Time for another excerpt from Riwenne & the Bionic Witches. It’s less than two weeks until the release date, and I’m so excited! Today’s excerpt is from a part of the story where our heroes need to hide for a while. You may remember from the first book or Amena’s Rise to Stardom that Deryt and Amena grew up in a hidden village with the rebels. When they’re looking for a safe place, they think of home–but getting there isn’t that easy. They have to land their stolen airship and trek through the jungle. Riwenne isn’t used to such a hike…
I followed the others outside. Deryt came last behind me and locked the airship’s door.
The jungle outside was enormous. Trees towered above us, full of flowering vines. Smaller trees and bushes packed in every space between them. Quilla’s Revenge looked tiny by comparison, especially when I looked up and realized the envelope was hanging empty on its structure.
“Whoa!” I took a step back, craning my neck to see higher. “What happened to the balloon? How will we ever get it to fly again?”
“Relax.” Deryt gestured to the top of the gondola. “We emptied the gas back into the ship’s tanks for now, but we can fill it again if we need to fly.”
“O-okay.” I stared for a moment longer, but it was too complicated for me to figure out. I turned around and looked at the surrounding jungle. There was no road, just like Amena said. I guess that was part of what made it a secret hiding spot. But there had to be a path at least, right?
Amena checked a compass from her pocket and turned to point the way. “Jabin Village should be in that direction.” She nodded to Deryt and Janera. “Which one of you wants first turn at the lead?”
Deryt hefted one machete and handed a second to Janera. “I’ll start, since I’ve done this before. You guard our backs.”
I looked from the heavy blades to the forest and shivered. “Guard us from what? You said there were no people nearby.”
“Wild animals.” Janera gave me a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry, most of them will avoid us if we make enough noise to let them know we’re coming. At least, that’s what they said.” She nodded at Deryt and Amena.
This was all getting so complicated. If the point of the rebel village was that it was hidden, why didn’t we just land the airship and hide it there? Hacking our way through underbrush was a lot of extra work.
But Amena was the leader now, and the others seemed to agree with her, so we went along with her instructions. Deryt took the lead, cutting at the dense plants of the jungle so we could follow behind him. Amena walked behind him, checking her compass to make sure we stayed on the right course, with Uqra and Tika riding on her backpack. Kyra followed her, asking questions about the jungle and how the rebels had lived out here for so long. Her attitude toward Amena had changed since we found out she wasn’t just a famous singer—she seemed impressed by everything Amena knew.
I struggled to keep up with the others, which forced Janera to a slow pace since she was in the back with me. I could walk for miles in the city, but that was on paved roads. In the jungle, the ground was uneven and covered with rocks and tree roots that tripped me up. The humidity made me feel like I was trying to push through a thick, wet blanket, and I was sweating within minutes. Deryt was doing his best to cut through the undergrowth with his machete, but there were still branches reaching out for me on either side, full of thorns and sticky sap.
“I hope everything still works in this abandoned village,” I muttered to Janera. “When we get there, we will need a long bath.”
Janera swatted at a bug and grimaced. “That’s for sure. It’s cool to see where Amena and Deryt grew up, huh? I’ve never been outside the capital, but I’ve always wondered what life is like on the mainland. Do you think they have huge houses and gardens with all of this space?”
I wanted to shrug, but the backpack was weighing down my shoulders. “I don’t see why not.” I sighed. “If I had a huge house, I’d have a whole room just for books, like a personal library. I’d line the wall with bookshelves and fill it with comfy chairs.”
Janera grinned. “Ooh, I like that idea. Like Turn the Page, except all the books would be yours.” The bookstore she named was where we’d met. “And a big kitchen to cook in, with a wood-burning oven. I’ve never used a wood-burning oven before, but it’s supposed to be the best for things like bread.”
I looked up at the enormous trees. Their branches wove so tightly together in the canopy that I couldn’t see the sky. “There’s all the wood you could ever want right here.”