The Rogue Knight Page 87

“Neither can Buttons,” Callista said. “You’re forgiven. Now, where were we? Ah, yes, at the bottom of Fog Lake. You were wondering how I keep in touch with the affairs of Elloweer while shrouded in a clammy netherworld. My extended solitude has heightened my perceptions. I have some talent with enchanting, you see, and I can sense the web of power across Elloweer. Pluck a strand, and the whole web shivers. A discerning eye can learn much as the pattern evolves. And should a juicy fly land and become trapped?” She licked her lips. “Ambrosia!”

Buttons cleared his throat. “Metaphorically.”

“I’m trying to find a friend,” Cole said. “A shaper who got sold as a slave.”

“Is this person in Elloweer?”

“One of the other kingdoms,” Cole said.

“Regrettably, my perceptions don’t extend beyond the Ellowine borders.”

“You said you know about Morgassa?” Honor asked.

“I have many methods of gathering information,” Callista said. “It helps that I’m an expert with figments. Tell me what you guess about her.”

Mira explained about how Carnag was a manifestation of her powers, and told of their suspicion that Morgassa might be the embodiment of Honor’s abilities.

“You know what I miss?” Callista sighed. “Sunlight. I can fake it better than most.”

A brilliant ball of light appeared in the middle of the room, too bright to look at. A moment later it was gone.

Callista scrunched her lips sideways. “There is something about the actual sun in the actual sky that I just can’t simulate.” She glanced at Honor. “You’re wrong about Morgassa, dear. She is not connected to your power. I can sense where your power goes, and it’s not to her.”

“Whoa!” Mira exclaimed.

“Wait,” Honor said. “Then what is Morgassa?”

“She came from a real heavyweight,” Callista said. “I don’t know his name, but I felt when he surrendered his ability. It’s an odd circumstance. The power came from outside of Elloweer and was changed into Ellowine energy. A nifty trick. Trillian had told me it was possible, but I didn’t see how. Now I have an example to study.”

“Brady,” Cole said.

“Was he kept at Blackmont Castle until recently?” Callista asked.

“Yes,” Cole said.

“That would be the one,” she said. “He gave his power away, but a shadow of it remains. They can never really take it all, not while you live, at least. But he’ll never be anything like he once was. Talk about power! I wouldn’t have tangled with him.”

It was strange for Cole to hear Callista discuss Brady with such respect. He was just a little guy! Of course, that little guy had created a bizarre wilderness full of killer skeletons and enormous toy dinosaurs. His power had been no joke.

“My power connects somewhere else?” Honor asked.

“Surely you’ve guessed it, my dear,” Callista said. “It couldn’t be more obvious.”

“I don’t know,” Honor said.

“You have one of his minions in your midst,” Callista said. “Your power produced the Rogue Knight, of course.”

Cole paused with a bite of sorbet almost to his lips.

“Her power?” Minimus cried.

“Others channeled it to him,” Callista said. “I’m sure they hoped to control Honor’s power through him. But her power claimed the host body and mind.”

“Wait,” Cole said. “The Rogue Knight is Honor’s power, but also a real person?”

“Same with Morgassa,” Callista said. “The power can’t just take shape here like it did in Sambria. It needs a host. Brady’s power worked a potent changing on someone, as did Honor’s. They became Morgassa and the Rogue Knight.”

“I’m astounded,” Honor said. “I’ve heard of this Rogue Knight, but I never suspected a connection to him.”

“He knows much about you,” Callista replied. “His strength rises from your power.”

“Is the Rogue Knight all right?” Mira asked. “He’s alive?”

“He is well,” Minimus said. “I would feel it if he fell.”

“Likewise,” Callista said.

Mira looked relieved. “We know a little about the people who created Morgassa and the Rogue Knight,” she said, then explained about the shapecrafter Quima and how she tried to control Carnag.

“I bet Owandell was a shapecrafter too,” Honor said. “That would fit.”

“I knew there were people like these shapecrafters,” Callista said. “I’ve felt them meddling with the shaping power. I never learned what they called themselves. They’ve effectively kept to the shadows.”

“But lately they’ve taken on more than they could handle,” Twitch said.

“In Morgassa and the Rogue Knight both,” Callista agreed.

“I’ll have to defeat the Rogue Knight to get my power back,” Honor said.

“You’ll do no such thing,” Minimus said heatedly. “I’ll be a corpse first.”

“Let’s not be too hasty,” Callista said, turning a sharp eye to Minimus. “I would hate to unravel the changings worked on you, little man.”

Minimus stood up and drew his sword. “You’re welcome to try.”

Hand straying to the hilt of his Jumping Sword, Cole shifted to the edge of his seat. He had seen Minimus in action. If this escalated, it would get ugly, fast.

“Sheath that at once, or the mist grifters will feast on your organs,” Callista threatened. “If anything happened to Honor, the Rogue Knight would not only lose his power, but probably his life.”

“Kindness works better with him,” Mira said. “Minimus, you’re under orders to protect me.”

“I’ll always defend my lord,” Minimus said.

“Your loyalty is commendable,” Callista said graciously. “Was that better?” she whispered to Mira.

Mira gave her a thumbs-up.

Callista stroked the arms of her rocking chair. “We must work together. The Rogue Knight may have Honor’s enchanting power, but the threat we all currently face is Morgassa. Unchecked, she will undo all of us—me, you, the Rogue Knight, even Trillian. She generates figments that turn any they touch into her creatures. Her horde will absorb us all unless she is stopped. How are the rest of you enjoying my dessert?”

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