"You had a Red Share with Gliss?" Perda sounded surprised. "I didn't know you two were so close."
"Me neither," Darb said quietly.
Zann didn't say anything. He was surprised himself. Usually Red Shares only happened between family members or very close friends.
"Gliss is the girl who was captured this morning, yes?" Teplo said thoughtfully. "It's interesting that you received the Share now rather than when the trolls grabbed her."
Perda nodded. "I'm sure Gliss has been terrified ever since she was taken. The Share means something just scared her even more."
Teplo yanked the rope again. "Where is Fala?" he exclaimed.
A door opened in the back of the room. "Sorry," Fala said breathlessly. "I was distracted, watching the trolls on the Remote Eye."
"What's a Remote Eye?" Perda asked.
Fala glanced at her. "Hey, you're the kids who knocked on the door. How'd you get down here?" She shot a suspicious look at Teplo. "Did you use the trapdoor? I told you—that thing's dangerous!"
Teplo grinned sheepishly. "I put cushions under the hole."
Fala rolled her eyes. "Sorry about that," she told the kids. Then she noticed that Darb was gnawing on a turnip cookie. "Are you hungry? You don't have to eat those disgusting things."
"Disgusting?" Teplo said. "Turnips are extremely nutritious!"
Ignoring him, Fala conjured some food and a pitcher of airberry juice.
"Thank you!" Perda exclaimed. "We can't use magic right now."
"I know he can't." Fala pointed at Zann. "But as far as we know, the trolls are only targeting Reds."
"That's what I thought," Teplo said. "But wait until you hear their story!" He told Fala what the kids had just told him.
"That's quite a tale," she said when he was finished. "I think I saw Gliss on the Remote Eye this morning. She's a pretty girl about your age, right?"
Zann realized that Fala had never answered Perda's question. "What's a Remote Eye?" he asked.
"It's an ancient type of magic, long forgotten in these peaceful times," Teplo said. "It's a way to watch someone without being seen—and without using a spy fly."
Fala nodded. "In the Old Times, Magicians often created devices that focused their energy through certain arrangements of special objects. Some of the plans still exist, though these ancient texts are only available to advanced scholars at the university."
"Why?" Perda asked. "If these old devices make better magic, shouldn't everyone know about them?"
"It's not that simple," replied Teplo. "The devices often had unintended side effects. Besides, many devices required components that are unlawful or immoral to possess today."
"Like what?" said Zann.
Teplo looked uneasy. "Well, for instance, a Remote Eye was originally supposed to contain an actual eye."
"You mean a person's eye?" Darb sounded horrified.
"Ideally, yes," Teplo said. "Though some books suggested using the eye of a dragon instead."
"Is that what you used?" Zann exclaimed, thinking of Zing. "A dragon's eye?"
"Of course not!" Fala said. "We've been experimenting with alternatives, and we finally found one that works. It's a telescope lens that I borrowed from a Void friend."
"What's a telescope?" Perda asked.
"It helps you see stuff that's far away," Darb told her. "It works sort of like a Sight Enhancing spell."
"Now if only we could concoct an eardrum substitute, we might be able to hear the trolls as well as see them," Teplo said. "Meanwhile, Fala, is there any news from our contacts at the palace?"
"A little." Fala looked worried. "The king's assistant just volunteered to take over as king."
"You mean that sneaky little fellow, Slib?" Teplo rolled his eyes. "He's not fit to rule his own house, let alone Magica."
"He claims the era of Reds is over," Fala said. "The Red Council—that is, what's left of it—can't do much to prevent him from grabbing power, since the members are all in hiding."
"Well, I'll let the others worry about that." Teplo shrugged. "I don't care about politics. What I do care about is helping the trolls' prisoners."
Zann nodded. "We have to figure out how to save Gliss. Let's go scout out that dragon pen."
"Out of the question," Teplo said. "It's far too dangerous."
"But she's only there because of me," Zann insisted. "I have to save her!"
The others all tried to change his mind. But Zann was determined, arguing against whatever they said. Finally Teplo sighed.
"He's just as stubborn as his grandfather," he muttered. "Go if you must, Zann. But you'll need a disguise."
"If he's going, I'll go too," Perda said.
"No," Teplo said. "It's safer if Zann goes alone."
"He's right," Zann said. "You and Darb should stay here."
Teplo glanced at Fala. "Please send a message to the other Reds who remain free. Maybe they can help keep an eye on Zann in case he gets in trouble." He sounded doubtful, but Fala nodded and summoned several message moths.
Then she went to work on Zann's disguise. Teplo tried to convince her to turn Zann's hair purple, but she made it brown instead. She also hid Zann's freckles with an Illusion spell.
The streets were deserted when Zann left Teplo's house. The zoo was a dozen blocks away. While he walked, Zann tried to come up with a plan to free Gliss. How could he defeat Morb's trolls without using magic?
Zann was still thinking as he rounded a corner. Suddenly he heard a rustle of movement. But before he could react, he found himself trapped in a dark, floating bubble!
"What's going on?" he cried.
"We know that you're a Red," said a low voice. "You'll need to come with us."