For a moment, no one spoke. Syd and Nigel exchanged uneasy glances, and Sydney saw her friendís hazel eyes harden. In light of his recent confession, she worried that Nigel would do something brave - and stupid - and get himself hurt or killed.
Stepping forward, Sydney ignored the new burs that assaulted her. "My name is Sydney Fox, and this is my assistant, Nigel Bailey. But you already knew that, didnít you? Youíre why weíre here." She insinuated herself between Merlin and Nigel, hoping to discourage her friendís unfounded guilt from prompting any rash actions.
Merlinís eyes narrowed. "Really? I didnít do any conjuring today." The middle-aged man shifted his weight, as though with the slight change of stance he could change his perceptions. He stuck his hands into the folds of his robe.
Sydney, too, was growing numb with cold. "Send us back home," she ordered. She cursed her voice for wavering. And dammit, the world had no right to spin around her!
When he raised his hands, Sydney was expecting a knife, maybe even a sword. Fireballs werenít on the list of her expectations. In far too little time, he flung the blazing object in her direction. She ducked and rolled, the prickly plants be damned! The flames licked at her feet: but for the first time, she was grateful for the rain. Within seconds the orb became a smoldering ember, then disappeared altogether.
Shocked or no, Sydney didnít waste time. She launched a powerful kick directly to the magicianís midsection, and felt it connect.
But two voices yelped in pain. Nigel! She couldnít risk another assault from Merlin, so she aimed and fired off another blow, this one to his chin. The impact threw him up and back, but she didnít wait for him to land before she turned, her intent to run to Nigelís aid. Only when she saw the same thin trickle of blood at the corner of her partnerís mouth, and the same arc of his limbs into the air, did she begin to suspect the truth.
Whatever she did to Merlin, happened to Nigel, too.
Go to Part Thirty Three.