Roanna grinned maliciously as she appraised the small band of travelers that had ventured into her domain.
“Welcome to Damrok, Dylan à Carrock,” she sneered. “I wasn’t expecting to see you so soon.”
“And I was hoping sooner, Lady Roanna,” the lord answered stiffly, trying to keep his temper under control. “I have come for my children.”
“Ah, your children?” The sorceress laughed. “I would say they are much less your children than mine, Dylan à Carrock.”
“Liar!” Tabea screamed and tried to launch herself at the other woman. She came to a halt against her husband’s outstretched arm.
“That may be at this moment. However it is an unnatural bond, one that cannot hold.”
“What do you know about sorcery and its powers, Dylan à Carrock?” Roanna mocked. “You don’t even have the courage to enlarge your own power.”
“Perhaps it’s because he’s realized that it’s not his power,” came a voice from just behind the lord.
“You?!?” the sorceress mocked, her eyes growing wide. Alick slowly took a step forward.
“Yes, sister. I came and I guided Dylan à Carrock, his wife, and his friends into this castle and I will guide them out again. You, however, will never leave these walls.” There was a strangely sad quality to his voice. “It’s because you haven’t realized that ‘your’ power isn’t yours at all. It is stolen from the Word and he will take it back all too soon.”
“So the wizard has become a Scholar,” she sneered back.
“No, I am neither wizard nor Scholar,” the old man answered, shaking his head. “I was a wizard and I may become a Scholar some day, but now I am just the servant of the Lord of Carrock.” It was said humbly, without a hint of mockery and for the first time Dylan realized that this old man had changed. Slowly Alick rose to his full height and stared at his sister.
“Roanna, you claim he has no power over these children. You claim that they are yours. Would you be willing to test that claim?” The sorceress bit her lower lip, rage smouldering in her eyes.
“Prove to Dylan à Carrock, that these children aren’t his.” The dark eyes now bored into hers.
“Very well, Dylan à Carrock,” she finally said haughtily. “You may have one chance to show your weakness.”
“He who is weak is strongest in the Word,” Savoy whispered in Dylan’s ear. The lord just barely nodded and took two steps forward. Lora followed him closely, wanting to watch everything. Slowly Dylan went down on one knee in front of his son.
“Do you know who you are, child?” he asked. The brown head nodded timidly.
“Tell me, who are you?”
“I am Kyle.” The words were halting.
“Do you know who I am?” his father asked, reaching out and taking one clammy hand.
“Dylan à Carrock,” the boy whispered. It was like a heavy blanket was a round his head. He knew this man with the gentle eyes and soft voice. He slowly closed his eyes. Suddenly he saw himself on the meadow, romping with that man and with the lady with the golden-brown hair. He remembered being tucked into bed. That man was sitting beside him.
“When I’m big I want to be just like you, Dad,” Kyle whispered. The man smiled.
“Then learn to live like the Word wants you to, Kyle,” he anwered. Suddenly the boy’s mind was back at the present. A smile spread across his face.
“Dad!” he laughed and hugged him around the neck.
“That’s my boy,” Dylan answered. Kyle just loosened his embrace enough to call to his sister.
“Look, Asha, it’s Dad and Mom!” The little girl took two steps forward, a fearful look on her face. Roanna grabbed at her pulling her back.
“Let me go!” Asha screamed. “I want my Daddy!”
“No, not her, too, fool!” she hissed.
“Yes, Roanna, her, too.” Alick’s voice came from the background. The little girl’s fists and feet were swinging like crazy. One small foot hit the sorceress’ shin and she let go of the girl, face in agony. Asha fled to her father and clung to him. Lora was just a half-step behind them, a smile on her brown face. Dylan straightened up.
“I have what I came for, Lady Roanna. I will go now and you will stay alive.”
“No, Dylan à Carrock, you will never leave this place as long as I live,” the witch snapped and suddenly the floor dropped away from under Dylan’s feet and he felt himself falling with his two children and Lora.
“Lora, no!” came the cry from above and an instant later, Savoy and Swift came flying down after them. They were on a rough stone trough, that was slicked down with something, hurtling towards the end. Suddenly it ended, sending them head over heels on a rough earthen floor. Dylan’s head hit a stone wall and all went black.
Tabea was too breathless to scream as she watched her husband, children and friends disappear down the dark hole. It was like in her dream.
“Now, Lady of Carrock,” Roanna said with a grin, “I have you to myself.” The hole closed and she slowly walked forward, heading towards the girl. Fine fingers suddenly curled around Tabea’s upper arms and she felt someone pull her to himself. Dark blue robes covered her as Alick wrapped his arms around her protectively.
“No, Roanna. You will never touch this girl or take her innocence. I will protect her until I die.” With that his right hand few forward, and the gemstone went flying like a drop of pure light. It hit the floor, shattered and suddenly she was standing in the throne room. The ex-wizard let go of her and took a step back.
“I am sorry about the way I had to do this, Lady Tabea,” he said with a bow. “It was necessary to protect you from Roanna.”
“Where are we?” she asked.
“We are safe.”
“And where are Dylan and the others?” she whispered, tears choking her voice. Alick’s face became very sad.
“They are in the Labyrinth, Lady Tabea. And if they ever come out of there, it will be a miracle.”