several tens of times over. Moreover, the dome would be an asset no matter where it was.
I asked the spirits to lend me their blessing in order to manage the two across the larger space. Surprisingly, they not only admitted my efforts, but contributed to them.
I almost choked on the difference in load. My heart roared, and the geomancer appeared as a silhouette in my palm. This was… too much…
It would have been entirely too easy to close my hand, and the sheer load would obliterate a kind of catalyst within the geomancer's body.I willed to fight them myself, not to obliterate a master.
Thankfully, the spirits understood this much. The sword and shield merged. The plants and fauna shared a life force with them, and I felt this same catalyst whip through my chest. The world as I knew it remade.
I felt my very soul shiver from that humbling ability. I raised an arm to plead for time.
Half an arm further from my outstretched hand, The geomancer stepped back. That was not sorcery. I had just performed a faux reincarnation. Manipulation of the soul.
It wasn’t even that it was taboo. By its very definition, a soul couldn’t trigger that ability. They couldn’t choose when or how to appear. Which begged the question:
“What are you?”
I stilled myself, “Uh, Hu-,” and the wind left me. The rhetorical nature of their question punctuated by a sturdy boot.
I wiggled back, shaken by the offense, and reminded exactly what I’d spent the last few minutes pouring over.
The strike that countered might as well have been a spear. My fist impacted the bridge of their nose with enough force to split the air. The second impact was them up against a tree.
“You wanna run that by me again? I didn’t catch that.” The words felt alien and automatic, as I was presently trying to wrap my hand around exactly where my hand had been, and how it got there.
“Eug-” The sound was muffled by a busted nose, cupped hands, and a dose of rapid onset exhaustion.
I’d broken something, alright. I really thought I would have spared their ego, but I knew two things.
One, I wasn’t a punching bag. I lived through all that, and had the good grace to regard them afterwards.
Two, I wasn’t about to ignore the collateral. There would be consequences, and there would be no beating around the bush to it. That much was weighed against my own soul.
‘It’s alright. They can try that again if they need to.’
I’m pretty sure that was the sadist talking, but whether or not it was being sarcastic, I don’t know.