Zann kept watching in horror as the smoke sucked the last bit of energy out of the troll. The creature grunted weakly, and the other trolls stared at it, not understanding what had happened. One by one, they grunted and fell over as the smoke surrounded them.
"Excellent!" Morb cackled as the last of the trolls crumpled to the ground.
The smoke was still expanding. Slib backed away, keeping out of range. "Er, how do you turn it off, Your Majesty?" he asked nervously.
Morb laughed. "I don't." With one hard shove, he sent Slib stumbling into the smoke.
"No!" Slib struggled to escape as the smoke wrapped its tendrils around him. Moments later he lay on the ground, panting.
"I've lost my magic!" he cried.
Zann could see Boz and the others still frozen in place. And the smoke was slowly drifting toward them. If it reached them, they would all lose their magic!
"Getting nervous, boy?" Morb cackled again.
Zann quickly pointed at Morb. "Blast!" he shouted.
Morb lifted a hand and deflected Zann's Blast spell.
"You can't stop me." Morb laughed.
The smoke was coming toward Zann. He looked at the jawbone perched atop the magic-sucking machine.
"Hmm," he thought. "I stopped the other machine by removing that skull."
Zann held out a hand toward the jawbone.
"Come to me," he murmured.
The jawbone shifted slightly.
Morb scowled. "Haven't you learned that you're no match for me?"
Morb held up a hand. A shaft of energy shot out, blocking Zann's Transport spell and burning his hand.
"Ouch!" Zann cried. But, holding out his hand again, he commanded, "Come to me."
"You just won't give up, will you?" said Morb, sending several bolts of energy toward Zann. Zann jumped out of the way, and the wall behind him exploded.
Morb strode over to the magic-sucking machine. "Now I'll show you why there's no point in fighting me." Morb dipped his hand into the tank and scooped out some of the magic-infused water. But before he could take a sip, his talisman began to glow, and his hand froze in place.
Glancing over, Zann could see Fala entering the courtyard. In her hand was the troll talisman.
"How did you . . . ?" Morb cried, unable to move his hand.
Although Morb was immobilized, he apparently still had enough magic to maintain the Flash Freeze he'd placed on Boz and the others. And the smoke was now just inches from them. Fala was frantically trying to free them with the talisman, but it wasn't working. Zann turned his gaze back to the jawbone and focused all his energy.
"Come to me," he murmured again, holding out his hand.
The jawbone leaped off the machine, and the smoke disappeared instantly. As soon as Zann caught the bone, its magic energized him. He could feel sparks flying; his eyes felt strange. Pointing at Boz and the others, he shouted, "Free!"
Energy shot out everywhere. Within a moment all the frozen people were able to move again. But the chaotic magic had also freed Morb, who still had the magic-infused water in his hand. He raised his hand to his lips.
Using a Blast spell, Zann quickly knocked Morb down, causing him to spill the water. Then he blasted the tank on the machine.
"No!" Morb howled as the last of the liquid was absorbed into the ground.
Zann lifted the jawbone over his head to smash it.
Morb's eyes filled with panic. "Wait!" he blurted out. "I have a proposition for you!"
"I'm not interested," Zann said.
"Oh, you'll be interested in this," Morb said quickly, standing up. "How would you like to know what happened to your parents?"
"I already know about the accident," said Zann.
Morb was silent for a moment and then spoke. "Let me tell you something, young man. Your parents' disappearance was no accident."
Zann was confused. "Wyssa said—"
Morb chuckled. "Yes, Wyssa thinks it was an accident. She also thinks it was her fault—that's how I've been able to blackmail her all this time."
Boz called out, "Don't listen to him, Zann!"
But Zann barely heard his grandfather. Could Morb tell him what really happened to his parents?
Morb's lips curled into an evil grin. "Just hand me the Mouth of the Undead, Zann, and I'll tell you where your parents are."
"You know where they are?" said Zann.
"Of course I know where they are," Morb retorted. "Would you like to see them?"
"What?" Zann thought. His parents were alive, and he could see them again . . .? The arms holding the bone dropped slightly.
Morb saw that his words were working—he was getting to the boy. "I'll even let your grandfather go with you," he added.
Zann looked at Boz. The old man had a faint smile that seemed to say, "I know you'll make the right choice." Zann breathed deeply. He knew what that choice was. He looked back at Morb.
"Can I bring Darb too?" Zann asked.
"Who?" asked Morb.
"What about Perda?" Zann added. "And Gliss? Fala? Teplo? Can they all come with me? What about everyone else over there? What about the rest of Magica?"
"Wh-what are you talking about?" Morb stammered.
Zann stared deep into Morb's eyes. "You have nothing to offer me, Morb. Maybe you can't understand this, but I would never turn my back on my friends—or Magica."
Zann raised the jawbone over his head and threw it down as hard as he could.
Morb's eyes widened with horror. "No—!"
There was a deafening crack, and the two splintered halves of the bone skidded across the cold floor.