THE SEARCH FOR THE RED DRAGON
ALSO BY JAMES A. OWEN
Book One: The Chronicles of the Imaginarium GeographicaHere, There Be Dragons
Lost Treasures of the Pirates of the Caribbean (with Jeremy Owen)
SIMON & SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s PublishingDivision 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020 This book is a work of fiction.Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Othernames, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and anyresemblance 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
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Owen, James A.
The search for the Red Dragon / James A. Owen.—1st ed. p. cm.—(The Chronicles of the
Imaginarium Geographica; bk. 2) Summary: Nine years after they came together to defeat theWinter King, John, Jack, and Charles return to the Archipelago of Dreams and face a newchallenge involving the Lost Boys and giants.
[1. Time travel—Fiction. 2. Characters in literature—Fiction. 3. Fantasy—Fiction.] I. Title.PZ7.O97124Sea 2007 [Fic]—dc22 2007006235
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Contents List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Prologue Part One Nine Years in the Summer Country Chapter One The Angel in the Garden Chapter Two The Reluctant Caretaker Chapter Three The Lost Boys Chapter Four A Dragon Restored Part Two A History Undone Chapter Five The Errant Knight Chapter Six The Weaving Chapter Seven The Great Whatsit Chapter Eight The Friar’s Tale Part Three The Search for the Red Dragon Chapter Nine Shadows in Flight Chapter Ten The Tower in the Air Chapter Eleven Chamenos Liber Chapter Twelve Dante’s Riddle Part Four Into the Underneath Chapter Thirteen Croatoan Chapter Fourteen The Imperial Cartological Society Chapter Fifteen
Haven Chapter Sixteen Echo’s Well Part Five The King of Tears and the Queen of Sorrows Chapter Seventeen The Tunesmiths Chapter Eighteen Shadows of History Chapter Nineteen The Gilded Army Chapter Twenty The City of Lost Children Part Six The Ninth Circle Chapter Twenty-one Shadows and Light Chapter Twenty-two The Thimble Chapter Twenty-three Unraveled Chapter Twenty-four Second Star to the Right Epilogue Author’s Note
List of Illustrations Sitting in a disarray…was a small girl. The small, slight man was barely five feet tall “…someone is always listening…and someone always comes.” “Someone give me a hand inside, will you?” Bert cried The armored scarecrow was chewing something …three youthful, graceful women of astonishing beauty. In response to his call, an enormous black crow dropped down “He refers to the ‘construction’ of two mechanical men…” “She’s out of your reach, and that’s all that matters.” High above them, like a great gray comet… “Cut the line, Jack,” she said softly. …the rotating water…was forming a gigantic whirlpool. “Hello, boy,” she said. “We are the Croatoans. And we are ourselves.” …a regal, thin-framed man…spread his arms in greeting. “Hello, Jacks. It’s good to see you.” They cared about running…they cared about climbing apple trees The crenellated towers extended all around the orchard and gardens The other wolves had already begun to growl “I’m sorry,” the six-armed creature said plaintively. “There have to be forms” Something else was coming through one of the rifts in Time. “The King of Crickets,” breathed Bert. They were chessmen that aspired to be continents
The Search for the Red Dragon was easier to begin than its predecessor but was harder to
finish, for all the right reasons. I have been overwhelmed by the support and goodwill extendedto me by the many people who have assisted me in this process and been supportive of my books.
It was no small boost in publicity when Warner Brothers announced that they would be acquiringthese novels for adaptation to film. My team of representatives, including Ben Smith, CraigEmanuel, and everyone at the Gotham Group negotiated an excellent deal, and I’m very pleasedthat the Warner executive who bought the books, Lynn Harris, saw the potential the minute wewalked into the room. Marc Rosen, David Heyman, and David Goyer helped me overcome everyobstacle I saw, and cleared away some I hadn’t realized were there, and in the process havebecome my good friends.
David Gale continues to be my ideal editor, and I’ve been very spoiled by the graciousness,belief, and hard work he has extended on my behalf. Alexandra Cooper, Dorothy Gribbin, andValerie Shea have also been invaluable to my development as a writer, and I am constantly blownaway by the attention to detail they brought to this book.
My publisher, Rubin Pfeffer, is someone who exemplifies the concept of action in publishing.Rarely have I met someone who was so willing to take risks with material he believed in, andmake sure that it had all the support it needed to succeed. He and I have come to trust eachother implicitly, while having a great deal of fun in the process.
Elizabeth Law, who was our associate publisher, was and is a great booster of the work Ido—and I suspect is the reason our studio was offered the chance to do Lost Treasures while I
was in the middle of this book. As with Rubin, her decisiveness and support is a huge factor inwhy I am very happy being published by Simon & Schuster.
Our art director, Lizzy Bromley, continues to demonstrate a keen design sense and made the booklook wonderful; and our publicity director, Paul Crichton, helped turn some initial good buzzinto a never-ending whirlwind of excitement.
I am also grateful to the sales team, in particular Kelly Stidham, who has all but become mypersonal advocate and helped turn hopes into stability.
Our electronic links to the world via the Web would not be what they are without the skill andgenerosity of Ariana Osborne; and would be much more cluttered without the help of LisaMantchev. Dear ladies, you have my thanks.
There have been times when I needed a helping hand, and reached out—only to find Brett Rapier,Shawn Palmer, and Cindy Larson had already extended theirs, for which I am very, very grateful.
Throughout the process of working on this book, my brother Jeremy and our cohorts at theCoppervale Studio have remained steadfast; and my family has been supportive beyond measure,even as this ride has taken wilder turns and my schedule has often kept me at work home andabroad. But I think more than anyone, I am thankful for the support given to me by my son,Nathaniel—who, more than anyone, inspired me to write this book in the manner that I did.
It was not the soothing notes of a lullaby that lured the children from their beds, but it wasa song nonetheless. Their parents never heard it, for the tune had not been intended for them.
It was a song played for children; and when they heard it, the children came.
Half-asleep and barefoot, still in their nightshirts, the children climbed from their beds andthrough windows that had been opened, unknowingly, to let in the cool breezes of evening.
They walked, entranced, down winding lanes that converged into a single path that none of themhad ever seen before, but that had always been there.
It had many names, for it was only ever walked by children, and children have a fondness fornaming things. But each child, as they passed, knew it for what it truly was—the Road toParadise. They knew this, because the song they heard told them so.
The notes of the music seemed to emanate from all around them, played everywhere and nowhereall at once, and the music maker, when they glimpsed him in the twilight air, seemed to changeshape in time with the music.
His flickering, ghostlike form was sometimes a grown-up, and other times a child likethemselves. And sometimes he seemed not to be human at all. The music told them his name: theKing of Crickets. And none of them could resist the song he played.
None, save for one.
She had been cautioned that one day the King of Crickets would come, and that unless she wasprepared, she would not be able to resist his song. No children could, unless they werecrippled, and could not follow, or were unable to hear the tune and fall under its spell.
The beeswax she put into her ears, as the dream had told her to do, kept out enough of themusic for her to resist its lure—but not so completely that she couldn’t feel the desire, norhold back the tears that streamed onto her pillow as she finally slept, still dreaming ofParadise.
For some children, the path ended at a great mountain face that split open to embrace them, andclosed as they passed through. For others, it ended at a great precipice, which they steppedover, willingly, because the song told them they could fly. But for most, it led them to theMen of Iron, and the great ships that departed with the dawn.
In the light of morning, the path would again vanish, but it would have a new name: the SorrowRoad.
As they awoke to find the beds of their sons and daughters empty, the mothers and fathers inthe towns and villages would feel bewilderment, then fear, and then terror. And they would namethe path with their cries.
But it was too late. Much, much too late.
The children were already gone.
Nine Years in the Summer Country
Sitting in a disarray…was a small girl.
The Angel in the Garden
John rarely dreamed, and it was even more seldom that he could recall what he dreamed about.But as of late, he had had dreams every night, and he remembered them all—because when hedreamed, he dreamed of Giants.
Massive continents of bone and sinew, creating their own topographies as they strode across thelandscapes, giving little notice to the awed creatures watching from below. The Giants were sogreat it seemed they had both gravity and weightlessness; as if the next thundering step wouldsuddenly launch them into space, to join with the gods and Titans among the constellations.
Standing with the populace of his dream world (all of whom, strangely, seemed to be children),John watched in mute wonder as the Giants strode past with geological slowness. Then, as ineach of the dreams, one of the Giants turned and looked down, directly at John. Shifting itsweight, it bent and reached for him with a hand the size of a barn as the children around himbegan shrieking….
The train whistle was shrill in the afternoon air, startling John out of his troubled reverie.He stood and quickly scanned the crowd departing the train that had just come in from London.The station at Oxford was not large, but the afternoon schedules were always full of bothcomings and goings, and he didn’t want to miss the person for whom he was waiting.