“Now, Pink, dear. Choke Plum again. Now.”
Plum steeled himself. This time, he thought, he’d be cleverer about this. Instead of just attacking Pink and hurting her, he’d cast a silent counter-spell. He’d break her spell using pure magic instead of distracting her by hurting her, like the Archmages wanted. Not only would it be painless, but it would be quite an achievement for him to pull off. Maybe enough to impress the Archmages into ending this “game”.
Seeing that Plum looked ready, Pink obediently cast the spell. Plum’s throat began to constrict again. Air was running out faster than he thought, and he struggled to keep his vision steady. Plum could undo the Strangling spell… if he could just work the counter silently… A gust of wind blew by, teasing him with air that should have been in his lungs… He focused. Yes! He could do it! The world was going white, but just a second more and…
Plum gasped, and air flowed into his lungs. And Pink was still standing! He’d broken the spell! He turned to his master and grinned. But Archmage Cyan just scowled back. Not a trace of the proud teacher shone through his visage. Just disappointment bordering on anger. Did this man give a damn about teaching, or did he only do this to get a sadistic kick out of having the apprentices torture each other?
“Fine,” said Cyan. He glared at Pink. “Plum, choke Hot Pink until she can do a silent counterspell, too.”
Plum stood frozen. Pink excelled in many fields, but she had always been hopeless at counterspelling. “Master,” he said, quietly, “what if she can’t do it?”
“If you can make her pass out, then you win,” said Cyan, simply. “As reward, you get to sex her.”
Plum gaped. “Rape her, you mean.”
“Yes, that is what I mean. Do it.”
“You can’t be serious. I… no, I won’t.”
“Don’t be an idiot, Plum,” laughed Archmage Cyan. “You’re my apprentice. And as I’ve just shown, I can make you do anything I want. Now obey me, and strangle her.”
Plum, hating his master, turned to Pink. She gagged and started clutching at her throat. Plum was… confused. He hadn’t even cast the spell yet. What was going on?
“That’s it, Plum. Don’t let up,” urged Cyan, looking at her, not him. Magenta, too, was staring at his apprentice, willing her to resist. But Plum just watched her. What was he supposed to do? He feigned holding the Strangulation spell, but this was Pink’s show now. She did seem to be fooling the Archmages, because he could hear Archmage Cyan egging him on. “Yes,” went Cyan, “now you see what–”
But what Plum was supposed to see, he never found out. What he did see was a huge, jagged piece of work appear in thin air, fly straight past his shoulder, and crush Cyan’s face.
“Aaaaaghh!” cried Archmage Cyan. His hands shot to his face as he doubled over in pain, but Cyan could see hot blood running through the older man’s fingers. Archmage Magenta rushed over to take a look. “Ugh, how disgusting. It looks like you’ve burst an eyeball.”
“I’m so sorry! I conjured that rock and I threw it at Plum, but my eyes were watering from the spell and I missed!” gasped Hot Pink, sounding scared. But Plum, the only one looking at her face instead of Cyan’s, saw not fright, but satisfaction there.
Archmage Magenta ignored her, focusing on the moaning Cyan. “Cyan, stop blubbering. You’re getting blood on my suit. You’ll be all right, old friend. I know enough healing magic to fix you up, but we’ve got to get you inside the house. Pink,” he growled at his apprentice, “stay here. I’ll punish you later.” And with that, the two Archmages left them on the grass outside Cyan’s house, slamming the big front door shut behind them.
In the wake of that slam there was silence. Plum and Pink stared at each other, hearing only the sounds of birds in the trees. Did they have nothing to say? No, realized Plum. The young woman, even in her slight victory, was scared out of her mind. And so was he.
“Pink,” he made himself say. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“I’m sorry,” said Pink quickly. “Not for hurting Cyan, you understand. But, um. I should have fought them, like you did.”
“What the hell was that, then?” Plum pointed at the bloody rock she conjured.
She laughed a little. There was an awkward pause as they both stared as blood dripped off the nasty, jagged stone and painted the grass red. Obviously Pink intended to hurt his master with it, thought Plum, but… that thing was big, and pointy. What if she’d killed him? What if the rock had got Archmage Cyan not in the face, but in the neck? Right at the jugular, maybe?
Archmage Cyan let out a cry of pain that could be heard through the house’s upstairs window. Both apprentices jumped. “Healing magic. It can hurt,” said Pink.
“Yeah,” said Plum, absently. “Listen. We’re almost through with this whole apprentice thing. My Examination is in a few months, and I’m sure yours will be soon after.”
“Mmhmm,” said Pink. “God, I can’t wait for that. I can’t remember ever looking forward to an exam so much!”
Plum chuckled weakly. “Yeah, but listen, though. They’ve… they’ve put us through a lot.”
“This I know. Archmage Magenta’s abused me in more ways than I can even… And your master put you through that Mind Blank thing…” she shuddered, and looked away into the trees.
He just nodded, his face set, his eyes still focused on where Pink’s head was a moment ago. It wasn’t anything in the real world he was seeing, though, but a vision that blasted through his mind. It was as sharp as a memory, and as satisfying as a good dream. “I’m going to kill him,” Plum said aloud. “I mean it. Once I pass my Examination, I’m going to kill Cyan.”
That made Pink turn around again. “Uh, what? Don’t be stupid.” Seeing Plum open his mouth to argue, she went on, “I know he deserves it, Plum. So does Archmage Magenta, ten times over, but, but… you’re talking about your master. The man who literally taught you everything you know, right? Any trick you think of pulling, he will anticipate. It’s just… just…”
“…hopeless,” finished Plum. He let out a long sigh. “I suppose you’re right. It’ll never work.”
“What won’t work,” said Archmage Cyan. He was now standing in the doorway, looking furious. He had both his eyes again, and Archmage Magenta stood behind him.
“Nothing, Master,” said Plum, bowing his head and stepping inside. He and Archmage Magenta bumped into each other as they passed.
“Magenta… I could get Magenta…” thought Plum as the door closed behind him.