Fable Page 32

A moment later the door opened, and the light from the hallway spilled into the room. She pulled her knees and shoes closer to her body, and held her breath. Principal Hame stormed into the room and shouted, “I know you’re in here. I heard this door close.” His portly chest heaved in and out from excitement. Even his red face had a slight sheen of sweat. Principal Hame, or Ham, as the students called him, really did in real life resemble the pigs he collected. He had an office full of them. And sure enough, like a pig can sniff out a truffle, this one had found her.

Mina tried to rack her brain to think of an excuse as she slowly began to inch out of her hiding spot, but a familiar voice saved her.

“I heard it, too, but I think it was that door,” Mrs. Colbert’s voice rang out. “In fact, I’m almost positive it was from the south hallway.”

Principal Hame grumbled something and stopped right in front of the filing cabinet. He was two feet from discovering her.

“I don’t know. I’m sure it was this one.”

Constance’s voice became silky smooth as her skin took on a translucent glow. “I’m sure you are right. The culprit ducked into a classroom and is probably cowering in fear behind that filing cabinet right there. Or the culprit is probably heading for the nearest school exit. Think about it. It’s the trophy case. Who would destroy that? My guess is someone from Barlow High School.”

“You are absolutely right.” He clapped his hands together and turned on his heel. “Barlow High has always been trying to steal our thunder. I bet you they’re not done yet. Quick, send security out, comb the halls, the parking lot.” His voice drifted off as they exited the classroom and the door clicked softly behind them.

Mina didn’t breathe or move till she counted to one hundred. She kept her head down and stayed near the ground as she pulled out the phoenix feather, which was still burning slowly. Its miniscule flames danced around the quill.

“I believe you gave this to me to help me. So if you want to help me, then help me,” she whispered to the feather.

The feather continued to burn brightly, and she studied it closely. Acting on intuition, she leaned forward and began to blow on the feather, right near the flames, the same way she would if she was starting a fire. This time, the flames grew brighter and brighter. She tried to hold onto the feather but dropped it when the light became too much. She could hear the fire crackling, and it grew larger and more out of control.

“What have I done?” Mina panicked and ran to the door, and grabbed the fire extinguisher from the wall. She had never before used one of these and tried to maneuver the hose in the right direction. The fire was burning so hot it turned blue. A scream erupted from the middle of the inferno, and a loud explosion rocked the room. Mina fell backward from the blast and covered her ears. She was going to be caught now. There was no mistaking where that noise had come from.

Mina looked toward where the feather was and saw that the explosion had destroyed two lab stations and transformed them into a pile of ash and rubble. But from the ash another ember continued to burn, and a phoenix began to arise from the rubble.

The phoenix craned its neck and flexed its wings experimentally before turning its black beady eyes in Mina’s direction.

“Um, was that supposed to do that?” she asked. The bird just continued to stare. “Okay, I don’t know why you gave me that feather, but I think you want to help me, so can you help me? I need to get over to the Fae plane.”

A voice invaded her mind—not just any voice, but Nan’s. You are a Grimm. You don’t need me to cross over, the bird said.

“How are you doing that? You sound like Nan,” Mina asked, stunned.

The bird shook her head at Mina again, ignoring the question.

“Fine, I know that I’m a Grimm and I should be able to cross over, but I don’t know how to yet. I can’t do it on command.”

This time the voice changed, and it started out as Ever’s voice before morphing into Jared’s. Then you need to pass through the gatekeeper.

“What’s a gatekeeper?”

Brody’s voice filled her mind. I’m the gatekeeper. The phoenix continued to speak to her using the voices of those closest to her.

“So you knew I needed to go to the Fae plane. That’s why you wanted to help me.”

Yes, help you—help me. Mrs. Wong’s Chinese dialect came out. The Stiltskin has me imprisoned and uses my gifts terribly. I want to make my own deal with you. I’m much more valuable than your brother. Choose me instead, Sara’s voice cried out to her, filled with despair.

“I can’t. I have to save my brother.”

The phoenix’s feathers began to dim a little bit in sadness.

“But I will find a way to free you. If not today, then soon,” Mina promised.

Then I will grant you your wish. I will send you to the Fae plane. The phoenix flew into the air, his feathers burning so bright they were blinding. Mina heard the classroom door open, and Jared rushed into the room in a panic. He saw the bird and began to maneuver around the lab tables. Mina was absorbed with the firebird flying in circles above her, weaving a blazing trail of fire.

“No, Mina, don’t!” Jared yelled. “It’s too dangerous.”

A yellow flash whisked past her shoulder, and the piercing screech ripped through the air again. A vortex of fire whirled above her and began to descend upon her, as if to swallow her whole.

She saw Jared try to grab her arm, but he was fighting the vortex of wind and kept being pushed just out of reach. Her hair whipped around her face painfully and she tried to warn Jared to stay back, but he kept pressing forward.

“I won’t let you go.”

“I have to go, Jared.” She saw his face fill with despair as he realized he couldn’t save her, as the fiery vortex swept her up and she disappeared.

Chapter 19

Pain! A burning sensation ripped through her. She gasped for air, but nothing but heat filled her lungs. It was as if she was underwater, and when she opened her mouth, something else rushed in instead of oxygen. She panicked and tried to scream, but again nothing would come out. Tears streaked down her cheeks as she thought she was suffocating, slowly dying.

Something punched her in the stomach, and all of a sudden she could breathe again. Winded, she lay immobile until the blinding lights disappeared from her vision.

Mina lifted her head from the grass she was lying in to take in her unfamiliar surroundings. Gone were the brick walls, windows, and desks of the school. Instead, she was surrounded by odd-looking trees and plants and flowers. They were twisted, warped and menacing-looking, and not a single breed was familiar. A few minutes ago it had been daytime, but here it was night.

“Jared!” Mina called out, and looked around to see if he had made it through the portal. He hadn’t. She was alone.

The forest unnaturally echoed her call, and she decided it would be better if she didn’t do that again. Who knows what was out in the Fae woods? Gathering her nerve, she stood up and dusted off her pants, and saw the phoenix feather lying on the ground next to her.

But she felt like she had forgotten something. Her hands went to her jacket pocket where she kept the Grimoire, and the pocket was empty. After a few minutes of searching the immediate area, she came to the conclusion that the Grimoire couldn’t exist on the same plane as the Fae book. Or it was because it was so tied to Jared that if he didn’t cross over to the Fae plane, neither did the book. Either way, she was up a creek, without help.

Prev page Next page