Results! Thanks again for five fun words to play with. Also, please let me know if at any point this gets boring. I will stop if I'm just entertaining myself. For the last installment, go here (which also leads to the one before that).
1.2 Into The Peacock’s Den
It’s just as I had feared. Madame Beaumont wanted to watch a romance movie like a “regular human” does when they’re sad. I came back from the store to her pressing various buttons on the TV—somehow she’d managed to turn on picture-in-picture and Spanish captions, but couldn’t find the movies in the drawer right under the screen. I’ve spent the last hour teaching her how to work the remote to her entertainment system.
“What would I do without you, Kitty?” she says as I hand her another giant bowl of ice cream. She takes a bite, not speaking again until she swallows. “Get me a blanket.”
“Yes, Madame.” I grit my teeth as I grab the throw on the chair right next to her. She doesn’t need conjuring when she has me.
She smiles wide when I put it over her long legs. “Helpless, indeed. I am not helpless.”
“Excuse me, Madame?”
She waves her hand, dismissing my question. “Fetch Geoff. I must speak with him.”
Oh, I bet she does. That little snake won’t get away with this, no matter how much she fawns over him. Even though I want to see him in trouble, my feet still slow the closer I get to his wing of the mansion. I haven’t been here since the spring, and just the thought of going to his suite makes me uneasy.
There isn’t a handle on his door, but instead a glass parrot perched where a knocker would be. It’s kind of like a sorcerer’s version of an intercom. I tug its tail and it squawks, letting me know it’s ready to record.
“Madame would like to speak with you.” I tug the tail again and the parrot squawks once more. Then it melts into the door, off to deliver the message.
The door dissolves not twenty seconds later, but there’s no Geoff in sight. I stand there, waiting for him to come out because there is no way I’m going in. The air is hazy and yellow. A strange smell assaults my nose, like a cross between Comet cleaner and bananas. I try not to breathe much, worried what this gas could do to me. You never know with sorcerers in the house.
He doesn’t come, and the command to fetch him tugs at my neck. I resist the urge to go in and find him. I won’t have his knobless door shutting on me ever again.
The parrot returns, landing on the perch beside the open door. “I’m in the middle of something, Kitty. Feel free to come in and wait, or tell Madame I’ll be there in half an hour.”
I tug the bird’s tail, probably too hard by the sound of its screech. “You know I won’t do the first and can’t do the second. This is really important. You have to come right now.”
The bird flies back into the yellow haze and returns without that stupid apprentice. It laughs his laugh before speaking. “Did she bring a panda bear back from her latest excursion? No, I must finish this first or it’ll be ruined. Tell her I’ll come when I’m ready.”
I want to scream. He’s doing it on purpose. He knows that the invisible leash around my neck won’t let me wait that long without suffocating me. It already burns. I force myself to step into his room, squinting through the putrid mist.
The place still looks the same, his trinkets and potions and parchment in their exact right places. It might be organized, but there is so much stuff it feels combustible. One wrong step, and the place would explode.
He’s obviously not in the front room of his suite, which leaves the lab, the library, or the bedroom. From the Comet/banana smell, I decide the lab’s my best bet.
I head for the open door, and can barely make out his figure through the much thicker yellow. He stands over a glass bowl filled with a liquid the same color. “Aw, Kitty, you didn’t have to come in. I know how much my chambers bother you.”
“Shut up. You need to come right now.”
“What I need to do is finish this dream potion. If I leave now it’ll be ruined.” He slowly pours a green liquid from a vial, and the yellow turns a bright gooseberry orange. The haze fades. “Whatever Madame needs can wait. I’m sure it’s as silly as usual.”
“I don’t think losing her powers is very silly.”
His head snaps up. “What?”
I fold my arms. “Don’t give me that look—I know you had something to do with it. She might think you’re perfect, but this is the last straw, Geoff. She won’t ignore this.”
His eyes narrow. “Tell me, Kitty, how a lowly apprentice could take his Master’s powers.”
“You got someone else to do it for you.” There are plenty of sorcerers out there. Geoff has friends—I’ve met a few of them. He could have struck a deal with someone more powerful.
He takes a few steps closer, running a hand through his sapphire hair. “I suppose, but why on earth would I even want to take her powers?”
My face burns. “So I’d be stuck here doing her bidding twenty-four seven. So I’d always be around. That’s what you’ve wanted since I first came here, isn’t it?”
He smirks. “Not exactly.”
He lets the words hang there without explaining, so I must be on to something. “Well, it’s not going to work.”
He shakes his head. “You flatter yourself, my dear Kitty. You’ve got it all wrong.”
“Without Madame’s powers, I can’t be promoted to a full-fledged sorcerer. Do you really think I’d sacrifice that just to keep you around?"
My throat tightens, and I look away. “Well, you better go find them, then.”
He comes closer, too close, but I force myself to stay put. I won’t give him the satisfaction of the reaction he’s looking for. “And what if I can’t?”
“I’ll find her powers myself if I have to.”
“You will, eh? How will you do that?”
I purse my lips. “I don’t exactly have a plan. This only happened a few hours ago—you can’t expect me to have it all figured out yet.”
He walks past me, pausing for a moment at the door. “Whether you want it or not, it seems you’ll need my help. Shall we go to Madame, now? We need to know how she lost them.”
“What about your precious potion?”
His eyes meet mine, and for a second it feels like he was lying about not wanting me here forever. “You were right about one thing—it can wait.”