“Aaaa.. aaw…” Celeste managed to squeak despite von Wartenburg’s mystical command. Dumb galoot, she thought as she glared at him. You grow up with as many brothers and sisters as I did and ain’t nobody gonna stifle your voice.
“I have only one further question for you,” he said sternly. “Have any of your companions mentioned an ancient artifact, or have they spoken of a culture that once called itself Atlantis? You may speak now.”
She was certain he threw in the last sentence to cover for his spell’s inability to bind her voice. “Aaaa… awright, buster,” she demanded as her words came flooding back to her. “Nobody shuts me up like that. What’d you do to me?”
“You will answer my question now.”
“Wrong, buster, you’re gonna answer my question. You can order me to shut my yap, but you can’t force me to talk. See what I mean? So you tell me how you do that voodoo you do and then maybe I’ll stop being too mad to sing like a canary.”
Von Wartenburg, as expressionless as ever, used a key to open his gun case. He selected a luger, loaded it, and turned back towards her. The pistol wasn’t pointed at her, but it wasn’t quite pointed away from her, either.
“I compelled you by means of the Atlantean language,” he said. “Every creature on this planet is neurologically evolved to understand and respond to that language. Perhaps even a simpleton such as you can see what that implies about the power of these ancient ones. Now, before I demonstrate the full might of these words, you will tell me if you ever overheard your betters speak of the Atlanteans.”
“You got a politeness problem, you know that?” Celeste shook her head. “But, in answer to your question: nope, I don’t think so. That is, Professor Scrumtumbler kept talking about his theory that some people from the olden-days built something he called the Hollow Earth. But he was expecting to find a big cave, I think. Not this place.”
Von Wartenburg’s eyes narrowed. “How did he know of the existence of the Hollow Earth?”
Celeste shrugged. “He theorized it, I guess. You know: he just made it up.”
Von Wartenburg snorted and slid his luger into his belt pouch. “Guard,” he called. “Take this one to the brig. I have business to attend to below.”