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.“And we know where to find him, don’t we?” Celino added.“But he probably never takes it off.”“Oh, great,” Marisa said, throwing her hands in the air.“This just became Mission Impossible.I might be invisible, but how can I get it off his finger without him knowing?”Celino laid a hand on her shoulder.“Just get in there and assess the situation.If you aren’t back by first light, I’ll take Adalina down to the harbor and get her on the first ship out of here—ring or no ring.”“I’ll do what I can,” she answered, sweeping her cape around her shoulders and fastening the clasp.“That only gives you twenty-four hours to snag the signet ring,” said Celino.“I just hope King Bertoldo’s people will help us.”“Oh, they will,” Adalina assured them.“Their family is our best ally.”“How long will it take to get to Terracina?”Celino scratched his head.“Let’s see, it’s a week’s journey by sea, and another week for the trip back.It would be at least two weeks before we’d be back with Bertoldo’s army.”She looked at him, doubtful.“I guess we don’t have much choice.Keep her safe.I’ll be back as soon as I can.”“Do be careful,” Adalina urged.“I will.”Pulling her hood over her head, Marisa hurried up the street, praying silently that no one could see her.She found a spot behind a tree just a few paces from the castle gate and stayed behind it, surveying the situation at the citadel.Groaning when she saw two warriors on either side of the entrance and eight stationed at various positions along the rampart wall, she glanced behind her.There was no one in the street but a bespectacled old man rolling some racks of leather goods out in front of his shop.He didn’t seem to notice her.She turned back toward the castle, praying a quick prayer before moving toward the entrance.Shield me from the eyes guarding the castle.Guide my footsteps and protect me from harm.Tiptoeing as quietly as possible, she stepped out from behind the tree and stood directly in front of the gate.Her heart raced as she waited for the warriors to notice her, but the brawny guards posted at the entrance didn’t move a muscle.Moving toward the rampart tunnel, she wiped her clammy palms off on her cloak and passed under the archway, hearing a comforting voice in her head.My child, I shall always be with you.Do not be afraid.She entered the darkened tunnel.The deeper she went, the more her confidence grew.Emerging on the other side, she fought the instinct to duck and hide.As giant warriors strode to and fro in large formations from one area of the citadel to another, she ran, stopped and sidestepped around them, dodging the soldiers in a strange sort of choreography.She smiled to herself, watching the folds of her dress flowing out behind her knowing that no one else could see them.She was just nearing the Knight’s Hall when, all of a sudden, angry shouts erupted from it.The steady stream of warriors going in and out of the hall daunted her temporarily, but her curiosity got the better of her and she hurried up to the main door.Flattening herself against the wall, she waited until the next warrior opened the door and slipped in unnoticed behind him.There was a bustle of activity in the castle as she followed him through the vestibule and into the Knight’s Hall.At the far end of the hall near the throne platform, members of the Fiore and Macario families had been assembled.Their hands were manacled together and twelve large warriors guarded them on all sides.A blond young man was seated on the throne in front of them, scrutinizing each prisoner with his piercing blue eyes.Moving up closer, Marisa slipped behind a pillar and slowly leaned out.As her eyes narrowed at her cousin, she gasped in horror.No one else in the hall seemed to notice a difference in Savino’s outward appearance but what she saw sent a chill down her spine.Floating in the air above him were three gigantic, lizard-like creatures that controlled his movements with strings like a marionette.Grayish-green in color, the monsters’ skins were pebbly and shriveled, their webbed wings broken.When they opened their hideous mouths, sharp fangs protruded over their bony jaws.The largest of the three directed the other two with sharp talons that sliced through the air and tugged at the strings.An ominous, red mist hung in the air around them, filling the hall with the pungent odor of sulfur dioxide.When the smell reached Marisa’s nostrils, it made her stomach churn, but the others standing in front of Savino didn’t seem to notice it.Covering her mouth in shock, she struggled to comprehend the realness of what she was seeing.The Ambrogia stone around her neck flashed wildly with light, and instinctively she knew that in addition to the power to make her invisible, it had also given her the ability to see the physical manifestation of evil beings in the spiritual dimension.Remembering Celino’s instructions for her to get in and assess the situation, she took a deep breath and directed her attention to the front of the hall.Her glimpse into the spiritual world was providing her with a clear assessment of the situation, and it wasn’t good.Arrie, Cozimo, Tino, Helena and Cinzia all stood with their backs to her.Her uncle, Mark and Eman stood the farthest away from her, all three of them looking haggard and tired [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]