In your turret.
You can’t remember a time when you didn’t live and work in the Magician’s house. It is cloaked in mystery and you explore it every day.
There are many rooms, but you have to catch them while you can.
You find the kitchen easily most mornings. You just follow the lovely smells and don’t think too hard about it. Perhaps your recent dreams help you get to breakfast without much trouble. More likely it’s because the Magician wants his breakfast – why would he hide a place he wants you to go to?
You can find a lot of places in the house, especially the rooms you know about. You also have a knack for finding rooms you’ve never been to before and for this reason you’re often asked to fetch things by the others who work in the house. They seem to get lost far more often than you do. You sometimes find other servants in the corners of rooms and give them a friendly pat to bring them out of a ‘drawing room dream’. That is what the cook, Mrs Noogles, calls them. Dreams swirl around in the Magician’s house just like dust does in the corners of other houses. Little stories get stuck in the crannies. Just for a moment, while you are sweeping a corner, you can find yourself running across a green field, speaking to a great crowd, steering an iron horse through twisty roads, or picking ripe strawberries in a bright warm field. Those are the dreams and they are quickly over, but other times you are transported to different places. So you watch where you step.
It is very early in the morning, and you wake up in your turret. It is your own tower above the house with a winding staircase that connects you to the house.
There is something cold against your cheek. You put your hand out and feel a smooth hard object. It’s that frog again.
You open your eyes and see the red frog staring at you. You lift it from the pillow and place it next to a water filled glass bowl on a shelf. The rest of the shelf contains treasures and oddities that you’ve picked up, and some, like the frog, that seem to have followed you home. The frog sits perfectly still and turns to stone, but you know it is likely to change back and follow you like a naughty puppy. No matter – it’s harmless and has never gotten you into trouble. You just hope you don’t tread on it by accident one day when it isn’t a stone.
The sky is dark purple, with one last star valiantly blinking as the rising sun starts to turn your corner of the world into day. You love looking out of your tower window and catching the day starting like this – in this moment the whole world is magic, not just the place you live.
Down the spiral staircase, on the next floor, you wash the sleep from your eyes and put on fresh clothes. A sound like a marble falling down the stairs becomes the sound of a rubber ball until the red frog appears with a final splat. He takes a quick dip in the big jug of water you keep for him there. When he jumps out he doesn’t leave any wet marks on the flagstone floor. He seems to absorb moisture. The jug is now only half full and you top it up.
By the window, a row of ants are marching across the floor. The frog jumps over to the row of insects, and whips out his tongue to catch ant after ant until the column is gone. If only getting your breakfast was that easy.
From the window you can see the buildings of London- St Paul’s cathedral is a beautiful dome by the river Thames. You see horses and carts making their deliveries down the twisty lanes. Much of London is still sleeping but servants are stirring to light the fires and make their master’s breakfasts. You must tend to your master too.
As you move further down the turret you wonder which room it will join with today. Sometimes it will deliver you to a hallway which easily gets you to the servant’s staircase and down to the kitchen but often there is another destination at the foot of the stairs. Things are seldom as they appear. You have learned to be cautious in case you step in a lily pond in the wide conservatory or walk into the shiny suit of armor which appears in different places each day.
The stairs wind down until you meet up with the rest of the house. Here is where you are usually faced with your first choice for the day. This morning a wide corridor stretches off to the left and right. The ceilings are high and arched. Embroidered tapestries hang along the oak paneled walls.
To your left, the corridor ends abruptly. A suit of armor stands at the dead end, its bright metallic form is leaning slightly forward, its gloved hand is holding up the edge of the last tapestry. Behind the tapestry, you can see the corner of what looks like a small door.
In the corridor to your right is an impassable hole in the floor with a ladder poking out. The carpet is ripped and torn around the hole as though a bomb has gone off in the night. That’s weird, you think, you didn’t hear an explosion.
You have never seen this hole or the secret door behind the tapestry before.
It’s time to make your first decision for the day. Do you:
Go down the ladder into the hole?