Nothing, nothing at all, not the ancient tales of lore, nor the fables of old could have prepared the cousins for the imposing power or the exquisite beauty of the Citadel. It rose up out of the snow like an elaborate ice sculpture, with belfries and pinnacled towers climbing into the clouds and reaching higher than the peaks themselves.
There were arches and turrets and cupolas, and parapets and round keeps with lanterns flickering in spade shaped windows, and all of it as pristine and intricate as though carved from ice and decorated with snow.
The castle was hewn from the mountain itself, forged from the stone so that the posterior of the castle was fused into the rock face of the mountain. A high, thick stone wall with ramparts and battlements like the strongholds of old, curved around the castle, surrounding it like a giant horseshoe with the massive gatehouse setting the center and the two prongs fusing back into the mountain.
And then, all of a sudden, Gramma stopped and pointed up into the top of a mass of trees. And there it was—perched high in an ancient oak and nestled within the branches—an oddly shaped ramshackle treehouse. It was slightly askew, somewhat rickety and setting a little lopsided with uneven, peculiar angles. It was made of old wooden shingles and tin and such. Branches seemed to grow around the bottom and squeeze the sides and burst out from the top. The entire group stood still, mouths gaping open—peering up.
Levi saw the wooden ladder first and raced toward it. Immediately the others were nipping at his heels as they competed to get to the top. Grunts and ouches and “hey-stop that’s” pierced the air as each one pushed and shoved and as fingers and toes were trampled in the chaos to get to the top first. Gramma watched from the ground, and once they were all at the top, she grabbed hold of the bottom rung of the ladder and began climbing behind them.
The others smiled, nodding innocently. Gramma laughed and turned to go out the peacock door; but, as soon as she grabbed the handle, she pivoted back facing them.
A bizarre expression clouded her face. “Whatever you do,” she said, “Whatever you do—listen to me!” She pointed her finger at each of them, and after staring directly into each set of eyes, she continued. “There are journeys and treasures beyond those doors,” she said, “There are long forgotten wisps of alchemy and lost keys and crystals and mirrors of illusions; but, you must not go out any of those doors. Her voice lowered as she leaned forward. “I gotta tell you—those keys are especially hard to find. You think it’s easy; but, nooo, it is not! Everything is fine as long as you don’t go out any doors except the peacock door, right here. This is the door to use—only this one.” She patted the door.
Her voice lowered even more—almost to a whisper. “You see, kiddies, even if you’re ready to search for the keys, it’s real hard to—um—well—to—to feel them—to experience them.” She rubbed the fingers of each hand together, rotating the thumb around the fingertips. “Yeeessss, to feel them; it’s just not the time to feel them. That’s the hard part. Do you understand?”
Title: The Peacock Door
Author: Wanda Kay Knight
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
In a magical tale of adventure, eight cousins sneak through forbidden treehouse doors, only to find themselves separated from each other and lost in strange worlds. In their quests to return home, they must unravel mysteries, escape snares and villains, find one another, and search for the elusive Oracle. The Peacock Door is a rich story of camaraderie, loyalty, love, and determination with a bit whimsy sprinkled throughout.
Wanda Kay Knight lives in the Pacific Northwest, teaches literature, strives really hard to keep up with her adventurous/competitive family, makes things out of yarn (mainly unique hats), enjoys collecting pretty rocks, and writes a lot.
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