Clues come when you least expect them—they’re little dadblameries that way.
Dr. Zauberer’s castle is nice—depending on where you look, I suppose. As he led us deeper and deeper into its heart (I’m assuming castles have hearts—metaphorically speaking) it got colder, damper, darker…
You know, the stones even began to look grayer—if that’s possible, which I’m sure it is.
Dr. Zauberer was in front of Lucy and I, leading with a torch, which emitted the only light we had, I fear.
“Where’s he taking us exactly?” I turned and whispered to Lucy.
She shrugged. “I dread to think,” Lucy replied. “I hope there are some sandwiches or something, though, I am getting peckish. And a little bit frightened.”
“I could use some food meself… And that’s another thing,” I whispered again. “If Sandra Salami betrayed us…it’s time to quit searching, I say. I was bush-peckered into this, after all.”
“I shall be perfectly furious, if that is the case!” Lucy hissed. “She’s supposed to be my friend! I say we spank her then go for a large lunch.”
“What are you two mumbling about back there?” Dr. Zauberer said. “Your legs can’t be tired yet. We’re almost there. My secret study.”
“I don’t know about you, Professor, but my legs were tired before we even reached this blasted place,” whispered Lucy. “What he knows about my legs could be written on the back of a postage stamp.”
I had to laugh at that. It was true, after all.
“No laughing,” Dr. Zauberer ordered. “We must keep the mood solemn.”
Presently, we entered into a rather large room, which had a fire-pit and a bear rug on the floor. Dr. Zauberer sat behind a desk—it was in the far corner of the room—and Lucy and I just stood there.
“Now, now,” he announced, looking comfortable, too. “What did you want to know again?”
“We are looking for the long-lost wife of Daddy Salami,” Lucy replied, as sweetly as she could manage. Which wasn’t all that sweet, in actuality. “Sandra Salami has some notion that she wants to know more about her family history. Apparently.”
“Quite right,” he said. “Well, this is what I know: Many years ago—when this castle wasn’t as old, and I wasn’t as old—a small, ruthless lady came to work for me. You see, I keep a staff of servants and the such. She—that little, ruthless lady—became my head cook. That’s ‘cause she’s good at it, you know. After all—”
“Get on with it,” I said. “Don’t go off on a tangent, you know.”
“Yes, please,” Lucy agreed.
“So that lady,” Dr. Zauberer continued, “was always secretive about her origins…or where she came from. But the one piece of information she was forthcoming with was this: She used to be Daddy Salami’s head cook, or so she said. Her name is Madam Zelna. I recommend you talk to her.” He nodded decidedly. “I’m sure she has more of an idea on things than I do. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some work to see to.”
“But the party?” I sorta asked.
“Heck with it,” he answered. “I’m done with it anyway.”
“Where is Madam Zelna?” Lucy asked.
“In the kitchens.” Dr. Zauberer wasn’t even looking at us anymore. He was concentrating on a mess of papers in front of him.
“Kitchens!” Lucy squealed gently to the Professor. “We might be able to find some cake.”
“True, Lucy… But, Dr. Z, where are they…?” I was getting frustrated, see. Then I whispered to Lucy: “I’m going to bash his head in!”
“Not before we find out if there is any cake,” she replied urgently. “After that, bash away, my good man!”
But Dr. Zauberer answered before I could do anything. “The kitchens are back where we just came from—in the main part of the castle.”
“You brought us all the way down here just to tell us we need to go to the kitchens?” Lucy asked. “How unusually rude.”
Dr. Zauberer looked up. “You’re both getting on my nerves, and Norton knows I haven’t many left.”
“Let’s go, Lucy,” I suggested.
And we did.
It was only a matter of seconds before we were lost in the castle’s winding and bending passageways.
“You know,” I said—you must understand the professor was very vexed at this point—“I’m about ready to give up on this adventure!”
“I know what you mean, Professor,” Lucy replied. “Apart from the prospect of cake, I am at a complete loss as to what we are doing here. And Dr. Z said that the lady was small and ruthless. I don’t like the sound of that.”
“First things first, then the seconds things second. We need to have speaks with Sandra.”
“Stern words, I should say. With arms folded and everything.”
And at that moment, we ran into two unlikely people: Ruber and Sandra Salami.
Written by Professor VJ Duke and Lucy Brazier