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Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent

ISBN: 9781856358279
€8.99 €8.09

Children Save Dublin Campaign Launched!

 

Something wicked has awoken under the streets of Dublin...


When his dad is offered a job working on the new Metro tunnel, Arthur has to move to Dublin with him. While exploring the dangerous tunnel and a hidden underground river, Arthur and his new friends Will and Ash find a mysterious glowing pendant. The pendant depicts a giant snake strangling the trunk of a tree. The friends soon figure out that the pendant is a warning, a sign that something evil is waiting underneath the city. Something thats been imprisoned for a thousand years, something left by the Vikings, something that can - and will - destroy first the city, then the world.

What did the Vikings bury under the city of Dublin and why did they leave it there? Who is the dark man that spies on Arthur and what is his evil plan? In the end, only Arthur and his friends can save the world from the dreaded World Serpent.

 

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Extract:

 

Prologue:

The agony is unbearable. Unbearable and endless.His scream echoes through the cavern as another pearl of venom drops from the serpent's tooth. The pan, once a source of brief relief, now overflows one drop at a time. The woman who emptied it is long dead. He doesnt notice the limestone dust flutter down from the ceiling; he doesnt hear the rumblings of machinery above. And neither does the snake. The single stalactite shudders. It draws the viper's attention. But too late. The stalactite snaps and falls like a rock spear, taking the snake with it and pinning it to the ground. It dies instantly. He strains to gaze at the snake, his neck creaking. Despite the agony, and for the first time in more than a thousand years, he smiles.

 

Chapter One:

Ahh!
Arthur Quinn woke with a start, disoriented. Sitting in the drivers seat next to him, his dad laid a hand on his shoulder and said something inaudible over the thump of music in his ears. He pulled his iPod earbuds out and said, What?
I asked are you all right? repeated his dad.
Yeah, yeah, Im fine. Just a bad dream. A weird dream.
Yeah? His dad fixed his attention back on the road. Weird how?
I dunno. Cant really remember it. Just this... smile...It doesnt matter.
He popped his earbuds back in and stared out the window. A Coldplay song had come on; it kind of suited his mood. They were nearly there. Dublin. It had been an uncomfortable three-and-a-half-hour drive from Kerry, especially with most of their worldly belongings piled on the back seat and in the boot, and all that concerned Arthur now was a toilet break. Arthur had shaggy brown hair and blue eyes flecked with green. Freckles danced across his nose and high cheekbones. He looked at his dad. With his grey temples and deep wrinkles, Joe Quinn appeared a lot older than forty-three. But then, hed gone through a lot in the past couple of years. They both had. His dads head started to turn and Arthur quickly averted his gaze.
Heuston Station passed by outside. People flowed constantly in and out of the building, hailing taxis and waiting for the next LUAS. Arthur reflected that, in all of his twelve years, this was the first time he'd arrived in Dublin by car. Every other time theyd taken the train, making Heuston Station their threshold to the capital. He could even pinpoint the last time hed been to Dublin: two years ago, at Christmas. They had travelled up by train to go ice-skating: himself, his dad and... his mum. That had been just before she'd gotten ill. He looked down at the ribbon tied around his right wrist and fingered it absent-mindedly. It was a pale golden colour, soft to the touch. The edges were neatly cut and hadnt frayed, even at the knot. It had been his mothers; now it was his. As they drove along the quays it started to rain. Arthur looked past Joe at the drops hitting the River Liffey. The water was high and dark, reflecting the clouds above. Somewhere nearby was his dad's new office.
It had all happened so quickly - Arthur had barely had time to say goodbye to all his friends. Three days ago he'd come home from school to find Joe all flustered, making phone calls and filling out forms.
What's up? Arthur had asked as his dad finished the call hed been on.
Joe looked at his son. Well, it's a long story.
What is it?
I got a call this morning. You know the new Metro line they're digging in Dublin?
Arthur had of course heard about it. Who hadnt? The fact that Dublin was finally getting its own underground rail line had been front-page news for weeks. Theyd been planning it for years and construction had finally started. Well, excavation had finally started.
Yeah. What about it?
Well, theyre having trouble excavating under the Liffey, his dad had continued. Turns out the foundations arent as stable as they first thought and they've had a couple of small cave-ins. Anyway, theyve offered me a job.
It made sense. Joe was an engineer with experience excavating tunnels. As a young man in the early nineties, hed even worked on the Channel Tunnel, the train link under the sea between England and France.
Cool! Arthur had exclaimed. So what does that mean?
Well, for starters, it means we're going to have to move.
Move?
To Dublin.
What? When?
Well, Sunday. But-
What!
Look, Arthur, it'll be fine. They've found us a house and a school for you - it's a really good one. And it's a nice house, they've sent me pictures. I'll show you them later.
But -
Please, Arthur. It's good money. Really good. And it's only for six months or so. Just the rest of this school year, really. We'll be back here for next year, for secondary school. And I think a break from Kerry will do wonders for both of us.
Without another word, Arthur had gone to his room and started to pack. And now, driving alongside the Liffey, Arthur couldn't help but wish he was back in that room.

 

Chapter Two:

In a time before written history, in Asgard, the realm of the gods, it is said that the great wolf Skoll chases the sun across the sky and that this is why the sun changes position throughout the day. If this is so then Skoll has just begun his chase, for it is dawn. The sun is still low on the horizon and the sky is a deep bronze colour. Twelve gods and twelve goddesses reside in Asgard, ruled over by the one-eyed All Father, Odin. None of them stirs this early in the morning. They continue to sleep on their soft feather beds in their great halls. All of them are sleeping heavily after the enormous feast they enjoyed the night before. They ate wild boar and drank sweet mead till their bellies were full. All of them rest. Except one.
The Father of Lies leaves his hall and squints up at the brightening sun. The heat of it still hasnt reached the earth and a light dew has formed on the ground. He pulls his black cloak around him tighter against the cold, then makes off in the direction of the sea.
He has many names, the Father of Lies. The Sky Traveller is one; the God of Mischief is another; the Trickster God is another still. But his true godly name is Loki.
Asgard is a land of contradictions: beautiful yet barren, fertile yet rocky. As Loki makes his way across the rock-strewn fields southward, he recalls the feast of the night before. He spits on the ground, remembering the insult that the other gods inflicted on him.
A giantess from Jotunheim, the land of the giants, was the guest of honour. She was an ugly, dreadful beast, but powerful and strong, so the gods meant to befriend her. When Loki arrived at the feast, he was taken aback by the very sight of the giantess. She was obscenely fat, with lank red hair stuck to her brow with sweat. Warts covered her nose while blisters covered her hands and she had a shadow of thick bristles above her lip. Loki, being the God of Mischief, couldnt resist commenting on the vile woman.
As soon as he entered the banquet hall, he bounded onto the long feasting table and announced in his loudest voice, I knew we were having wild boar tonight, but I didnt expect one as wild or as boarish as that! He pointed directly at the guest of honour, the giantess, to gasps and stifled laughter. Suddenly, the giantess leaped from her bench (the only bench large enough for her was a full-sized table) and strode down the hall towards Loki. She picked him up in her sweating, blistered hands and, before he could protest, she pulled a needle and thread from a pocket in her ragged skirt.
Loki wanted to scream but never had a chance. The pain was excruciating as the giantess went to work on him with the needle and thread. Most of the other gods looked on in awe, but All Father Odin didnt even look up from his meal. As far as he was concerned, Loki had insulted their guest and would get his just desserts. When the giantess was done, she dropped Loki to the ground and went back to her bench, muttering apologies to the other gods as she passed. Loki struggled to his feet and pawed at the stitches that now bound his lips tightly shut. As he strained to tear the binding, a couple of the other gods started to laugh. Then more joined in, and more, until finally the entire banquet hall of the gods was full of laughter. Guffaws directed at him. Even the great Odin managed a chuckle. Red in the face, Loki stormed out of the hall. On his return home, he managed to free his lips, but all he could hear was the echoing of the laughter in his ears. He vowed he would have his vengeance and spent the night forming the perfect plan. Now, early in the morning, he is putting that plan into action. He starts to smile at the thought of it, but his lips still sting from where he tore the thread out and the smile turns into a wince. The sea rises into view before Loki, shimmering and golden in the morning sun. The waves lap the shore lightly. A handful of small vessels are docked, tied to an out-shooting rock, but no fisherman or captain is in sight. Loki is glad of this as he walks over the sand towards the boats. He could have easily tricked any sailor present into giving him a boat, but he is anxious to set about the task at hand. He picks the lightest-looking vessel to make it easier to row alone. With a quick slice of his knife, he cuts the rope securing the boat to the dock, climbs in and pushes himself away from land with the single oar.
Loki hums a tune to himself as he rows out onto the calm sea. He continues to row until Asgard is but a slim line on the horizon, then puts down his oar and stares into the clear blue waters.
His stomach rumbles at the sight of the cod and other sea fish swimming in circles beneath his boat. He hasnt eaten breakfast yet but that doesnt concern him now. He hasnt rowed all this way for mere cod. All of a sudden, the schools of fish scatter. A predator has entered their waters. A sea serpent, about two feet long and with ribbed fins on both sides of its head, swims underneath the boat. Without a moments hesitation, Loki takes hold of a net in the stern and drops one end into the sea. He watches as the net unfurls itself slowly in the water in front of the sea serpent. At first the serpent slows and turns away from the net. Then, for a reason unknown to itself, it looks up and sees Loki. The Father of Lies smiles at it from his boat. The serpent stops moving, hypnotised by the grin, and Loki pulls the net towards him, catching his prey. Caught in the net, the sea serpent is instantly knocked out of its trance. It wiggles and shifts between the twines, making things awkward for Loki. He opens the net and drops the serpent on the bottom of the boat. It squirms towards the edge but Loki grabs it by the head, holding it down.
Stop! he commands.
The serpent at once relents. Loki grips it by the neck and holds it towards his face. As he stares into its slitted eyes, the fins by its head fan out threateningly. Its tongue licks the air and Loki mimics it with his own long tongue. The serpent's jaws shoot open, its fangs exposed.
Loki smiles then cautiously inches his index finger towards the deadly fangs. The jaws snap closed before he has a chance to retreat, piercing the tip of his finger. In intense pain, he drops the serpent to the bottom of the boat where it resumes squirming.
That hurt more than I anticipated, he murmurs as he takes a tight grip of the serpent again. He pins it by the neck to the base of the boat. The serpent screeches piercingly.
Youre lucky, Loki tells it. He traces his bloody fingertip over the serpents scales, drawing strange lines. They are the magical runes, letters and symbols designed to cause and trap magic. You will be my first. The first of three.
When Loki is done, he lifts the serpent towards him again and looks directly into its eyes.
I will call you the Jormungand.
With that, he throws the serpent back into the sea. The water instantly starts to foam where the serpent entered it. Loki laughs hysterically and leaps up and down in his little boat, already rocking in the bubbling water.
The foaming grows more violent and spreads rapidly. Loki, thrown from his feet by the motion, holds on to the sides of the boat as it rocks over and back frantically, laughing all the time.
Just as the boat is about to tip over, the water abruptly calms. Loki stops laughing, out of breath. No birds caw overhead. The only sound is the soft lapping of the water against the side of his boat.
He looks into the water. It's darker now than it was, with a light coating of foam on the surface. Then he sees it: the serpent - his serpent, the Jormungand. And it is huge. Vengeance will be his, and that vengeance will destroy not just the gods but all the worlds.

Arthur woke up in a sweat, panting. He grabbed his mobile from the bedside cabinet and checked the time. It was 3.16 a.m. He sighed and collapsed back onto his mattress. So hed only been asleep for sixteen minutes but had already had that crazy dream. That strange laughing man, the weird rocky land and now a giant snake thing!
He turned over and tried going back to sleep but soon realised that his sheets were damp. In fact, they werent just damp: they were soaking. How did I sweat so much in a quarter of an hour, he wondered to himself as he got out of bed.

 

 

ISBN: 9781856358279

 

  • Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent