Morb was still in the dungeon, waiting for the trolls to arrive with the leeches.
"So, Morb," Boz taunted, clutching the bars of his cell, "what happened to your prisoners at the zoo? My friend Teplo told me they all escaped. Now how could that have happened?"
In the next cell, Teplo smirked. "Well, Boz, let me tell you. Apparently Morb's trolls were tricked by a pile of turnips."
"Turnips, you say?" Boz laughed.
"That is correct," said Teplo. "Perhaps Morb's not as powerful as he thinks he is, huh?"
Morb ignored the old men, his gaze moving past them to a couple huddled together in a cell farther down the corridor. He walked toward them.
"Hello, Mother and Father," he greeted them with a twisted smile. "I hope the accommodations suit you."
His mother looked up with tears in her eyes. "Why are you doing this, Morb?" she whispered.
"Don't let him get to you, Mother!" a handsome young Red called from a few cells down. "He never did appreciate you."
"True, I didn't appreciate being ignored and misunderstood," Morb snapped, glaring at his brother.
Meanwhile his father climbed to his feet. "Son, please think about what you're doing," he said. "Didn't we teach you right from wrong?"
Morb turned away from him. "You taught me that I'd better do whatever was necessary to take care of myself. And I learned that lesson well."
"Nobody had to teach you to be selfish, Morb!" a young woman—one of his sisters—called from nearby. "You were born that way!"
Morb ignored her too. He'd just heard heavy footsteps coming down the stairs. Good. The trolls were here.
"Bring the cauldron to me," he called to them, not looking at his parents as his mother started to sob. "We'll start right here, in this cell."
"I wish I had a map," Zann muttered, peeking around a corner. "I've got to get back to my friends."
Zann had been walking through the palace for some time and had not yet found an exit. All he'd found were winding stairways and dark, narrow corridors. The palace was much bigger than he'd realized.
Creeping down another flight of steps, Zann diligently watched for any trolls that might be around. He thought briefly about just zapping out. After all, that Deceleration spell hadn't attracted Morb's attention. But it probably wasn't worth the risk. There had to be a way out somewhere.
"Aha!" Zann whispered when he saw sunlight pouring in through a large doorway at the end of a long hallway.
He hurried forward. But the doorway was not an exit—it led to a balcony overlooking the huge courtyard at the center of the palace.
"What in the world is that?" Zann blurted out in surprise when he saw the huge, dark, hulking shape in the middle of the courtyard. Zann immediately thought about what Gliss had told them yesterday. Could this be the horrible magic-sucking machine that Morb had built to help him take over Magica?
He was still staring at the machine when he heard voices approaching. One of them belonged to Slib.
"Uh-oh," Zann whispered. There was nowhere to hide on the balcony. Looking around, Zann saw some pebbles in a planter. They gave him an idea. He picked up one of the pebbles and threw it down the hall, past Slib and the others. It hit a wall and made a sound. Click!
"What was that?" said Slib. Everyone turned around, and Zann quickly dashed into a room across the hall.
"I'm sure it's nothing," said someone else, as the group continued walking closer to Zann.
Zann held his breath—he could hear Slib and the others right outside the door.
"You can believe what I say since I'm now Morb's most trusted adviser," Slib was bragging. "The era of Reds is truly over, just as I predicted. Thanks to King Morb, the rest of us will now have the power we deserve."
One of his companions murmured something in response, but Zann wasn't listening. He barely had time to dash through another doorway before Slib and the others came into the room.
Zann found himself in a hallway lined with half a dozen doors. Behind him, he could hear Slib still bragging loudly.
Zann reached for the first door.
"Ouch!" he blurted out, as the doorknob burned his hand.
"Did you hear that?" Slib's muffled voice came from the other room. "There's someone behind that door."
Zann gulped. He had to get out of sight! But when he looked down the hall, all the doorknobs were glowing red, just like the one he'd touched.
No—not all of them. He spotted one doorknob that was glowing blue. He hurried toward it, but then he hesitated. Who had put a spell on these doors, and why? He'd never seen this kind of spell before. Normally people just used an ordinary Shield spell if they wanted to keep others out of a room.
Then he heard the door behind him start to open. If he didn't get out of this hallway, Slib would see him!
Grabbing the blue doorknob, he was relieved to find it cool under his hand. He pushed through the door, allowing it to fall shut behind him.
He found himself in what appeared to be a dusty old storage room. The only light came through a single barred window. Boxes and crates were piled everywhere, and a couple of dust bugs scuttled off behind a trunk.
Zann heard a sound behind him. Spinning around, he gasped.
Standing in a dim corner of the room was the old woman he and his friends had met in Wormwood.