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The land of Alusia is on the brink of war as two men have each claimed the throne. Only the true king can sound the Horn of Moran and prove his nobility. But the Horn has been lost for years. If it is not found — and soon — it could mean the destruction of an entire nation.
It wasn't that long ago that young Alexander Taylor embarked on his first adventure, where he discovered he was a wizard and destroyed the fearsome dragon, Slathbog. Now he joins a band of seasoned adventurers who have been called up to retrieve the legendary Horn of Moran.
Their journey to the mysterious Tower of the Moon will take them through an enchanted forest, into battle against a goblin army, past the watchful eyes of griffin guards, and face-to-face with a sphinx and her deadly riddles.
With his sword, Moon Slayer, and the wise counsel of his wizard mentor, Whalen Vankin, Alex must use all his wizard and warrior skills to fight a darkness that may consume them all.
- Size: 5½" x 8"
- Pages: 376
- Published: February 2011
- Book on CD: Unabridged
- Run Time: Approx. 10 hrs.
About the Author
M. L. Forman was born and raised in Utah and now resides in the foothills of the western Rockies. He tries to write as much as possible while still attending to his many other hobbies, such as fishing, camping, hiking, and almost anything that will allow him to enjoy the magic of nature. He is also the author of Slathbog’s Gold and The Horn of Moran, the first two books int he Adventurers Wanted series.
Wizard in Training
A cool breeze stirred the curtain by the open window. Alex watched the slow, swaying movement of the cloth for a moment before forcing his tired mind to focus. Standing up with some difficulty, he stretched, then turned off the lamp on the table he used as a desk. It had been a long day, but as tired as he was, Alex didn’t want to sleep.
“Foolish,” Alex said as he moved toward his bed.
It was foolish not to sleep, foolish not to let his body rest. There was nothing to fear, not here at home. He knew his dreams—even his nightmares—might be important, but he didn’t know what, if anything, they meant.
“The dreams won’t come tonight,” Alex told himself as he dropped onto his bed.
He only half-believed his own words. The dreams had been random, waking him at least once a week. The last one had been only three days before, and Alex hoped for an uneventful night. Reaching out, Alex turned off the light beside his bed. He let himself relax, clearing his mind of worries, and slowly let sleep take him.
Almost immediately, Alex found himself walking along a familiar, narrow, dark corridor. Shadows danced in the flickering light of the few torches that were hanging from the walls, creating the illusion of movement. For a moment Alex felt that he was inside some living thing, the walls moving around him like some giant creature was breathing. But the dream was entirely silent, and that troubled him.
He knew where he was—this dimly lit corridor had haunted his dreams for months—and he knew where he had to go. Slowly Alex started forward, following the line of torches deeper into the unknown. He walked for what felt like hours, and with each step the silence pressed a little closer, making it harder for him to breathe.
Eventually, a chamber appeared in front of him just as it always did, empty except for an enormous mirror in the center of the room. Reluctantly Alex moved toward the mirror, afraid of what it would show him yet knowing he would look anyway. A reflection appeared slowly, as if it, too, was afraid to look out of the mirror.
This time, though, it wasn’t a single image that appeared in front of him, but two. Alex’s breath caught in his throat, and he had to force himself to breathe. The two images were both of him, but one image was true, reflecting him as he was, while the other image was different, an older version of Alex. After a moment the two reflections separated, the older to the left side of the mirror, the younger disappearing to the right, out of his line of sight.
Alex stepped closer to the mirror, trying to see where the images had gone, but the surface was blank. He lifted his hand, and as he touched the mirror, the glass rippled like water under his fingers. Without thinking he pushed himself through the liquid surface of the mirror. As he stepped through, he discovered that the mirror was still in front of him, but now he was surrounded by other mirrors as well.
Panic clawed at the back of Alex’s mind, but he couldn’t run, he could only turn and look into the mirrors around him. Most were empty, reflecting only darkness back at him, but two mirrors held images of himself. On his left, the older Alex walked slowly away. To his right, his true reflection looked back at him.
Alex faced his true reflection and reached out to touch the mirror. His hand passed through the watery surface, and at his touch all the mirrors around him collapsed, the water dropping to the stone floor and vanishing into the cracks.
Doors appeared on either side of the chamber, and a large double door seemed to emerge out of the floor at the far end.
Alex moved to the middle of the room. Standing with his eyes partly closed, he listened for any sound, anything that would help him understand why he was there or know what to do next. A cold breeze blew across his face. It came from the direction of the double doors, and he took it as a sign. He moved to the doorway, reaching out for the glimmering, gold doorknob. Then he stopped, his hand shaking slightly. He could feel evil and hate waiting behind the doors. Not just waiting, waiting for him.
Alex froze. He didn’t want to know what was behind those doors, and yet a sudden need filled him, an urgency and the knowledge that time was running out. He feared whatever was waiting for him behind the doors, but something in his mind told him that he had to face his fears. He had to confront the evil that was waiting for him. If he turned back now—if he gave in to his fear—then his future would vanish like the water from the mirrors. It took all the strength he had to lift his hand and push open the doors.
Everything went dark as he moved through the doorway, and his feet found only emptiness. Alex tumbled into the darkness, his voice screaming that it wasn’t fair, anger and frustration racing through his mind. Laughter answered his protests, a laughter that filled his mind with rage and his bones with ice. There were no answers here; there was only the laughter and the endless falling into darkness.
Alex woke with a start.
For a moment he was lost, and then he had to fight to get free of his blankets. Alex fumbled with the lamp beside his bed, knocking things over in his hurry to turn on the light. Finally, feeling panicked that he was really still asleep, the light came on.
Rubbing his eyes, Alex twisted around and sat on the edge of his bed. He glanced at the clock on the wall and saw that it was 4:30 A.M. For a minute he sat there, looking around the room, making sure that he wasn’t in another dream.
Staggering to his feet, Alex moved to his desk. He dropped into the swivel chair, turned on the lamp, and pulled a large notepad toward him. Checking his calendar, he scribbled the date on the notepad, followed by the time. For a long moment he paused, and then he slowly started to write everything he could remember about the nightmare he’d just had.
Alexander Taylor was not what he appeared to be. Most people thought Alex was a normal sixteen-year-old boy, but they were wrong. Alex was—among other things—an adventurer.
Six months ago, Alex had indeed been what people expected him to be: normal. But that had all changed when he had accidentally wandered into the adventure shop belonging to Mr. Cornelius Clutter. After entering Mr. Clutter’s shop, Alex had become part of a great adventure, and that experience had changed everything he thought he knew. While on his adventure he had learned all kinds of new things, but perhaps the strangest thing of all was that he had learned he was an untrained wizard.
When Alex had come home from his first adventure—on the same afternoon that he had left—he was shocked to learn that his stepfather, Mr. Roberts, knew all about adventures and magic. Not only that, but Mr. Roberts told Alex that his father had been an adventurer as well.
That had been six long months ago, and almost everything in Alex’s life had changed. His stepbrother, Todd, had gone off to college, and Alex no longer had to wash dishes or help in the kitchen, or even clean up once the customers at the tavern had left. In fact, the only things Alex really had to do were study and practice magic.
Learning magic sometimes required open spaces in order to keep things from getting out of hand. Alex smiled as he remembered the first time he’d tried to summon a magical wind. He’d ended up blowing everything in his old bedroom into a giant mess. To make things easier for Alex, and to help prevent problems like the mess in his bedroom, Mr. Roberts had cleared the third floor of the tavern and given the space entirely to his stepson.
This morning Alex was grateful for the privacy. He leaned back in his chair and reviewed the details he had written down about his dream. His teacher, Whalen Vankin, had told Alex that the dreams he was having might be warnings. “Dreams are often more than they appear to be,” Whalen had said in his letters. “As your power grows, you will have many dreams, and many nightmares. You would be wise to pay attention to both.”
Alex wondered when he would be able to meet the great wizard face to face. Whalen was perhaps the greatest wizard alive, and he had agreed to take Alex as his apprentice. Unfortunately, Whalen was currently on an adventure of his own, so Alex was stuck at home waiting, learning magic by magical mail.
Whalen had sent Alex several books about magic—some of which could only be read by moonlight—and several small magical objects as well. He had also sent a letter instructing Alex about what he should do and what he should try to learn. Whalen had warned him not to join any more adventures, at least not until they had met in person.
Alex was learning a lot, but he hated waiting for a new adventure. It was hard for him to imagine what was taking Whalen so long. And apart from waiting, there were other things that annoyed him. Though his first adventure had taken a year and a half, he’d come home as his fifteen-year-old self. He wasn’t as strong as he remembered being, or as tall, or anything else. He felt trapped in his own small, weak body.
Being smaller and weaker than he remembered wasn’t the worst thing about being home. What really annoyed him was the way people treated him. On his adventure, Alex had been treated as an equal. His fellow adventurers were always willing to listen to his opinions and ideas. Here, at home, there were few people who even pretended to listen to a sixteen-year-old. Some people would smile politely and nod, but if anything that was more frustrating than the people who simply ignored him.
Alex tried hard to push his frustrations away, but it wasn’t always easy. He often found himself becoming angry for almost no reason at all. Whalen had warned him it would be hard to control his emotions—anger most of all—and Alex was working hard to keep his emotions from running away with him.
Sighing, Alex realized he wasn’t going to be able to go back to sleep. At least not for a while. Pushing aside the notepad, he reached for his magic bag and whispered into the top. As soon as he had finished speaking, a second magic bag appeared in his hand, a bag that had once belonged to his father. Setting his own bag aside, he whispered the password that would allow him to enter his father’s bag.
After returning home from his first adventure, Alex had spent a lot of time searching the bag and, with Mr. Roberts to answer his questions, he felt like he was finally getting to know his father.
There were the things he’d expected to find in his father’s bag: stored food, a bedroom, clothes, a treasure room that was at least as large as his own, and lots of other things that adventurers would find helpful or useful. But then there were the things he had not expected to find. His father had a surprisingly large library, sculptures of different creatures, maps of places Alex had never heard of or even read about, a kitchen big enough to cook for a hundred people, and a room that was set up like a blacksmith shop.
“Your father was a gifted smith,” Mr. Roberts had said when Alex had questioned him about the workroom. “He won lots of awards for the weapons and armor he made. He also made all kinds of jewelry—rings, necklaces, brooches, and such. Never sold any of it as far as I know; he used to give the pretty things away to friends, or sometimes to people who helped him on an adventure.”
Once inside the bag, Alex headed directly for the workroom. Whalen had suggested, more than once, that he find a hobby; something to take his mind off waiting. Something that had nothing at all to do with magic. Making things with his hands, not with magic, seemed like a perfect hobby. There were plenty of books in the workroom to get him started, as well as piles of his father’s notes.
Alex was walking past the large stone dragon statue that stood next to the workroom door, when he noticed something he was sure he had never seen before. A golden chain was dangling from the dragon’s mouth.
Curious, he looked at the chain for a minute, wondering where it had come from. He could feel magic near the dragon’s head, an old spell with little power. He’d never felt magic like that before, so he carefully reached out and touched the chain. Nothing happened. He pulled gently on the chain, ready to let go of it if he felt the magic change, and he heard something move inside the dragon’s mouth. As the chain moved inch by inch, the mouth of the dragon slowly opened. A pendant attached to the chain dropped out of the dragon’s mouth where a rolled-up piece of paper now appeared.
Slowly Alex reached for the paper, half afraid that the mouth would snap shut on his hand, or worse, close before he could get the paper out. The dragon’s jaws didn’t move, and the old magic he had felt was fading, its purpose fulfilled. Carefully unrolling the paper, his jaw dropped open as he started to read.
I cannot tell you all that I would wish in this short note. I have left this pendant for you, not to wear, but to study. The ancient symbol on the pendant is an important one, with great meaning to those who know what it is. All I can say is that you may freely trust any person who wears this symbol or a pendant like this one. Do not wear this pendant yourself, but remember it. Do not ask questions about the symbol unless you meet a person who wears it. I hope, in time, that you will learn more and understand why I cannot explain more to you.
Your loving father,
Alex was dumbfounded. He looked at the pendant, and then read the note again just to make sure he wasn’t imagining things. He looked at the dragon, whose mouth remained open as if it had always been that way. His head spun with excitement, and for several minutes he wasn’t sure what to do.
Wildly at first, and then with more control, Alex sent his magic searching. If his father had left him one magically hidden message, maybe he had left others. He searched every corner of the bag, and then to make sure he hadn’t missed anything, he searched again. There was no magic to be found, no hidden compartments or doors, nothing. If there were other messages for him, his father had hidden them very well, and all he could do was wait until they were ready to be discovered.
Disappointed that he hadn’t found more, Alex turned his attention to the pendant in his hand. It was made of gold and silver, and it looked like a small flower or a blossom of some kind. He tried to remember if he’d ever seen anything like it before. Nothing came to mind, but he had never paid much attention to the jewelry that others wore. He focused on the pendant for a few more minutes, promising himself that he would remember it if he ever saw it again.
Finally, Alex looped the chain over the dragon’s head, letting the pendant hang around the neck of the statue. His father had left him a message, and he would remember it. He had questions, and in time he hoped he would find the answers, but he wasn’t going to find them in his father’s bag, and he wasn’t going to find them today.
“You look tired,” Mr. Roberts commented when Alex sat down for breakfast.
“Another nightmare,” Alex replied.
“I guess that goes with being a wizard.”
“It’s not so bad,” said Alex, trying to be casual.
“Bad enough, it would seem. What does Whalen have to say about it?”
“He says that dreams can sometimes be warnings and that I should try to remember them.”
“Well, it’s good to have a warning, even if you lose some sleep.”
“It would be, if I knew what the nightmare was about,” Alex replied in a resentful tone. “The dreams are always so mixed up, it’s hard to know what any of it means. Or even if it means anything at all.”
“Don’t let it get to you, Alex. I’m sure you’ll understand the dream in time,” said Mr. Roberts. “It takes time to understand most things after all.”
“I just hope the warning isn’t for something that’s going to happen today,” said Alex.
“I doubt it,” Mr. Roberts replied with a chortle. “Why don’t you have some breakfast and then get a few more hours of sleep. If a dragon turns up, I’ll be sure to wake you.”
It was nearly noon when Alex woke up again. He still felt a little tired, but he rolled off the bed and stretched just the same. There were things he needed to do, and he wasn’t going to let his bad dreams stop him.
Sitting down at his table, Alex looked at the notepad he’d used the night before. What he remembered from the nightmare didn’t make any more sense to him now than it had when he’d written it down. He was sure it must be a warning, but the broken bits of his dream were impossible to piece together no matter how hard he tried.
“Just have to pay attention and keep my eyes open,” Alex said to himself as he tossed the pad back onto the table.
A small popping sound and a loud ding interrupted his thoughts.
Looking around, Alex saw a yellow bowling-pin shaped creature with a red zigzag line around its middle standing on the far edge of the table. The geeb was balancing on its single birdlike leg, waiting for him to say something.
“Hello,” said Alex in surprise.
“Ding,” the geeb replied, its head changing into the shape of a small bell.
“Do you have a message for me?” Alex questioned.
“Can I have the message, please?”
“Ding,” replied the geeb and an envelope appeared from what Alex always thought of as the geeb’s mouth.
“Thank you,” said Alex.
“Have you been paid?”
“Honk.” The geeb’s head took the shape of a small bicycle horn.
“Hang on a moment,” said Alex as he opened the letter. “Let me see what this is, then I’ll pay you.”
Alex recognized Whalen’s handwriting on the front of the envelope, and he felt certain that this would be another long letter explaining magic, answering questions, and telling him what he should study next. To his surprise, however, the envelope contained only a short message and no instructions at all.
Have just heard about a new adventure our friend Silvan Bregnest is putting together. He is in a bit of a rush and has asked me for permission to take you along. As the adventure is happening in Norsland, I thought you might like to go.
I will expect you to keep up with your studies while you’re away and to keep me informed of your activities. If you promise to send me a report every two weeks, I think you should join Bregnest on this adventure.
Yours in fellowship,
P.S. I believe Bregnest will be sending you a geeb shortly. Good luck, and remember to keep me up to date.
Alex was stunned for a moment. His chest felt like a large balloon had inflated inside of him, and he thought he might float away with happiness. He had been waiting for months, and now Whalen had said he could go on another adventure. Better yet, Whalen had even picked an adventure for him to join. And best of all, his friend Bregnest would be leading the adventure. It was much more than Alex had dared to hope for. He was so distracted that he almost forgot about the geeb standing on the edge of his table.
“Oh, sorry. Can you take a reply back to Whalen?” Alex asked as he reached for a piece of paper.
Alex thought for a moment, and then wrote a quick reply to Whalen. He reviewed the page once before folding it and putting it in a new envelope, writing Whalen’s name as neatly as he could on the outside.
“Can you take this to Whalen Vankin?” Alex asked the geeb again, wanting to make sure it would deliver the message to the right person.
“Ding,” the geeb answered, but made no move to accept Alex’s letter.
“Oh, yes, your payment. Sorry about that.”
Alex retrieved a small ruby from his magic bag and tossed it in the general direction of the geeb. The geeb hopped into the air, catching the ruby with ease before landing back on the table. Once on the table the geeb produced eight gold coins and seven silver coins as change for the ruby.
Alex held his letter out for the geeb to take. “If you require more payment, please return.”
“Ding.” The geeb accepted the letter and then disappeared with a single hop on its birdlike leg and a small popping sound.
Almost immediately, a second geeb appeared with a loud ding.
“Do you have a message for me?” Alex asked, surprised.
“May I have it, please?”
“Thank you,” said Alex, picking up the envelope that the geeb had dropped and tearing it open. He had trouble unfolding the letter and getting it right side up, but once he did, a smile spread across his face.
Master Alexander Taylor, Esq.
As you may have already heard from our friend, Whalen Vankin, I am putting together another adventure. I’ve written to Whalen and asked if you might come along. Whalen seems to think that it would be good for you to join the adventure, so I thought that I should send you a message and ask you to at least listen to the details.
This won’t be a great quest like our last adventure, but there is a large reward involved. If you are interested in coming, please send me a message. I’d like to meet as soon as possible at Mr. Clutter’s Adventure Shop to discuss details and the bargain.
P.S. Andy has informed me that our friends Skeld and Tayo have both decided to get married, and they want you at the weddings. This won’t be a problem for our adventure, and shouldn’t cause us any delay.
Alex read the letter through twice, wondering when Bregnest wanted to meet at the adventure shop. He bit his lip, worried. Now that he thought about it, he didn’t remember seeing Clutter’s shop when he’d been in Sildon Lane only a few days ago. In fact, he didn’t remember seeing it at all since he’d gotten home. If the shop wasn’t still there, how was he going to meet Bregnest and go on this adventure?
“Can you take a reply back?” Alex questioned.
Alex thought about Bregnest’s note and the fact that their friends Skeld and Tayo were both getting married. Missing the weddings was unthinkable; he had to go. If worse came to worst, he would ask Whalen how to travel to Telous using magic.
“Here’s your payment for delivering the message,” Alex said to the geeb, who was waiting patiently on the table.
He tossed a small diamond in the air. The geeb caught the jewel easily as it fell through the air, and once again left a handful of gold and silver coins as change.
“Please take this message to Silvan Bregnest.”
“Ding,” the geeb answered, and accepted the message Alex had just written.
The second geeb of the day vanished, and Alex added the coins to his magic bag. He was wondering if he should go ahead and ask Whalen about getting to Telous with magic now, or if he should wait until after he’d tried to find the adventure shop, when another popping sound made him jump. Alex had never seen so many geebs in so short a time, and he wondered what this one might be bringing him.
After asking the geeb for the message and to wait for a reply, Alex sat down and opened the newest envelope. He could see from the writing that it was a second note from Whalen.
I’ve received your promise and intend to hold you to it. I had hoped to meet with you before you went on another adventure, but that has proven impossible. My current adventure is taking much longer than expected, and I have no idea when I’ll be able to return.
I know you’ve been working hard to learn everything you can, and I promise you that much of what you have already learned will come in handy on this new adventure. I will warn you, however, not to become overconfident. There are many magical places and people in the known and the unknown lands, and many of them are not as friendly as they might be. To be honest, there are people and powers that would like nothing more than to control you, or failing that, to destroy you.
This is a dangerous time for you, as you are not yet fully trained; and yet, you are able to use great power when you need to. I must warn you again to be careful when using your powers and remind you to not let your emotions get the best of you. Emotions are powerful things, Alex, and you need to learn to keep them under control. Study hard and keep your eyes open for danger. Remember, you are a wizard in training.
I will write when I can but will expect a message from you at least every other week.
Be careful and have fun.
Yours in fellowship,
Alex thought Whalen sounded worried in his letter, and he wondered what exactly Whalen had meant by saying it was a dangerous time for him. His concerns about the note didn’t last long, and thoughts of a new adventure filled his mind.
His first adventure had been so exciting, and he’d had so much fun with his friends. Slowly, however, his happy memories turned to darker thoughts. He considered what new dangers he might have to face. Were the nightmares he’d been having warnings about Bregnest’s new adventure? Whalen had said that Bregnest was in a rush to put the company together, and Bregnest had wanted to meet as soon as possible. It seemed that time might be running out, but running out on what, Alex couldn’t guess.
Couldn't put it down!
by Evelyn - reviewed on November 22, 2011
It was definitely worth the wait for this second book in the series to come out! I loved it from start to finish - the exciting adventures just kept coming! I recommend it for teenagers, and adults alike!
by Brenda - reviewed on April 02, 2012
I can't wait to read book 3 Albreks Tomb. I love these kind of books and it kept me wanting more.
by Jordann - reviewed on August 03, 2011
I loved it almost as much as the first one.
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