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Adventurers Wanted 2) The Horn of Moran, Page 2

M. L. Forman

  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.

  Dear Alex,

  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, Whalen

  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. Dear Alex,

  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.

  Your friend, Silvan Bregnest

  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 a
nd 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.

  Dear Alex,

  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, Whalen

  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.


  Chapter Two

  The Adventure Begins

  Later that night, after the customers had left the tavern, Alex had a long talk with his stepfather. He told him about the invitation to join a new adventure and that he needed to look for the adventure shop the next morning.

  “Do you think the shop will still be there?” Alex asked, remembering the times he had walked past the building thinking it was just an old bookstore.

  “It’ll be there,” said Mr. Roberts with confidence. “Always was when I went looking for it.”

  “But if it’s not there, what will I do?”

  “You’ll be all right. Adventurers always seem to find it, and since you’re an adventurer . . .” Mr. Roberts trailed off, looking at Alex with understanding. “I know this is only your second adventure, Alex. Nobody expects you to know everything.”

  “I know, but . . .”

  “But you’re a wizard in training,” Mr. Roberts said slowly. “You think they will expect more of you. You think that it is your job to keep the company safe with your magic, to sense danger coming and help your friends avoid it.”

  Alex nodded. “I have magic, so I should be able to do more. I should be . . .”

  “Be what?” Mr. Roberts questioned. “If you think it’s your job to do everything on this—or any—adventure, you’re wrong. You will be part of a team. You can’t do everything by yourself, even with your magic. Do as much as you can, Alex. But you have to let the others do what they can as well.”

  “I like the idea of being part of a team,” said Alex.

  “Good,” said Mr. Roberts. “Being part of the team is a hard lesson for a lot of young adventurers to learn. I had a hard time learning about teamwork, at least at first. Can you tell me what kind of adventure you are joining? Where will your company be going? Can you give me any details at all?”

  Alex shook his head. “All I know is that Whalen mentioned it would be in Norsland. And Bregnest said there would be a reward.”

  “Well, if nothing else, I expect you to win some honor,” said Mr. Roberts. “After all, to an adventurer, honor is worth more than treasure.”

  Alex nodded. He had learned a great deal about adventurers from his stepfather and had a much better understanding about the true meaning of honor.

  As Alex climbed into bed, his mind was buzzing with all that had happened that day: the nightmare he’d had, the hidden message from his father, a new adventure, and Whalen’s warning about it being a dangerous time. All of it crowded his mind, but quickly slipped away as sleep overcame him.

  * * *

  Alex skipped breakfast the next morning and left the tavern with only a quick good-bye to his stepfather. He was so excited to be on his way that he almost walked past the adventure shop before he even noticed it.

  Like the last time he was here, there was a large cardboard sign in the front window of the shop. “Adventurers Wanted,” the sign said in bright red letters. Without waiting for the sign to change, as it often did whenever he looked away from it, Alex opened the door and stepped inside.

  “Well, hello,” a cheerful voice said as soon as the shop door closed. “So good to see you again.”

  “Hello, Mr. Clutter.”

  Cornelius Clutter looked exactly as Alex remembered him, right down to the shockingly pink bow tie that he always seemed to wear. Today he wore a tan shirt under his dark green apron, and his round smiling face was just the same as it had been the last time Alex had seen him.

  “Looking for a new adventure, are you? I’ve had some interesting proposals in the last few weeks. I’m sure most companies would love to have you along, if you’re interested.”

  “Actually, I’m looking for Silvan Bregnest,” said Alex, as Mr. Clutter started sorting through papers on the counter.

  “Ah, well, that is something,” said Mr. Clutter, setting down his papers and looking up at Alex. “Master Bregnest happens to be here this morning. He’s interviewing a potential candidate for his new adventure.”

  “I’ll wait.”

  “Very good then. I’ll get you some tea—or would you prefer something else?”

  “Something cold if you have it.”

  Mr. Clutter nodded and hurried off without another word. Alex was surprised—usually Mr. Clutter never stopped talking. After a few minutes he reappeared, carrying a large silver tray in both hands and humming softly to himself.

  “I’ve seen the details of Master Bregnest’s new adventure, and I have to say I’m quite impressed,” he said, offering a glass to Alex. “Yes, quite a good quest this time, and the payment is more than fair.”

  “Can you tell me about the quest?” Alex questioned as he sniffed at the glass.

  “Oh, no,” Mr. Clutter replied, returning to his pile of papers. “I’ll leave that for the leader of the adventure. It’s n
ot my place to be telling, after all. Still, I think you will be interested, and if you’re not . . . Well, there are several other adventures getting started right now, and most of them sound exciting.”

  Alex took a sip from the glass. The liquid turned out to be lemonade, but tasted both sweeter and a bit more sour than any he had ever had before. He took a cake from the tray and ate it while he waited.

  It wasn’t long before he heard a door close at the back of the shop. He turned toward the curtains that divided the back of the shop from the front, his excitement growing as he waited.

  “The task seems simple enough, but that doesn’t really mean anything,” Alex heard Bregnest saying. “And it may take some time to find what we are looking for.”

  “And what are you looking for?” Alex questioned, as Bregnest stepped through the curtains.

  “Alex!” Bregnest exclaimed. “I mean, Master Taylor.”

  “It’s good to see you again, my friend,” Alex replied as he allowed Bregnest to pull him into a friendly hug.

  “It is very good to see you. I’ve been explaining this new adventure to Master Valenteen,” said Bregnest, nodding toward a thin man who had followed him through the curtains. “He’s agreed to join the company, so we only need one more member before we can start.”

  Alex glanced at the man standing behind Bregnest, surprised by what he saw. The man was extremely thin, almost skeletal, but what caught Alex’s attention was that it looked as if the whole left side of the man’s face was badly bruised.

  “Perhaps you had better tell me about this adventure,” Alex said, looking back to Bregnest.