The Wilthric lodge was settled at the top of the valley, opposite from where Andrel and Will had been playing. A gentle pathway began at the edge of Bootabin, and although Andrel never seemed to take any notice, Will thought that the sight of the lodge, illuminated by oil lamps in the darkness was glorious. A high, smooth wall framed the land, finished with a set of wrought, spiked iron gates, and a straight cobbled path flanked by huge firs led towards the lodge. A large porch wound all the way around the lodge, enclosing far too much space for a family of four.
'See? Not too hard, was it?' smirked Andrel. 'We made it back without being eaten.' Will looked up, knowing that he was safe in home ground, he saw how beautiful the Northern sky was, dotted with stars and clear of clouds. 'I wonder if Mom's left us any dinner. I'm starving.'
Will admired Mrs Wilthric, she managed the estate alone, which would have been far harder if she wasn't a magus. Andrel flicked off his winter boots on the porch casually, but before Will could open the door, he was stopped. 'Let's, uh, get in through the window.'
Will raised an eyebrow. 'This is your house. You're acting like you're breaking in.'
Andrel sighed defeatedly. 'Fine, I'll admit it. We're late, and I don't want Mom to catch us.' They walked around the porch to the living room window at the right side. 'She won't blame you, of course, but she'll have my head on the mantle. Arlamus usually leaves the window open for me, even when he says he wants to get me in trouble. I guess he can't help himself.'
Just as he'd said, the window was open, enough for Will and Andrel to squeeze through. All of the lights were out, but the fire remained on, heating the luxuriously furnished room. Once they were inside and the window had been quietly locked, Will felt all of the snow on his coat melt away. Andrel shrugged off his jacket and tossed it at the wall, where a wooden hook appeared from the wall, catching it perfectly. Although the Wilthrics were careful about magick in public, in the comfort of their own home, they all had free rein.
The living room was also a breakfast room, featuring a bay window with padded seats to eat at, surrounding a table with a crystal vase of flowers. Three sofas surrounded the fire, they were scarlet red with thick blankets tossed over the backs. A huge sheepskin was at the centre of the room, thick and worthy to fall asleep on. Andrel didn't hesitate to jump onto the sofa, landing sprawled out and letting out a relaxed 'aah'.
Will stood, slightly lost, in the middle of the room. 'Is your Mom asleep?'
With that, the room was flooded with light, gas lights flaring to life. The boys turned to the wide doorframe leading into the dining room. Misti Wilthric stood in the doorway, her nightgown tied frustratedly and her hair curlers gradually unravelling.
'Uh oh,' was her son's only response, and Will had to agree.