The Scrolls of Udanadar

Prologue

The seeking soul, the unquenchable yearning and wandering soul, is a restless soul. It is a beacon calling out for rescue, a ship with no port. For those with this malady, there is a cure, a place to wander away to for adventure and satisfy the hunger. It lay at the end of a misty dark road, at the end of Apple Orchard Way. But if one were to approach closer, it could be seen that all was not dark, that little flecks of light danced a firefly ballet, lighting the mystical gloom—a beacon for wandering souls. Such is a place of the whispering sort, the subject of townsfolk behind veiled, covered mouths, furtive glances, and quick darting eyes. But the wandering type, they know where to go—to the porch, to the hearth, of one Thomas O’Thomas McQuinn.

Now Thomas O’Thomas, as he liked to be called, was an Irishy fellow on the short side of tall. He had a fiery-red beard from his chest to his chin, sparkly green eyes, and a fierce, friendly grin. The townsfolk never knew when they came through the town—the wandering ones, walking as though they knew where to go. And they did, in a mystical way, a calling like no other for their adventurous hearts. Quietly they went without stopping a bit, not for a meal at Mrs. Tuttleby’s, known five counties wide for the tastiest of fare anyone could eat; not even at Killebrew’s, a quaint coffee shop right on the corner, an unavoidable stop where could be had a gooey-type pastry and a freshly brewed Coffeenator.

Thomas O’Thomas knew, sitting there sometimes on his porch or sometimes by the fire, rocking patiently. He knew—something in the wind told him, maybe a bug. At those times, he would have a big pot of steaming stew, bubbling lustily on the stove, and a fresh loaf of homey bread—warm to the touch, the hearty, stew-mopping kind.

As it happened one night, when the lights were all down, with the sun tucked away in its nightly repose, and the moon for some reason wished not to be shown, the wandering bug flitted into O’Thomas’s very own town. It was a cozy town, not far from the big city but far enough for those who commuted daily to get a breath of fresh air, suiting O’Thomas just fine.

The bug moved through the night with purpose and direction; it knew where to go, what to do, and whom to see. A soul calling out for adventure was the irresistible scent—going from one to another, always searching for the next hungry heart, fulfilling its eternal purpose.

The wandering bug darted over the roof of Mr. Mulberry’s grocery store and across the town square where it startled the Lattimer’s cat as it was about to pluck one of the town’s prized koi from the central fountain; a gaudy thing that nobody liked but were too polite to say about it what they really felt. Next, the bug sped down Thistle Creek Way until it came to the Great Oak of Dandybrook, which was said to have saved the town once.

Nobody knew for sure what that story entailed, but it had something to do with acorns, or so thought the town librarian, Mr. Binder. Nobody even knew why it was called the Great Oak of Dandybrook, since Dandybrook was not even the town’s name.

From there, the bug turned down Cottonwood Lane and headed for the open bedroom window on the second story of the third house on the right from the end, the blue one with the broken porch light.

In through the window, the bug silently slipped, passing neatly between the thin metal wires of the screen and dipped down to the boy sleeping fitfully on the bed by the door, his covers in a confused mess by his feet. He dreamed of wondrous things and exciting places, yet they were only his dreams. The wandering bug landed softly on a spot just behind the boy’s left ear and, ever so gently, bit him. As simple as that, the boy was on a path that would forever change his life. Its job done, the little bug, the peculiar bug, the bug of extraordinary purpose, flitted out the window on a course for its next adventurous soul.

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