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Spirit Animals: Special Edition: Tales of the Great Beasts

Spirit Animals: Special Edition: Tales of the Great Beasts

Author: Brandon Mull and Nick Eliopulos

Publisher: Scholastic Inc


Publish Date: October 21, 2014

ISBN-10: 0545695163

Pages: 192

File Type: azw,epub,lrf,mobi

Language: English

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Book Preface

Feliandor’s father had been a good king, and Feliandor wanted to be a good king too. It was for that reason and that reason alone that he held court. Once a week, the doors to the throne room were opened to any citizen who desired an audience with the king. It was a tradition his father had started years before, and one that had made him immensely popular. “We live in a great tower,” he’d once told his son, “but the distance between a king and his subjects should never be greater than a single voice can travel.”

And so each week, Feliandor interacted with the people of his kingdom. Usually that meant his subjects would come from far and wide to complain about petty matters while Feliandor listened carefully, nodded thoughtfully, and then offered reassuring words — and, when possible, solutions.

It did not come naturally to him, and it never seemed to get any easier. But he always had two allies beside him through the ordeal: to his left, Salen, the royal adviser, and to his right, Jorick, captain of the king’s guard. With the knowledge and power they represented, he felt that he could accomplish nearly anything.

The people seemed determined to put this to the test.

“My king, you must do something,” said the man before him now, an aging blacksmith named Gerard. He gestured to the younger man at his side. “He’s ruined my livelihood.”

The younger man, Donnat, also a blacksmith, crossed his arms defiantly. “The old man hardly needs any help there. It’s not my fault he can’t keep up with the times! The customers have spoken, and my revolutionary smithing technique —”

“Your smithing technique is pathetic!” Gerard interrupted. “You sacrifice quality for speed. Your swords would shatter against a turtle shell.”

“Now he’s resorting to slander, Your Majesty. Unless he means to suggest he’s actually attacked turtles with my wares.”

Feliandor wished he could laugh at the spectacle of two grown men acting in this way, but the hall was crowded with onlookers. If he could solve this problem, it would be proof of his wisdom and prudence — and there was no better time to appear wise than when one had witnesses.

Fel cleared his throat, and the sound echoed. The throne room was ancient and drab, a box of rough stone with narrow slits overhead to let in daylight. The walls had been adorned with colorful tapestries and the ceremonial swords and shields of kings past, but the decorations did little to brighten the gloomy space. It had always felt like a tomb to Fel. Even in happier days.

The throne itself, however, was a masterpiece. Placed upon a stone platform and crafted entirely of Stetriolan iron, the chair was embellished with the features of a half-dozen animals: the outspread wings of a great bird of prey, the patterned scales of a reptile, the clawed feet of some vicious predator. It wasn’t comfortable, but it was beautiful. And intimidating. Fel had never seen anything else quite like it, and he doubted either of the smiths before him were capable of such craft.

He turned his gaze on the older of the two, Gerard. “But he was your apprentice?” he asked.

“That’s right,” the older smith huffed. “And I thought that once I gave up on teaching him, this louse would set up shop elsewhere. Not two doors down from my anvil, which has been serving our town for generations!”

Donnat shrugged. “Every town in Stetriol has an established blacksmith. How am I supposed to earn a living if the older generation won’t get out of the way?”

“I see,” Fel said. “So there’s not enough smithing work to go around. Does that about sum it up?”

“That’s right,” Gerard said. “I’m not afraid of a little competition, but I won’t resort to this charlatan’s tactics.”

“Then you’ll never beat my prices,” Donnat said lightly.

Feliandor turned to his adviser and lowered his voice. “Salen, what do you have for me?”

“Hm, yes,” Salen said slowly, stroking his white beard . . . slowly. Salen did everything slowly. “This raises some interesting questions . . . concerning the crown’s role in commerce. I’d like to set up a committee led by key figures from the merchants’ guild, and open discussions —”

Feliandor rolled his eyes dramatically. “Salen, so help me, if you put me in one more meeting, I’ll have you exiled. I want a solution right now.” He turned to his other side. “Any ideas, Jorick?”

Jorick grunted in a way that perfectly communicated his lack of patience for squabbling merchants. “I could take each of them in hand and smash them together until we had a single large blacksmith where before there were two scrawny blacksmiths.”

Fel smiled despite himself. “Excellent thought, Jorick, but let’s call that Plan B.” He cleared his throat again, silencing the mutterings of the crowd, and returned his attention to the men who awaited his judgment. “All right, all right. If the problem, at heart, is that there is not enough smithing work, then let me see about throwing some business your way. It’s about time the king’s guard was outfitted with new equipment. It’s a big enough job to keep you both tending your fires for months. Is this acceptable?”

The older smith nodded. “It would be my honor to provide arms and armor to the guard.”

The younger smith smiled. “But I could do it twice as fast for a fraction of the cost.”

“None of that,” Feliandor admonished. “There will be no shortcuts, and you’ll each receive the same rate for your work. See my quartermaster on the way out, and he’ll get you started.”

Fel turned a smug smile on his adviser as the two men left the hall. “There, see? Everyone leaves happy.”

Salen didn’t return the king’s smile. “A short-term solution, my king, merits only a short celebration.”

“Why, thank you, Salen, I believe a celebration would be lovely. I’ll ask you to make the arrangements. Now, what’s next?” He turned to the page whose job it was to keep the proceedings orderly. He rubbed his hands together in anticipation. “Who has another knot for their king to untangle?”

The page paled. “Apologies, King Feliandor, but that is all for today.”……………………

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