Kiva looked down from her position on a tree branch high above the forest floor and frowned. She took a slow, deep breath while calculating the distance between the maple she was in and the branch she’d need on the elm tree, then started putting together all the training steps she’d been taking.
Bending her knees and rolling forward on her feet, she curled her left hand behind her and went into a crouch. She instinctively twitched her hand away just before it touched her back, a move that would trigger another of Sakral’s withering criticisms that had been making Kiva’s errors painfully memorable.
While letting her breath out slowly, she whipped her left arm forward, snapping her wrist up to release the coiled swingvine Sakral had lent her. Pointing at her swing branch, she waited as the end of the vine landed and curled around it, then jerked back with her fist to set its hooks into the branch.
Feeling the connection was solid, Kiva took a quick, deep breath and jumped.
Though she’d done it dozens of times in the past four nights of training and traveling upriver with Sakral, the moment of jumping off a branch was still terrifying. The feeling of falling always threatened to make her panic and lose focus. Before it could, though, the tightening of the swingvine around her glove snapped her body into the series of practiced moves Sakral had taught her to turn falling into flying, fear into freedom. Extending both arms over her head, Kiva swung her legs back and put her head down until she passed under her swing branch midway into the arc of her flight, then smoothly lifted her head and brought her legs down.
As she passed the first level of branches on the other side, she pulled down on the vine, tilted her head back, and swung her legs forward in one fluid movement. The rush of swinging up—even more intense now than it had been that first time with Raymonde—made the past few days of dropping through the air, crashing into trunks, and getting tangled up in her swingvine all worth it because, at these moments, she felt more powerful, energized, and alive than she ever had. She was so thrilled by the sensation that she almost didn’t see the small branch in her way before it was too late.
In a flash, she tightened her left arm’s hold on the vine as she brought her right arm angled up in front to deflect the branch away from her face and swung her legs to the left to keep from being spun to the side. Even though the branch was thin, it slashed like a whip, but the bark shields Sakral had tied on her forearms took most of the impact. In less than a second, Kiva had swung her legs back to the middle and up to complete her arc. She was delighted to find she was still heading straight for a good landing branch on her target tree.
Then came the most difficult move of all. Just before reaching the top of her arc, she pulled the vine forward, swung her legs down, bent her knees, and landed softly on the near side of her landing branch, letting the momentum roll her forward exactly to the middle. She felt her feet naturally flex to fit the curve of the branch and stabilize her as Sakral had been repeatedly telling her to do. A perfect landing!
And now, for the finishing touch, she said to herself. Without turning around or even looking back, she brought her left arm down, waited until she felt the vine go slack, then twitched the vine, and waited again. She counted to six—the amount of time she had learned the living vine needed to detach its hooks from the pivot branch and coil itself back up—then curled her wrist forward, opened her fingers, and caught it neatly in the palm of her gloved hand.
About the Book
Author: P.H.T. Bennett
Genre: MG Fantasy
Like every kid in Solasenda, 11-year-old Kiva Stone has been far too busy training for one of the five town guilds to think about something as useless as dreaming. But when she and her sister DeeDee uncover a mysterious plot to get rid of them, their only hope lies with a shadowy group of people who get unimaginable powers from their dreams. As the girls escape with them up the river, they start learning secret dreaming techniques that have been forbidden for centuries. But how can they learn enough to stand against the enemies chasing them? The answer lies in the shattered history of Orora Crona, the lost Valley of Dreams, and whoever can piece it together first will rule for centuries to come.
P.H.T. Bennet began exploring his dreams when he was a child and has never bothered to stop. He had the good luck to have two daughters, Juliette and Paola, who not only served as the inspirations for DeeDee and Kiva, the main characters of Raising Sleeping Stones, but also helped him turn their family dreamwork sessions into this book. His lucky streak grew when he married his lovely wife, Mim,who tolerates his turning on a light in the middle of the night to write down ever-crazier dreams and talking about them in the morning as long as he lets her sleep in, first. His favorite dreams involve flying, visiting the dead, and replaying nightmares until they reveal their secrets.
Pratt’s latest projects are editing Book Two of the Orora Crona Chronicles and planning a virtual summer dreaming camp with other dream authors.
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