Flyte (Septimus Heap, Book 2)
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Septimus Heap tipped six spiders into a jar, screwed the lid down tight and put them outside the door. Then he picked up his broom and continued sweeping out the Pyramid Library.
The Library was cramped and dark. It was lit by a few fat candles that spat and spluttered, and it smelled weird -- a mixture of incense, musty paper and moldy leather. Septimus loved it. It was a Magykal place, perched right at the top of the Wizard Tower and hidden away deep inside the golden Pyramid, which crowned the Tower. Outside, the hammered gold of the Pyramid shimmered brightly in the early-morning sun.
After Septimus had finished sweeping, he made his way slowly along the shelves, humming happily to himself while he sorted out the Magykal books, parchments and spells that the ExtraOrdinary Wizard, Marcia Overstrand, had, as usual, left in a mess. Most eleven-and-a-half-year-old boys would rather have been out in the bright summer morning, but Septimus was where he wanted to be. He had spent quite enough summer mornings outside -- and winter ones, come to that -- in the first ten years of his life as Young Army soldier, Boy 412.
It was Septimus's job, as Apprentice to the ExtraOrdinary Wizard, to tidy the Library every morning. And every morning Septimus found something new and exciting. Often it was something that Marcia had left out especially for him: maybe a Conjuration that she had come across late at night and thought might interest him or a dog-eared old spell book that she had taken from one of the Hidden shelves. But today, Septimus reckoned he had found something for himself: it was stuck underneath a heavy brass candlestick and looked slightly disgusting -- not the kind of thing that Marcia Overstrand would want to get her hands messy with. Very carefully he pried the sticky brown square off the bottom of the candlestick and put it in the palm of his hand. Septimus examined his find and felt excited -- he was sure it was a Taste Charm. The thick, brown, square tablet looked like an old piece of chocolate; it smelled like an old piece of chocolate; and he was pretty sure it would taste like an old piece of chocolate too, although he wasn't going to risk it. There was a chance it might be a poison Charm that had dropped out of the large box labeled: toxins, venoms and basyk banes, which teetered unsteadily on the shelf above.
Septimus pulled out a small Enhancing Glass from his Apprentice belt and held it so that he could read the thin white writing that looped across the square. The words said:
Take me, shake me,
and I will make thee:
Septimus grinned. He was right, but then he usually was when it came to Magyk. It was a Taste Charm -- even better, it was a chocolate Taste Charm. Septimus knew just the person he wanted to give it to. Smiling to himself, he slipped the Charm into his pocket.
Septimus's work in the Library was nearly done. He climbed up the ladder to tidy the last shelf and suddenly found himself eye to eye with the biggest, hairiest spider he had ever seen. Septimus gulped; if it had not been for Marcia insisting on him removing every single spider that he found from the Library, he would happily have left this one alone. He was sure the spider's eight beady eyes were trying to stare him down, and he didn't like its long, hairy legs either. In fact all eight legs looked as though they were planning to run up his sleeve if he didn't grab the spider fast.
In a flash, Septimus had the spider in his hand. The creature scrabbled angrily against his dusty fingers, trying to pry them open with its surprisingly powerful legs, but Septimus held on tight. Quickly he made his way down the ladder, passing the small hatch that led out onto the golden roof of the Pyramid. Just as he reached the bottom of the ladder, the spider bit the inside of his thumb.
"Ouch!" Septimus yelped.
He grabbed the spider jar, unscrewed the lid one-handed and dropped the creature in, much to the dismay of the six other spiders already there. Then, with his thumb beginning to throb, Septimus screwed the lid back on as tightly as he could. Careful not to drop the jar, in which six small spiders were now being chased around and around by one large hairy one, Septimus made a quick exit down the winding, narrow, stone stairs which led from the Library into the apartment of the ExtraOrdinary Wizard, Madam Marcia Overstrand.
Septimus hurried by the closed purple and gold door to Marcia's bedroom, past his own room, and then ran down some more steps and headed for the small potion room beside Marcia's study. He put down the jar of spiders and looked at his thumb. It wasn't a pretty sight; it had become a deep red color and some interesting blue blotches were beginning to appear on his hand. It also hurt. Septimus flipped open the Medicine Chest with his good hand and found a tube of Spider Balm, the entire contents of which he squeezed over his thumb. It didn't seem to do much good. In fact it seemed to make it worse. Septimus stared at his thumb, which was swelling up like a small balloon and felt as though it might be about to explode.
Marcia Overstrand, whom Septimus had now been Ap-prenticed to for almost a year and a half, had found the spiders waiting for her on her triumphant return to the Wizard Tower after ousting the Necromancer, DomDaniel, from his brief second time as ExtraOrdinary Wizard. Marcia had thoroughly Cleaned the Tower of Darke Magyk and restored the Magyk to the Wizard Tower, but she could not get rid of the spiders. This had upset Marcia, for she knew that the spiders were a sure sign that Darke Magyk still lingered in the Tower.