Akiko in the Castle of Alia Rellapor (英語) ハードカバー – 2001/9/11
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Akiko and her crew — Spuckler Boach, Mr. Beeba, Poog, and Gax — have faced dangers unimaginable to the average fourth-grade earthling. Now their mission is finally coming to an end. At last they’ve reached the castle of Alia Rellapor — but that doesn’t mean that things have gotten any easier. The castle is heavily guarded by robots and getting inside won’t be easy. If they do get in, they have to locate Prince Froptoppit, free him from captivity, and escape from the castle without alerting the guards or their leader, the half man — half machine Throck. Can a girl who’s too scared to be school safety leader pull it off? If anyone can, Akiko can!
The snow crunched loudly beneath our feet. Spuckler Boach was out in front, whistling a cheerful little tune, while Mr. Beeba huffed and puffed along, great clouds of breath trailing behind his bright yellow tufts of hair. Poog, his custom-made coat snugly concealing most of his round little body, floated steadily by my shoulder like some kind of alien bodyguard. And just behind me, rolling and squeaking over the surface of the snow on his four rusty wheels, was Spuckler's robot, Gax. We must have made a pretty funny-looking group.
The morning sky was a bright, cloudless blue. It stretched from snow-covered hills on one side of us to jagged purple peaks on the other. Judging by the steep incline of the road, we were heading into the mountains. A bracing cold breeze blew directly into our faces, making me wish we could head in the opposite direction and somehow still get where we wanted to go.
"There ain't nothin' like fresh mountain air," Spuckler said. "Really gets the blood curdling!"
"Curdling?" Mr. Beeba wheezed. "I don't know what word you're searching for, Spuckler," he added, gasping for breath, "but it's surely not curdling."
"Yeah, whatever," Spuckler replied.
Lacking the energy to join in the argument, I stayed quiet and just let my thoughts roll around in my head. I couldn't think of anything else to do, so I decided I'd try to figure out how many days I'd been here on the planet Smoo.
Let's see, now . . .
Bip and Bop came to get me at my bedroom at eight p.m., and I arrived at King Froptoppit's palace in the middle of the night, so I figured that didn't count as a real day. Maybe a quarter of a day?
The first real day was when the journey began. That was when the King introduced me to Mr. Beeba and Poog, and we picked up Spuckler and Gax, and then we flew off in the ship and got into all that trouble with the Sky Pirates. Man, what a crazy way to get started. Me, Akiko, face to face with a fire-breathing lizard! The kids in my fourth-grade class back on Earth would never believe it in a million years.
Okay, so that was one day.
The next day, hmmm . . .
. . . Oh yeah, we got swallowed up by the giant water snake on our way to the Sprubly Islands. That was the same day Mr. Beeba and Spuckler went off into the forest and left me all alone with Poog and Gax. Wow, that already seemed like ages ago.
That made two days.
Okay, so the next day we went to the palace of Queen Pwip in the morning and then climbed the Great Wall of Trudd in the afternoon. That made three. And yesterday we crossed over that superlong bridge, ran right smack dab into Throck, and wound up sleeping around a campfire.
That was four days all together. That meant today was the fifth day.
Five days? Was that all? I don't know, it didn't even seem possible that we could have done so much in just five short days.
"We're comin' up to some kind of a ridge here," Spuckler said.
My mind snapped back to attention. Spuckler was ten or fifteen feet ahead of me, quickly marching to a point where the white road met the bright blue sky. I moved my legs as fast as I could to keep up with him.
"This might be it."
It? Alia Rellapor's castle?
A shiver ran through me. Part of me wanted to turn around and run back downhill as fast as I could, but I forced myself to keep moving forward.
Calm down, I told myself. This is no time to panic.
My mind was spinning with questions. Would we be able to rescue Prince Froptoppit? Would we even be able to find Prince Froptoppit? Would we run into that creep Throck again? And then there was Alia Rellapor. Would we finally confront her in person?
"Yeah, guys," said Spuckler. "I'm almost sure this is it."
"Don't get our hopes up, Spuckler," Mr. Beeba gasped out between noisily drawn breaths. "You said the very same thing at the last ridge, and all we came to was several more miles of snow-encrusted road!"
"I'm tellin' ya, Beebs," Spuckler called back as he quickened his pace, "I got a feeling about this!"
"You and your feelings!" Mr. Beeba griped. "If we still had my maps, we'd have much more to go on than your feckless, fickle feelings!"
"very impressive alliteration, sir," Gax's tinny voice announced from the back of the group.
"Why, thank you, Gax." Mr. Beeba grinned, turning his head back to give Gax a wink. "I was rather pleased with it myself!"
I craned my neck, trying to get a peek at what lay beyond the ridge. All I could see was a range of mountains, purple and white in the distance. But as we plodded forward, I saw something tall and pointy, too perfect-looking to be a simple outcropping of stone.
"Spuckler," I called, pointing with an icy finger. "What is that?"
"I dunno, 'Kiko," he answered. "It's kinda funny-lookin', ain't it?"
We kept moving, gradually speeding up in our eagerness to figure out what we were seeing. As we made our way to the top of the ridge, the tall, pointy thing revealed itself to be a stone tower. It was covered with detailed carvings, like the surface of a Mayan temple. The closer we went, the more we could make out. Eventually we saw a second tower a little farther to the right. Then two more towers over on the left. Every step we took seemed to reveal the top of another tower, until finally it dawned on me: All the towers were part of a single building. Alia Rellapor's castle!
Spuckler was the first to get to the top of the ridge. He rested his hands on his hips and shook his head slowly back and forth.
"Hot dang!" he cried, following it up with a prolonged high-pitched whistle. "That is one heckuva place she's got there!"
I took the last few steps up to stand beside him and stood there gaping at the sight. Rising majestically from the side of an enormous snow-capped mountain, the castle was the size of an entire city. It was a mass of towers and walls, covered with alien decorations and ornate, soaring windows like the ones in a Gothic cathedral. It was scary and inviting and ugly and beautiful all at the same time. I'd never seen anything like it before, and I'm sure I never will again.
I glanced over at Poog, who was gazing at the castle with a strange, distant look in his eyes. It was almost as if he'd been there before and was familiar with every nook and cranny of the place. He wasn't smiling, but he wasn't exactly frowning, either. He was just really . . . I don't know, serious.
"Astonishing!" Mr. Beeba wheezed, bent over with his hands on his knees. "I don't believe I've ever seen such a hideous mishmash of architectural styles!"
"It's . . . ," I began, struggling to come up with a decent adjective. I gave up after a minute, sighed, then just said, ". . . amazing."
"All right, folks, we didn't come all this way just to enjoy the view," Spuckler said. "Let's march on down there and find a way inside."
"you make it sound so easy, sir," Gax squeaked, rattling a bit in the frigid wind.
"Yes, Spuckler," Mr. Beeba agreed. "It won't be a simple matter of strolling up to the front door and ringing the bell. There's no telling what sort of sentinels Alia has dispatched to guard this fortress. We'll be putting our lives in peril merely attempting to go anywhere near the place."
"Yeah, well, we've managed to get this far," Spuckler retorted with a grin. "No sense gettin' cold feet now."
I swallowed hard and followed Spuckler as he strutted down the road leading to the castle. Mr. Beeba, Poog, and Gax joined us, looking no more eager to get inside that castle than I was.
The mountains with their snowy peaks rose menacingly all around us as we moved farther and farther down toward the castle. I stumbled once or twice on the stony path and found myself thinking of something my dad once told me about mountain climbing. He was born and raised in a small mountain village in Japan, and he always claims he had to climb a mountain every day just to get to school. I find that a little hard to believe (especially because my mom gives me a wink every time he says it), but he swears it's true. I don't know, maybe it was just a small mountain.
Anyway, he told me that climbing down a mountain is just as hard as climbing up one, and that sometimes it can be even more dangerous. People going down a mountain can start to move too fast if they're not careful. Then if they take just one bad step—
"Spuckler!" Mr. Beeba called out, interrupting my thoughts. "Look down there to the right. Those are Torg patrols, aren't they?"
"Good eyes, Beebs," Spuckler answered, stopping in his tracks.
I tried to get a look at what Mr. Beeba was talking about, but all I could see were these little gray dots in the distance.
"Torg patrols?" I asked.
"The word Torg is an acronym, Akiko," Mr. Beeba explained. "It stands for Turbo Obtuvian Retramodular Gigatron."
There was a very long pause.
"Torg patrols?" I asked again.
"They're general-use robots," Spuckler said, as if he were translating for Mr. Beeba. "They can be programmed to do almost anything. Why, this whole castle was prob'ly built by Torgs."
Suddenly we heard a loud mechanical sound coming from somewhere below us, the sound of a gigantic piece of machinery. From behind a large boulder to our left, an enormous gray robot lurched out into the middle of the road only fifty or sixty feet ahead of us.
"Heavens!" Mr. Beeba squealed. "A T-t-torg!"
Akiko is a girl of about 10 years of age who learns alot about herself by helping others in a fairly unique setting. She is taken to the Planet Smoo (book 1) to help bring the prince back from this castle. Akiko learns that she has a lot more to give than she expected to lead the team to find the prince. My 7 year old daughter feels she can relate to Akiko who is a "normal" person who is just going to school and parents who work.
There were enough pictures added through the book from Crilley to add to the fun for my daughter as we read it together.
Makes a huge change from fairies and other typical girls stories. I highly recommend it.