ANGELLICA, DIMBRU, AND JILL all stood together in a small room. The tiled board looked like a checkerboard, because of the black and white pattern it was made in, and the walls had giant windows with heavy red curtains over them. The room was just down the hallway from the courtroom of Zyvkea's palace, and three days had passed since the incident with Gaalist and Menvir in the caves.

Dimbru was explaining what had happened to Angellica. "You sent them to another world," he explained. "You did it without even opening a portal first, which is an impressive feat of magic. And don't worry too much about them coming back to cause more trouble- I've done a little research, and it appears that you sent them to a world with a magic buffer. No magic can be done there, so the only way to get out is to open a portal from somewhere else, which is particularly difficult in worlds with magic buffers. I don't think anyone is going to bother trying."

"Wait a minute," Jill said. She'd been having difficulties believing everything Dimbru had told her about magic, and she'd needed him to repeat several things for her in order to grasp and believe it. "If these spells are so hard to do and everything, why was I able to do them when I'd never done magic before in my life?"

"Magic isn't like other things, where you have to practice to get good at it," Angellica answered. "It's one of those few things that you are born with, and is purely based on power and not on how hard you work. The spell wasn't difficult because it takes practice or any sort of knowledge, it's difficult because it takes a lot of power, and there aren't many people who have that much power."

Jill nodded, then argued, "Well, if I have so much power, then, why haven't I ever done magic before? I could have found a lot of uses for it- cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes . . . ."

Angellica laughed, and Dimbru looked confused. "You never knew magic existed before now," she said. "Maybe you might have believed in it as a child, but powers don't show up until around puberty. By that time, you'd probably already convinced yourself that there's no such thing as magic, and that it's all stuff for children. You can't cast spells if you don't believe it's possible."

Jill opened her mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the entrance of Queen Zyvkea. Angellica and Dimbru had worked with her long enough to know that she didn't like it when people bowed to her when they were alone, so they didn't make any move to acknowledge that they were with royalty, and neither did Jill, because she was watching them.

Zyvkea gave each of her friends a hug before she began to talk in her language. Dimbru translated for Angellica's benefit. "She says she just wants to thank us again for all we did to help her," he said. "She couldn't have done it without you, and you are the heroes of the country." Zyvkea turned to Jill and said something to her. "She wants to know if you're sure you don't want to join Angellica and me," Dimbru translated.

After Jill had shown everyone else her newly discovered powers, Zyvkea had invited Jill to help her. While Jill liked the idea of helping her friends, she had to remember how scared she'd been in the caves when Menvir and Gaalist had appeared. While Angellica assured her that most of their work wasn't that exciting, Jill didn't think she could handle the pressure. "Yes," she told Dimbru. "I'm sure, but if you ever need some extra help with something particularly difficult, you'll know where to find me."

Dimbru told Zyvkea what Jill had said, and Zyvkea nodded, looking rather sad. She began talking again, and Dimbru said, "She says that because you are not officially employed by the crown, she cannot publicly award you for her services, but she wants you to know that she is personally indebted to you for all that you've done."

"Don't worry about it," Jill said. "I didn't save you for an award or anything. I did it because I wanted to help, and because I had to protect my friends." Dimbru didn't translate this, and Jill wondered if she'd broken some social taboo. She decided to keep her mouth closed for the rest of Zyvkea's visit.

Now, Zyvkea was telling Dimbru and Angellica about the ceremony she would be giving to honor them in just a few minutes. A herald would announce them, and they would walk down the front isle, to where Zyvkea was standing so she could give them their reward. From what Jill understood, they would be receiving bouquets of flowers. It didn't seem like much of a reward to Jill, but Angellica had explained that the bouquets were supposed to symbolize honor and gratitude.

After they received their flowers, Dimbru and Angellica would remain in the front of the courtroom so everyone could see them while Zyvkea told about what they'd done to deserve the honor. Apparently, she wasn't going to tell the whole story, just everything starting from the appearance of Menvir and Gaalist in the cave. The people of Zyvkea's country didn't know she'd been put to sleep.

Dimbru and Angellica both told Queen Zyvkea that they were ready for the ceremony, and she led them away and through some doors. Jill watched as they departed, and decided that as soon as they got back home, she would make Angellica tell her every detail. That's what friends did.

The End.