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Juriel obeyed. Purple lightning burst from the palms of her hands and bounced harmlessly off of Jae’s shield. Sparks illuminated the tiny room already heavy with the burnt metallic scent of magic.
Jae slithered to his left. Juriel followed his movements, trying to anticipate his next action. His green eyes bore into her, not betraying even the lightest hint of his intentions.
“Again!” Jae barely finished the command when the deep purple lightning slammed against his defenses. Unlike Juriel’s previous attempts, this last attack caused his outer shields to quiver. Her magic was more focused. Instead of allowing the bolts to hit him at various points, some missing the mark all together, she’d concentrated her power. All four bolts hit his defenses within a foot’s radius. Jae smiled inwardly. She was getting stronger.
Moving to his right, Jae returned to his previous position. Without warning, he let out his own attack. Blue fire erupted from his hands. Juriel gasped, recoiling when it slammed against her shields. But then it was Jae’s turn to be surprised. It bounced off Juriel’s defenses and shot back towards his own, hitting them with surprising force. The impact caused him to stagger backward, almost knocking him to the ground.
The fire died and the room filled with smoke. When the air cleared enough to see, Juriel’s reaction wasn’t at all what Jae expected She’d collapsed to her knees, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“I’m sorry, my Lord Jae,” she whimpered.
He walked to her. Taking her hands in his, he helped her to her feet. “Whatever for?”
“For hurting you. I’ve never used a reflect spell before. It seems obvious, but I didn’t realize it would work quite that way.”
“You didn’t hurt me, Juriel. My shields remained intact.”
“No buts,” Jae interrupted, placing his finger over her lips. “I’m proud of everything you’ve accomplished. You made wonderful progress today. Soon your time for reclamation will come. Your father will deplore the day he deemed your life worthless.”
Juriel’s gaze fell to the floor. “I can’t do this, my lord. I can’t stand against my father. I’m not strong enough.”
“How can you think that, Juriel? Your father has no resistance to magic. I will teach you some unique defenses to protect you should your brothers come to your father’s aid. You will be fine. The severity of his punishment is entirely up to you. You have the ability to kill him quickly or make him suffer.”
Juriel shook her head. “No,” she said, looking up at him with tear stained cheeks. “You don’t understand. It has nothing to do with my strength or abilities. I can’t stand against my father. What reason do I have? He did what he believed to be right. What he was taught. What everyone was taught. Even me.”
Jae scrutinized her for a moment, understanding where she was coming from all too well. “Does that make it right?”
Juriel searched her mentor’s eyes for an answer that would never come. “No,” she finally replied. “But is it right of me to punish him for that deed now, months after the fact? That seems almost as perverse as what he did to me. Do two wrongs make a right?”
“No, they do not. But you must remember, Juriel, it is our job to enforce the law. Under the old order, your father would have done nothing wrong. That is no longer the case. He broke the law. Whether by your hand or that of another Mé’Draak, he will pay for his crimes. You were given the opportunity because of the circumstances.”
“But so long after the incident? It’s been almost four months!”
“And you believe he won’t commit another crime?”
Juriel opened her mouth then closed it again without speaking. She hadn’t considered she’d be punishing her father for something unrelated to her beating. She had no problem arresting him for a future crime. And while she wasn’t totally comfortable with confronting him about the crime from months earlier, she also didn’t want him or her brothers to get away with the assault.
When she finally spoke, her voice had a slightly defensive edge. “So he will never be found guilty of attempted murder?”
“I never said that,” Jae replied. “Whenever he next breaks the law, he will be charged with both crimes.”
Juriel sighed. “This all seems so…I don’t know. Odd.”
“My father wasn’t arrested four months ago. Both you and I want him to be held accountable for the beating. But we also recognize it’s something which should have been done then, not now.”
Sighing, Jae pivoted on his heals and walked a few paces before turning back to face her. “Well then, my young apprentice,” he said, his green eyes sparkling mischievously. “What do you propose we do?”