Sig, Artie, Kim, and Ras go to the same school but have nothing in common—except for the urge to explore an abandoned house in the neighborhood. Who knows what treasures they’ll unearth? In one of the rooms is a dusty old box with four pictures of dragons on top, containing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle all jumbled together. But they glitter like jewels and lead each boy back to an enchanted time.
Sig becomes a Viking warrior who must slay a dragon who had once been a man and now guards a cursed treasure. Ras is a Nubian prince sold into captivity; he can only escape by killing a deadly Egyptian serpent. As Artos, named for Caesar, High King of Britain, Artie lives under the yoke of Saxon tyranny, waging war to defend King Arthur and the Pendragon flag. Now a sword bearer and page in the imperial palaces of the great Chinese emperor, Kim must follow the path of the slumbering dragon. Against a backdrop of myth and fantasy, acclaimed author Andre Norton weaves an enthralling tale of friendship, faith, loyalty, and heroism.
Dragon Magic is the 4th book in the Magic Sequence, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
About the Author
For well over a half century, Andre Norton was one of the most popular science fiction and fantasy authors in the world. With series such as Time Traders, Solar Queen, Forerunner, Beast Master, Crosstime, and Janus, as well as many standalone novels, her tales of adventure have drawn countless readers to science fiction. Her fantasy novels, including the bestselling Witch World series, her Magic series, and many other unrelated novels, have been popular with readers for decades. Lauded as a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America, she is the recipient of a Life Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Convention. An Ohio native, Norton lived for many years in Winter Park, Florida, and died in March 2005 at her home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Read an Excerpt
By Andre Norton
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1972 Estate of Andre Norton
All rights reserved.
Sig Dortmund kicked at a pile of leaves in the gutter, watched the crowd at the school bus stop. With just one bus running from this new development, they picked up the little kids, too. Just a few guys here his age. Yeah, only three. And this was a double run, to the elementary and to the middle school — you had to leave a lot earlier in the morning and get home when it was too late to do anything outside. Swell year this was going to be! He kicked harder.
Those three guys, he tried to look them over without them seeing him do it. Well, he sort of knew the small one. He'd been in social studies with him last year. What was his name? Artie — Artie Jones. Should he say "Hi, Artie?"
Artie Jones chewed on his lower lip. What a jam this was. All the little kids shoving and yelling. Bet everyone would be good and deaf before they let them off at elementary. And look what he had to maybe sit with! There was that big guy — he'd seen him last term, but he was no "big man," that was for sure. Then take that Chinese kid over by the wall. Mom had heard all about him. She told them at supper last night. How Mr. Stevens had been in Vietnam and had gone to Hong Kong on leave. There he ran across this Kim in an orphanage and wanted to adopt him. The Stevenses had to wait a long time to bring him over, even had to get their congressman in on the deal. Didn't look as if he was worth all that bother, did he? They said he was bright in school. But of course the Stevenses would brag about him after taking all that trouble to get him here. Big deal — jokers like him to ride with!
Kim Stevens held tightly to his book bag. All the noise and confusion! He had heard plenty of noise, been caught in crowds of people ever since he could remember. Hong Kong was so crowded that people lived on top of people there. But that was different. Those had been his people, he knew what they were like. Last year here had been so different, too. Father had driven him to school. Yes, he had felt strange at first, but later there had been James Fong and Sam Lewis. He glanced once at the tall black boy leaning against the wall around the old house. But that one acted as if he were all alone, not even noticing the second graders almost jumping on his toes.
Ras, was not listening to the noise. He had to concentrate just like Shaka said — remember and get it right. When they asked him his name he wasn't to say "George Brown"; he was to say "Ras." Just like his brother was now Shaka, not Lloyd, named after the Zulu king in Africa, the one who really gave it to whitey back in the old days. Ras meant "prince"; Shaka let him pick it out himself from the list. Shaka was sure right in the groove, he wore his hair Afro and everything.
Dad and Mom did not understand. They were old days, take all the mean things whitey wants to hand out and keep your mouth shut. Shaka, he told it like it was now. And Ras wasn't going to let anyone talk him out of doing just like Shaka said.
More leaves blew around the corner of the wall, and Sig crackled through them with a deliberate crunching. Back there was the old house they were going to tear down. He'd like to go and take a look at it, anything was better than hanging around with a bunch of guys who wouldn't give you even a look, let alone the time of day. But the bus was coming.
The day, which had begun sourly, didn't get any better; sometimes they don't. At four Ras slouched again in the bus seat for the trip back home. Troublemaker, huh? He'd heard old Keefer talking. Anyway he hadn't told them anything but Ras. Not his fault Ben Crane spoke up that way. Ben — he was what Shaka called an "Uncle Tom," smoothing up whitey. Maybe Shaka could get Ras out of this dumb school into the Afro-studies one. No one to go around with. He scowled at the seat ahead.
Kim sat still, his book bag across his knees. Why didn't that boy want to tell the teacher his name? And what kind of a name was "Ras"? He just didn't understand anything in this new school. It was too big and they hurried you all the time. His head ached. He didn't belong here. Dared he say so to Father, maybe get to go back where he had been before?
Artie scuffed his feet on the bus floor. Used his eyes and ears all right today, he had. That Greg Ross was the big man in the class — played football, a cinch for the student council when they had the election the homeroom teacher gabbed about. Get into Greg's crowd and you had it made. Too bad he was too small and light for football. But he'd figure out some way to make Greg know he was around. No other way to really make it but be in that gang — outside you were nothing.
Sig, sitting next to Artie, wondered what he was thinking about. Just those three guys in his neighborhood. Artie sure wasn't very friendly — it didn't matter much about the other two. School was too big. You got lost. Artie had been in social studies and in math. But both times he pushed in to sit near that Greg Ross, like he was trying to make Ross notice him. And that Ras — not telling his real name. Get mixed up with a kook like that and, man, you might be in real trouble.
That other one — where'd he get a name like Stevens? He was Chinese or something. Never opened his mouth in the two classes where Sig had seen him. Acted like he was afraid of his own shadow. Sure going to be some drag, riding with this bunch all year.
As the bus swung in to drop them at the corner, Sig noticed something different. The gates guarding the old house were gone, bushes broken down inside as if some truck had pulled in and out. He had heard they were going to tear the house down, make another parking lot there.
Sig lingered as the first wave of children swept on down the street. It sure looked spooky in there. He remembered that some old guy had lived there for a long time. Wouldn't sell the place even when they offered him a lot of money. He'd been a kook, too, from what Dad said — lived in other countries digging up old bones and things belonging to people back in history.
Last year when their class at the other school had gone on a museum trip, Miss Collins had shown them things in the Egypt room and the China room that the old man had given to the city. And when he had died there had been a long piece about him in the paper. Mom had read it out loud. She was interested because she knew Mrs. Chandler, who used to go in and clean house for him once in awhile. He kept some rooms locked up, though, and she never saw what was in those.
What had he kept locked up? Treasure, maybe — things he had found in old tombs and such places. What had happened to them when he died? Did they take them all to the museum?
Sig balanced from one foot to the other a pace inside the wall, standing on the weedy, overgrown drive. He wouldn't like to come here after dark. But what about those locked rooms? Suppose they were still locked and everyone had forgotten about them? Suppose you could get inside and really find —
A shiver ran up Sig's back. You could find a treasure! Why, then you could buy a bike, or a real official league baseball and bat — He had a list of things he dreamed of owning some day. If he had any of those, you bet the guys would notice him, even in a big school like Anthony Wayne! To find a treasure!
Only, a big, dark place like that — Sig didn't want to go poking around in there alone. It got dark fast now, and they were bussed home so late. He'd need someone else to go along, but Artie was the only possibility. Suppose he asked him about it? Told him about the locked rooms and the treasure? That would wake him up all right, make him know that there were other people in the world besides Greg Ross. Artie'd really listen to Sig if he had something like that to say. Just wait until tomorrow!
However, it was hard to corner Artie long enough to talk to him alone, as Sig discovered the next day. In the first place Artie was late in reaching the bus stop, getting in just before the bus pulled out, and so sitting at the very front. And he was off and away before Sig could catch up with him. But at homeroom time Sig got him by the arm.
"Listen" — he made it fast because Artie was pulling against his hold, looking beyond Sig to where the Ross guy and those fellows he ran around with were in a huddle —" listen, Artie, I've got to tell you something important —"
Now Ross went up to talk to Mr. Evans and Artie relaxed, looked at Sig as if he had just seen him.
"What?" His tone was impatient.
"You know that big old house, the one they are going to tear down, the one at the corner?"
"Sure. What's so important about that?"
Artie was again trying to look around Sig. But Sig planted himself firmly before the smaller boy, intent on gaining his interest.
"My mom knows a lady who used to work there. She said that the old guy who owned it kept some rooms locked up, wouldn't ever let her look in them. You remember last year when we went to the museum and they showed us all those old things he gave them — the things out of tombs he dug up in different places? Maybe he didn't give them all away, maybe some are still in those locked rooms. Treasure, Artie!"
"You're crazy. They wouldn't be left there now, not when the whole house is going to be torn down." But Artie was looking at Sig now, was listening. "You ought to know that!"
"I asked Mom this morning. She said nobody had been inside much since the old guy died. The lawyer said all the things inside were to go to the Good Will people, but they haven't come yet to haul them away. Mrs. Chandler has the house keys and nobody's asked for them. So that means maybe something's still there."
"If it's all locked up, how are you going to get in?"
Sig grinned. "There're ways." He was not quite sure what ways, but he would not tell Artie that. The more he thought about it, the more he was sure that there was treasure just waiting to be found. And it would not hurt anyone to take it. The old guy did not have any family. And if it was all just going to be given to the Good Will —
"When are you going to do it?" Artie had stopped fidgeting so much, was listening carefully now.
"I brought a flashlight. We'd better try today. Don't know when the Good Will people will come. The gates were taken off yesterday, they must be getting ready to tear the place down soon. We may not have much time."
"All right," Artie agreed just as the bell rang. "After school."
Artie hurried quickly to the seat just behind Greg Ross. Sig went to his own place in the back row. As he turned he bumped into Ras. Had he been listening? Sig frowned down at his math book. The treasure seemed more real every minute he thought about it. If that Ras had an idea he was going to muscle in — well, Artie and he would be two against one, so he had better not try anything, he had just better not!
Ras sat down. Treasure in the old house? Shaka was always talking about how they needed money for the Cause, a lot of money. Suppose, suppose Ras could find this treasure, give it to Shaka. Then he would be helping out. Treasure in the old house, and those two were going after it tonight. There was no reason why Ras could not trail along behind them, see just what they were doing or what they found, no reason at all.
Sig and Artie slid out of the bus toward the end of the crowd getting out at the corner that afternoon. They wanted to be the last to leave, and so stood talking at the break in the wall where the gates had been torn out until the rest of the children were gone.
"O.K. to go in now." Artie sounded as impatient as he had earlier. "My mom will be wondering why I don't get home if she sees the rest of the kids going by."
Sig hesitated. Now that the time had actually come he liked his idea a little less. The bushes grew tall and hung over the drive that was almost hidden. It had been cloudy all day, though it had not yet rained, and that made it look very dark in there.
"Well, are you coming or aren't you? Big talk about treasure. You afraid or something?" Artie, several paces farther up the drive, turned around.
"I'm coming, I'm coming, all right!" Sig had the big camping flashlight out and ready in his hand.
The drive led around the side of the house to the back, where there were some other buildings strung out. They looked as if they were all falling apart. The roof was off the end of one. But the house was in good condition, even the windows unbroken.
"Where do we get in at?" Artie asked impatiently.
There was a door at the side, which turned out to be locked. There was another in the back, opening off a small, screened-in porch. But the screening was rusty and had holes in it. Sig pulled at a piece and it tore right off in his hand. The door there also was locked, but there were two windows, one on either side.
"You hold this!" Sig thrust the flashlight into Artie's hand, dropped his book bag on the porch, and tried the nearer window. He was not going to let Artie think he was afraid, not when it was his own plan.
At first the window would not budge; then it moved, but so hard that Artie had to help him push it up. There was a queer smell from inside. Sig sniffed and did not like it. But they could enter, and that was what mattered — he had proved this much to Artie.
They climbed over the sill and Sig switched on the flashlight, shining it around.
"Just a kitchen," Artie said as the light picked up a sink, a very large stove that did not look much like those they had in the new houses, and a lot of cupboards.
"Sure," Sig answered. "What did you think it was going to be? That was the back porch, so it opens from a kitchen." Somehow the sight of that ordinary-looking sink and the stove made him feel more at home.
There were two doors. Artie opened the first to show steps leading down into the dark. He closed it hurriedly.
"Yeah." Sig was gaining confidence, though he did not want to explore below. However, he was sure that Mrs. Chandler's locked rooms were not in the basement.
The other door gave into a much smaller room, which had glass-doored cupboards all around it. The glass was heavily coated with dust. Sig rubbed away a patch to look inside, but he saw nothing there except a lot of dishes.
Another door from this room brought them into a big dining room. Artie sneezed.
"Sure is dusty. Say, this is a big house. Look at the size of that table. Could feed our whole family for Thanksgiving and we have about fourteen people, counting the Grands and all. One guy, living here alone, must have felt queer with so much room."
Sig was already ahead into another dim room, where the shades were pulled down, making it a gloomy cave. The flashlight showed them tables, chairs, a sofa. Some of the furniture had been covered up with sheets, even newspapers. Beyond was a hall with two more doors. The first opened on a room with a big desk and a lot of shelves, a few books still lying on some. The next one, though, did not open to Sig's tugging. He turned excitedly to Artie.
"This is locked! Must be one of those rooms Mrs. Chandler talked about."
Artie grabbed the knob in turn, tried to open the door.
"So it's locked, so now how are you going to get it open? Recite something to it, maybe, like that guy in the fairy tale I read to my sister last night." Artie stepped back, threw up his hands as if he were about to perform some feat of magic, and said in a deep voice, "Open, sesame!"
"You wait, you just wait!" Sig could not be defeated, not now, not with Artie grinning at him that way. He ran back to the front room and got a poker he had seen by the fireplace. But when he brought it back Artie looked surprised — not only surprised but frightened.
"Now look here, Sig, you go breaking things up and you'll be in bad trouble. There were a couple of guys I heard about that got into a house and broke up stuff. And then they were arrested, and their folks had to go down to the police station and get them. I don't want any part of breaking stuff up. It's late, my mom will be wondering where I am. I'm going right now!"
"Go on," Sig retorted. "Go on. You won't get any of the treasure."
Excerpted from Dragon Magic by Andre Norton. Copyright © 1972 Estate of Andre Norton. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents1 HIDDEN TREASURE,
5 SHUI MIEN LUNG — SLUMBERING DRAGON,
6 DUST ON THE TABLE,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR,