A massive explosion erupts from over where James and the mage are battling, the concussion knocking him to the ground. Glancing back, he sees several buildings in the vicinity beginning to collapse. Whatever is going on over there, he hopes James is able to deal with it or they’re all dead.

He crawls over the rest of the way to where Fifer lays and removes the belt from around his waist. Securing it around the severed stump, he cinches it as tight as possible to reduce any further blood loss.

“I think it’s too late,” Fifer says.

“Nonsense,” Jiron says. “You’ll be fine.

“Liar,” he replies with a weak grin.

Jiron glances around the battlefield and as far as the mage’s soldiers are concerned, the battle is over but for the one Qyrll is fighting. Miko is nowhere to be seen, he hopes he isn’t lying dead among the others in the street.

“Just hang in there,” he says to his friend. He and Fifer have known each other many years, both grew up in the fight pits of The City of Light. Reunited shortly after the fall of the City, they’ve been together ever since. A stalwart companion and one Jiron would hate to lose.

From the battle between the mage and James, a crackle and sizzle can be heard. Then another explosion followed by the collapse of yet another building. Smoke begins issuing from the area as the buildings start to be consumed by flame. He longs to go to James’ aid but he knows there’s little he can do with his leg the way it is.

A cry rips through the air and Qyrll’s opponent falls to the ground. Pulling his longsword from the dead man, Qyrll surveys the battlefield. Seeing Jiron with Fifer he moves toward them.

“Go help James!” yells Jiron as he points to the swathe of destruction the magical duel has produced.

Nodding, he wipes his swords on a dead man’s shirt and then puts them in their scabbard. He then races toward the budding inferno to see what he can do to aid against the Empire’s mage.

Jiron glances to Fifer and fears he may be dead when he sees his eyes are closed. But the rise and fall of his chest reveals he still lives.

Since this duel with the mage began, James has done little more than be on the defensive. The power of the Star gives the mage incredible power and endurance, by rights he should be all used up. Instead he acts as if throwing all that magic around has had little effect upon him.

Around him several buildings are aflame and the heat is beginning to become unbearable. Through the heat’s haze, he sees the mage approaching, the Star raised up before him. So intent on James is he that he fails to notice a figure emerge from a nearby building being consumed by fire.

The figure runs directly toward the mage and strikes out with his sword, only to encounter the shield surrounding him. His sword strikes the shield and rebounds sharply. The unexpected resistance causes the sword to fly backward out of Miko’s hand.

Turning to greet this new threat, the mage sends a wave of energy toward his attacker and tosses him backward into the burning inferno. He then turns back to James, the Star in his hand.

The Star’s light sparks a memory, one from an earlier time when he met the shade of the long dead priest of Morcyth:

The ghost nods its head and replies in a far off sounding voice, “Greetings, fellow priest of Morcyth.”

James glances at the medallion he’s holding and replies, “I’m not a priest.”

The apparition reaches out, almost touching the medallion he’s wearing. “The glow only comes from his priests, it manifests for no others,” the ghostly voice says.

And then another:

“ That should hold for now,” Fifer says. “A priest could do a better job, but we’re lacking one just now.”

“ You could do it,” Jiron says.

James turns his attention back to Jiron and sees him staring at him. “I’m no priest,” he protests.

“ Didn’t you say that the spirit of the long dead priest of Morcyth called you one?” he asks.

“ Well, yes he did,” he replies. “But he was mistaken.”

“ I don’t think so,” he says. “You’re in good with Morcyth, after all you bear the

Reaching into his shirt, he pulls out the medallion and holds it up. “Morcyth! Lend me your aid!”

Just then the tingling sensation spikes again and a beam of light flares from the medallion. Shooting forth, it impacts with the Star and the spell the mage was about to cast fails to materialize. Keeping the medallion before him, the beam of light remains constant as it goes from the medallion to the Star.

The mage cries out as a glow erupts from the Star in his hand and then begins coursing down his arm. A scream of pain is torn from his throat as the glow continues to advance down his arm and to his torso, just as the darkness had moved down Dave’s.

In seconds the mage’s entire body is engulfed in the glow. One final scream, a blinding flash and the glow disappears. The Star falls to the ground. Nothing of the mage remains, no clothes or anything. It’s almost as if he vanished.

Getting to his feet, James shuffles over to where the Star lays in the street, making sure to keep his distance. He doesn’t want to suffer the same fate as Dave. “Miko!” he cries out when he remembers him being thrown into the burning building. Glancing in that direction, he sees the building suddenly collapse, the fire having destroyed its load bearing beams.

“Miko!” he cries. Leaving the Star where it lays, he moves as best he can toward the raging inferno. Suddenly from around the building, he sees Qyrll emerge with Miko. Hair singed off in two places and covered in soot, he has an arm around Qyrll’s shoulder for support and gives James a grin when he sees him standing there.

“Is it over?” he asks.

“Looks like it,” James replies.

“James!” Jiron yells.

He turns to see him there by Fifer. They make their way over to them and he asks, “Is he alive?”

Nodding, he replies, “Yes, but not much longer.” He looks pleadingly at James.

He knows what he’s going to ask but this is something he dares not mess with. Jiron can see the denial in his eyes and grows crestfallen.

“The Star could save him,” Miko suddenly announces.

“What?” Jiron asks.

“The Star,” he repeats. “It comes from the gods, it should be able to.”

Hope rekindled, Jiron looks to James. But James shakes his head, “I dare not touch it.”

“But…” he begins then once more becomes quiet. Perking up again, he glances to Miko. “You can do it!”

“Me?” he asks incredulously. “Are you crazy?”

“You’ve held one of these before,” Jiron says. “If any of us can make it work, it’s you.”

He glances to James who shrugs, “I don’t know. If we do nothing, Fifer will die. Healing comes from the gods, at least I think it does. Here on this world anyway. I can’t touch it so another must try and Jiron’s right in that of everyone here, you have the best chance of making it work.”

“But what if it kills me like it did with your friend Dave?” He glances down the street to where the Star sits in the dirt.

“It won’t,” replies James. “Of that I’m positive.”

Just then Fifer gives out with a groan and his chest stops moving. Getting up, James says, “Move!” to Jiron as he makes it to Fifer’s side. Hoping he’s doing it right, he begins CPR. A series of presses upon the breastbone and then breathe air into his lungs. After breathing into his mouth the first time, he starts pumping his chest again and looks to Miko.

Miko returns the gaze and nods. Getting up, he hurries over to the Star. Before he reaches it he slows down, fear making him hesitate. “Hurry!” he hears Jiron holler. Heart beating fast, he takes the last few steps and then reaches down. His fingers hesitate a moment before grasping the Star.

Frozen in place, he waits for death to take him but nothing happens. Sighing in relief, he turns around and hurries back to Fifer. “What do I do?” he asks as he kneels next to him.

“Grasp the Star, pray that he will live and that his wound will heal,” James says. “Be sure to invoke Morcyth’s name.” Bending over, he grabs Fifer’s nose as he breathes air once more into his lungs.

Taking the Star in both hands, he glances around at the others then closes his eyes. In his mind, he

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