Thirteen year-old Ara somehow finds herself instantly transported to what seems to be a pirate ship, flying high over the Jade Sea, half a continent away from home. This, of course, leads to a few questions. How did she get there? How can she get home? What is the proper etiquette for greeting a presumed pirate captain when rescued from the sea in nothing but a nightdress? Does this have anything to do with the strange thing that happened to her the day before? After all, nearly dying twice in less than 24 hours would be a pretty huge coincidence.
A few days’ journey south of there, Brother Peylo’s once pie-filled and monotonous life of research at the Academy has been turned into a cross-country search for the new Key of the city of Loman. The Brotherhood has had thirteen years to prepare for this moment, but the unexpected intensity of the new Key’s power is making it that much more difficult to locate. Just to add to Brother Peylo’s concerns, he has also come across a conspiracy. He really hates conspiracies, even more so when they put an innocent child at risk.
As they gradually and at times accidentally make their way toward one another, Ara and Brother Peylo begin to realise that mastering the powers of a Key will turn out to be far more complicated than they could have imagined. Great and unpredictable powers don’t come with an instruction manual. It’s not like you can just sign up for a school and learn to use them. There are no magic words to make things happen, no gestures, just concentration, focus and plenty of trial and error. Not the easiest way to learn when you’re responsible for the well being of a whole city.
More than ever, Ara will need to surround herself with people she can trust, from family members to new friends. But when you have the power to change the world with just a thought, how can you trust the intentions of the people who are closest to you?
Sitting cross-legged on the wall, with her back to the open air, Ara closed her eyes. The updraft from the Low City far below brought distant sounds and faint smells that she could make out better with her eyes shut. The gusts of wind played with the ends of her long braids and made a few rebel strands of hair tickle her face. It was peaceful up here, away from the bustling below, and the cooler wind was a refreshing break from the heat of the summer afternoon. The wide, flat stones of the top of the great wall had been soaking up the sun all day and were now pleasantly warm to the touch.
Even with her eyes closed, she recognised the approaching footsteps. The slightly chaotic gait and the flip-flopping sound made by hand-me-down sandals were synonymous with her little brother.
"Ara! Ara! Mother says you're to come now, she needs help with the evening meal!"
She sighed, and opened her eyes.
"Okay Seth, I'll be there in a few minutes."
He was standing right next to the wall, the golden crown of his head barely appearing over the edge of it. He was hopping from one foot to the other as if he needed the toilet, which seemed to always be the case. He was still out of breath from running all the way there but he managed to pull himself up to see over the edge of the wall, panting softly.
"Come on, Ara, she says it’s urgent and you should come at once!"
Ara's shoulders dropped and she let her head hang forward for a second. He clearly had been told to return with her immediately and even at his young age he knew that Mother's orders were not to be taken lightly. She raised her head again, smiled at him and uncrossed her legs to stand up.
In a second it all went wrong.
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