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The Sorcerer's Trap


     Novan's country has been conquered. He dreams of joining the freedom

     fighters. The trouble is, he's fallen in love with a girl from the other side.

     When he gets the chance to assassinate the High Sorcerer, he faces a

     terrible choice. Soon, he and Alalia are fleeing for their lives, with the 

     dreaded Sorcerer Guard in pursuit. Against deadly sorcery, the fugitives 

     have only the help of thought-reading jerboas, and their power over



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  The leopards came to a submissive halt. They were just at the beginning of the bridge. 

  'Turn the chariot round.'

  'Balgo! Please!'

  'Is this Xerappan in league with you? By the High Sanctuary, I'll strike him dead if he is.'

  'Novan has nothing to do with this.'

  'Novan, is it?'

  'We all have names.'

  Mina had strolled to the front of the chariot, as though the argument were nothing to do with her. Novan had been aware with some fraction of his mind of scrabbling whispers passing between her and her jerboa. He had far more frightening things to occupy him.

  He saw his sister stroke Almond's hindquarters, then move round to Quercus's head. There was something in her hand. A flat white stone from the road, flint-sharp. She leaned over Quercus, crooning in his ears. Her hand moved swiftly, once, twice.

  The harness parted. Novan no longer heard what Balgo was shouting at Alalia. For a moment, Quercus looked startled. Then he twitched with the pleasure of feeling himself free. With a smooth bound, his gold-and-black body flew over the side of the bridge and dived into the shelter of the bushes.

  'What...' Balgo leaped out of the chariot and ran to the lip of the chasm on his right. His spell-rod was in his hand. There was a flash of red. A pine tree went up in flames.

  'Now! Left!' The jerboa's command pierced their minds.

  Novan and Alalia landed on the other side of the chariot at the same moment. Mina had already cut Almond free too. Before Balgo could turn and see them, they threw themselves down the side of the ravine, rocks slipping under their feet, twigs clawing as they slithered past, the bridge above them now, hiding them from the road.

  'Keep going,' urged Thoughtcatcher. 'There!'

  As Balgo shout of fury echoed around the canyon, they found themselves rushing headlong towards a cedar tree. The base of its trunk was split, its roots splayed like giant feet.


  There was a hole in the soft, resin-scented earth beneath the trunk. A huge, deep hole into utter darkness.


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