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Jody Burns saw the green-haired girl step out of midair.
At first she didn't realize she'd seen anything unusual–this was the mall on a Saturday, after all–but then it struck her that this couldn't possibly be some advertising trick. The girl hadn't been there a second ago. The air had suddenly rippled and she had stumbled through. She was dripping wet, her hair and clothing clinging to her. She looked as if she had been crying, and Jody could hear a half sniff/half sob as she glanced around at the crowded mall.
The girl shook her head and Jody expected to see droplets of water fly everywhere, but instead she only heard a faint rustle and the short hair suddenly looked dry, lightening to a sea green in color. The water beading her light brown skin and soaking her shirt vanished as if absorbed. The girl hugged her bare arms below the short sleeves and looked around as if she was searching for someone.
Jody quickly looked back at the window display before her. Summer pastels were such a relief after the gray winter drabs. She said as much to Amy Evans, but Amy was looking elsewhere. "Well, check out the new style."
"Eww, seaweed," Brittany commented.
Jody turned with the rest of the group. The green-haired girl was heading directly for them. She wore a loose, almost knee length, brownish smock and dark brown leggings. The smock had a pattern that reminded Jody of the paneling in the family room. Light and dark wood grain swirls, and the neck and sleeve trim even resembled bark. Close up, her brown skin seemed to have greenish undertones. Wonder if she's ill, a small thoughtbegan before Jody crushed it.
The girl stopped before them. Small beaded cords that held short tufts of hair at each temple clattered softly as she bobbed her head. "Excuse, please. Do you know where dwells a hero?"
"Hero?" Amy echoed.
"Or a wizard. A demon slayer would be best."
Jody wondered why the girl was looking at her. Maybe it was because she was the tallest of the group of twelve- and thirteen-year-olds. She knew she was dressed more in fashion than the others, but then the city stores she used to shop at were much better than those in small town malls. She seems about our age. Too old to be playing little kid games.
"You mean…The Slayer?" Brittany asked, emphasizing the name. "Someone obviously watches too much television," she added to the group.
"Weird," Sadie commented. She made a circling gesture by her temple, and the other girls giggled.
The girl looked from one to the other and finally returned her attention to Jody. "Please. I need help."
"Definitely," Amy agreed. "For one, that hair color is so out."
"Out where?" She seemed puzzled when several of the girls laughed.
Jody actually thought the girl's hair color was interesting–sea foam, she thought the shade might have been called. She tried to remember if she had seen any outfits in that color; it would definitely suit her blonde looks. Unnervingly, the girl focused on her again. "Please. We've held back the evil as long as we can. We need help."
Why was she asking her? "Uh." Jody looked around. Weren't there any security guards in this mall? She'd settle for an older teen or an adult, if she could get anyone's attention. But everyone seemed to be in a hurry, walking past or around the group of girls.
"And that outfit." Amy tsked. "Long baggy T-shirts are so yesterday."
The girl tilted her head as she looked at the girls. "I don't understand your words. The Watcher of Gates said that the first person who saw me would be the one to help." She looked again at Jody, who tried not to squirm. "Will you help?"
"Yes, Jody," Amy said with an unfriendly smile and a glance aside at the other girls. "Will you help?"
Jody could feel the other girls watching her as they waited. Somehow it felt as if everyone in the mall was watching her. This girl might be serious about asking for help, but what could she do? Better to make a big joke of it, as the rest were, and go back to window-shopping.
Jody opened her mouth to speak–and suddenly felt overwhelmingly bored. So bored. I want to walk away.
"I'm bored," said Amy. She turned and walked away. The rest of the girls followed. Jody started to turn as well, but a brown hand closed about her wrist.
The green-haired girl looked closely at her. "Will you help?" she repeated.
Jody looked down at the hand around her wrist just above the silver bracelet. She was so bored. She should leave now…and yet, there was something odd about that grip around her wrist. She felt as if there were two voices in her head; one demanding go, and the other stay.
Copyright © 2002 by Barbara Clark.
Posted December 9, 2008
At the mall with her inane friends, teenager Jody Burns notices the oddly dressed girl with green hair pop out of the air. The strange girl comes over to Jody saying she is the one who her ailing Grandma, with assistance from the Keeper of the Gate, sent her to bring back to save their world. Jody¿s friends leave while she tries to expedite herself from this insane Twylgalitis. Her twin brother¿s friend Jeanne Tucker arrives followed by Billy. When Billy realizes Jody took his wristguard silver bracelet without his permission, he yells at her, but she being the taller twin is not afraid of him. The three earthlings assume that Twyl as they call her really needs Billy not Jody. Twyl and reluctantly Jody enter the portal followed by Jeanne, but Billy is blocked. As Jody and Twyl end up in the grove TALKING TO THE TREES, Jeanne heals Grandma and Billy is somewhere in the past. Soon the three humans and their new partner will meet up with wizards and other supernatural beings to confront an ancient evil one that is trying to escape from its imprisonment to destroy the Free Land. --- This is the sequel to the CRYSTAL THRONE, a terrific young adult fantasy that besides making the Free Lands and its inhabitants seem real brings an abject lesson of humility to Jody as she detests the way the female Trees treat her as being beneath them because of hair color, skin, and clothing. The story line is action-packed focusing more on Jody¿s adventures in a world without a mall that she is totally unprepared for and believes the wrong Burns is in the role of hero. Fans of all ages will enjoy her coming of age tale to stop an evil old one from turning the Free Lands into a dead zone. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.