Luke turned toward the door. "Freddy's still in there, on the other side of the room. We split up. We were keeping watch for you."

"How did you get the cloaks and masks?"

He touched the silky black material. "We came in a side door. They had these all laid out on a table for people to take." He took a step and put his hand on the doorknob. "I'll go get Freddy."

I started to follow.

He pointed toward the tapestry. "You wait in the hidden passage. I promise I won't be long."

"We should stick together." If he was going back in there, I was going with him.

"From the sounds they're making, who knows what kind of twisted magic they might be doing. I've got a better chance on my own." He turned and faced me. "Colina, I promise we will find a way to help your brother once we get Darla out."

James's spirit is in there, bound to that madman. "Can you make someone release a banshee?"

Luke put both hands on my shoulders. "No. You have to kill the mage. As soon as a mage dies, all the spirits bound to him or her are released."

I clenched my fists. "If I kill Macaven, my brother's spirit goes free?"

"It's not as easy as it sounds. Macaven is a powerful mage who's been practicing ancient spells. He's more powerful than anyone I've ever come across."

"And my only powers are raising the dead and helping spirits cross over." I grabbed his arm. "Do you think I could force my brother's spirit to the other side like I did with Thomas?"

Luke shook his head. "Not while Macaven has him bound. His magic would hold your brother's spirit here. You'd have to somehow break his spell to release James."

"If I could get the dagger, I could slit Macaven's throat...like he did to my father." The violent words that came out of my mouth surprised even me.

Luke's fingers dug into my skin. "That's your anger talking. It's an enchanted dagger. Killing Macaven with it...you don't know what that might do, what spell or thing that might set free." He let go of me and said in a soft voice, "Trust me, we'll find a way to release your brother, but right now we have to get my sister. Stay here. I'll get Freddy."

Without another word, Luke walked through the door and shut it quietly behind him.

I stared at the closed door. I could free my brother by killing Macaven. I wanted to kill Macaven as vengeance for my family. But even if I wanted to, how could I kill a powerful mage? I made my way behind the tapestry, into the passage, and stood at the top of the staircase, waiting.

Minutes passed, and there was still no sign of Luke or Freddy.

I was starting to seriously worry when I heard footsteps coming down the passage. There was no place to hide, no place to duck into. If it wasn't Luke and Freddy...I was in real trouble.

I heard a familiar voice call out. "We come in peace." Freddy wore a black cloak and held a mask in one hand.

I gestured down the stairway. "I think Darla is in a room at the bottom, but I couldn't get in. There's a heavy lock on the door."

Freddy opened the cloak and revealed the bag hanging over his right shoulder. He patted it. "No worries, I brought a few things that might help."

We made our way down the stairs and stopped in front of the door.

Freddy took off his cloak and put the bag on the floor. He opened it and rummaged around, withdrawing a bizarre assortment of implements. A hammer was followed by a can opener, then a bundle of bungee cords and a box of cookies. He swore quietly and shook the bag around to peer at its contents before finally pulling out a pair of bolt cutters.

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