“Yes?” Inbus said.
“Would you be able to … oh, I don’t know, detour the cart in any way?”
“Detour the cart?”
“Yes. Maybe lead it away from Tildon’s mansion, for example.”
Inbus sucked in his breath, and Alieahsha briefly wondered if she had done the right thing, trying to enlist his help in her brilliant escapade. Of course you’ve done the right thing, Alieahsha! she told herself. Who knows, he might want to escape too. Of course he wants to escape! Who wouldn’t when they’re basically owned by an evil woman? He wouldn’t get in too much trouble if it fails, would he? Yes, it’s the right thing to do. Yes.
“You mean run away,” Inbus said bluntly. Alieahsha blushed at the fact that Inbus had seen through the façade of her questions and into the real reason why she was asking them so easily.
“Well, yes,” she stuttered. “Yes, that’s what I mean.”
Inbus slowly shook his head and tut-ted.
“What, Inbus?” Alieahsha said frantically. “What did I do? Have I done, I mean? Why are you tut-ting at me, Insub, I mean, Inbus?”
Inbus started chuckling from up the front of the cart. “Calm down, Alieahsha. I never knew you cared so much to let your calm and collected composure slip just for me.”
That made Alieahsha stop. She glared icily at him. “It wasn’t for you.”
“Whatever you want to believe,” Inbus said, shrugging. “Anyway, I’m not angry at you for suggesting the idea or anything, so no need to be mad at me.”
“Accent’s back,” Alieahsha said, trying to get off the topic. Inbus sighed.
“So it is. Now, whart would yer like me ta do fer yer? Lead th’ cart astray, is that it?”
Alieahsha nodded. How could he see into her mind so easily?
“Well, I’ll try, but I’m Bound, you see, so I’m highly doubtful that it’ll work. Tildon has probably spelled the cart, too, so it’ll only go one way.”
“More likely only enchanted you,” Alieahsha said. “An object like a cart is too big to spell for such a long period of time. It would drastically drain her powers.”
“And how would you know, young spoilt missy?”
Alieahsha blushed. “I just do. Remember your rank, Inbus.”
“I will,” he grumbled. “Even though right about now I sound like a prince.”
Alieahsha rolled her eyes. “Yes, but that doesn’t mean you are one. Now, detour the cart, please!”
“Yes, master,” Inbus said teasingly, making Alieahsha feel guilty for commanding him around like a mere servant. Inbus wrenched the reins one way, making the horses stumble to the left. The horses kept on stumbling, but surprisingly, they made some progress.
“Just a bit more,” Alieahsha murmured. Then they’d be off the track towards Tildon’s house.
“Bless me! Me actually thinks it’s workin’! Alieahsha, I think yer might’ve been right after all!”
Alieahsha was about to say something smug in return when the cart juddered to a stop. Inbus was still pulling the reins as hard as he could, and the horses were neighing in protest.
“That’s odd,” Alieahsha said. It was as if there were a barrier stopping the horses from going onto the track branching out from their main one.
“It ain’t any use,” Inbus said, collapsing. “I’ve felt this feelin’ before. It’s Tildon’s doing. She’s makin’ us nort able to go in another direct-shun.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure,” Inbus said.
“But it was working before!”
“Strangely enuff, it was,” Inbus agreed. “I’m not sure why, though.”
“Why isn’t it working now?” Alieahsha thought aloud, frustrated. “There was no difference in the strength of your hands pulling at the reins, was there?” Alieahsha suddenly asked. Maybe she was onto something here.
“No, everything was the same.”
Alieahsha deflated. And she had thought she’d had a lead.
“I think Tildon was just trying to tease me. She works like that, you know.” Inbus looked over at Alieahsha to see what she’d say, but she had fallen silent. “What? What is it?” Inbus asked.
Then he realised that the cart had started moving again.