The driveway was long, and curved around a large circular garden. The flowers depicted a large version of the emblem that was on the Phaeton, and the driver’s uniform. Ringed by low green growths, it showed the blue background with the yellow rose and the magic wand crossed, and surmounted by the gold coronet. It was beautifully executed, and he couldn’t help commenting.
“My dear, the gardener who planted that is an artistic genius!” he exclaimed.
Simone smiled as she turned to him. “I am so glad you like it I felt sure you would have the artist’s eye and appreciate his work. It is my personal sigil, and since this has always belonged to my family, I wanted to mark it so all could see.”
The Phaeton swung around the circle and stopped at the steps. Immediately the doors opened and a very perfect example of an English butler descended. The driver alit, moved to the side and held out his hand. Simone took it and stepped gracefully, turned and waited while he lifted Puss out. When they reached the steps, the butler bowed and greeted Simone, and welcomed Puss to Ardor Manor.
Inigo found the service excellent, and was soon comfortably settled. That first evening, they sat and talked, and he told her all of the circumstances that had led up to his enchantment. “We will start looking at my grandmother’s books tomorrow,” she said. “I will search until I can give you back your true appearance, and your life.”
“My dear Simone, I will be forever grateful,” he said. “But I must tell you, Count Rugen is my sworn enemy. He it was who killed my father, and to avenge his death, for my family’s honour, I must kill him. I tell you this so you will know. I know he is a friend of yours, and I do not wish any false pretenses between us.”
“Dear Puss, do not worry. Count Rugen is not a friend, not does he own this place. It is in his care when I am in my elemental form. In truth, I do not like him; he is a sinister, repulsive man. When I am taking on my human form, I have Jeeves, the butler, deal with him. He makes my skin crawl.”
“In that case, my Bella Donna, I will kill him for you, too. I am sure you can find someone else to care for this beautiful home; someone who can appreciate its beauty and grace.” He struck a pose in front of the fireplace, and beamed at her.
For the next two weeks, they spent almost every waking hour studying the books of magic, searching for the spell that would free him. At last Simone straightened her face alight with joy. “I have found it!” she shouted. “Now all I have to do is get the necessary items, and I can free you!”
They were both so excited that they danced around, shouting and laughing. They made so much noise that Jeeves appeared at the door. He glanced in, and discreetly withdrew, smiling.
The next afternoon, all was prepared. Simone had Jeeves roll up the carpet in the siting room to reveal a pentagram inlaid in different coloured woods in the mahogany floor. Then she laid out the herbs and potions on a table, and had Puss stand in the middle of the pentagram. A white candle was lit at the pints of the pentagram; the herbs were placed over lit incense in a bronze cauldron and it was place in the pentagram near Puss.
When this was done, she stripped, and began to chant. Puss at first felt nothing, and wondered if the spell was working. He remembered how it had been when the first spell was cast. How he had felt dizzy, and everything was blurred by the smoke. There didn’t seem to be enough smoke. Then Simone threw something else into the cauldron, and a plume of smoke shot up, blinding him, and making him so dizzy he didn’t know what was happening.
When the smoke cleared, Simone was standing in front of him, wearing a blue robe, and holding out a robe, saying “here, Inigo, put this on. We will go to the patio and restore our strength.”
Only then did he realise that he was human again, and standing naked in the middle of the room. The pentagon had faded to the point that he had to search for it. He took the robe, donned it, and followed Simone out through the French doors. They settled in comfortable chairs, and Jeeves brought drinks and finger foods.
“Eat and drink, Ma’am and sir. You have done a great work, and you need to rest now.”
“Thank you, Jeeves. Please see that we are not disturbed until dinner.” Simone said. Jeeves bowed and murmured “Yes, ma’am,” and left.
After drinking and eating for a while, and staring over the grounds, Inigo turned to Simone. “I can never thank you enough, my dear. You have given me back my life, and my chance to revenge my father, and regain my honour. Anything I can do for you will never be enough.”
She smiled. “All you have to do is what you have planned, and that will repay me a hundred fold. I want to be with you when you take your revenge, and I will be happy. No we have to make our plans.