“I’ve faced worse than you,” Barbara snarled. “I’m still alive, too.”
“I doubt you faced them naked, chained, and deprived of your sword,” the sorceress wheezed.
Barbara refused to admit aloud that the ancient witch had a point. She chided herself for letting the hag get the drop on her. However, an old woman begging by the side of the road didn’t look dangerous.
“How does it feel?” the old sorceress continued. “Like a viper with his teeth pulled? Helpless? Good. I’ve had my eye on you." The sorceress frowned and said, with disdain and contempt, "Barbara the Protector. I sense great god essence in you. Soon, it will be mine, held in this bottle. When I consume it, all the world will bow at my feet.”
“You have an overgrown sense of yourself,” Barbara said. She shook the chains holding her fast the altar. As strong as she was, she could not break steel. “You’re a weed begging for a good scythe.”
“Make all the quips you wish, dear,” the sorceress said, dragging her clawed fingertip across Barbara’s cheek.
The braziers flamed. The four small ones at the edges of the altar glowed brighter. Lights swirled around Barbara as the spell began. She felt her skin prickle. Sweat broke out all over her body.
“The process to extract your god essence has begun. It will require all night and be most excruciating. You won’t be worth much afterwards, except to satisfy the lusts of my underlings.”
“You’ve mated too many demons, lady,” Barbara said through clenched teeth. The spell already began to make her muscles ache.
“Mate demons?” the sorceress asked. “Yes. I enjoyed it, too.” She ran her finger down Barbara’s cleavage. “You do have a nice body. A nice, young body.” She licked her lips. “Those demons would love to mate you. Perhaps I will move into your body and seal your mind off. How would you like that? Watching as I reduce your world to slavery through you, powerless to stop me? Watching as I make love to demons with your supple body? Knowing your god essence is now mine, moving me ever closer to immortality!”
Out of the corner of her eye, Barbara saw motion. She faintly smiled as her confidence returned. Veronika never failed to surprise her. The more they were together, the more she realized the young princess was lost, but not helpless. She thanked her gods that the sorceress did not consider Veronika worth capturing. Still, Barbara always liked looking someone in the eye before killing him, or her. “You should look behind you.”
“How silly do you think I am!” the sorceress snapped.
Barbara tried to shrug, as best she could, considering the taut chains. Leave it to a noble, even one from a no longer extant country, to shoot someone in the back. Not that Barbara minded at the moment. “It’s your funeral. Just don’t expect me to cry at your grave.”