Huh?” Theo said, before understanding. He closed his mouth.

He snuck a peek around the room as she hung up her cloak. A framed landscape of villas with mountains in the background hung on the whitewashed walls above a stone fireplace. Blue embroidered pillows decorated a sectional couch, which faced a TV. Clean tiles lined the floor.

The witch laughed. “You look disappointed. Were you expecting to see spider webs and a flying broom?”

I ... Aren’t you a witch?” he whispered.

She sighed. “I’m a mother who’s lost her daughter, the way you’ve lost your sister.”

Y-your lost child?” Theo said. Or had she truly traded her child for witch’s magic?

She held out her hand. “Let me see the dragon scale.”

Theo hesitated. Had the bird spied on him to tell her about the golden scale? It was the only proof he had about what had happened to Nia.

She kept her hand steady in front of him. “I’ll give it back. I want to be sure it’s real before I tell you my story.” Her gaze pierced him with compassion and understanding. “No one believed me either.”

Theo nodded and laid the scale in her palm. “I think Zmey took her.”

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