Let Harme not reach me from their Eye.

Boy 412 slowly faded into the drizzle, leaving a canoe paddle hanging eerily in midair. Jenna took a deep breath and tried the spell for herself.

“You’re still there, Jen,” said Nicko. “Try again.”

The third time was a charm. Jenna’s canoe paddle now hovered in the air next to Boy 412’s.

“Your turn, Nicko,” said Jenna’s voice.

“Hang on a minute,” said Nicko. “I never did this one.”

“Well, do your own, then,” said Jenna. “It doesn’t matter as long as it works.”

“Well, er, I don’t know if it does work. And it doesn’t do the ‘Harme not reach me’ thing at all.”

“Nicko!” protested Jenna.

“All right, all right. I’ll try it.”

“Not seen, Not heard…um…I can’t remember the rest.”

“Try ‘Not seen, not heard, not a whisper, not a word,’” suggested Boy 412 from out of nowhere.

“Oh, yes. That’s it. Thanks.”

The spell worked. Nicko faded slowly away.

“You all right, Nicko?” asked Jenna. “I can’t see you.”

There was no reply.


Nicko’s paddle waggled frantically up and down.

“We can’t see him and he can’t see us because his Unseen is different from ours,” said Boy 412 slightly disapprovingly, “and we won’t be able to hear him either, because it’s mainly a silent spell. And it doesn’t protect him.”

“Not a lot of good, then,” said Jenna.

“No,” said Boy 412. “But I’ve got an idea. This should do it:

Between the spells within our power,

Give us one Harmonious Hour.

“There he is!” said Jenna, as the shadowy form of Nicko Appeared. “Nicko, can you see us?” she asked.

Nicko grinned and made a thumbs-up sign.

“Wow, you’re good,” Jenna told Boy 412.

It was becoming misty as Nicko, using the silent part of his spell, paddled them out from the Deppen Ditch into the open waters of the river. The water was calm and heavy, spotted with a fine drizzle. Nicko was careful to create as little disturbance as possible, just in case a pair of keen eyes from the crow’s nest might be drawn to the strange swirls on the surface of the water, steadily making their way toward the ship.

Nicko made good progress, and soon the steep black sides of the Vengeance reared up before them through the misty drizzle, and the Unseen Muriel Two reached the bottom of the rope ladder. They decided that Nicko would stay with the canoe while Jenna and Boy 412 tried to find out if Marcia was being held on the ship and, if possible, set her free. If they needed any help, Nicko would be ready. Jenna hoped they wouldn’t. She knew that Nicko’s spell would not protect him if he got into any trouble. Nicko held the canoe steady while first Jenna and then Boy 412 climbed uncertainly onto the ladder and started the long precarious climb to the Vengeance.

Nicko watched them with an uneasy feeling. He knew that Unseens can leave shadows and strange disturbances in the air, and a Necromancer like DomDaniel would have no trouble spotting them. But all Nicko could do was silently wish them luck. He had decided that if they did not come back by the time the tide had risen halfway up the Deppen Ditch, he would go in search of them, whether his spell protected him or not.

To pass the time, Nicko climbed into the Hunter’s canoe. He may as well make the most of his wait, he thought, and sit in a decent boat. Even if it was a bit slimy. And smelly. But he’d smelled worse in some of the fishing boats he used to help out on.

It was a long climb up the rope ladder and not an easy one. The ladder kept bumping against the ship’s sticky black sides and Jenna was afraid that someone on board might hear them, but all was quiet above. So quiet that she began to wonder if it was some kind of ghost ship.

As they reached the top, Boy 412 made the mistake of looking down. He felt sick. His head swam with the giddy sensation of height, and he very nearly lost his grip on the rope ladder as his hands became suddenly clammy. The water was dizzyingly far away. The Hunter’s canoe looked tiny, and for a moment he thought he saw someone sitting in it. Boy 412 shook his head. Don’t look down, he told himself sternly. Don’t look down.

Jenna had no fear of heights. She easily clambered up onto the Vengeance and hauled Boy 412 over the gap between ladder and deck. Boy 412 kept his eyes firmly fixed on Jenna’s boots as he wriggled onto the deck and shakily stood up.

Jenna and Boy 412 looked around them.

The Vengeance was an eerie place. The heavy cloud hanging overhead cast a deep shadow over the entire ship, and the only sound they could hear was the quiet rhythmic creaking of the ship itself as it rocked gently on the incoming tide. Jenna and Boy 412 padded quietly along the deck, past neatly coiled ropes, orderly lines of tarred barrels and the occasional cannon pointing out menacingly over the Marram Marshes. Apart from the oppressive blackness and a few traces of yellow slime on the deck, the ship bore no clues as to who it belonged to. However, when they reached the prow, a strong Darke presence almost knocked Boy 412 off his feet. Jenna carried on, unaware of anything, and Boy 412 followed her, not wanting to leave her alone.

The Darkenesse came from an imposing throne, set up by the foremast, looking out to sea. It was a massive piece of furniture, strangely out of place on the deck of a ship. It was ornately carved from ebony and embellished with a deep red gold leaf—and it contained DomDaniel, the Necromancer, himself. Sitting bolt upright, his eyes closed, his mouth slightly open and a low, wet gurgle emanating from the back of his throat as he breathed in the drizzle, DomDaniel was taking his afternoon nap. Underneath the throne, like a faithful dog, lay a sleeping Thing in a pool of yellow slime.

Suddenly Boy 412 clutched Jenna’s arm so hard that she nearly cried out. He pointed to DomDaniel’s waist. Jenna glanced down and then looked at Boy 412 in despair. So it was true. She had hardly been able to believe what Alther had told them but here, in front of her eyes, was the truth. Around DomDaniel’s waist, almost hidden in his dark robes, was the ExtraOrdinary Wizard’s belt. Marcia’s ExtraOrdinary Wizard belt.

Jenna and Boy 412 stared at DomDaniel with a mixture of disgust and fascination. The Necromancer’s fingers gripped the ebony arms of the throne; his thick yellow fingernails curved around the ends and clipped on to the wood like a set of claws. His face still had the telltale gray pallor it had acquired during his years spent Underground, before he had moved out into his lair in the Badlands. It was an unremarkable face in many ways—maybe the eyes were a little too deep set, and the mouth a little too cruel for it to be wholly pleasant—but it was the Darke that lay beneath that made Jenna and Boy 412 shudder as they gazed at it.

On his head DomDaniel wore a cylindrical black hat shaped like a short stovepipe, which, for some reason he did not understand, was always a little too big for him, regardless of how often he had a new one made to fit. This bothered DomDaniel more than he liked to admit, and he had become convinced that since his return to the Wizard Tower his head had started to shrink. While the Necromancer slept, the hat had slipped down and was now resting on the top of his whitish ears. The black hat was an old-fashioned Wizard hat, which no Wizard had worn, or had wanted to wear, since it had been associated with the great Wizard Inquisition many hundreds of years ago.

Above the throne a dark red silk canopy, emblazoned with a trio of black stars, hung heavily in the drizzle, dripping every now and then onto the hat and filling up the indentation in the top with a pool of water.

Boy 412 took hold of Jenna’s hand. He remembered a small, moth-eaten pamphlet of Marcia’s he had read one snowy afternoon called The Hypnotik Effect of the Darke, and he could feel Jenna being drawn in. He pulled her away from the sleeping figure toward an open hatch.

“Marcia’s here,” he whispered to Jenna. “I can feel her Presence.”

As they reached the hatch there was a sound of footsteps running along the deck below and then rapidly climbing the ladder. Jenna and Boy 412 jumped back and a sailor holding a long, unlit torch ran up onto the deck. The sailor was a small, wiry man dressed in the usual Custodian black; unlike the Custodian Guards he was not shaven-headed but had long hair carefully tied back in a thin dark plait that straggled halfway down his back. He had baggy trousers that reached to just below his knee and a top with broad black and white stripes running across it. The sailor took out a tinder box, struck a spark and lit his torch. The torch flared to life, and a brilliant orange flame lit up the gray drizzly afternoon, casting dancing shadows across the deck. The sailor walked forward with the blazing torch and placed it in a holder on the prow of the ship. DomDaniel opened his eyes. His nap was over.

Tags: Angie Sage Septimus Heap Fantasy
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