Being the oldest of five children always creates problems, especially when your father is a King. Taught to always obey the rules and to never use his magic except for chores, young Rick goes about his boring life-until the day he discovers the books of Merlin in the castle library. As he begins reading, Rick knows he is breaking one of the Norkblens' strictest laws. But Rick cannot stop himself as he ventures into the woods with a group of friends and begins practicing the old magic.
Rick soon discovers that an evil queen will stop at nothing to capture him, his friends, and ultimately destroy his father. Alone, hurt, and lost in the woods, he is surrounded by danger and the only way to survive is to use the forbidden magic. Now it is up to Rick, a human, two birds, and two Norkblens to rescue the villagers of Mouthyew and Tonplym-before it is too late.
Up against an army of trained soldiers, coyotes, and a twisted queen, the odds seem insurmountable. But everyone knows that when it comes to magic, anything can happen.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.85(d)|
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Rick and the Mystery on Bydig Mountain
By Diane Hankinson
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Diane Hankinson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTrouble In The Woodland
Flipping around in his bed, with the covers hauled up to his chin, Rick watched the first golden rays of sunlight peep through his window. His brown eyes watched in wonder as it slithered slowly across the floor before skipping over his rug, and finally spilling onto his quilt.
He flicked the dark curl out of his eyes for the second time. Only yesterday, his father told him to cut that mess, but that was not going to happen. It's not that his hair was long, it seemed as if it was just cut when it started to grow again and it never grew straight but always curly. He knew his hair should have been cut days ago; but sitting still for five minutes while someone hacked at his head was something he could not stand.
Throwing the covers aside Rick sprang from his warm nest. Sprinting across the cold floor, he arrived at the big window facing east, just as a glowing ball of fire rose over the trees. He could see everything, his entire village, the fields of hay swaying in the morning breeze and finally, the Woodland stretching to the end of the earth. Yes, he could see his entire world from this window and it was beautiful. A wonderland unfolding as far as his eyes could see and he couldn't wait to be a part of it. Grabbing the clothes he'd tossed haphazardly on the floor the night before, he hauled them on. Jeans and an old sweater were his favorite attire. Swiping at the annoying curl, he hopped on one foot while jamming a boot on the other. He'd worn his socks to bed the night before so it wasn't long before he was dressed. Stopping, he scooped up his jacket from the floor.
Sneaking silently through the doorway, he glided down the hallway as quietly as a ghost, before taking the stairs, two at a time. Streaking across the stone floor of the great hall, he slipped the latch on the metal studded door before swinging it open and stepping outside. A sigh of contentment passed through his lips as he jumped from one stone step to the next. He was free to do what he wanted and go wherever the day might take him. With a smile stretching from ear to ear and his arms swinging by his sides, he marched through the village and headed for the Woodland, toward a day of adventure.
With each step, leaves crunched under his feet bringing a smile to his long face. He loved each of the four seasons but fall was his favorite. The world changed from drab green to the most amazing shades of red, yellow and orange. The air was cool and smelled fresh. Standing perfectly still he watched a shower of leaves flutter slowly to the ground. Silence followed, for what seemed like only a second, before a shrill screech echoed through the trees. He could hear the flap of wings growing louder and the sharp caw of another bird filled the air. He soon spotted the cause of all the noise; weaving through the trees, heading straight for him were two of his friends, Row and Blue. Oh, he loved those birds, but sometimes a boy just wanted to be alone, and today was one of those days.
Stepping out of the shadows and into the bright light streaming through the trees, he continued his journey, his thoughts returned to his family and friends. Being the oldest of five children always created problems and when your father was a King, it just made things even more complicated. He loved his family but sometimes his brothers just rubbed him the wrong way. Yne and Ert were only two years younger than he was and identical twins, which didn't help. They were like two peas in a pod; no matter which way you turned them, they looked the same. With dirty blond hair, sparkling blue eyes and fair skin, they resemble their mother, Queen Phne. Rick thought they should have been named disaster and trouble, because that's what happened every time they were around him. Ron was the eldest of his two sisters. She was everything his mother and father had wished for in a daughter. Even Rick had to admit she was beautiful, with her long blond hair and flawless pale skin. She knew everything girls should know; how to sew, read, knit, look after a house or castle in her case, but Rick couldn't understand how she could just sit for hours sipping tea and chatting with her friends. Her soft blue eyes lit up every time he entered the room, why he would never know. Now Ane, his youngest sister was nothing like Ron. She would rather climb a tree, shoot an arrow or tumble in the mud before she would sip a cup of tea. She was one hundred percent tomboy. Rick loved his sisters butAne had to be his favorite. He often wondered why he liked her better and the only answer he could come up with was because she was so much like him and their father. Her hair was dark, her eyes were a snappy brown, her complexion was a nice tan color and she was full of fun. Rick was glad he was like his father. But thankfully, not in everyway, or at least he hoped.
Only yesterday, they had a huge fight, which was why he wanted today alone to think; well, that and other reasons, which didn't seem as important now. As soon as he was old enough to understand, Rick was told never to venture alone into the woods. All the children were told the same thing, they were never told why, but just to obey the rules. Rules ... rules ... rules, my life is filled with rules, thought Rick. Well yesterday, he did something, which had never been done in the long history of his people, and the rules were tossed right out of the window.
Every Wednesday the Elders held a meeting to discuss the running of the village. Just the thought of the ten oldest men in the village making and changing the rules every Wednesday made him mad. No one is allowed to attend these meetings, not even the King, unless he is given an invitation. Well that all changed when Rick marched into that meeting and demanded to know what was going to be done about the trouble taking place in the village and the surrounding Woodland. Boy did that room drop into a deep silence; you could hear the grass growing outside the window if you listened. Every old wrinkled face gaped at him as if he had two heads. He didn't have enough sense to stop at that question; he decided to pose a few more. Like why can't he practice the old magic? All Norkblens know how to do magic, but the rules forbid the use of magic except to help in their every day work.
"Give me a break, what if we were attacked? What good is magic when it is only used to muck out the barn or move furniture? Why do we have to be accompanied by someone over a hundred years old when we venture into the woods or use our good magic?" Rick blurted out. When he stopped for a breath the room started to come alive. Chairs scraped across the floor and every man in that room headed for Rick. He was backed into a corner for only a moment, and then one very small, thin old arm snaked through the crowd and snatched his collar. Rick was surprised how strong that arm was and was soon hauled to a chair and placed in it none to gently.
These ten men had more hair on their chins than heads. A few had white wisps shooting out above their ears and even fewer had a ring of snow circling around the back of their bald heads. And not one of them could stand up straight; they all tilted forward and could look Rick in the eye even though he was sitting. The youngest Elder had to be at least eight hundred years old. To be surrounded by ten old men in long white robes can soon have your mind changing directions. They didn't speak to him but proceeded to discuss what they should do to him.
"Well, I would like an answer to my questions," Rick spoke up. Ten pairs of eyes shifted in his direction. Then Nek, the youngest Elder shuffled toward him, "What is it you want to know?"
"Well ... well ... I want to know why I can't use the old magic for one thing," sputtered Rick. He watched Nek nod his head while sending a silent message to the others. Then as one, the Elders returned to their chairs and sat.
In a quiet voice Nek spoke, "What I am about to tell you can not be told to anyone else. Do you understand?"
Before answering Rick glanced around the table, all eyes were on him, he had the feeling he may not like what he was about to be told. But reluctantly he gave a quick nod.
"You have been told all the old stories about how we once lived with the humans and they treated us poorly?"
Rick gave another quick nod.
"Around the time of King Arthur we decided we'd had enough, just because we didn't grow more than four to five feet tall was no reason to ridicule us, but we were not the only people who were treated cruelly. Many people were oppressed and many died. It was then that the Elders in our village decided it was time to move. But, where could we go? We needed a place we could hide, stay safe and not be misused by the others or as we now call them, the humans. A very old friend and a member of our village came up with the answer. His name was Merlin. He took us deep into the woods of Nova Scotia, Canada, where we would not be found. He placed a magic spell around our villages to keep us safe. Our people also needed to protect themselves against the evils of their time, so Merlin showed them how to do magic. We became very good at using magic and that brought its own troubles. Some of our people started to use their magic for evil, that is when the Elders started stripping powers and banishing the offenders to live in the mountains. The first place we called home was Norkblen Village and that is how we got our name, Norkblens. Norkblens who were stripped of their powers somehow became known as Nankins. After many hundreds of years, when we realized we didn't need all of our powers for protection, the Elders decided to forbid the use of many of them. That way, they thought, the misuse of magic would stop, but sadly, it did not. We have lived peacefully now for hundreds of years without the use of old magic and that will not change. We have kept the magic spell around our villages so the humans cannot find or abuse us; but as you know, the village of Norkblen no longer exists. Mouthyew and Tonplym are the only villages we have now."
A silence filled the room while every old, baldhead bobbed up and down. Nek folded his hands, shut his eyes and said a little prayer. Then, as if coming out of a deep sleep, air rushed through his bent old body and he again looked Rick in the eyes.
"The reason we forbid the use of magic with out supervision is to keep you and the villages safe. What do you think would happen if everyone in the villages used their magic whenever they liked? I don't think we would exist if we didn't have all the rules, do you?"
Rick's eyes wondered around the table, he watched ten heads nod like the leaves on the trees in a heavy wind; they were in complete agreement with everything Nek had to say.
"But what about the trouble in the Woodland, how are we going to stop who is responsible?" questioned Rick.
"We have had trouble before and we didn't need the use of old magic to help us. Your father is a good leader and he will find out who is causing all the trouble and have them brought to justice. You know you can use your magic anytime once you are old enough. But only to help in your day-to-day chores, you do not need it for any other reason, which is why the study of the old magic is prohibited. Besides the villagers are happy with the magic they have, most don't even know about the old magic and we intend to keep it that way."
Rick just could not keep his mouth shut, "You know I will be King someday, I would like your permission to study the old magic and I would like to know why we are not allowed near the villages where the humans live."
"As I have just stated, not you or any other Norkblen will be allowed to study the old magic, ever! And as for not going near the human villages, well the answer to that is dreadfully obvious. For one thing, the humans do not even know we exist. They have wars with each other and they hunt the animals in the woods for fun. Yes, I know, you want to know why we send people into the human villages. We are a nosy people and we want to know what is happening in the rest of the world but we do not intend to let them destroy our villages or corrupt our people. We have the ability to live for hundreds of years, do magic, move like the wind and have exceptional eyesight and hearing. The humans have a short life span, trip over their own feet, can't hear anything but their own voices and see only what is in front of their face. And if they ever discover that we can do magic, our lives would be in extreme danger."
Rick could feel his face burn and his ears snap, he was mad, madder than he's ever remembered being in his short life. "Why should you tell me what I can or cannot do? I will be King one day and when I am, no one, not even a room full of old men will demand I follow their silly rules!"
The room fell into such a deep silence you could have cut the tension with a knife, all eyes glared at Rick.
"I think you should remember who you are and where you are," exclaimed Nek. "You are not King yet; you are but a boy, one of the Kings sons. You barged into a meeting that the King is not even allowed to attend. You demand to be allowed to do things, which are against our strictest laws. We, the Elders, decided to respect you and hear what you had to say; now you must respect us and obey the rules or there will be consequences. Now ... will you do as we ask and continue to do as you are told, use only what magic is necessary to do your chores and stay away from the human villages. If you do not do these things you will be putting everyone in danger."
Rick wanted to say no, but he knew he had to say yes.
"You do realize your father will need to know about this."
Needless to say, they told his father and he was not happy. Actually, he was furious and sent Rick to his room with orders to stay put until he had heard from him. One day was all Rick could take, so as soon as the sun came up he was out the door, headed for a day alone in the woods.
Shoving his way through thick alders, Rick didn't notice the low branch of a tree until it was too late.
"Oh, now that's just great," touching his fingers to his forehead he could feel a large bump growing. "Even the trees are mad at me!"
"Who are you talking to?" Squawked Row gliding to the branch of a very beautiful maple tree, he waited for an answer. Row was not hard to see. His shiny black feathers glowed against the beautiful colored leaves, making him resemble an incredibly visible shadow. Turning his head completely around, Row peered into the dark woods, but he couldn't find anyone hiding among the trees. He turned his beady little eyes back to Rick and waited patiently.
"I don't see anyone," screeched Blue. He hopped from branch to branch in a near by tree then stretched his long blue wings and settled down to watch.
Sometimes Rick wished Blue and Row couldn't talk. But then he would have to listen to them squawk and caw. How the humans could stand the sound of birds chirping or squirrels chattering was more than he could comprehend.
"You can be sure, I wasn't talking to the two of you," stated Rick, before jumping over another tree root. Long, curling roots were sticking above the uneven ground; they were tangled with branches and leaves, which had fallen during the last big windstorm. How could it be so peaceful here and yet just through the trees and over the mountain the world was frustrating, no that wasn't the word he wanted, noisy, no, that wasn't it either, confusing. That was it, confusing. Rick's world was confusing. Someone was causing trouble in the Woodland and villages. The army was trying to keep things under control, but they were not having much success. Everyone knew it was the Nankins but nothing could be proven. Hundreds of years ago, the Nankins, with the help of their Queen, tried to take over the Woodland but were defeated. The Queen was imprisoned and the Kingdom of Fields was quiet and peaceful for the first time in many long years, until lately when bad news arrived daily. Rumor was the Queen had escaped. Rick hoped that rumor wasn't true. He'd never met the woman, but from all he'd heard, she wasn't a very nice person.
"Only crazy people talk to themselves," cawed Row, as he flew down to perch in the alders close to Rick.
"You would know all about that," growled Rick, just as his foot caught in a large tangled tree root hidden well under a pile of leaves. Trying to hurry, he wasn't watching where he was going. Catching his toe, he twisted his ankle at an odd angle, which caused him to pitch forward. Automatically throwing his hands out he just stopped himself from falling flat on his face, but instead landed hard on his side. A loud groan slipped through his lips. He'd heard a strange dull snap when he hit the ground and a searing pain shot across his foot and up his leg. Blue glided to a large rotting log near by. He'd heard the strange little snapping noise and noticed the look of pain flash across his friends face.
Excerpted from Rick and the Mystery on Bydig Mountain by Diane Hankinson Copyright © 2011 by Diane Hankinson. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Trouble In The Woodland....................1
Friend Or Foe....................148
Over The Mountain....................209
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was excellent!!! Its a cross between a Harry Potter/ Chronicles of Narnia! I heard the voice of the writer and got lost in the story.....I connected with the characters and with the details and descritions the Author used, I created a picture inside my head that brought the story to life simply and clearly. This is a must read book!
Despite the boy on the path on the cover, this is a great fiction read. It brings you to a new world where anything can happen, and it will help open your mind to posibilities which before did not exist. This book has a similar style of writing to that of Harry Potter, could be the next must read book in any collection.
This is a great book! Next generation Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings. The author takes you to an exciting fantasy world where you can picture the storey as it happens!
A great book!