Find previous chapters here.
There he was, back at last. Of course, he would need a good scrubbing before he could be thoroughly recognizable as her son, but he was back, and that was what mattered.
She should have been elated, should have felt victorious, or she should have been furious at the boy. Yet all Louise felt was uneasiness. Maxwell was no doubt gloating over his victory, and that alone was enough to put her in a poor mood, but the stupid little fat man beside him had a devious smirk that made her mistrust all was well.
And her presence gave Louise more misgivings. They had taken Bill from a poor young couple near the outskirts of the country, choosing people who would not be missed. She had wanted to take both infants, a twin boy and girl, to have a second option if one died, but Max had been adamant that they only needed the boy. It had all happened quickly, their attack on the unsuspecting house. Bill should have been the only survivor—but Maxwell had slipped (though he blamed her) and the mother escaped with the girl. “The woman is gravely injured,” he’d dismissed her worries. “Neither of them will last.”
Now here she was, grown up. Did Bill know he was adopted? Was everything ruined for good?
The boy gasped and sputtered. “My sister?” He turned to the girl beside him, whose eyes were wide, but not with surprise. “You know?”
“Will,” she squeaked in a pathetic voice that made Louise’s lips curl.
“You knew?” Bill’s voice grew. “How could you not tell me?”
The girl curled her shoulders forward. “I just—Trevor told me. But I didn’t want—”
“Didn’t want what?” Bill demanded, scowling.
She dropped her head, stringy brown hair falling over her filthy face. “I didn’t want you to hate me.”
The nameless sorcerer laughed.
Louise bit her tongue, remembering their first meeting. “Tell me your name,” she had demanded.
“Sorry, but no. There is power in names. I would be a fool to trust you with mine.”
He spoke to the children. “Ah, this is delightful. But let us get to the real reason you are here. You, Bill, want to save Ferngold, and you, Annette, want your family.”
Then the courage of the little waif surprised Louise. “They’re not my family,” she pointed at her and Maxwell. “And his name’s Will.”
“Very well, so you want to be with Bill,” the sorcerer continued. “Both of you cannot have your way. Here,” he waved at a table she hadn’t noticed before, “is the antidote that will heal the Fern.”
Bill started forward, but the girl grabbed him. “Wait! It might be a trap.”
The sorcerer smirked, and Louise almost wished they had taken the girl instead of the boy. She seemed cleverer, anyways—although that was not saying much. Ooh, Louise could have done great things with a mind like that.
“You wound me with your mistrust,” the sorcerer placed a hand to his chest. “But perhaps there is something more to the exchange than I have let on.”
“Then say it,” Bill ordered.
Maxwell tisked. “Bill, where are your manners? Respect the powerful sorcerer or he might do you harm.”
Bill glared at them. “He’s working with you. I think he already has plans to do me harm.”
“Not necessarily,” the sorcerer hedged. “You should know, though, that this table is enchanted. Anyone who touches what is upon it will forget the past two years of their life.”
“I’ll forget everything since I ran away.” Bill’s face slipped into a blank mask. “Then it will be pointless. I won’t even remember to take the cure to Ferngold.”
Maxwell stepped forward. “Oh, do not concern yourself. On my word as a Kangraff, I will send you to deliver it. The fools will have their magic bush back.”
Bill glanced at the girl by his side and stepped closer to her. “What about Annette?”
“I’m glad you mention her,” the sorcerer smiled. Excitement filled Louise at the evil look in his eye. “You can forget the past two years and save Ferngold, or you can save your sister and she will live out the rest of her life in the dungeons.”
“Save me from what?” the girl asked.
“Again, I’m glad you asked.” The sorcerer brought his hands out of his coat, and with them a throwing knife that glinted in the harsh sunlight. In one fluid motion, he drew his arm back and threw it straight at the girl’s chest. The children’s screams split the humid air.
“Save her from a poisoned knife wound to her heart,” the sorcerer finished.
Look for the next chapter on Friday 🙂