“And Suffrn was just there, and he was blue!” Bin said. “And he said he was lightning, but not exactly. And he liked dancing, and the golems were his idea, and he was actually really nice!”

“Incredible.” Book said. “Suffrn lasted throughout all these years.”

“Right?” Bin squirmed. Ruby and Yuva and Zibnizik were taking turns hugging him. It was uncomfortable, but if he strayed too far Hilt was going to scold him again. So he suffered through the three picking at his hair, skin, and clothes.

The golems were now inert. Suffrn’s magic ended with his passing. The Sarrofop sisters had already pulled out books and were sketching the golems. One tome was already filled with notes and comments they’d compiled with Book while they waited for Bin to return. Pidelle and Pidella were just waiting for Book’s assent before they would go searching through the entire complex for new magic.

“And Goldmight?” Hilt finally pulled him aside. “Did he make an appearance?”

Bin stiffened, and looked away. Hilt’s brow furrowed, and her grip tightened. “What happened?”

“I killed Goldmight,” Nutrose said. He floated out of the hallway into the main room, a limp form in his arms. The Sarrofops gasped, and looked at the corpse in Nutrose’s hands. Ruby held tears in her eyes.

“He was ranting about Suffrn’s hoard, convinced that Bin knew where it was.” Nutrose’s tears fell on his cousin’s face. “When he was about to strike at Bin, I just, I just reacted. I’m so sorry.”

Hilt gripped her weapon, looking at Nutrose warily. “Murder with magic is forbidden by all the Circles…”

“But given the extenuating circumstances,” Book interrupted. “We might expect a lighter sentence, if any. Especially if what he says is accurate, Bin?”

Bin nodded, and turned away. He didn’t want to look at Goldmight ever again.

“Suffrn’s hoard?” Pidelle asked. “Did you find it?”

Nutrose shrugged. “There’s a magic circle, and a room that only has a large amount of iron. If there are any other secrets, who knows?”

“The Archiwrecks will,” Hilt muttered. “They’ll be back. And if Suffrn is gone as you say, Bin, then this place’s security may be done.”

“We seal the entrance,” Book offered. “Collapse the door, and the corridor behind it if need be. By the time the Archiwrecks have it excavated, we could have the might of three kingdoms on their doorstep.”

Hilt agreed. “This is going to take some work. Why don’t the apprentices start making their way back to the Circle, and we shall catch up?”

“But Ona…” Bin said. “This is his family’s home.”

“And it will be again.” Nutrose promised. “The Archiwrecks aren’t just getting to take it over. Not if our Masters have anything to say about it.”

“You’re making me cry,” Hilt said. “Now get out of here.”

The apprentices gathered up their tools, and left.

“Nutrose!” Hilt shouted.

The fairy turned back. Hilt nodded. “Good work.”

Nutrose bowed, and left.

Zibnizik led the way, an exasperated sigh already on his lips. “You are going to make me see the world, Bin,” he muttered. “Or put me in an early grave.”

“Thank you for coming.” Bin said. “You’re my friend, too.” And he hugged the gnome for good measure.

“Grah,” Zibnizik said. Though he did not sulk as much as he would say later.

“You all are,” Bin said. “Thank you for being good friends.”

Pidelle and Pidella looked uncomfortable, but nodded. Ruby and Yuva smiled, touched by his words. And Nutrose looked towards the south.

“You are my friend, too,” He promised. “I swear.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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