Power of Life and Death
(Art by Isaura Simon)
"Duck!" yells Xenograg, and Amaltea immediately obeys. She had been holding off the orcs with Tarillion single-handedly so that her husband could gather his sorcerous power. As they had practiced in the dojo, Amaltea now jumps back and crouches low while Xenograg releases his spell over her head. The sudden heat startles her. Golden flame fans out from Xenograg's hands to engulf the remaining five creatures. The initial blast lasts only a moment but the golden fire, like burning oil, continues unabated. Only after many seconds of agony do the orcs burn to death.
"Xeno, that was horrible…."
"I know, and I am sorry. There were more of them than I expected. I had to use a different spell."
"I know it was them or us but…they didn't have a chance, did they?"
"Not with you protecting me. You did a splendid job of it, too," he says while gesturing to the one orc Amaltea herself killed.
"Why do I feel both proud and guilty?"
"That is how it should feel. A warrior has the power of life and death. With that power comes the burden of responsibility. A true warrior never wants to kill or destroy but frequently must. Who, when, how, and why you kill or not kill is what separates warriors from butchers."
"You've told me that before but I didn't understand until now."
"Amal, these concepts are beyond words. They can only be properly conveyed through experiences."
"I guess you're right." Xenograg caresses his wife's cheek to comfort her.
"We had better move on before more orcs show up."