“So you want to play rebel against the Dark?” the voice asked. It took on an amused, almost condescending tone. “Why should the resistance want your help? It needs fighters and spies, not spoiled noble girls acting out an adolescent rebellion.”
Diana felt the heat rising in her face. She fought to control her anger, to keep her voice calm and reasoned. She didn’t fully succeed.
“I watched good people die when the Warlord came,” she whispered hotly. “And every day I tend others who were maimed in the massacre. I lost another a few minutes ago. You dare call me a spoiled girl for wanting to fight the monsters that did this?”
“You’re a pampered ambassador’s daughter,” the voice said. It was openly mocking now. “You’ve read too many adventure stories that romanticize fighting the Dark. The reality will be nothing like that. You’ll run home to your father’s protection at the first sign of real danger.”
Diana’s hands balled into fists as she spun, angrily seeking the source of the taunting voice. She knew in that moment that if she’d found the man, she would have hit him.
“You know nothing about me,” she said acidly. “Or what I’m prepared to do.”
The voice chuckled. “And what is that?”
“Whatever it takes.”
The flat coldness of her response silenced him. Diana went on, practically spitting her words.
“I fought a demon in the city,” she said. “It attacked the group I was with. It slaughtered them with magic and claws. I put a knife in its eye. When it was over only two of us were left, and it was dead.”
“Talk,” the voice mocked.
“The only ‘talk’ here is from you,” she retorted. “I have the scars to prove it. And if this is all you have to say, then you’re wasting my time. Go away and don’t contact me again.”
She turned, groping for the handrail in the dark, stepping blindly to find the stairs.
To her surprise, her hand found not the banister, but another hand. The grip was strong and masculine, and it held hers firmly. She found herself suddenly aware of the man’s presence — the sound of his breathing, the shift of his feet on the stone floor, the faint scent of cologne. She stopped, uncertain, and they stood together for a long moment.
“You have an angry fire in you, Lady Dal Meara,” he said at last. “You will need to learn to control it better, and to be more careful, if you are to be of any use to us.”
Diana relaxed. She should have known the taunting was a test. She felt suddenly foolish.From Sanctum of the Archmage: Dawn of Chaos – Aftermath, by Tony Andarian