Perda's heart pounded. Despite Darb's shouts, Zann was still holding on to the skull. The energy around him was becoming more violent with every passing second. If she and the others didn't convince him to drop that skull, its power might destroy him.
Zann glared at a tiny dragon that was harassing Zing.
"Stop!" he intoned, pointing at it.
The spell singed Zing's tail, and with a yelp, the pet dragon dived behind a pile of rubble.
"We've got to stop Zann!" Perda cried.
Without waiting for a response, she leaped at Zann.
"Oof!" he grunted as she tackled him.
The skull bounced out of Zann's grip and rolled away, coming to rest against the candlestick he had dropped. Zann's eyes had stopped glowing, and he lay on the floor for a moment, breathing hard. Then he sat up and looked around the room.
"Zann?" Darb said cautiously. "Are you okay?"
Zann didn't respond. Climbing to his feet, he stepped toward the skull.
"No!" Perda shouted. "Don't touch it!"
"Please, Zann," Gliss said, sobbing.
Grabbing the candlestick, Zann lifted it over his head and brought it down as hard as he could, smashing the skull to bits.
"No person should ever hold that much power," Zann said in a shaky voice. He smiled weakly. "I guess now I know how Morb feels."
Just then a small band of trolls, grunting heavily, rushed through the doorway and into the room.
"Oh no!" Perda cried. "It looks like some of the trolls are still under Morb's control!"
"How are we going to get out of here?" Gliss exclaimed.
Zann smiled. "Magic—how else?" He waved toward the remains of the machine. "Morb can't track us anymore, remember?"
Gliss quickly zapped herself and Darb away.
Perda grinned and rubbed her fingers together. "Zap."
She landed in a deserted hallway. Her friends were nowhere in sight, which was not surprising since there hadn't been enough time to agree on a destination.
But that didn't matter now that they could use magic.
Perda was about to summon a message moth to track down the others when she heard loud voices nearby. Curious, she stepped toward the nearest window and discovered that she was on the second floor. Another machine stood in the courtyard below.
"That must be the magic-sucking machine," thought Perda.
Standing near the machine were two people—Slib and Morb.
"You've failed me!" Morb shouted. His face was twisted with anger.
"I'm sorry, Your Majesty," Slib whined. "I searched all night, but I couldn't catch any leeches. Every time I displaced the water in the river, they wriggled into the mud before I could catch—"
"First someone tampers with my trolls, and now this!" Morb interrupted him. "Schoolchildren all over Magica know how to catch those leeches, and yet you can't manage to bring me the single one I require?"
Perda frowned, puzzled. Why did Morb need a single local leech?
Morb sent a sizzle of energy at Slib. The energy surrounded Slib for a second, but as far as Perda could tell, it didn't do anything to him. Then Morb snapped his fingers. Perda could hear a loud growl, and a strange striped creature stepped into view.
Slib looked at it. "Your Majesty," he said. "What . . . is . . . that?"
"It comes from a world with no magic," Morb said with an evil chuckle.
"Of course, for an experienced Magician such as you, that shouldn't be a problem. There's just one minor detail . . ."
"Your Majesty?" said Slib.
Morb smirked. "I put a Dousing spell on you—you aren't able to use any magic," he said. Then he laughed nastily.
Perda ducked out of sight as Slib's screams of terror echoed through the palace.
Meanwhile Zann tiptoed along a windowless corridor. He knew he should look for his friends, but he couldn't stop thinking about his grandfather. Boz was somewhere in the palace right now.
He thought about summoning a spy fly to help him locate Boz. But that would take too long.
Then he remembered a spell that he had learned in Family Spells class a few months earlier.
Closing his eyes, he focused on a memory from when he was five years old—Boz had taken him to the ocean for the day. The two of them were watching a group of giant sea dragons romp in the waves, and Zann was mesmerized by the enormous creatures. After a few minutes, he realized his grandfather had been watching him instead of the dragons.
"Why are you looking at me?" Zann asked.
Boz smiled warmly. "You're much more interesting to me than those dragons."
Zann focused on Boz's face from this exact moment, making sure he got every detail right. "Expand," he murmured.
The image expanded so that Zann could see the background. Boz was sitting in a stone cell, looking worried.
It was working!
Zann continued to focus, and the image grew larger and larger. Soon he could see the entire dungeon, and then he could see a stairwell leading to it. The image continued to expand until it contained the entire palace, including Zann's own current location. He quickly studied this three-dimensional map and memorized Boz's location five floors below.
"Zap!" Zann said.
He landed in the dark, in the middle of a flight of steps.
Below he could see light and hear voices. Hurrying in their direction, Zann found himself in a long corridor lit by torches and lined with many cells. In every one, red hair glowed in the torchlight.
"Zann?" a familiar voice called out.
Zann smiled. "Boz!" he shouted, rushing toward his grandfather's cell.