Lizzy AlBright and
The Attic Window
From CHAPTER FOURTEEN
Gretta greeted him. “Come in, come in, Mr. McDoogle. You’re just in time for traffles.”
“I kin hardly wait,” said McDoogle. “I’m famished!”
She noticed a small bundle of sticks lying at his feet. “We can add these to the fire,” said Gretta.
“I’ve another wee pile of sticks tucked under the porch if you be needin’ ony mair. They’re all plenty dry and kin be used right away.”
“Perfect, Mr. McDoogle, and thank you!” said Gretta. McDoogle trotted inside. Gretta shut the door and introduced McDoogle to the others.
The tray full of traffles was steaming when Gabby brought it into the parlor. A toasty, rich aroma filled the room.
“They are best when hot,” exclaimed Gabby, “but they last for days and are very good cold too. They are full of nourishment and will keep your belly full for hours.”
Lizzy looked at the tray. The traffles were flat and round, a bit bigger than a donut, except there wasn’t a hole in the middle. Lizzy took a bite and was surprised to find they were filled on the inside
with a sweet and delicious paste.
“These are fab,” said Lizzy. “What’s inside?”
“These have the traditional bumbleberry and toadschroom mince,” said Gabby. Lizzy stopped eating and swallowed hard. “Berries and toads?” she asked, feeling her stomach begin to churn.
“Toad schrooms,” Gabby clarified.
“What are toadschrooms?” asked Lizzy.
“Anything we harvest by picking it up off the ground is considered a schroom. Toadschrooms come from the nuts that fall from the bungabella bush. You can’t pick them directly from the bush. The
nuts must fall off on their own or they will harden and rot. The bungabella nuts lie on the moist ground and begin to swell. When they are ripe, the shells snap open, causing them to hop off the ground. It’s fun to watch the bungabella nuts when they start hopping and spitting out their toadschrooms. So there you have it. They’re not toads,” chuckled Gabby. “They just hop like a toad, and that’s what gives them their name.”
Lizzy’s stomach calmed down. “And what about the bumble…?”
“Bumbleberries!” clarified Gabby. “The bumbleberries come from the bumbleberry tree. They grow abundantly throughout all of Ailear, and we use the berries for lots of things, including the filling
we put inside traffles.”
Lizzy was on her third traffle, in midbite, when she froze. She looked around the parlor. She glanced at the door of the room where she had changed. She knew that Gabby had come from a kitchen, but all this time she hadn’t really paid attention to any of this. This house was spacious. Why hadn’t she noticed it before? She chewed slowly and then swallowed. She glanced at Gretta and then looked at each goose one at a time.
From CHAPTER NINETEEN
Sourbelly Sink was one of the many lakes located within Valendale Forest. While other lakes in the forest were idyllic destinations, Sourbelly Sink was the one place to avoid. Its repulsive stench and surface scum were only two of the many reasons why Calixta had chosen it. It was fed by a freshwater stream, but nothing ever escaped. The water seeped into the ground as fast as it flowed in from the stream. The forest delivered a steady flow of decay, debris, carcasses, and minerals into the lake. It was essentially a cesspool. Gaseous fumes bubbled and popped on the surface. At night, the vapors emitted a green and purple phosphorescent glow. The sight was eerie and beautiful at the same time.
Onion trees thrived in the swampy shallows. Their thick, bulbous bases rose eight to ten feet out of the water before tapering up to thin trunks, giving the impression of large onions. Their main trunks branched out into a canopy with spindly boughs. The onion trees didn’t produce an abundance of leaves, but they were laden with spiderweb moss. All the trees around Sourbelly Sink dripped with the stringy, pale green parasite. It flourished on the moist, acrid air. It was enchanting to look at from a distance, but passersby who grazed it quickly learned that it left a sticky resin on their skin and clothes that
was difficult to remove. They continued on the soggy path until they came to a small cut in the trees that went toward the lake.
“This is it,” said Jamison, pointing to the path. “I’ve never been
any further than this.”