THE CHRONICLES OF THE IMAGINARIUM EOGRAPHICA
THE INDIGO KING
Written and illustrated by
James A. Owen
SIMON & SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020 www.SimonandSchuster.com
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events,
real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names,
characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and any
resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Copyright ? 2008 by James A. Owen
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
SIMON & SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS is a trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Book design by Christopher Grassi and James A. Owen The text for this book is set in Adobe Jenson Pro. Manufactured in the United States of America 2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Owen, James A. The indigo king / written and illustrated by James A. Owen. p. cm.—(The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica ; bk. 3) Summary: When, in 1931, there is a breach between this world and the Archipelago of Dreams, John and Jack, two of the Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica, must race through history
using a time travel device left by Jules Verne, and discover the identity of the Cartographer. ISBN-13: 978-1-4169-5107-0 (hardcover) ISBN-10: 1-4169-5107-5 (hardcover) eISBN-13: 978-1-4169-9918-8 [1. Time travel—Fiction. 2. Fantasy.] I. Title. PZ7.O97124Ind 2008 [Fic]—dc22 2008004966
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Prologue Part One: The Mythopoeia Chapter One: The Booke of Dayes Chapter Two: The Door in the Wood Chapter Three: The Royal Animal Rescue Squad Chapter Four: The Unhistory Part Two: Fractured Albion Chapter Five: Tatterdemalion Chapter Six: The Serendipity Box Chapter Seven: Noble’s Isle Chapter Eight: The Infernal Device Part Three: After the Age of Fable Chapter Nine: The Storyteller Chapter Ten: The Shipwreck Chapter Eleven: The Grail Chapter Twelve: Imaginary Geographies Part Four: The Iron Crown Chapter Thirteen: Betrayal Chapter Fourteen: The Sword of Aeneas Chapter Fifteen: The Stripling Warrior Chapter Sixteen: The Crucible Part Five: The Isle of Glass Chapter Seventeen: Animal Logic Chapter Eighteen: The Sacrifice Chapter Nineteen: The Enchantresses Chapter Twenty: The Good Knight Part Six: The Silver Throne Chapter Twenty-one: The Fallen Chapter Twenty-two: Exiled Chapter Twenty-three: Restoration Chapter Twenty-four: The Bird and Baby Epilogue Author’s Note
List of Illustrations
…he looked down at his watch, checking his progress … The door was sitting slightly askew within the arch.??? …hanging from every available surface were badgers … The thing that followed them resembled a motorcar … “Whatever it is you’ve come about, Chaz, I want no part of it…” On it sat a skull, a scroll, and a small box of a unique design. “Please, come inside,” said Reynard. There …sat an unusual if not extraordinary device.??? The attention …was focused on the young man in the center … “The ship ran aground …crashing violently against the rocks …” “You know about the trials, do you not?” Every surface was covered with maps … “Please!” Madoc cried to her, imploring. “I’m sorry! …”… There …was a black sword in a scabbard, covered in the dust … “I came from high in the mountains, where it is still winter …” One by one …six opponents fell before Mordred… The bird flew off, and …returned with the projector … In answer, Arthur began to raise the black sword, Caliburn … Circe held up the golden bowl. “Choose,” she said. …the knight …stood at the entrance of the temple … The older dragons …almost looked as if they were grinning … In the distance …the passenger …could make out the island … …the door …was still standing slightly ajar. “Gentle Caretakers,” Burton said cheerfully…
The Indigo King was the book that I most looked forward to writing, the book I dreadedwriting, the book that was the hardest to write, and my favorite book so far. And it would notbe the book that it is without the hard work and dedication of my editors.
David Gale is exceptionally patient and knows how to persuade rather than push a writer. Hegave me support when I needed it, and room when I needed that . Navah Wolfe, whom I got to
know as an online friend prior to her employment at Simon & Schuster, is an excellent editorialassistant for David and is as first-class as they come where this author is concerned. She issmart, and caring, and she kept me on my game. Dorothy Gribbin remains an editorial rock in myworld. I’ve often rethought certain passages just because I knew she’d question them. Andit’s always been for the better. And Valerie Shea is a rock star. I sometimes feel like she’sbeen more exacting with details than I am, and that fact both impresses and humbles me.
My legal team added a new name, Erik Hyman, who is both deft and witty, and as reliable as hisLoeb & Loeb compatriot Craig Emanuel. Both have been invaluable supporters of my work, as havemy managers at the Gotham Group: Julie, Ellen, and Lindsay. Ben Smith at ICM remains theagent’s agent, and I am grateful to them all.
My senior apprentice, Mary McCray, stepped to the forefront of the work on this book by turningall of my thumbnail sketches into full-size layouts. Lon Saline, apprentice emeritus, added hisskilled touch to several pages, and Jeremy Owen kept all of the trains running on time at theCoppervale Studio while also doing a smashing coloring job on the cover.
Joe Pruett of Desperado Publishing helped me to jump-start a few projects that have languishedfor far too long and in the process gave us another vehicle for promoting the novels.
Justin Chanda, publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, opened a door into ourmutual future—and I am lucky to have him on my side. Also on that front, my publicists KateSmyth and Paul Crichton have done a stunningly good job of promoting me and my work, organizingmy tours, troubleshooting, and in general just taking good care of this author. And my artdirectors, Lizzy Bromley, Chlöe Foglia, and Laurent Linn, continue to make the books lookbetter than I’d dreamed.
Joe LeFavi brought me together with Jason Lust, Lisa Henson, and Brian Henson, all of whom havebecome my friends and among the biggest supporters of my ambitions.
Stephenson Crossley deserved to be acknowledged in the first two books, as none of them wouldexist if he hadn’t fed, housed, and encouraged me while I was trying to sell the firstbook—but his girlfriend, Karen, said if I didn’t wait until at least the third book, he’d beimpossible to live with.
And not least among my influences, I want to thank Jimmy Swihart, my first business partner,who has recently come back into my life and brought with him some great memories.
The greatest of my influences, however, is my wife, Cindy. Without her, I would not have livedthe life I have, had the family we’re raising, and created the work that I love. And I amforever thankful for her love and support.
In the centuries that would pass, the spacious stone room known as Solitude would fill with anaccumulation of culture; not by design, but because those who would eventually come to seek theoccupant’s skills would feel the obligation to bring something, anything, as gifts, or perhapstribute. But that was in a time yet to come. In the present moment, it was empty save for theitems he’d brought with him: a torn robe, an empty scabbard, a quill and half-filled bottle of
ink, and as many rolls of parchment as he could carry.
When he entered, the door had swung shut behind him. He knew without touching it that it hadlocked, and also, with less assurance, that it would probably not be opened again for manyyears.
He had once had a name—several names, in fact—all of which were irrelevant now. In his youthhe had aspired to be a great man, and had been afforded many opportunities to fulfill thatdestiny; but far too late, he learned that it was perhaps better to be a good man, whonevertheless aspires to do great things. The distinction had never mattered to him much before.
Solitude had not been created for him, but he took possession of it with the reluctant ease ofan heir who receives an unexpected and unwanted inheritance. He laid the robe in one corner,and the scabbard in another, then sat cross-legged in the center of Solitude to examine therolls of parchment.
Some of them contained drawings and notations; a few, directions that may or may not have beenaccurate, to places that may or may not have existed. They were maps, more or less, and at onetime it had been his driven purpose to create them. But that was before, when his sight wasclearer and his motives more pure. Somehow, somewhen, he had lost his way—and in the process,ended up on a path that had brought him here, to Solitude.
Still, he could not help but wonder: Was it the first step on that path, or the last, that hadproven to be his undoing? He looked down at the maps. The oldest had been made by his hand morethan a millennium before; but the newest of them had been begun, then abandoned, a century ago.He examined it more closely and saw that the delicate lines were obscured by blood—the samethat marked the cloak and scabbard as symbols of his shame.
Some things cannot be undone. But someone who is lost might still return to the proper path, ifthey only have something to show them the way.
Taking the quill in hand, he dipped the point into the bottle. Whether the place he drewexisted then didn’t matter—it would, eventually. All that mattered now was that he was, atlong last, finding his purpose again. Would that he had done so a day earlier. Just one day.
As he began to draw, tears streamed from his eyes, dropping to the parchment, where theymingled freely with the ink and blood in equal measure. The man in Solitude was a mapmaker oncemore.
PART ONE ???
The Booke of Dayes
Hurrying along one of the tree-lined paths at Magdalen College in Oxford, John glanced up atthe cloud-clotted sky and decided that he rather liked the English weather. Constant cloudsmade for soft light; soft light that cast no shadows. And John liked to avoid shadows as muchas possible.
As he passed through the elaborate gate that marked the entrance to Addison’s Walk, he lookeddown at his watch, checking his progress, then looked again. The watch had stopped, and not forthe first time. It had been a gift from his youngest child, his only daughter, and while herlove in the gift was evident, the selection had been made from a child’s point of view and wastherefore more aesthetic than practical. The case was burnished gold (although it was mostcertainly gold-colored tin), the face was painted with spring flowers, and on the back was theembossed image of a frog wearing a bonnet.
John had absentmindedly pulled it out of his pocket during one of the frequent gatherings ofhis friends at Magdalen, much to their amusement. Barfield in particular loved to approach himnow at inopportune moments just to ask the time—and hopefully embarrass John in the process.
John sighed and tucked the watch back in his pocket, then pulled his collar tighter and hurriedon. He was probably already late for the dinner he’d been invited to at the college, andalthough he had always been punctual (mostly), events of recent years had made him much moreaware of the consequences tardiness can bring.
Five years earlier, after a sudden and unexpected journey to the Archipelago of Dreams, he’dfound himself a half hour late for an evening with visiting friends that had been planned byhis wife. Even had he not taken an oath of secrecy regarding the Archipelago, he would scarcelyhave been able to explain that he was late because he’d been saving Peter Pan’s granddaughterand thousands of other children from the Pied Piper, and had only just returned via a magicwardrobe in Sir James Barrie’s house, and so had still needed to drive home from London.
His wife, however, still made the occasional remark about his having been late for the party.So John had since resolved to be as punctual as possible in every circumstance. And tonight hewas certain that Jack would not want to be on his own for long, even if the third member oftheir dinner meeting was their good and trusted friend, Hugo Dyson.
Hugo had become part of a loose association of like-minded fellows, centered around Jack andJohn, who gathered together to read, discuss, and debate literature, Romanticism, and thenature of the universe, among other things. The group had evolved from an informal club atOxford that John had called the Coalbiters, which was mostly concerned with the history andmythology of the Northern lands. One of the members of the current gathering referred to themjokingly as the “not-so-secret secret society,” but where John and Jack were concerned, thename was more ironic than funny. They frequently held other meetings attended only bythemselves and their friend Charles, as often as he could justify the trip from London toOxford, in which they discussed matters that their colleagues would find impossible to believe.For rather than discussing the meaning of metaphor in ancient texts of fable and fairy tale,what was discussed in this actually secret secret society were the fables and fairy tales
themselves … which were real . And existed in another world just beyond reach of our own. Aworld called the Archipelago of Dreams.
John, Jack, and Charles had been recruited to be Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica ,
the great atlas of the Archipelago. Accepting the job brought with it many otherresponsibilities, including the welfare of the Archipelago itself and the peoples within it.The history of the atlas and its Caretakers amounted to a secret history of the world, andsometimes each of them felt the full weight of that burden; for events in the Archipelago areoften mirrored in the natural world, and what happens in one can affect the other.
In the fourteen years since they first became Caretakers, all three men had becomedistinguished as both scholars and writers in and around Oxford, as had been the tradition withother Caretakers across the ages. There were probably many other creative men and women inother parts of the world who might have had the aptitude for it, but the pattern had been setcenturies earlier by Roger Bacon, who was himself an Oxford scholar and one of the greatcompilers of the Histories of the Archipelago.
and the accompanying Histories meant that discussing themGeographicaThe very nature of the
or the Archipelago with anyone in the natural world was verboten. At various points in history,certain Caretakers-in-training had disagreed with this doctrine and had been removed from theirpositions. Some, like Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle, were nearly eaten by the dragonsthat guarded the Frontier, the barrier between the world and the Archipelago, before giving upthe job. Others, like the adventurer Sir Richard Burton, were cast aside in a less dramaticfashion but had become more dangerous in the years that followed.
In fact, Burton had nearly cost them their victory in their second conflict with the WinterKing—with his shadow, to be more precise—and had ended up escaping with one of the greatDragon-ships. He had not been seen since. But John suspected he was out there somewhere,watching and waiting.
Burton himself may have been the best argument for Caretaker secrecy. The knowledge of theArchipelago bore with it the potential for great destruction, but Burton was blind to thedanger, believing that knowledge was neither good nor evil—only the uses to which it was putcould be. It was the trait that made him a great explorer, and an unsuitable Caretaker.
Because of the oath of secrecy, there was no one on Earth with whom the three Caretakers coulddiscuss the Archipelago, save for their mentor Bert, who was in actuality H. G. Wells, and onoccasion, James Barrie. But Barrie, called Jamie by the others, was the rare exception toBurton’s example: He was a Caretaker who gave up the job willingly. And as such, John hadrealized early on that the occasional visit to reminisce was fine—but Jamie wanted no part ofanything of substance that dealt with the Archipelago.
What made keeping the secret difficult was that John, Jack, and Charles had found a level ofcomfortable intellectualism within their academic and writing careers. A pleasant camaraderiehad developed among their peers at the colleges, and it became more and more tempting to sharethe secret knowledge that was theirs as Caretakers. John had even suspected that Jack may havealready said something to his closest friend, his brother Warnie—but he could hardly fault himfor that. Warnie could be trusted, and he had actually seen the girl Laura Glue, when she’dcrashed into his and Jack’s garden, wings askew, five years earlier, asking about theCaretakers.
But privately, each of them had wondered if one of their friends at Oxford might not beinducted into their circle as an apprentice, or Caretaker-in-training of sorts. After all, thatwas how Bert and his predecessor, Jules Verne, had recruited their successors. In fact, Bertstill maintained files of study on potential Caretakers, young and old, for his three protégésto observe from afar. Within the circle at Oxford, there were at least two among their friendswho would qualify in matters of knowledge and creative thinking: Owen Barfield and Hugo Dyson.John expected that sometime in the future, he, Jack, and Charles would likely summon one (orboth) colleagues for a long discussion of myth, and history, and languages, and then, after ahearty dinner and good drink, they would unveil the Imaginarium Geographica with a flourish,
and thus induct their fellow or fellows into the ranks of the Caretakers. Other candidatesmight be better qualified than the Oxford dons, but familiarity begat comfort, and comfortbegat trust. And in a Caretaker, trust was one of the most important qualities of all.
But none of them had anticipated having such a meeting as a matter of necessity, undercircumstances that might have mortal consequences for one of their friends. Among them, Jackespecially was wary of this. He had lost friends in two worlds and was reluctant to put anotherat risk if he could help it.