15. Stone Barricade

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Chapter 15. Stone Barricade

Jacob followed the others down the trail. He looked over his shoulder at the Fat Lady’s cabin a couple of times, but gave up, realizing she wasn’t going to open the door. He released the Minyas, ignoring their shouts of joy and exuberant flips in the air. He’d wanted to ask the Fat Lady about the Key and the Lorkon. Why’d she have to push them out of her house so fast?

After walking deep in thought for a few minutes, Jacob noticed that Aloren and Akeno were laughing and talking to each other, bouncing with each step they took. He rolled his eyes, trying to ignore them as he puzzled through what the Fat Lady had said. The potion. How on earth could she create it, not knowing what it would fix, or what reactions it would cause, and then expect him to take it? And why would he need it to save his life?

Akeno bumped into Jacob, and Jacob frowned at him. “I’ll bet she gave you guys some sort of hyper potion,” he said. “Will you be able to notice anything bad going on around you? Of course not. You’ll be too busy laughing and bouncing all over the place.”

Aloren pulled food out of Akeno’s bag, handing out carrots and apples. “So we’re in a good mood! It’s not about her.” Stuffing a chunk of bread into her mouth, she ran to catch up with Akeno, who had just sprinted off for no apparent reason.

Jacob didn’t quicken his pace to keep up with them. He needed peace and quiet, and with them far ahead, he just might get it. He fingered the corked vial in his pocket, wondering when he would have to drink it.

September appeared in front of him. “Is it okay if we play in your hair again?”

“Yeah, sure, fine.” Jacob’s thoughts were too far away to care. What was it the Fat Lady had said? Something about not seeing things he shouldn’t see. But what sort of things? And wouldn’t it be better if he knew what was going on? For a minute, Jacob contemplated taking the potion right then. He didn’t want to wait until he was almost dead. Maybe it would act as a precaution for the danger they’d experience.

“Honestly, Jacob, have some fun for once!” Aloren yelled from about thirty yards away. “You’re so grim!”

“What are you talking about?”

She ran up to him. “Come on!” she said, grabbing his arm and trying to pull him toward Akeno.

“I don’t want to . . .” Jacob grumbled, dragging his feet.

“We’re going to have a race.”

Jacob raised an eyebrow in disbelief and looked at his friends. “Are you serious?”

Aloren stared at him. “Do you have some meeting to go to, some unfinished business to take care of while we’re walking?”

“I’m supposed to be reading the book.”

“Well, you weren’t reading it. And you did plenty of that yesterday—this will be the perfect break for you. Besides, what are Akeno and I supposed to do while you’re reading?”

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