Spoiler Level: Keeper of the Lost Cities
“You. Me.” Keefe looked Fitz in the eye. “Base quest. One-on-one.” He smirked.
“Oh, you wanna go?” Fitz challenged, stepping over a branch towards Keefe. “Abilities allowed. I’ll crush you.”
“No abilities.” Keefe corrected. “That’s unfair.”
“Afraid you can’t beat me?”
“Not at all.”
“Then abilities allowed. It’s not like Telepathy is that useful anyway.”
“It is compared to Empathy.”
The two eyed each other for a minute, then both broke into grins and awkwardly shook hands.
“Have it your way,” Keefe decided. “But I get first choice of base.”
“Fine,” Fitz said, shrugging. “I can beat you anywhere.”
“My base—” Keefe paused dramatically, “—will be the top of that tree.” He gestured to a huge oak next to him, taller than even Everglen.
“You can’t do that!” Fitz furrowed his brows.
“I can beat you anywhere,” Keefe mimicked, smoothing down his hair like Fitz’s.
Fitz swatted Keefe’s arm. “...Fine. But my base is the roof of Everglen.”
“You’re on. We start in five minutes.” Keefe walked over to his base and leaned on it. “Take your time getting to your base.”
It was at that moment that Fitz recognized the flaw in his plan.
He turned and ran into the mansion.
Five minutes later, Fitz had finally reached the roof. The peak of the roof was behind him, and he stood on the surrounding ring. He peeked over its edge to see Keefe finalizing a barrier of branches around his base. Fitz considered throwing a rock at him, but decided against giving away his position.
It was time to take a gamble.
He ran inside and returned with an armload of books, then starting to stack them around the trapdoor in the center of one side of the ring.
A quick glance over the edge revealed that Keefe was gone.
He would have to employ more desperate methods.
The tree’s tip was about six feet from the left edge of the roof, and a few feet higher. But Fitz had a rope.
He glanced at the half-finished barrier of books, took a deep breath, and tied a loop in the rope. Throwing it over to the tree, he just managed to grab the top, and pulled the rope tight. He pulled as hard as he could, the tree leaning toward him, covering about half of the gap. Only three feet remained between him and victory.
Footsteps were coming up the stairs.
Fitz turned and ran around the corner of the roof’s peak, pulling the rope.
And heard a snap.
The top of the tree flew over, shedding leaves, and he grabbed it, somersaulting forward, just as Keefe broke through the book barrier and landed on the roof, panting.
They looked at each other and burst into laughter.