At first, the images came slowly; then they swept the atmosphere in a broad panorama. Brunda gazed upon the ephemeral portrayal of Luena’s capture; a consuming fury blazed within her as the scenes played to their conclusion. She cast the spell several times more to see if she could make out who the men were, but each time the images came through much too vaguely.
“The savages!” Brunda tore at the air. Then she turned to Mandrake. “Though it irks me to have to admit it, I need Druzelle’s assistance in this. With her talent,” Brunda almost choked on the words. “For making people believe she is what she is not, perhaps Druzelle can go into that cursed village and find out what has become of the child.” Mandrake meowed loudly and in a wink was gone to carry Brunda’s message.
Druzelle listened carefully to Mandrake while tears of rage filled her blue eyes. Then, in a twinkling of an eye, she vanished from the forest and appeared behind one of the village shops, wearing the guise of the village gardener. She maintained that the townsfolk were always eager to accommodate the talented botanist.
Unfortunately, the information Druzelle acquired had nothing to do with the whereabouts of Luena. Which persons needed their lawns cultivated or rose gardens pruned. Druzelle heard more than enough about that! A few people looked askew at the ‘old man’ when asked about Luena’s family. Since Luena’s mother had been charged with witchcraft, the subject was taboo.
Standing at the edge of town, Druzelle quickly changed back to her true self and teleported to the edge of Brunda’s land. She found the other sorceress still standing beside the spot where Luena had disappeared.
Since sending Mandrake on his errand, Brunda had been reasoning out the curious business of Luena’s capture. It had finally occurred to her to look in the direction of the Earl of Campbell. Though Brunda had thwarted his previous plans to seize her land, the Earl was still a thorn in her side and would be so as long as he lived.
Druzelle related her failure to obtain any valuable information. Then Brunda explained her idea concerning the Earl.
“I can see where you would get that idea, Sister, dear,” Druzelle nodded. “The Earl is a terrible brute and from what I gathered in the town, he is the main force behind most of the witchcraft accusations. He is not only devious and cruel, but a truly uncivilized rat!”
“Yes, he is one of those who can never get enough of the riches of this world.” Brunda added. “He won’t be content until he owns most of the land within one hundred miles of here. Greedy, greedy fool!”
“But why would he want Luena?” Druzelle wondered. “He has already claimed the Pierce land for his own. The way you describe this morning’s happenings, it sounds as if he was deliberately searching for the little girl.”
“Of course he was, you silly ninny!” Brunda snapped. “With Luena alive to claim the land, he could not have a clear title to it.”
Druzelle’s cerulean eyes widened. “Brunda, do you think it could have anything to do with his grudge against you? Those men were looking near `your’ land, after all.”
The black depths of Brunda’s eyes became a blazing inferno. When she finally spoke, her voice came forth soft, but deadly. “Yes, of course, you could be right. Though he is a cur, he is not entirely stupid. The old scoundrel must have been watching these fields and Luena simply got caught in between.” Brunda stroked her chin. “Ah yes, it all makes perfect sense now.”
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