The Miserable Prince and the Would be Wizard

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Chapter 19

The silence stretched out while Asgreen stroked his goatee and regarded Smitty with a sardonic smile. Smitty avoided catching his eye and stared at his feet.

“If it was up to me I’d simply dispose of you now and save myself trouble. Unfortunately Her Majesty does not agree. She feels things have to be done in proper form. So you will be marrying Letitia whether you like it or not just as soon as she recovers her voice enough to say ‘I do’. Understood?”

Smitty nodded “I didn’t...”

“Silence. I don’t want to hear pathetic excuses. You have a choice. Spend the next few days chained to the wall in the dungeon on bread and water or if you give me your word to behave you can spend it chained to your bed with proper meals.”

Smitty could hardly believe his luck. “I promise I’ll behave. You don’t believe me but it was an accident. I didn’t know the fireworks would blow the cake up.”

Asgreen sneered “So it was an ‘accident’ you ducked? Don’t try my patience brat. Up.” He gestured and Smitty stood. “Danvers, the shackle with the extra long chain. The one we use when we want people to think they can reach the water tap.”

“At once Master.” Danvers scurried out of the room and returned a few moments later with a leg shackle attached to an impressive length of chain. He attached the shackle to Smitty’s ankle and handed the chain to Asgreen.

Asgreen gave it a little shake. “Walk brat.” Smitty needed no urging. He couldn’t wait to get back to his room.

The Count pointed to a spot one pace from the window and Smitty stood there. He watched Asgreen pace out the distance to the bed and then into the bathroom. It appeared he was to be allowed to have a modicum of comfort. He wasn’t that bothered. As soon as Asgreen left the room he was sending his travelling carriage with a message to ask Arric to come and rescue him. The chain was finally attached to a point on the floor securely enough to satisfy the Count that there was no possibility of it being shifted. He turned to Smitty who had continued to stand obediently still.

“Now brat I suppose I had better sort you out. If it wasn’t for Letitia’s fear of rodents I’d leave you in this state.” He waved his hand and muttered the spell to undo the effects of the one that had gone awry. It was unfortunate that he used the words ‘restore you to your true form’ since with a flash Smitty resumed his right size. Asgreen uttered a curse that turned the air blue. Literally. The room was full of a bright blue smoke. Smitty took the opportunity to abandon the pile of clothes and scurry into the concealing folds of the curtains.

Asgreen dissipated the smoke and strode over to the garments. He picked them up and shook them violently then flung them down. Someone had substituted the Prince at some point. No prizes for guessing it was that insufferable old fool Redfern. His eyes narrowed as he thought furiously. It must have been the night the brat allegedly ‘went for a stroll’. His eyes roved round the room. Smitty watched in horror as Asgreen searched for whatever device Redfern had used since he clearly hadn’t come in person. After a good five minutes when Asgreen had still found nothing Smitty began to relax. He just had to wait. The benefit of being his right size was he could use the travelling carriage to make his escape. His hopes were dashed when the Count started muttering and gesticulating. The travelling carriage rose from its hiding place and floated towards Asgreen’s outstretched hand. He grasped it with an exclamation of satisfaction and left the room slamming the door behind him.

Saturday morning at Redfern Manor had started with a late and leisurely breakfast. It was a lovely morning so everyone took Timmy for a ramble around in the woods. This lasted some time since Timmy snuffled about in the undergrowth happily hunting insects. It was mid afternoon by the time they returned to the house in high good humour laughing and joking about the fact that Letitia was no officially betrothed to a rat. Mordi was first through the kitchen door. The laughter died on his lips as he saw the travelling carriage. He ran over to the table exclaiming

“Smitty! Smitty are you there?”

The others crowded round as he picked it up. There was no rat and Sir Hugo peered under the table and then at the biscuit tin in case Smitty had decided to help himself to a snack. There was no sign of the rat and he tsked.

“Where’s he gone?”

Mordi had opened the door of the carriage and seen a piece of paper. He extracted it and unfolded it. He looked sick as he scanned it. In answer to everyone’s anxious looks he said

“Bad news. In fact the worst. Asgreen has discovered the deception. Unless we return Blaise by sundown ten citizens of Whitecastle will be executed. The number will double every day until the prince returns.”

“I’ll go back.”

Arric was distraught “No you can’t. He’ll force you to marry Letitia then he’ll kill you.”

“I have to Arric. We can’t let him slaughter innocent people.” Blaise was white and shaking but he was determined. He’d at least known what happiness and love were for a short time.

Arric burst into tears. “I can’t lose you! There must be something we can do?” He appealed to Sir Hugo and Mordi who both looked grave.

Mordi sighed “He’s given us very little time. That’s deliberate of course.”

“He won’t kill Blaise immediately. We can use the time to make plans but Mordi’s right. We only have an hour or so before we have to leave if we are to arrive by sunset.”

Despite desperate thought and frantic searching through their library no solution presented itself by the time Blaise had to leave to make Asgreen’s deadline. Even Arric couldn’t bear the thought of ten innocent people dying and reluctantly came round to the idea that Blaise had to return though he swore he would think of a way of rescuing him. Arric followed Blaise when he went upstairs to get his coat saying he wanted to bid farewell in private. Once Blaise had collected his coat they shared a long passionate kiss

“I’ll be as careful as I can and I’m relying on you to rescue me at some point.” Blaise said with an attempt at a smile that didn’t quite quite come off. I love you.” His voice wobbled and he sniffed.

Arric drew him back into an embrace. “You can be sure I’ll find away to keep you safe. Now come into my room I’ve a good luck charm I want to give you.”

Blaise walked into the room and Arric shut the door. “Close your eyes and I’ll slip it round your neck. Blaise shut his eyes and Arric picked up the candlestick and hit him over the head with it. Blaise crumpled to the floor and lay unmoving.

“I’m sorry my love. I hope your head doesn’t hurt too much when you come round. You are not going back to die.” He bent and lifted Blaise on to the bed and stripped off his shirt and breeches. It was awkward but he managed it. It took seconds for him to change into Blaise’s clothes. He went over to the mirror. If there was one thing he’d mastered it was transformation spells. He adapted the one used for Smitty and watched in satisfaction as his reflection faded and Blaise’s took its place. He tied Blaise up and gagged him to prevent him raising the alarm. He picked up Blaise’s hat and shutting the door behind him started downstairs just as Sir Hugo called up

“We need to be going”

Arric ran down the rest of the stairs “Here I am. Sorry. Arric is a bit upset.”

“I’m not surprised. It’s awful. I’ll go and comfort him.”

“Oh no Mordi! That’s all right he wants to be on his own for a bit. It’s why he hasn’t come down.”

Mordi nodded and hugged Arric fiercely. “I’m sorry our scheme failed. Listen Bibbikins you take the best care and be sure your Mordy Wordy will do everything to get you back safe and sound”

Arric delightedly filed away the information about Bibbikins. When he got back, and he had every intention he would, he was going to tease his beloved unmercifully.

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