The Rogue Knight Page 93

“I’d be powerless if I survived the trauma,” the Rogue Knight clarified. “I’d more likely be torn asunder.”

“I’m not here to claim my power,” Honor said. “That day may come, but not yet. For the sake of Elloweer, we must stop Morgassa.”

“Why not leave the task to those who created her?” the Rogue Knight proposed.

“If they alone would pay the price for their folly, I would happily agree,” Honor said. “Sadly, those who made her lack the ability to stop her, and they are not the only ones who will suffer. Before long, all of Elloweer will fall under Morgassa’s control. She must be stopped. We’ll have a better chance if we work together.”

The Rogue Knight turned to his men. “I knew a day of reckoning might come for my borrowed powers. I expect that if we stop Morgassa, that reckoning will follow.”

“We will heed your orders, as ever, regardless of the consequences,” Phillip said, his battle-ax on his shoulder. “Lead on.”

“You have more knights,” Minimus observed.

“Three more,” the Rogue Knight said. “The knights Desmond, Oster, and Raul escaped Edgemont with us and have permanently joined my company. Now that you have returned, Minimus, my knights number eleven and a half.”

When the Rogue Knight named Desmond, Oster, and Raul, he gestured at them. Cole noticed they all now wore full suits of armor like his other knights. They also looked larger.

“What about Joe, Brady, and Sultan?” Mira asked. “They couldn’t come with us. Do you know what became of them?”

“Brady and I are here,” Joe said, emerging from a tent, arm in a sling. Brady followed him. Cole felt immense relief at the sight of them. It was great to know that Joe and the little guy were okay.

“What about Sultan?” Skye asked.

Joe frowned. “Sultan succumbed to his injuries a few hours after you left us.”

“He’s gone?” Skye asked, anguish in her voice.

Cole’s relief turned sour. There had been a lot of blood from the wound to Sultan’s shoulder, but the quarrel hadn’t been in the heart or anything. Cole had expected the sturdy illusionist to recover.

“I did all I could,” Joe apologized. “Not long after he passed away, Brady and I would have fallen into enemy hands if not for the Rogue Knight. Enforcers ambushed us, but the Rogue Knight and his men arrived and destroyed them.”

“May I see the boy?” Callista asked.

Joe turned to Brady. “Do you want to go to her?”

Brady squinted up at him. “Is she nice?”

“I’m a friend, Brady,” Callista said. “I’m here to help.”

“She’s pretty nice,” Cole offered.

Brady crossed to Callista as everyone watched. She placed her hands on his shoulders and looked down at him. He looked small and very young.

“You’re far from home,” she said.

“I want to go back,” Brady said. “Can you help me?”

“Not right now,” Callista said. “I would if I could. Do you know how you came here?”

“I was dreaming,” Brady said. “I got stuck. I couldn’t wake up. I couldn’t leave.”

“I see,” Callista said. “You brought yourself here while dreaming. You opened a way. Then you couldn’t get out.”

“Not until the guys came and got me,” Brady said. “But they didn’t take me home.”

“You had enormous power,” Callista told him.

“I imagined things, and they happened,” Brady replied. “Just like a dream, except it felt really real. I tried to make up happy things. But I couldn’t stop thinking of scary stuff, too. The guys who took me made it go away.”

“You gave them your power, and they channeled it to somebody else,” Callista said.

“They gave it to some lady,” Brady said. “I let them. They promised the dreams would stop. The lady changed.”

“How did she change?” Callista asked.

He paused, looking at the ground. “She became like Mrs. Morgan,” he said softly. “Except worse.”

“Who is Mrs. Morgan?” Callista asked.

Brady studied his feet. “She was my teacher. My first-grade teacher. She was so mean. She hated me.”

“Morgassa,” Cole murmured.

“Yeah,” Brady said, looking over at Cole. “The lady called herself that after she changed. She got taller. She was so angry. She said I was a bad boy. She said she would make me pay. The guys took me away. They took her away too. The guys told me I was safe. They were liars.”

Mira approached Brady. “We’re going to stop her,” she said. “We’re going to stop Morgassa.”

Brady looked worried. “Don’t try. She’ll get you.”

“We have to try,” Honor said.

“Is there anything you know about her that could help us?” Callista asked.

“That lady was different from Mrs. Morgan,” Brady said. “Angrier. Stronger. Kind of like when my monsters came to Dreamland. They were always worse than I imagined.”

“Did Mrs. Morgan have any weaknesses?” Mira asked.

Brady looked stumped.

“Did anything ever scare Mrs. Morgan?” Cole followed up. “Did anything bother her?”

Brady paused to think. “She hated when we wouldn’t pay attention,” he said. “She wanted us to listen. She wanted us to obey. And she hated messes. She always made me clean my desk. It was never good enough.”

Callista approached Joe. “Watch over Brady.”

“I’m coming with you,” Joe protested.

Callista shook her head. “We’re all protected by changings. Someone needs to watch over the boy. He trusts you. We’ll return to you after we deal with Morgassa. How is your arm?”

Joe rubbed it. “Could be worse.”

Callista rested a hand on his shoulder. “You don’t need the sling anymore.”

Rotating his shoulder, Joe rubbed his upper arm and flexed it. “Amazing.”

“A minor changing,” Callista said. “It isn’t truly healed yet. But the changing will leave it fully functional until the healing occurs. Take the boy to the farthest tent. We have matters to discuss.”

“I want to stay,” Brady complained. “I’m not a baby.”

“Come on, Brady,” Joe said. “I know a game.”

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