Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and violence.
Cyrin was lucky to know Pia well enough— or really, unlucky enough— to guess that after that, she would strike quickly, in some way. He couldn’t have guessed that her attack would be pre-cast Flare spells flying his way, but at least he was already moving by the time that they were.
Heat rushed past him as he dropped and rolled out of the fire’s way, getting back on his feet the moment he had them on the ground. Since they hadn’t hit him, the fireballs burnt out in the air, fizzling into sparks.
“I see you got a refill,” Cyrin said.
“Glad my magic could help you do all the hard stealing work for us.” Pia shrugged as she watched the fire die out. “I can kinda see why Sparrow wanted you on his team that much. You’re a bit of a shitty mage, but you know your gymnastics.”
Cyrin scoffed. “Sparrow has enough people who are head over heels for him and would do flips for him if he wanted.”
Pia sneered, reaching for her MagicBox again. “Well, if you’re no good to him, then you’re just a shitty mage.”
Cyrin braced themself on the roof, ready to spring away from another volley of fire, but she didn’t throw anything at them. Instead, she dropped a spell on the ground, and the moment they were able to sense what she’d done was also the moment it was upon them. The wave of Tremor sent them falling on their back, sending a shiver through them. They could have gotten up near-immediately, if it weren’t for their limbs shaking.
“I thought that was your Hollow,” they heard Pia crow triumphantly through the ringing in their ears. “Going to be sick?”
Leilan’s words came back to them, for some reason. It wasn’t affecting you in the usual way. Normally, when they’re around their Hollow, Minor Mages feel really ill. They get really dizzy, think they’re going to be sick, have trouble standing up. You just got… strained and shaky.
Cyrin didn’t feel sick. It just felt like the vibrations were building up in their body and head, turning into the painful buzzing sound of static. They’d take the dizziness and sickness over it, but for whatever reason, they’d never felt that with their Hollow. It didn’t work that way for them.
They needed to use this time to think, since Pia was busy gloating over them, but it couldn’t be about that. They need to figure out what her Hollow was.
It couldn’t be Projection, obviously. She’d used Rationale on the snakes and Tremor and Flare on him. He’d used Concealment and Force around her at the Arcade the other day, so those two were out as well. That left— he racked his brain quickly— Acid, Chant, and Salve. None of which lent themselves particularly well to a fight.
He forced himself to ignore the shakiness in his limbs and pushed himself to his feet, giving Pia a dirty look as he brushed himself off.
“Not all that sick,” Pia said, sounding disappointed. “That’s a shame.”
Cyrin reached into his MagicBox, tossing a cluster of magic from hand to hand. “Just sick of you, if I’m being honest.”
She growled softly under her breath as she spun a spell in one hand— a large Flare one, not a series of small ones— but threw it his way rather than coming up with another insult.
Cyrin met the wall of fire flying his way with a quick Acid spell that caused it to immediately sputter out, then hurled a new spell at her. He was weaving by instinct, hardly thinking about what he’d actually woven, but he was fairly sure it was Force. Pia grunted as the spell pushed her backwards a few feet, but she’d been well-braced on the ground for it, and she stayed upright despite skidding.
“What are you here for?” they snapped at her while they each spun their next spell. “I know you can’t do anything for yourself, so what does Sparrow want?”
“You fucking bastard,” Pia snarled, flinging her newest Flare spell at them. Cyrin dodged, the heat warming his face. “You’d ruin everything if he let you.”
“Not sure how that’s an answer.” Cyrin stuffed their finished spell in a pocket and quickly started working on another one. “I definitely would willingly.”
“Well, unfortunately, he doesn’t want you dead, only stopped, so I won’t get to kill you here.” Her next fireball was much closer, enough that the heat was almost painful. “Saints knows why he’s refused to do that, but he won’t even place you in harm’s way.” She grinned. “Can’t say the same of your other friend, though.”
Cyrin froze, almost finished with their newest spell. “Which friend?”
Pia only laughed, curling magic into more Flare with a twist of her fingers. The gold polish on her fingernails flashed in the cityscape light.
“Which friend, Pia?” they snarled, taking a step forward.
“It doesn’t matter. Getting out of that situation is entirely up to them.” She smiled sweetly, but the gleam of satisfaction in her eyes outshone it. “You can’t help them. And, as it turns out, they can’t help you either.”
Even though they’d been expecting it, her spell almost caught them by surprise. The fireball caught Cyrin in the hip, and it took a full second for the burning pain to strike— but when it did, it hurt. They dropped to one knee, seriously regretting this plan as the agony spread, and a faint cry escaped their lips. They smothered the fire quickly, but the relief didn’t come until they reached into their pocket and pulled out the Salve spell, pressing it to their hip until it healed the burn.
Pia snorted, unfazed. “You just knew you were going to get hit, didn’t you? Why didn’t you come up with something better?”
“I do have a secret plan, actually,” Cyrin said, hiding their other nearly-done spell in their hand. “Want to hear what it is?”
“Do share.” Her voice was amused, like she’d thought she’d won.
Cyrin lifted his hand to his throat, completing the final twist of the weaving with the barest flick of his fingers— and screamed.
The Chant spell amplified the volume of his voice tenfold, making it audible for what he was sure was several city blocks— and painfully loud on the roof. Pia moaned, sinking to the ground as she tried and failed to cover both her ears and stomach at the same time. She struggled for a moment, trying to get back up, but he roared again, and she all but collapsed.
“What—?” she gasped, through a weak groan.
“Chant’s probably the best magic to have as a Hollow,” Cyrin said, dropping their volume to an almost normal but still slightly loud level. “It doesn’t come up a lot in life. There are oaths, of course, but you’re not a terribly honest person. Too ready to backstab. You’re a bit like a snake in that regard.”
With a grunt, Pia slammed a fist onto the ground, releasing a tiny spell. The Tremor rippled their way and sent a shudder through them, and they felt a little weak in their footing, but the spell wasn’t strong enough to make them fall over.
“Why isn’t it working on you?” she cried in frustration and anger. “What the fuck is different about you?”
Cyrin didn’t know, and it scared him, but the risk to the others scared him more. He still didn’t know who Pia had been referring to, and he knew she wouldn’t tell him. It could be Mireya, Clarity, Autumn, or even any of the Heirs, if she was assuming they were his friends. To be fair, they might be. The seven of them had gotten this far with their differences and without disbanding.
He shook his head and turned around. He’d spent too long on this distraction. Shane and Kasumi were no doubt already with Sparrow, and he was going to be dangerously late.
“Get back here!” Pia shouted at him as he rushed to the edge of the roof.
“Can’t,” Cyrin said, hopping the railing. “I’ve got some friends to save.” With that, he gave her a wave before jumping off, landing on the balcony of the floor below, and swinging into the window as glass shattered around him.