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Book 2 Excerpts 


chapter 26

"The Tomb of Forgotten Secrets"

    As he stepped out of the chamber, Cat whispered, “Igra,” and the lamp lit up again.

    Light spilled into a hallway lined with cabinets and tables. At their feet was a long rug that stretched to the end. Together they moved down the hall. The cabinets had bottles of potions, jars—they even saw a skull tucked in the corner of one, swathed in cobwebs. There were alchemical ingredients and recipes, books, and scrolls. Chests lined with bottles, jars filled with creatures and organs preserved in vinegar. They passed a door leading into a chamber lit by rush candles—and heard someone counting something that went clink, clink!

    James tried the handle, but it was locked, so he peered in through the barred window. All he could see was a room full of coffers and a table with a long scroll unfurled to the floor. A quill moved all on its own, scratching ink on the scroll, and the voice continued to mutter.

    Was it a ghost?
    They continued on.   


There were many chambers filled with mysteries, they found. In one, a looking glass showed the reflection of a beautiful woman combing her long auburn tresses, and when she saw them, she smiled. Yet, there was no one casting the reflection. Still farther, they spied statues of maidens, brass animal busts, fancy chests, and coffers of jewels.           

    Finally, they came to a stairwell that led to a large hall and halted.

  Oh jeez, James thought. They had discovered, at last, where the strange sounds of flapping pages were coming from. Here were shelves stacked up to the arced ceiling, and most of them had books. But these books weren’t the type to sit around on the shelves. They chattered and flapped around like birds. And the tomes were all unique in their own ways, with old covers made from leather—and with buckles to fasten them shut. But they flew

about like odd-shaped sparrows, flapping their covers like delicate wings. They prattled among themselves like great philosophers, and their voices made it sound like a lecture hall full of pompous professors.

chapter 13

"The Shipyard"

    “Cat!” James heard his uncle shout. “Get over here with the lamp!”

    Forgetting the blanket, James and Cat hurried toward the bow where Igvard stood. The man snatched the light from him and held it forward. The noise was almost deafening, and it made James’s blood run cold.

    Another sound overlaid the first—but this came from behind. It was the main door opening once more to let the sea flood into the canal.

    James and Cat rushed to the gunwale and held on, and shortly afterward, a wave struck them, pushing the Persephone, laden with seawater, forward. Only a starlit sky shone outside Sarvelok’s Maw; night had fallen by now.

    The boat was heavier and lower in the water, but she pressed her bowsprit into the rising portcullis, catching in the lattices and clacking on each one until it slid past the rusted spikes at the bottom. The spikes dripped murky, muddied water as the Persephone was swept forward.

    Igvard swore; the stern of the ship had pulled up somewhat before they were thrust along. They ducked; the portcullis was rising too slowly. James could hear the old pulleys


turning above, the chains clinking through them, the steel screeching like a banshee in the jamb’s grooves.

    “It’s going up too slowly,” Igvard said. James saw they’d never make it before the sails and mast crashed into them, and he was right. As the bowsprit lanced forward, the Persephone was swept partially through, but the sails struck the rising latticed threshold. For a moment, they were caught there, the foremast sighing as the stern floated around, striking the walls. And then, finally, the gate came clear, and the water from the sea washed them suddenly forward. Igvard held the lantern in front, a grave expression etched into the aging skin of his face, adding ruin to the sandbags beneath his eyes. As they moved along, they heard the murder-hole hatches opening up in the stone ceiling and torches shone through. They caught glimpses of nothing more of their captors except their shadows. The canal turned and branched off in two directions up ahead, and James spied a closed floodgate. This time, it wasn’t a portcullis, but an iron door that had descended, and Igvard’s lantern showed sprawling designs of rust over the same cast-iron face of Sarvelok carved into

the mountain. They followed the water, hearing another portcullis rising ahead of them, slowly, like the last. This time, they cleared it in time. The walls here were older and speckled with moonmilk and creeping designs of algae and calcite. The roar of moving water was everywhere now, echoing through tunnels that branched out and led deeper into the island’s mountain. Every now and again, they heard a deep growl of something untold, perhaps at the center of the canals.



chapter 11

"And Into The Mouth"

    James edged his way to the bow, and as the ship rose again, prow-first, his legs buckled under him as a wash of seawater burst over the gunwale. The mouth of Sarvelok was very close now, with hanging seaweed visible under the nasal base, as well as hairline fractures in the stone. The jaw-door was gigantic. Great, rusted chains—each link the size of a human torso—controlled the lowering of the deck. As they came near this, the mouth sucked them suddenly forward. Water smashed against the rocks beside the jaw-door, where the debris of shipwrecks had clustered. The water flowing over the fangs frothed and boiled with activity. Small eddies whirled spastically, and spray glittered in the slanted rays over the bluffs of the gorge.

    Cat huddled, gripping the lanyards with both hands, and squeezed his eyes shut. Water erupted over the sides, foamed in his face, and suds glistened like pearls off his shaggy, black hair. The Persephone rose high and then plunged like a rollercoaster going down. Hadwin came stumbling up from belowdecks, a pewter plate with a heel of rye bread in his hand, and a slice of cheese stuck through his

finger like a ring. “Oi, what’cha doin, yeh silly clotters?” he cried. But a surge of water struck him, washing the bread off his plate. “What’s this about? Can’t an ole marrow get a bit o’ grub ’thout gettin’ knocked to bits?”

    Igvard screamed, “Brace yourselves—we’re hittin’ the Maw!”

    The mouth-shaped door loomed in front of them, and the Persephone rose again, her masts coming dangerously close to the iron teeth overhead. Seawater caromed from the sides of the mouth and erupted over the gunwale. James felt he’d been swallowed by the sea and doused in iciness. He gripped the gunwale desperately as he felt the deck smash up against his legs. The ship vaulted upward, then the prow plummeted with a crash that shook like the end of the world and rattled his teeth. James fell forward, his hands wrenched loose from the gunwale. He skidded across the forecastle. His skinned elbows and knees were already raw from before—now they screamed with renewed pain as the salt water scourged them.

    Hadwin, meanwhile, had fallen into a pile of bones, the plate he’d been holding flying into the air.

    The hull scraped on the bottom row of teeth, and then the Persephone stopped, suddenly caught, grinding.

  “That’s gotta be bad!” Hadwin’s skull bubbled as it rolled around in the water.

    Digfred and Moffat, however, were trying to crawl after their missing bones.

    James grabbed on to the gunwale again, panting, and Cat clawed his way to the side. “Igvard!” James cried, looking around for his uncle. Quizlow was nowhere to be seen. “We’re stuck!”

    His uncle was still midship holding on to the ratlines tightly and trying to weather the storm of water, his doublet plastered to his skin, his hair matted around his face, covering his eyes. “I know!” Igvard shouted, shaking his head.

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