"What?" demanded Merrin.
Aunt Zelda lowered her voice. "Now give me the bottle back."
Merrin looked at his boots once more.
"Give it to me, Merrin."
Very reluctantly Merrin pulled the little gold bottle from his pocket and handed it over. Aunt Zelda inspected it and saw with dismay that the seal had been broken. "You opened it," she said angrily.
For once Merrin looked guilty. "I thought it was scent," he said. "But it was horrible. I could have died."
"True," Aunt Zelda agreed, turning the empty - and much lighter - little gold bottle over and over in her hand. "Now, Merrin. This is important, and I do not want any lies, understand?"
Sulkily Merrin nodded.
"Did you tell the jinnee you were Septimus Heap?"
"Yeah, 'course I did. That is my name."
Aunt Zelda sighed. This was bad. "It is not your real name, Merrin," she said patiently. "It is not the name your mother gave you."
"It was the name I was called for ten years," he said. "I've had it longer than he has."
Despite her anger with him, Aunt Zelda had some sympathy for Merrin. What he said was true, he had been called Septimus Heap for the first ten years of his life. Aunt Zelda knew that Merrin had had a rough time, but it didn't give him license to terrorize little children and steal from them.
"That's enough of that, Merrin," she said sternly. "Now, I want you to tell me what you said when the jinnee asked you, 'What Do You Will, Oh Master?'"
"Well what?" Aunt Zelda tried not to imagine the kind of things that Merrin might have asked the jinnee to do.
"I told it to go away."
Aunt Zelda felt a surge of relief. "You did?"
"Yeah. It called me stupid, so I told it to go away."
"And did it?"
"Yeah. Then it locked me in, and I only just got out. It was horrible."
"Serves you right," Aunt Zelda said briskly. "Now, one last thing and then you can go."
"What does the jinnee look like?"
"Like a banana." Merrin laughed. "Like a stupid giant banana!" With that, he pulled free of Aunt Zelda and raced toward the Manuscriptorium.
Aunt Zelda let him go. "Well, I think that narrows the field," she muttered. She took hold of Barney Pot's hand. "Barney," she said, "would you like to help me look for a stupid giant banana?"
Barney grinned. "Ooh, yes please," he said.
Back at the Great Arch, Marcia was as near to speechless as she ever got.
"Simon Heap," she said icily. "Get out of here at once before I - "
"Marcia, please listen," said Simon. "This is important."
Whether it was because of the shock of the UnSealed Ice Tunnels and the lost Keye or a kind of desperate determination in Simon's eyes, Marcia said, "Very well. Tell me and then get out of here."
Simon hesitated. He desperately wanted to ask Marcia to give him back his Tracker Ball, Sleuth, so that he could send it after Lucy, but now that he was actually here, he knew that was an impossibility. If he wanted Marcia to listen to him he had to forget Sleuth.
"I heard something in the Port that I think you should know about," he began.
"Well?" Marcia tapped her foot impatiently.
"There's something going on at the CattRokk Light."
Marcia looked at Simon with sudden interest. "CattRokk Light?"
"Yes - "
"Come away from the Arch," said Marcia. "Sound travels. We can walk down Wizard Way. You are leaving by the ferry at the South Gate, I take it - you can tell me as we go."
And so Simon found himself walking next to the ExtraOrdinary Wizard in full view of anyone in the Castle who might be passing - something that he had never dreamed would happen, ever.
"You know the Ghost of the Vaults - Tertius Fume - I think he has something to do with it...."
Marcia was now extremely interested. "Go on," she said.
"Well, you know I...um...used to come to the Manuscriptorium every week...."
Simon blushed and found a sudden interest in the configuration of the paving stones of Wizard Way.
"Yes," said Marcia sharply. "I am indeed aware of that fact. Delivering bones, was it not?"
"Yes, it was. I - I am truly, truly sorry for that. I don't know why I - "
"I don't want your apologies. I take account of what people do, Simon, not what they say."
"Yes, of course. Well, when I was there, Tertius Fume asked if I wanted to be his BondsMan. He wanted someone to do the running for him, as he put it. I turned him down."
"Beneath you, was it?" asked Marcia.
Simon felt even more uncomfortable. Marcia was absolutely right. He had loftily informed Tertius Fume that he had far more important matters to attend to.
"Um. Well, the thing is, a few weeks later I saw Tertius Fume down on the old Manuscriptorium landing stage. He was talking to someone who looked to me like a pirate. You know, gold ring in his ear, parrot tattooed on his neck, that kind of thing. I thought then, old Goat Face - sorry, Tertius Fume - has found his BondsMan."
"Old Goat Face is just fine by me," said Marcia. "So tell me, Simon, what do you know about CattRokk?"
"Well, er, I know what shines above...and what lies beneath."
Marcia raised her eyebrows. "You do?"
Simon looked embarrassed. "I'm sorry," he said, "but because of where I ended up when I went a little bit, well, crazy, I do know lots of stuff. There are things that I know I shouldn't know, but I do. And I can't un-know them, if you see what I mean. But if I can put any of it to good use now, then maybe...well, maybe I can make things right. Maybe." Simon stole a glance at Marcia but got no response.
"So I do know about the Isles of Syren, and about the Deeps and, er, things."
"Really?" Marcia's tone was icy. "So why have you come to tell me? Why now?"
"And - oh, it's awful," Simon babbled. "Lucy has run off with some kid - and I remember who he is now, he's a friend of...of my brother, your Apprentice. He got me in the eye once with a catapult. Not your Apprentice, the friend. Anyway, he - the friend, not my brother - has run off with my Lucy, and they are on a boat belonging to Skipper Fry, who has a parrot on his neck and whose initials are T.F.F. and who takes the supplies out to CattRokk."
Marcia took a moment to digest this. "So...let me get this straight. You are telling me that Tertius Fume has a BondsMan who has gone to CattRokk Light?"
"Yes. And before he left, I saw the BondsMan talking to Una Brakket. She gave him a package."
"Una Brakket?" Distaste flooded Marcia's face.
"Yes. I'm sure you know this too - neither she nor Tertius Fume is a friend of the Castle."
"Hmm.... So how long ago did this Skipper Fry - this BondsMan - leave?"
"Two days ago. I came as soon as I could. There was an awful storm and - "
"Well, thank you," said Marcia, cutting in. "That was very interesting."
"Oh. Right. Well, if there's anything I can do..."
"No, thank you, Simon. You'll just catch the next ferry to the Port if you hurry. Good-bye." With that, Marcia turned on her heel and strode back up Wizard Way. Simon hurried off to the ferry feeling deflated. He knew he shouldn't have expected anything, but he had hoped that, just possibly, Marcia might have involved him, asked his opinion - even allowed him to stay in the Castle for the night. But she hadn't - and he didn't blame her.
Marcia walked up Wizard Way, lost in thought. Her visit to the Manuscriptorium, combined with her surprise meeting with Simon Heap, had left her with a lot to think about. Marcia was convinced that Tertius Fume had something to do with the secret Ice Tunnel becoming UnSealed, and she was sure it was not a coincidence that his BondsMan was at that very moment on his way to CattRokk Light. Tertius Fume was up to something. "Evil old goat," she muttered to herself.
Marcia was so deep in thought that when a tall, thin man wearing a ridiculous yellow hat ran in front of her, she walked right into him. They both went flying. Before Marcia could struggle to her feet she found herself surrounded by a group of concerned - and rather excited - onlookers who, too amazed to offer any help, stood gazing at the sight of their ExtraOrdinary Wizard lying flat out on Wizard Way. For once Marcia was glad to hear Aunt Zelda's voice.