The next morning, Aria left Plantagonox's bedside, and went to see Nazara. She had a good feeling this morning. She could use magic effectively now, and she wished to get stronger so that she could be an excellent partner for Plantagonox once he was fully healed.
When she arrived in Nazara's study, that good feeling suddenly vanished. Nazara was no where to be found, and instead, a man dressed in black cloth and white armor stood where Nazara usually did when he was searching for spells.
The masked man from before... the one who used Plantagonox as bait to lure her in... she drew her sword and gritted her teeth in anger. "You again..."
The man turned to face her, and his eyes had a strange warmth in them... almost as if he saw her as family... but not quite. "Hello again, Aria Kahner..."
"How do you-"
"I know a lot about you." The man interrupted her. "How, I cannot say. Perhaps I have a latent ability to see the memories of my prey that I have just recently noticed. Or perhaps we share a history, though how that is possible is beyond my comprehension."
"Who are you?" Aria demanded. "Where is Nazara? How did you get in here?"
"So many questions..." The man stated. "As to my identity, I do not know myself, but I go by Xeranad Lekard. Your spell master, Nazara, gave me a little bit of trouble, so I subdued him and he is behind the locked door behind me. As for how I got in here... I merely willed to be here, and here I am."
Xeranad drew his own blade, a five foot long crimson sword that seemed to be formed from crystallized blood and carried the stench of death and decay upon it. "Now, then, I have a question for you... will come with me quietly, or do I have to beat you into submission?"
Aria smirked confidently. "Come and try." She began to cast a spell, but suddenly, her opponent vanished. She looked around as quickly as she could, hoping to determine where her foe disappeared to... and he reappeared, inches in front of her.
She attempted to attack him with her sword, but try as she might, his skill with a blade far outstripped her own. She then tried to cast a spell, but before she could even utter a single incantation, he grabbed her by the arm and twisted it, forcing her to drop her sword. He then delivered a knee to her abdomen, and she fell to her knees, coughing and gasping for air. She wiped the corner of her mouth... there was something wet and warm coming down her lip.
Blood. He hit her so hard she coughed up blood. She staggered to her feet, but a chain wrapped around her leg and tripped back to the floor. The man then pointed his blade an inch from Aria's face. "Defiant, aren't you?"
Before she could respond, Xeranad lifted her up by the neck and tossed her across the room like a rag doll, landing on her spine against Nazara's desk, which shattered like a twig in the hands of a child. She was sore, broken, and beaten... she could do nothing but watch as her assailant came towards her... then all faded to black.
Xeranad looked at Aria's broken body, and he felt a tear slowly fall down his face. "How... strange. Why am I crying?" He went up to her and examined her closely.
"If I was any harsher I would have killed her. Maybe I should have... and yet, I can't bring myself to do so. Why, I wonder... what is it about you that keeps me from hurting you irreversibly?" Xeranad asked himself. He then noticed Aria's silver blade, and picked it up.
"This blade... seems awfully familiar..." He examined it some more, then returned it to its sheath. He then approached Aria once more, bound her arms behind her back and her ankles and knees together, lifted her over his shoulder and walked out.