Quest of the Wizard – Wizard of the Golden Star Series – Sample Chapter 1 – Death in the Forest

Quest of the Wizard – Wizard of the Golden Star Series – Sample Chapter 1 – Death in the Forest

Quest of the WizardPaul R. WonningBook 1 – The Wizard of the Golden StarDeath in the Forest

Quest of the Wizard

Death moved relentlessly through the forest, making little sound as it crept along, hunger biting at its innards. Emerging into a clearing, the creature’s eyes swept the meadow beyond. A cottage lay at forest’s edge. A thin curl of smoke wafted from the chimney. The creature sensed the smell it sought. Humans. He would feed.

The afternoon sun caressed the land with its golden rays. Beneath its watching eyes, a boy gathered red berries at the forest’s edge. His pail was almost half-full when he heard his mother’s call.
“Arii. Arii honey, it is time to come home. Your father is here and dinner is ready.”
Arii paused and looked in his bucket. The berries’ fragrance nibbled at his nose. His mother made some of the best red berry pie in the valley. He glanced back at the cottage that stood at the edge of the meadow where he was gathering berries. He saw his mother looking for him, her hand shading her eyes as she scanned the meadow. When she sighted him, she waved and then she went back inside.
It took a full bucket of red berries for a pie. He did not have enough. He looked back at the berry patch. Fresh red berries glistened in the sun, inviting him to pick more. Overhead, he could hear the chatter of birds as they awaited his departure so they could resume their feast on the delectable fruit. Just a bit further on he could see a large clump of berries. That clump would finish his bucket. It would take just a few minutes more and he would have enough.
He worked his way further into the patch, the thorns tearing his clothes and scratching his bare arms and legs. He regretted not listening to his mother’s warnings to wear thicker clothing. But the weather was warm and he did not want to get hot and sweaty.
He reached the clump and filled his bucket. Arii was happy. The bucket was full. He turned to walk back to his home. The sound of crashing trees in the forest behind his home swept across the meadow. Arii watched in terror as a huge oak fell, smashing the cottage. His feet froze to the ground as a huge red monster stepped from the forest. A single, hungry fiery red eye bored into his eyes as the creature stood towering over the meadow. He could see his mother, holding his baby sister, wriggle through a window, escaping the ruined cottage. His father followed. He looked up and saw the creature. He interposed himself between the monster and his family.
A huge red hand reached down and grabbed at the man, who turned to flee. He was too late, and the hand clasped him. Arii could hear the crunching of his father’s rib cage as death cut short his scream. Blood flowed from his mouth. The monster raised the man, and with a single gulp, swallowed him. His mother backed away. Her foot caught on a log. She tripped. The monster caught her by the foot, and picked her up.
With upturned maw, he dangled the screaming woman over his head, the baby dangling from the terrified woman’s hand.. The baby slipped from her grip and fell into the black, gaping mouth. The woman followed her child an instant later.
Terror froze Arii’s breath and chilled his heart. The monster belched. He then looked at Arii. A smile played across Gwaum’s face. One more small morsel would finish his meal. He began striding towards him.
Arii dropped his bucket of red berries. The bucket spilled, and the red berries stained the boy’s bare feet. He backed up, slowly at first. Then he turned and ran. He could hear the giant feet of the monster thumping hard on the ground behind him. He ran faster and faster. He reached the trees and fled deep into the forest. The thumping behind him stopped, but Arii ran harder, flung on by his fear.
On and on he ran, until exhausted, he fell at the edge of a small stream. A huge log lay in front of him, dead and hollow. He crept into the log. The rotting wood was dank in his nose as it flaked away. White grubs, exposed from the disturbance, wriggled and burrowed deeper into the wood.
The sun fell. Darkness descended and the night sounds began. Narls howled in the distance. Arii pulled himself deeper into the log, tears of grief and fear falling from his eyes. Exhaustion crept upon him and he finally fell asleep.

Morning dawned in the tiny hamlet of Jarna. Nerza awoke to the chirping of birds in the garden behind his stone cottage. A few people still clung to this village, so far from the Road of Terror. As the sleep left his eyes, Nerza sat up.
The dream had left him unsettled. He had seen a vision of terror drifting through the mists of his sleeping mind. His sister’s face had appeared, her eyes filled with horror. Then it had disappeared, followed by the image of the infant she held in her arms.
Worry ate at Nerza. His sister, her husband and two young children dwelt in a cottage in a protected valley near Jarna. The horror that he saw in his dream he knew well. Hoping it was a vision of the future, he dressed quickly. He would have to hasten if he were to save them.
He ate a sparse, hurried breakfast of hard cheese and bread to satisfy his hunger. He took his snow-white staff with the golden star on the tip of the hilt and walked off down the road. By noon, he reached the small stream that marked the valley. He followed the footpath upstream. His path soon reached the clearing and meadow that marked his sister’s cottage. He stopped horrorstruck, as he saw the crushed cottage. He walked towards it. A bloodstain marked the ground near the cottage. The monster had fed.
Hot tears of grief filled his eyes and sobs burst from his throat. He fell to the ground and beat it with his fists. Finally he stood. Something glinting in the sun at the edge of the meadow caught his eye. He walked towards it.
As he neared it, he could see that it was a metal pail lying on its side, its contents of red berries strewn across the path. He picked it up. He looked towards the forest. Broken branches and trampled wildflowers marked the path of someone fleeing into the forest.
He could see the larger footprints of the monster, which trailed towards the woods.  They appeared to follow someone who had escaped into the forest.
Nerza strode towards the woods. He noted that the huge footsteps stopped, then turned back into the meadow. Who ever it was that escaped was too small a morsel for a monster who had just fed on two adults and a baby.
Perhaps Arii had escaped. The boy loved red berries. Maybe the boy had picked red berries in the meadow and escaped into the woods when the creature appeared. Nerza stepped into the wood. He could see that disturbed leaves on the forest floor, marking the passage of someone.
He noted the distance between the footprints. A child had fled this way. Hope arose in his breast.
Nerza paused and studied the terrain before him. It was summer, and the early spring flowers had faded. The leaf litter from the previous fall was rotting, turning to the mould that would nourish the soil. Tracking the boy would require more woodcraft than wizard craft. Nerza’s father had been a hunter and had imparted these skills, long unused, to Nerza when he was a boy.
He continued his trek through the wood, with an occasional pause to peruse the signs left by the fleeing boy. The trail ended near the brook downstream from his earlier path. Nerza again paused and looked upstream. Then he looked downstream. He crossed the brook and searched for the trail, with no success. It had vanished. He returned to the spot where the trail stopped. Again, he studied the stream. The boy had apparently followed the stream. Arii despaired. What if he had passed the boy earlier, and had not seen or heard him. Which way did he go?
“Arii,” Nerza called. “Arii, are you here?”
A pall of silence hung over the forest.
A huge log by the stream’s bank beckoned him to sit and rest. Nerza sat down to think. Silence surrounded him as he sat, deep in thought.
He became aware of a slight sound. He pricked up his ears. The sound seemed to flow around him. What was it and where was it coming from?
He stood up and glanced at the log. Was the log talking to him?
He walked to the end and saw that it was hollow. The log was big, as was the opening. It was big enough to hide a small child. He withdrew the wand from the handle of the staff. Calling the power of fire, the wizard used the wand to ignite the tip of a wooden limb that lay on the ground nearby. He picked up the flaming brand and held it near the opening, peering inside. At first, in the flickering light he could see nothing. But he heard what sounded like a whimper of fear. Peering closer, he could see a small face reflected back at him.
“Arii? It is your Uncle Nerza. Is that you? Come out, boy. Do not be afraid. You are safe, now.”
The whimpering stopped, and the boy crawled out, covered with the decaying wood of the tree and leaf fragments. A wriggling grub lay on his shoulder. Clothing torn and stained, he bore the dank smell of decaying wood. Nerza brushed the grub off.
“Uncle Nerza. Oh, Uncle Nerza.”
The boy grasped the wizard around the shoulders. His sobs filled the forest. His tears stained Nerza’s shoulders. He held the boy for a long time, trying to comfort him.
The boy, his voice thick with sorrow and fear, said, “Oh, Uncle Nerza, it was horrible. The monster broke our house. He killed momma and papa.”
“I know, Arii. I saw your house. I tracked you through the forest. I hoped against hope that you escaped and were safe.”
“We will never be safe, Uncle Nerza. Not as long as that horrible monster lives.”
His sobs returned.
Finally, Nerza pushed the boy away and studied his face.
“You will come to live with me now, Arii. You will come with me to Jarna.”
“Will the monster come there, too? Will he eat us there?”
Nerza shook his head. “I have protected my house with a magic spell. Gwaum cannot see my house. He will pass us by.”
“Why didn’t you protect my house, Uncle?”
“I wanted to, Arii. Your father did not like wizards. He would not let me place any kind of spell. He thought the valley was safe.”
“But it wasn’t, Uncle. The monster found us. He killed them and ate them.”
“Yes, the monster did horrible things, Arii.”
Nerza stood. He took Arii’s hand and said, “It is time to go, Arii. We will go to my home. You will be safe there.”
He and Arii strode through the forest. Nerza took a different path. He followed the stream to its junction with the larger stream, and this he followed to the road. Then, holding Arii’s hand, they walked to his stone cottage near Jarna. In less than a day, Nerza’s role as uncle had changed to parent of a young, growing boy. He hoped that he was equal to the task.

Kingdoms in Chaos – Epic Fantasy Novel

Kingdoms in Chaos – Epic Fantasy Novel
Chaos and disorder reigned after Gwaum’s fall. Kingdom strove against kingdom in a deadly quest for power. The wizards of the Six Kingdoms faced their own peril. The mysterious Order of the Mind Readers lurked in secret places, plotting their own war and rise to supremacy. Compounding the crises, the refugee Raiders of Gwaum emerged as pirates, raiding the emerging commerce of the Six Kingdoms from their hidden lair. Mired in chaos, the Six Kingdoms risked plummeting into anarchy. Only a wizard of exceptional ability could rise to the challenge and end the wizard war.
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Also In This Series
Quest of the Wizard
Kingdoms in Chaos
Wizard’s Tales
Legend of the Wizard Tarque
The Rise of the Pirate King
The Wizard King

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Quest of the Wizard – Epic Fantasy Novel

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Quest of the Wizard – Epic Fantasy Novel
Book 1 – Wizards of the Golden Star Series
The horrible monster Gwaum has the Six Kingdoms under assault. He has created a world of terror as he plunges through the land seeking his bloody diet of living humans on which he must feed. The panicked, terrified refugees hiding in the forests and mountains have little hope to end the slaughter and stop the creature that threatens to destroy their world.
Quest of the Wizard is the first compelling tale in the Wizards of the Golden Star Series.

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Also In This Series
Quest of the Wizard
Kingdoms in Chaos
Wizard’s Tales
Legend of the Wizard Tarque
The Rise of the Pirate King
The Wizard King





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Sample Chapter – Home Electric Systems – Circuit Breakers

Sample Chapter

Home Electric Systems

Circuit Breakers


Below the main circuit breaker in the panel you will find the branch circuit breakers. Each circuit breaker controls one circuit in the home. The electrician that installed the electrical system will have placed labels by each breaker identifying the circuit, or appliance, that the breaker controls. The dryer, water heater, water pump and heating system usually have their own circuit. Other circuits may be labeled “Kitchen,” Living Room,” “Bathroom,” etc. The breaker acts like an electrical switch. Turning it “off,” will shut off all the power in that circuit. The circuit breaker is designed to detect power overloads, short circuits and other electrical malfunctions in the home. The most common reason for a circuit breaker to trip to the off position is an overload. If you are using a vacuum cleaner or some other appliance on a circuit and the circuit breaker trips, you have probably overloaded the circuit. Move the appliances plug to another circuit, go to the circuit panel, note the one in the “Off,” position. Simply flip it to the “On,” position. If it continues to trip, you may have an electrical problem. Leave it turned off and call an electrician. Circuit breakers are available in different amp classifications. The higher the number, the more amps it will handle before tripping. You can turn off the power to any circuit in the home by flipping the appropriate circuit breaker to the “Off,” position. To turn back on, simply flip the breaker back to ,”On.”
Some circuit breaker sizes you may see on your panel include:
15 amp breakers
20 amp breakers
40 amp breakers
50 amp breakers
60 amp breakers
100 amp breakers
200 amp breakers
15 and 20 amp breakers are the most common. Most homes will not have circuit breakers rated at higher than 40 amp, unless it is the main circuit breaker, which commonly is 200 amp.

Home Energy Systems

Description:

Home Energy Systems will be a basic guide to the home’s electrical system, its components, major appliances as well as a guide on batteries and other electrical components of the home. 

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Home Water Systems

Home Water Systems

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Home Water Systems is a primer for the homeowner about water sources like lakes, streams and wells. It provides a basic overview of water filtration systems, wells and other water sources for the home.

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A History of the United States Constitution

A History of the United States Constitution
A Guide to the United States Founding Documents

The story of the United States Constitution begins with the Albany Plan of Union in 1754 and stretches into modern times with the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments. A Short History of the United States Constitution relates its history as well as many of the documents leading up to it.

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Riding the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad

Riding the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad
Riding the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad

Riding the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad
Majestic vistas, charming towns and sparking mountain streams caress the eyes of riders of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. Ride the rails in comfort, using this book, Riding the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad as your travel guide.

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The Alaska Chronicles – Our Alaskan Cruise Adventure
The Hawaiian Chronicles – Our Hawaiian Adventures
Riding the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad

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The Hawaiian Chronicles – Our Hawaiian Adventures

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The Hawaiian Chronicles – Our Hawaiian Adventures
The Hawaiian Chronicles – Our Hawaiian Adventures serves as both a journal of our Hawaiian cruise adventure and as a guide of the various types of cruises available for visitors to tour our 50th State. It is possible for vacationers to tour all of the major islands on a single, seven-day journey. This guide does not attempt to cover all of the destination to visit on the islands. The Hawaiian Chronicles – Our Hawaiian Adventures lists the major cruise lines and the types of cruises they offer. Contact information for the cruise lines is included in the book.

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Sample Chapter – Alaska Chronicles – Day Two

Sample Chapter

Alaska Chronicles

Day Two

The day dawned bright and beautiful, though rather cool. We were sort of “jet lagged” out, and overslept. I felt like something the dogs had been rolling in. However, we were in Alaska, the first day of eleven days of playing tourist.
The Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, as I mentioned earlier, is a first class establishment. We were on the ninth floor with a magnificent view of the city. The lower floor, at street level, contains a half dozen or so small gift stores. We had browsed some of these the evening before. Princess Cruise Line staffs a small office here. Our first stop the previous evening was to get information as about our departure time today and other things we needed to know.
After breakfast at the Sandwich Deck, we again strolled around Anchorage. As our tour bus was leaving at 11:00 AM, we didn’t have a lot of time to do much. So we just walked a couple of streets that we had missed the night before and retraced our route to Resolution Park. The weather was clear this morning and Mt. McKinley, about 110 miles distant, was barely visible to the north of Anchorage.
By 10:30, the cruise line had collected our luggage. We went downstairs to the lobby to await the tour bus for our trip to the Alaskan Heritage Center. The bus showed up on time and we boarded. It was perhaps a twenty-minute ride to the center. This is a interesting museum. It contains many exhibits of native Alaskan culture, from the homes the natives lived in, the clothes they wore, and much more. The most fascinating thing to me was the construction of the kayak. The wooden structure of this watercraft fits together intricately. It was custom-built for the hunter who would be using it. After building the frame, the ladies of the tribe covered it with sealskin that had to be fitted and sewn exactly right. Too loose, and it would slide out of place. Too tight and it would crush the wooden framework of the kayak as it dried. The engineering and craftsmanship, which went into constructing one of these craft, was intriguing.
After two hours of touring the Cultural Center, our bus driver took us back to the Captain Cook. We had just barely enough time to eat lunch at the Sandwich Deck. We boarded another bus for the journey out to the Kenai Princess Lodge, scheduled to leave at 1:30.

Brian would be our bus driver for this trek, a chatty fellow who regaled us with stories and Alaskan lore on our bus ride. Our route would follow Alaska Highway 1, the Seward Highway, southeast along the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet. The Turnagain Arm would be on our right on the first part of the journey, the mountainous Chugach National Forest on our right. Glaciers glinted in the sunlight on the crests of mountains, and in some of the higher valleys between them. Aspen formed thickets near the highway, good moose habitat, the driver said. In addition, we did catch a glimpse of one, head barely above the vegetation as we passed by.

As the road reached the end of the Arm, it turned first south, then northeast. Then it finally heads southwest as it reached into the Kenai Peninsula, towards our goal. The distance traveled was approximately 100 miles. The mountains were now on both sides of the road, as we left the Turnagain Arm behind us. More heavily forested, the land displayed a rugged beauty and isolation I could never have imagined before. There were no houses, towns, or villages. There were just the mountains, forest, and glaciers.
We stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Refuge that operates a display area of wild animals along the highway. There are large fenced in areas here for elk, black tailed deer, bison, caribou, moose, and black bears. Most of these animals are orphans raised by humans. They would not survive if released into the wild. I still felt sorry for them, caged behind the fences. The driver drove the bus to one end of the loop drive, and allowed some of us to walk back to the Visitor Center, about ¼ mile. Lynne, I, and a few others exited the bus to stretch our legs and see the animals up closer than the bus would allow.

It was windy, but the walk back allowed our first real panorama of the wild Alaskan countryside. Glaciated mountains surrounded us with blue sky and golden sun overhead.
After about a half hour, we reentered the bus and Brian was ready to start rolling again. We waited for the remaining passengers to board. The lady in front of us on the bus had lowered the blind on the window, blocking my view. Since she had not returned, I took the opportunity to raise the blind so I could see out. Once under way, she lost no time in lowering the blind again. The passengers on the other side had lowered theirs as well. So here we were, riding through some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever been in and the blinds were down on the windows! I just as well had been riding in a barrel. I concluded that while touring by bus freed me from the chore of driving, I would not be doing much of it in the future.
As I mentioned, Brian the bus driver kept up a constant monologue. He talks about Alaskan culture, politics, landmarks and points of interest that we were passing.
Tidbits included:
The name Turnagain Arm originated because of the glacial silt that collects on the bottom of the inlet. This causes the water to be quite shallow. The bottom of the channel shifts and changes constantly. Boats in the inlet are forced to “turn again” as they encounter the silt and have to change direction. The inlet not charted and probably unchartable. Because of this, you don’t see many boats in the inlet.
Election is hard for an Alaskan politician without a photo of himself or herself holding a gun. Thus, the petite Lisa Murkowski publicized a photo with her holding a double-barreled shotgun during her Senate campaign. It got her elected.
The glaciers absorb the copper in the soil in an oxidized form. This causes the green color of the glacial rivers and streams. The glaciers melt and the resulting runoff has a unique patina color. The water is safe to drink, and Brian asserted that he has drunk it many times.
Moose like to live in their food. Therefore, they are usually hard to spot as they hunker down in thickets of small alder and birch.
Anchorage continues to grow in population. The number of schoolchildren in Alaskan public schools declines. This is because of the increasing popularity of private schools and home schooling. The school enrollment has declined by about thirty percent in the last decade. Funding for the public schools has almost doubled.
We arrived at our destination, the Kenai Princess Lodge near Coopers Landing around 4:30 PM. We boarded a shuttle bus at the lodge and transported to our cabin further up the mountain. We were in room 1110, a spacious room that included a bedroom, sitting room, large bathroom and a porch. The porch afforded a great view of the surrounding mountains. A wood stove resided in the sitting room, and an ample supply of birch firewood waited burning in the firebox outside the cabin. Birch and fir trees surrounded the cabin, creating a secluded atmosphere. A walk around the grounds provides spectacular vistas of the surrounding mountains.

There is also a short nature hike here which can either be one half mile, or one mile, depending on which loop is taken. We never got around to hiking this trail due to our short stay here.
We settled into our room and did minimal unpacking, as we would be here only two nights. We strolled around the grounds, and walked down to the Kenai River. There is a short loop trail here that features three overlooks to the river. We spotted salmon in the water as they were making their way up river to spawn. The river has a rich patina color. It is beautiful as it tumbles and cascades over submerged rocks on its way to Cooks Inlet at Anchorage, about 35 miles away.
We returned to the lodge, climbing the steep hill. The lodge provides a shuttle that will take you up and down the hill to this beautiful and relaxing spot. There is a small shelter at the base of the hill with a
telephone in it for people to call to the lodge for a shuttle if an unexpected shower strands them. You may use this service also if you can’t make it back up the hill. It is a fairly long and taxing hike back up the hill.

The lodge features two restaurants. Due to the isolated nature of the hotel, these are the only dining choices available for bus tourists without a vehicle. The Eagles Crest, which has an exclusive, pricey menu, and the Rafter’s Lounge. The Rafters Lounge has more reasonably priced fare with a more “sports bar” type atmosphere. The food is good, and the service from the staff is adequate. There is a deck available for dining which overlooks the Kenai River with mountains in the background. It is a restful spot to dine.
There is a gift shop on the grounds of the Lodge that we browsed in after dinner. The gift shop abounds with nice merchandise of all kinds. This ranges from from t-shirts and hats to magnets, locally made items, and many other unique wares.

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