Sepron the Sea Serpent

BOOK: Sepron the Sea Serpent
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B
EAST
Q
UEST

B
OOK
T
WO

S
EPRON

T
HE
S
EA
S
ERPENT

A
DAM
B
LADE

ILLUSTRATED BY
E
ZRA
T
UCKER

With thanks to Cherith Baldry
To James Noble

Reader,

Welcome to Avantia. I am Aduro — a good wizard residing in the palace of King Hugo. You join us at a difficult time. Let me explain….

It is laid down in the Ancient Scripts that the peaceful kingdom of Avantia would one day be plunged into danger by the evil wizard, Malvel.

That time has come.

Under Malvel’s evil spell, six Beasts — fire dragon, sea serpent, mountain giant, night mare, ice beast, and winged flame — run wild and destroy the land they once protected.

The kingdom is in great danger.

The Scripts also predict an unlikely hero. They say that a boy shall take up the Quest to free the beasts and save the kingdom.

We hope this young boy will take up the Quest. Will you join us as we wait and watch?

Avantia salutes you,

Aduro

P
ROLOGUE

C
ALUM LOOSENED THE ROPE AND LET THE SAIL
down. The fishing boat rocked gently on the waves. His father, Matt, began to cast the net out, whistling softly through his teeth as he worked.

“I don’t know why we bother,” he grumbled. “We haven’t caught any fish in weeks.”

“They say there’s something out here,” Calum replied, scanning the vast sea. “A sea monster that has scared the fish away.”

Matt dismissed the idea with a snort. “That’s just an old wives’ tale.”

Calum kept eyeing the horizon. Nothing broke the surface of the steel gray waters except for a steep, rocky islet not far from the beach.

“I’m not so sure,” he said. “Uncle Hal told me he saw a dark shape in the water last time he took his boat out. ‘Something big,’ he said.”

“Driftwood or seaweed most likely.” Matt snorted again. “Here, son, give me a hand with this rope.”

Calum and Matt hauled the net in. It was empty.

“Useless,” said Matt.

He cast the net out again. As Calum watched it sink into the depths of the water, he spotted something between the boat and the shore. It looked as if the sea was boiling. It churned and foamed, causing waves to crash against the sides of their boat.

“Look!” he cried, pointing. “Over there!”

Matt turned, grabbing the edge of the boat as it started to rock dangerously. Out of the sea rose a monstrous head with a long, slender neck. Its thick scales were covered with barnacles and seawater streamed down its sides. A collar around the serpent’s neck glinted in the sunshine.

Matt let out a yell. “What is it?”

Calum scrambled for the rope to raise the sail, but it was too late. The beast’s neck arched, its giant head looming over the boat. Calum stared up into its cold eyes. Choking with terror, he saw the creature’s jaws gape open, a forked tongue emerged through rows of razor-sharp teeth. In a swift motion, the beast brought its head down and clamped its jaws shut. Its teeth snapped the boat’s mast and sent splinters down on Calum and Matt like rain.

Seawater sloshed over Calum as the boat smashed around him. Cowering, he wrapped his arms around his head. He squeezed his eyes shut tight in fear as the roaring of the sea monster echoed all around him.

And then, all of a sudden, everything became eerily silent.

C
HAPTER
O
NE

T
HE
R
OAD TO THE
W
EST

T
OM BROUGHT
S
TORM TO A HALT AT THE FOOT
of a rocky slope. He and Elenna slid to the ground so that the horse could rest. Silver the wolf flopped down beside them and let his tongue loll out as he panted.

The hill where they had met Ferno the Fire Dragon had vanished into the distance. Now Tom and Elenna were heading westward on the next stage of their Beast Quest.

Tom’s heart began thumping as he remembered how they had freed Ferno. It had been a dangerous mission and Tom felt lucky to have survived unscathed.

“I can’t believe you leaped up on his wing!” Elenna said, guessing what Tom was thinking about.

“It wouldn’t have helped much if you hadn’t shot that arrow up to me with the key tied to it,” Tom replied. “I’d never have gotten his collar off without that.”

“What you did was still the bravest thing I’ve ever seen,” Elenna insisted.

“We
both
freed Ferno,” Tom said firmly. “And now Avantia will have water again.” Tom grinned as he remembered the way Ferno, once he was free, had smashed the rocks that were damming the river.

While Tom was remembering their first adventure, Silver leaped up and let out an impatient yelp.

Elenna turned to Tom, a determined look in her eyes. “We’d better push on,” she said.

Tom could still hear the words of the Wizard
Aduro echoing in his ears. The dark magic of Malvel had turned all the Beasts of Avantia evil. Freeing Ferno the Fire Dragon was only the first of his tasks. Excitement and anticipation bubbled up inside Tom as he recalled Aduro’s words — that it was his duty to save his people. But he had doubts, too. He was still just a young blacksmith’s apprentice, after all. And there was so much he had to do — so many Beasts to conquer!

He’d been waiting his entire life for this adventure, and even though he didn’t know where his father was, Tom was determined to make him proud.

“Let’s have another look at the map,” he said.

He pulled out the magic scroll that Aduro had given him before he left the King’s palace. One path on it glowed green, winding through hills and woodlands until it reached the sea in the West.

As Tom looked at the map, a serpent’s head reared out of the waves drawn on the paper. A jagged tail
slapped down, sending spray high into the air. Tom started as a drop splashed onto his hand.

“There’s Sepron,” said Elenna, her voice filled with awe. Aduro had told them all about their next Beast.

“I still can’t believe it!” said Tom. “A sea serpent!”

“He looks angry.” Elenna’s eyes were wide as she realized the huge task in front of them. “What do you think he might do?”

“Whatever it is, we’re going to stop him,” Tom said boldly. “That’s the next part of our quest.”

Silver let out another loud yelp. He grabbed the corner of Elenna’s cloak in his teeth and tugged gently. At the foot of the slope, Storm scraped one hoof impatiently on the stones.

Tom laughed. “All right, I know. It’s time to move on.”

He checked the map one last time and stowed it away in his pocket. Before he scrambled back onto
Storm, he made sure that the shield Aduro had given him was safely stowed in his saddlebag. The dragon scale shone in its slot on the shield’s rough surface.
Was it true,
Tom wondered,
that the shield would now protect them from fire?

He swung himself onto the saddle. Elenna sprang up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist. Tom patted Storm’s glossy, black neck.

“Forward!” he cried. “On to the West!”

At first, the path zigzagged up the slope, then through a strand of trees. By the time the sun went down, they had reached a pass winding through a range of low hills.

Tom halted beside a stream and slid to the ground. “This would be a good place to make camp,” he decided.

Elenna helped him take off Storm’s bridle so the horse could drink from the stream. Silver stood beside him, lapping thirstily. Tom was hungry and thirsty himself and scooped a handful of cool water
into his mouth. Then he started to collect sticks for a fire.

“I’m starving!” said Elenna. “I’ll see if there are any nuts or berries on these bushes.”

While she was searching, Storm feasted on the grass beside the path.

“What about Silver?” asked Tom.

“He can find something for himself,” Elenna replied. “Go on, boy, but come back soon.”

Silver disappeared among the rocks, his bushy tail wagging. He returned before Tom and Elenna had finished eating, and they all settled down for the night. Tom looked up at the stars, thinking about Sepron. He hoped they could reach the coast soon, before the sea monster could do any more damage.

When they set off again the next morning, they soon reached the edge of the hills. A long, smooth slope led down to the valley before them. In the
distance, Tom could make out the glimmer of the sea.

“We’re almost there!” Elenna exclaimed. A flash of light on the water caught Tom’s eye. He let out a gasp.

“What’s the matter?” Elenna asked. “I’m not sure … I think I saw Sepron.” He felt Elenna’s grip on him tighten. “Where?” “Over there, near that tall rock.” Tom pointed. “But he’s gone now.”

He swung himself onto Storm’s back and urged him on. They rode down the hill and into the valley. The path led them through farmland. Everything seemed deserted. Great patches of ground were covered in burned stubble.

“Look!” Elenna cried, pointing to the blackened timbers of what had been a farmhouse. “The dragon was here.”

A chill ran down Tom’s spine, even though he knew that Ferno was free now and would never
again blast the land with his fire. He urged Storm to a faster trot, eager to keep moving. Silver bounded a few paces ahead, his tongue lolling out.

Then, without warning, Storm reared. His forelegs pawed the air. Elenna let out a cry of alarm and gripped Tom harder to stop herself from sliding off.

“Storm — steady!” Tom yelled.

When the horse’s forelegs returned to the ground, he began skittering to one side. Tom tugged on the reins but couldn’t get the horse under control. Then he noticed that Silver was standing still, his legs stiff and the bushy gray fur on his shoulders bristling. He began whining uneasily.

“Something’s wrong,” said Elenna. Tom glanced back at her and saw alarm in her eyes. “They can sense it.”

Tom looked all around. He couldn’t see anything but empty land. There was no sign of danger. But
Silver kept on whining. Storm was tossing his head, his eyes darting back and forth in panic. Beads of sweat rolled down his black coat.

“What is it, boy?” Tom was still struggling to keep the terrified horse on the path. “What’s the matter?”

Silver let out a deep growl. He was staring straight ahead. Following his gaze, Tom thought he could make something out on the horizon. It looked as if the farmland was moving. Taking a closer look, Tom saw that it was a muddy torrent of water. He watched as it churned and frothed, swallowing up the land as it rushed closer to where they stood.

“Tom,” Elenna said, her voice choking with fear. “It’s a tidal wave!”

BOOK: Sepron the Sea Serpent
7.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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