Chapter 1

Signs of the terrible troubles brewing in the Sorcery World
hit the news-stands minutes before midnight … By dawn,
the news had spread like wildfire.
From the shores of America to the remotest Polynesian
island, it snaked its way into sorcerers’ homes, sending a
frisson of fear down their spines.
And found its way to the tomb of the Pharaohs …


Count Drunkula Von D’eth, a Transylvanian vampire and a top secret agent for Wizard Organization Worldwide (WOW), has been given a mission to die for… The magical Potion of Eternity, which will grant great powers to the children of a couple who drink it together, has been spiked by the Black Magi during the Great Wedding of the Oriental Sorcerer, Dead Lee and the Enchantress of the Deep, Abyssinia. Instead of declaring undying love, the two sorcerers go off the deep end, whipping up tsunamis, unleashing the Slimy Poaching Agency and threatening to rip the Sorcery World apart!

VILLAIN IN OUR WATERS

Forget about the Black Magi, there’s deeper, darker trouble in our waters! The new nuisance in the Sorcery World is none other than King ‘Tubby’ Neptune, king of the water world and guardian of the magical Pearls of Wisdom. Neptune seems intent on blatantly defying his sacred vows as king and protector of the Pearls, which in turn grant him absolute power over the seas and oceans. That he must rule with courage, honesty and loyalty when he wears the mystical crown seems to have completely escaped this Regent of the Seas. Rumours are afloat that the Slimy Agency of Poachers, SAP, has zeroed in on his weakness for living it up, and have struck a dubious deal which allows them to poach in our sea beds to their hearts’ content! It has been reported that as a result, the Pearls of Wisdom are losing their magical powers that help protect Poseidon. But like all rumours, pinning down these very serious charges isn’t so easy. What has the famous Wizard Organization Worldwide or WOW, as we fondly call them, done to straighten out their King of the Seas? Are the Pearls of Wisdom really safe and sound? Could the King of the Seas be one of them? But when grilled by our correspondent, the Ancient One disdainfully dismissed these as ‘trivial concerns’. ‘King Neptune is nothing but an overfed spoilt regent who overdoses on prawns and power. As for being one of the Black Magi…’ Nostra just laughed in our faces, ‘Neptune is too lazy to move a muscle and morph into anything! Besides, the Black Magi have no use for the Pearls of Wisdom,’ the Ancient One insisted. ‘But is this really the truth? Or is this yet another conspiracy to throw the paparazzi off the tracks till the Exalted Council of WOW figure things out? The Pearls of Wisdom in the wrong hands could spell serious deep sea trouble for all of us. If this realm should fall into the hands of the Black Magi there will be no stopping them from invading the other realms of the Sorcery World!’ Mark Skully of the Phantom News Broadcasting Corporation, PNBC, said on his show last night, spooking the living daylights out of his viewers
Is the Sorcery World really safe?
Or should we be looking over our
shoulders for the Black Magi to strike
again?
GHOSTLY PRESS AGENCY
(GPA) Press Release

Truly Fishy Business


Inside the Tombs of the Pharaohs, the Druid stood in the half-light, bone weary and dead tired. He flung the ratty tabloid into the fire. ‘These guys should be sued!’ The past few months had taken their toll on the 317- year-old sorcerer. The stern, gaunt face that once inspired fear with a single look somehow seemed sadder and a little lost. He had just finished the arduous task of rebottling Ali Ghul, the sneaky Sandstorm Genie who had managed to squeeze himself out through a teeny, tiny hairline crack in his old bottle. Within an hour of his escape fresh air and freedom went straight to the Djinn’s head. He went completely berserk whipping up sandstorms, left, right and centre, till the Ancient One finally managed to lure him into a corner and knock him out with a powerful sleeping spell. ‘That is nothing. I’m afraid I have worse news …’ a hoarse voice cut through the silence, startling the Ancient One out of his reverie. ‘Salaam Aleikum, dear friend,’ an imposing silhouette stepped out of the darkness of the Tombs. ‘One of my afrits stumbled upon this while sunbathing in Hawaii.’ Al Khemi, the formidable Djinn Master, thrust out a gnarled hand and Nostra found himself staring at a torn and tattered missive. ‘That infidel Neptune is a traitor! He promised he would stop those poachers!’ snarled Al Khemi, rage flickering dangerously in his hooded eyes. ‘And he calls us terrorists just because we burst into flames when we lose it!’ This was getting worse by the minute; Nostra took a deep breath and slowly, deliberately, began to read every word of the horrid truth that lay before him. ‘Trespassing and poaching in the waters of Poseidon will henceforth not be considered an offence punishable by death’ signed King Neptune. Had Neptune gone insane, allowing those slimy poachers to go scot-free? This is an awful situation. I need to have more than just a word with Neptune, Nostra told himself grimly. ‘Unlike his austere father, Neptune mercilessly destroyed an entire reef and built himself the fabulous Royal Caverna on his birthday. The Pearls of Wisdom are in great danger! Every day as the oceans are ravaged, their powers get weaker. Khallas! Neptune must give up his crown. A new ruler must be found!’ Al Khemi’s face was flushed with rage. ‘We need someone who will keep the sacred vow and protect Poseidon, not snack on shrimp all day. If they get their hands on the Pearls of Wisdom, that Supreme One will be invincible!’ Wisps of smoke trailed behind the Djinn Master as he raged. ‘With such powerful deep sea magic in the wrong hands, the Sorcery World will be doomed!’ ‘Calm down, Al Khemi. You can’t just yank out someone’s throne from under him. We’ve got to dangle a whole bunch of carrots before he lets us take the crown off his stringy, sun-bleached head.’ The Djinn Master looked ready to explode. ‘Why should we give that infidel anything? Toss him to the sharks, I say!’ Nostra smiled a thin, sly sneer. ‘Remember, a dead man’s chest tells many tales. But keep him alive and out of sight and soon,’ he snapped his fingers, ‘poof! He’s history.’ Al Khemi moved closer to the Druid. ‘I hope to Allah you are right about this, Nostra,’ those dark eyes glittered. ‘I don’t trust that Neptune one bit!’ ‘And I don’t trust anyone these days,’ Nostra grudgingly admitted, ‘No one, except…’ and he remembered a certain absent-minded, good-hearted Transylvanian Vampire with fondness. ‘There’s one more bit of news that’s creating waves,’ Al Khemi’s voice rose an anxious octave. Nostra glanced at his friend; a strange, hunted look had come over him. Al Khemi licked his lips nervously. A slight chill suddenly nipped through the balmy desert air, sending a bout of shivers down the Druid’s spine. ‘What is it?’ As if on cue, the wind outside howled and its ominous wails reverberated through the depths of the vaults, disturbing the sleep of the dead. Al Khemi’s thin lips barely moved and his voice came in a low, hoarse whisper, ‘Va Suki is awake … The Naga King is back …’ the terror in his eyes spelt it all. ‘And he’s out to get his pound of flesh.’
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Time stilled and rewound to a century ago. A full moon shone its spotlight on an underwater duel. ‘As the King of the Seas, I simply can’t allow you to snack up an armada or two whenever you feel your tummy rumble. As per the Marine Memorandum clause 11, all Nagas regardless of their status, have to stay within their realm. And that, Va Suki, may I remind you, is 2000 leagues below the sea!’ Braveheart Neptune Senior had been forced to confront the notorious Naga ruler and make him toe the line. But Va Suki was in no mood to give up his new-found fast-food chain and stay put in his kingdom, the Sea of Secrets. Va Suki lost his thousand heads and lashed out angrily at Braveheart. By nightfall, it was all over. The wise and kind king was dead, but not before he had flung the deadly Slumberus Curse on Va Suki. The curse sent the nasty Naga King off to sleep for a good one hundred years. For a century, armadas, galleons and swanky cruise liners traversed the oceans fearlessly without worrying about coming nose to nose with a thousand-headed marine t h e p e a r l s o f w i s d o m 9 monster on a high cholesterol diet. But even the deepest of sleep wears off over time. Now Va Suki was wide awake and had sworn to wreak revenge on the kin of the king who had knocked him off for so many years.


The Tombs of the Pharaohs had fallen silent. Nearby, Ali Ghul snored away peacefully in his solitary cell. The only other sound was the incessant racket of desert bugs intent on creating their very own orchestra. In the midst of all this, the Ancient One’s ancient brain was frantically analysing and computing the implications of this very disturbing piece of news. ‘By Zeus! I’ve got it! If this news doesn’t send Tubby Neptune packing into the sunset,’ Nostra Daemus grinned maliciously, ‘nothing else will! Thank you Al Khemi, you’ve perhaps saved us after all.’ He shook hands with the thoroughly perplexed Djinn Master, and handed him the bottled Ali Ghul. ‘Look after him with your life! I’ve a king to catch!’ Then the wizened wizard swooshed off into the desert night.