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Spirit Animals: Book 3: Blood Ties

Spirit Animals: Book 3: Blood Ties

Author: Garth Nix and Sean Williams

Publisher: Scholastic Inc


Publish Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN-10: 0545522455

Pages: 192

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

THE BAMBOO ROSE ABOVE MEILIN, FAR ABOVE, BLOCKING OUT the sun and casting deep shadows on the intersection of two narrow paths below. Meilin stopped and glared at yet another crossroad in the Great Bamboo Maze, yet another choice of ways. She did not want to admit, not even to herself, that she had gone wrong somewhere several miles back and was now hopelessly lost.

It had seemed like such a good idea when she first thought of reaching Zhong through the Maze. The bamboo forest had been specially grown as a defense where the Wall did not run, and only selected messengers and senior officials knew the secret ways through the miles and miles of fifty-foot-high bamboo. Meilin’s father, General Teng, knew the secrets, of course, and long ago he had told Meilin how to get through from the Northern Entrance.

“Always turn left the first ten times,” whispered Meilin to herself. “Then ten turns always right, then left, right, left, left, left, left, right, right, right.”

But she had followed those instructions and had not found herself on the other side of the Maze. Even worse, she had counted on getting through in the single day it was supposed to take. The leather bottle of water she had filled from a stream at the entrance, plus two rice cakes should have been easily enough to sustain her.

Now it was the morning of the third day. Her water bottle was empty and the rice cakes were distant memories. This, coming at the end of a week’s long trek by boat and caravan across Eura, often smuggled away in dusty crates and rat-infested holds, left her feeling frustrated at her failure, as well as hungry and thirsty. Only the distant hope that her father might still be alive, and that she might somehow live long enough to find him, kept her from giving up.

Angrily, Meilin struck the stem of the nearest bamboo with her quarterstaff, the blow so powerful that it cracked the four-inch-thick bole. The bamboo fell among its fellows, but there were so many it might never have been there in the first place. There was nothing but impossibly tall bamboo all around, the narrow path, the sun high above.

For the first time, Meilin thought she might actually die in the Maze. The daughter of General Teng, to die of thirst in a bamboo forest! It was unbearable!

An itch on her forearm diverted Meilin’s thoughts. She slid up her sleeve and looked at the tattoo of a sleepy panda. She had kept her spirit animal, Jhi, in her dormant state in the Great Bamboo Maze, fearing the panda would hold her back. Now that was the least of Meilin’s concerns.

“Come on, then!” ordered Meilin. “Come out and do something useful. Maybe you could eat a way through the bamboo for me!”

There was a flash of light and sudden movement. A furry weight pressed into her side as Jhi appeared and leaned against her, pushing her against the closest stand of bamboo, making it shake.

“Hey, watch it,” protested Meilin. She felt something touch her face, and thinking it an insect, brushed it aside, only to feel more of whatever it was land on her hand. She looked up and saw delicate white flowers falling from the tips of the bamboo high above, like tiny warm snowflakes.

Bamboo flowers.

Meilin had never seen bamboo flowers before. She knew the plants only flowered once every fifty or sixty or even a hundred years, and then they died. All the bamboo plants, all at once.

“The Maze is dying,” she whispered, staring up at the tops of the bamboo. Every stand of bamboo she could see was flowering. In a week or two, the bamboo would begin to dry out, crack, and fall. Before that, the floor of the forest would be covered in flowers, attracting great hordes of rats and other animals to this once-in-a-century feast…………………….

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Epub June 1, 2016

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