When Alex opened his eyes, he saw a blurry image of Fox standing before him on the deck of the Unwanteds’ pirate ship. Kitten stood on Fox’s head, mewing at the top of her voice. The sound grew distant and then faded altogether, and the young mage’s lids drooped once more.
Fox stepped on Alex’s thigh and licked his face, trying to get the boy’s eyes to stay open. Kitten pointed over the bow with one tiny paw, still mewing.
Alex groaned. He was soaking wet and his entire body ached. His arms were tangled in rope, and he couldn’t pull free. And Fox’s driftwood tongue was harsh on his skin. He lifted his head to move away from it and squinted in the sunlight. The world swam before his eyes.
“Mewmewmew!” cried the tiny porcelain kitten. Alex didn’t have a clue what she was saying.
Fox began loosening the knots that held Alex to the ship’s bow. He paused to translate, “Kitten is wondering if you are okay. She considers you to be one of her very, very special friends, and—”
“I’m okay,” Alex interrupted. He coughed. Salt water burned his throat and nose. Fox worked at the knots with his teeth, and soon one of Alex’s arms was free. Fox moved to the next, and when that one came loose, Alex plunged forward and put his hands out to catch himself.
“Thanks, Fox. You’re a good, um, cat,” he said, which pleased Fox immensely. Alex’s arms wobbled. He pushed himself up and locked his elbows, then turned gingerly to a sitting position. He coughed again and winced. “And speaking of cats, please tell me the big one is around here somewhere.”
Simber flew over from a short distance away when he heard Alex’s voice. The enormous stone cheetah glanced out over the water and narrowed his eyes. “I am. But we’rrre missing someone else.”
Alex struggled to his feet, alarmed. “Who’s missing?”
Alex’s breath caught. He scanned the waves. “At least she can swim.”
“Yes. But I’m not surrre wherrre we lost herrr. If it was back at the beginning . . .” Simber trailed off.
Alex wasn’t at all sure how far they had traveled since their ship began the insane journey down a thunderous waterfall. When they’d reached the bottom, they’d gone screaming around a forward turn so that they were sailing upside down, and then another forward turn, climbing straight up a different waterfall, and around one final forward turn, bringing them upright again, depositing them here—wherever “here” was. It was the most frightening ride Alex had ever been on, and he wasn’t sure how he’d survived it.
“Oh no,” he said softly, thinking about the highly regarded octogator being battered about in the surf. Especially since she hadn’t fully recovered from her ordeal with the eel in the aquarium under the volcanic pirate island. “How will we find her?” He rose on shaky legs and rubbed the rope burns on his wrists.
“Spike is out therrre calling forrr herrr. Hopefully she’ll shoot up the waterrrfall like the ship did.” Simber was silent as his gaze swept the surface of the water, looking for the blue whale’s sparkly horn, but he didn’t see it. The sea grew calm, almost glassy, and the ship inexplicably moved away from the up-waterfall from whence they’d come, into A risky decision endangers both Artimé and Quill in book five of the New York Times bestselling Unwanteds series, which Kirkus Reviews called “The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.”
Alex and his friends from Artimé are stranded on a newly discovered island after barely surviving a storm that destroys their ship. And it turns out they’re not alone…
Back in Quill, Aaron’s power base grows as he aligns himself with an unlikely ally. Together, the two enact a drastic, risky plan to finally conquer Artimé—a plan that could ultimately leave everyone in both Artimé and Quill in far more danger than Aaron realizes.