Oboe paced in her cage and tugged at her mane. There was no way to know how much time was left. She wondered if Theo even knew what was going on or if she’d even see him again.
“Rrgh!! Stupid! I’m so stupid!” She said. “Why did I think I could ever do this on my own?!”
She stomped her hooves and the bottles on the wall rattled. She sat on the floor and fumed. Flip was going to execute the Tall Man and there was nothing she could do. Would Theo find her before Flip ripped her magic out? Did he even know she was in trouble? No. She was on her own
Turning into a mouse didn’t work. She was lucky the cage was big enough that the iron let her transform at all. If she couldn’t squeeze through the bars then she just had to smash them. She concentrated hard on getting big as she could. She changed into a bison and reared back. Charging, she threw all her weight into bashing her way out.
A huge jolt of pain ran through Oboe the moment she touched the bars. The magic hurled her back and she crashed back and forth against the walls of the cell. The room shook and bottles tumbled off the shelves and shattered against the floor. Oboe collapsed, but when she came to her senses she realized she’d set some crawlies free.
Oboe heard the gentle tink of glass. She craned her neck to look and saw an imp trapped in a big jar. He was a scrawny, leathery little lizard man with bat wings. He tapped on the glass and said something she couldn’t hear.
“You’re trapped too?” Oboe said.
He nodded and mimed charging.
“Hold on!” She was still sore but threw herself at the bars again. Cages and jars tumbled and burst open on the floor. Ghasts scattered and swarmed all over, ecstatic to be free. As soon as Oboe could stand she charged again, and again, until she was so battered and bloodied she could hardly stand.
“Stop! Stop!” The imp fluttered in front of the cage. “Don’t kill yourself, toots! Let us take it from here!”
Oboe dropped onto her butt and panted for breath. “You… you should get out of here,” she said.
“Nuh-uh. Not leaving you behind with that sicko,” he said. “We creatures gotta stick together.”
Some other imps got hold of some scalpels and were working the lids off the remaining bottles. Oboe smiled as the rest of the ghasts were set free.
“Hold up and I’ll get this thing unlocked.” The imp flapped up to the lock and stuck his hand in the mechanism. He rooted around and grunted. “Ugh. This is going to take a while.”
“Three’s no time!” Oboe said. “Somebody needs to tell the Ranger Deputy what’s going on! That witch is going to South Manor to kill a ghast!”
The imp turned to whistle at another ghast. “Terry! You hearin’ this?”
“On it!” Terry the imp dropped his scalpel. “I’ve been dying to rat that guy out since we got caught!”
A squadron of imps flew in formation up the stair well. They worked together, heaving and swearing, until they pushed the trap door open with a collective shout. Daylight poured back down into the cellar and Oboe watched as a whole herd of crawlies stampeded out toward freedom.