The spell shot hopelessly wide, bounced off a tree, shot over Borysko's head causing him to lose concentration and his balance and plunge into the undergrowth, and hit the bear, which became the centre of a small implosion. A dark plume of smoke engulfed Drakon, making him cough violently; he peered about through streaming eyes, looking for the warrior.
A stream of exceedingly vulgar swearwords made him easy to locate, as did the crashing sounds he made thrashing about in the brambles, trying to get back to his feet.
Eventually the smoke drifted away and dispersed in the cool night air, and Borysko was visible as well as audible. His face was bright red and furious; this didn't bode well.
"What did you think you were doing?" he rasped, balling his hands into fists and advancing on the much smaller Drakon, who despite himself took a step back.
"Saving your life!" he protested, his voice sounding far shriller than he wanted it to. What had happened to all those cool words he'd been rehearsing? "I got rid of the bear, didn't I?"
The warrior snorted, brushing clinging dirt from his hands and looking around for any roasted bear remains. "I was in more danger from you than I was from the bear. At least bears don't make you explode."
"You could at least show some gratitude!" the trainee mage cried indignantly, drawing himself up to his full height; he still only came up to Borysko's chest. "That animal would have torn you to pieces!"
Something inside him, probably the hotheadedness referenced by Madame de Silva, made him add: "And I would have been glad if it had!"
As always, this overenthusiasm got him in trouble. This time, it was the warrior's big hand clamping down on the scruff of his neck and lifting him into the air. Drakon, deeply offended, squirmed and wriggled in a futile attempt to escape.
"Put me down!"
"I'm taking you back, you ungrateful liddle brat," Borysko growled, starting forwards in the direction of the Mages' Circle training school. "If you run off again, on your own head be it, I ain't going to come and get you."
"It was your fault I ran off in the first place!" Drakon yelped, thrashing hopelessly and attempting to catch hold of a tree branch as they passed. But the warrior appeared to have gone mysteriously deaf.
Until something came crashing through the forest towards them.
Drakon was unceremoniously dropped to the floor and Borysko, bemoaning under his breath his lack of a sword, got into a wrestling pose. Scraping in his mind for another spell, Drakon shook back his sleeve, and both of them waited breathlessly for the attack.
Which didn't come.
Instead, a very confused-looking and stark naked woman came stumbling out of the undergrowth. She stopped at the sight of them and opened her mouth a couple of times, trying to speak. Her brown eyes were panicky.
"What the hell?" Borysko asked of no-one in particular. Drakon scrambled back to his feet and gaped-and then a little light seemed to come on in his mind as he remembered the spell he'd cast at the bear. It hadn't actually been one of the spells usually taught to first-year students; he'd been reading illict textbooks again. He'd never thought he'd actually have the ability to cast that particular spell, so he'd committed it to memory as a joke and perhaps a useful threat.
It was a shape-shifting spell.
"Uh, Borysko," he whispered nervously, brushing leafmould off his tunic with unnecessary attention. "I think that's the bear..."