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       Black Water, p.1

           D. J. MacHale
 
Black Water


  I stared at Boon a long time, letting his words roll around in my head, hoping they would settle down in some way that would make sense. They didn’t.

  “I thought you knew,” he said sheepishly. “Most gars can’t even speak, that’s why I was so surprised to hear you talk. I guess I didn’t explain things so well.”

  “No, you didn’t,” I said nervously. “You’re telling me humans on Eelong can’t speak? Or think intelligently? Or work or read or laugh or write or . . . or play sports?”

  “No, they play sports!” Boon assured me. “Gars play wippen all the time.” He then dropped his voice low and said, “But lots of them are killed during the game.”

  “Oh, that’s just swell!” I shouted. “Humans aren’t capable of doing anything except getting killed playing games or being eaten by tangs. I feel so much better now.”

  “But everything will be fine if you stay with me . . . and put this on,” Boon said, holding up the restraint.

  “No . . . freakin’ . . . way,” I said. “You’re not going to put a leash on me like some kind of . . . of . . . animal!”

  “But that’s what you are!”

  Read what critics and fans have to say about the Pendragon series

  “The nonstop plot developments keep the many pages turning and readers wanting more.”

  —School Library Journal, on The Lost City of Faar

  “A talented world builder, MacHale creates endlessly fascinating landscapes and unique alien characters . . .the series is shaping up to be a solid addition to the fantasy genre and will keep readers not only busy but also content until the next Harry Potter appears.”

  —Voice of Youth Advocates, on The Lost City of Faar

  “A fast pace, suspenseful plotting, and cliff-hanger chapter endings . . .nonstop action, snappy dialogue, pop-culture references, and lots of historical trivia.”

  —School Library Journal, on The Never War

  “MacHale’s inventiveness makes this book the best entry in the series so far . . .remarkable insight.”

  —Voice of Youth Advocates, on The Never War

  “Pendragon rules!”—Java

  “PLEASE KEEP THEM COMING!!!! And if you need somebody to pre-read your books like I believe you said your nephew and wife do, I’d be right there to do it. THEY ARE THAT GOOD!!!”—Joshua

  ♦ ♦ ♦

  “I am insanely in love with the Pendragon books. I think that they are even better than the Harry Potter books.”—Monique

  “I absolutely LOVE your Pendragon books. My two best friends also love them, and whenever I get the next one they fight over who gets to read it first!”—Elisabeth

  “Forget the Wands and Rings!! Pendragon All the Way!!”

  —A Fan

  “I’m pretty sure that I no longer have nails, as I was constantly biting them as I read the fourth Pendragon adventure.”—Dan

  “Pendragon is the best book series of all time.”—Dark

  “Nothing compares. I can’t read another book without thinking ‘Pendragon is better than this.’”—Kelly

  “The Pendragon books will blow you away like no other books you have ever read.”—Karen

  “This series just pulls you into a world filled with suspense, treachery, and danger. Five stars easily; it deserves ten!!!”

  —Greg

  “Man, I gotta tell ya—these books are fantastic!”—Adam

  ♦ ♦ ♦

  PENDRAGON

  JOURNAL OF AN ADVENTURE THROUGH

  TIME AND SPACE

  Book One: The Merchant of Death

  Book Two: The Lost City of Faar

  Book Three: The Never War

  Book Four: The Reality Bug

  Book Five: Black Water

  Coming Soon:

  Book Six: The Rivers of Zadaa

  FROM ALADDIN PAPERBACKS

  Kitties for Keaton

  Contents

  Acknowledgments

  Prologue

  Second Earth

  Journal #16 Eelong

  Journal #16 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #16 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #16 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #16 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #16 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #16 (Continued) Eelong

  Second Earth

  Second Earth (Continued)

  Second Earth (Continued)

  Cloral

  Cloral (Continued)

  Journal #17 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #17 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #17 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #17 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #17 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #17 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #17 (Continued) Eelong

  Cloral

  Journal #18 Eelong

  Journal #18 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #18 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #18 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #18 (Continued) Eelong

  Journal #18 (Continued) Eelong

  Eelong

  Eelong (Continued)

  Eelong (Continued)

  Eelong (Continued)

  Eelong (Continued)

  Eelong (Continued)

  Eelong (Continued)

  Eelong (Continued)

  Eelong (Continued)

  Eelong (Continued)

  Eelong (Continued)

  Eelong (Continued)

  Eelong (Continued)

  Second Earth

  Journal #19 Zadaa

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  Greetings to all.

  It’s time once again to join Bobby Pendragon and the Travelers in their quest to protect Halla from the evils of the demonic Saint Dane. It’s been quite an adventure for Bobby since that night when Uncle Press whisked him away to learn of his true destiny. It’s also been quite a journey for me, who had no idea it was going to be so much fun writing about it. But here we are five books later, halfway home, and sharing Bobby’s adventures with you all is getting more exciting all the time.

  I’ve had the pleasure of receiving countless letters and e-mails from readers who want to discuss their theories, predictions, and concerns for the future of Halla. There are a lot of creative thinkers out there! I feel as if I’m being treated to the collective creativity of a whole new generation of fantasy-adventure writers. How awesome is that? A big thank-you to everyone who has written.

  Of course, I’m not the only one responsible for bringing Bobby’s adventures to you. There is a lot of credit to go around and I’d like to spread some of it here. Many thanks go to Rick Richter, Julia Richardson, Ellen Krieger, Samantha Schutz, Jennifer Zatorski and all the good folks at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for continuing to support the Pendragon books. As always, Debra Sfetsios and Victor Lee did an incredible job designing and creating an awesome cover. Heidi Hellmich, ace copy editor, has once again done a miraculous job in making me look as if I actually know proper grammar. My own small team of acolytes consisting of Peter Nelson, Richard Curtis, and Danny Baror remain my guardian angels. And of course, my wife, Evangeline, continues to assure me that what I write each day is actually worth reading. Believe me, that is an invaluable service.

  Thanks to you all, and to all those who helped bring this latest chapter in the Pendragon saga to print.

  I’ve discovered that writing a continuing story spread out over several books is tricky. Even though each book contains a unique complete story, it’s also a piece in a much larger puzzle. Trouble is, not everybody will get the chance to read the books in order, and starting in the middle of a series can be confusing. That means every book has to be written as if it were the first and only book in the series. Yikes! For everyone who has been with me since the beginning
, you know that’s no small task, because a lot of ground has been covered since The Merchant of Death. So with each book, I try to sneak in enough back story to get new readers up to speed, but not so much that veteran readers will get bored. If you’re new to Pendragon, don’t panic. As you go along, many of your questions as to what the heck is going on will be answered. If you’re a veteran, try not to doze off when I remind you of what’s happened in the past. I’ve spread it out all over the place, and if you’re not paying attention, you might miss something new. That’s a warning to keep you on your toes.

  Okay, that’s all from me. For those of you who freaked after reading the cliffhanger in last chapter of The Reality Bug, your wait is over. For those of you who are new to the series, welcome. You’re about to enter a world of demons, heroes, and destiny. All you’ve got to do is take a breath, turn the page, and step into the flume.

  Hobey ho,

  D. J. MacHale

  March 2004

  PROLOGUE

  Acolytes.

  That’s what this was all about.

  It was also about saving humanity from being crushed by a villainous demon named Saint Dane, but that was a little much for Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde to tackle right off the bat. They figured becoming acolytes was the best way to ease into the whole universe-saving thing. The two friends sat together on a musty old couch in a small New York City apartment. They were there to learn the mysterious ways of the acolytes. Not exactly dramatic surroundings, considering they were hearing words that would change their lives forever.

  “You are the acolytes from Second Earth now,” said Tom Dorney, whose apartment it was. “With Press gone, I’m no longer needed. It may be an easy job compared to what the Travelers do, but I think you’ll agree it’s an important one.”

  “We do. Absolutely. Yessir,” Mark and Courtney assured him.

  Dorney turned to look out his window and frowned. He was an old guy with short-cropped gray hair and excellent posture. He was once a soldier. Old habits die hard.

  “Is there something you’re not telling us?” Courtney asked.

  Dorney sighed and said, “It’s just a feeling.”

  “What?” she demanded.

  “I don’t know,” Dorney said, troubled. “I didn’t like what I heard about Veelox.”

  “Yeah, no kidding,” Courtney said.

  “What I mean to say is, be careful. Saint Dane has finally had a victory, and there’s no telling what’s next. From this point on, I can’t guarantee that the old rules still apply.”

  This was chilling news for Mark and Courtney on their first official day as acolytes. Dorney’s ominous warning was very much on their minds as they left his apartment and took the train back to Stony Brook, Connecticut. Just before the train pulled into Stony Brook Station, Mark announced, “I want to go to the flume.”

  “Why?” Courtney asked.

  “We’ll bring some of our clothes to leave there.”

  “But nobody told us they needed clothes,” Courtney countered.

  “I know. Just thinking ahead.”

  “That’s just an excuse to go there, isn’t it?” Courtney asked.

  Mark didn’t argue. “I guess I just want to see it again. To prove it’s real.”

  “I hear you,” Courtney said. “I do too.”

  When they got off the train, they both went home and gathered up a bunch of clothes they thought a Traveler from some distant territory might need on a visit to Second Earth. That’s what acolytes did. They supported the Travelers on their mission to protect Halla. Courtney picked out a bunch of simple, functional things like jeans, T-shirts, a sweater, socks, hiking boots, and underwear. She debated about bringing one of her bras, but figured that was overkill. Mark gathered up a bunch of clothes that were totally out of style. It wasn’t like he had a choice. That’s all he had. He found sweatshirts with logos that meant nothing, no-name jeans, and generic sneakers. Style was not something Mark concerned himself with. He hoped the Travelers felt the same way.

  Mark brought one extra item, but hoped he wouldn’t need it. It was the sharp poker from his parents’ fireplace. It was a woefully inadequate weapon to deal with an attacking quig-dog, but it was all he could find.

  Shortly after, Mark and Courtney met at the iron gates in front of the empty Sherwood house. They silently walked around to the side and climbed the tree to get over the high stone wall that surrounded the spooky, abandoned estate. Once over, Mark held the fireplace poker out in front of him, ready to ward off a rampaging quig. Mark’s hand was shaking like warm Jell-O, so Courtney gently took the weapon from him. If either of them had a chance of fighting off a charging quig, it would be Courtney.

  Luckily they didn’t run into any of the yellow-eyed beasts. They made it through the big empty mansion, down into the basement, and into the root cellar that held the newly created flume. No problem. They emptied their backpacks and neatly folded the clothes in a pile. Courtney looked at some of the geek clothes Mark brought, and chuckled.

  “Oh yeah, Bobby’s gonna blend right in wearing a bright yellow sweatshirt with a red logo that says, ‘Cool Dude!”

  “Give me a break,” Mark said defensively. “It’s my favorite sweatshirt.”

  Courtney shook her head in disbelief. When they were finished, they both gazed into the dark tunnel to the territories. The flume. They stood together, each with his/her own thoughts as to what the future might hold.

  “I’m scared and excited at the same time,” Mark said.

  “Really,” Courtney added. “I want to be part of this, but it’s scary not knowing what to expect.”

  “Can you imagine being a Traveler?” Mark asked while stepping into the mouth of the tunnel.

  “Well, no,” Courtney answered, “to be honest.”

  “Well, I’ve thought about it a lot!” Mark declared. “It would be awesome, stepping into a flume and announcing the next amazing place you’d like to go.”

  “It’s pretty unbelievable,” Courtney agreed.

  “Look at this thing!” Mark said, scanning the flume. “It’s kinda like having a jet fighter.”

  “It is?” Courtney asked with a chuckle.

  “Yeah. You know what it’s capable of, but have no idea what to do to make it go.”

  “It’s not all that hard,” Courtney said. “If you’re a Traveler.”

  Mark smiled, turned to face the dark tunnel, and shouted out, “Eelong!”

  He looked back to Courtney and said, “Could you imagine

  if—”

  “Mark!” Courtney shouted.

  Mark saw the terrified look on Courtney’s face. She was looking past him, deeper into the flume. Mark spun quickly and saw something he thought was impossible.

  The flume was coming to life.

  Mark jumped out of the tunnel and ran to Courtney. The two backed away toward the far wall of the root cellar, hugging each other in fear.

  “D-Did I do that?” Mark asked.

  “Or is somebody coming?” Courtney added.

  The light appeared from the depths of the tunnel. The musical notes were faint at first but quickly grew louder. The rocky walls began to crackle and groan. They had seen all this before, but only when the flume was activated by a Traveler. Never, ever had a flume been activated by a non-Traveler—until now.

  “I-I don’t really want to go to Eelong,” Mark cried. Courtney held him tighter, ready to hold him back if he got pulled in by the power of the flume.

  The gray walls of the tunnel melted into glorious crystal as the bright light and sound arrived at the mouth. Mark and Courtney didn’t dare put their hands in front of their eyes because they were too busy hanging on to each other. But neither felt the tug of the flume, because someone was headed their way. Through the bright light they saw a tall, dark silhouette appear and step out of the tunnel. Oddly, the sparkling light didn’t go away. The jangle of music stayed too. This had never happened before, at least not that Mark or Courtney knew. B
ut none of that mattered as much as the man who now stood facing them.

  It was Saint Dane. He had arrived on Second Earth. The two had never seen him before, but there was no mistaking the tall demon with the long gray hair, piercing blue eyes, and dark clothes.

  “And so it begins,” Saint Dane cackled. “The walls are beginning to crack. The power that once was, will no longer be. It is a whole new game, with new rules.”

  Saint Dane roared out a laugh. With a sudden burst of light from deep inside the flume, his hair caught fire! His long gray mane exploded in flames, burning right down to his skull. Mark and Courtney watched in horror as the flames reflected in his demonic eyes. Saint Dane laughed the whole while, as if enjoying it.

  Mark and Courtney didn’t move, except to tremble.

  The fire burned away all of Saint Dane’s hair, leaving him completely bald, with angry red streaks that looked like inflamed veins running from the back of his head to his forehead. His eyes had changed too. The steely blue color had gone nearly white.

  He fixed those intense eyes on the two new acolytes and smiled. He tossed a dirty, cloth bag at their feet.

  “A present for Pendragon,” Saint Dane hissed. “Be sure he gets it, won’t you?” Saint Dane took a step back into the light of the flume. “What was meant to be, is no longer,” he announced. With that, he began to transform. His body turned liquid as he leaned over to put his hands on the ground. At the same time his body mutated into that of a huge, jungle cat. It was the size of a lion. His coat was brown, but speckled with black spots. The big cat snarled at Mark and Courtney, and leaped into the flume. An instant later the light swept him up and disappeared into the depths. The music faded, the crystal walls returned to stone, and the light shrank to a pin spot.

  But it didn’t disappear entirely.

  Before Mark and Courtney could get their heads back together, the light began to grow again. The music became louder and the gray rock walls transformed back into crystal.

  “My brain is exploding,” Mark uttered.

  A second later the bright light flashed at the mouth of the tunnel to deposit another passenger before returning to its normal, dormant state.

 
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