The black mage stood before the two women, and his yellow eyes glanced from one to the other, as if studying them both. He then proceeded to walk forward, and lightly stepped over the corpse of the fallen behemoth.

"Wait!" Crystal shouted, and the black mage stopped in his tracks. He turned to face her, and muttered in an annoyed tone.

"Who are you to give orders to me?" His voice was icy and cold, like the prison he had just been released from. Sara stood up and drew her sword.

"Her name is Crystal Highwind, machinist in the service of Emperor Mateus. I am her consort, Sara Garland, daughter of Sir Garland, commander of Emperor Mateus' grand army." She spoke confidently, and pointed her sword and the arcane magus. "Who are you to speak to her in such an insolent tone?"

"My name is Malchior. I am a black mage, as you obviously know by now. And I speak in such a tone because your petty little ranks mean nothing to me. All that matters is power. And I have more than enough of it to reduce you all to ashes." Flames licked his hands as he spoke this, and pointed a burning finger at Sara, yellow eyes burning. "I could... but out of gratitude, I will not. You awoke me from my captive slumber, and for that, I thank you." He turned to walk away again.

"Perhaps you could help us, in payment of this debt?" Crystal remarked, and Malchior once more stopped his pace.

"Do I look like that lughead you call a guard?" He pointed to Sara as he spoke this. "Do not try my patience."

"Lughead?" Sara exclaimed. "Take that back, you arrogant little punk! I am going to tear you to shreds!" She put both hands on her sword, and Malchior snapped his fingers. Where Sara had been standing was nothing more than a pile of armor and a solitary frog. Malchior walked up to the frog and poked it on the nose.

"So much for the mighty Sara Garland, huh? Now reduced to a mere toad. Where's a princess when you need her, huh?" Malchior laughed at his little joke, when a loud bang echoed throughout the cavern.

Malchior turned and saw Crystal, a gun in her hands, barrel smoking. "Change her back. I won't ask you a second time."

Malchior, surprised, snapped his fingers and Sara again took the form of a human... though she wasn't wearing anything due to her status as a frog. She cursed at Malchior and went behind a pillar of rock to put her armor back on. Crystal kept her gun pointed at Malchior. "Now... you will accompany us to the nearest town, where you may leave if you wish. We lost our chocobos and as such are stranded in the middle of the wilderness. So until we get to the nearest town, you will act as guide an protector... do I make myself clear?"

Malchior nodded. "You have a lot of nerve, lady... but I understand. I will escort you until we get to the nearest town... then I'm gone."

Crystal kept her gun pointed at him. "Promise me... or else you you'll be minus a certain vital organ that a white mage won't be able to heal."

Malchior took a step back. "Fine, I promise... now can you put the gun down? You're making me nervous."

The End

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