I felt scared sending my Shadow and my Seeming in to do all the hard work of rescuing our classmates. There was so much that could go wrong for them. There was so much that I didn’t understand about our connection, or about the things that we could do together. Or that could be done to us. Feeling the explosion through the two of them therefor was an immense relief.
“You were never going to be able to sabotage my defenses,” the Miser King said. “You didn’t even get close them and now I have you and your friends to use as the fuel I need!”
I’d been listening in through Shadows ears when the Miser King said that. Unlike him though, I knew that Betty was never the one intended to bring down the wards that protected his castle. She was too obvious an agent for that.
Betty wasn’t there to open a path to the castle, she was there to break the spells that guarded the Miser King’s most prized relics. Or at least threaten to break them. Goblins, Brooks informed me, were known to be able to bedevil enchantments and technology alike. That was part of the reason that relations between them and other magical types were shaky at best. Once the Miser King detected that there was a goblin loose in his castle, we knew he’d run home to secure his best toys personally. On the off chance he wasn’t paying attention, we told Shadow and Betty to trip every alarm they could find. Capturing him at the castle was the only plan we could come up with to prevent him from just stealing the kids back again once we helped them escape.
Akemi didn’t need that much of a distraction to move through the castle unseen, but keeping the Miser King’s attention away from her meant she had plenty of time to shatter the protection spells which cut the castle off the rest of the world. I had no idea how those spells worked or how Akemi could take them out. Betty explained things to her though and was apparently a good enough teacher to get the job done.
“The teleport defenses are down,” I said. “I think Akemi blew up the lower half of the castle taking them out.”
“That’ll save time rounding up the King’s minions then,” Brooks said. “Are you ready for this Penny?”
“Not really,” I said. “But I kind of have to be don’t I?”
“We’re here for you,” Rosie said, and patted a spot on Sweepy in front of her, inviting me to sit on the magic broom.
“Just get us there through the mirror and leave the rest to me,” Brooks said. “Ulwin, sound the call, then open the gate from this end.”
“Sure thing boss,” Brook’s apprentice said.
“Ok, hold onto my hand then,” I said, and led Brooks, Rosie and Sweepy through the mirror that my Seeming was carrying.
It was a weird transition, but then walking through a full length mirror and emerging out of a pocket one couldn’t really be a normal sort of thing, could it?
I wound reeling from the trip, but Brooks and Rosie recovered quickly. She was fast enough to help me dismount from the broom gracefully, and he made it his first priority to bind Mulgrave up in a thick cocoon of spiderwebs.
“I need to see about the Miser King,” Brooks said. “Can you get the people here back to my office?”
“Way ahead of you!” my Seeming said as she directed our classmates (who honestly didn’t need much prompting) to touch the mirror she was holding. One by one they were drawn into the small reflecting surface and began appearing back in Brooks’ office in the Goblin Deeps.
Brooks took that as his cue to leave and vanished in a puff of purple smoke.
“I can’t believe you pulled it off!” I said, grabbing my Seeming into a hug. It was a little odd to hug someone who looked like a prettier version of myself, but I was so grateful to see her that I didn’t think twice about it. “I’m so sorry too. I never thought you’d get caught up in all this just for taking my place.”
“So now you’re never going to let her out again, right?” Deidre’s Seeming asked.
I looked at her in confusion.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “After today, I think it’s clear she makes a better me than I do. I’m going to beg and plead for her to go out in my place anytime anything even vaguely scary comes up!” I turned to my Seeming and added, “Oh, but only when you want to.”
“Relax Penny,” my Seeming said. “We’ll work all that out.”
“You are a really weird witch,” Diedre’s Seeming said. I sounded like an insult, but from how she was smiling I think she meant it in as nice a sense as she could manage.
“We’re going to want to leave very soon,” Akemi said, joining us in between one blink of my eye and the next.
“Why’s that?” my Seeming asked.
Another explosion answered her.
“Because Betty’s instructions for taking down the wards may have been a little too thorough,” Akemi said.
“We’ve got to get out of here!” my Shadow said, racing into the doorway to the cell a second ahead of Betty.
“Yeah, we know, the wards are still blowing up,” my Seeming said.
“Not just that,” Betty said. “Brooks brought some company.”
“Why is that bad?” I asked.
“Because so did the Miser King,” my Shadow said. “And they’re not exactly having a polite little chat.”
More explosions shook the castle, this time from above us.
“All in favor of being somewhere else, touch the mirror,” my Seeming said.
Everyone in the room lined up and shot off through the mirror portal to safety until I was left with no one else but myselves and September in the room.
“Can you both be in the mirror world at the same time?” my Shadow asked.
“No,” my Seeming said.
“Then who stays behind?” my Shadow asked.
“No one does,” I said. “We’re in this together right?”
“Right,” my Shadow said.
“Sure,” my Seeming said.
“Give me your hands then,” I said.
Shadow reached out first, but tentatively. Seeming took my hand in her own and nodded.
We’d been all one girl before. We could be again.
With everyone else safely through the mirror portal, we formed a circle around it.
“It hasn’t been that terrible being your shadow.” my Shadow said.
“You want to be some cool things, so being your Seeming’s not half bad either,” my Seeming said.
“I don’t know if this will work. If not, I’ll probably never see you again. Maybe I won’t even be a witch anymore,” I said. “But I’ll always remember you.”
The both nodded and, with September on my shoulder, we touched the mirror together and vanished as one.