The Magic Quill #55: The Cloak of Visibility

by Robbie Fischer, concepts contributed by: Heather & Jon

Merlin had taken a deep breath and was about to plunge back into his story, when Sadie interrupted.

“Wait a sec,” she growled, turning on Spanky. “Didn’t you say as those goblins had taken a curse off you? Not the Imperius that Eustace put on you, but a different one, older, and not made by a wizard? I thought that was the genie’s curse that kept you from finding Ilona. So why did you need the genie to take the curse off your wife before you could see her?”

Merlin stopped looking offended at the interruption, and turned toward Spanky with the same interested look as all the others.

“Well,” said Spanky, “Ilona and I asked each other that exact question. And though we won’t know for sure until we find that genie and ask him, we did agree on one possibility. It could be that there was a different curse on each of us. Ilona was wished away so that I could not find her; and I was cursed to go on searching for her forever. I like to think it was more of an insult than anything else, because I would have gone on searching for her regardless. She is, after all, the love of my life.”

Ilona smiled at Spanky with her eyes, unseen by the other members of the party.

“I suppose that explains,” Sadie remarked, “how such a clean-cut RMB agent finds himself conspiring to crack a bank vault with a shady lot like us.”

“Speak for yourself,” Joe Albuquerque muttered.

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean,” Spanky sniffed.

Sadie could be seen stretching her eyes, even through her veil. “Don’t you? Well, if that Vault of Wotsit, the Perpetual Invalid, has so many wonderful spells and potions in it, why couldn’t it have something to dissolve a spot of genie magic?”

“For all you know,” Spanky said through an icy smile, “I might just be along to see how far you get—and as soon as the vault door is opened, I’ll arrest you.”

“Right,” said Sadie, with a scornful laugh—but there was a trace of nervousness in it too.

“Which brings us back,” said Harvey, in the tone of cheery forcefulness that he had honed to perfection, “to the subject of how one might get in or out of Gringotts. Our friend Merlin has been good enough to explain this from his own experience. I believe we had reached the point where the goblins sealed him and Rigel into the so-called Pit. Do go on, my friend. Spare no detail.”

Merlin cleared his throat, and started again.

“’This is our grave,’ I told him. Rigel, that is. But he said, ‘Nonsense, we’ll be out of this in a jiff.’ It was so dark that I couldn’t see him beside me, but I heard him digging around in his pocket. I guess the goblins must have missed a pocket-universe storage locker, because he started chucking things out on the ground. Things that clanked and rattled, a few things that shattered like glass, one thing that rolled across my foot and crushed my toe. Also, I think I heard something nasty slithering and hissing away into the darkness. But finally, Rigel crowed with triumph, slapped my chest (thinking it was my back), and said, ‘Watch this.’

“’I was in the middle of reminding him that I couldn’t watch anything in that thick darkness, when suddenly Rigel appeared before me, as plain as daylight. Everything around him was illuminated by a faint glow, so that you could make out objects up to a meter or two away. I couldn’t tell where the light was coming from. He didn’t seem to be glowing at all. He was just there, grinning smugly. Then I noticed that he was wearing something new, a silky blue cape that clasped below his throat and covered his shoulders and back.

“’Eh?’ Rigel said, flourishing the cape. ‘You like? I hope you do. You wouldn’t be able to afford it if my father paid you a year’s advance.’

“’It wouldn’t look good on me anyway,’ I said, trying not to look too impressed.

“’You know what it is, then?’ Rigel said, looking slightly disappointed that I hadn’t asked.

“’Yes, of course,’ I lied. ‘Happily, one of us had it, so we can start looking for the way out of this hole.’

“’All right,’ said Rigel. ‘First, help me pick up some of these other things. They might not be quite as dashing as a Cloak of Visibility, but they might come in useful.’

“So now I knew, and I was impressed. I had only heard of one Cloak of Visibility ever being made before. There probably weren’t many of them, and they couldn’t be cheap. But I covered my amazement by stooping to gather up the gadgets and contraband Rigel had dumped out onto the ground. Fortunately we never did see whatever had made the hissing noise.

“Then, surrounded by dim light, we began moving along the walls of the great cavern we found ourselves in. I made notes on a small tablet Rigel had found in his pocket, and he put chalk marks on the wall to help us navigate. Our first choice was daunting. We had no fewer than seven passages to choose between, each of them leading deeper into the dark, dank-smelling earth…”

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