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The Secret of the Storm Cloud: Why it Rains Clear Water from a Black Cloud

The Secret of the Storm Cloud: Why it Rains Clear Water from a Black Cloud

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The Secret of the Storm Cloud: Why it Rains Clear Water from a Black Cloud

Lunghezza:
193 pagine
2 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Jul 10, 2012
ISBN:
9781849891356
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

When Euphemia Lovesweet is kidnapped on Halloween night and taken hostage to the castle of Ann Iolate, the evil supreme witch, in the parallel dimension of the Far Land, the magic talents of Azel Goodwill and the courage of Prince Danial are tested to the limit. Tradition confronts technology in this adventure of magic and romance which also resolves the mystery of why it rains clear water from a black cloud.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Jul 10, 2012
ISBN:
9781849891356
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore


Anteprima del libro

The Secret of the Storm Cloud - Sidney Gibson

1988.

Preface

Tripping over the cat and getting her leg clawed as she stumbled out of bed, and then falling over as she attempted to kick it convinced Venefica that it was not going to be her day. And this was before she set out for the weekly audience with Anniolate, the Evil Supreme Witch. Everyone regarded Venefica as the ugliest and nastiest acolyte of the coven. She detested these long winded audiences. Waste of time she thought. Too many idiots finding something boring to bicker about or making stupid suggestions. Now, not only did she have the prospect of having to endure yet another one, but a wild storm had kept her awake half the night and put her in a very bad mood.

Rain still lashed against the castle walls as Venefica picked her way along the leaking corridors to Anniolate’s assembly chamber. She was late, and to make matters worse just as she tried to slip unnoticed into the gathering, a sudden clap of thunder caused a power cut, blacking out the lights.

Unluckily Anniolate spotted her, and to judge from the mad staring look in her eyes she had been kept awake half the night as well. Her habitual evil temper had been turned into something really dangerous. She glowered through the dimness at Venefica’s late arrival, her face twisting cruelly in anticipation of deciding the most unpleasant way to discipline her for flagrantly disregarding punctuality. Venefica retreated hastily to a dark corner, and watched nervously.

‘I hate this weather. HATE IT!’ screamed Anniolate without warning. ‘And you lot. All of you. Are you listening? And what’s more it’s there. It’s there. OK? I don’t care what everybody else thinks. It’s there. I know it is’

Neither Venefica or any of the other witches at the meeting had the faintest idea who was included in ‘everybody’ or what ranting about ‘it’ meant, but trouble was obviously brewing.

‘The Great Book of Evil Spells is hidden somewhere in that snivelling village just waiting for me to claim it as my own’ shrieked Anniolate. ‘I want that book and I want it now. It belongs here in Fargon and my destiny is to possess the ultimate power of evil from its secrets and one of you must bring it to me and be warned if that book....’

She paused for breath, boney fingers flexing uncontrollably as if wanting to gouge their horny nails into someone’s throat. Then seeming to regain composure, began to hiss her words very slowly, and with menace.

‘If that book is not mine by Christmas Day it will foreshadow loathsome curses of disfigurement for every one of you. Is that what you want? Well, is it? Who will search and find it for me? You? Or you? Or you? Who shall I choose for this honour? ’

Her eyes glimmered with wickedness as she scrutinised her cronies. Sweaty palms and furtive glances betrayed their hopes that someone else would be given the job, but each knew that one of them would have no chance of escaping the will of the Evil Supreme Witch.

‘You! I choose you’ she snarled suddenly. Her upper lip curled nastily as she hurled her wand across the chamber like a javelin. Its black point penetrated the grimy creases of Venefica’s grease-stained cloak, repeatedly jabbing itself into her ribs.

Wincing in pain she wheezed pathetically in a futile attempt to be overlooked. ‘No, no. Not me. Not me, please not me, oh supreme one. I’m too old, my gums are all worn out, I don’t want....’

The sting of the wand slashing across her cheek abruptly ended her protests.

‘Be silent!’ rasped Anniolate . ‘Am I not your supreme sovereign? Is it for you to refuse my commands? Well, is it? My decision is made. You are the one privileged to go forth on the quest to Lower Chantment. Bring my book to me. The gift of death shall be the reward for any who stand in your way. And remember this witch Venefica. I - will - not - be - failed’

Part One

Chapter One

Azel gets called

A body landed heavily on Azel Goodwill where she lay warm and dead to the world under a big flowery duvet.

‘Winston!’ she snapped grumpily. ‘What do you think you’re doing? How many times have I told you not to wake me up like that?"

Azel had overslept, and autumn sunshine was already flickering through her cottage window. She blinked in its brightness and fought free of the untidy heap of bedclothes.

Winston stared at her with big green eyes and purred. Purrr Purr. Purrr Purrr. Purrr Purrr.

Are you telling me my wand has been ringing? demanded Azel with even more annoyance at having missed a call. Winston, a large cat with a shining black coat, curled his tail around her wrist and luxuriously stretched out on the pillow.

She reached for the wand in its red dragon’s leather case. It glowed blue. The Queen Witch had been trying to get through. That could mean another adventure.

As a Grand Sorcerer in the Paramagic Division of the legendary coven known as QWERT (Queen Witches Executive for Removal of Trouble), Azel Goodwill had a reputation as someone not to be messed with. Empowered to exploit powers from closely guarded secrets of ancient magic, the status of Grand Sorcerer is restricted to a small number of dedicated witches who have undergone demanding initiation tests involving both mental and physical endurance. Only very few of those taking these tests pass and move on for final authorisation by the Queen herself.

Stung into action by Winston’s unwelcome wake up, Azel rolled out of bed and sprang across the bedroom to reach into her wardrobe for a solitary black robe. Its style and colour changed according to her mood. This often made people puzzle over how many outfits she really had. Hanging beside it was the Paramagic Division cloak with a large ‘’Q’’ heavily embroidered in golden thread, sumptuous in the deep sapphire blue assigned only to grand sorcerers. The hood rolled up inside its high collar enabled her to become totally invisible, and three of its seven pockets could never be filled up. Just a thought brought whatever was wanted to the top.

Eager to answer the Queen’s call she quickly dressed, contemplated her image in the mirror as a slightly plump thirty year old (her mind was really much older but this was her latest re-incarnation), and chose orange as the colour to wear today. Then she picked up her wand and waved it in the ‘return call’ pattern. It was pleasing to know the Queen had made contact as it had been sometime since the last mission and now that her wound had healed she had been getting fed up waiting to be off again.

Hello. drawled the voice at the other end of the wand-line. Hello. It’s Clive speaking

Azel groaned. Sir Clive Butterupp. The Queens Lord Chancellor who whilst being rather good at his job, made everyone feel quite sick in how he tried to make you feel important when you knew he didn’t really mean it.

I’m returning QW’s call said Azel. (The Queen witch was often referred to as QW by those authorised to work on removal of trouble missions)

Why Azel, how nice to hear you droned Sir Clive in his most nauseating voice Azel my dear, how really very kind of you to take the trouble to call back. I’m sure you must be worn-out after your last mission. Are you sure you feel up to talking with QW now?

Oh get on with it thought Azel and answered brusquely. Yes of course I feel up to it. Put me through straightaway

"Why yes my dear, I’ll see if she is free - and may I say I hope to see you here very soon. And Azel, do please make sure you look me up when you come. Goodbye."

The wand clicked and made a rushing sound.

QW speaking

Ah, your majesty. Azel Goodwill here

Goodwill! exclaimed the Queen evidently pleased I want you here at the palace this afternoon for a briefing on a mission. At three o’clock

Why, yes your majesty replied Azel enthusiastically, Yes. I’ll be there this afternoon

Fine said QW abruptly ending the conversation. QW was sometimes like that with something big going on. Azel wondered what it would be this time and her blue eyes glinted in anticipation of a new challenge.

***

Winston’’ called Azel to the cat I’m taking a trip. You’ll have to look after the house - and don’t forget to check the post"

Winston sighed. He easily solved any problems of looking after himself but enjoyed being lazy and preferred Azel at home.

Is there anything you want before I go? asked Azel

Prrrrrawns purred Winston hopefully. Prrrrawns prrrrees

He looked up with a greeny stare and rubbed himself along her leg.

Oh very well said Azel. ‘’But if you want them now, you’ll have to defrost them’’

She took a packet of prawns from the freezer and tipped them into a china bowl.

Winston looked at them in disgust.

Oh come on now said Azel impatiently. You know what to do. Don’t be lazy

Winston glared at the prawns. Magically, they defrosted and he wolfed them greedily in case they refroze.

That’s more like it smiled Azel. She took a last look around her low beamed sitting room with its comfy cherry patterned sofa and dozens of ornaments and gold framed pictures crowding the walls. One a bit crooked needed a snap of fingers to straighten it. Then she turned and strode purposefully out of the side door to the garage.

***

The previous QWERT mission had smashed up a complex crime network of moronic ghouls controlled by Anniolate. (She denied being part of it and claimed they only robbed graves of dead bodies for research purposes.) As a result of Azel’s critical role in the success of the operation she had been issued with one of the new two seat Warpsweepers for her personal use. Designed by QW’s Special Sorcery and Equipment Department this advanced computerised broom came packed full of technology. It was capable of speech, intelligent opinion, and warp speeds through time.

Hovering in shadows at the back of the garage the broom gleamed with a silvery brightness against the gloom of old potion cauldrons and dusty jars. Answering Azel’s beckoning, the Warpsweeper floated gently across towards her. Folding out its polished chrome handlebars and dusting the windscreen with her sleeve, she settled herself on the racing style saddle, and touched the ‘max speed’ button on its computerised control panel.

Where to? the broom asked in a flat, metallic kind of voice.

QW’s palace said Azel distantly, thinking about the forthcoming mission.

Are you sure? it questioned offensively You don’t come across as being very certain

QW’s palace she repeated firmly. The Warpsweeper was programmed to warn riders if they seemed unsure of where they wanted to go. If they sounded indecisive it became cantankerous.

You’ve set me to ‘max speed’ it said. Are you holding on tight?"

Yes

And have you fastened your seat belt?

Yes, yes said Azel impatiently.

You’ve not left a passenger behind?

No, I’ve not left a passenger behind

And it’s to QW’s palace....

"Just go" said Azel.

Um, oh all right then said the Warpsweeper wanting to have the last word.

With a crackling rumble and blaze of laser navigation beams the broom crashed into launch mode. In seconds it was a barely visible flash of silver streaking across the sky. And at ‘max speed’ it would not be long before Azel Goodwill reached the palace of QW.

***

Closely monitored by security elves, the Warpsweeper slowed as it descended towards the palace’s familiar white pointed turrets, their crystal windows sparkling in the afternoon sun. Built on pinnacles of marble, granite, and quartz towering from the depths of an extinct volcano the palace made a dazzling contrast to the gloomy grey castle of Anniolate. For centuries Anniolate had claimed the right to rule over QW’s realm, declaring that all magic whether for good or evil should be hers to control. QWERT’s recent defeat of her crime network had intensified her hatred, creating a psychopathic desire to seek vengeance. Her threats of death and terrorism made Anniolate a powerful enemy and that’s why security at the palace was always so tight.

The Warpsweeper circled towards the broom landing pad on one of the higher turrets and touched down. Azel glimpsed the tubby figure and bald head of Sir Clive Butterupp scurrying out to meet her, brushing aside the security guard elf who chased after him trying to get him to sign a form stuck on a clipboard.

‘Welcome, welcome’ he prattled enthusiastically through a perfumed aura of extravagant use of aftershave. ‘So good to see you so soon after our wand conversation this morning. I did so enjoy our little chat you know. Azel you really are my favourite QWERT witch. Oh dear, what am I saying? You know that already of course.’ Sir Clive continued to gush.

‘You’ll have to sign this’ interrupted the little security guard breathlessly, finally catching up with Sir Clive.

‘What?’ said Sir Clive, irritably.

The elf rolled his eyes in self restraint and repeated patiently. "I said, you’ll have to sign this. Everybody has to sign this if they are meeting someone from outside’

‘I’ve no time now and nothing to sign it with’

The elf pushed the clipboard under Sir Clive’s nose and shoved a grotty chewed up pencil into his hand.

Ugh exclaimed Clive Have you been chewing this?

"No. Dribble the guard

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