In the cell, Hayley Skirmish, Robin Snowscar, Eve and Zinnia Batty sat on the floor, their hands shackled behind them. Zinnia grinned and immediately everyone else scowled.
“Meeting you,” Hayley said, “is one of the worst things that has ever happened to me.”
“I second that,” Robin nodded.
Eve frowned. “I would like you better if you would let me sample your blood. Just a little bit…”
Zinnia moved a little further from Eve and moved her red eyes back and forth from each of them. As she did so, her rainbow-colored hair moved slightly, like a burst of light in the gloomy room. “You guys are all such downers. You only think I’m annoying because I’m trying to cheer you up with fake peppiness.”
“Yeah, that’s pretty much correct,” Hayley said. “And the fact that you keep calling us weird names we don’t even understand.”
“Oh Hayley, don’t be a dipperonie.”
“And that is precisely what I mean.”
“You are so annoying…” Eve muttered.
“I’m sorry, I don’t speak snozcomber.”
“Zinnia, will you just shut up?” Robin asked irritably.
“Of course not, you gusterd.”
They all sighed. All it did was make Zinnia’s grin widen. The door to their little cell suddenly opened a crack, just wide enough for someone’s voice to come through.
“Hello, thieves,” came the teasing voice of a guard.
“Hello, dipperonie,” Zinnia replied.
The guard ignored her. “I think that you will all like to know that we can’t actually do anything to you until your two other friends are captured for helping you steal a book from China Sorrows.”
“We never even stole anything,” Eve said. “We’re being accused of a crime we didn’t commit.”
“Lies,” the guard said.
“Which two friends?” Hayley asked.
“I don’t know their names, but one looks scary – like, insanely scary – and the other’s hands crackle with electricity.”
“Sparky and Ivy,” they all said in unison.
“Oh. Yes, that’s them. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and—“
He stopped midsentence because Robin had crept over while he was talking and smacked him in the face with the door. He collapsed to the ground, unconscious. Robin turned and looked at the others.
“Now would be the time to escape, don’t you think?”