Roland: What the...

We walked back to the castle one person fewer, and I cursed myself once again for my foolishness. Gavin had gotten away and it was my fault. Kathering put her hand on my shoulder.

"Technically he was no longer under arrest, right? So he was going to leave sooner or later."

"That's true, I guess." I was still rather miffed by his escape. He was in the picture, wasn't he? As much as I hated to admit it, what if we were doomed without him? I could only hope that the picture was inaccurate and our companionship lay in some other person. At least that was the excuse I was going to give Derrick. But just in case...

I close my eyes and reached out with my magic for the tracking device. Nothing. That was odd. It was not supposed to wear off for a couple more hours. I might have thought that he might have unraveled it, but the tracker was my own patented design, and I was quite proud of its uniqueness. No, some else had happened, but no matter. Gavin was gone, and I said good riddance!

I had just entered when a guard ran up to me.

"Sir, something strange is going on in the library."

"The library?" Alarm bells went off in my head and I found myself running. "What is the problem?"

"Well, sir, it's, um..."

As we got closer, I caught the faint scent of smoke.

"Oh no..." I jogged inside and found...

Children. No fire, no raiders running rampant, just about half a dozen kids roaming about. I was just frozen standing in the doorway when I heard a wail.

A little boy in clothes way too big for him ran up to me and gripped my leg. Kathering turned to me, an eyebrow raised. But I was just as bewildered.

"Um, what's wrong?"

"It's me, Pattel!" My eyes widened as I did a double take. It was one of officers I was training, only several years younger. I looked at all the other kids, and I realized the truth. First Thomas, now this?

"How did this happen?" I asked. He opened his mouth to begin, but he just began to wail and point.

Following his hand, I noticed Gavin on the floor. He was gazing straight ahead.

"What did you do?" I shouted.

"I'm not sure," came the dazed reply.

"Change them back!"

"I don't know how." He stood wearily and stretched. "However, I've changed my mind. I will be joining you after all. However, I need you to escort me to the academy."

Stunned, I blurted, "What for?"

Gavin frowned, in thought. "I'll tell you later." he decided, and with that he walked out the door. I stood there, stuttering.

"Why he- I can't believe- that little-" I could not express my irritation. Kathering looked at my face and let out a chuckle.

"Shall we go?" I looked into her face and sighed.

"I suppose."

The End

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