This is another excerpt from the book I am working on. I posted my the first excerpt in June here.
By Phoebe Eckstein
With the help of their dragons, Olivia, Sophie, and Ezra had just “jumped” again across thousands of miles. And now, they were in Antarctica on their quest to find Xcalabi’s secret base. Xcalabi, an evil magician, was planning a war to destroy Khaliyah. With the help of an old friend, the kids had learned the location of the base. Xcalabai may have made a mistake by not protecting his base against intrusion by kids. Now they were off to find it, without adult permission.
As they landed their dragons onto the icy ground, Olivia took in the sight, and the cold. It was freezing! Colder than she had ever thought cold could be. When she looked around, everything was white. It seemed to go on forever. There might have been mountains in the distance, but everything blended in like an endless fog.
Olivia was glad for the magical clothes that they had smartly brought with them on the quest. They radiated heat and helped take the bite out of the frigid air. Unfortunately, though, they didn’t fully cover her ears and nose, which felt like frozen popsicles.
Olivia looked down at the map they had spread out on Hale’s vast back as the dragon’s warm breath steamed around them.
“Where are we?” she asked sniffling. “Antarctica!” Ezra yelled over the freezing wind.
“I mean, where are we on the map?” she hollered back, emphasizing “we”.
Ezra looked around and pointed to a number of red and blue metal structures off in the distance. “That could be one of the research bases that we learned about. Maybe Halley or Neumayer or Belgrino,” he said.
“Bel-gra-no.” Sophie corrected Ezra, as she shifted her backpack. “Belgrano’s is supposted to be mostly red. And from the pictures of the bases we found, I think this one’s Halley,” she added. Olivia nodded her agreement while clutching her arms closely to stay warm.
The three children climbed back onto their dragons and flew slowly toward the base, careful not to be seen. When they got close, Olivia told Sophie and Ezra to wait for her and flew Hale upwards a few thousand feet.
She looked down at the ground so far away. For a second, she thought how awful it would be to fall from this height. But she quickly cleared her head and looked at the scenery below. The shore of the Weddle Sea was to her right; the landmass that was Antarctica was to her left. In the far distance, in between the snowy gusts of wind, she could just make out a mountain range. She then had Hale fly back down to Sophie and Ezra who were waiting patiently on their dragons, Neva and Inferno.
“The Weddle Sea is over there,” she said pointing northward. ”So, we should go…that way,” Olivia said and pointed forwards and a little left.
After an hour and a half of flying through the bitter cold, the mountain range slowly came into view. It was hard to tell the snow-covered mountains from the white blanket around them, but Olivia could tell from the shadows among the folds and crevasses of the mountains.
“The Shackleton Mountains,” Ezra said with some doubt in his voice. “At least, I hope so,” he added quietly. “So, we should follow the range toward the South ‘till we get near the end.”
Ezra had quieted down considerably from his usual excitable self. The long trip and the cold seemed to have sapped his energy.
A half an hour later, they reached the last large peak in the range. They descended to the ground and began searching on foot for the entrance to Xcalabi’s secret lair. They walked around the area for hours, but found nothing. By then, night had fallen and the cold was so bitter it hurt to breath.
“I’m hungry, guys. When can we eat?” asked Ezra for the eleventh time.
“Maybe we should set up camp and rest, and then decide what to do,” Sophie suggested.
Olivia agreed. They got out the tent and stared at the pile of fabric and metal sticks.
“Is there an instruction manual?” Sophie asked.
“What’s that?” Olivia asked and bent down to examine it. It was a small yellow tab with the words “PULL ME” printed out.
“This seems a little like Wonderland.” She observed.
“Well, pull it!” Sophie said, as she knelt down to do it herself.
Like any good magic tent, it instantly sprang up. It was a metallic silver color that seemed to glow. Other than the glowing silver, Olivia thought it looked like any other non-magical triangular tent.
Olivia and the others crawled inside. There was a small booklet in the middle of the floor. Sophie knelt down and picked it up.
Quickly leafing through it, she exclaimed “Hey. This tent is pretty cool. It automatically stays at 70 degrees inside, And get this! Its walls are super strong and sturdy and can stand up against high winds, hail, calder showers, and charging herds of rhinos!” Sophie looked around and saw Olivia’s and Ezra’s doubtful stares. “No. Really! It says so right here!” she cried out. Then, more thoughtfully, she said, “I wonder what calder showers are.”
Olivia opened the magical freezer-backpacks and brought out some sort of frozen, purple-ish vegetable for Inferno to instantly heat up. Or set on fire.
Once they put the small fire out, Sophie declared that dinner was ready.
“Ok, well, what should we do now?” Sophie asked, as they ate.
I think we should just go home,” Ezra said sounding dejected. He had barely touched his dinner and was absentmindedly moving his food from one side of the plate to the other. “I don’t think we’re going to find the stupid entrance.”
“We can’t go back now,” Olivia said adamantly. “Not after all we did to get here.”
“But Kaivan never told us where to look!” exclaimed Ezra. “All he said was that the entrance was at the end of the range at the base of a big mountain with a pointed top. But he never told us exactly where!”
Ezra got up from the floor and started pacing across the tent. “The end of the Shackleton Range is huge! We don’t know where to look! It could be anywhere around here!” Ezra said, his voice rising in pitch.
“Ezra! Calm down! Please,” Sophie responded nervously, not knowing what to do.
“But, there’s no way we’ll find the entrance, Sophie!” Ezra pleaded. ”We should just go home,” he insisted. “It’s not worth it! I’m cold, and this whole quest thing is pointless!” he yelled. He then added quietly “I wish Mom was here. And Dad.”
“Ezra! Calm down now!” Sophie insisted.
“No! I’m done with this whole thing!” Ezra yelled, and ran outside of the tent.
Olivia and Sophie could hear Ezra yelling outside running around the tent. Olivia looked at Sophie and gulped. Sophie sighed and put her face in her hands. A few seconds later, they heard a rumbling slowly growing in strength.
“What’s that?” Sophie asked with concern in her voice. “I don’t know,” Olivia answered as they both stood up. As the rumbling increased, it also sounded as if it was getting closer and closer. Then Ezra yelled, “Sophie, Olivia! Get out!!!”
“What?” Sophie asked as she looked toward the entrance of the tent. At that moment, Ezra flew into the tent and tumbled to the ground.
“Guys! It’s an avalanche! We’ve got to get out of here right now!” But before they could even move to leave, snow followed Ezra through the doorway, and they heard something smash into their tent.