41. Surprising Revelations
"You!" Zann blurted out in surprise.
His voice was louder than he'd intended. He glanced nervously at the door, expecting Slib to burst in.
"Don't worry, Zann, he can't hear you." The old woman dropped the bag she was holding. "This room is hidden from most people."
"How do you know my name?" Zann demanded. Then he realized he knew hers too—at least he thought he did. Teplo had mentioned it once. "You're Wyssa, aren't you?"
"That's what they call me, yes," Wyssa said. "Now take my hand, and I'll zap you out of the palace before you're noticed."
"No!" Zann said. "Not until you tell me everything you know about how my parents disappeared!"
Wyssa looked startled. "How did you—? Never mind," she interrupted herself. "I suppose the old man told you I was involved."
"Huh?" Now it was Zann's turn to be startled. "What old man? Wait—are you talking about Boz?"
"Who else?" Wyssa sighed. "He's been poking around these past few years. I know he must suspect me."
Zann didn't know what to say. All this time he'd thought Boz was doing nothing to find Zann's parents.
"I suppose you deserve to know what happened," Wyssa said. "It doesn't matter now anyway. It all began when a very demanding new customer sent me to pick up a scatter beast in Fardark."
"Fardark?" Zann said. The name sounded vaguely familiar, though for a moment he couldn't remember where he'd heard it.
Then it came back to him. He'd seen it in Boz's diary while he was reading about his parents' travels. Fardark was the name of another world!
"It should have been an ordinary errand," Wyssa went on. "But my customer insisted I return via a wormhole that was convenient for him—one near the university. Your parents happened to be entering at the same moment. The chaotic energy of the scatter beast turned what should have been a minor collision into an explosion of unstable magic. I tried to grab your parents, to pull them out with me. But I wasn't able to save them. They went spinning off course and became stuck between worlds."
Once again Zann was speechless. His mind buzzed with questions.
But before he could ask any of them, a zap of energy shot through the room, and Morb appeared.
"There you are!" he said irritably, glaring at Wyssa. "What in the world are you doing in here? I don't like having to track you when I—"
Morb stopped short as he noticed Zann. His eyes widened.
"You!" he spat out.
"Where are they taking us?" Gliss whispered. They had walked deep into the forest.
Perda shrugged, glancing at their captors. There were about half a dozen of them, all with stern looks on their faces. None of them would tell Fala or the kids anything.
Perda had been ready to fight back against that Floating spell. But then she, Gliss, and Fala had Restrain spells placed on them. Perda looked down at her arms, which appeared to be stuck at her sides.
They came to a clearing. Several dozen people were gathered there. As Fala looked around, her eyes lit up.
"Shem!" she called.
A man turned around. "Fala?" he exclaimed. "I can't believe you're here."
"Well, you have these people to thank for it." Fala nodded toward the captors. "They grabbed us in the forest."
Shem laughed. "You can remove the Restrain spells," he told the captors. "They're on our side."
Perda shook her arms. "Who are these people?" she asked Fala.
"Don't worry," Fala said. "They're friends."
Shem told Fala that he and his group had been among the people who'd marched on the palace that morning. Now they were hiding in the woods, trying to figure out how to fight back against Morb.
"Fala can help us," Shem told the group. "She has powerful friends and much knowledge."
As the adults started discussing possible plans, Perda stopped listening. "I thought Zann would have found us by now," she whispered to Gliss and Darb. "I hope he's okay."
Zann stared at Morb, gripped by the fury and triumph in the evil man's eyes. As Morb touched his fingertips together and sparks flew, Zann quickly rubbed his hands together.
"Zap!" he cried.
"Too late, boy," sneered Morb. "Even a clever Red like you can't fight a Dousing spell."
Zann darted toward the exit. But at that moment, a troll stepped forward, blocking the doorway with its huge body.
"Let me through!" Zann yelled, throwing himself at the troll. The troll grunted with surprise as Zann pounded on it with his fists.
Then Zann saw a glint of silver. The talisman! He remembered Fala's words: If only we could get our hands on one of those talismans. It could be invaluable to us. Zann quickly grabbed the talisman and yanked it loose.
"Get him!" Morb yelled.
The troll reached down. Zann barely managed to slip free of the creature's grasp. He stuck the talisman in his pocket and ran to the middle of the room.
"There's nowhere to run, boy!" Morb laughed nastily.
Zann was desperately trying to think of a plan when Wyssa stepped toward him. "Take my hand, Zann," she said.
"What?" he blurted out.
Wyssa grabbed Zann's hand and yanked him toward the corner. Morb watched her suspiciously. "What are you—"
A thunderous humming sound drowned out Morb's voice, and a glowing ring of light appeared in the room. As Zann peered into the swirling vortex, he nearly lost his balance.
"Whatever you do, don't let go of my hand," warned Wyssa. With that, she pulled Zann into the wormhole.