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The Adventurers – The Mystery of the Magical Crystal
By Nicola Dalton
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Nicola Dalton
All right reserved.
Angie Ant was practically a legend at Hillside Orphanage. Known for her spunky attitude, high-pitched voice and surprising ability to get into trouble. At only nine ant years old, she created a club named The Adventurers. The members consisted of Angie and her two best friends named Bertha and Henry. Their weekly endeavor to find a new adventure was a personal challenge for Angie, since Mrs. Cratchette the principal of Hillside Orphanage always spoiled their plans.
"This meeting is in session!" Angie yelled, as the threesome sat in a circle inside of their clubhouse made of acorn pieces that the worker ants had brought down from the world above. Bertha was Angie's first friend at the Orphanage. They were placed into the same crib together when Angie arrived at two ant years old. Bertha never knew her parents, since she was placed into the Orphanage at birth. Angie on the other hand had been raised by her mother until that tragic day when on an expedition to the world above, her mother never returned. Angie never spoke to Bertha about this. But Bertha could tell that sometimes when Angie sat quietly in their room together sprawled out on blankets looking up at the dirt ceiling above, that she must think about life before Mrs. Cratchette.
Henry was the oldest of the three, but seemed to be the youngest. He whined about everything. Constant complaining about school work being too difficult, and that he was unable to see without his thick bottle top glasses, drove Angie crazy. At ten ant years old, his nick name was Gentle Giant due to his large size.
Bertha was considered to be the conscience of the group. Whenever Angie had a hair raising idea, that ran shivers down Henry's spine, she was the one to put a twist on the situation to make it sound safe or exciting to try. Bertha saved Angie many times from being caught by Mrs. Cratchette. Like when Angie crept into Mrs. Cratchette's office to preview the Math test, while Bertha stood by the door as look out. Or when Angie snuck into Mrs. Cratchette's room to retrieve the small crystal necklace shaped like half of a broken heart that hung around her neck since she was a baby. Bertha once again alerted Angie when the clacking sound of Mrs. Cratchette's old fashioned black high heeled shoes quickly approached down the hall. Mrs. Cratchette, seemed to have a personal vendetta against Angie. One would think that it would bother Angie, but it only made her more eager to challenge Mrs. Cratchette every chance she could.
Mrs. Cratchette had been the Head Mistress of Hillside Orphanage for over 50 ant years. Since she never seemed to age with time, no one knew how old she was. The grey matted bun on the top of her head was a wig. She wore black antique glasses with a silver chain draped down past her ears that made a clinging sound on her big hoop earrings that alerted the tiny ants that she was approaching. Mrs. Cratchette blended into her surroundings, and was as ancient as Hillside Orphanage. The building was run down with cracks and holes at every turn. The kid ants were known to be treated like slaves. Every dawn at 5:00 a.m. they awake to the morning bell, then put to work, cleaning the halls and scrubbing the floors. The long tiresome day of school began at seven o'clock and ended at three o'clock. The only time that the kid ants had to themselves was the one hour between homework and chores nightly from 6:00 to 7:00 o' clock. It was during this time that the Adventures met to plot another scheme to bring excitement to their otherwise living nightmare.
Chapter TwoThe Beginning
"I've mapped out our new adventure, troops," Angie could barely contain her excitement. "There is a mysterious object that was brought down from the world above. Everyone is talking about it. I overheard a worker ant say that no one, not even the elders know what it is." Angie's eyes dazzled like diamonds in the sunlight as she thought about what they may discover.
Everyone knew who the three elders were, Vincent, Rupert and Olivia. They were the oldest ants in the Black Knight Colony and sole survivors of the great flood. When a beaver dam broke it washed away the entire Oak Colony, where the elders used to reside. Vincent, Rupert and Olivia survived the flood and traveled for weeks looking for any signs of their friends. With much regret they would not find a single soul.
In history books, it was stated that on their travels, they stumbled upon a butterfly fairy village. The village was located on a golden rose bush, where each small rose bud was a butterfly fairy's home. It was written that the fairies were as tiny as ants and their wings vibrant colors from the rainbow. The butterfly fairies befriended the elders and gave them powers that would help begin another colony.
Upon continuing their journey, Vincent, Rupert and Olivia finally found a beautiful water ravine, called Silver Lake. They decided to make it their home. The three Elders acquired great powers and made the Black Knight Colony a dwelling for many wandering ants looking for a place to call home. However, many found that this colony was not a safe haven. The Elders ruled with pure terror. Mind control was enforced on the colony. The Elders had their every will satisfied. Brave ants that tried to fight back against the rulers always vanished without warning. Ant children across the land were taught the history of the Oak Colony's suffering, how the new colony originated, and the Elders tremendous powers.
As they looked at Angie's face, Bertha and Henry could tell that trouble was just around the corner. They also suspected that Mrs. Cratchette would be waiting to ruin their plans.
"We are going to sneak up to Cleaver Cove, where I heard that the object is being held and peak around," Angie explained.
"What! No way," Bertha and Henry shouted.
This was how Bertha and Henry responded to every adventure that Angie suggested. The look of horror on their faces would sooner or later turn to smiles. Bertha and Henry knew from past experiences that Angie was quite persistent and would always convince them to join her on these crazy adventures.
"Are you insane? No regular ants like us have ever been inside Cleaver Cove. You're loony," Henry whined in his nasal voice.
This only madeAngie feel more challenged at the thought. She jumped around with glee, squealing with delight. Angie grinned, which revealed her infamous missing front tooth.
* * *
Henry's teeth chattered as though he were standing in a blizzard. Looking as white as a sheet, he stood in Angie and Bertha's room.
"Henry, calm down." Angie said, "Everything is going to be ok. I have mapped out our plan of action. Let's synchronize our watches."
They each looked down at their matching watches and called out the time. "Eleven thirty."
Bertha could barely keep her eyes open.
"It's eleven thirty at night, I can't believe we are doing this," Bertha yawned. She had fallen asleep around nine' o clock. Angie, being too excited to sleep, sat preparing her map to Cleaver Cove.
It was now twelve o'clock on the nose, as they crept cautiously down the hallway towards the gym of the Orphanage. They could hear Mrs. Cratchette's loud deep snores coming from her room. Bertha and Henry's knees shook in fear as they reached the gym. Angie had left the door propped slightly open with a small stick, while cleaning the gym floor earlier that afternoon.
Camouflaged in black clothing, the three friends ran as quickly as their ant legs could take them down streets and alleys until they reached Cleaver Cove.
Cleaver Cove was an enormous old building. Off limits to the general ants, only the elders and top worker ants were able to enter through the huge red doors. Many ants in the colony shared that secrets and mysterious artifacts with magical powers were located there.
The streets were deserted, with no signs of movement. Angie pointed to the alley at the back of the building as she ducked behind a garbage can. When they reached the door Angie pulled out a tool to shimmy it open. A creaking sound began to pierce their ears as the door unlocked.
"Come on," Angie whispered eager to explore inside the forbidden building.
At this, Bertha and Henry's mouths seemed to drop to the floor. Angie ignored their expressions as she had many times before and took the first step into the darkened room.
Their eyes instantly began adjusting to the darkness. Angie could hear Henry's slight whimpers as they stammered their way through the middle of the room, bumping into objects along the way. A mysterious door could be seen at the end of a dimly lit hallway. Checking every nook and cranny, in silence they walked toward the door with their heads swiveling back and forth like bobble head dolls.
"This must be it," whispered Angie. The unusual carvings on the black door resembled smoke rising from a fire. Angie could see the hesitation on Bertha and Henry's face. She opened the door and instantly felt a coldness. While looking around, they saw glass cases filled with artifacts. In each case there were wooden items shaped as tools, glass items swirled in dramatic shades of silver and gold.
Angie felt a pulling toward the glass case located in the rear corner of the room. It seemed something or someone was calling her to come closer. She crept over to the case, her heart pounding and inspected the contents. Peering inside she saw a chain that had a small crystal half shaped heart. Instantly she looked down at her neck, checking to see if her necklace was missing. Could it be, she thought. Was she seeing things? The necklace appeared to be the matching half to her heart shaped crystal. Near the necklace was a small white card with a hand written message. It read, "The gift of vision."
"What is it?" Bertha said nervously, "You look like you have seen a ghost."
"I think it's the other piece to my necklace."
They stood wide eyed looking into the clear glass case memorized, as the crystal necklace seemed to be peering back at them mysteriously.
"I have to take it," Angie said in a voice almost unrecognizable.
"What?" they said in chorus.
"Jinx." They laughed together, which seem to lighten the mood.
"I have to take it," Angie repeated louder.
"Okay, that's it. She has officially lost her mind," Henry turned towards Bertha.
"Let's get out of here." Bertha began to pull Angie's arm towards the door.
"No." Angie pulled the tool that she used to open the back door from her backpack and broke the glass. An ear deafening alarm began to ring. It sounded like the fire drill at school. Angie grabbed the necklace and they frantically ran for the door.
As they reached the back door of the building, they could hear many footsteps approaching.
"Security ants!" Henry screamed. Like secret agents they began running, dodging in and out of the dark alleys and streets. The once thundering footsteps behind them began to fade as they ran further away from the building.
"We made it." Bertha was trying to catch her breath as they walked down the Orphanage hallway to their bedrooms. They looked at each other smiling in silence. Angie opened the bedroom door and turned on the small table lamp. To their shock and dismay, Mrs. Cratchette sat waiting hands crossed, wig off, with a frown on her face that could only mean detention. Angie tried to keep a straight face and not laugh as she looked at Mrs. Cratchette's bald head.
There was a loud thud on the floor. Angie and Bertha quickly looked around. Henry had fainted.
Chapter ThreeThe Mystery
"Heee, hee," Angie could hear snickering and whispers as she walked down the hallways at school. Ants pointed and laughed as she began her walk of shame.
Mrs. Cratchette's punishment for Angie was to wear a tall white cone hat with the word Dunce written across the top.
"I heard she tried to run away," a girl ant whispered to her friend as they whisked by Angie on their way to math class.
Angie with her head up walked along the hall way, looking every ant in the eye as she watched their stares cower away. Among the sea of kid ants scurrying to classes, she could see the tips of two white cone hats approaching.
"Hi, guys." Angie said.
"White looks good on you," Angie snickered.
"Yeah." Henry didn't sound convinced.
"Oh, look at it this way. At least we can say we are the first kid ants to enter Cleaver Cove," Angie stated. Bertha and Henry nodded in agreement.
This was truly an achievement. They had actually entered the building, stolen the necklace and returned home without being arrested by the security ants. So what, Mrs. Cratchette had caught them. This punishment Angie could complete with her eyes closed. Mrs. Cratchette believed the story of sneaking down to the kitchen for something to eat in the middle of the night. If she had known the true adventure they encountered, their punishment would have been worse.
"Let's meet at the club house tonight," Angie said eagerly. Henry began to roll his eyes.
"Seriously, you want to chance getting caught doing something else before our punishment is complete."
"Well, if you don't want to see the necklace ..." Angie's voice trailed off. They both nodded in agreement.
The necklace was in a small box hidden behind the side table next to her bed. Every night she would open the box, peek inside and wonder where it came from. Questions continued to puzzle Angie. Why does it seem to call her in the middle of the night? Why does the crystal complete her heart necklace? Who owned the necklace before it was placed at Cleaver Cove? She wanted answers and wanted them now. Patience was not one of Angie's strong points.
"The Adventures meeting is now in session," Angie announced.
"I have brought the crystal necklace to our meeting. We have a mystery to solve. At Cleaver Cove there was a message next to the necklace. It read, "The gift of vision."
"What does that mean?" Bertha looked puzzled.
"I don't know, but the Adventures are going to find out." Angie answered with confidence.
Angie slowly pulled the delicate necklace out from the box. It glistened as if a prism of light hit it. Removing her own necklace, she cautiously began to connect the two broken pieces. Before she could join them the two connected. A dazzling bright white light began to radiate from the connected heart which hovered in mid air. Angie, Bertha and Henry jumped back and gasped at the sight. Shielding their eyes from the light with their hands, as a woman's gentle voice began to speak.
"Only time will tell. And soon you'll see. In travels you'll return to me. Trickery from the past, will finally be exposed at last."
At that moment the bright white light that once filled the room, turned to misty blue and the crystal slowly descended to the ground. The light faded away with the voice. They sat in shock, not moving or talking. It seemed as though an hour had past, even though it had only been minutes.
Angie finally gathered the nerve to speak. "What was that?" She picked up the necklace from the ground. What was once two separate pieces was now one perfectly joined necklace.
Bertha and Henry still could not conjure up the courage to say a word.
"I think that voice sounded familiar," she continued.
"I've heard that soothing voice in my dreams."
With a glimpse, Bertha and Henry could see Angie spiraling uncontrollably in her world of thoughts.
"Earth to Angie, Earth to Angie." Henry kept waving his hands in front of Angie's face. "Anyone home?" Angie snapped out of her trance and began to talk.
"I know who that was."
"Who?" Bertha replied, not really knowing if she wanted to hear the answer.
"My mother." Once again the shock on each of their faces could tell a tale.
"Your mother, b-b-but how? Why?" stammered Henry.
"I don't know."
Excerpted from The Adventurers – The Mystery of the Magical Crystal by Nicola Dalton Copyright © 2011 by Nicola Dalton. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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