Arric stuffed the revised contract in the knapsack while Smitty took up position inside the neck of the nightshirt. He rustled about and then held up a paw with his red smoking jacket. Arric was absorbed in studying his notebook so Blaise took the jacket. Smitty, who had wrapped in the collar of the nightshirt round himself, gestured with his paw from which Blaise gathered he was to put the jacket inside the travelling carriage.
“Right if you’re ready Smitty let’s get on with this. I’ve modified the spell to be open ended but it won’t last for ever. The minute you show any sign of reverting to your natural form you grab the travelling carriage and press the return button. Your safety depends on it. Do you understand?”
Smitty nodded and squeaked. Arric opened his mouth to start the spell but Smitty held up an imperative paw. Arric was about to demand ‘what now’ when he realised Smitty was doing what Sir Hugo had referred to as ‘getting in to character’. He waited until the rat lowered his paw.
“Ready Your Highness?”
Blaise was about to ask ‘what for’ then realised Arric was talking to Smitty. He grinned to himself. He must remember that he was now an ex-highness. He watched Arric raise his hand and then as he said the words of the transformation spell sweep it down and round to point at Smitty. For a moment nothing happened and Blaise thought it had failed but then the air shimmered and he found himself looking at his doppelgänger. It looked more like him than he did and it certainly had the insufferably haughty air that befitted royalty and which he’d singularly failed to acquire.
Arric shoved his book back in his pocket. Smitty or rather His Highness Prince Blaise of Alcheron looked at his dressing gown but made no move to pick it up. Blaise grinned and hastened over to hold it out and slip it on to the shoulders of the ex-rat. Arric gestured
“If Your Highness would be so good as to take a seat on the carpet I will return you to your room.” Smitty picked up the travelling carriage and while he was settling himself Arric turned to Blaise “Where is the locket?”
“In between the material and the frame on top the bed. It’s on the left hand side over the pillows.” Arric blew him a surreptitious kiss, mouthed ‘back soon’ and took up his position at the front of the carpet. They lifted off and floated out of the door. Blaise leant on the wall and stared at the cake wondering what it was doing there. Eventually he went over and stuck his finger in the icing round the bottom tier. It was real. He sucked it off his finger and decided that while it looked spectacular it didn’t taste very nice. He went back to leaning on the wall and hoping Arric wouldn’t be too long.
Arric flew the carpet cautiously back until they reached the door to Blaise’s bedroom. He stood up and Smitty followed suit. Arric eased the door open and peered in. The room was empty and he gestured for Smitty to go in. The rat hurried over to the bed followed by Arric.
“You need to get the locket. It’s important only you touch it.” Arric whispered. Smitty nodded and climbed on to the bed. He put the travelling carriage on the top of the tester and felt along the rail across the top end until he felt the small lump and carefully drew the locket out.
Arric whispered again “Open it and put the lozenge in your mouth. It will dissolve. You will have all the memories you need.” Smitty did as instructed. Arric held out his hand and Smitty dropped the empty locket into his palm. “If Blaise comes back and gives you this you have to change places.”
Smitty nodded. He parked the lozenge in his cheek. “Yes of course. I understand. I also understand that if I’m suspected I should get out of here as quickly as possible. I’m not stupid.”
Arric was disconcerted by the rat’s voice which was exactly like Blaise’s but then the spell had said ‘be as like to Blaise and you can be’ so he shouldn’t be surprised. Smitty waved a paw “You may leave us now.” He sat on the edge of the bed.
Arric suppressed a grin. “Very well Your Highness. Good...”
The rat hissed “Don’t say that. It’s not. You say ‘break a leg’ or nothing at all.”
“Break a leg then Your Highness.” Arric tiptoed back across the room. He paused at the door then slipped out. As he shut it behind him he glimpsed Smitty pulling the covers over himself. He spelled the lock shut, sat on the carpet and sped along the corridor to the servant’s stair. He almost overshot and he only just made the turn. For a heart stopping moment he thought he was going to crash into the wall but the edge of the carpet merely brushed against it. After that he slowed down and took a few deep breaths. He made it safely back and plonked himself down on the floor of the attic.
Blaise hurried over and dropped to his knees. He pulled Arric into an embrace.
“His Highness is safely back in his room?” Arric nodded “Good. Now let’s get down to important stuff.” He fastened his lips on Arric’s and proceeded to explore the art of kissing. Arric was only to happy to join him on the basis that practice makes perfect and they hadn’t had enough of it. After a few minutes he reluctantly unglued his lips from Blaise’s.
“We need to finish up and get out of here.”
“I wonder how long it is since the guard patrolled. What do we need to do?”
Arric stood up “Not a lot. The main thing will be putting the bars back but I’ll have to do that from outside.” He handed Blaise the knapsack and picked up the cake. Once they were both settled Arric lifted off and positioned the carpet just under the window,
“You’ll have to climb out it’s too narrow to get the carpet through while sitting on it.”
Blaise nodded and stood up. He scrambled out on to the roof. Once he was out Arric gestured he should take the cake. “Why have we got a cake? By the way I tried a bit of the icing and it doesn’t taste very nice.”
Arric chuckled “I’m not surprised. It’s the window bars. Don’t drop it!” He exclaimed as Blaise gasped and the cake wobbled on its way up. “Hang on while I get rid of the marks in the dust.”
Arric floated down and used the skirt of his robe to brush out the footprints. The crates had a few marks and he got rid of those as well. He floated back up to the window and surveyed his handiwork. The dust wasn’t an even layer but it look as though there hadn’t been anyone in the room for a long time. He took hold of the edge of the skylight with one hand and pulled himself and the carpet up through it.
Arric closed the window and muttered the spell to fasten it from the inside. At least he was familiar with that one. He pulled out his note book again and squinted at it. He couldn’t read it by the faint light of the moon and he risked making a small glow. He reversed the transformation spell turning the cake back into bars across the window and sat back with a sigh of relief.
“Now let’s get out of here. I’m exhausted. I might need to stop for a rest on the way back.”
“That’s really impressive Arric.” Blaise reached out and tapped the window bar. Arric stared in horror as Blaise’s finger disappeared into the bar. “Um I think it’s still cake.” Blaise said as he withdrew his finger and inspected it.
Arric groaned and dropped his head in his hands. “Damn, damn, and double damn, It can’t be. I reversed it exactly.”
Blaise sucked his finger “Sorry but it is. It still doesn’t taste very nice.”
“I don’t know what to do. The first time it rains the whole thing will go soggy and Asgreen will know something’s up.”
“What about making an illusion? Nobody’s likely to go testing the bars because with the rat in my place no-one’s going to suspect anything.”
“That’s a very good idea except for one detail.”
“I’m a useless wizard who doesn’t know how to do illusions.” Arric wailed.
Blaise hugged him. “You’re a splendid wizard and the most handsome ever.” He nibbled Arric’s ear. “Do wizards wear anything under their robes?”
Arric giggled “Stop that! I need to think.”
Blaise let go of him “But it cheered you up. Can you just make it very hard cake? Or just say the spell again, maybe it will work this time.”
“It can’t do any harm. I suspect because I’m tired I didn’t have the right focus and intention.”
Arric closed his eyes and concentrated. When opened them he fixed the bars with a ferocious stare. Instead of muttering he said the spell in his normal voice. When he finished Blaise leant over and tapped the bar. His finger did not disappear and he gave Arric a beaming smile.
“Thank goodness for that. Now let’s go before the guard come back.”
They made a quick stop at Jed’s to allow Blaise to say goodbye and then set off for Redfern Manor at the best speed Arric could manage.