The Horn of Moran



. The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of Shadow Mountain.

Summary: Sixteen-year-old wizard-in-training Alex Taylor and his band of fellow adventurers battle a goblin army, navigate an enchanted forest, and try to solve the sphinx’s riddle in their quest to find the lost Horn of Moran and return it to Alusia before the nation erupts in war.

ISBN 978-1-60641-226-8 (hardbound : alk. paper)

[1. Fantasy. 2. Adventure and adventurers—Fiction. 3. Wizards—Fiction. 4. Magic—Fiction. 5. Orphans—Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.F7653Ho 2011

[Fic]—dc22 2010037531

Printed in the United States of America

R. R. Donnelley, Crawfordsville, IN

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Also, I want to thank my friends at Shadow Mountain who worked long and hard to make this book happen.

First on the list is Lisa Mangum, my editor. She’s the one who makes me look like I know what I’m doing when I write. She keeps the story on track even when I wander off and basically cleans up the many little messes that I make. I may go crazy when I first see the edits, but I’m always glad that Lisa is there to fix things.

Special thanks to Chris Schoebinger, my go-to guy at Shadow Mountain. I’m sure he has a fancy job title, but in the end he’s the guy who gets things done and makes all of this possible. Thanks to him for all the time and energy he’s put into this story.

Credit should also be given to illustrator Brandon Dorman, whose outstanding work creates a face for the story and helps bring the words to life.

Special credit goes to Richard Erickson, Art Director. He puts it all together and helps makes the book shine. I’m not sure how he does it, but I’m glad he does.

And to those I’ve missed mentioning, know that I remember you in my heart.

And finally, a few words of motivation from Sir Winston Churchill that have helped keep me going when, from time to time, it all seemed hopeless:

Wizard in Training

“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.

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