of Undoing –
The first Quentaris series went to 26 exciting titles. Unfortunately,
our publisher was bought by an international company who figured
26 titles were enough for one series. This was too good an opportunity
to miss. Michael and I needed a new publisher, and who better to
do it than Ford Street Publishing?!
A new scenario was devised because we didn't want the "same-old
same-old". So we decided that the new series will be fully illustrated
and the covers would have a new, fresh look. In Spell I have a disreputable
down-at-heel character sneak into Quentaris to undo the city's prosperity.
Unfortunately for our poor saboteur, things go horribly wrong and
the city (with him in it) gets thrown into a vortex and is set adrift
in the rift caves. Let the fun begin ...
Due to a vengeful plot by warlike Tolrush, Quentaris is uprooted --
city, cliff-face, harbour and all -- and hurled into the uncharted
rift-maze. Lost and adrift in this endless labyrinth of parallel universes,
encountering both friend and foe, the city faces a daunting task.
Somehow, Quentaris must forge a new identity and find its way home.
And nothing is ever as easy as it seems ...
Tab didn’t move till the clip-clop of the horse’s hooves
faded down the cobbled street. Then, nonchalantly, she strolled down
the lane that ran beside the orphanage, pausing to check that no
one was watching her. Here at the back of the building, a drainpipe
that Tab and the others used when they wanted to go on errands after ‘lights
out’ offered easy access to one as nimble as she. Though highly
dangerous, certain disreputable people liked to employ the Dung Brigaders
as runners at night: it was the only way the youngsters could make
any real money.
One more check to make sure the coast was clear, and Tab shinnied
up the pipe. With a little persuasion, a window lifted from its latch.
Tab slipped though the opening, flinching as the frame creaked alarmingly.
Creeping down the stairs, Tab made for the cellar where she had hidden
her silver coins. She’d already made up her mind not to risk
going for her other belongings, which were pitifully few in any case.
She reached the bottom of the stairs and paused, listening.
Where was Masher Mildon, Mrs Figgin’s trusted rift world custodian?
Masher, who was part-troll, hadn’t gone with Mrs Figgin’s
party. Which meant he was lurking about the orphanage somewhere.
The obnoxious creature, who had gotten his name because he liked ‘mashing’ children’s
faces with his gigantic fists, was always spying and reporting back
to Mrs Figgin.
Tab’s heart nearly stopped. If she had been thinking clearly
she would have acted naturally, as though she had every right to
be in the cellar. But no. Masher’s voice came so suddenly,
and was so suspicious, that Tab took flight.
‘C’mere!’ roared Masher.
Tab leapt down the stairs three at a time. Behind her, Masher’s
rasping breath sounded close but laboured.
‘You little wretch!’ he bellowed.
Tab hit the cellar floor running. She swung around a large boiler.
The slab floor was slick. Her feet skidded as though in slow motion
and she slid smack bang into a wall.
Dazed, Tab shook her head. Masher slowed, stopping just short of
her. Already he was smacking his fist into the palm of his hairy
hand. Tab’s insides shrank. She cast about wildly. There was
no escape, and the leer on Masher’s face merely reflected that.
One entrance — the stairway — was also the exit. In desperation,
Tab backed away. Masher advanced. His toothless mouth was wide open
and ropy threads of drool dribbled from it.
‘Cop your hiding as is right,’ Masher crooned. ‘You
done wrong. Been caught out. Take what’s coming to you. Haw!’
Tab stumbled and fell. Something rattled underneath her. A metal
grate. Quick as a flash, she fumbled at it with her fingers. Yes!
The sluice pit. She yanked with all her strength. The grate didn’t
budge. Masher laughed. Tab relaxed her grip, pushed and jiggled to
loosen the grate in its seat, then pulled again. It came up with
a slurping sound.
Masher’s grin hardened. He lurched forward.
Tab flung the grate across the floor. It skimmed the flagstones and
crunched into Masher’s toes.
‘You li’l horror!’ he screamed, hopping on one
foot while he clutched the other.
Tab sucked in her breath and went feet first into the drainpipe.