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“One day, girl,” the old orc grumbled, “one day you will encounter an enemy who will realize that the true threat he faces isn’t the bear swiping at his knees, or the shaman healing that bear’s wounds.  He will realize that you, the one draining his very life away and sucking at his soul — you are the most dangerous thing on his battlefield.  And do you know what you will do on that day, Astoreth?”

The elf frowned.  Her mind raced.  “I… I stop casting.  I break a soulshard, the way you showed me — release the energy to mask my spell signature.  I run to Shayzani and Aurorai, so that they–“

“No!” the orc scolded her, scowling, his grey braids swinging as he shook his head.  “No!  On that day, you stand with your head held high and you die like a warlock!

* * *

Astoreth gritted her teeth, and winced as she pulled her arm away from her stomach to examine her darkening sleeve, her own thick red blood dripping from her fingers.   She watched as the laughing cultist flung Anetho aside like a wet rag and stalked towards her, grinning madly, blade at the ready.

“…one day,” she hissed, staggering to her feet.  “One day, old man.  But not today.”