eyes. âThis is ridiculous.â
Tyvian tried to move his head so he could see down. âLook on the floorâÂmaybe it was jostled free when you hit me with the restraining spell.â
âYou know something, Reldamar,â Alafarr sneered, and leaned close enough to Tyvian that he could smell her atrociously floral perfume. âI am really going to enjoy watching you turned to stone and placed in a penitentiary garden.â
âNobody move!â The voice was shrill and tremulous, but Tyvian recognized it at onceâÂArtus.
The boy was standing with his feet spread apart and his hands wrapped around the sinister black form of a deathcaster. He was pointing it at Alafarr primarily, but the business end of the thing wavered between her and the other Defender. Alafarr put her hands up, but still had her staff. âBoy, donât do anything foolish, now. Put down the weapon.â
âShut up!â Artus snapped. âDrop the staff!â
âBoyâÂâ Alafarr began.
Alafarr dropped it, and Tyvian was released from the spell in the same instant. He immediately checked his own pockets, just to make sure, and then leveled an accusing finger at his savior. âYou picked my pocket, you little bastard!â
As Tyvian took a step forward, Artus pointed the deathcaster at him, too. âStay back!â
Tyvian stopped short, putting his hands up. âArtus? Maybe you donât understand how saving somebody works, but youâre supposed toâÂâ
Artus blinked. âIâm not saving you . Iâm saving my own skin!â
âAh, wellâÂthat makes much more sense. I apologize. Thereâs one problem, though.â
Artus was slowly backing up. âWhatâs that?â
Tyvian pointed. âThereâs a Defender behind you.â
Artusâs expression was incredulous for the split second before the Defender behind himâÂhaving completed his message to Galaspin TowerâÂjumped on his back. Tyvian, Alafarr, and the first Defender all sprung into action. Alafarr crouched to retrieve her staff, while Tyvian threw a heel back into the groin of the first Defender, interrupting his attempts to draw his sword.
Spinning around, Tyvian caught Alafarrâs staff by one end even as the mage was standing up with it. As Alafarr attempted to yank it free from his grasp, Tyvian went with the pull and drove the mage against the wall. A brief wrestling match ensued, with Tyvian trying to press the staff against the mageâs throat. He was getting the better of it until Alafarr slammed a mageglass-Âtipped boot into the smugglerâs shin, causing Tyvian to drop to one knee. Grimacing with pain, he rolled to one side before the back end of Alafarrâs staff could be brought into contact with his skull, but this left him on his back, staring up at the recently groin-Âkicked Defender, who had managed to draw his sword after all. He looked quite angry.
Before Tyvian could be run through, however, the tumbling brawl between Artus and the other Defender over the deathcaster resulted in the magical device being discharged. A wild, blazing bolt of green lightning cut an arc across the cargo car, splintering crates, cutting support beams, and causing the Defender standing over Tyvian to throw himself on top of the smuggler to avoid being seared into halves.
The Defender had about thirty pounds and four inches on Tyvian, and his bulk was sufficient to block out all light and sound for a moment as Tyvian struggled to throw him off. In the midst of their grappling, Tyvianâs fingers came across the crystal spheres that had just been taken from his pockets. He managed to snag three of them in one hand before kicking the man off him. Then Tyvian rolled to his feetÂ .Â .Â .
.Â .Â . and found himself face-Âto-Âface with Alafarr and the two Defenders, all with their weapons in hand. Artus, Tyvian