Favorite Excerpt of the Week
Chapter 14 is narrated from the perspective of Prince Christopher, who has had a rough time of it since the opening of the book. While on a royal errand in the Hinge Forest, the prince was captured by an Atheonian soldier and brought to the ruins of an old castle. This scene opens with Prince Christopher sitting in chains in the ancient cell of a crumbling tower, doubtful that he will ever escape. But, just as he had given up all hope, a pair of strange Hinge Foresters appear (please excuse the formatting; I'm afraid Squarespace has won this round):
Suddenly, a terrific crash echoed through the tower and reverberated against the other side of the metal door. The prince froze and listened. Someone or something could be heard shuffling through the remnants of whatever explosion had just occurred. The sound was slow and belabored, like an elephant through thick brush. Chris did not know whether to shout for help or to hide under his bench. A sort of grumbling or mumbling could be heard, deep and dusty. Chris thought he heard something to the effect of “… be mighty put off if they be touchin’ anythin’.”
Then, Chris was startled by quite a different sound.
“Pardon me,” said a hooty voice, “but are you Prince Christopher of Glademont?”
Looking about, he spied a lovely auburn owl peering at him through the barred window. It blinked inquisitively.
“Yes, as a matter of fact.” Reluctantly turning his back to the metal door and whatever creature lurked behind, Chris bowed slightly then stepped to the window. “To whom do I owe this pleasure?”
The owl brightened visibly. “I am Wyndeling the Red, Counselor to the Fourth Council of the Nest. I am so pleased to meet you.”
That is a relief, Counselor Wyndeling, for I am in need of assistance.”
“Would this key suit your needs?” With a dexterous talon, Wyndeling held up the very key that had earlier occupied Tynaiv’s sash.
“I believe so,” said the perplexed prince. Bowing again, he retrieved the key and turned to the metal door.
“Just a moment,” interjected the bird, “I wonder, could you read aloud that inscription above the door? Loudly, please.”
Baffled, Chris cleared his soar throat and squinted at the tarnished, silver plaque in question. Even through the discoloration, he could see it was cedarscript at its finest, complete with the ancient crest of Glademont.
“It seems to be a poem,” said Chris.
“Yes, it is,” replied the owl. “If you wouldn’t mind?”
“Right,” answered the prince. “It reads:
Therefore, Glademontians, be sure
While love of land confessing
Ye who now will bless its creatures
Shall yourselves find blessing.”
“There! You see?” called the owl. “I told you we were meant to come to the Ruins.”
“I’m very glad you did,” replied Chris politely, still at a loss.
“Oh, forgive me, Your Highness. I was speaking to my companion. If you can reach the door to unlock it, Osiris will
assist you with your bondage.”
“Companion, be I, little owl? Ha, ha! I be getting’ up in th’world,” boomed a deep voice from the other side of the metal door.
“Is this a rescue party?” said Chris, his eyes moist with relief. “Thank the skies!