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‘No!’ Fe­roc­ity screamed, at the same mo­ment that the Lord of the Beasts roared ‘Yes!’ The crim­son spell stopped in its tracks and then re­ceded be­fore dis­ap­pear­ing in a puffof mist. The Lord of the Beasts turned and raced to­wards the voice, com­pletely for­get­tingabout the spell­cast­ers. Fe­roc­ity went to race af­ter him, but Trick held her in place. ‘What are you do­ing?’ she cried. ‘We can’t go af­ter him,’ he told her. ‘He’s too strong and he’s got all of those beasts de­fend­ing him.’

Ariella, Aida and Gug­galugs were nod­ding too.

‘But we can’t let him get the ban­isher,’ Fe­roc­ity sagged in Trick’s arms. Deep down, she knew he was right.

‘So what do we do?’ Aida asked qui­etly. ‘If the Lord of the

Beasts gets his hands on it, we’ll be ban­ished… for­ever.’

There was an omi­nous si­lence. None of them could think what to do. Then a vic­to­ri­ous roar pierced the air.

‘The Lord of the Beasts,’ Ariella whis­pered. The five glanced at each other, and then, com­ing to a silent agree­ment, they pelted to­wards the voice.

They sneaked silently through the maze, turned a cor­ner and there he was, the Lord of the Beasts. Wreathed in shad­ows, he looked more dan­ger­ous than ever. A pil­lar of pure white light writhed be­fore him. He reached into it and with­drew a long, thin staff.

‘Mer­lin’s staff,’Fe­roc­ity whis­pered, awed.

‘Yes, my dear,’ the Lord of the Beasts hissed, look­ing right at them.

The shad­ows around the crea­ture sank into him, and he re­vealed his true form. A mop of red hair. Big, green eyes. Be­trayal and shock clenched Fe­roc­ity’s heart in a vice. ‘Fa­ther?’

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