Authors: T. A. Barron
Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Epic
Something is happening. But what?
All at once, a great bolt of lightning exploded, searing the sky. A powerful blast of thunder erupted at the same time, strong enough to make Merlin stumble and nearly fall over. The lightning flashed downward, but it didn't strike the tallest tree around. In fact, it didn't strike any tree.
The lightning struck Basil.
With a brilliant flash of light, the potent bolt hit the little fellow on the back, right between his ragged wings. The green scales on his shoulders sizzled and briefly burst into flame. Basil's eyes glowed brighter than ever before.
Simultaneously, the sky above opened, illuminating the forest. Heavy clouds melted into mist and then disappeared. The trees ceased quaking, as did the ground. Air moved freely once more, freshening the grove.
Basil, however, didn't move.
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published in the United States of America as
by Philomel Books,
a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2010
The Dragon of Avalon
by Puffin Books,
a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2011
Text copyright © Thomas A. Barron, 2010
Map of Fincayra copyright © Ian Schoenherr, 1996
Map of Avalon copyright © Thomas A. Barron, 2004
All rights reserved
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS HAS CATALOGED THE PHILOMEL BOOKS EDITION AS FOLLOWS:
ISBN: 978-0-399-24750 (hc)
Barron, T. A. Merlin’s dragon / T. A. Barron.
Summary: Basil, a small, flying lizard who is searching for others like himself, discovers that there is more to him than he knows, as he becomes engaged in Avalon’s great war between the evil Rhita Gawr and the forces of good.
[1. Dragons—Fiction. 2. Identity—Fiction 3. Magic—Fiction. 4. Fantasy.]
PZ7.B27567 Mf 2008 [Fic]—dc22 2008002469
Puffin Books ISBN 978-0-14-241924-3
Design by Semadar Megged
Text set in 11.25 point Galliard
Printed in the United States of America
Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out , or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
Dedicated to my children, Ben and Larkin,
and their friend Lucile—
who asked two simple questions:
“What really happened between
The Lost Years of Merlin
The Great Tree of Avalon
“Who was Merlin’s most bizarre friend?”
Look here, I know it sounds far-fetched—impossible, even—that such a huge story could have such a tiny, unremarkable beginning. Call me a liar if you like.
But that's how it was. I know, believe me. Just as I know more than most about the surprising nature of beginnings. For I just happened to be right there, at the start.
HREE YEARS BEFORE THE BIRTH OF
A pebble, half buried by other pebbles, sat beside the river. Even though it was surrounded by thousands of bland, forgettable pebbles, this one was more forgettable than most. There was nothing at all special about it.
Except, perhaps, that this pebble attracted plenty of abuse. Much more than its share. Even before the unfortunate seagull incident, it seemed to be a magnet for all sorts of indignities.
More than any other pebble on the shore, this one had been scraped by claws, poked by beaks, and squeezed by jaws of hungry creatures who had mistaken it for an egg and then spat it out in disgust. One small beetle, attracted by the pebble's mottled green color (which nearly matched its own), had tried to lay its eggs right on top of it. But the beetle's body kept slipping off the smooth surface. Finally, with an angry hiss, the beetle kicked the pebble hard—several times—and scurried off.
On this particular morning, a rather chubby seagull with splayed wingfeathers waddled along the bank of the River Unceasing, looking for something. His beady black eyes flitted about, scanning the tumbled mass of pebbles that lined the water's edge. Heavy mist clung to the river and its banks, making visibility difficult. But one particular pebble—mottled green in color—caught the gull's attention.
With a clack of his beak, the seagull waddled over. He studied the pebble, inspecting its rounded shape, polished contours, and greenish hue. Squawking with approval, the bird moved closer, sat his plump bottom on the pebble . . . and dumped a large, gooey mass of guano.
Without so much as a backward glance, the bird rustled his wings and waddled off. Meanwhile, the reeking gray excrement oozed across the pebble.
WO YEARS BEFORE THE BIRTH OF
Darker than the heavy mist along the river, a shadow formed on the opposite bank. Slowly, the blurry shape approached, slogging through the chill water. As it drew closer to the pebble's side of the river, the shadow hardened into a thin, two-legged figure. It seemed to be an old man, bent with age, not at all frightening—except for the huge, curved blade he carried. And the look of grim, messianic certitude on his face.
Reaching the bank, he stepped onto the water-washed stones. But he didn't pause to notice their glistening colors or varied shapes. His boot crunched hard on them, though his toe only grazed the side of the green pebble.
He grasped his deadly weapon with both hands. Even in the swirling mist, the blade gleamed ominously. Stealthily, without a sound, he raised it high above his head—
The blade slashed deep into an enormous egg, as large as a boulder, which rested a few paces away from the pebble. The egg had only just started to crack open. At the instant of impact, there was an explosive
as shards of shell and drops of thick, silvery liquid scattered across the riverside. From inside the egg came a painful whimper, more a whisper than a cry. The strange orange glow that had been radiating through the jagged cracks suddenly went dark.
The baby dragon within the egg released another whimper, then died.