Excerpt of Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers
(Page 2 of 3)
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I just wanted to get a good look, Father. I am the
shortest one in the room, you know.
To turn his attention from me back to the crate, I
leaned forward and peered in. What do you think
shes sent us this time?
Well, thats what Im trying to find out. His voice
was tinged with exasperation. Then luckily he
forgot all about me as, with great ceremony, he
reached into the crate and lifted out an absolutely
fetching black statue of a cat: Bastet, the
Egyptian fertility goddess.
The moment I laid eyes on it, I felt as if a parade
of icy-footed beetles were marching down my
spine. My cat, Isis, whod been skulking under the
workmens bench, took one look at the statue,
meowed loudly, then streaked off for parts
unknown. I shuddered. Once again Mother had
sent us an artifact positively dripping with ancient,
Are you all right, Theo? Nigel Bollingsworth, the
First Assistant Curator, asked. Youre not taking
a chill, are you?
He studied me in concern. Next to him,
Fagenbush stared at me as if I were something
nasty that Isis had dragged in. No, Mr.
Bollingsworth. Im fine.
Well, except for the black magic rolling off the
new cursed object.
Of course, Mother never realized it was cursed.
Nor did Father. Neither one of them ever seemed
able to tell.
None of the assistant curators seemed to notice
anything, either. Except for that rat Fagenbush.
He eyed the statue with his face aglow and his
long, bony fingers twitching. The problem was, he
looked like that half the time, so it was hard to
know if it was his reaction to the artifact or he
was just being his own horrid self.
As far as I knew, I was the only one able to
detect the black magic still clinging to the ancient
objects. Therefore, it was up to me to discover the
nature of this statues curse and how to remove it.
When Mother arrived tomorrow, she was sure to
have loads of new artifacts with her. Even more
crates would trickle in over the next few weeks.
Who knew how many of those items would be
cursed? I could be busy for months! The only
good thing was that it would keep me out of
Mother and Fathers way. They tend to get
annoyed when Im underfoot, and then begin
talking of sending me off to school. This way, at
least Id be able to spend some time with Mum.
Still, while hunches and gut instinct were all well
and good for a First Level Test, I had to be logical
and scientific about this. I needed to conduct a
Level Two Test as soon as possible.
My chance came when everyone had cleared out
of the receiving bay and returned to their duties.
Since I didnt have any duties to return to, I was
able to hang back unnoticed.
I went over to one of the shelves that lined the
receiving area and took down a small, battered
Canopic jar. It had come in badly damaged, and
since it wasnt particularly valuable, no one had
taken the time to restore it. I had begun using it
for collecting wax (old candle stubs, sealing wax,
that kind of thing), which I used extensively in my
Second Level Test. Wax is very good at absorbing
heka, or evil magic.
I removed some of the wax bits from the jar and
carefully set them in a circle around the base of
By dinnertime, the entire circle of wax bits was a
foul greeny-black color. Drat! I dont think the wax
has ever turned dark that quickly before. Now I
had to come back and conduct a Third Level Test.
Unfortunately, in order to do that, I needed
moonlight. Moonlight is the only way to make the
inscribed curses visible to the human eye.
Of course, the only way to view something in
moonlight is at night.
Excerpted from Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos
by R.L.LaFevres, Copyright © 2007 by R.L.LaFevres. Excerpted by
permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.