"Are there builders in the basement?" Silas asked Sarah. "There's a lot of banging down there."
Septimus was thinking hard. "Okay...but what if he takes it because he wants to?"
"Then that's all right," said Beetle. "You're not part of it then. But it won't happen - he doesn't want to."
"Jim Knee," said Septimus, "I wish you to Transform to a gull."
Jim Knee sighed. There was a yellow puff of smoke and a pop. Once more the little yellow gull stood on the gunnels of the Marauder.
"Okay, 409," said Septimus, "show the gull the tentacle."
Marcia stepped off the spiral stairs and forced a welcoming smile for Sarah, Silas and the malodorous Maxie.
Wolf Boy held his hand out to the gull. The tentacle, rank and putrid, sat in his palm like a fat, juicy sand eel.
The little gull regarded its Master with a mixture of loathing and grudging admiration. It knew what was going to happen, but it couldn't stop itself. With a swift peck at Wolf Boy's scarred palms, it sucked up the oh- so-repulsive tentacle and gulped it down.
"Nice one, Sep," said Beetle admiringly.
A massive crash came from inside the broom closet. Maxie growled. Marcia went to investigate.
Heavy with undigested tentacle, the gull took off from the Marauder. It skimmed the surface of the sea, searching for the telltale stream of tiny air bubbles that would be floating up from the armor of the final warrior jinn.
The ghost of Tertius Fume Passed Through the broom closet door into the Great Hall of the Wizard Tower.
"Ah, Miss Overstrand," he said. "We have a score to settle."
"I don't know what you think you're doing here, Fume," Marcia blazed. "But you can get out - now! I won't tell you again."
"How true," said Tertius Fume with a smile. "Indeed, you won't. One of the many things you will not be doing again, Miss Overstrand."
He spun around and yelled to the broom closet door, "Kill her!"
The gull stopped in mid-flight. There was a small puff of yellow smoke, the gull vanished and a tiny ghost crab plopped into the water.
Twelve warrior jinn came smashing through the broom closet door as though it were made of paper. In a second Marcia was trapped, surrounded by a circle of swords.
"Run!" she yelled to Silas and Sarah.
The watchers on the Marauder waited. Still the jinn marched out from the sea. Frantically, Marcia began a SafeShield spell, but the Darke in the jinn made her Magyk slow. With the points of twelve razor-sharp blades just inches from her throat, Marcia knew it was too late. She closed her eyes.
A little yellow crab caught the heel of the last warrior jinn. In an instant, the jinn Froze. Marcia felt the sudden chill in the air and opened her eyes to see twelve swords dulled by a fine, crystalline frosting surrounding her like a necklace. Marcia Shattered them and stepped out of the circle of Frozen jinn, shaking. She found three Wizards lying in a dead faint and Sarah and Silas white-faced with horror. She marched up to the shocked Tertius Fume and told him:
"As I said, I will not tell you again. But I will tell you this, Fume. I shall be taking steps to Eradicate you. Good day."
Jenna heard a distant cheer go up from the Marauder. Through Milo's telescope, she saw the jinn stopped in mid-step, covered with a sparkly sheen of crystal. She swung the telescope back to the Marauder - the closest she could get to joining in the celebrations.
"Oh, yuck!" she said.
Jim Knee was getting sick over the side of the boat.
Chapter 49 Returns
That night found Jenna and Septimus sitting together on what was once again their beach, a little way from a talkative group gathered around a blazing fire. At Jenna's insistence, Septimus had just finished telling her all that had happened.
"You know, Sep," said Jenna, "if being Queen means always having to watch everyone else do stuff, I don't think I want to be one. You and Beetle get to do exciting things with jinn and Ice Tunnels and sleds while I have to sit and politely listen to Milo drone on and on. Nicko and Snorri weren't much better - all they talk about is boats."
"The Ice Tunnels weren't that great," said Septimus. "Believe me." He looked up and saw a banana-like figure emerge from the sand dunes. "Oh, at last - there's Jim Knee. Excuse me, Jen. I have to talk to him."
"Oh, go on then, Sep. I know you have important things to do," said Jenna.
"You can come too, Jen. Actually, he can come to us. Jim Knee!"
Jim Knee wandered over, his doughnut hat swaying as he walked. "You called, Oh Sedentary One?"
"Did you do it?" Septimus asked anxiously.
"It was a battle," he said, "but I won." The jinnee smiled. Life with his Master was not turning out to be as tedious as he had feared. "We go back a long way, the Syren and I. I was due a little victory."
Septimus had a sudden attack of goose bumps. He realized that he was talking to a very ancient being. "Thank you, Jim Knee," he said. "Thank you. You are...incredible."
Jim Knee bowed. "I know," he said, and handed Septimus the small silver phial that Syrah had given him for Spit Fyre. It was ice-cold.
Gingerly, Septimus took the phial between finger and thumb and held it at arm's length. "Is it Sealed?" he asked.
"Indeed it is, Oh Cautious One. Will that be all? I could do with that nap now. It has been a bit of a day."
"No, that will not be all," said Septimus, reminding himself that, however grateful he was, to his jinnee he must appear to be tough and not - as Beetle had recently reminded him - a pushover.
"What else do you wish, Oh Taxing One?"
"Three things, actually."
"Three, Oh Insatiable One? You do realize that three is the maximum number of wishes that may be commanded at any one time?"
Septimus didn't, but he was not going to admit it. "Three. Number one, I command you to stop calling me silly names."
Jim Knee sighed. "Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted. Your wish is my command, Oh Great One - I may call you that, may I not? It is standard jinnee practice. Unless you prefer something else, of course."
"I think," said Septimus, considering the matter, "I would prefer Apprentice. That is what I am."
"Not Senior Apprentice, Sep?" Jenna teased.
"Can you imagine what he'd make that sound like, Jen? No, Apprentice is just fine."
Jim Knee sounded resigned. "Very well, Oh Apprentice."
"I said Apprentice, not Oh Apprentice."
"Very well, Apprentice."
"Number two, I command you to go, as fast as you can, to the far end of the Frozen warrior jinn. I wish to know if they reached the Castle. If they have reached the Castle, you are to inform the ExtraOrdinary Wizard what has happened."
Normally the jinnee would have protested that this was in fact two wishes, but he felt he was on soft ground. He had not entirely honored the agreement that had released him from the Sealed cell. "The ExtraOrdinary Wizard, Oh G - Apprentice?"
"Yes. You will find her at the Wizard Tower. Tell her I sent you."
Jim Knee looked uncomfortable. "Ah," he said, "that reminds me. She asked me to find you and get some kind of Keye...to, um, Seal some tunnels? Quite went out of my head with all the excitement. I'll do that now, shall I?"
Septimus could hardly believe what he had just heard. "Marcia asked you to Seal the tunnel? But I don't understand - how did she know? And how on earth did you meet Marcia?"
Jim Knee looked shifty. "Just bumped into her," he said. "I'll go now, shall I?"
"I haven't finished. My third wish is that you return all the jinn to their tubes."
Jim Knee sighed. It was what he had expected, but that didn't make it any easier. Never since he had been a slave in the stables of King Augeas had the jinnee faced such a Herculean task - except this time he doubted Hercules would turn up to help.
"Your wish is my command, Apprentice," said Jim Knee, bowing low. The doughnut hat fell off, he snatched it up, crammed it back on and, mustering his dignity, walked off. Jim Knee made his way to the first warrior jinnee he had Frozen. The tide was retreating and the seven-foot-long armor-clad figure lay facedown in the wet sand, his arms outstretched, his ax half-buried in the sand, his shield and the silver wings on his helmet caught up with strings of seaweed. At the sight of the indentations from the ghost crab's claws still visible in his unprotected heel, Jim Knee allowed himself a half-smile. He was thankful the jinn had not seen him coming, for they would have seen him as he really was - the wild, wall-eyed wise woman of some twenty-five thousand summers who had, mistakenly, she sometimes thought, chosen existence as a jinnee in preference to life as a turtle trader's fourth wife. The turtle trader's wife had once had the misfortune to meet the vicious warrior from whom they had been taken, and it was not an encounter Jim Knee wished to repeat.