Chapter 1: 11

“Kendrick,” said Madene, silver eyes flashing weirdly in the half-light. “that’s enough.”

“No Madene,” Kendrick took another step toward Freetrick, hand still outstretched, wheel-stone still whirring. “I must destroy it.”

Madene blinked, clearly as surprised as Freetrick. Kendrick never said no to Madene. It was just one more thing that made their relationship weird.

“If you’re concerned about it, Kendrick, we can call a Proctor and give the letter to him to test for incursion.” Madene placed a hand on Kendrick’s shoulder.

“We don’t need to test it,” Kendrick insisted, holding up his still-vibrating wheel-stone.” “I know it’s a thing of Evil.”

“Maybe calling the Proctors would be a good idea, boys and girls.” For all of Zathara’s calm tone, she had backed away from them.

“There’s no need,” Kendrick stretched out his hand, and his wheel-stone talisman glowed and spun faster, whining like an eager dentist’s drill. Freetrick’s back hit the wall and another light overhead popped and went dark. “I can destroy the work of the Death God. It’s what I’m meant to do”

“Woah woah woah,” Istain stepped in front of the Naobelite, “this isn’t an uphill survivalist fantasy, Kendrick. How do you know your god isn’t the one on the fritz?” He flicked a finger against the straining wheel-stone and Kendrick growled at him.

“Step aside, Istain.”

“And anyway,” Istain continued, “if this letter really is an artifact from the Kingdoms of Evil, then I think we should take a closer look at it.”

“You don’t take a closer look at Evil,” Kendrick’s hands flew out, shoving Istain sharply in the chest.

“What the gibber Kendrick!” Istain said, arms wind-milling as he teetered backward. “That striking hurt!”

“Good,” Kendrick was advancing on Freetrick, his eyes shining with purpose and excitement, the whirring talisman around his neck straining forward on its chain. Freetrick was sure he could smell hot metal.

“Kendrick,” Madene said, sharply enough to make Freetrick wince. “Stop it!”

“You don’t take a closer look at Evil,” Kendrick repeated, half to himself. “You destroy it. I destroy it. Like this.” The dark, deep-set eyes bored into Freetrick’s. “Naobel,” he said.

The talisman blazed with white fire and the envelope let loose an ear-splitting shriek. It tore itself from Freetrick’s fingers and shot into the air.

“Holy struck-out gibberish!” Istain swore. “It really is from the Kingdoms of Evil.”

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