47. Clever Solutions
"We have to find the dungeon!" Gliss exclaimed. "That's where my parents are being held!"
"I know," Darb said calmly. "But there's no sense rushing into the dungeon on our own. We should find our friends first, and then look for it together. That was the plan."
Gliss gritted her teeth, feeling frustrated. She and Darb had been arguing ever since she'd zapped them away ten minutes earlier.
"Why are you being so unbelievably stubborn?" she cried.
She was so exasperated that she poked him in the chest. To her surprise, Darb reached out and gave her a hard shove in return.
"Hey!" she blurted out in surprise as she stumbled backward and onto the floor. "How dare you—"
"Shh!" said Darb.
Just then Gliss felt something whiz past her head.
"Stay down!" Darb cried, flinging himself to the floor beside her.
Gliss heard the thing hit the wall at the end of the hallway. Then she ducked her head as another whizzing object shot over them.
"What was that?" she yelped. "Is someone shooting arrows at us?"
"I don't think they're arrows!" Darb pointed toward the end of the hall.
Gliss saw a long, narrow creature hanging there. It looked like some kind of lizard with suction cups for feet. As she watched, it pulled its snout out from the stone wall, revealing a sharp blade. Pushing off with its feet, the lizard hurled itself straight at them again.
"Ah!" Gliss cried, rolling to the side just in time.
"Sorry I shoved you," Darb said breathlessly. "There was no time to—"
Three more of the creatures sailed past them.
"I know," Gliss said. "And now it's my turn to save you." She grabbed his hand. "Zap!"
Zann grasped his grandfather's hands through the bars, feeling happier than he had in days. "Are you sure you're okay?" he asked.
Boz chuckled, squeezing Zann's hands. "I'm fine," he said. "Luckily, I haven't been a victim of Morb's leech treatment for a couple of days."
"Nor have I," said Teplo from the next cell. "I'm starting to think Morb ran out of those nasty creatures."
Zann was happy to hear that Boz and Teplo were okay. But some of the other Reds in the dungeon looked weak and ill. The king and queen were sharing a cell nearby. Both were slumped on the floor, pale and shaking.
Zann also spotted several other familiar faces. The mayor of Swamp Bottom was a few cells from the king and queen. Gliss' parents were huddled together farther down the aisle. Some of Boz's other Magic Master friends were there too.
"I've got to get you all out of here," Zann said. He glanced at Teplo. "Fala is here—some other people too—and everyone is ready to fight Morb."
"Ah, you've raised a brave boy, Boz!" Teplo said with a smile.
Zann rubbed his hands together and pointed at the huge metal lock on Boz's cell door. "Open," he said.
Nothing happened. "Don't bother, Zann," Boz said. "Morb has put a Dousing spell over the entire dungeon."
"That's right," Teplo added wryly. "Do you think we would have stuck around if we'd had a choice?"
Zann's shoulders slumped. He'd just regained his magic, and now it was useless again.
"Without magic, how am I supposed to . . ." His words trailed off. He could almost hear Darb's voice in his head: It is possible to get into a house without magic, you know!
Zann grinned. Any door that could be opened with magic could also be opened without it. He stepped away from the cells and scanned the walls near the steps. The item he needed should be here somewhere . . .
"Aha!" said Zann. He reached over and grabbed a key off a hook on the wall. It was inside the stairwell, just out of sight of the prisoners.
Boz's eyes widened when he saw it. "Good thinking, my boy! Now hurry and get us out of here!"
Morb rubbed his fingers together and touched the talisman in his hand. Energy emanated from it and flowed through the air and into the talismans of the trolls standing in front of him. Morb hated to give up that magical energy, especially when he had so little left. But he couldn't risk leaving the palace without strong trolls to guard him—especially not now, when he was so close to victory.
"Come with me," Morb ordered the trolls.
They marched behind him as he walked through the palace. The blob Wyssa had brought last week was still guarding the entrance, but it shrank back respectfully as Morb passed.
Morb strode across the square, ignoring the few citizens that were scurrying about. Soon he reached the riverbank.
"I should find what I need here," he muttered.
Rubbing his hands together, Morb focused on the river before him.
"Levitate!" he intoned.
Energy sizzled from Morb's hands. With a groan the entire riverbank rose, dripping water and dirt. Morb waved a hand, and the mass moved until it was directly over him.
The trolls stepped back, staring fearfully up at the huge chunk of earth hanging overhead. Morb smiled as his sharp amber eyes spotted a small, gray shape wriggling out of the dirt above him.
Just as he'd expected, the leeches had burrowed into the riverbank as soon as they'd felt his spell. Now they had burrowed straight through and were falling from the bottom.
Morb reached out and caught the first leech as it fell. Then he turned away, ignoring the dozens of others that were raining down around him.
"That's all," he told the trolls. "Let's go."