Dilmir expected to feel a searing pain across his chest as the blade struck him, but it did not come. In fact, he felt nothing at all. He was whirling uncontrollably in an infinite blackness, devoid of space or sound. And then, just as suddenly as it had happened, the blackness was gone, and Dilmir was back outside the gates of Eld’rin. The only difference was that he was now behind Alfimir.
Confused, not sure what had just happened, Dilmir turned around as Alfimir’s cry of dismay reached him. The sword that would have surely slain him had it struck, imbedded itself in the ground a distance away, but Alfimir seemed not to see it. He was staring, unbelieving, at the place where Dilmir had vanished, not yet aware that he was behind him.
Ilrin skidded to a halt behind Dilmir, her sword already out, looking just as confused as he was. “Dilmir,” she breathed, “how…?”
Dilmir quickly realized what had happened. When Alfimir had attacked him, he had somehow been moved out of the way. Alfimir and Ilrin would have seen him teleport himself, but Dilmir knew that it was someone else who had done so. Such a skill was far beyond any elven mage, let alone his own talent. Who might have done such a thing, or why they had saved his life, however, Dilmir could not say.
Alfimir whirled around as Ilrin spoke Dilmir’s name, his eyes locking immediately onto him. He didn’t hesitate a second, but conjured a ball of flame from midair and flung it at him.
Dilmir reacted without thinking. Barely conscious of what he was doing, he flung himself into the stream of magic in his mind, allowing it to flow through him, and then sent it outward in one massive surge of energy. At the last moment, he held a small portion back, aware that Ilrin was standing right next to him.
As the invisible wall of force spread outward from Dilmir, far more powerful than it would have been had any other elf cast it, it collided with Alfimir’s flame. The fire seemed to unfurl against it, first flattening, and then flickering out of existence as it was pushed easily out of the way. The next instant, the wall struck Alfimir, knocking him into the air and flinging him to the ground several feet away.
Dilmir was too stunned by what he had done to move. He was only vaguely aware of Ilrin darting forward and laying her sword tip against Alfimir’s throat, preventing him from rising. Dilmir frowned at her. There was something very wrong with the scene. Then, with a surge of fear, he realized what it was.
Alfimir was an archmage. Ilrin may be skilled, but she was no match for his powers. He could easily blast her into the air at any moment. However, he did not. He simply lay on the ground, looking up at Ilrin with a curious expression on his face.
Dilmir wanted to warn Ilrin, to yell for her to run, but his voice seemed to be gone. His mind was numb, mutely accepting all that reached it, considering nothing.
At that moment, the sound of running announced the presence of two elves. They ran out through the gate, but came to an abrupt halt at the sight before them. They might as well have been sparrows, however, for all the notice Ilrin took of them.
Her sword still held menacingly against Alfimir, her eyes burning, she said, her voice quavering somewhat, “What have you done, Ael?”
Alfimir looked pleasantly up at her. She might have asked him to dinner for all his face conveyed. Ignoring her, he then shifted his gaze to Dilmir, though he still spoke to Ilrin. “I have done nothing, yet,” he said, his voice as smooth as an oiled blade.
His voice pulled Dilmir from his confusion. Thrusting his tangled thoughts aside, he focused on Alfimir. “Why have you done this, Ael?” he asked. To attack another elf, save in self defense, was the worst of crimes.
“You may not know all my reasons yet, Dilmir,” said Alfimir smoothly, “but they will soon become apparent to you. I act only for the good of my people, and you are far too powerful to remain with them.”
Dilmir blanched, though he tried to keep his face blank. Was his magic so obvious then? Behind him, the two elves that had rushed out of the city drew their own blades and advanced on Alfimir, even as Ilrin drew back, slowly. Alfimir did not resist, but followed the two elves calmly as they raised him up and led him back into the city, where he would await the punishment of the council. As Dilmir watched him go, he was sure he saw him smile before he was led out of sight.