Enjoy this sneak peek of book two in the Clown Town Adventures series, Escape to Pearl City.
Chapter 1: Heaven Help Us
Duchess’ legs burned from running. Her lungs felt tight and her eyelids heavy from lack of sleep.
“Hurry Duchess, hurry.”
Duchess looked at the large purple gumdrop running beside her in despair. Her head wouldn’t stop pounding and sweat began to burn her eyes. I must be dreaming, she thought to herself. The sound of General Sharaya’s voice quickly reminded her that she was very much awake.
“Duchess, keep up!” General Sharaya shouted as she took the lead. She slashed at any branch that stood in her way to clear a path for Duchess and Chewy. The chubby little gumdrop huffed and puffed as she tried to keep up.
All Duchess could remember was lying on a hard cement floor in the dark dungeons of Clown Town.
“General please…I can’t breathe. Please I need to rest just for a moment.”
General Sharaya came to a halt.
“Here, drink this.”
The General hurriedly reached for a leather pouch filled with water and gave it to Duchess.
“Thank heavens…thank heavens,” the General breathed quietly.
Duchess tried hard to catch her breath and wiped tears from her eyes at the thought of Truffles.
”What do you think they’ll do to him? We have to do something.”
General Sharaya’s eyes looked cold and tired while she stared into the dark forest without blinking.
“Come, we need to keep moving. We have to get to sugar valley before daybreak. We need to leave this place as soon as possible and escape to Pearl City.”
Truffles watched Jax walk wearily back into the palace and disappear behind the large palace doors. His heart pounded and his mouth felt dry. He knew that it was now or never and that the deylai could come for him at any moment. He gripped Duchess’ star stone that he deceptively hid in his pocket and breathed deeply; emerging slowly from the clown car.
“Good evening soldier,” he said cheerfully while walking into the palace.
Truffles tried to steady his nerves. His thoughts turned to what he did back at the conjurers cottage. At the conjurers cottage, Truffles had to decide quickly what to do. He went inside and spoke to the conjurers maid and then left quickly without seeing him. Thoughts raced through Truffles mind. I shouldn’t have deceived Jax but what else was I to do. Everyone around here seems to have gone mad.
Truffles walked through the main hall of the palace until he reach a small stone doorway that the servants often used. He descended down the dark stairs and walked through a cold dark tunnel that led to the dungeons. What shall I say to the guards? Um…uh, I could tell them that Jax…no that the conjurer wants me to check on the prisoners. Yes. That should do it. Tears suddenly started to grow in Truffles eyes. I only pray that I’m not too late, he thought.
Truffles took a deep breath while he rounded the last dark corner that led to the dungeons. He shuddered at the sound of prisoners shouting and cries of pain in the distance. Truffles walked confidently up to the clown guards that stood in front of the cell that Duchess and General Sharaya were in and cleared his throat loudly.
“Good evening gentleclowns. I’d like to see the prisoners if I could please. Straight away.”
“We be instructed not to let anyone see to ‘em yer Lordship.”
“Do you dare to defy me? My orders come directly from…Epsilon. Now open this door at once and go and fetch chains for them. We are moving the prisoners to the conjurers cottage tonight.”
The prison clown guards scurried to do as they were told. As soon as the guards were out of sight, Truffles rushed into the cell.
“Heaven help us! Duchess can you hear me sweetheart?”
Truffles placed his hand on her forehead and stroked it gently.
“Don’t touch her. Get away,” yelled General Sharaya.
Truffles stared helplessly at Duchess.
“What’s happened to her?”
“Don’t pretend to be daft clown. You and your kind have ripped out her star stone and will deliver her to Epsilon so that he can consume her blood. Now get back!”
“I have it. I have her stone. Here take it…please take it and make her well.”
Truffles removed the stone from his pocket and handed it to General Sharaya. She quickly took the stone and touched it to Duchess’ chest. The General bowed her head and squeezed her eyes tightly while she spoke in the old farish tongue.
“Mun haya nanoee. Let the light of heaven guide you back to the ones you love.”
The dark dungeon was silent as the grave. Truffles trembled watching Duchess’ cold and still body lie motionless on the stone floor. General Sharaya held the stone closer to Duchess’ chest and spoke louder.
“Mun haya nanoee! It can’t be too late. It just can’t be. Felanthiam if you can hear me, please help us.”
Truffles and General Sharaya stared helplessly at Duchess with tears and sweat running down their faces, when the stone began to glow. General Sharaya let the stone go when it started to attach itself to Duchess’ skin and sink slowly into her chest until it disappeared. Duchess suddenly gasped for air and began to cough.
“Duchess thank heavens! Oh thank heavens,” General Sharaya exclaimed.
“We thought we’d lost you deary. Quick now. I have to get you both out of here. The guards will return at any moment.”
Truffles helped General Sharaya get Duchess to her feet, led them from their cell then down the dark corridor of the dungeon.
Duchess started to regain focus and connect her brain to her legs. The cold dungeon air quickly helped her come to her senses.
“Truffles is that you? What are you doing? Epsilon will have you killed for helping us. You must come with us.”
The thought of leaving Clown Town had never occured to Truffles until just then.
“Do you hear me Truffles they will kill you. You must come with us to…to…far from here.”
“Don’t worry about me dearest. We need to get you out of here. Hurry now. I can hear the guards coming.”
The light of the guards torches lit up the dark corridor.
“There they are gents. After them!”
They reached the end of the corridor and started up the long stairwell.
“How do you plan to get us out of the palace? King Clownington would die before letting us walk out the front door,” barked General Sharaya.
“I uh haven’t quite gotten that far yet. There must be a back way out of here.
“Well where is it? We are sitting ducks in this stairwell!” General Sharaya shouted.
“Wait a minute. I smell food. We must be near the kitchen. Quickly, it must be through this door. There has to be a way out of the palace this way.”
Truffles led the way through the door to the kitchen. The clown cooks were busy cooking and barely noticed them. The three made it through the kitchen and to the back door. Truffles was the first to go through when he ran into two Royal Clown Guards. Duchess and General Sharaya quickly pulled back and into a dark corner before the guards saw them. The guards rose to attention when they saw Truffles.
“Eh, can we be of help yer Lordship? You look quite distressed.”
“Uh, no thank you. I came down here to uh fetch you both. It seems that a couple of prisoners have escaped.”
“Yes sir. We’ been alerted and were told to stay posted ‘ere yer Lordship. We ‘ave also been told that one of our own has betrayed us.”
The clown guard’s eyes grew dark with suspicion.
“Yeh wouldn’t ‘appen to, eh know about any o’ this would yeh yer Lordship?”
“Why I never. That’s the most preposterous thing I’ve heard all day. Of course not. I’ll accompany both of you myself to the main floor. They have asked for you. It will be your heads if you disobey General Madix’s orders.”
“Uh, Yes sir. Sorry sir. We’ll come right away yer Lordship.”
“No! You ca…”
General Sharaya held her hand over Duchess’ mouth and grabbed onto her. Duchess tried hard to reach for Truffles but General Sharaya held her back. Truffles looked towards the dark corner where he knew they were hiding while he followed the guards to the main floor. He smiled even though his eyes were filled with tears and mouthed one word in silence.
As soon as the guards were out of sight, General Sharaya grabbed onto Duchess’ arm and dragged her from the kitchen. The two sprinted through the clearing towards the edge of the dark forest that was behind the palace. The closer that they came to the forest, the more a small gummy looking figure holding a small candle and a leather water pouch came into view.
“General, what is that?”
“Thank heavens!” the General exclaimed. “Zionous must have sent a message to the Twills of Normandeery. We will take refuge in sugar valley until we can find a way to Eucharon.”
On The Palace Main Floor
Truffles knew that it was of no use to run. If the clowns didn’t find him, the deylai surely would. The main floor of the palace was locked down and swarming with both Royal Clown Guards and deylai soldiers. In the center of the large main floor stood the entire royal family along with the conjurer and General Madix. Truffles shivered just by looking at the General. The scarred indentations of the skin on his face were often filled with cakey clown makeup that always made Truffles feel squeamish. Truffles breathed in and out slowly as if it were his last. As Truffles drew closer, he met Jax’s gaze and saw that his eyes were red with anguish.
“Tell me it isn’t true Truff. Tell us all that you didn’t steal the star stone and help them escape. Are you mad? Do you know what Epsilon has ordered? He’s commanded a fate worse than death for the clown that has helped them escape.”
General Madix stared at Truffles coldly.
“Yes. The young prince is quite correct unfortunately. Epsilon has ordered that the one responsible is to swiftly be sent to Master Druix, the famed Dungeon Master of Witch Kingdom. Have you ‘eard of him? I’ve only ‘eard stories about the dungeons of Witch Kingdom and the incantations of Master Druix. The prisoners there dare not speak his name. He ‘as the power to torture yer soul beyond the grave some say. A very dark destiny awaits yeh, yer Lordship. I hope that yer sacrifice for those two girls was worth yer while.”
General Madix chuckled, which sent a shiver up everyone’s spine; even King Clownington’s.
“Why Truff? Why risk your life for them?”
Truffles stood motionless. The moment seemed to be unreal. He knew now that there was no going back and no one to rescue him.
“Loving someone more than you love yourself can make one do insane things I guess. A clown should never forsake a friend.”