Two boys, two dragons, a magic book and a werewolf – let the adventure begin!
Here’s the first two chapters to help you fall into a world of magic!
Wolfgang awoke in solitude, as usual, stretched out in his enormous four-poster bed. The morning sun threatened to burst into his room, creating a bright slit between the thick velvet drapes.
‘Good morning,’ he whispered to himself. He sniffed the air and saliva dribbled from the corner of his thin mouth. Wolfgang always enjoyed the sound of his own voice first thing in the morning and nothing pleased him more than greeting his own reflection.
Therefore, as was his custom, the king of Chermside climbed out from beneath his covers and sauntered over to the large ornate mirror, which stood perfectly in one corner of his chamber. The king’s piercing green eyes inspected the dried blood which was splashed across his bare chest and masculine forearms approvingly. He smoothed his hand over his shoulder-length black hair and grinned viscously.
‘It seems you had a good night,’ he said, taking in the view. He stretched and yawned, paying no mind to feelings of guilt or regret. ‘Oh, I must admit, I do take immense pleasure in a blue moon. Serves them right for being out after dark!’ he laughed.
At that moment, to his up-most annoyance, there was a knock at the door. ‘What now,’ he mumbled to himself, striding back to his bed and jumping under the covers quickly. He pulled them up to his neck and surveyed the torn pillows strewn across the room. ‘Enter!’ he shouted, wiping his face.
‘Er… Good morning, Master of All…. I… I… am terribly sorry to interrupt,’ stuttered a young, frail-looking man, as he entered. He bowed nervously. ‘Your knights await your company in the main hall…, er… and your dragon, Sir… er, Master of All….’
‘Yes, yes…, very well, give me a moment and I’ll be down.’ The king rolled his eyes, slightly amused by the young man’s obvious fear, but more annoyed at the messenger’s lack of confidence. Quickly becoming bored with the whole announcement, he stared at the petrified messenger with narrowed eyes and shouted abruptly, ‘Out!’
The messenger did not need to be told twice. He knew that the king only needed a moment to be clad in his royal outfit and he cringed at the thought of being in the king’s disfavour. Therefore, the messenger disappeared from the room in a hasty whirl, heading down the winding staircase to the main hall.
‘The king is on his way! The king is on his way!’ he shouted. He skipped two steps at a time and wore a pale face for all the castle staff to see. If there were one thing out of place…, someone would pay the price with their life…, anyone…, whomever the king laid his icy gaze on first. ‘Hurry…, places everybody…, places! The king is—’
There was a sudden hush throughout the main hall and everyone stood motionless, as if they were stone statues.
The king stood at the top of the stairs, dressed in his long purple robes and royal attire. He scanned the room below. ‘Paddy?’ his voice boomed out suddenly and he was rather pleased to see most of his servants jump with fright.
Gilbert stepped forward with a gracious bow of his head. His scales shimmered like rippling water. ‘He’s checking on your jewels, Master of All, as you requested,’ he said carefully.
‘He should learn to work at a quicker pace!’ said the king, glaring at Gilbert. ‘He should be present to hear my instructions,’ he sighed theatrically. ‘Never mind, you will repeat them to the fool!’
‘Of course, as you wish, Master of All.’ Gilbert bowed his large, triangular-shaped head again and stepped back in line with the knights, who stood stiff with fear.
‘When the sun rises on the day following tomorrow, I will choose four young men to begin their training as squires, and on the fourteenth sunrise, two will be knighted; or hanged, if they are not up to my standard. When, my captain returns, tell him to gather all sons of lords from surrounding villages, aged no less than thirteen years. Is that clear?’ the king said scornfully. He narrowed his eyes and wiped the dribble from his chin.
The king’s audience bowed and answered in unison. ‘Yes, Master of All.’
But, Gilbert’s mind was on his next task.
Each book made a heavy THUD, as it hit the library’s polished wooden floor.
William heaved a sigh as he stooped to pick them up, then paused, taking note of a group of sneakers standing directly to his right. His heart jumped. It was times like this when he really hated his life.
‘Oh, look who it is – William Geek. Ha, that’s quite a load you have there, Willy – far too much for a pathetic weakling like you to carry around, don’t you think?’ teased a heavy-set boy, now standing over him. It was Peter Cooper, accompanied by his three hard-faced mates.
‘If you like lugging all those books around, you can be my pack-horse, I guarantee I’d have plenty for you to do,’ Peter laughed, and his companions joined in like a flock of crows.
William ran a nervous hand through his dark brown hair and stood up straight, fixing his backpack onto his shoulder and meeting Peter’s glare with bright green eyes. William was the same height as Peter, but he didn’t feel equal to the other boy in any way. Peter Cooper was captain of the school cricket team, Head Boy of Year Twelve; wealthy, popular, and, quite frankly, William’s worst nightmare. He oozed coolness, the type of boy who could carry a Mickey Mouse backpack and still manage to look cool.
‘Er… um, I was just getting ready…, I… um,’ William stuttered, hardly able to catch his breath, let alone form a proper sentence. He felt his face turning scarlet with humiliation and he knew, without even checking, that his fellow students in the non-fiction area were giving him their undivided attention. He lowered his eyes to the floor and saw his book – the strange book that lived in his backpack, the one he’d never shown anyone. He clenched his jaw.
‘Oh, so you’d need this?’ Peter grinned as he placed his foot on the leather-bound book.
William bent to pick it up and suffered a hard blow to his face. He stumbled backwards, dropping his backpack and landing on his backside. Something warm trickled from his nose. He licked his lip instinctively and tasted blood. His heart began to pound in his throat. He couldn’t believe Peter had hit him; the other boy had never gone that far with his bullying.
‘Do you not know that this is a library, William Knight? This is not an auction for unwanted literature!’ Mrs Flett’s voice echoed through the bookshelves.
William wiped the blood from his lip and jumped to his feet. Peter was suddenly nowhere to be seen and William knew he had two choices – to run, or try explaining the impossible to a teacher whom had an exceptional loathing for him.
He chose the first option.
He grabbed the leather-bound book and his backpack, running from the library with such speed, that the hundreds of books lining the shelves were just a blur as he passed.
William’s sneakers squeaked on the floor as he skidded out into the long cold corridor of Trinity Boys College. It was completely deserted – much to his relief. He noticed the late afternoon sun flooding down through the stained-glass windows, but its soft glow gave him little comfort this time. He was in trouble; the librarian wanted justice and the school bully wanted a fight.
He took a deep breath, clutched his book to his chest and sprinted toward the end of the corridor. Then he made a sharp left and found the doors that led outside. He heaved them open and caught sight of the arts building.
‘Nobody’ll look for me there,’ he whispered to himself.
It was getting late and he was sure everyone would be making their way towards the mess hall. He trudged across the lawn onto the cobbled pathway and headed for the looming structure, which resembled an enormous grey cliff.
When he reached the arts building, the sun had disappeared behind the college stadium. He leaned against the wall; it was still warm from where the sun had soaked into the bricks. A chill ran up his spine and he pulled his blazer more tightly around himself. Why did he feel cold suddenly, when there wasn’t even the slightest breeze? He sighed. ‘I may as well stay here, for a while at least,’ he said to himself. He crouched down against the wall and placed his book on his knees.
The lantern above him flickered to life. William knew it must be mealtime if the lanterns were coming on, but he did not intend to return to his dorm. He had to work out what was happening with the leather-bound book. For as long as he could remember, William had carried it around in his backpack, but the pages had always been blank. That was until he had turned seventeen, just days before. Suddenly, from the day of his birthday, words began to appear on the pages. Not just words, but runes, which swam across the page, and curly letters forming strange words that made his eyes strain and his heart race. Stranger still was that the words were written in handwriting that seemed familiar to William – like that of a long lost friend or relative.
He stared down at the tattered leather cover. He thought it must have been bright red once, but now it was dark and secretive. He opened the book and ran his finger over the page. ‘I’d give anything to know what you’re all about,’ he whispered thoughtfully. Words abruptly appeared on the page, like mist wafting through a darkened forest. He frowned. Each sentence ran into the next, forcing his lips to move so that the words became rhythmic.
The lantern over his head went out. William leaped to his feet and slammed the book shut. It was completely dark. He felt his head starting to whirl with rapid dizziness – something was wrong.
He suddenly felt weightless.
The night sky revolved above his head, erratically and out of focus. He tried to remain conscious but it was a struggle. His body felt icy cold as if he was standing inside a refrigerator. A breeze lifted his hair and echoed through his ears.
Without warning he felt heavy, as if his limbs had been weighted down with bricks.
Nothing made any sense.
Before he had time to consider what had happened, he was as light as a feather again.
‘Be not afraid… small one. You will be home soon.’ It sounded as if the wind that flowed through his ears was speaking to him, but he knew that couldn’t be right.
William desperately tried to open his eyes, wanting to gather some kind of understanding about what was happening to him. He sighed heavily. When he did manage to open his eyes a little, the arts building appeared to be moving. He squinted and stared at it. It resembled a mountain.
‘Where am I?’ he mumbled.
‘I am Orrin,’ was all that William heard, before drifting into complete nothingness.
Hundreds of miles away from Trinity Boys College, the students of St Michael’s Boys College cheered and whistled impatiently. The Dragons and The Knights made their way, in single file, out onto the soggy field. The siren bellowed out through the late afternoon’s icy smog, which had settled on the field like a veil. Thomas checked that his bright yellow jersey had been tucked into his shorts before he tied his shaggy, dark brown hair into a ponytail.
‘We’re going to roast you turkeys, then stuff you with herbs and spices!’ he jeered at his challenger.
His opponent responded with a smirk and a rude hand gesture, before taking his position beside him. They were to be rivals for the duration of the game, but would resume their friendship later on in the mess hall, over a table full of hot potatoes and roast beef.
The breeze lifted the crowd’s chanting and carried it across the field, so that Thomas and the other players could hear their names being called. They waited for the umpire to blow his whistle.
It was the first game of the soccer season for the young lads of St Michael’s Boys College and the atmosphere had been buzzing for weeks. Two teams were formed. Now The Dragons and The Knights would do battle for the invitation to St Veronica’s College for the Ladies Annual Dance – and Thomas’s team had never been unfortunate enough to miss out.
The umpire blew his whistle and the game was underway.
Thomas was manned by his friend and roommate, Jarred, but gave no mind to bumping shoulders fiercely and keeping on course with his attack. He charged and shielded his possession of the ball at every turn. Then he made a quick flick toward his teammate. The ball was kicked back and forth for a number of minutes and the spectators stood up from their seats to cheer.
Thomas panted. His heart raced, but he would not slacken his pace. He managed a shot at the goal.
‘Yes!’ he shouted, as the ball went through the goalkeeper’s outstretched hands.
He gave no sympathy on the field. He had played the position of striker since he was six years of age and was the college champion. His passion for the game was set apart from the many friendships that he had made off field and he never mixed the two. For this reason, he was The Dragons’ greatest asset.
We have to win this game, thought Thomas, as he made a second attempt at a goal. This time, it failed.
‘Oohh!’ he groaned loudly. ‘Damn you, Josh!’ he cursed, as sweat beaded and dribbled down his face. It stung his eyes.
‘Better luck next time! The game is over in a minute!’ replied the lanky boy protecting the goals.
Some spectators holding up The Knights’ banner, booed and moaned.
Nevertheless, as play resumed, Thomas took his chance again. He responded to an excellent pass from his teammate, Trevor Phillips. He kicked the ball at unbelievable speed, straight into the top left corner of the goals.
The Dragon supporters went wild. They whistled and applauded, cheered and stamped their feet.
The Knights put their hands to their heads and fell to their knees.
‘Yes! Yes!’ bellowed Thomas, when he was lifted into the air by his team members and carried victoriously around the grounds.
The atmosphere was electric.
‘Take it easy, there’s no need for all those tears!’ Thomas teased the disheartened Knights playfully as both teams made their way back to the cold stone change-rooms.
‘Yeah, yeah. It’s not over for The Knights yet. You may be going to the Annual Dance, but we will win the tournament, and the trophy!’ replied one boy, clearly deflated but trying hard to put on a brave face.
‘Come on Thomas, get showered! I’m starving,’ shouted a freckle-faced boy from the defeated team. ‘Stop gloating and get a move on. It was only one game, there’s plenty more to come,’ he continued, pulling on his jacket and leaning up against the wall.
‘You’d say that, because you lost!’ Thomas jeered humorously, opening his locker and pulling out his clothes and towel. ‘You can get going. I’ll see you up there, Ted. I can’t rush with the cleaning of this mean, lean, fighting machine,’ he laughed, taking out his hair-elastic and running his fingers through his hair. He checked his reflection in the mirror attached to his locker door. ‘Gee, I’m a good looking fellow!’
The change-room echoed with laughter and Ted rolled his eyes at Thomas’s obvious haughtiness, before waving his hand and taking his leave. ‘See you at tea then!’
Thomas stood under the steaming hot shower for the longest time, thinking about how proud his parents would be when he told them about their first victory against The Knights. Then he considered that they hadn’t called him for more than two weeks… probably uncovering Brachiosaurus bones in Byford, he thought idly. He was used to not hearing from them for months at a time, so two weeks without contact seemed like a drop in the ocean. Anyway, he reasoned, I’ll tell them when they get around to calling. Dad will be pleased.
He let the heated droplets from the shower rejuvenate his aching muscles for a few minutes longer. Then he turned off the taps and wrapped himself in the towel. He stepped out of the shower cubicle, onto the cold cement floor. ‘Where is everyone?’ he muttered to himself, becoming aware of the silence and emptiness of the change-room. ‘I’d better get a move on, before the gluttons eat my dinner!’
He pulled on his tracksuit and joggers and hurried up the darkened pathway. He could see the colossal stone building of St Michael’s main hall, protruding above the enormous pine trees that surrounded the grounds. In his haste, Thomas hadn’t noticed that he was not completely alone.
‘If they don’t save me some stew, I’ll—’ he stopped suddenly, when he heard a rustling sound coming from a nearby bush. ‘Who’s there?’ he whispered, sure it was just one of the other boys playing games. ‘Get out here! You lot better have saved me some dinner, I’m starving,’ he continued in a stronger voice.
There was no reply. Not a sound emanated from the bushes.
The hair on his arms stood up on end.
He spun back in the direction he was heading and hurried his steps to a slight jog. There was a rustling sound again, but this time it came from in front of him. It was coming from inside a bush.
‘Come on, stop being daft!’ he yelled, trying to sound unflustered.
A sudden wind picked up his soggy hair and swished around him rapidly.
Thomas glanced up at the stars above and his limbs went weak. His head whirled weightlessly. A bright light confused his senses and then everything around him went dark….
If your kids love dragons, magic and adventure, they’ll love the adventures of Wolfbaene 🐲
Available on Amazon in paperback
For ages 9+
The magical continues in BOOK TWO
Wolfbaene – The Next Quest