"Well, little Princess," murmured Sarah, "I always knew you were special, but I never dreamed you were our own Princess." The baby's dark violet eyes met Sarah's gaze and she looked solemnly at Sarah as if to say, Well, now you know.
Sarah gently laid Jenna back in her baby basket. Her head was spinning and her hands shook as she poured herself another cup of tea. She found it hard to believe all that she had heard. The Queen was dead. And Alther too. Their Jenna was the heir to the Castle. The Princess. What was happening?
Sarah spent the rest of the afternoon torn between gazing at Jenna, Princess Jenna, and worrying about what would happen if anyone found out where she was. Where was Silas when she needed him?
Silas was enjoying a day's fishing with the boys.
There was a small sandy beach in the bend of the river just along from The Ramblings. Silas was showing Nicko and Jo-Jo, the two youngest boys, how to tie their jam jars onto the end of a pole and dip them in the water. Jo-Jo had already caught three tiddlers, but Nicko kept dropping his and was getting upset.
Silas picked Nicko up and took him over to see Erik and Edd, the five-year-old twins. Erik was daydreaming happily and dangling his foot in the warm, clear water. Fred was poking at something under a stone with a stick. It was a huge water beetle. Nicko wailed and clung on tightly around Silas' neck.
Sam, who was nearly seven, was a serious fisherman. He had been given a proper fishing rod for his last birthday, and there were two small silver fish laid out on a rock beside him. He was about to reel in another. Nicko squealed with excitement.
"Take him away, Dad. He'll frighten the fish," Sam said crossly.
Silas tiptoed off with Nicko and went to sit beside his oldest son, Simon. Simon had a fishing rod in one hand and a book in the other. It was Simon's ambition to be the ExtraOrdinary Wizard, and he was busy reading all of Silas's old magic books. This one, Silas noticed, was called The Compleat Fish-Charmer.
Silas expected all his boys to be some kind of Wizard; it was in the family. Silas's aunt was a renowned White Witch and both Silas's father and uncle had been Shape-Shifters, which was a very specialized branch, and one that Silas hoped his boys would avoid, for successful Shape-Shifters became increasingly unstable as they grew older, sometimes unable to hold their own shape for more than a few minutes at a time. Silas's father had eventually disappeared into the Forest as a tree, but no one knew which one. It was one of the reasons why Silas enjoyed his walks through the Forest. He would often address a remark to an untidy-looking tree in the hope that it might be his father.
Sarah Heap came from a Warlock and Wizard family. As a girl, Sarah had studied herbs and healing with Galen, the Physik Woman in the Forest, which was where she had met Silas one day. Silas had been out looking for his father. He was lost and unhappy and Sarah took him back with her to see Galen. Galen had helped Silas to understand that his father, as a Shape-Shifter, would have chosen his final destination as a tree many years ago and would now be truly happy. And Silas too, for the first time in his life, realized he felt truly happy sitting next to Sarah by the Physik Woman's fire.
When Sarah understood all she could about herbs and healing, she had said a fond good-bye to Galen and joined Silas in his room in The Ramblings. And there they had stayed ever since, squeezing in more and more children while Silas happily gave up his Apprenticeship and worked as a jobbing Ordinary Wizard to pay the bills. Sarah made herb tinctures at the kitchen table if she had a spare momentwhich did not often happen.
That evening, as Silas and the boys made their way up the beach steps to go back to The Ramblings, a large and menacing Custodian Guard dressed in black from head to toe barred their way.
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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