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       Ambush, p.1

           Obert Skye
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  © 2012 Obert Skye.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher, Shadow Mountain®. The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of Shadow Mountain.

  All characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  Visit us at

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Skye, Obert, author.

  Ambush / Obert Skye.

  pages cm.

  Sequel to: Choke.

  Summary: Beck, Kate, and Wyatt thought they had finished hatching dragons from stones but when they are proved wrong, Beck must decide if acting on the inherited Pillage family traits will gain him what he really wants.

  ISBN 978-1-60908-891-0 (hardbound : alk. paper)

  1. Magic—Fiction. 2. Dragons—Fiction. 3. Blessing and cursing— Fiction. 4. Eccentrics and eccentricities—Fiction. 5. Young adult fiction, American. [1. Dragons—Fiction. 2. Magic—Fiction. 3. Blessing and

  cursing—Fiction. 4. Eccentrics and eccentricities—Fiction. 5. Uncles—

  Fiction.] I. Title.

  PZ7.S62877Amb 2012

  [Fic]—dc23 2011032672

  Printed in the United States of America

  R. R. Donnelley, Crawfordsville, IN

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  For Krista

  Words may fail me, but you never do

  Sure, it might not have been the wisest thing to say, but it was honest. I had said my piece, now it was time to just sit still and appear remorseful.

  My father, Aeron, looked at me and closed his eyes. He opened them back up, and his head bobbled slightly. I could almost feel the tongue- lashing I was about to receive. I held my hand up in front of my face, preparing for the sharp words that were about to rain down.

  “Beck, you must plant that stone,” he whispered fearlessly.

  I put my hand down and looked around.

  “What?” I asked, not believing for a moment what I was hearing. It was no tongue-lashing, but it was almost equally frightening.

  “The stone,” he said urgently. “You must plant it.”

  “I can’t . . .”

  “You don’t understand,” he interrupted. “You must. None of this will change until that last stone is planted and this is finished.”

  I’ll be honest; I had not seen the conversation going this way. And in that same spirit of honesty, I’ll admit I wasn’t disappointed about it.

  “Plant that stone,” he said.

  I was nothing if not obedient.

  Table of Contents

  It's All Too Much

  I've Just Seen a Face


  I Want to Tell You

  Every Little Thing

  A Really Hard Day's Night

  Please, Mister Policeman

  Ask Me Why


  There's a Place

  Wanna Know a Secret?

  Please, Please Me

  I Should Have Known Better

  I Will

  Slow Down

  Carry That Weight

  Act Naturally

  Any Time at All

  Tell Me Why

  For No One

  The Long, Winding Road

  The Fool on the Hill

  You Can't Do That

  What Goes On


  I'm a Loser


  I Don't Want to Spoil the Prom

  I'll Cry Instead

  Let It Be

  The End

  Other Books by Obert Skye

  Chapter 1

  It’s All Too Much

  The mood inside the room was heavy. Kate held the stone in her hands as if it were a baby made of brittle glass. Streaks of new moon slipped through the windows of the manor and painted the room in shades of gray and shadow. The rock she held shimmered lightly, and Kate appeared prettier than I was willing to admit. Her red hair hung forward and down over the stone as she gazed at it with her deep blue eyes.

  “This is the last one?” she asked.

  “The very last,” I replied.

  Wyatt stood next to me, breathing slowly. His dark hair and stout build made him look tougher than I knew he was. Wyatt had been one of my worst enemies when I had arrived in Kingsplot. Now, however, we were friends. He was still annoying at times, but I liked him. Kate, Wyatt, and I had been through plenty in the last little while and now there was just one more thing we needed to take care of before I could breathe easier.

  “Are you sure we shouldn’t keep it?” Wyatt asked, his green eyes wide. “We can just lock it up. I mean what harm can it cause locked up in my room?”

  “Are you nuts?” Kate whispered. “You’ve seen what the other stones have grown. Who knows what kind of dragon this last one holds?”

  I stared at the six-inch-long, oval-shaped, marbled stone. It was gray with ribbons of white and gold running through it. I sighed, knowing that if I wanted I could take it, plant it, and bring something otherworldly to life—something I could use to pillage and stake claim to the spoils my ancestors had gotten rich on. Of course, the last dragon I had grown had almost killed me and Kate. And the ones before that had torn apart the town of Kingsplot. Still, despite the danger dragons were capable of producing, the thought of holding onto the stone was tempting.

  “Don’t even think about it,” Kate insisted. “You have to get rid of it.”

  “I know,” I said defensively. “Besides, I’m tired of getting beat up by every bush and plant around here.”

  My family had some sort of weird control over things that grew. Plants and vegetation seemed to respond and grow for us in ways that they normally didn’t do. I could make leaves float and trees move, and, of course, with the right stones I could even grow dragons. But lately Mother Nature was beating the life out of me. Every tree I passed pinched me. Bushes reached out to trip me. The lawns in front of the manor had found ways of bubbling up and knocking me to the ground where they would give me wicked grass burns. I was convinced that the only way for the beatings to stop was to let go of this last stone.

  We tried to break the rock up with a hammer, but no luck. We then dropped it off the side of a huge cliff, but it still didn’t break. It was proving to be indestructible. We considered mailing it somewhere far off, but we couldn’t be sure where it would ultimately end up. Wyatt wanted to pitch it into a lake or river, but I knew that in time it would wash up into the wrong hands.

  So, we had turned to the manor for the solution.

  The Pillage manor was a seven-story stone wonder. It was not only my home, but it was a place of great mystery and many secrets. There were passages behind walls, and tunnels under its foundation. Mysterious doors were walled up, and bits of the floor had compartments and stairs quietly tucked beneath them. I had found dumbwaiters that seemed to go nowhere and cabinets and holes that were all wallpapered or bricked over.

  I loved the manor.

  Two weeks ago I had found a dusty, dark chute in one of the unused utility rooms on the bottom floor. I had been exploring the manor and noticed it hidden in a dark corner behind piles of old junk. It was just one more find in the line of cool things the manor was hiding.

  Wyatt and I had dropped a few things down it and could hear no bottom. We had thrown sticks down and even lowered an old rope, but we still couldn’t feel or sense any end to the hole. There was also no sign of it on the floor below, and the part of the basement it would have gone through was still packed with dirt. What it really was, was a mystery, but I figured it would be the perfect place to drop the stone. I knew it would be next to im
possible to reach it again once it had been released. I also liked the idea that I would still know where it was. I wouldn’t have to worry about it being found by someone else, and it was only fitting that the manor would be its gravestone.

  Kate handed me the rock. It glowed like a weak light bulb in my hands.

  “Maybe that stone grows a good dragon,” Wyatt said, making one last attempt to stop me from getting rid of it.

  “I don’t think so,” Kate said sadly.

  I pulled open the chute door and looked down into the dark hole.

  “I’m not sure I want to do this,” I whispered softly.

  “You have to,” Kate whispered back.

  Since moving to Kingsplot I had changed drastically. The old me would have never gone along with something just because it was the right thing to do. But I knew I had to do this because lately life was just too much and it felt as if putting this stone to rest would help things calm down.

  “What if there’s an animal or something down there?” I asked ridiculously.

  “There’s no animal down there,” Kate said kindly. “Drop the rock.”

  Wyatt looked away. I reached out and tried to drop the rock. I guess my palms were kind of sweaty because it wouldn’t leave my hands. I pulled it back in and put it on the ground. After wiping my hands dry on my shirt, I picked the stone up again. I was wondering if the stone would allow me to drop it, or if it would come up with some other way so that I wouldn’t let it go.

  Wyatt leaned in closer to see what the holdup was. He bumped me, and the stone bobbled in my hands for a few seconds and then—as we watched in slow motion—it fell to the ground and rolled to the rim of the chute. It hung there for a second or two and then . . . dropped over the edge. Someone yelped; it might have been me. We could hear it scrape and bang the sides of the metal chute as it descended far below. The fading sound continued for some time before it grew too faint to hear any longer. All three of us just stood there in silence, staring at the open mouth of the dark chute. I think we were all waiting for the chute to belch the stone back up. After a few minutes of nothing, I sighed.

  “I feel awful,” I admitted.

  Kate put her arm around me. Her red hair brushed up against my right ear, and I could hear her breathing softly. She smelled like something much more becoming than a musty old manor.

  “I’m impressed,” she said kindly. “You got rid of it.”

  I wasn’t going to quibble about the technicalities that it sort of dropped in the chute without my help. My mind raced as I tried to think of another time when Kate had actually been impressed with me. I mean I knew she liked me, but impressed?

  “Really?” I asked. “You’re impressed?”

  “Slightly,” she said while kissing me on the cheek. “I know that wasn’t easy.”

  “Come on,” Wyatt complained. “Do you two mind knocking that off until I’m not around?”

  I closed the top of the chute and snapped the latch. The three of us then left the room slowly, foolishly thinking that we would never have to worry about stones or dragons again.

  Chapter 2

  I’ve Just Seen a Face

  Heaving and coughing, the yellow bus inched along the cobblestone road like a caterpillar with stiff joints and a rumbling belly. It swerved to avoid an old man walking an even older dog along the side of the road. All of us swayed to the right and then swayed back into place, jiggling like springs. A few students complained about being jostled, but not me, it was the first exciting thing that had happened all day. I looked at Kate as she sat next to me on the bus seat.

  “We’re almost there,” she said as if I needed to hear it.

  “Great,” I replied. “I’m trying not to be too excited.”

  Kate ignored my perfectly good sarcasm and turned to gaze out one of the side windows. Through the windshield I could see the two other school buses moving in front of us. Like ours, they were filled with students who were all on their way to a museum.

  “Look on the bright side, Beck,” Kate replied. “It’s nice to be out of our school and enjoying the weather.”

  Kate had ignored my sarcasm, so now I ignored hers. The weather in Kingsplot today was like the weather yesterday, and most likely the weather tomorrow—misty, with a chance of more mist and prolonged gloom. The sun was up there somewhere, but it was anyone’s guess when it might actually man up and step out from behind the clouds to show itself.

  “Did you bring a camera?” Kate asked.

  “Why would I need a camera?” I asked honestly. “It’s a museum. I’m pretty sure seeing everything once will be plenty. It’s a field trip, not a memorable event.”

  The field trip I was talking about had been a surprise to all of us. Last week Professor Squall had told our class that if we all caught up on our work we would be rewarded. So the entire class had worked as hard as we could. Then yesterday he informed us that the reward was a field trip to the town museum—and most of our class felt ripped off. True, a few of the kids tried to act excited, but they all had a reputation for being kiss-ups.

  “I was hoping the reward involved food,” I said. “Or early release from school, or maybe a new car.”

  “You get to ride on a bus next to me,” Kate said, smiling.

  I told her she needed to work on being more humble.

  I don’t know why I was bothered about the field trip. It’s not like I would prefer to be sitting in my classroom. Besides I had positive things to think about. There was only one more month until summer break, I was getting straight B’s, I had turned seventeen a couple of weeks earlier, and I hadn’t done anything to mess up too badly since the last time I had messed up.

  “Remember the dragons?” I whispered to Kate, thinking back to one of my many messes.

  “Of course,” she whispered back.

  I looked at the other students on the bus and wondered why nobody ever mentioned the pillage now. The town of Kingsplot was weird. It seemed that there was something about the air that made people’s minds foggy. It amazed me that people didn’t discuss daily the pillaging that had taken place well over a year ago. The magic and misty air of the Hagen Valley seemed to be wiping most people’s brains clean. Occasionally someone would point at me and say, “You.” But that was the worst of it anymore. No reporters came around, and the outside world either had lost interest and written it off as a hoax, or didn’t acknowledge it, or had forgotten.

  At the moment the town of Kingsplot was almost completely put back together. Buildings that had been damaged once again looked like their old stodgy selves. Roses grew on brick walls and along the cobblestone streets, looking like they always had. Any new construction already seemed to look old and weathered and as nonglamorous as any place could appear. People went about their business as if there were no reason to stop and marvel at what had once happened in their simple lives, as if their minds were determined to forget the past and move slowly and quaintly into the future.

  “Look at that cloud,” Kate said, pointing out the side window. “It looks like Lizzy.”

  The Lizzy Kate was referring to was the dragon we had most recently raised. The long white cloud did look like Lizzy with her wings spread out and her long tail whipping behind her. The head wasn’t exactly right, but I could clearly see the resemblance. The real Lizzy had been majestic and intoxicating. Her presence had drawn us in like a strong magnet. Her skin was opalescent and shimmered like the edge of a strong dream. We had fallen in love with her, but in the end she changed and attempted to kill everyone I loved. It had taken everything we had to stop her. It had been just over two months now since Lizzy had died. The parts of the Pillage manor and garage that had been damaged were put back together, and life was carrying on in the slow, wet fashion of everyday Kingsplot.

  The yellow school bus pulled to a stop right behind the two other buses and next to the curb directly in front of the museum. The street we were on was sloped so as I stood up, I, along with everyone else, stumbled forward a
nd out the front door. As a good friend, I shoved Wyatt out the exit.

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