Authors: Becky Citra
Tags: #bookstore, #magic, #family, #community, #writing, #Musees, #castles, #griffin
© Becky Citra, 2016
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher or a licence from The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access
Copyright). For an Access Copyright licence, visit www.accesscopyright.ca or call toll-free to 1-800-893-5777.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the [email protected] of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Edited by Kathryn Cole
Book designed by Tania Craan
Typeset by Susan Buck
Cover image regulus56 / photocase.com
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Citra, Becky, author
The griffin of Darkwood / Becky Citra.
Issued in print and electronic formats.
ISBN 978-1-55050-691-4 (paperback).--ISBN 978-1-55050-692-1 (pdf).--
ISBN 978-1-55050-693-8 (epub).--ISBN 978-1-55050-694-5 (mobi)
PS8555.I87G75 2016 jC813'.54 C2016-903551-4
Library of Congress Control Number 2016941701
Available in Canada from:
Avenue, Regina, Saskatchewan Canada
Coteau Books gratefully acknowledges the financial support of its publishing program by: the Saskatchewan Arts Board, The Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Saskatchewan through Creative Saskatchewan, the City of
Regina. We further acknowledge the [financial] support of the Government of Canada. Nous reconnaissons l'appui [financier] du gouvernement du Canada.
To my sister Janet
The Last Chapter
Will Poppy peered through the window
at a figure in a long black coat and purple boots marching up the front walk of their brick block of flats. She was carrying a white square box.
“Oh, no!” he said. “It’s Aunt Mauve.”
“Not today,” whispered his mother, Adrienna. She was sitting at a wobbly round table covered with papers. “I can’t bear it today.”
The old elevator wheezed and thumped in the hallway.
“I’ll make her go!” said Will.
“No,” said Adrienna. “After all, she is our only living relative. Family is family, William.”
“But we’re writing, Mum. She can’t come when we’re writing.”
The doorbell rang.
Will opened the door and gaped at Aunt Mauve. A dozen sleek brown heads dangled from a fur cape around her neck, and a dozen pairs of black glass eyes glinted at him. The cape smelled like mothballs, and worn patches poked through the scruffy fur.
“They’re squirrels.” Aunt Mauve thrust the white box at Will. “A cake for your tea.” She twirled on her purple boots.
“How thoughtful,” murmured Adrienna.
Will rolled his eyes. He lifted the edge of the lid. Inside was a tiny round cake the colour of canned peas. He jabbed it with his finger. Hard as a rock. Another of Aunt Mauve’s bargains. Aunt Mauve was as poor as Will and his mother.
Why was she trying to be nice all of a sudden?
Aunt Mauve sidled over to the table. Her sharp brown eyes peered over Adrienna’s shoulder. “You must be feeling better. You’re working on your book.”
“I’ve had a good day,” said Adrienna. “My breathing is better. I’m sure it was just some kind of flu bug.”
“What do you want?” said Will. He looked longingly at his writing book on the couch. He’d been working on a battle scene between the Knights of Valour and the Knights of Death.
“I don’t want anything,” said Aunt Mauve. “That’s a fine thank you for bringing you the cake.”
She turned to Adrienna. “How many chapters left to go?”
“One,” said Adrienna.
“And your publisher, Mr. Barnaby, believes it will make you rich?” Aunt Mauve’s eyes glinted.
“Oh, Mauve, not rich! Maybe a little money to help us out. But that’s not why I write. I write because I love it. Will’s writing a book, too. He’s a born writer.”
Aunt Mauve snorted. “Children don’t write. Well, ta-ta, then. I’m off to a party.”
Will didn’t believe her for one second. Who would invite someone as awful as Aunt Mauve to a party? As soon as the elevator started its groaning descent, he said, “I hate her! And why is she hanging around us now? She never bothered with us until you started writing your book.”
“You should try to like her,” said Adrienna. “After all…”
Will sighed. “She’s our only living relative.”
He checked out the window to see if Aunt Mauve had really gone. His aunt was sailing down the walk, her squirrels swinging wildly. A little man in a tidy grey suit squeezed past her. “Mr. Barnaby’s here,” said Will.
“Goodness, this is our day for visitors,” said Adrienna. “Maybe he’s bringing good news!”
< • >
Oliver Barnaby was
the owner of Barnaby Book Publishers Inc. on Oxford Street in London. He perched on the couch beside Adrienna and held her thin hand. “My dear Adrienna, do I dare ask?”
Adrienna smiled faintly. “I’m writing the last chapter tonight.”
“Excellent, excellent. I’ve been waiting for it. We’re almost ready to go to the printer.” Mr. Barnaby rubbed his hands through his snowy hair.
“William dear,” said Adrienna. “Make Mr. Barnaby some tea.”
Will boiled the kettle in the kitchen and put out the teapot and three chipped cups. Bits of conversation drifted from the other room.
“You’re looking rather pale, my dear. Are you taking care of yourself?”
“I’m fine,” said Adrienna. “Perhaps I’m not sleeping as well as I should. It must be excitement over the book.”
“I see the lift’s been fixed. That must be a relief.”
“Oh, yes. Climbing five flights of stairs was too much for me. I got quite winded.”
The kettle whistled, and Will missed the rest. When he carried in the tea tray, Adrienna said, “Mr. Barnaby was just telling me how much interest there is in my book.”
“I predict a runaway bestseller,” said Mr. Barnaby. “The fantasy market is huge.”
“You’re an optimist, Oliver,” said Adrienna.
Mr. Barnaby flushed. “Nevertheless, it will give you some income.”
“Of course, we’ll give some of the money to Aunt Mauve,” said Adrienna.
“She is your father’s sister, Will.”
Mr. Barnaby leaned closer to Adrienna. “Have you settled on the title?”
“The Magical Night.”
“Yes! Yes! Perfect.”
Adrienna Poppy and Will had great faith in Mr. Barnaby. Teacups clinked.
< • >
Adrienna settled herself
at the round table with ten sheets of clean lined paper and her box of pencils. The box was royal blue with the words
in maroon block letters across the top. She had bought it in a cluttered little stationery shop called
on Knight Street. The pencils were purple and were covered with tiny sparkling stars. Adrienna called them her magic pencils.
One thousand pages, one hundred chapters, a chapter each week…and one pencil for every chapter. As the manuscript grew, the pencils disappeared until there was only one left in the box. Adrienna took it out now. “My Muse is calling me," she said.
Adrienna’s Muse inspired her to write. The Muse was from Ancient Greece. She wore a long white dress and a wreath of green leaves in her hair, and only Adrienna could see her.
"Hey, my Muse is calling me too!" said Will. He remembered how amazing it had been the first time he’d seen his Muse. He’d been writing a poem at school (he’d been stuck on the words and sweat had broken out on his forehead), and then a knight had clanked up the aisle and stood right beside him. The knight removed a visor and Will stared into the green eyes of a girl with cascading hair. None of the other kids had noticed a thing, but Will had figured it out right away. He’d been waiting for his Muse for a long time. The last verse of the poem was a breeze to write.
The Muses didn’t always come when Adrienna and Will wrote. Most of the time they had to struggle on their own. But now both Muses were here. Will sat on the sofa with his writing book propped open against his knees. His novel had grown to a satisfying forty pages. It was the fifth novel he had started, and this one he vowed to finish. Beginnings were easy. He had hundreds of ideas. Finishing was the hard part.
He and his mother wrote and wrote. When the sky outside grew dark, Will tiptoed to the kitchen, warmed up some chicken soup and crept off to bed.
At midnight, Adrienna put down the pencil. The next morning, she was asleep when Will got up. There was a brown envelope with Mr. Barnaby’s name on the front lying on the table. Will peeked inside. Chapter One Hundred of
The Magical Night