Catchpole, true to his name, became Deputy Hunter but progressed no farther. After the overthrow of the Supreme Custodian he joined the Second-Chance Scheme and was accepted as a sub-Wizarda new trainee Wizard post for those of more mature years or no Magykal background.
Catchpole's ambition was now to be a proper Wizard. At the very least he wanted to be an Ordinary Wizard, but he had decided that he would not turn down the job of ExtraOrdinary Wizard if it were offered to him. It never was.
If you asked Jannit Maarten to describe herself, she would say, "boat builder." And that is all she would say. Jannit had little time for politics and even less time for Wizards. Whatever went on in the Castle was of no concern to Jannit, whose whole world consisted of her boatyard just outside the Castle walls. She slept soundly in her hammock at night, rose at dawn and spent all daylight hours happily building, mending, painting and scrapingand all the other hundreds of wonderfully time-consuming fiddly things that boats require.
Although Nicko found it hard to believe, Jannit had once been a little girl, but she had forgotten all about itpossibly because she had grown up on a small farm in the middle of the Farmlands and had disliked chickens, hated cows and loathed pigs. Her parents never understood why, at fourteen, Jannit had dressed as a boy and run away to sea. At nineteen she returned with a ship of her own and set up the Jannit Maarten Boatyard next to the derelict Castle Customs Quay. Jannit was entirely happy with her life and set foot outside her beloved boatyard with great reluctance.
Sleuth had once been a tennis ball. It had spent two years lying in a damp ditch beside the Port Municipal Real Tennis House after someone had hit it out the window in a fit of temper; it had been seriously nibbled by mice and was slowly falling apart, until one day Simon Heap picked it up, put it in his pocket and took it back to the Observatory.
Over the next few months, Sleuth lay in a Sealed box, which Simon Heap carefully tended. He regularly filled and refilled the box with gases and potions, chanted over it for long hours and encircled it with Reverse Charms. As Sleuth gradually became conscious, it heard incantations muttered over it at midnight and smelled the Darke fumes that Simon wafted through the box. It had lain there, confused but excited, waiting to see what was going to happen.
Then, one night, at the Dark of the Moon, Sleuth was let out of its box and saw the world for the first time. It liked what it saw and Simon Heap was equally pleased with his creation. Sleuth glowed brightly and seemed intelligent; it was obedient and quick to learn. Soon it followed its Master everywhere and became Simon Heap's most loyal and faithful servant.
Nurse Agnes Meredith, ex-Matron Midwife, ex-baby snatcher, made her way to the Port after being released from the Castle Asylum for Deluded and Distressed Persons. She walked the streets looking for her son, Merrin, but she had no luck. Eventually she ran out of the allowance the Asylum had given her and found a job as a cleaner in a seedy lodging house in the Rope Walk, next to the Port Witch Coven.
The owner of the lodging house was a Mrs. Florrie Bundy, a large woman of short temper and long memory. Florrie had numerous ongoing feuds with her neighbors, the Port Witches, and it was a heated argument over a used teabagwhich Florrie claimed had been deliberately aimed at her headthat led to her demise. Linda, who one day for want of nothing better to do had indeed thrown a teabag at Florrie's head, eventually got tired of being yelled at and placed a Shrink Spell on Florrie. Over the course of a few weeks the Shrink Spell gradually reduced Florrie to the size of a teabag herself, and one frosty morning she slipped on some ice, fell down the drain outside the backdoor and drowned.
Agnes Meredith had watched Florrie Shrinking with great interest. One day, when she could no longer find the diminutive landlady, Nurse Meredith took over the lodging house as though nothing had happened. She soon made it her ownhanging flock wallpaper, writing whimsical messages to stick on the walls and filling the house with dried flowers and dolls. She enjoyed the company of her dolls, and after a while she stopped looking for Merrin. At least you knew where you were with dolls, she told herself.
Maureen had run away to the Port with the Chief Potato Peeler after an incident in the Palace kitchens. Maureen and the Chief Potato Peeler, Kevin, were saving up to buy their own cafe. When Kevin was taken on as cook on a large merchant ship on a round-the-world voyage, Maureen took the only job she could find at the time, working in the Doll House. It was not ideal but she managed to save the tips she was given by grateful guests, and at least living in the cupboard under the stairs meant she did not have to pay for lodgings. She longed for the day that Kevin would return and they would find a little place of their own down by the harbor.
Port Witch Coven: Veronica
Veronica had been in the Coven for the longest of all the witches, but she did not hold the post of Witch Mother on account of her forgetfulness and tendency to sleepwalk out of the Coven and get lost for days on end. Veronica loved rats, something she had inherited from her father, Jack, who lived out on the reed beds near the Marram Marshes. Like her father, Veronica had a large collection of caged rats in various stages of decay.
Linda was the youngest of the witches and was, as she put it, "up for anything, me." The other witches enjoyed her company but not her practical jokes. Linda had a fiery temper and a penchant for very nasty spells if anyone crossed her. But after the incident of Dorinda's elephant ears, none of the witches did. Pamela, the Witch Mother, saw that Linda had potential and was secretly grooming her as her successor.
Daphne was the quiet one of the Coven. She bumbled around amiably and kept to herself, happily nurturing a colony of giant woodworms, which were slowly eating their way through the house. Daphne loved her woodworms and kept most of her conversation for them.
Pamela was the Witch Mother and the Darke one of the Coven. Of course all the witches thought they were Darke Witches, but Pamela was the real thing. She had spent some years with DomDaniel at the Observatory and had returned with many Darke tales to tell, which had frightened the other Coven members, even though they would rather drink rotten frog juice than admit it. Pamela had her own Locked room, which the other witches kept well away from, and at night, when bloodcurdling shrieks echoed from the room, the rest of the Coven stuffed their fingers in their ears and tried to sleep.
Dorinda had not been especially concerned about her appearance until the terrible night of the elephant ears. She knew she was not particularly good-looking, for her nose was slightly crooked after an argument with a fire escape, and she had never liked her hair. But Dorinda gave up any attempt at personal grooming after Linda accused her of eavesdropping on a private conversation with a young Warlock she had brought home. Dorinda had strenuously denied iteven though the whole Coven knew she crept around listening at keyholes. Linda was furious and Bestowed upon Dorinda a pair of elephant ears (African elephant earsthe really big ones), saying that "if she was going to go flapping her ears around the place, she may as well have some decent ears to flap." Since that night Dorinda had worn a large towel swathed around her head and kept up the pretense to the rest of the Coven that she had just washed her hair, even though they knewand Dorinda knew that they knewthat underneath the huge towel lay a pair of neatly folded African elephant ears. It was a permanent spell, and not even Pamela could get rid of it.
Hugh Fox, Chief Hermetic Scribe
Hugh Fox had been a lowly scribe in the Manuscriptorium for twenty-five years when he was Picked to become the Chief Hermetic Scribe.
When DomDaniel had lured Marcia back from the Marram Marshes, he had snatched the book she had with her, The Undoing of the Darkenesse. The Necromancer had taken the book to Waldo Watkins, who was the Chief Hermetic Scribe, and told him to use the Darke Hermetic Powers that are always available to a Chief Scribe to UnLocke its secrets. Watkins had refused, and that night on his way home Waldo Watkins vanished, never to be seen again.
DomDaniel insisted on an immediate replacement and the Draw was made. The Draw was a ceremony: each scribe placed his pen into a large ancient enameled Pot. The Pot was taken into the Hermetic Chamber and left overnight. The next morning one pen would always be found lying on the table, while the rest would remain in the Pot. Traditionally the youngest scribe would be sent in to retrieve the chosen pen.