The wooden bridge over the Palace Moat sagged alarmingly under Spit Fyre's weight as they approached the Palace doors. Hildegarde, the sub-Wizard on door duty, looked worried.
“Silas Heap, please, Hildegarde,” snapped Marcia. "At once.
“I believe he is in the attic, Madam Marcia,” said Hildegarde, eyeing Spit Fyre warily. Hildegarde did not like reptiles very much and the Palace already had far too many for her liking, what with the snapping turtles in the Moat and Billy Pot's multitude of Lawn Lizards.
“Good,” said Marcia. “Maybe he's doing something right for once, though somehow I doubt it.” To Hildegarde's relief she turned to Septimus and said, “Septimus, do not bring that dragon in here. Take it around to the back. I'm sure Mr. Pot would be grateful for some more contributions.” With that, Marcia rushed off into the shadows of the Long Walk, where there was a loud crash as she collided with the Palace cleaner and knocked over his bucket.
Leaving Marcia to tell the unfortunate cleaner where to put his bucket in the future, Septimus took the path around to the back of the Palace while Spit Fyre trotted after him, as if attached by a very short piece of invisible string. After getting lost several times, Marcia finally made it up to the attic. She arrived to the sounds of an argument.
“Look, Gringe. I cannot be held responsible if you are unable to control your Counters. My Kicker would never have Kicked everything off the board.”
“It was your Kicker,” muttered Gringe. “Mine was just goin' about 'is business and then he gets sent flyin' across the room. Dunno where he's gone.”
“Don't know where any of them have gone,” said Silas grumpily, getting down on his hands and knees and peering between the floorboards. “Probably never see them again. Huh. ”
“Silas Heap, what are you doing?” Marcia's voice rang out as she strode down the long, empty attic toward the Counter-Feet players at the far end. Guiltily Silas jumped up and hit his head on a low rafter.
At the sight of the ExtraOrdinary Wizard approaching, cloak flying, eyes flashing and a look of fury on her face, Gringe went pale. “We were just about to put the painting back,” he said. “Honest.”
“Honest is not a word I automatically associate with you, Gringe,” snapped Marcia, a trifle unfairly.
“Keep your hair on, Marcia,” said Silas. “We're doing it. I don't see what the fuss is all about anyway.”
“That, Silas Heap, is why you are only an Ordinary Wizard. This room was Sealed for a reason: to keep the ghost of Queen Etheldredda Sealed inside—and her disgusting pet whatever-it-is, which has been running around the Castle biting people and spreading the Sickenesse.”
“Oh, come off it, Marcia,” Silas objected. “You can't blame me for the Sickenesse too.”
“You let it out, Silas. No one else did. Ever since you stupidly UnSealed that portrait it is no coincidence that we have had the Sickenesse, and even worse, we've had Queen Etheldredda let loose.”
“She's only a ghost, Marcia,” Silas protested. “There's no need to get so worked up about it. There are loads of ghosts around here, and some of them are a real pain—much worse than her. I mean, there's that one with the irritating whistle and then there's—”
“Be quiet, Silas. Etheldredda is no ordinary ghost. She is dangerous, Silas. She was Sealed in by her son—her own son, no less—who knew what she was capable of.”
“What do you mean, capable of?” asked Silas, beginning to get a bad feeling about the whole business.
“Murdering her children. Princesses. Rightful heirs to the Castle. And now she is let loose here, in our Time, and she is intent on doing the same.”
“What?” asked Silas. “You don't mean ... Jenna?”
“I mean just that. And now Jenna has returned—”
“Jenna's back!” gasped Silas. “Is she all right?”
“For the moment. She and Septimus are—”
“Septimus. So it's true, they're both safe?” Silas felt as though a weight had been lifted from him. Suddenly he felt far less like arguing with Marcia. “Give us a hand then, Marcia,” he said. “We'll get this picture Sealed up in no time, won't we, Gringe?”
Gringe shrugged. As far as he was concerned, it was just another game of Counter-Feet brought to an untimely end by Silas Heap.
As the portrait moved slowly down the attic, Queen Etheldredda's Royal Barge was Passing Through the anti-Sickenesse blockade below Raven's Rock. The fishermen manning the boats on the blockade shivered as a chill breeze blew through the ships'
rigging and set the ropes eerily humming. Queen Etheldredda sat alone on her ghostly seat—the Aie-Aie was skulking outside the Manuscriptorium, waiting to bite a few soft-skinned scribes as they left work. As the Royal Barge progressed through the blockade and headed upriver to the Palace landing stage, the smile on Queen Etheldredda's thin lips grew wider, for in her hands she cradled Jenna's silver pistol.
And in the silver pistol she had placed Jenna's Named bullet: IP. for Infant Princess.
Up in the attic, Queen Etheldredda's portrait was not going quietly. Silas was sure it had bit him, and Gringe's arms felt like they were being pinched by a large crab as they struggled down the length of the attic toward the UnSealed room. About halfway there Gringe let out a loud yelp and dropped the painting. It landed on Silas's toe, and Marcia finally lost the remaining shreds of her patience.
“Stand back!” she yelled. “I will Send it to the room.”
Silas was aghast. “You can't do that,” he said. “You don't know where it will end up.”
“Don't go telling me my job, Silas Heap,” snapped Marcia. “It will Go where I Send it.”
“Don't bank on it, Marcia,” muttered Silas.
Marcia did not reply. She was already summoning up the Magyk she needed for the Send—and she needed a lot of it. Silas watched the Magykal haze—a flickering, purplish mist—appear around Marcia until it was hard to see where Marcia ended and the attic began. Gringe just watched, open-mouthed, as Marcia, staring intently at the portrait, began to chant slowly,
"Go You where I Send Tarry not until tne End Stay You where I Tell Mark You This and Mark it Well:
Go You to your Room!"
At once Marcia had the horrible feeling she had done something wrong. Alther's wise words came back to her— Be specific, Marcia. Say exactly what you mean—but too late. The Magykal haze enveloped the portrait, as it was meant to. Queen Etheldredda's portrait rose, as it was meant to. Then it hurled itself through the window, as it was most definitively not meant to.
Marcia leaned out the window to see what had happened. She watched the portrait fly through the air and disappear into the wall of the turret—straight into the Queen's Room.
Marcia waited for Silas's scathing comment but it did not materialize. Silas had gone.
A ghostly barge makes no noise and so, as it drew up to the Palace landing stage, Jenna heard nothing. She slept peacefully on, but the duckling woke up. There was something in the air that reminded it of somewhere horrible—somewhere that smelled of oranges.
In a distant Time., Snorri Snorrelssen, no longer alone, sat on Snake Slipway with Nicko Heap and watched the water flow by. As she gazed unfocussed into the Moat, once again Snorri Saw through Ullr's eyes. She Saw the Royal Barge come to rest at the landing stage. She Saw Queen Etheldredda stand up, pistol in hand, and she Saw the winter sun glint off the polished silver of the weapon as Etheldredda raised the pistol and aimed it at the sleeping Jenna.
Even though they were separated by five hundred years of Time, Ullr was still Snorri's cat, and he still did what his mistress asked. Which is why Ullr suddenly sprang to life and hurled himself at the ghost. But this time, Etheldredda, who was more Substantial, fought back and hit the small orange cat a swinging blow with the pistol. Ullr fell to the ground, but not before he had woken Jenna with his screech.
Jenna sat up with a jolt, still full of sleep. She could not make sense of what she saw—Ullr sprawled across the landing stage and a naked duckling running around in circles, cheeping like a tiny alarm clock.
On the lawn by the Palace, Alice had heard Ullr's screech and seen the flash of sun off the silver pistol. “That's odd,” she said to Alther, who was dozing. “There's something going on down on the landing stage.”