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The Secret of Spellshadow Manor 5: The Test

Bella Forrest

Nightlight

Copyright © 2017 by Bella Forrest

Nightlight

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Epilogue

Read more by Bella Forrest

Chapter 1

Alex reached up cautiously to touch the soft feathers on the side of the Thunderbird’s face. She cooed, pressing her head into his hand.

“How am I supposed to ride you?” he asked her, picturing his ancestor Leander on the back of his warbird, Tempest. Thunderbirds could definitely be ridden, he knew that much, but there was no saddle, no manual, no obvious way of hopping aboard and hanging on. The last thing he wanted was to go plummeting to his death from a lofty height; he already had enough dangers ahead of and behind him. Caius hadn’t seemed to be in a good state when Alex had made his escape, but the warden was crafty, and it was possible that the old man, or the specters that had surrounded him, would be following close behind.

The Thunderbird chirruped, as if in response, distracting him from dark thoughts of ghoulish beings.

“Sorry, girl, I don’t speak bird,” he muttered, scratching the spot between her eyes. It seemed to please her, as her sleek feathers bristled.

A vivid thought flashed into the forefront of his mind, like a picture playing on a screen. It didn’t seem to belong to his own train of thought. Alex turned, feeling as if he were being watched. In the shadow of a nearby overhang, he saw a glint of something. The shape wasn’t easy to make out, with the wind whipping around him, stinging his eyes, but it was enough to make him suspicious.

More thoughts followed, bombarding his mind like artillery fire. Each flash, each pop, forced another vision that didn’t feel like his own into his head. They were suggestions, almost, of how he might go about climbing onboard the Thunderbird. Some seemed simple, no more difficult than getting on a horse, but when he tried to just hop on, he slipped backwards, almost toppling off the edge of the mountainside. The throb of his injured ankle had dimmed to a slight ache, making his attempts less painful than he’d expected, but her regal feathers were extremely slippery, and he wasn’t sure how or where he was supposed to sit. She didn’t seem to know either, though she helped him as best she could, nudging him this way and that.

A more complex idea flooded his mind, involving an elaborate feat of gymnastics; he had to wrap his arms around her neck and let her tip him backwards onto her back, the wrong way around. It felt like a joke, but he didn’t have many other options.

Alex interlocked his arms around her neck, and she tipped him over with her head. Instead of a graceful landing, he ended up sliding straight off, hitting the ground face-first.

From the shadows of the overhang, he thought he heard someone cackling, but it might’ve just been the wind.

Dusting himself off and checking for any broken bones or further injuries, Alex decided that complex approaches weren’t going to work. He lay his palm flat again, and the Thunderbird eyed him curiously. There was something in the cooperative gesture that intrigued him, and he wondered if that could be the key to getting on her back. She seemed to brighten when he let her press her beak to the center of his hand. It was like permission, almost, as she rested lower on her haunches, her back sloping to make it easier for him to get on.

“I guess I should have asked if it was okay first,” he apologized, maintaining contact with the feathers of her neck as he walked around the side of her. It was a clumsy mount, his legs getting stuck between the folds of her wings, the bird chirping her irritation as he grasped and grappled to try to stay on.

He could feel himself sliding backwards again, but didn’t want to hold on too tightly to her feathers in case he hurt her. However, he wasn’t sure how successful simply clinging to her neck for dear life would be—it didn’t seem particularly efficient, or particularly heroic.

He tried and tried again, slipping backwards each time. He tried to grip tighter with his legs, but to no avail. He tried to hold her neck, but he couldn’t see anything with his face buried in her feathers—if he did that, he’d be flying blind. It was no good, and with each failed attempt, he could feel his frustrations growing. The bird beneath him seemed agitated too. Finally, just as he was about to slide backwards for the hundredth time, Alex grasped at two bunches of feathers, gripping them tightly in a vain attempt to stop himself falling to the ground.

She shrieked, bucking wildly, throwing him off.

He felt a wave of dread as he lost his grip on her feathers, his body soaring backwards through the air. He hit the rocky ledge, his hands scrabbling for something to hold onto, but the ice made it too slippery and suddenly there was no more rock to grab for, only open, endless air as he plummeted down the sheer drop of the mountainside. The air rushed around him, and he flailed violently, trying to get enough of his faculties together to conjure his way out of this mess and use his travel techniques—but the panic made it nearly impossible for him to focus his mind. The sharp rocks rising up to meet him flooded his thoughts

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