Dungeon Crackers, Chapter 10: Phoebe Reveals Her True Face

We soon made tracks back to Moraden, and I wondered if we could track Phoebe down there through one of her contacts. Of course, I knew it was a longshot, out of all the leads I could follow, that certainly was the closest one.

Madelyn was now along with us, and she held my hand as we walked.

“I guess we’ve settled that. Sorry about all that mix-up.”

“Okay, I understand why you thought I was Phoebe.”

“Still, it was awkward walking back to Grayon so he could verify you. I don’t know what worried me more: if you were Phoebe, or if you weren’t.”

“Now that you know that I am, what exactly is our next move?”

“Find whoever it is that Phoebe is working for. Or whoever works for Phoebe. She is going to need a human wizard to operate it. Something tells me that she set up this little…set-up a long time ago.”

“You don’t think you are going to find him, do you?”

“It would be quite a coincidence if we did. Phoebe was always able to find us jobs. She probably knows quite a few people.”

“Do you really think that she is trying to start the Magic Wars again, like what Bitane said?”

“In all honesty, I don’t know what Phoebe’s goals are with it. She never seemed the type that was obsessed with power.”

“Did you mean what you said to Bitane, that it would be good if the Magic Wars started again?”

“You know that I always wanted just to do magic. I just wasn’t really that good at it. It’s taken me the whole nine years just to work some of the magic that I know now, not that I can use these items anymore.”

“You can restore them once we find the talisman.”

“When we find the talisman, that is going to be the beginning of my problems.”

“You mean our problems.”

“No, I mean mine.”

I stopped dead in my tracks and looked out to everyone. They were awaiting my orders, and I could tell that they were afraid that I was going to say this.

“Grayon, you lied to me.”

My troll friend looked extremely guilty, and made no attempt to tell a lie. He could never tell one, even though he was beginning to live one.

“I know. I’m so sorry.”

“Oh, I wish I could accept that apology, I really do. Rolf, I supposed you lied too. What do you see when you look at Phoebe?”

“You want to know what I see? I see Phoebe.”

I turned to the woman in question. “What was supposed to happen?”

She said nothing.

“Never mind. I figured it out. We go to Moraden and conveniently find the talisman. Then I would imagine that we would find Phoebe dead, or missing, or out of the way. Then the talisman would have been ours, just me and Madelyn, right, Phoebe?”

“You’re talking like Bitane. I thought we had settled this.”

“Yes, we did. I was waiting for Grayon’s reaction when he saw you. As soon as he said you were Madelyn, I knew he had lied.”

“Then you knew…when did I give myself away?”

“You know what’s interesting? As soon as Bitane had mentioned the idea, I knew it was true. As much as I hate the guy, he was right. When you said that I would never love you, it wasn’t Madelyn, Phoebe, it was you. I had almost forgotten what Madelyn was like, and then she shows up here, and it all came back. Now, every time I look at you, I see what a fake you are.”

For the first time, I saw tears in Phoebe’s eyes. “You could have been happy. I could have made you happy.”

“You were going to use me. What did you want to use me for?”

“I wanted to bathe this world in magic. Instead of an ordinary world with magic, you would have a magical world with spots of ordinary. I believe that I could actually restore of the magical races.”

“How would you do that?”

“The trolls are just statues brought to life with the talisman. Fairies are similarly created, but with different elements. They can reproduce, of course, but their origins and special abilities all stem from magic. I can bring back the lost races.”

I looked at Rolf and Grayon. “So that’s why the two of you went along.”

Grayon looked up from his shame. “I want to start a new family, but most of my people are dying. There are not any females left.”

“Same here. I mean, I want to start my first family.”

I found a nearby rock, and sat down, and shook my head.

“You know the worst part about this? If you had just told me this, I probably would be on your side.”

“Do you mean that?” said Phoebe.

“Oh yeah, I do. But you lied to me. Not only that, you have Madelyn in custody, don’t you?”

None of them answered.

“Okay,” I rose to my feet, “this has always been business. Nothing personal. Therefore, I will make you a deal. Show me where Madelyn is, then give me the talisman, and I will be on my way. The three of you can go and do whatever it is that you want to do. I don’t have any intention of stopping you, unless you try to harm me or Madelyn.”

“What do you intend to do with the talisman?”

“Return it to the vault at Bitane’s school. Not personally, but it will get back there.”

“You don’t intend to help us restore the magic that was taken from…”

“Nope.”

“Yet you know that we need this…”

“I don’t want to hear any more pleas for mercy, Phoebe! Did you not hear me? I am letting you walk away, even though you were prepared to use me for the rest of my natural life! Even though you kidnapped the one I love! You want mercy, this is it! Take it, or leave it.”

Grayon and Rolf looked to Phoebe.

“Your lady is at the school. I left her at the stables. Go to her now. We will be on our way. Farewell, Tiran. I’m sorry that it didn’t work out.”

“Excuse me? I believe there were two parts to my deal, the first is that you show me, not tell me, where Madelyn is. The other is that you give me that talisman.”

Phoebe stopped. “You talk of extending mercy. We have just extended ours. As you have said to Bitane, there are three of us, and one of you.”

I knew that it wouldn’t be easy, and no one ever makes it easier.

Phoebe walked away, and Rolf and Grayon looked at me. I could tell that they wanted to come with me, but they followed Phoebe.

“I guess that is the best that I will get.”

I walked past them, and didn’t look at them. Then I promptly ran the other way, and I took out my knife.

Whoa!  What the flip is Tiran going to do with that knife?  Find out in the next chapter here

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