“Don’t eat me!” Trevor clenched his eyes and huddled himself into a ball as though attack were imminent. The level of protection this defense stance provided suggested it to be less effective than hiding in a closet from a monster but equally effective as covering oneself under the covers in bed.
Albert buried his face into his hands. “Trevor, I’m not going to eat you, compose yourself and stop acting foolish.”
Far from composing himself, Trevor screamed again, kept his eyes clamped shut, and flailed his legs around as though deciding to do an impromptu dance number under the table. Albert supposed this was to fend off a hungry zombie but was glad for the fellow he was not actually in danger.
“Maybe he needs more water!” called out Bastiick from his rope above.
Albert’s brow furrowed at the suggestion of treating the terrified young man like a neglected houseplant but then realized this referred to Trevor’s earlier wake-up call. He glanced down at the empty metal bucket laying on the floor and decided against wasting time to fetch more water from his well. Grabbing the pail by the handle, he stumbled over until standing just beyond reach of Trevor’s dancing-kicking legs. Albert waited a moment for the right timing to avoid actually getting kicked and lunged forward with the pail, delivering a solid whop to the man’s face.
Trevor shook his head like a dog, the rest of his body now motionless and the feeble ear-splitting screams finally silent. He took a deep breath before speaking. “I’m fine now, thanks.”
“Don’t mention it.” Albert tossed the pail on the floor and plopped back down in his chair. “I imagine most individuals would need their sense smacked back into them if in your situation.”
“But what is my situation?” Trevor glanced up at Bastiick, still happily swinging from a rope over their heads. “Am I prisoner like him?”
Albert nodded his head up. “He’s not a prisoner and neither are you. And despite what I may be, know that I am first and foremost a man concerned about his family. My niece left here just the other day in search of her mother and the rest of her household. You see, my niece’s entire village disappeared. Everyone, without a trace, except for a note written in my sister’s handwriting about strange visitors asking about a magician who’d stayed in their home a few days prior. Now I have no idea who this fellow was but he seems to have been the start of a great deal of trouble.” Albert leaned forward in the chair. “Somehow, I’m willing to bet you might be fairly acquainted with this mystery person.”
Trevor nodded, looking down at the floor as though he were ashamed of the association. “It was Victor. He thought he was being brave, I told him not to do it.”
“What did he do that he shouldn’t have done?”
“He took one of the pendant fragments collected by the Keepers and ran off with it.” He looked back up at Albert and shook his head as if disagreeing with something. “Victor never intended to put your niece or her village in danger, I know he didn’t. He was trying to scatter the fragments, hide them so the Keepers couldn’t find them.”
“He doesn’t seem to have done very well with neither his intended or unintended goals,” said Albert dryly. “And where is our friend Victor now?”
“He was captured a few days after leaving your niece’s village.” Trevor spoke in an ominous tone that might leave one to think there was more to follow. Trevor, however, seemed to be a man of few words.
Albert circled his hands in the air. “And?”
“And he was interrogated, tortured, and fed to a giant sea monster for being a traitor.”
“I take it that giant sea monster of the Keepers must be well fed.”
Trevor nodded and became silent again. Just when Albert was about ask something, the young man randomly added, “The interrogation is how the Keepers knew Victor stayed in your niece’s village.”
“Thank Trevor, I figured that part out.” Albert slapped a hand against his forehead. At this rate, Sylvia was likely going to be fed to a giant sea monster before he could derive any useful information out of Trevor. But then, it was a likely a small journey to wherever these Keepers chose to station themselves. “Trevor, I have an idea. I would very much like to visit the Keepers. You and Bastiick, I’m sure, can remember your way back. Let’s continue our little chat on the way to them.”
Trevor’s eyes widened and he shook his head slowly. “Go back? No, no, I can’t go back. If I go back and they see that I’ve failed, they’ll-”
“Yes, I know, giant sea monster.” Albert interjected while searching his kitchen for a knife to cut Trevor and Bastiick’s ropes with. “Trevor, you have to go back and I need you to lead me there. I promise to the best of my ability, I will protect you from the giant sea monster.”
“Okay.” Again this seemed to be all Trevor had to offer until he provided another statement that came off as an afterthought. “But what about the fire-breathing dragon?”