Sep 18, 2019 5:48 AM
The vampire twins find themselves in the kingdom of Deltora.
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Jasmine opens her mouth, as if to dispute that, but then reconsiders and just shrugs. "This way, then." She heads in the direction the pair indicated.

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Zeke whistles warily. 

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The house doesn't seem to be in the perfect center of the field, or at any rate the trees are nearer to the back of the house than the front. There's also a stepping-stone path, though instead of stones, broad leaves with bright white symbols painted on them are arranged in a semi-random pattern spanning the quicksand.

"Kree says he saw them before but he thought they were moss," Jasmine says in something of an undertone. "If they can get out, why is the orchard so badly cared for?"

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"Maybe they're lazy?" whispers Tabby.

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"They're lazy but they live in the middle of this stuff?" Another thought occurs to her. "What do they eat?"

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"People?" she half-jokes.

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"Good thing we're not people."

She looks around and finds a stick on the forest floor, then tests one of the leaves with it. It promptly sinks several feet deep, and Jasmine has to surrender the stick or risk losing her balance. The leaf does not immediately come back up.

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"Maybe the symbols are a clue?"

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They look like this, discounting the one with a spiral on it that Jasmine poked with a stick:

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"...Some are numbers."

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"What number is that one?" Jasmine asks, pointing to the leaf in front of her. It has a J on it.

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"That's not a number, silly, that's the letter J."

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Jasmine squints, unsure. "I thought Js had a dot in there somewhere."

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"That's lowercase js!" 

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"How do you remember all this?"

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"Perfect vampire memory!"

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Jasmine grumbles something about people lucky enough to have been vampires longer than four days.

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While they've been talking, the couple on the other side of the mud has been having their own conversation.

"Ylefass sorcot wohmehtl lettonna cuoy!" the woman insists. "Skca bruon rutewsan oos saya wategot mehttnaw uoyod?"

"Ner dlih cerayeht," the man says dismissively. "Diputs dnaysmul ceblliwy eht. Tirofred neterome htlla eblli wtae mrieht."

The woman scowls at him, then waves her hands in a manner that clearly indicates, don't say I didn't warn you, no matter the language.

 

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"They don't sound nice."

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"You can understand them?" Jasmine asks, surprised. The elderly couple's speech does sound vaguely familiar to her, but there's an odd, stilted quality to it that makes it sound - not like a real language, almost.

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"Not yet, but if I hear them speak a bit more..."

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The man waves to get their attention, then, with exaggerated motions, dips the end of his pole-with-a-hook into one of the spaces between the leaves. It stops sinking about a foot down, and the man puts a little weight on it to show that there's something solid under there. Then he takes the pole back out and points to the other empty spaces.

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Jasmine seems skeptical. "One of you can go first this time."

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With his best impression of menace, Zeke steps where the man indicated. 

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His foot plunges down into the muck - and then stops, up against some kind of stone. The mud is knee-deep, but that's as far as it goes.

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