Welcome back to Black Words-White Pages!! This week, we have a little sneak peek into Abby and the Mystic Dancers and Abby and the Cursed Emblem!! Scroll down and read the excerpts from both books!!
Abby and the Mystic Dancers
Abby was getting ready for bed when she remembered the conversation of Mrs. Herrin’s she’d overheard. Listening to the sounds of the creaking house, Abby waited until nearly midnight before jumping through one of the tunnels hidden in the linen closet in an upstairs bathrooms.
Though she didn’t know how they got there, or why Ms. Rable didn’t seem to know about them, Abby loved the hidden tunnels that were placed throughout the house. She only wished one was in her attic bedroom. Jumping feet first, she landed with a soft thud next to the car. Staying crouched, she jogged to the trees as quietly as she could, using her wand’s glowing green stone as a light.
Abby ran through the fork instead of turning off from it. As the great white oak tree came into view, she slowed down. She stopped once she reached its base.
Bending over and taking several deep breaths, she took a moment to look around. It was quiet throughout the woods.
Tucking her wand into her jacket pocket, Abby touched the tree’s trunk and stood back as the woods around her came to life. She heard the singing and laughter before the shadows emerged. The shield spell was a common one among Mystics. Because of it, every camp was hidden from outsiders. Each shield spell had its own password, but Abby merely needed to touch the oak tree and the camp would become visible.
People were appearing all around the tree, singing and dancing. There were many small fires burning, and the Mystics were celebrating.
Rainy was sitting near one of the campfires, talking to her brother, Rollen. Their brown skin glistened from the firelight as Rollen swept his hand through it. Abby marched straight to Rainy and grabbed her arm. It became quiet when people started to notice Abby. She saw their fearful and worried expressions as she passed them.
“Abby! What are you—”
Abby cut her off. “I need to speak to Madam Winters. It’s important. Where is she?”
“I don’t know,” replied Rainy, seeming worried. “What’s wrong?”
“I can take you to her,” Rollen stated, rising. “Stay here, Rainy.” He looked pointedly at his sister.
As they reached the far end of the camp, Rollen stopped. “What’s wrong, Abby? Are you okay?”
“Oh, I’m fine. Healthy as a harpy,” Abby said, not quite meeting his eyes.
They reached Madam Winters’s tent just as the flap flew open. Abby, used to the Mystic’s clothing, wasn’t surprised by the flowing pink and silver dress the Madam was wearing. Nor was she shocked by the bright blue roses in her salt-and-pepper hair. Everything seemed to fit her short, stocky build.
“I was about to see what caused all the excitement to stop,” Madam Winters said, eyes twinkling as she looked down into Abby’s anxious eyes. “What brings you out here at this time of night, my dear? Is she lecturing you again?”
Abby shook her head. “No. Well, yes, but it’s not that. It’s just … People are looking for you again,” she blurted out.
Madam Winters quickly ushered Abby into the tent. Rollen followed them. “What’s this, dear?” she asked Abby. “Who’s looking for us?”
Abby told the Madam and Rollen what she had overheard Mrs. Herrin talking about in her room. “I couldn’t stay long because someone was coming down the hall, and I didn’t want to get caught eavesdropping,” she finished.
The Madam glanced at Rollen. “That explains some things. Do you know when they’re set to leave?” she asked Abby.
“In a few days, I believe. They’re waiting on her husband, Jackson, and one of her sons to get here.”
“Their names are unfamiliar to me, so we will take extra precautions until they leave,” the Madam said as she searched her tent. Abby watched as she flipped open a small box and took out a tiny brown rock tied to a gold chain. “I want you to wear this around your neck. If you feel you are threatened or in danger, break this and throw the powder into the air. It’ll summon us immediately to you.”
“That’s a summoning powder!” Rollen exclaimed, surprised. “Won’t that summon every Mystic near us?”
The Madam shook her head. “I checked everyone’s location during the last meeting. There aren’t any Mystics near us.” She slipped the necklace over Abby’s head.
Putting her hands on Abby’s shoulders, she leaned toward her. “Do not let them think you know anything about us.” She waited until Abby promised before continuing. “You are safe, okay? Use the necklace only if necessary. Now, I want Rollen to accompany you home, and if Rainy wants, and I’m sure she will, she can go, too. I have to tell our people what’s happened. You must be very careful, Abby,” she finished, hesitantly patting the girl’s shoulder. The roses in her hair had gone a dark yellow, a hint she was worried.
Mr. Herrin and their son, Brannon, arrived the next morning during a downpour. The rain flew into the house as the duo made their way inside. Mr. Herrin towered over his wife as he hugged her, his thick black hair pulled back into a small ponytail. He grinned down at Abby when Mrs. Herrin introduced her, and he introduced seventeen-year-old Brannon, who looked the most like his mother. They had the same brown hair and eyes. Though, his seemed a little more direct, like those of a cat.
“Have you had any luck?” Mr. Herrin asked his wife as the two of them walked into the living room. Abby couldn’t make out Mrs. Herrin’s response because Brannon spoke to her.
“I’ve heard a lot about you. Nice to finally meet you,” he said, taking off his soaked raincoat. Abby didn’t know what to make of that, but smiled anyway. She followed him into the living room, barely managing to catch the towel thrown at her.
“Abby, go check the basement for flooding!” Ms. Rable said, taking her seat on the La-Z-Boy. Sighing, Abby did as she was told, only to find the basement had indeed started flooding. It didn’t surprise her to see Ethan and Aaron come down shortly after, but she was surprised to see Brannon. He carried a laundry basket full of towels.
“Does it always rain this hard?” Brannon asked, trying to dry a corner.
“You never know here,” replied Abby. “It could last for weeks, or rain hard for a day or two and then stop suddenly. It wasn’t even supposed to rain today. I think the weatherman draws the day’s weather out of a hat and just goes with it.”
“I bet the lake is fun to swim in when it’s warm here,” said Brannon, getting up to get another dry towel. “It’s like a giant pool.”
“Yeah, but with a lot of things that try and bite you,” broke in Abby.
“Like snakes!” said Ethan, glancing at Brannon.
“Speaking of snakes,” Brannon began as Abby shot a look at Ethan, “I heard you have one that knows how to shake. Can I see it sometime?”
“You like snakes?” she asked, turning away from the cracks to look at him.
“Yes, I do. I like a lot of animals. But I have to admit I’ve never seen a girl who likes snakes … or any other reptiles, as a matter of fact.”
“I like all kinds of animals. There are a bunch of salamanders where the old barn used to be,” replied Abby.
“What old barn?” Aaron asked. “I don’t remember seeing one.”
“You can’t see it from any of the roads. Plus, most of it burned down ages ago. The only thing left now is part of the roof and some rotting wood.” They worked in silence for a while.
Abby, content with the help and the company, worked quietly. “Can you show us the barn when it stops raining?” asked Brannon.
“Sure! It’s not far from the lake.” They finished up with all the leaks and were able to dry the floor pretty good by the time Mrs. Herrin called down and said lunch was ready. Abby was the last to go up the stairs. Mrs. Herrin motioned for her to take a seat at the table, where soup and sandwiches were waiting.
Mrs. Herrin made sure they all had a bowlful before leaving the dining room. Abby was nearly halfway through her soup when a piece of bread went flying across the table. Brannon caught it, raised a brow at Ethan, and ate it. “So, Abby… How are the lectures going?”
Abby laughed as Ethan and Aaron groaned at the mention of Ms. Rable. “Are you kidding me?” Ethan started. “She’s crazy. I mean, she lectured me about how to use a footrest she got from Prague. How to use a footrest!”
“I can top that!” Aaron interrupted. “I had to sit there listening when she explained the origins of the colors of the fabric in that ugly blanket she has in the living room.”
“You think that’s bad?” Abby asked him. “Try mentioning checking the mail!”
Brannon laughed. “I remember that one—the do’s and don’ts of mail checking. Oh man, it was horrible!”
“Two hours!” Abby stressed to Ethan and Aaron. “A two-hour lecture!”
Mrs. Herrin stepped back into the dining room with the four of them laughing.
“Hey, Mom, the newspeople said it wasn’t supposed to rain tomorrow. Can we go on a picnic?” Brannon asked.
“I don’t see why not,” she replied. “Would you like to come?” she asked, looking down at Abby.
Abby, who had never been on a picnic, much less invited to one, just stared as Ethan and Aaron told her she was coming with them.
Before she could answer, Ms. Rable yelled from the kitchen, “Abby, get in here now!” Shoulders hunched, Abby rose from the table. She grabbed the empty plates on her way in. “What is this?” demanded Ms. Rable. She pointed into the trash can. “What is this?”
“I’m sorry?” Peering into the trash Abby saw pieces of a broken plate. Uh-oh, she thought. “I didn’t do it!” she said quickly.
“Don’t you lie to me, young lady! You did the dishes last!” Ms. Rable’s face burned red in anger.
“No, I didn’t. It wasn’t me, it was …” Abby stopped. Ethan did the dishes last. There was no way Ms. Rable would believe her. And she didn’t want to risk getting her new friend into trouble.
“Liar!” Ms. Rable snapped out. Abby jerked her head up.
“I am not!” Abby shot back. She gasped when the slap came. She held her face as tears sprang to her eyes. The kitchen door flew open.
“What is going on?” Mrs. Herrin demanded, rushing into the room. Ms. Rable paid her no mind as she grabbed Abby’s arm.
“I don’t abide liars in my house!” Ms. Rable screeched. Mrs. Herrin stopped her from trying to drag Abby away.
“I am not a liar!” Abby yelled back. “Let go of me!” She tried to pull her arm from Ms. Rable’s grasp. Mr. Herrin ran into the room as the ground started to shake. Several glasses and plates fell out of the cabinets as Ms. Rable shrieked, trying to hold on to the countertops.
Abby jerked her arm free and ran from the room, passing the stunned boys now standing in the dining room.
Abby and the Cursed Emblem
“Ugh come on, don’t be like that! No one’s going to catch me,” Rainy tries to sound assuring.
“Wanna bet?” A voice questions over Rainy’s shoulder.
Turning, they see Rainy’s brother Rollen standing there. “Ah geez, man you almost gave me a heart attack!” Rainy groans, dramatically. “Chill out Rol, I’m only going to be here for a little bit more!”
“No, you’re not! You’re going home right now!” Rollen snaps out. “Do you know how much trouble you’d be in if the Madam caught you.”
“Which she won’t, unless you don’t lower your voice!” Rainy glares back at him. “I’m tired of you guys having all the fun. It’s not fair that we all can’t come!”
“So? It’s not my decision to make! You just can’t go around bending rules because you don’t like them! Did you even ask Marcella about coming here?”
“Are you kidding me?” Rainy jerks at him. “You know she would have said no, so there wasn’t a point in it!”
“Then she must have a good reason for saying no!” Rollen growls back at her.
“Yeah, because she hates me!” Rainy got in his face. Abby quickly intervenes as the siblings start getting louder.
“Guys, calm down. You’re starting to draw people’s attention! Come on, Rainy. Let’s figure out how to sneak you out of here so you don’t get in trouble.”
The three of them almost made it to the entrance before they suddenly found themselves in front of the Madam, Mistress Mia, and Mrs. Queenly.
“You three…” The Madam gestures through the doorway angrily. “To the storage room. Now!”
“What in the Four Tribes were you thinking?” The Madam demands as Rainy, Rollen, and Abby stand before her in the old storage room. Mistress Mia stands beside her. Before anyone tries to respond, the door opens again and all the Mystic Dancers crowd inside. The room expands to accommodate all of them.
Rainy starts to speak, but stops when both Abby and Rollen elbow her to stop. “Do you know how much trouble you could have caused tonight? And where on the lost Earth Callers did you find this!” She holds up Rainy’s yellow school robe she’d been wearing. As the Madam went on and on, Abby and Rainy keep their gazes on the floor.
“Did the rest of you know about this?” The Madam demands the other dancers. Keeping their eyes on the ground, they all shake their heads no.
Raising her head, Rainy answers, “No, I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing.”
A sudden strong gust of wind tore through the room. Gasping and covering their heads, the Dancers all crouch. “What…” The Madam starts. Abby’s eyes widen as a white globe appears behind the Madam and the wind becomes stronger.
“Look out!” Rainy screams and lunges at the Madam. Knocking the Madam over put Rainy directly in the path of the white ball, and it starts to drag her toward it. Both Abby and Rollen immediately grab onto her arms and try to drag her back. Mistress Mia quickly latches onto Abby as the four of them are sucked into a now rapidly spinning tunnel.
Landing hard on rocks and grass, Abby gasps for breath. She loses it again as Mistress Mia lands on her and Rollen on Rainy. Rising to her knees Abby peers around at the large towers encircling the field.
“Where are we?” Rainy wonders as Rollen helps her to her feet.
Looking at the two green towers and hearing the waves crash against the shore, Abby answers, “We’re at the racing grounds. In the Earth Dragon’s domain. See the two green towers and the huge stones lining between the towers? It marks the Earth Dragon’s domain for the races.”
Feminine laughter echoes above them. Mistress Mia shoves Abby and Rainy behind her and grabs Rollen’s arm. Looking up, they watch as a tall blonde woman stares down at them. She wasn’t alone, as another man stands on a nearby rock and two more come out from behind the Earth towers.
Abby remembers the white blonde hair and vivid green eyes of the person who killed her mother. “You…” she whispers, causing Mistress Mia to grip her arm in a silent order to silence.
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