“What the hell are we doing back here?” Griff yells, rushing out of the train onto the grassy meadow to allow himself to yet again release the small amount of leftover gruel from his stomach.
I exit slowly behind him. “Noll, be ready. The second he appears, tackle him. Make sure he doesn’t get the chance to set any of the other spheres.”
“A’ course, Chelle,” Noll replies, his eyes darting in every direction.
“I’m sorry, miss,” Tenney says at my side, “but I don’t think I quite understand why you’d want to come back here. Isn’t this the very place where you wanted to be saved from just minutes ago?”
“Precisely my question,” Griff says, regaining his composure.
“Shhh,” I whisper. “Everyone get ready. Noll might need some help.”
A great wind builds up around us, whipping in every direction. In the center of the dark cloud, I make out the figure I expected to find.
“Now, Noll!” I scream.
Without a second’s pause, Noll leaps at the man, bringing him to the ground and just as quickly picking him up, holding The Wizard’s arms behind his back with one hand.
“What is going on here?” The Wizard screams, then, seeing me, screams an even louder, “You!”
“Miss Chelle,” Noll says, holding up the barf bag. “He was holding dis.”
“Thanks Noll,” I say, approaching him to take the bag off his hands. I retrieve the sphere from within. “Christopher, Christopher, Christopher,” I say, rounding The Wizard. I pause in front of him, my eyes focused on the six pendants worn around his neck.
“Where have you taken me?” he asks.
“You don’t remember the place where we first met?” I smirk as I wrap my fingers around one of the pendants, pulling just a little against his decrepit neck.
The Wizard spits, hitting me just below the eye.
“Oh, Christopher,” I frown. “That was a very poor choice.” I yank on the pendant, the chain around his neck breaking easily. I throw the now-freed sphere to Griff. “Heads up!”
“You have no clue who you’re messing with,” The Wizard growls.
“Oh, don’t I? I believe the true issue here is that you have no clue who you’re messing with.” I take a sphere from around his neck into each of my hands.
“I know you,” he smirks evilly. “You’re that dumb girl I tricked into freeing me from this place, the one who just handed me the sphere which gave me my freedom.”
“Not only that,” I smile wider, pulling even more on the two spheres in my hands. I note his eyes widen. “I’m the one who’s about to take away that which you find most dear.” Another yank and I have two more of The Wizard’s shiny orbs in my control. I throw them both toward Tenney, who scrambles to pick them up after failing to catch either.
“Taking these spheres from me does nothing, you know,” The Wizard continues. “I have many under my power.”
“Yeah?” I ask, grabbing another two spheres. “And how many of them know that you’re back where you started? Back to the days when you were forced to hide in obscurity? Back before you were a man?” I rip the next two spheres from around his neck at the last word, not even looking as I throw them over my shoulder.
“Do you honestly believe they won’t be able to find me? I have my ways. I can make notes, puzzles, riddles. There are plenty of things I can craft to ensure my people—”
“Would you care to know how I know this is your end?” I grin as I grab onto the final sphere.
“Yes, girl, I have to say I’m quite interested in knowing how you know.”
“Because, history knows you as a saint. You know what happens to saints, don’t you? They get killed for their faith. You don’t make it out of this time period. Not again.” I lean closer to him, whispering in his ear. “You’re gonna die, pal. And history’s going to believe you did it in honor of a great ruler, who just so happens to not be you.”
I yank on the sphere, turn away from him, and enter the train without another word. Shortly after, I’m joined by Griff, Tenney, and Noll.
The train door closes behind them and the familiar squeaking of the brakes sound as the train plunges forward. I take one final glance out the window and see The Wizard, no, not The Wizard, I see Christopher, standing there, all alone, with nothing but the remains of his filthy shack.
Go to Chapter Fifty-Six