The Brimstone Key (Grey Griffins: The Clockwork Chronicles Series #1)by Derek Benz, J. S. Lewis
A brand new adventure starring The Grey Griffins!
A year ago, the Grey Griffins were just regular kids from Avalon, Minnesota. That was before they learned about the existence of evil fairies, werewolves, and other things that go bump in the night./b>
A brand new adventure starring The Grey Griffins!
A year ago, the Grey Griffins were just regular kids from Avalon, Minnesota. That was before they learned about the existence of evil fairies, werewolves, and other things that go bump in the night. Now they are monster-hunters, celebrated heroes, and allies to the legendary Templar knights-but even heroes have to go to school.
When the Griffins enroll at Iron Bridge Academy, a school to train young recruits in the fight against the forces of evil, they find themselves at the center of a whole new adventure. The Clockwork King, a Templar foe from days past, has returned to finish the plan he set in motion decades ago. A plot to steal the souls of changelings-humans infused with fairy blood and supernatural abilities-in order to power his army of clockwork war machines.
In The Brimstone Key, authors Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis deftly blend the mystical wonder of steampunk with magic and adventure to create an action-packed thrill ride.
Read an Excerpt
Grey Griffins: The Clockwork Chronicles #1: The Brimstone Key
By Benz, Derek
Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersCopyright © 2010 Benz, Derek
All right reserved.
IRON BRIDGE ACADEMY
THE UNMARKED PACKAGE
Max Sumner pedaled his bike through the quiet streets of Avalon, Minnesota, trying to shake the nightmare from his head. He had been awake all night, too frightened to go back to sleep. The only thing keeping him from taking a nap was the last summer meeting of the Secret Order of the Grey Griffins. Max didn’t want to be late.
With school starting on Monday, the four friends had decided to spend their last day of summer vacation reading comic books and watching movies in their secret headquarters—a tree fort that Max decided to call the Griffins’ Aerie. Over the last year, Max, Harley Eisenstein, Natalia Romanov, and Ernie Tweeny had faced everything from leprechauns to six-armed ogres, and just about every monster in between. Their adventures had brought them closer than ever, but they were about to embark on their most intriguing quest yet—the Grey Griffins were transferring to a new school.
Iron Bridge Academy was a private military school run by the Knights Templar. The curriculum was designed to train students to combat unseen forces from the darkest of nightmares. The academy had been shut down for nearly a century, following an explosion that destroyed most of the buildings. Now the doors were opening again.
There were only two ways to be admitted into a Templar academy. The first was through birthright, which Max possessed. The Templar also chose individuals from the general populace who had extraordinary talent, intellect, and ingenuity, so Harley, Natalia, and Ernie were extended invitations as well.
By the time Max reached the Old Woods, Harley was already waiting for him.
“What are you doing?” Max asked as he set his bike down. Harley had a screwdriver in one hand. In the other, he held a palm-sized device with its electrical guts exposed.
“Just making a couple of adjustments,” Harley replied as he replaced the casing and screwed it back together. “It’s a tracking device.”
Harley handed Max a metal chip and told him to put it in his pocket. Harley then twisted a dial on his invention, and the dark screen flickered to life. Two flashing green dots instantly appeared. “That’s us.”
“What about Natalia and Ernie?”
“I gave them ID chips this morning,” Harley replied. “According to this little gizmo, they should be here right about… now.”
Max turned to find the other two members of the Grey Griffins coasting down the gravel road on their bikes. Natalia’s red hair was woven into braids that flew behind her. Ernie’s vintage World War I Army helmet bounced on his head.
“I thought you were excited about transferring to Iron Bridge,” Max heard Natalia say.
“I was, but King’s Elementary is the last normal thing in our lives,” Ernie explained. “Once we leave that behind, it’ll be nothing but a bunch of rigid rules.”
“Come on, Ernie, you know that’s not true,” Max said. “We’re going to accomplish things that we never dreamed we could do.”
“And what about all the other changelings at the academy?” Harley added. “You’ll finally be able to put together your own team of superpowered humans. It’ll be like a real-life comic book.”
“I never fit in anywhere I go,” Ernie complained. “Trust me, Iron Bridge isn’t going to be any different—changelings or not.”
Natalia sighed. “Look, Ernie. According to Brooke, we’re kind of famous.”
“I’m serious. Everyone at Iron Bridge thinks we’re heroes because we helped defeat the Black Wolf Society.”
“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” Max warned. “Brooke may be exaggerating.”
Brooke Lundgren was the only honorary member of the Grey Griffins. The boys wanted to make her membership official, but Natalia wasn’t quite ready to share the spotlight with another girl. Brooke knew that Natalia didn’t mean anything by it. A close friend had betrayed Natalia, so it wasn’t easy for her to trust other girls. Besides, Brooke had her own troubles. Her dad, Baron Cain Lundgren, had been given the directorship of Iron Bridge Academy. He had a reputation for being strict, and Brooke hoped that the other students wouldn’t hold it against her.
“I knew it was too good to be true,” Ernie sulked.
“What if I told you that my mom stocked the fridge with tons of junk food last night? Would that get your mind off school for a little while?” Max asked.
The Aerie was constructed of three separate buildings linked by suspension bridges and rope swings. It boasted air-conditioning, a cobblestone fireplace, a working kitchen, and hidden rooms with trick entrances. When the four friends reached the central building, Ernie scaled the ladder and pressed his thumb against a hidden sensor pad on the rafter. It had been installed as a safety precaution against prowling monsters. The lock on the door released with a click, and Ernie rushed straight to the refrigerator. In a matter of moments, his arms were overflowing with snacks.
“Hey, Harley, clear the table, will you?” Ernie asked as he tried to balance all the food.
“Clear it yourself,” Harley replied, sitting down to read through a stack of comic books. That’s when he saw the strange box wrapped in brown paper. It was unmarked, except for a faded Templar cross stamped on the top. “What’s in the package?”
“Maybe it’s our next assignment,” Max said. “I overheard someone talking about an infestation of Vampire Pixies.”
Natalia looked skeptical. “Since when do we get assignments in unmarked packages?”
Max shrugged as Ernie dumped the pile of food on top of the box.
“Ernest!” Natalia reprimanded. She began clearing away the snacks.
“What?” Ernie sat down and opened a bag of chips. “Did you expect me to hold that stuff forever? I have super speed, not super strength.” With that, he shoved a handful of chips into his mouth and started smacking away.
Max broke the seal and pulled out a simple wooden box. Curious, he flipped the latch and opened the lid. Inside was a red velvet sack tied with a length of golden rope. He started to untie it, but Natalia grabbed his arm.
“Wait.” She reached inside the box and pulled out a piece of paper. Written in looping script were the words WIND STEM TO FIND HIM.
“Wind the stem?” Harley read aloud. “What does that mean?”
Max opened the little sack and turned it upside down. “Let’s find out.”
An object fell into the palm of his hand. It was a brass beetle, no more than two inches long. A perfect symphony of etched brass and silver filigree, the mechanical creature sat unmoving.
“That’s so supersonic!” Ernie said, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. As the self-proclaimed “world’s first real superhero,” Ernie had decided he needed a catchphrase. So instead of describing things as awesome or amazing, he called everything supersonic.
Overwhelmed by curiosity, Ernie grabbed the beetle. With his greasy fingers, he wound the stem several revolutions. Inside, a series of gears engaged, and the beetle started tick as if it were a pocket watch. When Ernie set the beetle on the table, small brass legs unfolded. Then the mechanism spread its wings and lifted into the air.
“Whoa!” Harley stepped back as it zipped by his head while circling the room. “What is that thing?”
“Quick! Close the windows!” Max called.
Unfortunately, the mechanical creature had already spotted an open window and flown into the forest.
Max jumped over a stack of comic books and ran toward the escape slide. “Don’t let it get away, Ernie! We’ll be right behind you.”
Excerpted from Grey Griffins: The Clockwork Chronicles #1: The Brimstone Key by Benz, Derek Copyright © 2010 by Benz, Derek. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis have been best friends since diapers. They grew up sharing birthday parties, Saturday morning cartoons, comic books and baseball cards, and spent much of their childhood exploring the sprawling woodlands behind Derek's family farm, which they secretly suspected was enchanted. They are the authors of three previous books featuring The Grey Griffins: The Revenge of the Shadow King, The Rise of the Black Wolf and The Fall of the Templar.
Derek Benz currently lives with his wife and son in New Jersey.
J.S. Lewis lives with his wife and daughters in Arizona.
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