Read Ravenspell Book 2: The Wizard of Ooze Online

Authors: David Farland

Tags: #Fantasy, #lds, #mormon

Ravenspell Book 2: The Wizard of Ooze (4 page)

BOOK: Ravenspell Book 2: The Wizard of Ooze
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Other mice were crawling upward, bearing stones and dirt in their paws. Steamy vapors rose from the heart of the pit.

Down at the bottom, half a mile in the distance, Ben heard tiny paws scratching, millions of them, and the zombie mice sang:

Beneath the soil, ’neath the stones,
Beneath the earth’s very bones.
Picking the ground, like a sore,
Till we reach the molten core.
When we strike it, ash will rise,
Roaring like a cloud of flies.

Ben realized that he was peering down the throat of a deep volcano.

Lady Blackpool gazed down, an angry furrow to her brow, while Amber merely wept at the sight of so many mice in the clutches of evil. Bushmaster the vole pushed in, gripping his little spear as if he wanted to go to war.

Ben felt something poke him in the back, and Thorn whispered, “Pssst. Let me see!”

“Shhh . . .” Lady Blackpool whispered much more softly.

But the damage had already been done.

Ben hadn’t heard the great worm waken, but awaken he had. The first announcement of it was when something slimy jolted up from the ground and suddenly wrapped around Ben’s ankles.

Chapter 6

IN THE CLUTCHES OF EVIL

I don’t mind being in the clutches of evil so much,

but I do hate the slime trail it leaves.

—AMBER

The worms still held Amber, and one big night crawler seemed to be trying to choke her.

Amber peered down and saw that night crawlers had lunged up, wrapped themselves around her legs, and were now pulling back, effectively binding her to the ground.

Thorn screamed in terror.

Amber tried to leap away, but the worms had her tied down.

Bushmaster and Ben whirled and lunged, stabbing the huge worms that held them with their spears. It was a magnificent battle.

He’s so handsome, Amber thought, gazing at Ben. He’s so brave and powerful. He makes my knees weak.

“Intruders! Who dares disturb the great and powerful Wizard of Ooze?” a deep voice roared, echoing through the small cave.

The great worm lunged from his dirt clod and came oozing toward them, his tail clanking against the hard dirt floor.

Slobber goblins lurched into action, raising their spears, and raced toward the mice.

Amber was nearly witless with terror.

The worm wizard hissed, and green snot shot from his mouth, splattering the wall above Amber’s head. The snot hissed and bubbled like acid.

“Return!” Lady Blackpool shouted.

There was a clap like thunder; the air shimmered around them, and the vision fell away.

Suddenly the stars shone down on the little pool again, and the air smelled fresh and clear.

“Help!” Thorn screamed. “The worms are strangling me! I can’t breathe!”

The worms still held Amber down, and one big night crawler seemed to be trying to choke her. But the worms weren’t very strong, and Amber realized that she didn’t have much to fear. She just grabbed the slimy things and pulled herself free.

Meanwhile, Thorn suddenly broke loose of some worms, and now he just hopped around in circles, screaming for help with a huge night crawler draped around his throat like a scarf. “I’m dying!” he cried. “I can’t breathe at all!”

Lady Blackpool bit a couple of chunks out of two worms that were trying to hold her down; they recoiled in pain.

Bushmaster grabbed the night crawler that was hanging around Thorn’s neck and yanked it loose.

Just when Amber thought that she had nothing to worry about, an enormous worm erupted from the ground and rose high, high in the air, climbing up like a cobra.

“An Oregon giant!” Ben shouted as the ghostly white worm reared up, moonlight gleaming down on its slimy skin, its flesh as pale as if it were dead.

In a deep voice, the giant worm intoned solemnly, “Who dares defy the wizard who lurks at the heart of the world?”

Suddenly, there was a hissing sound, and a powerful white light erupted from the worm’s gaping mouth.

“Laser beams!” Ben shouted, backing away in fear.

The light hissed just over Amber’s head, slashing through some young cattail rushes behind her.

Lady Blackpool raised her paw, and a bolt of dark purple energy struck the giant worm.

Amber gulped loudly as the great worm suddenly recoiled, disappearing into a vast crater. She stood there, trembling all over.

Lady Blackpool sent more bolts of energy flying, and the night crawlers lunged into the ground, retreating as fast as they could.

In moments, the only sign left from the struggle was the slime that coated Amber’s fur.

* * *

Back at Ben’s home, his mother lay in bed, unable to sleep. She’d had a disturbing dream about worms. She had the distinct feeling that her son was in danger, and she needed to warn him.

He’s alive, she told herself. I just don’t know where to find him. She’d searched all over the neighborhood and hadn’t found a clue.

The only real lead she had to go on was the bat she’d seen in her house the night Ben had disappeared. The bat was obviously a vampire. It had flown right through the roof, tearing a gaping hole in it.

Could it be that Ben has been turned into a vampire? Ben’s mom wondered.

And if he has, will I ever see him again?

He could be prowling around the house right now, afraid to let his mother know the truth.

But he shouldn’t be afraid, Ben’s mom thought. I love him. Even if he’s a vampire, I’ll always love him.

I could get blood for him to drink, down at the blood bank. Of course, I’d have to go for the cheap stuff—O negative, or something like that. I might even have to mix it with V8 juice to cut down on the costs.

But I love my son, she told herself, and she imagined holding her son, her little vampire son, as she readied him for bed in a nice new coffin.

I’m a good mother, she told herself, and I’ll stay that way even if my son has become a vampire!

* * *

The mice washed in the pool and preened. None of them felt really safe on the ground, so as the sun rose, they climbed a wild rose bush and slept in an abandoned meadowlark’s nest, there among the thorns.

Bushmaster took the first shift on guard duty.

Ben felt secure up there, away from the dangerous dirt and the deadly worms.

They slept through the day, and as the wind gusts caused the bush to sway and tremble, Ben found himself having odd, disquieting dreams, in which he was climbing a beanstalk into the clouds, but after a while, he realized that there was slime all over the stalk, and he was really climbing a giant worm.

As he startled awake, heart pounding, he wondered about what they’d seen. Why was a giant worm trying to set off a volcano? What could he hope to gain?

Ben imagined that when the volcano erupted, magma would rush up the vent and cook the giant worm in a matter of seconds. That didn’t sound like much of a plan.

Unless, he realized, this worm is suicidal.

The boiling rock would also kill all of the mice that were working on the project, though Ben had to admit that most of the mice looked like they were dead anyway.

So what could the monstrous worm hope to gain?

Lady Blackpool woke after a while, and she seemed just as perplexed as Ben.

“I don’t think that a volcano could kill this worm,” she said. “You saw his size and color? Unless I miss my guess, that was a legendary Wyoming thunder worm—the wickedest type of worm that ever squirmed. They live deep under the ground, near thermal vents. They’re used to heat. It is said that they can even swim in magma for a short time.”

“Really?” Ben asked.

Lady Blackpool continued. “And those were slobber goblins that he was using as guards. That vile worm has taken the spirits of evil creatures and bound them with volcanic ash and worm slime. Such monsters cannot be killed, so long as their master’s heart is still beating. And the thunder worm that we saw has many hearts—they may well continue to beat for centuries to come.”

“Volcanic ash?” Ben said. “Maybe he’s trying to set off the volcano so that he can get more ash?”

“That would be a great evil indeed,” Lady Blackpool said. “But I sense that something else is afoot. He could easily find more volcanic ash if that were his intent. No, he has darker plans.”

Ben could see that Lady Blackpool was worried. “Do you think we can beat him?”

Lady Blackpool peered up into the sky, as if the warm sunlight could give her an answer. “My heart is full of misgivings. But . . . anything is possible. You saw how tired he was when we arrived? He had been singing during the day, luring mice to his cave. And then he grew tired. Perhaps if you catch him unawares . . .”

“They’ll be on guard next time,” Bushmaster said. “We won’t catch him napping.”

“Did you see the ring that he wore on his tail?” Lady Blackpool asked.

“No,” Ben said, “but I heard something clank when he moved.”

“It was a focus for his magic, a device to amplify his spells. I have heard of this ring. It is very powerful. In ages past, it was created by a human, one who used it to summon mice to their doom.”

Ben pondered for a moment. “The Pied Piper of Hamelin?”

“Yes,” Lady Blackpool hissed. “It was formed by the cruel hand of the Piper himself, an evil man—the bane of mice.”

“But in the stories I heard,” Ben said, “it was
rats
that he killed.”

“Ah,” Lady Blackpool said, “stories change over time, and often the truth is twisted or lost. It was mice that the Piper summoned. Do you know the end of the tale?”

“The Pied Piper just disappeared,” Ben said.

“He didn’t just disappear,” Lady Blackpool said. “He went to war against all of mousekind, and he slew many. But one night, after he had spent a day in drunken revelry, a mouse came and stole his magic ring, gnawing it from his evil finger.

“Far the brave mouse did carry the ring, taking it to a ship and bearing it across the waters, where its powers would not be known. At the very last, old and exhausted, the mouse hurled it into a deep crevasse, hoping that it would never be found again.”

“But it has been found again!” Thorn shouted. Ben and Lady Blackpool hadn’t noticed that Thorn and Amber had woken up and were now listening to their conversation.

“Yes, this worm must have discovered the ring,” Lady Blackpool said. “In the hands of a commoner, it would be little more than a piece of costume jewelry. But obviously this is a wizard of great power.”

“What can we do?” Amber asked.

“The ring must be taken from him,” Lady Blackpool said, “and destroyed.”

“Wow!” Ben said. “This sounds kind of like a movie I saw. There was this magic ring—”

“How did they get rid of it?” Amber asked.

“I don’t know,” Ben said. “I just saw the first episode.”

“This is no silly fable,” Lady Blackpool said. “The danger here is all too real.”

The mice fell silent as each of them pondered the difficult task that lay before them.

Soon after that, Lady Blackpool curled up and fell into an uneasy sleep, and the others followed, so Ben took over guard duty at the lip of the bird’s nest, peering this way and that, gripping his spear in his paws.

His tiny claws needed clipping, so he gnawed at them for a while.

Once, far in the distance, he thought he heard singing, a strange haunting melody that seemed to call him. He put his paws over his ears. In an instant the melody was gone.

Was it really wormsong, he wondered, or just a daydream?

He would never be sure.

In the late afternoon, they hopped down from the bush into a pile of leaves, foraged for a dinner of wild peas and dandelion greens, and then began their journey home.

In the darkness, under the starlight, Ben spotted many worms on the ground, and those worried him more than the hungry songs of coyotes or the fearsome cries of owls.

It was a couple of hours before dawn when Lady Blackpool called a halt.

“It has been almost three days since your battle with Nightwing,” she told Amber. “Now it is time to see if your magic powers have returned. I propose that you try a small spell, something of an experiment.”

“All right,” Amber agreed. “My tail is feeling more like normal. I’ll give it a try. What should I do?”

“How about if you make Thorn smart?” Lady Blackpool said.

Thorn, who had been humming something hauntingly similar to the wormsong all morning, suddenly whirled and grinned widely. “Cool! If I was smart, I’d figure a way out of this mess. I really would!”

“Hmmm . . .” Amber said. “How smart should I make him? As smart as me?”

“How about,” Ben suggested, “you make him as smart as Albert Einstein?”

“Who is Albert Einstein?” Amber asked.

“He’s the smartest human who ever lived,” Ben said. “He invented the Theory of Relatives, or something like that.”

“Well,” Amber said, “if I’m going to go to all of that trouble, why don’t I make him
smarter
than Albert Einstein?”

“Oh boy!” Thorn shouted, hopping up and down with excitement.

Amber waved a paw toward Thorn dramatically, and shouted, “Thorn, I wish that you were smarter than Albert Einstein!”

Thorn was still leaping about wildly in the air when suddenly a bolt of purple lightning roared out of a cloudless night sky and struck him on the head. His whiskers were singed and crooked, and all of the hair on his head suddenly frizzed out and turned a grizzled white.

He stopped hopping, then peered about at the other mice. With his dark eyes and grizzled hair, Thorn looked a lot like Albert Einstein, Ben thought.

“Am I? Am I smart now?” Thorn asked.

“I don’t know,” Amber said. “Do you feel smart?”

“His head does look a little bit . . . fatter,” Bushmaster noted.

Thorn suggested, “That could be because of all of the brain cells crammed inside!”

Ben, Amber, Bushmaster, and Lady Blackpool all waited expectantly for Thorn to say something smart, but he just stood there looking stupid.

“I know,” Ben said. “How about a test?”

“Good idea,” Lady Blackpool said.

“Okay,” Ben said, thinking back to his story problems at school. “Suppose that there is a pond a mile away from here, to the east. And let’s suppose that you are walking toward the pond at a rate of sixty feet a minute. How long would it take you to fall in the pond and drown?”

BOOK: Ravenspell Book 2: The Wizard of Ooze
6.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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