The Old Ones, Chapter One Excerpt

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

There’s some stuff in here that might give away some things that happened at the end of The Triplets. Keep in mind that this hasn’t been edited yet: I think it looks pretty good right now, but I might change some things before it gets published in an actual book.

Anna opens her eyes, closes them again, and tries to blink the crust out of them. When that doesn’t work, she reaches up to rub them. She sits up, gripping the edge of the wooden bench she’s been lying on. Soft voices drift through the door ajar to her left—Sarah’s, and Kaylor’s. Right—she’s in Husifi with them, they’re in Mr. Lee’s house. The guy who sent them those letters. Anna came here with five other people, and they’re important to Mr. Lee and this rebellion he’s part of because…because…

Because they’re Incarnates.

Anna screws her eyes shut and flops back down on the bench. A laugh bubbles up from her stomach to her mouth. She presses her hand to her lips to keep it in. Incarnates. It’s ridiculous. It’s beyond utterly crazy. Incarnates don’t exist. They’re fairy tales.

And yet…two years ago, if anyone had walked up to Anna and told her she’d be able to conjure a hurricane with a twitch of her fingers if only she’d try hard enough, she’d scoff and tell them to shut up and stop teasing. She’d think they were nuts. But she can—she’s done it.

“Anna?” the door squeaks on it’s hinges and there’s Kaylor, peeking almost shyly at her through the crack, “Are you awake?”

Anna swings her legs over the edge of the bench and gets to her feet. Kaylor smiles at her, but it doesn’t reach her eyes. Something is going on with Kaylor, and whatever it is is making her jumpier, but more subdued than usual. Anna needs to find out what it is so she can fix it. But not yet: there are other things she needs to take care of first.

She brushes past Kaylor out into the main room. Sarah’s sitting on the bench next to Tyler, and Mr. Lee is standing rather awkwardly in the corner. Anna’s careful not to look at him. He knows things, about Colf and about her mother, and she’s going to get them out of him. But not yet.

Instead, she walks over and sits next to Sarah. “Where’d your dragon friend go?” she asks.

Sarah looks over at Anna, grabbing the end of one of her braids and biting her lip. “I don’t know. She said—she didn’t want to leave us here—” her eyes dart to Mr. Lee, then away, “—unsupervised. She’s very protective of me. It’s not like her to just leave like that.”

Kaylor sits down across from them, her brow furrowed. “What about Alex and Darn?” she turns to look at Mr. Lee, “Are they still upstairs?”

Mr. Lee gives her a tight smile. “I believe so. But I’ll go and check. We don’t want them getting lost somewhere in the city.”

Kaylor nods. Something orange flickers in the corner of Anna’s vision, and she turns her head to look at Tyler. He’s got a small, bright orange flame cupped in the palms of both hands, and his eyes are riveted to it. Anna almost wants to tap him on the shoulder just to see if it’ll startle him, but she doesn’t. Kaylor would definitely yell at her for that.

At that moment, Mr. Lee appears on the stairway, Alex and Darn in tow. Alex’s eyes are red-rimmed, and Darn’s scowling, his forehead furrowed. Alex must have told him something, and maybe he didn’t take it so well. No–Alex is hovering right at his elbow, and leaving barely an inch of space between them. So Alex told Darn something so upsetting it made him cry, but Darn did take it well.

“Noonbreak is over,” says Mr. Lee, “We should head out. I think it’s time you all met Juanna.”

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