“She tricked me again,” Trinity growls as she drags herself out of the river. She looks up at the top of the thirty-foot waterfall with a cold, angry stare. Trinity is still amazed at the detail of the landscape illusion that caused her to walk off the edge. The chaos elf thanks the gods that she landed in a deep part of the river instead of smashing into the rocks.
“I always thought chaos elves were the masters of tricks,” laughs a female voice from the trees.
“We are, but my experience with gypsy magic is rather limited,” Trinity begrudgingly admits. She begins walking toward the slippery cliff until a dagger strikes the ground in front of her. The chaos elf stops and looks around the trees for any sign of her prey.
“Then, let me warn you about my kind,” the gypsy announces, her voice echoing among the rocks and trees. “We don’t like being hunted. Following me is unhealthy. You already fell for my illusions and survived. You shouldn’t push your luck.”
Trinity gently claps her hands and keeps her eyes on the top of the waterfall. “As a fellow trickster and caster, I feel I should applaud your skills. I honestly thought that I was stepping onto a rope bridge instead of walking off a waterfall. Skill like yours is rare. Now, little girl, why don’t you come out of hiding and make this easy?”
Sari cautiously steps out from behind the trees at the top of the waterfall. Three throwing daggers are loosely held in her fist while she takes a seat on a large stone. Her brightly colored clothes make Trinity wonder why she was having such a hard time finding her among the browns and greens of the forest.
“That’s a good girl. Are you willing to come down here?” Trinity asks with a fake smile.
“You look smart, but you act stupid,” Sari bluntly replies.
“This coming from the child who revealed herself to her enemy,” the chaos elf points out. “How do you know I can’t kill you from down here?”
Sari grins impishly from her high perch. “How do you know this is the real me?”
“Damn gypsies. I can never see through their blasted magic,” Trinity mutters, the sound of rushing water masking her words.
“If you want to talk without yelling, I promise to let you climb up the other side of the waterfall,” Sari offers. The throwing daggers vanish into her skirts and she puts her hands behind her back.
Trinity watches the gypsy carefully as she walks toward the slick wall. Looking up, she can see enough handholds to easily get back to the top. With a delicate grunt, the chaos elf queen leaps onto the wall and begins to climb. From where she is climbing, Trinity can barely see Sari’s blue hair blowing in the wind. With a cunning smirk, Trinity grips a long vine when she gets halfway up the waterfall. Before she can attempt to swing to Sari’s side of the waterfall, a glint of metal flies through the air and severs the vine. Trinity flails wildly in the air until she can catch another crevice and return to climbing.
“Even if you did make it over to this side, I can disappear into the forest before you can reach the top. So, please stay on your side,” Sari requests with a yawn. She gets to her feet and fixes her skirts while she watches Trinity climb the last half of the waterfall. Trinity gracefully flips over the edge and lands in a crouch with a stiletto in her hand. She takes a small bow when the gypsy starts applauding, but quickly remembers why she ended up going over the waterfall in the first place.
“Hey! Don’t mock me,” Trinity snaps.
“I wasn’t mocking you. That was a good show,” Sari swears, juggling two of her daggers. “Now, leave me alone.”
Trinity doubles over with laughter. “You can’t honestly believe that I will do as you say.”
“There is no reason for you to be following me. Your friends destroyed my family and left me with nowhere to go. You have done enough damage to my life!” Sari shouts, a sudden surge of sadness running through her body. A tear begins to trickle down her face and she swiftly turns away from the chaos elf.
“I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel sorry for you, but you are an unfortunate loose end. I can’t let you run around Windemere and return to cause my master some unexpected trouble,” Trinity says, flexing her sore shoulders. “If it makes you feel better, I promise I won’t kill you.”
Sari turns to look at her doubtfully. “Would your friends stick to that promise?”
“You might as well have said no.”
“I’m surprised that you haven’t asked me why we attacked your clan.”
Trinity can see Sari bite her lower lip to halt her tears. A trickle of blood runs down Sari’s white skin before dripping off her chin into the churning river. Three river sharks risk going over the waterfall as they rush to the drops of blood. A fight breaks out between them until two are washed away by a sudden wave in the river. Trinity watches the pair of sharks twist in the air as they plummet to the rocks below. She can see more waves coming down the river and cautiously steps away from the rising water. The chaos elf can only assume that a nearby dam has burst, which means she has very little time to capture the gypsy.
“I don’t care why you did it,” Sari angrily blurts out.
“Then, I guess you weren’t really attached to your family,” Trinity coldly counters. A throwing dagger cuts her cheek and slams into a tree behind her.
“I loved my clan more than anything else in this world, but it is not the gypsy way to dwell on the past. I look to the future where I will be safe and happy,” Sari proudly announces. “Now, leave me alone and tell your friends to forget about me.”
“Sorry. I can’t let you get away, girl,” Trinity states before she releases a black tendril from her palm. The magical tendril lances across the river in order to wrap around Sari’s right leg. Trinity smiles victoriously at her prey until she notices that Sari doesn’t look scared at all.
“Are you going to pull me across the river?” Sari inquires, her voice more amused than scared.
Trinity shrugs and nervously laughs. “I doubt you would walk over here, so I guess I will have to. You can’t weigh more than a hundred po . . . what in the name of the great goddess Ambrosine are you made of? Why won’t you budge?”
“I’m not going to make this easy for you,” the gypsy promises as Trinity pulls with all her strength.
Trinity tugs furiously on the tendril until sweat trickles down her face. Sari remains glued to her spot while the chaos elf increases her strength with a spell. Her arms grow to the size of tree trunks before she tries to pull again. A high-pitched scream of rage and frustration escapes Trinity’s lips when she realizes that she would have better luck pushing a mountain than trying to move Sari. A final, desperate yank at the tendril causes it to snap and whip back into Trinity’s palm. Near exhaustion, the chaos elf stumbles against a tree and slumps to the ground.
“I would ask how you did that, but you probably wouldn’t tell me,” Trinity says, gasping for air.
“All I will say is that it was neither an illusion nor a spell. Now, are you going to leave me alone?” Sari asks while she rubs at her bruised leg.
“Not a chance. I love a mystery and you are much more than you seem,” Trinity declares with a hungry grin. She can feel a tremor run through the ground as she gets to her feet.
“Don’t play stupid with me.”
“I’m not playing stupid.”
Trinity grits her teeth and launches another tendril at the gypsy. It catches the gypsy off-guard as it wraps around her neck. A savage yank sends Sari stumbling toward the edge of the waterfall until she crashes to the ground. Trinity leaps across the river to pin the gypsy down just as a rumble begins to grow in the distance. The chaos elf ignores it while she tries to lift Sari to her feet.
“I’m through playing games with you. It was fun at first, but my patience is wearing thin,” Trinity announces. She gets a solid grip on Sari’s wrists and pulls at the gypsy. Again, it is impossible for the chaos elf to move Sari.
“I don’t know how I’m doing it,” Sari cries, her voice rising to a scream. “Stop that! You’re going to rip my sleeves! I only have two other dresses and one of them is already dirty.”
“Stop lying to me,” Trinity demands. “You have to know what you’re doing. Just tell me how you are doing this without a spell.”
“Leave me alone!” shrieks Sari before a deafening roar erupts.
Trinity looks behind her in time to see a wall of water rushing down the river. It is ripping bark and small branches off any trees that are in its way. The churning flood drowns out every other noise as it gets closer to the waterfall. The only way to survive that Trinity can think of is to hold onto the immovable gypsy. She grips Sari with all her might as the large wave crashes over them. The force of the water is strong enough to strain Trinity’s arms while she fights to stop herself from being launched over the waterfall. The water continues to rush over Trinity as she tries to make sense of what is going on.
Her thoughts are interrupted by Sari frantically yelling. “You’re tearing my dress!”
Before Trinity realizes that she clearly understood what Sari said underwater, she feels an increase in the wave’s strength. Her eyes burn when she opens them in the rushing water, but she manages to keep them open long enough to see that the sleeve she is holding onto is starting to tear. It feels like an eternity as she feels the stitching snap loop by delicate loop until the sleeve sloughs off Sari’s arm. Trinity goes limp to let the water send her flying over the waterfall. She stays within the wave while it makes its arc toward the over-flowing river below. A single hand motion sends a purple ripple of magic through the rushing water. Trinity can feel the water temperature drop before a column of ice erupts from the river below. The chaos elf crashes into the column’s smooth surface, which sends cracks dancing down the length of the icy pillar. She refuses to move at all until she is sure that the damaged column will hold.
“That was too close,” Trinity gasps. The remainder of the wave drenches her from above. She is shivering while she casts another spell, which wraps her body in fire and melts the pillar of ice.
“Will you leave me alone now?” Sari asks from the top of the waterfall. The gypsy’s clothes are already dry and her sapphire hair is perfect. Trinity would never have believed that the girl was in the monstrous wave with her if she didn’t have the girl’s sleeve clutched in her hand.
“No. Just run away and I’ll catch up with you later. It isn’t like I can get to you before you vanish. Shoo, girl,” Trinity replies once she gets out of the river. The chaos elf drops to her knees and rolls onto her back before closing her eyes.
“I guess I’ll see you later then. By the way, my name is Sari,” she announces. The gypsy cautiously backs away from the edge of the waterfall until she is out of sight.
Trinity waits for the sounds of the escaping gypsy to disappear and chuckles. “I think I was just beaten by a simpleton.”