Note: For the uninitiated, I am blogging an entire novel I wrote when I was much younger. For an explanation of the project and the earlier chapters, look through my archives to catch up on the story.
Bloodcurdle’s directions were surprisingly accurate. By following the groan and walking straight ahead, Jordan came upon the wizard’s manor in a few moments time.
The manor was four stories high and appeared to be a tottering, crumbling wreck. However, there was a sense of hidden power beneath the frame that convinced Jordan the house would last for ages to come. Lights flickered from many of the oval-shaped windows. Black smoke drifted from several chimneys on the sloping roof.
With some shock, Jordan saw that it wasn’t black smoke at all. Instead, black clouds were spouting from the chimney and taking their own unnatural place in the sky. Shudder was creating the whole terrible storm right out of the manor house!
Surrounding the entire manor was a moat filled with quicksand. Statues of various ugly and unidentifiable creatures frolicked on the black grass of the property. The whole area was encased in a dreamlike shoal of fog and mist.
Jordan gathered up all his courage and headed toward the manor. As the foggy mist swirled around him, he started to perspire. Soon his arms and legs were shaking. He could feel his heartbeat quickening in his chest. All the fur on his body stood on end. He had a sudden urge to take off running without looking back. For some unknown reason, he felt totally terrified.
He was losing control! His teeth were chattering. He looked down at himself. There was a tinge of white along his whole body. His fur was turning white!
Beware the mist! Bloodcurdle’s warning flashed through Jordan’s head. There was something in the mist that was having this effect on him.
Jordan took a deep breath and held it. The fear was still there, but the world swam back into focus. He ran desperately through the mist, thinking of Karen for strength, and didn’t stop until he reached the edge of the moat.
Jordan exhaled. Everything felt okay. He could breathe again.
Now he faced another problem. The quicksand moat was only five feet wide, but pressed directly against the side of the house. Once a person was across it, there was nowhere to stand on the other side.
If that wasn’t enough, there were no doors or windows on the first floor of the building. The nearest window was fifteen feet up, and there were no handholds or stairs anywhere. The only choice seemed to be the dozens of vines which grew wildly over the walls of the manor house. Jordan knew that none of them could support his one hundred and twenty pounds without breaking.
Except he didn’t weigh one hundred and twenty pounds now. He was a small monkey. Whatever he weighed had to be a great deal less than that. The vines would hold his weight easily.
All he had to do was leap the boat and grab one of the vines. Then he could climb up to the window and get inside. It was his only chance.
With a running start, Jordan leapt over the moat and grabbed hold of one of the vines with his nimble little fingers. The vine jerked for one second and then held fast. He’d done it!
The climb wasn’t as easy. As Jordan had discovered when swinging in the trees, he hadn’t the instinct or natural skills of a monkey. While he was able to climb, it was slow going and he nearly lost his grip several times. He also chose a few vines that had trouble supporting even a monkey’s weight. They shook dangerously and sounded as if they were creaking.
The quicksand was getting Jordan nervous as well. It was talking.
“Is there somebody up there?” the quicksand blurbled. “My eyesight’s not what it used to be.”
“Shut up,” chittered Jordan the monkey.
“Come and drop in,” cajoled the quicksand. “I haven’t had a good meal in ages. I’m starving.”
It went on and on in the same vein, and got on Jordan’s nerves a great deal.
Finally, Jordan was able to reach the lowest window. There was no barrier of any kind to block the way. He simply pulled his legs up over the edge and pulled himself inside.
He’d conquered Malevolent Manor.