"That's what the Custodian Guards have been saying, isn't
it?" asked Sally.
"Well, yes," admitted Sarah, pouring out the tea.
"But they are her bodyguards, so they must know. Though why the
Queen has suddenly chosen to be guarded by such a bunch of thugs, I don't
Sally took the cup of tea that Sarah had placed in front of her.
"Ta. Mmm, lovely. Well, exactly . . ." Sally
lowered her voice and looked around as though expecting to find a Custodian
Guard propped up in the corner, not that she would have necessarily have noticed
one amid all the mess in the Heaps' room. "They are a bunch of
thugs. In fact, they are the ones who killed her."
"Killed? She was killed?" exclaimed Sarah.
"Shhh. Well, see here . . ." Sally pulled her
chair closer to Sarah. "There's a story going aroundand I have it from
the horse's mouth . . ."
"Which horse would that be, then?" asked Sarah with a
"Only Madam Marcia"looking triumphant, Sally sat
back and folded her arms"that's who."
"What? How come you've been mixing with the
ExtraOrdinary Wizard? Did she drop by for a cup of tea?"
"Almost. Terry Tarsal did. He had been up at the Wizard
Tower delivering some really weird shoes that he had made for Madam Marcia. So
when he had stopped moaning about her taste in shoes and how much he hated
snakes, he said that he had overheard Marcia talking to one of the other
Wizards. Endor, that little fat one, I think. Well, they said the Queen had been
shot! By the Custodian Guards. One of their Assassins."
Sarah could not believe what she was hearing.
"When?" she breathed.
"Well, this is the really awful thing,"
whispered Sally excitedly. "They said she was shot on the day her baby was
born. Six whole months ago, and we knew nothing about it. It's terrible . . .
terrible. And they shot Mr. Alther too. Dead. That's how come Marcia took over
. . ."
"Alther's dead?" gasped Sarah. "I can't
believe it. I really can't . . . We all thought he'd retired. Silas was his
Apprentice years ago. He was lovely . . ."
"Was he?" asked Sally vaguely, eager to get on with
the story. "Well, that's not all, see. Because Terry reckoned that Marcia
had rescued the Princess and had taken her away somewhere. Endor and Marcia were
just chatting, really, wondering how she was getting along. But of course when
they realized Terry was there with the shoes, they stopped. Marcia was very rude
to him, he said. He felt a bit strange afterward, and he reckoned she'd done a
Forget Spell on him, but he'd nipped behind a pillar when he saw her muttering
and it didn't take properly. He's really upset about that as he can't
remember whether she paid him for the shoes or not."
Sally Mullin paused to draw breath and have a large gulp of tea.
"That poor little Princess. God help the little one. I wonder where she is
now. Probably wasting away in some dungeon somewhere. Not like your little angel
over there . . . How is she doing?"
"Oh, she's just fine," said Sarah, who usually would
have talked at length about Jenna's snuffles and new tooth and how she could
sit up and hold her own cup now. But just at that moment Sarah wanted to turn
the attention away from Jennabecause Sarah had spent the last six months
wondering who her baby really was and now she knew.
Jenna was, thought Sarah, surely she must be . . . the baby
For once Sarah was glad to wave good-bye to Sally Mullin. She
watched her bustle off down the corridor, and, as Sarah closed the door behind
her, she breathed a sigh of relief. Then she rushed over to Jenna's basket.
Sarah lifted Jenna up and held her in her arms. Jenna smiled at
Sarah and reached out to grab her charm necklace.
From Magyk: Septimus Heap Book 1 by Angie Sage. Copyright Angie
Sage 2005. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the
publisher, Harper Collins. No part of this book maybe reproduced without
written permission from the publisher.
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