Meliadus shivered slightly as a cold wind blew on the villa roof. “So what’s this really about, Eliaures?” he asked.
The Cruel Disciple laughed. “I told you. You quit. I don’t appreciate that.”
Meliadus stared at him. “Wait--you… haven’t been looking for me?”
Eliaures shook his head. “Nope. I thought you were dead, Gravegoods, till I saw you in that crowd.” He shrugged. “This has all been one rather odd coincidence.”
Meliadus chuckled. “Well, imagine that.”
“Yes,” Eliaures laughed. “It is rather amusing.”
“So, what’s the job?” asked Meliadus.
“Over,” answered the Cruel Disciple. “Frankly, it was always a rather foolish one. But one goes where She directs.” He shrugged at Meliadus. “Even you.”
“Oh, especially me, Eliaures,” noted Meliadus with a smile. “See, I’ve kind of changed my mind on what it is She wants.”
The Cruel Disciple hissed. “Folly. Heresy. Madness.” Two blades appeared in his hands. “There is no stepping off the path once it is stepped on. We are beasts, you and I.”
“You’re a beast, Venomous,” said Meliadus simply. “I became a man.”
A contemptuous sneer came to Eliaures’ face. “Then die as one,” he declared throwing his knives.
Meliadus ducked beneath them.
“My, my,” said Eliaures. “And I thought you’d gone soft.” Meliadus rushed forwards, to close the distance between them, and struck at the Cruel Disciple. His fist touched only air, though his kick managed to graze Eliaures’ stomach. He felt the blade prick his shoulder.
“So that was your plan?” whispered Eliaures. “Hit me?” He chuckled and shook his head.
“No, not really,” said Meliadus, striking a match on his thumbnail. He opened his jacket, and lit the packet of hellpowder there. “It was more getting you far enough from everybody else--and then close enough to do this.” He quickly grappled the Cruel Disciple by the arm. “It ends now, Venomous.”
Eliaures’ eyes went wide, as he stared at the flickering fuse. “You’re insane.” He smiled. “I love it.”
And that was when the roof beneath them exploded outwards. Meliadus lost his grip on Eliaures. “Holdfast!” shouted Faileuba, as she sailed through the air. She grabbed Meliadus, then saw the burning packet. “Arrgh! Exploding packet of death!” She quickly tore off his jacket and tossed it away. Meliadus saw it flutter down the hole into the villa, where Eliaures, lying on the floor, watched it coming with abstracted amusement. Then it exploded.
“I used up a lot of juice with that leap,” explained Faileuba, as they began to fall towards the ground. “So be prepared for a bumpy landing…” She looked at Meliadus’ shoulder. “You’re bleeding. Do you think he…?”
“Venomous doesn’t use poison,” said Meliadus. “He is poison.”
“Right,” said Faileuba. “We’re getting that checked out.”
“Sure,” answered Meliadus with a nod, as he watched the ground coming closer. “And Fai…?” He took a deep breath. “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it,” said Faileuba, as she shut her eyes, and braced herself for the impact.