Search Ebook here:


The Flames of Hope (Wings of Fire, Book 15)



The Flames of Hope (Wings of Fire, Book 15) PDF

Author: Tui T. Sutherland

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Genres:

Publish Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN-10: 1338214578

Pages: 368

File Type: Epub

Language: English

read download

Book Preface

The problem with belonging to a village that worshipped a big ominous hole in the ground is that holes in the ground tended to be very cryptic about their mystical instructions.

Messages from the deep didn’t arrive all that often, luckily, and they arrived even less often once the Leaders decided to abandon the Guardian of the Abyss. After all, if no one ever visited him and there were no more ceremonies, how could he (or the abyss, if you believed that part of it) demand anything?

Instead: pretend it’s not there, forbid any mention of it, ignore the whispers in the shadows, and maybe everyone would eventually forget about the big ominous hole that had ruled the village for centuries. That was the Leaders’ plan.

In principle, Raven agreed with the Leaders. She agreed that the abyss was creepy and that it was weird to worship a giant hole in the ground and that it wasn’t great to let that hole take a person to keep for itself every ten years. But it’s tradition! was not a good enough reason to go along with it, even after thousands of years; maybe especially after thousands of years.

If it had really been that long, that meant hundreds of humans had been swallowed up by the abyss. The great and wonderful ancestor who had agreed to this in the first place was long, long gone, and maybe he hadn’t ever done the math on how much sacrifice would be involved.

(That still felt a little blasphemous. Their ancestor had saved them all; he was perfect and could do no wrong! But maybe he could have made a better deal with the abyss, was all Raven was suggesting.)

So yes, she agreed with the Leaders. It was time to stop feeding the abyss. It was definitely time to stop giving it new Guardians. Vole could be the last one ever.

But abandoning the abyss and the whole practice of Abyss Worship was one thing; abandoning Vole himself was too hard and too sad. Once upon a time, Vole had been a normal person. He’d been Mole’s silly big brother: funny, charming, really good at climbing sheer rock faces. It wasn’t his fault that a green tentacle had reached out of the abyss and dragged him in during the Guardian Ceremony four years ago. No one could ever predict who the abyss would choose.

If Raven were a sinister chasm looking for someone’s brain to steal, she would have picked Quartz, who played ball-kicking games all day long and was extremely boring. Quartz could have become Guardian and sat beside the abyss all day staring into space, and it wouldn’t be all that different from how he was before.

Raven could have gone on with her life just fine if everyone decided to give up on Quartz. (She thought. Probably. Even that idea made her feel a little sick inside.)

But Vole … if there were a tiny part of him that was still himself in there, she didn’t want him to be alone. She didn’t want him to think she’d left him, like everyone else.

Mole was the only one still allowed to visit him, to bring him food; the Leaders couldn’t condemn Vole to starving to death. But no one else was supposed to go near him. At first, a few had tried to talk him into leaving the abyss and coming back to the village, and that had gone very poorly. The Leaders didn’t want anyone else to risk getting thrown into the chasm, so when Raven visited Vole, she had to do it in secret.

Which meant she had absolutely no one to tell when the Guardian gave her his terrifying instructions.

“Find the dragon. Bring it here. Or everyone you know will die.”

So, all right, first question: WHAT dragon? ANY dragon? Was Raven supposed to somehow find a specific particular dragon somewhere, deduce that that was the one the abyss wanted, and then … what, tie it up and haul it all the way down to the abyss? Did the abyss think she had superpowers?

How was a human supposed to make a dragon go anywhere?

And again: What dragon?! Saying “THE dragon” sounded nastily specific. The abyss wasn’t like, “Bring me A dragon,” as in, “any one will do.”

But if it did want a particular dragon, it needed to give her something to work with. A color, for starters, would be great. How many wings? Big or small? Alive or dead?

Ha ha ha, as if Raven could kill a dragon, whether the abyss wanted her to or not.

In any case, the abyss had not deigned to answer any of these questions. Vole had continued to stare intently over the edge into darkness, ignoring her.

So after days of useless thinking and a few unsuccessful experiments, Raven had done the only possible thing: she’d dragged Mole into her problem.

She found him alone at one of the cave lakes, knocked him over, and sat on him before he could run away.

“Don’t be mad,” she started.

“Gah, nooooo.” Mole gripped his face with his hands. “Raven! How about: don’t do things that MAKE people mad!”

“I didn’t do this!” she protested. “I swear! I mean.” She squinted up at the ceiling. “That is, I did a thing that might make you mad, but the actual problem I have to tell you about is not my fault! Seriously!”

“Can you tell me one without telling me the other?” he asked.

She thought for a minute. Mole lay still on the stone floor underneath her, his fishing net dropped nearby, his arms propped behind his head. He was a little judgmental and too much of a rule follower, but he was smart and still usually the most agreeable person Raven knew.

“Hypothetically,” she said, “if you really needed to get a dragon from one place to another, how would you do it?”

He stared into her eyes. Finally he said, “What.”

“Imagine there’s a dragon,” she said, “and you need it to go somewhere pretty specific, and you would prefer to not get eaten on the way. What would you do? Specifically.”

“Raven,” he said. “When you say somewhere pretty specific, do you mean the abyss?”

“Who said anything about the abyss?” she flailed. “I didn’t, why did you, nobody said — hey, wait. What happened to the rules?! You said abyss, not me! It wasn’t me this time!”

(The rules:

Nobody mentions the abyss.

Nobody goes near the abyss.

Everyone pretends the abyss does not exist anymore.

Everyone acts like they hear absolutely zero whispers and feel zero weirdness coming from the creepy big dark hole.)

Mole rubbed his face again and gently pushed her off him. He sat up and buried his hands in his hair. “If you’re talking about what I think you’re talking about, Vole said the same thing to me.”

“He did?” Raven poked him in the arm. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Why would I? We’re not supposed to talk about the abyss, remember? I’m not even allowed to mention Vole. How could I tell anyone he’s given me a weird abyss message? You definitely shouldn’t somehow know about it already!” He sighed. “Raven. How did you … ?” He trailed off.

“I visit him sometimes,” she mumbled. She pulled one of the knives out of her boots and stabbed it into a crack in the floor. “I don’t get too close. I just … sit nearby and talk to him.”

When she looked up, she was startled by Mole’s expression. It wasn’t mad at all. He looked like he was about to burst into tears.

“Don’t be weird about it!” she cried. “I feel bad for him! I know he’s not really there anymore, but I still kind of keep waiting to see if he is. I can’t help it. I’m an idiot; I know that.”

“You are, but so am I,” Mole admitted. “So he gave you the same message?”

“Find the dragon, bring it to the abyss?” Raven sighed as he nodded. “How can we possibly do that, Mole?”

“Do you think we have to? Could we ignore him?”

“My message ended on a pretty clear ‘or everyone you know will die’ note,” she said. “Which also wasn’t very specific, but I can imagine how a possessed Guardian and an abyss full of green tentacles might go about killing everyone.”

“On the other hand, I don’t want to make the dragons mad either,” Mole said. “I’m guessing we need one from that big group that settled in the caves last month. But if we somehow did steal one of their dragons, wouldn’t that make the rest all furious and vengeful? I don’t know about you, but I don’t love the idea of living in a cave system with hundreds of angry dragons. That sounds even worse than an angry abyss.”

“So we have to be clever about it,” Raven suggested. “I was thinking we skip over the problem of which dragon it wants, and see whether we can get any dragon there. My first thought was to let one of them see me and hope it’s hungry enough to chase me to the abyss.”

“Oh, wow,” Mole said. “Terrible, terrible plan. I hate it very much.”

“More terrible than you realize,” she said. “Only, like, two or three of the dragons in that group are hunters. I can’t get any of the colorful four-wing ones to chase me.”

“You’ve tried?” he said, looking at her aghast.

“Of course I’ve tried,” she said. “I’ve tried lots of things! I wouldn’t bother you without trying everything I could think of first. The colorful dragons are not interested in me at all. I can dance under their noses, and the worst they’ll do is sniff me. I could get the big green dopey one to chase me, but that’s risky. He’s really determined. I don’t want him to accidentally find the village.”

“Right,” he said. “We should definitely avoid that.”

“What have you tried so far?” she asked.

“Um,” he said. “Worrying? I’ve tried every variety of worrying.”

“That’s my best friend,” she said, punching his shoulder affectionately. “Doing the hard stuff so I don’t have to.”

“Ha ha. What have you done besides volunteer as dragon snack?”

She made a face. “I looked for treasure. Dragons like shiny things, right? That’s what the storybooks say. I thought maybe if I made, like, a trail of diamonds, some dragon might follow it all the way to the abyss.”

“That’s … a lot of diamonds.”

“I know! There’s no way I can surreptitiously gather that much treasure. I tried prying ONE teeny-tiny diamond out of the wall in the Salvation Tunnel and Mom caught me and I got in SO MUCH TROUBLE. You have no idea.”

“The week I didn’t see you?” he guessed, and she shrugged. He knew her parents; solitary confinement was their usual punishment for everything.

“So what else can we do? Any ideas?” she asked. “There’s that flower juice the doctors use to make people sleep during surgeries … what if I somehow got a lot of that and gave it to a dragon?”

Maybe you could trick a dragon into eating something so it fell asleep,” Mole said pensively. “But then you’d have to figure out how to MOVE A GIANT SLEEPING DRAGON, Raven.”

“Yes, all right, that’s where the plan fell apart in my head, too,” she said. “Unless … wheelbarrows? Pulleys? Hypnotize the whole village and have them carry it for me? OK, fine, too hard.”

“What about some kind of message for the dragons?” he suggested. “Like a drawing — a map to the abyss — with a picture of a big pile of treasure IN the abyss?”

Raven laughed despite herself. “We might end up luring the dumbest dragon in the history of the world,” she said. “La la la, what’s this lying here on the floor? A map! To treasure! This doesn’t seem suspicious at all! Off I go, dum de dum, along this trail to get my pile of diamonds. This is completely normal.”

“Your imaginary dragon sounds way too human,” Mole protested. “I’d be more worried that dragons wouldn’t know what a map is, let alone how to follow one.”

“You don’t watch them enough,” Raven pointed out. “They are definitely smart enough to read maps, and too smart to fall for a fake one.”

“Next you’ll be telling me they have feelings like us, too,” he said. “As though there are dragons who care about their brothers or something.” He glanced sideways at her. “Or dragons who would do anything for their best friends.”

Her hand stilled on her knife. Wait … dragons with feelings …

If any dragons had feelings, it was probably those rainbow-colored butterfly-looking ones. Maybe they did care about one another like humans did, more or less, and if so, maybe she could use that.

Maybe this was how they could trick a dragon — by finding its most human weakness.

“Raven,” Mole said as she tucked her knife back into her boot. She met his eyes and smiled ruefully at him. He was wearing his “rules are rules and what am I going to do with you” face, which usually meant a lecture was coming.

But then he said, “I know I should be mad you broke the rules to see Vole, but … Raven, I’m so glad I finally have someone I can talk to about this.”

She felt little cracks spreading across her heart. Mole had been all alone with this secret, just like she had. He’d thought the fate of the village and everyone’s lives rested entirely on his own thin shoulders. Poor Mole, when he already had so much to deal with, between being Vole’s sole caretaker and the only remaining son and heir of the Leaders.

She put one arm around him, and he rested his head against hers. “We’ll figure this out together,” she promised. “You don’t have to do it alone. I have a new idea.”

“Uh-oh,” he said, and they both laughed. He reached across her and took her free hand in both of his.

“Raven — why do you think the abyss is asking for a dragon now, after all this time?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “That seems like the dragon’s problem, not mine.”

“It’s one of the things I’ve been worrying about,” he said. “Like … if the abyss is angry, is it a good idea to give it a dragon? What is it going to do to the dragon?”

And if dragons have feelings like humans, Raven thought, well … I wouldn’t want to be given to a sinister abyss.

“Is this any better than the Guardian Ceremony?” Mole said quietly.

“Do we have a choice?” Raven asked. “Won’t the whole village be in danger if we don’t do what Vole says?”

Mole frowned, and Raven instinctively reached to rub his temple the way his brother used to.

“Listen, whatever’s going on with the abyss and the dragons, maybe this will fix it,” she said. “Maybe this will make the abyss focus on the dragons and leave us alone. Maybe —” Her breath caught in her throat for a moment. “Maybe if we give it a dragon, it will give us back Vole, the way he used to be.”

Mole sat up with a gasp and stared at her. “Do you think so?”

“I don’t know. Don’t get your hopes up. But we can ask, can’t we?”

He nodded, his eyes drifting toward the lake. “Right. And it’s only one dragon.” He let out a long breath. “I hope we’re doing the right thing.”


Download EbookRead NowFile TypeUpload Date
downloadreadEpubApril 8, 2022

Do you like this book? Please share with your friends, let's read it !! :)

How to Read and Open File Type for PC ?