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Hunt for the Lost by Brian Anderson

 

Overview: Siblings Emma and Alex fall deeper into the magical world of the Conjurian--a place where illusionists called conjurers can perform actual tricks--in book two of this new highly-illustrated fantasy adventure series that's perfect for fans of the Magic Misfits and the Land of Stories.

The hunt is on for the Eye of Dedi--the legendary object that stores magic untold--and siblings Alex and Emma are determined to get it first. The only problem? They're not the only ones looking. Hot on their heels is the evil Shadow Conjurer who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the Eye and finally control all of the Conjurian world. It's up to Alex and Emma to outsmart the Shadow Conjurer and his league of ghastly monsters, or risk losing magic forever.

Fall under the spell of the Conjurers. Masterful storytelling and over 100 captivating black-and-white illustrations fill author-illustrator Brian Anderson's world with charm and intrigue.

 

Hunt for the Lost by Brian Anderson Book Chapter One

 

I’m blind, thought Emma, instinctively rubbing her eyes. She opened and closed them.
No difference. This was not good.
She detected damp earth, tasting it, crunching it between her teeth. Every breath scratched her throat.
She tried calling to the others, but no sound escaped her grime-coated mouth.
I’m buried alive!
Panic crept through her. What had happened? She remembered Clive Grubian picking her up and carrying her under one enormous arm—his brother, Neil, under the other—as the Conjurian Detention Center shook around them. The boy, Savachia, had been behind them, dragging his father. Then Clive had let her fall and collapsed on top of her, a second before a wave of dirt exploded down the corridor, destroying all light and sound.
Clive had saved her. If you counted being buried alive as safe. But she couldn’t see. She couldn’t move.
And what about her brother? What about Alex?
She’d bluffed her way into this prison to find and rescue Alex. But she hadn’t been able to locate him. Had he been locked in one of the cells? Had he been crushed when the earthquake hit?
Did that mean Emma had been left completely alone? No family at all?
Something grunted and moved above her, and suddenly Emma could breathe more easily. A hand seized her arm and pulled her up through a few inches of loose dirt, and she was standing in the corridor, coughing and gasping.
“Neil? Clive?” she sputtered.
“I hope they’re crushed under the debris,” muttered an irritated voice—Savachia’s. He coughed. “Some help they turned out to be.”
“Neil!” Emma called again, ignoring the boy.
Sparks flickered before her eyes. Then Neil’s face, round as the moon, appeared in front of her, lit by a flame dancing on the tip of his thumb.
“You’re alive!” Emma beamed with relief. She barely knew the two Grubian brothers, but in the relief of knowing that she was not all alone in the dark, she could have hugged the short, rotund Neil and his gigantic brother, Clive, visible now as the flame on Neil’s thumb grew bigger and brighter.
Clive nodded at Emma and returned to his task. He was industriously stuffing tiny sacks into small cracks in the wooden wall of the prison.
Emma looked up and down the corridor, but she could not look far. The ceiling to her right had caved in, blocking the hallway completely. To her left, the passage was choked with dirt. Emma could see no sign of Sergeant Miller or his men, who had been just about to arrest every single one of them.
Savachia crouched by his father’s limp body. He’d finagled his way into this prison, along with Emma, in order to rescue his father—but he hadn’t told her about his plan. She had thought he’d been here to help her rescue Alex.
She’d been wrong. About that. About a lot of things.
Emma reached out to tug on Neil’s soiled jacket. “There’s no way out. We’re buried alive!”

 
 
“Now, my dear, we are not buried. Although we are alive. Details count.” Neil nodded at his flaming thumb. Emma’s grip on his jacket threatened to pull his coat sleeve down over his hand, smothering the flame.
Emma quickly removed her hand.
“You have to have faith,” said Neil. “Do you trust me?”
Emma hesitated.
No. The answer was no. She’d only just met the Grubian brothers, shortly after flying skeletons called Rag-O-Rocs had invaded the mansion that belonged to Emma’s uncle. Uncle Mordo had shouted at Emma and Alex to run, to save themselves, to follow Emma’s pet rabbit, Pimawa. And they had.
Pimawa had turned out to be more than a pet. He was actually a Jimjarian, a walking, talking servant bound to serve a magician all his life. He’d brought them to the Conjurian, into the Mysts, where they were attacked by an entirely different kind of monster, a bandiloc. It had been Neil and Clive Grubian who’d saved them from the bandiloc and who’d taken Emma and Alex and Pimawa to Conjurian City.
Emma had thought they’d be safe there. That was one of the many things she’d been wrong about.
Conjurian City was where Emma had been kidnapped (by Savachia), where her brother, Alex, had been taken prisoner (by their uncle’s old colleague Christopher Agglar), and where Emma had been told by the man who had been her dead parents’ closest friend that he would not help her or protect her.
Conjurian City was where Emma had learned to trust no one at all.
But she had no choice now. She could not get herself out of this prison, where the collapsed roof and crushed walls and tons of dirt trapped her and the others more securely than locks and bars.
If Neil had a way out, she had to trust him.
She met his eyes and nodded.
Neil held the flame closer to Clive, who stuffed one last pouch into a small crevice and stepped back.
Emma had seen pouches like that before, in the Grubians’ carriage. They had been full of woofle seeds. Emma didn’t know much about woofle seeds, but she knew that they could explode.
Hope blossomed inside her, bright as Neil’s flame. They weren’t buried alive after all—or they wouldn’t be for long!
Clive stepped back and spread his great arms, gesturing for all of them to step behind him. Emma did so quickly, nodding at Savachia to do the same. He was a liar and a traitor, and she would be sure to tell him exactly what she thought of him once they were free—but that didn’t mean she wanted to see him blown up.
Savachia dragged his father behind Clive as the larger of the two Grubian brothers kicked the wall hard. Nothing happened.
“Kick harder, you elongated barber pole!” shouted Neil.
Clive kicked repeatedly.
“For the love of—move aside and let me—” Neil squirmed out from behind Clive just as the woofle seeds erupted in a blinding, golden flash. The tough wooden roots that made up the walls of the Conjurian Detention Center were wrenched apart, and the earth that surrounded them shuddered and split, revealing a slender fissure. Fresh air washed in.

 

“Ladies first.” Neil coughed. He helped Emma into the crack. “When we get to the carriage,” he added, jabbing a finger into his brother’s gut, “you will spend the rest of the day checking the expiration dates on all the woofle seeds.”



Emma clawed her way up, emerging into the giant field that lay at the foot of the Tower of Dedi. She looked around, hoping beyond hope to see Alex rushing toward her.
Instead she was enveloped in a curtain of sooty air. Chunks of wall and piles of brick and stone littered the plain and choked the gaps between the roots. She clambered up onto an arching root, desperately searching for the Tower of Dedi through the filthy air.
“Miss Emma!” croaked Neil, climbing out after her, followed by his brother. “We should stay low until the air clears.” Rasping, Neil leaned against the root Emma was standing on. “Come down before someone, or something, spots you!”
A wind gust briefly cleared the murky sky, and Emma gasped. There, not more than two hundred yards away, stood what remained of the Tower of Dedi.
The last time Emma had been aboveground, the Tower had risen over this plain like a skyscraper. It was a building created out of the largest living tree Emma had ever seen. It made a California redwood look like a spindly sapling.
And now it had fallen.
That was what had caused the cave-in, Emma realized. Not an earthquake. The Tower had collapsed.
Only the stump of the tree remained. The few surviving branches curled downward like the hands of a corpse.

 
 
“It’s gone,” said Emma.
Neil jerked his head up. Clive straightened up to stare. Savachia, tugging his father’s body with him, was last to reach the surface. Even he seemed dumbstruck.
“My brother was in there,” said Emma. “My brother was in the Tower!” She glared down at Savachia. “If you had done what you promised, he’d be alive!”
First Savachia had kidnapped Emma to use as a hostage. Then, after she’d begged and bargained, he’d agreed to help her sneak into the Tower to find Alex. But he hadn’t done that. Instead he’d used her to get inside the Tower and then left her on her own while he went off to rescue his father.
Now, after one glance at the Tower, Savachia sat down in the dirt, bending over his father’s motionless form.
“Now, now,” said Neil, patting Emma’s shoe. “I am sure a boy as clever as Alex found a way out. In fact, it is entirely possible he is responsible for the destruction we see before us. Probably took out Christopher Agglar and his henchmen in one go. The head of the Circle stood no chance against a boy as resourceful as your brother.”
Emma stabbed her finger back toward the space where the Tower once stood. “No one got out of that! He’s gone!” Her foot slipped.
Clive reached her in one stride. He wrapped his arms around her waist and lowered her gently to the ground.
Neil took her hand in his, patting it. “We made it out. Didn’t we? And I daresay your brother is cleverer than the lot of us together.”
Emma flung Neil’s hand away, glaring down at Savachia. His back to her, he sat hunched over his father. It was as if he could not hear her.
Emma’s fists were clenched so tightly that her fingernails cut into her palms. “This is your fault! I should never have trusted you!” she yelled at Savachia. “You’re nothing more than a con artist! A no-good thief!”
Savachia shrugged. He got to his feet and walked a few steps away from his father, from Emma, from Neil and Clive. He stood with his back to them, looking at the devastation that surrounded them.
“Answer me!” Emma screamed at him.
He shrugged again, without turning.
“Ah, my dear Jane. Emma. Perhaps you might—” Neil ventured.
Emma ignored him. “What’s the matter with you?” she demanded of Savachia.
“He’s dead,” Savachia said without looking at her.
Emma’s breath and her words rushed out of her. She knew it. She knew Alex was gone. But to hear it like that, said so simply and brutally—it made her want to crumple to the ground.
Then she realized that Savachia was not talking about Alex at all.
Her eyes fell on the boy’s father, lying faceup on the ground. The man didn’t look much like Savachia. He was thin—well, he’d been in prison a long time. They didn’t feed you all that well, probably. His hair and beard were disheveled. His eyes were closed, and his face was white. So white.
Of course, he’d been shut up in a cell away from the sun. Likely for a long time. But this kind of whiteness and stillness—Emma knew it could only mean one thing.
“Smothered, probably,” said Savachia, still staring away. “Or a heart attack, maybe, when all that dirt came down over us. He wasn’t strong. He’d been in that place so long.”
Emma stared.
Her anger still sputtered and flared inside her, but how could she shriek at Savachia now? How could she batter at him with her fists or demand that he—what? Apologize? Fix what he’d done?
No apology could help. There was nothing to fix. Alex was dead. Just like Savachia’s father was dead.
Neil cleared his throat.
“A tragedy indeed. My most sincere condolences. But now, my dears, we must figure out our next move.”
Next move? A pain like no other, a hollow ache, filled Emma from head to toe. She had nothing left. No parents. No uncle. No brother. No home. She watched as Savachia pressed a kiss to his father’s temple, then laid him on the dirt. What she was sure would be his final resting place.
Suddenly, Emma realized she had something after all, something new filling the void, replacing the ache: revenge.
“I know what the next move is,” said Emma. “I find the Shadow Conjurer and make him pay.”
It was the Shadow Conjurer who’d sent the Rag-O-Rocs to kill Uncle Mordo. It was the Shadow Conjurer who’d chased Emma and Alex into the Conjurian, a magical world where magic was slowly dying. It was the Shadow Conjurer’s fault that Emma had lost everyone she’d ever loved.
“Well, okay, that was specific,” said Neil, taken aback. Suddenly he looked up at a shadow winding through the brackish sky toward them. “Rag-O-Roc! Run!”
“Let it come!” Emma shoved Clive aside and clambered back onto the root. Her teeth were clenched so tight she thought they might shatter. Her fists shook at her sides. The growing anger had given her power, and she liked it.
Clive attempted to bear-hug her legs. Emma hopped sideways out of his reach. No one was stopping her now! She wasn’t going to run. Glowering at the beast on its collision course, she noticed something familiar. “It’s not a Rag-O-Roc,” she said, startled. “It’s—”

 
 
The creature spiraled into Emma, sending them both crashing to the ground. “Geller!” Emma cradled the rumpled parrot. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to fetch my master after Master Agglar’s thugs abducted him.” Geller removed his cracked glasses, wiped them on his feathers, and balanced them back on his beak.
“Agglar’s people took Derren?” Emma asked. She remembered how she’d last seen Derren Fallow—her parents’ oldest friend—holding off Sergeant Miller, giving her time to flee with Savachia.
Derren had let her down. She’d gone to him for help, and he hadn’t done a thing. But then he’d put himself at risk to let her escape.
So Derren had been arrested? Had he been inside the Tower too?
Geller flapped the dust from his wings. “Yes, indeed. But my master made it out. With the boy and the Jimjarian. I am afraid I lost them when the Tower fell.”
Emma was glad she was already sitting on the ground, or she was sure she would have fallen over. The boy. Geller had said the boy. Did he mean…“Alex? Was Alex with Derren? And Pimawa? They’re…” She had to stop to breathe. “Alive?”
“Certainly they were.” Geller looked almost offended. “You don’t think a trifle like a falling tower could have stopped my master, do you?”
Emma wanted to hug Geller—glasses, snooty look, and all. “Which way? Where were they headed?” she asked.
Geller scowled at her through the cracked lenses of his spectacles. “Toward the water.”
Emma stood, placing Geller on a root. “Can you show us the way?” she asked eagerly.
Geller gingerly tested one wing. “It would appear I’m grounded for the time being. And it would take ages to climb through this debris.”
“Well, taddely toophers, I’m not much of a climber,” Neil said. He clapped his hands to his chest, choking on the grime that wafted from his jacket, and removed a small black box with a red button from an inside pocket. He pushed the button. A sharp double beep answered in the distance. “But I always have an escape plan from my escape plan.”

 

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