HILGALDA IMMEDIATELY BECAME SOMBER. “You needn’t get so testy young Duende. I have something to give you. If you get that sword out of my way, I’ll get it for you.”
Carling lowered the sword but continued glaring at Hilgalda. The witch stepped back and lovingly placed Tandum’s tail across the chair by her spinning wheel. With an elegance that belied her age and arthritis, she floated to the far side of the room, her cat watching her every move while it twitched its tail.
The witch stopped in front of a dusty, old trunk. She bent over and lifted the lid, the hinges creating with a scratching sound as metal rubbed against metal. After a few minutes of shuffling through its contents, she straightened. In her hand, she held a tiny, wooden flute. “Here it is,” she said, holding up the prize.
Feeling a stab of disappointment mixed with anger, Carling cocked her head. “A flute?”
“Oh, my dear, not just any flute. This is a flute whose every note is filled with magic.” She placed the instrument against her lips and blew into it. A winsome melody floated across the room.
Crash! Carling jumped and turned around. Pik was sprawled out on the floor.
“Don’t worry,” Hilgalda said as she stopped playing the flute. “He’s just asleep. Fauns always respond like that to my flute; as will the Adaro.”
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