About the Book
Book II in the “King of the Trees” fantasy series by William D. Burt. Winepress Publishing: June 2001. (Softcover; 288 pages. Illustrated by Terri L. Lahr and Rebecca J. Burt.) Includes glossary and pronunciation guide at the back for easier reading and for reading aloud.
In this sequel to The King of the Trees, Rolin and Marlis are enjoying a carefree autumn picnic when they are trapped between worlds. Too late they learn the connections among a silver starglass, a handful of pearls and five ravens. Cut off from friends, family and each other by a mysterious malady, they learn to survive in a savage land where unwary travelers fall prey to strange and terrifying creatures. To save Lucambra and many other worlds from a devouring darkness, they must join forces with some unlikely allies. Only in losing all they have ever known and loved do they discover the faithfulness of Gaelathane.
“For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hid-den from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Hebrews 4:12–13 (NASB)
In loving memory of Erica Lahr-Auvil
Prologue: Of Crowns & Quill Pens
Kraawwk! Kraawwk! Timothy son of Garth looked up to see an ill-favored, pink-headed bird perched in the tree above him. Eating his lunch of rye bread and cheese, he sat alone in the whispering wood, having no sisters, brothers or other playmates.
As usual, his father was somewhere between Beechtown and the Green Sea, pol-ing his raft up the River Foamwater. A flaxen-haired boy of ten, Timothy wished Garth could spend more time with him, especially during the summer—a raftsman’s busiest season. Timothy’s mother Nora took in laundry, scrubbing the soiled tunics of the rollicking bargemen and raftsmen who stopped in Beechtown to test their landlegs.
Timothy whiled away many an idle June afternoon in the forests above Beechtown hunting squirrels and pheasants or spying on stoats and badgers, sala-manders and snakes. Still hungry after his meager meal, he picked a few wild strawberries, popping the sweet, fragrant fruits into his mouth.
As the ruff-necked bird raucously croaked again, Timothy saw it was a vulture. The carrion eater was tugging and pecking at something, no doubt a poor dead thing stuck in the tree. Then Timothy’s keen eye caught a metallic luster—perhaps the point of a huntsman’s arrow lodged in a limb. He had often seen crows carry off coins and other shiny objects with which to brighten their drab, untidy nests—but never vultures. Failing to pilfer the pretty, the bird squawked and flew away.
Timothy smiled. Such a lot of fuss over a snippet of steel! Just then, a wind gust waded through the foliage, caressing the polished leaves into rustling curls and set-ting the “arrowhead” to twirling and flashing. Timothy wished he could view the mysterious object through a starglass, such as riverboat captains often used. He sighed and made a face.
Owning a starglass was out of the question; one of those long tubes with their glass lenses would cost his father a month’s wages. If he wanted to see what had so attracted the vulture, he’d have to climb the tree.
Ten minutes later, moss-grimed and well winded, Timothy had reached a gnarled limb halfway up the tortoiseshell trunk. Crawling out on the branch, he found a black satchel, its strap caught on a couple of crooked twigs. Sunlight glinted off a metal clasp securing a wide flap to the case’s front.
Timothy gave a low whistle. Some wily highwayman—maybe Bartholomew the Bold himself—must have flung the satchel into this tree while fleeing a sheriff’s pos-se, intending to retrieve his loot later. “Catcher, keeper, thief’s a weeper,” Timothy chortled. Whatever was inside, it now belonged to him.
Freeing the tangled strap, he hefted the grimy satchel, which looked as though it had hung in the tree for quite a spell. Though heavy, the case didn’t rattle or clink the way a pouch of gold and jewels would. When the rusted catch refused to open, he looped the strap around his neck, wriggled back down the tree and set off for home, clutching the case to his chest.
After crossing the Beechtown bridge, he ducked into an alley to avoid notice—but not quickly enough. Someone had been waiting for him. “Hey! It’s Garth the River-Rover’s brat!” growled Baglot son of Baldwyn, the brash town bully. “I thought I told you never to show your ugly mug around here again!”
As Timothy broke into a run, Baglot and his gang gave chase, catcalling, “Tim-my boy, the tin-ker’s son, watch him run, O what fun! Tim-my boy, the tinker’s son, go hide in your hole by the waa-ter!”
Whizzz! A stone sailed over Timothy’s head. Another struck him in the thigh. He vaulted a fence and hopped into a drainage ditch, where he crouched among some cattails.
When the hoots and cries had died away, Timothy crept out of the ditch and limped along the riverbank to his parents’ thatched hut. Beside it sat his father’s ramshackle shed. Inside the shed, broken furniture, warped wagon wheels and pitted pieces of iron littered the floor. In his spare time, Garth repaired and sold cast-off odds and ends to help his family eke out a living.
After rubbing away his tears and catching his breath, Timothy set the satchel on Garth’s workbench, noting a peculiar emblem embossed on the side. Arranged in a crowned “W,” a gold circlet and four quill pens rested on an open-book design.
Convinced the symbol must be the mark of royalty or nobility, Timothy pried open the latch with a chisel. As he raised the flap, a musty, furry smell escaped.
“Papers?” he groaned. “All that work for a bunch of moldy papers!” Stomping out the door with the case, he was about to fling the whole lot into the river when he realized that the owner might pay a handsome price for the satchel’s return. Besides, its contents might make interesting reading. Thanks to his grandmother’s training, Timothy had already devoured all the books he could lay hands on, and his parents could ill afford to satisfy his demand for more.
After settling down on the riverbank, he removed all the stacks of parchments from the satchel. Then he upended and shook it. Only a frayed quill pen fell out, its hollow tip heavily scored as if by a knife or file. Squinting at the spidery script squiggling across the stiff, yellowed papers, Timothy read, “Be it hereby enacted by the power vested in me . . .”
Grappling with more flowery terms, he came upon the names, “King Rolin” and “Queen Marlis” penned in bold letters. His first hunch hadn’t been far from the mark; it seemed he had discovered the records of a royal court. More references to the king and queen were sprinkled throughout the following pages.
Then he came to a thick sheaf of parchments bound with green and purple cords. Across the front, someone had scrawled the words, “Torsils in Time.” Torsils? Timothy pictured pea-green lizards with powerful tails and long, forked, flickering tongues. Chewing on a river grass stem, he read further.
About the Author
Having spent most of his teenage years vicariously adventuring in Middle Earth, the author is an avid fantasy fan. His first allegorical fantasy title, The King of the Trees, came out in 1998 (WinePress). Bowing to reader demand, he has expanded the series to include a total of seven titles to date, with more to follow. While still in high school, he began his writing career editing his father’s popular identification guides, Edible and Poisonous Plants of the Western/Eastern States. As an Assistant Professor in the Special Education Department at Western Oregon University, he served as a successful grant-writer and program coordinator.
Burt holds a B.S. in English from Lewis and Clark College and an M.S. from Western Oregon University in Deaf Education. In addition to writing books, he works as an RID-certified American Sign Language interpreter with over thirty years’ experience. His interests include reading, foreign languages and mycology. He is married with two grown children.
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