The castle was as we expected, mostly very quiet. Outside in the courtyard, a few students were practicing as expected. Though to my surprise, most of them were in fact sword fighting. Perhaps it was something in the air today. I did notice some Dark Magic being used between them, mostly aimed at the others arms or legs to weaken their stance or strike. It was tempting to stay and watch, but it was not the time.
Deirdre went to the stables as if it was the most normal thing in the world. I already noticed that the layout was a mirror image of the Light Castle here, which would make it easier to get to the Master. I entered the castle, feeling quite nervous of this whole escapade, but certain that we would succeed. The plan was quite simple. Go in, give the creatures a way to free themselves, ask them to wait until nightfall before actually escaping.
I hoped all would go smooth.
Within minutes I was at the Master's door, noting that the wood it was made of appeared to be newer and, ironically, lighter. I knocked politely and waited for the permission to enter.
I opened the door politely and bowed. "I have a message, Master."
The room itself, though a mirror in shape and location, was very different. Only half a wall was covered with books. The other side appeared only used for experiments. A large part of it was covered with cloth, making me assume there was a cage behind it in which the creatures would be kept. If they were, they made no sound though.
From what I could see, the cage wasn't exactly meant to give them any room. It was smaller than I was in height, and much less deep too. If they were in there, they must be literally trapped between the front and the back. Held into place in a way that would prevent much movement from them. I tried to remember what kind of Magic they could use besides charming. I realized there was very little I actually knew about their magic use. I wondered if they could use the elements like some of the Masters could.
If they could, would they still be trapped here?
The Master sitting behind the desk was much older than the one in the Light Castle. He didn't look just old, he looked weary. A lifetime of Magic and teaching could do that to a man. He looked somewhat surprised to see me. "Again?"
I shrugged. "I've only just arrived here. May I see your seal please?"
He nodded and picked up a ring from the table. It surprised me that he wasn't wearing it, but I supposed that for some it was more of a nuisance than an honor. I didn't wear any jewelry as well, usually, and would probably be slightly irritated with a chunk of metal on my fingers at all times. Of course I'd seen the sign before, but the ring was made of a black stone that looked almost oily in the light. I tried to keep my nerves in check and nodded before I reached into my bag and retrieved the message for him.
The Master unfolded and read it without any reaction, but behind his eyes I could almost see the wheels turning. "I see this isn't signed and I assume you can give little clarity on it's origin?"
I was about to respond when someone knocked on the door.
"Yes?" I almost smiled at the Master's irritated voice.
Deirdre opened the door and put her head around it. Apparently she knew the master by name. "Master Larim, I wish to say something... eh... important."
Deirdre hadn't told me what it was she was planning to use as a distraction to get the Master out of the room, but now the pieces fell into place. The tone she used was like something 'bad' had happened with another Master or student. A tone that implied something intimate that had not been appreciated. I almost smiled with pride and joy that she chose me to be with.
He exited the room while I politely stood still. He closed the door behind him. I could hear Deirdre talking excitedly just outside the door. That meant that the man possibly could hear me as well if I made much noise. I retrieved the small lock-picking tools that the Smith had sold to us and moved to the cloth. When I looked underneath the cloth my fears were confirmed.
It was horrible.
The two male satyrs and the female nymph were literally squashed between the front and back for the cage, hardly able to move and definitely not able to escape without some help. I motioned them with a finger on my lips to stay quiet.
The Satyr closest to the lock whispered softly. "Sun and moon, are you here to help us?"
I nodded. "I can't let you free, but this should help. Use it after dark."
I held up the tools for him, then gave them through the bars. He took them with a smile and managed to hide them behind his hand somehow. It was done so swiftly that I wondered if he had pockets in his skin. I'd seen entertainers before, who would let eggs or shiny objects appear and disappear. But I doubted they would be as smooth as this Satyr. They were tricksters after all.
He nodded to me to hang the cloth back, he spoke just a few more words before he closed his eyes again.
"We give our thanks."