Note: I took a few lines from Inkspell, and added my own. I hope I didn't copy too much.
When Jason got to the bottom of the stairs, he scanned the area for any sign of... anybody. The house seemed to be deserted. It was that quiet.
That's when he heard Elinor's voice... she seemed to be talking to Darius. Jason ran towards the voices. But at the same time, the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it!" Elinor called out.
In desperation Jason shouted."Elinor! Don't open the door!" She didn't seem to have heard him.
Jason ran towards where he assumed the door was. God, this mansion was so big, Jason couldn't find his way to the bathroom. He didn't have much more luck this time, either.
When Jason hit a dead end, he swore under his breath and ran the other way. Miraculously, he found the front entrance. Unfortunately, Elinor had already opened the door, and was face-to-face with Orpheus.
"Do forgive me, Signora Loredan," Orpheus was saying, "but I've come about a book. A truly unique book. I have heard, of course, that you have a remarkable library, but I can assure you that you don't yet have this book in your collection." Jason remembered reading about this in the chapter Uninvited Guests.
"Elinor! Get him out of here!" Jason screamed.
Orpheus looked in Jason's direction. "Why, young man, I think you're one step too late." He smiled a not-so-innocent smile, and Basta appeared in the doorway, and put his hand over Elinor's mouth.
Jason felt as if his heart was in his mouth. Basta. How much he had feared the character. Now he was seeing him for himself. "Well, my lady bookworm," Basta purred in Elinor's ear. Then he saw Jason. "Who're you?" Basta growled. Jason ran for it. If only he could warn Mortimer or Resa... He ran through the house, trying to find Mo or Resa. But it wasn't easy. When he went up to the second floor, he saw Meggie's door, covered in quotations, then Mortimer and Resa's room right beside it... Then, he saw Mo and Resa, on the first floor. Jason swore again. He ran with all his strength, down the stairs. He yelled Mortimer and Resa's names, they looked up, but Basta had came and grabbed Resa, holding a knife at her throat.
Jason stared at the bright, sharp blade at the woman's throat. Mortimer looked shocked; Resa terrified. Then Basta spoke.
"Boy! Come down or she dies!" Jason looked at Mortimer; he met eyes with him. You're going to get shot! Jason wanted to scream. You're my favourite character! But that also meant revealing his secret to Basta, as well. That would be trouble.
With no other choice, Jason went down the stairs. He made sure he still had his backpack in place, too.
Basta let go of Resa. She ran into her husband's arms, and Mortimer hugged her tightly. But Basta grabbed Mortimer's arm, this time, dragging the couple into the living room. He motioned Jason to follow. When Jason stepped into the room, a giant man that had been standing behind him closed the door. Jason gulped, and saw Elinor, with Orpheus beside her. A large dog slobbered beside Orpheus. Darius was standing beside Elinor.
Then Jason saw the Magpie.
Mortola was exactly as Jason imagined her to be. She was small, but strangely menacing. She had bandages around her legs and wore all black. In one word, she looked like a magpie.
Jason felt his legs shake with fear. Mortola looked at Mortimer with such hate that Jason felt afraid. Not for himself, but for Mortimer. He knew the man's horrible fate from the book. Unfortunately, Jason knew that he couldn't do anything at the moment. Basta had a knife and a gun. It wouldn't help Mo or anyone else if Jason got killed.
"Hello there, Silvertongue!" said Basta in a menacingly soft voice, as he snapped open his knife in front of Mortimer's face. "And isn't this our lovely mute Resa? Excellent! Two birds with one stone. All we need now is the little witch."
Jason saw Mortimer close his eyes for a moment, as if hoping that Basta and Mortola would have disappeared when he opened them again. But, naturally, no such thing happened.
"Who's that?" Mortola said in a hoarse voice.
"We don't know," Basta growled. "The bookworm claims that the boy came to this house, clothed in rags and half-starved. She took him in." Clever Elinor! Jason thought.
Mortola looked at Jason. "Who are you?"
"Exactly as Basta said," Jason tried not to let his voice shake. He didn't entirely succeed. "What do you want?"
"That's going to be a surprise, boy," Basta said with a malicious smile. Without even noticing what he was doing, Jason moved closer to Mortimer, and the man put his arm protectively around him and Resa.
"Call her!" Mortola ordered.
"Who?" Mortimer asked, without taking his eyes off Basta.
"Don't pretend to be more stupid than you are!" Mortola said crossly. "Or do you want me to let Basta cut the same pattern on your wife's face as he did on the fire-eater's?"
Basta ran his thumb lovingly over the glaming blade. Jason shuddered.
"If by 'little witch' you mean my daughter," replied Mortimer huskily, "she isn't here." Jason wanted to do something, anything. But the big man was right behind him, and Basta was watching everyone carefully.
"Oh no?" Mortola hobbled toward him. "Be careful what you say. My legs are aching after that endless drive to get here, so I'm not feeling particularly patient."
"She isn't here," Mortimer repeated. "Meggie has gone away, with the boy you took the book from. He asked her to take him to Dustfinger, she did it - and she went with him."
Mortola narrowed her eyes incredulously. "Nonsense! How could she have done it without the book?" But Jason saw the doubt in her face.
Mortimer shrugged. "The boy had a handwritten sheet of paper with him - the one that sent Dustfinger went back, apparently."
"That's impossible!" Orpheus looked at him in astonishment. You idiot, thought Jason. Of course it's possible. "Are you seriously saying your daughter read herself into the story, using my words?"
"Oh, so you're this Orpheus, are you?" Mortimer returned his glance, not in a very friendly way. "Then you're responsible for the loss of my daughter."
Orpheus gave Mortimer an equally hostile look. "Is this man Silvertongue? He's lying! I'm sure of it! He's lying! No one can read themselves into a story. He can't, his daughter can't, no on ecan. I've tried it mystelf, hundreds of times. It doesn't work!"
"Yes," said Mortimer so wearily that it tore at Jason's heart. "That's just what I thought, too. Until four days ago."
Mortola stared at him. Jason pressed closer against Mortimer. Then she signaled to Basta. "Shut them up in the cellar!" she ordered. "And then look for the girl. Search the whole house."
Jason spent his time in the cellar in silence, leaning against Mortimer, who seemed to have grown fond of him. The whole group sat in silence among tubes of tomato puree, cans of ravioli, and all the other provision stacked on the shelves among them - trying not to see the fear on one other's faces.
"My house isn't all that large!" said Elinor once, breaking the silence. "By now even that fool Basta should have realized that Meggie really isn't here."
No one replied. Resa was clinging to Mortimer as if that would protect him from Basta's knife, and Darius was cleaning his already spotless glasses for the hundredth time. Jason looked into Mortimer's face. He could see all of his feelings there - fear, anxiety, anger... For the hundredth time, Jason found himself wishing that he was Mortimer's son. He really did have wild dreams.
When Basta and the large man came to fetch the group, everyone was exhausted from sitting for hours in the cold and dark cellar. But the pair mercilessly forced the five of them up the stairs, to where Jason assumed Mortola would be waiting.
He had to stop the horrible from happening... he had to... But how?
Mortola was sitting in an armchair in the middle of the library. Jason shuddered once again. Mortola's evil little eyes scanned the prisoners - but Jason saw that they rested for the longest time on Mortimer.
"My son always said revenge was a dish best eaten cold," Mortola said, "I admit I wasn't in any mood to take that advice yesterday. I'd have liked to see you all dead there and then, but the little witch's disappearing act has given me time to think, and I've decided to postpone my revenge for a while, so that I can enjoy it all the more, and in cold blood."
"Hear, hear!" Elinor muttered from beside Jason. Basta gave her a thrust from the butt of his rifle. But Mortola had eyes for only Mortimer. Jason wanted to do something. Anything. But he just stood there. He was angry at himself for being so helpless.
"Silvertongue! How many have you killed with your velvet voice? A dozen? Cockerell, Flatnose, and finally, your crowning achievement, my son." Mortola was acting as if it was yesterday that Capricorn had died, instead of over a year ago.
"You evil little..." Jason muttered under his breath. Mortola turned to look at him. Basta hit him with his gun. It hurt.
"You, boy, be quiet and be grateful that I didn't let Basta shoot you on the spot!" screeched Mortola.
Jason had to shut up.
"I'm going to look for your daughter in my own world, Silvertongue," Mortola turned her gaze back to Mortimer. "Then I'll give the two of you to my son as a present. There'll be more festivities, Silvertongue, but this time Capricorn will not die. Oh no. He'll sit beside me and hold my had while Death takes first your daughter, then you. Yes, that's how it will be!"
Jason saw Elinor and Darius exchange incredulous glances. Jason felt it himself.
"You're mad, Magpie!" Jason just had to say. "He's dead. Capricorn's dead. It won't change, even if you go back into your world." Jason knew. He had read the book. Or at least a part of it.
"Nonsense!" screamed Mortola. "Capricorn just went away for a while! He might have died in this world, but he'll be there as long as the book exists!"
Jason had to keep from shaking his head.
"Orpheus!" Mortola beckoned the moon-face to her side. Orpheus took a piece of paper from the pocket of his jacket.
"It won't be easy!" observed Orpheus. "I've never tried reading so many people over all at once. Perhaps it would be a better idea to do it one by one - "
"No! Mortola interrupted him. "You'll read us all over at once, as we agreed.
Orpheus just shrugged.
"We won't make things too difficult for Orpheus." Mortola pointed her stick at Mortimer. "We're taking him with us. No one else."
"What are you talking about?" said Elinior shrilly. "I'm coming as well!"
Mortola just gave Elinor a very nasty look.
Resa was clinging onto Mortimer's arm. Jason stood very close to him as well. Mortola went over to them, smiling. "Yes, little pigeon, I'm leaving you here, too!" she said, pinching her cheek hard. "It will hurt if I take him away from you again, won't it? When you've only gotten him back. After all those years..." Mortola glanced at Jason. "You get away, too!"
Basta reached roughly for both Resa and Jason. Jason let himself get pulled away, but Resa struggled with a desperate expression. Jason wanted to tell her - Don't worry. You're coming anyway. Not that you'd want to...
It was Mortimer himself who gently removed Resa's hand from his arm.
"It's all right," he said. "After all, I'm the only one in this family who hasn't been to the Inkworld yet. And I promise you I won't come back without Meggie." Jason wanted to cry.
"Very true, because you won't be coming back at all!" Basta mocked.
"Well, can we begin now?" asked Orpheus. Jason hated the stuck-up, vain and foolish man. He wanted to hit him.
"Of course." Mortola replied.
"Hey, wait a minute!" This was the first time the large man spoke. His voice was comically high for a man of his size. Jason almost laughed. "What happens to the others when you're gone?"
"How should I know?" Mortola shrugged. "Make the fat woman your maid and Darius your bootboy. Anything you like, it's all the same to me. Just start reading!"
Jason prepared to struggle against Orpheus's magic and grab Resa or Mortimer.
Orpheus cleared his throat.
"Captricorn's fortress lay in the forest where the first tracks of giants could be found." The words flowed over his lips like music. "It was a long time since anyone had seen the giants, but other and more alarming soulds haunted the walls by night..."
His voice was indeed beautiful, and Jason found himself mesmerized by the words. But desperation got to him, and he struggled against the magic. Everyone else was still as statues, staring at Orpheus's lips. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Resa moving, too. Moving towards Mortimer.
Jason did the same. Just as their forms started to shimmer, Jason grabbed ahold of Mortimer's arm. Resa flung her arms around his neck. And they all disappeared. Jason closed his eyes. He didn't want to open them, he didn't want to see what Mortola had planned for Mortimer...
But he figured he didn't have much of a choice.