Authors: Kai Meyer
Also by Kai Meyer
The Dark Reflections Trilogy
The Water Mirror
The Stone Light
The Wave Walkers Trilogy
Margaret K. McElderry Books
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
English language translation copyright Â© 2008 by Elizabeth D. Crawford
Text Â© 2002 by Kai Meyer
Original German edition Â© 2002 Loewe Verlag GmbH, Bindlach
Published by arrangement with Loewe Verlag
First U.S. edition, 2008
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
Book design by Ann Zeak
The text for this book is set in Stempel Garamond.
Manufactured in the United States of America
2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The glass word / Kai Meyer; translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford.â1st U.S. ed.
p. cm.â(Dark reflections; bk. 3)
Translation of: Das glÃ¤serne wort.
Summary: While Merle, Junipa, and the great flying stone lion accompany an Egyptian high priest to the fortress of the powerful sphinx, Serafin and Eft voyage deep beneath the ocean to ask the help of a sea witch in freeing Venice from the Pharoah and his mummy warriors.
ISBN-13: 978-0-689-87791-9 (hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-689-87791-9 (hardcover)
[1. MagicâFiction. 2. Animals, MythicalâFiction. 3. OrphansâFiction. 4. MirrorsâFiction. 5. Fantasy.] I. Crawford, Elizabeth D. II. Title.
HE PYRAMIDS ROSE OUT OF DEEP SNOW.
Around them stretched the Egyptian desert, buried under the mantle of a new ice age. Its sand hills were frozen stiff, its dunes piled high with drifts of snow. Instead of heat waves, ice crystals danced over the plain in swirling wind gusts that revolved a few times and feebly collapsed again.
Merle was crouching in the snow on one of the upper steps of the pyramid, with Junipa's head resting in her lap. The girl's mirror eyes were closed, the lids trembling as though behind them a few beetles were struggling to get
free. Ice crystals had caught in Junipa's eyelashes and eyebrows and made them both seem even lighter. With her white skin and her smooth, pale blond hair she looked like a porcelain doll, even without the hoarfrost that was gradually covering both girls: fragile and a little sad, as if she were always thinking of a tragic loss in her past.
Merle was miserably cold: Her limbs trembled, her fingers shook, and every breath she took felt as if she were sucking ground glass into her lungs. Her head ached, but she didn't know if it was because of the cold or what she'd endured on their flight out of Hell.
A flight that had brought them straight here. To Egypt. In the desert. Where the sand and dunes were buried under a three-foot-deep layer of snow.
Junipa murmured something and frowned, but still she didn't open her eyes. Merle didn't know what would happen when Junipa finally awoke. Her friend was no longer herself since her heart had been replaced with a fragment of the Stone Light when she was in Hell. In the end Junipa had tried to turn Merle over to her enemies. The Stone Light, that incomprehensible power in the center of Hell, held her firmly in its grip.
She was still unconscious, but when she woke up â¦ Merle didn't want to think about it. She'd fought with her friend once, and she wouldn't do it again. She was at the end of her strength. She didn't
to fight anymore, not against Junipa, not against the Lilim down below in Hell,
and also not against the henchmen of the Egyptian Empire up here. Merle's courage and determination were exhausted, and she only wanted to sleep. She leaned back, relaxed, and waited for the frosty wind to rock her into an icy slumber.
The Flowing Queen roused Merle from her stupor. The voice in her head was familiar to her and at the same time infinitely strange. As strange as the being who'd installed herself inside her and ever since had accompanied her every thought, her every step.
Merle shook herself and marshaled her last reserves. She
She quickly raised her head and looked up at the sky.
A bitter battle was still raging up there.
Her companion, Vermithrax, the winged lion of stone, was engaged in a daredevil air duel with one of the sunbarks of the Egyptian Empire. Vermithrax's black obsidian body had glowed ever since his bath in the Stone Light, as if someone had poured him from molten lava. Now the lion traced a glowing trail in the sky, like a shooting star.
Merle watched as Vermithrax again rammed the wobbling sunbark from above, fastened himself to the sickle-shaped aircraft, and remained sitting on top of it. His wings settled on the left and right of the fuselage, which was about three times as long as a Venetian gondola. The craft rapidly lost altitude under the lion's mighty weight,
rushing toward the ground, toward the pyramidâand toward Merle and Junipa!
Merle finally snapped out of her trance. It was as if the cold had laid an armor plate of ice around her, which she now burst with a single jerk. She leaped up, seized the unconscious Junipa under the arms, and pulled her through the snow.
They were on the upper third of the pyramid. If the sunbark's crash shattered the stone, they hadn't a chance. An avalanche of stone blocks would pull them with it into the interior of the structure.
Vermithrax looked up for the first time and saw where the bark's tumbling flight was heading. The air resounded with a sharp crack as he pulled his wings apart and tried to steer the bark's descent. But the vehicle was too heavy for him. It continued on its downward course, straight toward the side of the pyramid.
Vermithrax roared Merle's name, but she didn't take the time to look up. She was pulling Junipa backward along the stone step. She had to pull her foot out of deep snow with every step, and she was in constant danger of stumbling. She knew that she wouldn't be able to stand up again once she fell down. Her strength was as good as used up.
A shrill howling pierced Merle's ears as the sunbark came nearerâan arrow point aimed at her by Fate; there was hardly any doubt that it would knock her into kingdom come.
“Junipa,” she gasped out, “you have to help meâ¦.”
But Junipa didn't move, though behind her closed lids there was twitching and trembling. But for those signs of life, Merle might as well have been dragging a corpse through the snow, for Junipa no longer had a heart to beat. Only stone.
“Merle!” Vermithrax roared again. “Stay where you are!”
She heard him, but she didn't react and had taken two more steps before the words got through to her.
Stay where she was? What the devilâ
She looked back, saw the barkâso close!âsaw Vermithrax on the fuselage with outspread wings, which the headwind was trying to blow backward, and recognized what the lion had realized a moment before she did.
The sunbark wobbled even more, swerved from its original trajectory, and was now rushing toward the opposite edge of the pyramid's side, just where Merle had been trying to get herself and Junipa to safety.
It was pointless to turn around. Instead, Merle let go of Junipa, threw herself over her, buried her face in her arms, and awaited the impact.
It took its timeâtwo seconds, three secondsâbut when the crash came, it felt as if someone had struck a gong right beside Merle's ears. The vibration was so great that she was sure the pyramid was going to collapse.
The stone was shaken a second time when Vermithrax came down beside them, more falling than landing,
snatched up both girls in his paws, and carried them into the air. His body was cool, despite the glow he gave off.
His precaution turned out to be unnecessary. The pyramid was still standing. Occasional clumps of snow broke from the edges and slid one or two steps deeper, to be dispersed in blinding clouds of crystals, momentarily wrapping the incline in a fog of ice. Only after the avalanche had settled could Merle tell what had become of the bark.
The golden sickle lay on one of the upper steps, only a little beyond the place where Merle and Junipa had cowered seconds before. The vehicle had landed sideways, close to the wall of the next step up. From the air, Merle could see only a little damage, a hole in the upper side that Vermithrax had torn in the fuselage.
“Put us down again, please,” said Merle to the lion, breathless certainly, but at the same time so relieved that she felt new strength streaming through her.
“Too dangerous.” The lion's breath formed white clouds in the ice-cold air.
“Come on. Don't you want to know what was in the bark?”
the Flowing Queen interjected in Merle's mind, inaudible to the two others.
“A whole troop of them. And a priest who held the bark in the air with his magic.”
Merle cast a look over at Junipa, who was dangling in Vermithrax's second paw. Her lips moved.
“What's up?” asked Vermithrax.
“I think she's waking up.”
“Once again, just at the right moment,”
the Queen bleated.
“Why do these things always happen just when one does