"Famine." Brystagg faced me with intent.
His stance was firm; steady hands were fingertips away from his guns.
"I caught wind of rumors about a banshee's lair destroyed in a shoot-out by two men. Right before your arrival." His fingers touched the tops of his guns. "You look incapable."
He turned to Colin.
"Here's a different story. I see a man of ability."
Colin acknowledged the compliment with a detached expression.
I closed my eyes.
So I was barely a man. Go figure.
My eyes opened to a close-up view of a gun barrel pointed at my nasal bridge. The cold metal touched my skin. I was immovable.
"You didn't flinch." Brystagg tilted his head to gain another perspective of my face.
"Sire?" I gulped.
He cocked his gun to fire. The tip of the barrel pressed my bone.
Strangely, the thought of having my head blown off kept me rooted. My heart slowed until it was almost still.
We held this nerve-racking position for a while.
Eventually he lowered his gun, put it to rest and returned it to its holster.
"Well done." Brystagg surprised me with a heavy pat to my back.
I slumped to the ground. Feeling my limbs go to jelly at his sick test.
"I think I saw stars dancing around my grave," I murmured.
Colin helped me back to my feet.
"The cell has changed," Brystagg said, like it was an explanation for his test.
"Changed?" I frowned.
Lyra answered by unfolding her fan and waving it over a snake statue. She mumbled a spell to make it glow with unworldly blue light.
I turned to see the source of the cold energy I felt to my back. The Zaldizko statues burned with blue fire. The magical words that formed our names became a number.
"0211?" I read aloud.
"The present year we're in. It was 0191 when we had left for Minos." Lyra answered. "Delphi was able to grant us a last favor with her power."
Colin signed that we had returned to our time.
"That helps." I sighed.
"Not the only favor," Brystagg said.
His was staring at my namesake statue. A greenish spotlight glowed at the rearing horse's belly. He tapped about the stone then punched the belly.
"Is that really necessary?" I groaned.
My eyes widened with surprise when the stone of the belly section transformed into an image of a silver box.
Brystagg removed the box, transforming the stone to its original state.
"How?" The world's mysterious wonders continued to baffle me.
"I fear your brain would explode if I tried to explain." Lyra brushed off my question.
We gathered around Brystagg as he opened the box to reveal small trinkets: an iron pocket mirror, glass balls filled with water and small bags of iron marble shooters.
"She never fails to impress." Lyra's face lit up at the sight of our care package.
Brystagg handed me the pocket mirror. He explained that the mirror was called a Portspell. It was used to displace lifeforms away from the holder.
I opened the mirror and noticed the reflective surface had a bluish sheen.
"Form an L-shape. It's important to keep that angle. The top part faces the target, so their face is reflected in the mirror." Brystagg instructed me.
He showed me what happened when the bottom half was moved horizontally on its pivot join whilst saying, 'utz nazazu'.
Colin went flying off the dais and hitting the part of the wall the portspell's bottom half was pointed at. He stumbled to his feet and flicked me a rude finger.
"Close the mirror to seal it." Brystagg finished off his instruction.
He moved onto the marbles.
I was handed a small, velvety, bag of marbles called Shrills due to the noise they made when they were airborne. I recognized them from the time Wilfred had used them on the skrit back at the Lantern Room. Their effect was basic. Throw it at a target while saying the word 'su' to make it go schwoop and become glitter.
"Not lots you'd give a kid to play with that's for sure." I gingerly stowed the bag next to my brother, ignoring his grumbles about having something dangerous next to him.
Colin removed his dark patchwork overcoat to reveal his tanned, double gun holsters over his shoulders. He removed his holsters and stood before me.
"Hey!" I cursed when he spun me around to fit the holsters over my shoulders.
I squirmed at the leather straps that were crisscrossed on my back and clipped into the top-level of my belt. The weight of the guns against my waist felt weird.
"I really have to use these?" I groaned.
"To retrieve your brother's body and save the world, yes." Brystagg answered for Colin.
Colin redressed in his overcoat. He tapped my shoulder. I saw his firm resolve in his eyes with his nod.
If Delphi saw the need to send us the care package, it meant we were in for a hell of time.
"Are we ready?" Brystagg checked with us.
"Since when is ready." I answered.
"Wonder how much this prison has changed in twenty years," Lyra said.
She let out a deep breath and headed for the exit.
Colin stopped us before we opened the double doors. He placed his index finger on the silver gray film over his right eye. After a short while, he signed that his maplink had finished receiving an update of the labyrinth.
We followed his lead out of the room.
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