Shadow’s don’t exactly have facial expressions, but sometimes you can just tell when they’re wearing a wicked grin.
I gave Shadow a thumbs up sign and she vanished, sliding beneath the cell door and slipping down the corridor that led to it without making the slightest sound.
“How did you do that?” Diedre’s Seeming asked. “Seemings and Shadows don’t get along. Like at all.”
“She and I do,” I said. “Is that weird?”
“It should be,” she said. “We’re supposed to be the things that our witch wants the world to see. The Shadows are what they want to keep hidden. We’re polar opposites.”
“And that would mean we wouldn’t make an awesome team why exactly?” I asked.
There was a scream of rage someplace far distant from us in the castle. Probably the central library I guessed.
“Shadow’s still ok,” Penny said, whispering the words directly into my mind. That was both freaky and awesome at the same time, but since that connection and closeness was part of why I got to have September with me, I decided to cling to the awesome half rather than the freaky one.
“That doesn’t sound like a good sort of scream,” Deidre’s Seeming said, backing away from the door.
“Oh it sounds wonderful to me,” I said.
“It’s getting closer,” Deidre’s Seeming said.
“Also a good sign,” I said. “Well, maybe.”
“What have you done?” Deidre’s Seeming asked.
“There’s a library in this place,” I said. “While they were chasing me through the mirror world, I might have reached through and spilled a bottle of ink all over a big spell book that looked really important.”
“What? Why? They’re going to murder you!” Deidre’s Seeming said. “I mean right here, right now. They’re going to turn you into something, cook you and eat you. These are seriously bad guys, you can’t fool around with them like that.”
“I know,” I said, and glanced out through the tiny barred window in the cell doorway. No one was moving down the corridor outside it yet, but I could hear the yelling getting closer.
“We’re not going to hide you,” Deidre’s Seeming said, speaking for all of the kids present. “We can’t.”
“I know that too,” I said. “If they don’t find me here, they’ll start roasting all of you and that’s not the gameplan.”
“You have a gameplan?” Deidre’s Seeming asked.
“Yeah, and I think the next step is that we stall,” I said. The yelling had died down, but a new light illuminated the far end of the corridor.
“Stall for what?” Deidre’s Seeming asked.
“To keep them from turning me into something, cooking and eating me,” I said, and saw a man appear at the end of the corridor.
“That’s Mulgrave,” Penny said in my mind, as the man who kidnapped the children turned the corner and marched towards our cell.
From Mulgrave’s expression, I wasn’t sure how well stalling was going to work. Whatever the spellbook was that I’d ruined, it apparently had a lot of value to him. Certainly more than the value of one extra Seeming.
I learned something interesting about Seemings then. Penny wanted to be brave in a situation like this, so I could be brave. Mulgrave was an experienced, adult, magical whatever-he-was. I was a kid, or maybe just part of a kid. There was every possibility that he would know how to harm me despite my magical properties and also every possibility that he had every intention of doing that. That was a terrifying idea, but Penny needed bravery and so I could be brave. But I was still scared. Experiencing those things together let me understand what I really was.
In some ways, I was a part of Penny. An aspect of her. I was the face that she wanted to show to the world. I could do the things she wanted to do, be the person she wanted to be. Whatever she could believe that she might be, whatever she felt was true to her, those were my only limits. Because they were her limits.
Penny defined me. I was who I was because of her. With her voice in my mind, I saw that our connection went even deeper than that though. I wasn’t just a reflection of Penny. I wasn’t something separate from her or less than her.
We were two (or three really counting Shadow) parts of a greater whole. Penny was my witch and I was her Seeming, but we might have as easily said, that Penny was our heart and I was our skin. Separate things, or separate people rather, but both essential and, in this case, both part of one soul.
I was scared because that’s how I felt. Me, the part that was unique and independent, I was afraid becuase there was a “me” to be afraid. I could be more than just afraid though. I could be brave and clever and dangerous in my own way, because I was part of something greater. Penny gave me that, and for it I was going to give her the world.
Mulgrave burst into the room, disrupting my thoughts, but not breaking my spirit.
“Looks like someone didn’t like my art project,” I said and gave him my best cruel smirk.
His eyes narrowed as he picked me out of the crowd. I made sure to step clear of the other kids. Mulgrave seemed like the type who wasn’t interested in limiting his collateral damage, so it was up to me to make sure no one else got hurt.
“You ruined the Durzungs Tome,” he said as though I was supposed to have the first clue what he was talking about.
“Did the ink get on all of pages?” I asked. “I didn’t have a lot of time and you know what happens when you rush art.”
The bolt of pale purple light flew from his hand like a bullet. I can’t dodge bullets, but I moved out of the path of the projectile anyways. September, as it turns out, has extremely sensitive reflexes. Apparently sharing those reflexes with his witch is something he can just do, at least if he’s ready for it.
Mulgrave fired a second bolt at me, but missed again.
“Who let her keep the cat!” He turned to look at his men, the murder in his eyes being momentarily directed away from me and onto them.
That’s when Deidre’s Seeming clubbed him in the back of the head with a double fisted blow.
The next few moments were a mad scramble. Mulgrave went down but lashed out with his death lasers, or whatever they were, as he fell. Kids, including me, dashed and dodged everywhere, trying to stay out of range of the randomly fired blasts and screaming at the top of our lungs in panic.
By some miracle no one was hit, but Mulgrave was able to regain his feet and haul Deidre’s Seeming up in front of himself like a shield.
“Step over here and stay still or I’ll burn her insides to ash,” Mulgrave said.
“You’re not going to do that,” I said, stepping forward to give him a clear shot at me.
“You’re right,” Mulgrave said. “I’m going to kill you first, then turn you into a zombie and have you kill her for me.”
“Nope,” I said. “You’re not going to do that either.”
“Do you think you can stop me?” Mulgrave asked.
“No,” I said. “But he can.”
That’s when Wolf grabbed him by neck and dragged him out of room.
I’d told Deidre that we only needed to stall for a bit.