“Still haven’t graduated past brute force,” I said. I tsked a couple times for emphasis. “Masters always said you didn’t have the brains for subtlety.” Regaining my feet, I pulled the current from the lamp, now shattered on the floor, and sent it arcing in a feint.
“You always did underestimate it,” Henshaw replied. He made a swift gripping motion with his hand. The lamp was instantly crushed into a ball of metal. Henshaw kicked it away, ripping the cord from the wall.
I matched his stance, raising my right hand over my head and keeping my left low. Classic dueling positions. We could still be back at school. Except for the broken furniture and the magister cowering in a corner. Actually, I take that back. That happened at least once at school, too.
“So what got you working for this sleazebag?” I asked. My eyes were locked onto his hands, watching every little motion that might turn into a gesture of power. “I never thought of you as the grunt-for-hire sort.” I deflected a bolt he sent my way. It was just a test, like my own feint before.
“Doing a favor. He’s just a pawn for someone I owe a great deal to.” Henshaw switched his stance to something I’d never seen. He held his hands, palm-up, over his widespread knees. “He taught me many things. And unlike some, I still believe in loyalty.”
Unsure of what to expect, I began switching to a defensive stance. Not fast enough. Henshaw slammed his hands together and I suddenly couldn’t breathe. The air on both sides of me was crushing in like a vice. It was all I could muster to keep it from breaking every bone in my body. I couldn’t gesture enough to dispel it.
How the hell could he do that?