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ISBN 978-981-08-5019-7


This book is available in print at Barnes & Noble


www.leighkcunningham.com



Chapter One


A screech echoed as a wedge-tailed eagle soared in the crisp, blue autumn air above Lake Como. Smoke rose from the chimney of an old shack to dance with the great bird, creating a masterpiece as the massive wings disbursed the gray vapors as if Vincent van Gogh had painted the sky. An old woman smiled at the sight as she rocked contentedly in a rickety chair twirling a girl's bracelet in her bony fingers. She toyed with each gold charm: a green enamel turtle, a conch shell, a pink and gold shamrock, a red ladybird, a heart with Faith etched into it, and her favorite, a smiling silver half moon. That's why Faith had to go first—the old woman wanted the charm bracelet. "Such a pretty young thing," she whispered to herself.

No one ventured up that way anymore—not since the summer when she cast twelve children into a spell to teach them some much-needed discipline. A few out-of-towners still came from time to time, out of curiosity mostly, but they kept very quiet and did not swim in the lake out of fear that they might disappear like the children. No one swam in the lake, just as nature intended.

There were only nine children left in the river Kai: five river spirits at the glass table: Jack, Jordan, Ming, Lucy and Isaac, since Toby Witherspoon had escaped; and four wood spirits from the oak table: Arjun, Kiera, Georgia, and Jasper. Zeb Fabergast was still trapped in the spell, but was now held captive by evil spirits who had taken him from Madam Aurora's parlor while he visited.

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