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Authors: G. L. Breedon

Tags: #Fantasy, #Adventure, #Young Adult Fantasy

The Dark Shadow of Spring

BOOK: The Dark Shadow of Spring
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THE DARK SHADOW OF SPRING

(The Young Sorcerers Guild-Book 1)

 

G. L. Breedon

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

 

 

Copyright 2011 by G.L. Breedon

ISBN:  978-0-9837777-3-1

 

 

This book is available in print at most online retailers.

 

For more information:

www.Kosmosaicbooks.com

 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Race Through Runewood

Chapter 2: The Dragon’s Lair

Chapter 3: Waking the Dragon

Chapter 4: Destiny Via Dragon

Chapter 5: Whispers in the Shadows

Chapter 6: Walk in the Woods

Chapter 7: Late for Dinner

Chapter 8: Cold Snap

Chapter 9: Looking For Answers

Chapter 10: Guild Rules

Chapter 11: Accidental Astral Traveler

Chapter 12: Dinner Plans

Chapter 13: Breaking and Enchanting

Chapter 14: The Shadow’s Plague

Chapter 15: Parental Consent

Chapter 16: Ghastly Gathering

Chapter 17: Astral Assignation

Chapter 18: Diabolical Demon Debacle

Chapter 19: Lunch and Lessons

Chapter 20: Soul Savior

Chapter 21: Cavernous Calamity

Chapter 22: Dragon’s Fire

Chapter 23: Fog of Battle

Chapter 24: The Belly of the Beast

Chapter 25: Forgive and Regret

Chapter 26: Truth Be Told

Chapter 27: Epicurean Epilogue

About the Author

 

Chapter 1: Race Through Runewood

 

Pedals reversed, gears locked, and thin rubber tires squealed across the ancient cobblestones of the narrow street. A sneaker-clad foot slid from a pedal and scraped along the cobblestones to steady the Schwinn Red Phantom bicycle as it made the sharp turn onto Tulip Street. Then the foot slammed back in place on the pedal, the rolled blue jean pant leg slapping against the chain guard as thin legs pumped hard and the bicycle picked up speed again. The bike swerved, braked, and swerved again to miss a big-boned woman with a bag of groceries stepping into the street.

“Alex Ravenstar, you reckless hellion!” the woman shouted. “Your mother’s going to hear about this!”

The wind whipped through Alex’s short black hair as he tried to stifle the grin that spread out across his long, angular face. How many times had he heard those words in his thirteen years?

“Sorry, Mrs. Gumblson!” Alex called out over his shoulder, catching a glance of the rotund woman’s red-faced glare as she stomped off across the street.

“You’re in trouble now.”

Alex glanced over to see his sister, Nina, pedaling up beside him, her long, pitch-black hair flapping in the wind behind her. She was grinning as widely as Alex.

“She won’t tell Mom,” Alex said as he leaned back on his seat and coasted beside his sister. “She never does.”

“It’s not Mom you have to worry about,” Nina said, her dark brown eyes alight with mischievous delight. “It’s me!” Nina yanked the handlebars of her bike and veered sharply toward her brother. Alex swerved to avoid colliding with Nina and reversed the pedals of his bike, braking to a screeching halt at the side of the street.

Nina hooted with glee over her shoulder. Then she pedaled faster than ever. Alex started after his devious sibling and wondered, not for the first time, whether he was a bad influence on her or she was a bad influence on him. Either way, he wasn’t about to let his eleven-year-old little sister beat him in a bike race.

Alex jumped up and threw his full weight down on the right pedal as he pushed off with his left foot. Seconds later, bike chain clanking as gears spun, he sped to catch up with his sister, slowly narrowing the gap with each revolution of the wheels.

Alex and Nina raced along the curving streets of the town of Runewood, turning off Tulip Street onto Main Street and whizzing past Sparrow and Hawk Streets, down to the town center where small shops and houses were intermingled and snuggled up against each other. They pedaled past the Thakar family’s dress shop and Mrs. Stephonopolous’s meat market. They whisked by the tobacconist Mr. Amamander standing next to Mr. Pak outside his bookstore before careening across the street outside the Truffaut Café and DeSoto’s Green Grocery.

Leaning hard into the curve of the street, they circled the massive monument at the heart of the town, rushing past the stone faces of a man, a woman, a dwarf, a giant, and a tree elf. By the time they sped past the town movie theater, its marquee listing the weekly double feature of
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
and
Forbidden Planet
, Alex had once again pressed the advantage of his size and age to pull up even with his sister.

Nina looked at him and stuck her tongue out as they neared the Poonjari bakeshop. A petite Indian girl with dark brown skin, ink-black hair, and otherworldly emerald green eyes stood outside the bakeshop. She held a bright green bicycle and wore a hunter green flannel shirt above an old pair of jeans with the pant legs rolled up. Alex and Nina laughed at the girl as they rushed past.

“Hades’ hairpiece!” Alex heard the girl curse behind him. The girl was Daphne Poonjari, a founding member of the Young Sorcerers Guild and Alex’s oldest friend. She loved to curse. And she hated to lose a race.

Alex pulled ahead of Nina and braked hard as he pulled onto Raven Street. He could hear his sister puffing behind him to keep up. He stood up to pedal harder, afraid to look back for fear he would lose control of the bike. The cobblestones of Runewood’s streets were picturesque, but it had been centuries since they were level, which made racing along them much like running an obstacle course. Alex banked to his left, leaning deep into the turn onto North Street. The street ran straight up to the Azure River, the old docks, and the Ravenstone Bridge. The cobblestones of North Street were a bit more even and Alex was just about to risk a look back over his shoulder when he heard the roar of a truck engine and felt a rush of wind.

“Slow poke!” Daphne shouted, her ponytail whipping in the wind as she whizzed past him, one hand steering her bicycle and the other grasping the tailgate of Mr. Wilson’s old Plymouth truck as it sped down the street.

Alex shook his head in disbelief. Daphne was the most courageous member of the Young Sorcerers Guild, but she was also the most reckless. Thanks to the bewitching beauty of her mother, a dryad wood nymph, Daphne was both the shortest and most striking girl of her age in town. It was a combination she hated. Her size and prettiness gave many boys the impression that she needed someone to look out for her. To compensate, Daphne liked to prove that she could not only take care of herself, but also that she could accomplish more than any boy could. She was hardly ever wrong.

“Look out!” Alex heard Nina yell from much closer behind him than he expected. Alex saw what Nina was shouting about just as Daphne turned and saw the same thing. An empty flatbed wagon hitched to a horse sat on the side of the street right in front of Daphne. Thanks to the speed of Mr. Wilson’s truck, she was going far too fast to stop, but if she didn’t do something quick, she’d run right into the back of the wagon.

Alex saw Daphne let go of the truck and heard her shout a rune-word spell that sounded similar to one he knew just before she was about to collide with the wagon. A cloud of dust and old straw erupted as a great gust of air struck the wagon and slammed the back of it to the ground a fraction of a second before the front wheel of Daphne’s bicycle made contact. Alex stopped pedaling and coasted in amazement as he watched Daphne ride her bike up the wagon like a huge ramp and then shoot off the other end into the air, flying over the startled horse and landing some twenty feet on the other side. Daphne braked to a hard stop and swung the bike sideways as the truck, driven by the oblivious Mr. Wilson, rumbled away behind her.

“What gorping idiot parks a wagon in the street like that?” Daphne panted as Alex and Nina coasted to a stop in front of her.
Gorping
was one of Daphne’s many favorite curse —
gorp
being the local name for the slime left behind by the large magical snails that congregated at the edge of the Silent Swamp.

“And I thought I was insanely irresponsible and dangerous,” Alex said, still reeling from the near miss and noticing that Daphne was not nearly as calm about the close call as she was trying to appear.

“You are,” Nina said with a laugh. “But Daphne is worse.”

“So do I win the race or what?” Daphne asked, ignoring Alex and Nina’s taunts.

“Since you’re likely to kill yourself if we say no, and we need you for the mission, I’ll concede defeat,” Alex said as he looked over at Nina.

“Alright, fine,” Nina said, with a small pout. “But only because we need her for the mission, even though you still haven’t told us how we’re going to find the dragon, much less wake it up, or what we’re supposed to do once we’ve got it awake, and you can bet when I’m a full member of the Guild, I’ll be voting for a little more planning for our adventures before we start them.” Technically, Nina was not yet an official member of the Young Sorcerers Guild — a fact which irked to her to no end — but she accompanied them on all of their adventures anyway. Alex had found that he couldn’t stop her if he tried.

“Too much planning spoils the fun,” Alex said with a wink.

“Besides,” Daphne said in a deceptively sweet voice, “Alex’s plans always go haywire.” Alex gave Daphne a sour look as she as she turned her bike and began to pedal along North Street. He and Nina quickly caught up and the three rode down the middle of the largely traffic-free lane.

“Where are we meeting the others?” Nina asked.

“Down by the bridge,” Alex said as he leaned back and let go of the handlebars, balancing with his arms wide as he pedaled. The cobblestones of North Street were more level than most streets in town and proved only a minor challenge to Alex’s stability. Nina glanced over, and because she did everything her brother did and then some, she was soon riding the same way. It only took a moment for the competitive Daphne to notice and mimic them. Alex chuckled and looked around at the town as he pedaled out of it.

The town of Runewood was not large, consisting of only a few hundred families. Named for the forest to the northwest of town and the stone runes sheltered within its trees, it was more than a simple village — it was a sanctuary. At least for people like Alex and his friends and family. People who could sense and use magic. And for people who were not technically people in the human sense of the word, but were magical nonetheless.

It was, by and large, a safe place. Hidden from the rest of the world by powerful enchantments, it was the best place imaginable to grow up if you were a mage or magical creature. Where else, Alex thought to himself, could you climb up a mountain all afternoon and find a dragon to wake?

As they approached the Azure River, Alex could see two boys sitting on the eastern wall of Ravenstone Bridge, its wide, midnight-black stones supporting a small metal box between the boys. The boys were a study in contrasts, the first an impossibly large African boy with a gentle face, dark chocolate complexion, light brown eyes, and enormous hands, while the other was strikingly small and wide with a glorious mane of wild red hair that matched his reddish-brown eyes. The boys were Clark Millberry and Ben Karnath, Alex’s friends and fellow members of the Young Sorcerers Guild.

Clark was gigantic. Literally so. His great grandmother had been a giant and Clark looked like a miniature mountain, not a thirteen-year-old boy. A full-blooded dwarf, Ben stood half a head shorter than Daphne, but was wide and stocky like a tree stump.

Clark and Ben had been best friends since they were babies, their mothers marveling at how well the two got along as they played in the sandbox. While Clark had an easygoing manner to match the slowness with which he normally moved, Ben was like a densely packed firework, its powder ready to explode with energy at any moment.

BOOK: The Dark Shadow of Spring
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