Chapter 13.4 Down A Secret Passageway —
Ezra ducked into an alcove, crawled behind the suit of armor, pushed the lever down, and then slipped through the opening in the back into the secret passageway.
“Ezra!” Franklin bellowed as he raced past.
Ezra chuckled. No matter how many times he did this, Franklin always fell for it.
Ezra walked down the dark staircase. He knew where each twist and turn was, and his feet were sure on the old stone steps. He would always be grateful to Eli for showing him this shortcut.
Ezra paused at the second floor landing and nodded to the ghost who stood guard there. “How are you this evening, Sir Reginald?”
Sir Reginald bowed his head slightly and smiled. “Fine, young sire. I see you’re up to your old tricks.”
“Just because I’m ten now doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing everything I enjoy.”
The old knight studied him. “They’re only trying to protect you, you know.”
“Ha.” Ezra waved and continued on.
Ch 13.5 Butterfingers —
Ezra was almost to the kitchens when he came upon a gnome sneaking down an adjacent passageway with an armload of vegetables. Ezra stopped and put his hands on his hips. “You know, all you have to do is ask.”
The gnome screeched and jumped, dropping all the food as he did so. He shook his finger at Ezra. “You’re not supposed to be able to see me.”
“Oh, please.” Ezra rolled his eyes.
He pulled a large handkerchief out of his pocket. Then he helped the gnome gather the vegetables and bundle them up into a load that could be easily carried. “You’re new here, aren’t you? Didn’t the other gnomes warn you that I can see you even when you’re using a spell of invisibility?”
The gnome burst into tears. “Forgive me, Sire. I’m newly assigned here. King Winky sent me because I dropped his favorite tea set. The other gnomes who have been here before wouldn’t tell me anything. They said I had to get food from the castle or I’d be tied up and flung into a Bandersnatch nest.”
“Hey, don’t cry. What’s your name?”
Ezra glanced at the gnome. “I guess that makes sense. Was it just a dare, or are the gnomes really short of food?”
“It was a hard winter, Sire. The raths keep changing their migration route. This is the eighth time in ten years. They go right through our fields now, and we can’t grow enough to feed everyone.”
Ezra felt bad. “Take this bundle home. Next time, just go to the kitchen and tell Cook that I said you could have all the food you need, all right?”
“Thank you, Sire. Thank you so much.”
“And Butterfingers? Since you’ve been assigned here anyway, perhaps you could do me a favor.”
Butterfingers bowed. “Anything, Sire.”
“You can report to me if you see anything out of the ordinary in the castle or in the secret passageways. After all, an assassin is supposed to try to kill me in the next six years.”
The gnome beamed at him. “You can count on me, Sire. I’ll get my little brothers and sisters to help. That assassin won’t get past us.”
“Good enough.” Ezra and Butterfingers shook hands, and then they went separate directions. Ezra frowned. For hundreds of years the Raths had never changed their migration route, yet now they did, and frequently too. What was causing it?
Ezra continued on to the Royal Dining Room where his family waited.