The Spider King

Two children have a surprise when they arrived home after school and found their mother waiting. She told them they had to escape quickly since their uncle had just been assassinated. The boy, Vikram, followed her instructions and was snatched into a big black car. He arrived at the British High Commission thinking he was a prisoner. Later he was reunited with his mum and sister, Sita.

The children discovered their parents and uncle were secret agents. As university students, they signed up together with their friend Lawrence to an organisation commuted to the overthrow of totalitarian, corrupt governments. They wanted to see democracy in the countries around them in the hope of improving the lot of the poor. Vikram then understands his father had not died but was also assassinated as a result of his undercover work.

A further shock awaits Vikram and Sita as they discover the only way to escape the country is in disguise, and their mother will marry Lawrence following the plans set out by their father before his death. Once they were disguised in latex masks, they were able to fly to the UK. During the flight, Vikram had a quick whispered conversation with Lawrence about the circumstances which lead to the deaths of his father and uncle. As a result, he was distressed, he felt powerless and angry about these bullying tactics, he understood his parent’s sentiments. He made a personal decision to oppose bullying, on a personal level as well as in a broader sense.

Once in the UK, Vikram’s new stepfather decided the children should go and stay in the Forest of Dean with Granny Licity and her little black dog Ozy. The children met Becky and Jojo, the girls next door. The dog, who in reality was a magician from a parallel universe, recognised them as the Quartet of Innocence.

Ozy invited them for a walk in the Forest but when a giant red and white squirrel dropped onto the path ahead of them then dashed away Vikram, and the girls rushed after the dog, assuming they need to save the squirrel. 

As they ran up a ridge, they saw Ozy leap, assuming he was about to catch the squirrel Vikram yelled hoping to save the squirrel’s life. Instead, they all tumbled down landing in a ditch full of soggy leaves, Shocked, Jojo thrashed about while Sita cried at the mess of her pretty pink jacket and Vikram was astounded when a deep voice told him to help his sister and stop Jojo making such a racket. Glancing around Vikram saw no-one, just Ozy looking at them. Then it dawned on him Ozy had spoken!

Once over their astonishment, the children learned they had moved into a parallel world, they were in the country of Quandah where King Galath II was the ruler and needed their help. Ozy told them he had once been a magician called Ozymandius and lived near where they entered. He told them about his friends, a theatrical stallion Zimri, a level headed, practical owl Philomena and a shy, black and gold dragon, Lamghi.

Ozy told them how he changed the King into a spider to save him from a slow poison administered by the sorceress Enneth. She, in retaliation, turned Ozymandius into a little black dog before he had time to call up his protective shield.  

The King and his court were at Rock Castle, the old summer palace now extended to house all the new activities and people gathering to fight under his banner against Enneth who usurped the kingdom calling herself Queen Manon.

After his recent experiences, Vikram heard the problems besetting King Galath and the people of Quandah. Without a moment’s hesitation, he offered his help. Abit awkwardly by grabbing a sword and intending to cut the candle in front of him. Instead, he just missed the ear of the guard next to him. The King graciously accepted the proffered help but suggested some training. Vikram was delighted to become a member of the Warrior School. He showed natural swordsmanship but still needed to learn control. He learnt about fighting as well as how to cope with a group of Goblins led by Hewel and his father, who objected to outsiders disrupting the traditional way of succession within the Warrior Class. 

The pacifist Sita, with a precocious knowledge of botany, went to train as a healer under Noma in the Healers Quarters, where fairies and humans worked closely together. She proved to be very gifted and a considerable asset to the kingdom, especially as she could use plants and herbs from both worlds to build up stocks in preparation for the impending conflict.

Jojo found her natural ebullience, and untamed aggression could be channeled and put to use as a Ninja fighter. She, along with the other Ninja students, was teamed with baby salamander dragons who become their alter egos. The students loved accompanying their teacher, a little red man Vloc, a Salamander, to his home deep within a volcano.

Becky watched the others go and felt as she often did at home, unwanted and of no consequence. She was surprised when the King suggested she train as a Shelwin Scout where her innate abilities of observation could be exploited. At the end of her training, a small band of scouts went out on an exercise and captured Zintzi, a Zook.

Zooks were a stocky, sable skinned people renowned as fighters but shunned by the other inhabitants of Quandah. Everyone was surprised when at the end of the Twenty Year War they chose Enneth as their immortal. They went into voluntary exile with her and Rolgoth and submitted to being interred into Castle Tuff. After years of patient exploration, they found a way out of the castle through the mountain via the old dwarf mine workings.

Enneth posing as Queen Manon enticed King Galath into an offer of marriage, then decided a funeral was a cheaper way of gaining power and getting her own back. It was his father who as the leader of the Nine Nation Alliance had banished her.

Meanwhile, Zintzi revealed the Zook’s secret weapon. When they came of age the males were chosen by an ancestor to become a host. The ancestor’s face appeared on the warrior’s chest, this tactic was used to great effect when at the height of battle they open windows in their armour. The enemy was suddenly confronted by twice the number of warriors, this usually shocked them into giving up fighting.

All the children experienced adventures both in Quandah and in the Forest as part of their training. Their testing went awry, Becky captured and tied up the two examiners who were fighting with Vikram and Jojo. Sita was called upon to heal her brother, which she did expertly. All the courtiers felt the children had performed well. Vikram was knighted and designated a prince. As such, he accepted a sword from the King. The girls were declared princesses and given silver pendants showing their fields of expertise, Sita an open hand, Becky an oak tree and Jojo a tiny silver throwing star.

The preparations for the battle intrigued Sita as she watched all sorts of strange combatants take their place in the fighting ranks. Like giant snails with double shells that inflicted nasty injuries by popping their outer shell releasing shell shrapnel. To speed their movement, they were towed into place on trolleys. While a battalion of giant Grasshoppers was dispersed amongst the infantry. They grew long knife-like structures on their legs. Capable of inflicting unpleasant injuries on the enemy, their weakness is an inability to move sideways. However, the Ninjas leaping in many directions backed up the initial Grasshopper assault make a formidable force.

On the day of the battle, Vikram delivered a challenge to Enneth who appeared in her usual 9-foot guise dressed from head to foot in black armour. Courageously Vikram and his little horse Braveheart threw down the gauntlet as the opening gambit in the battle. Later, in front of the King, watching the proceedings perched on his Great White Elephant Pachy, he battled single-handed with Enneth. At last, he had her on the ground but was unable to bring himself to kill her. Instead, he cut her from the base of the neck down across her heart. He had vanquished her and claimed the kingdom for the King. Beaten she shape-shifted into a giant crow and flew into the distance dripping blood. At that instance, the King was restored to his human form.  

The Zooks were shocked by their leader and Immortal deserting them. Consequently, they collectively surrender. Meanwhile, the Scouts managed to get into the Castle through a small back postern gate and took control but were unable to account for a sudden deafening noise as the crow flew into the distance.

Vikram accompanied the King on an inspection of the Castle and discovered a tiny mouse was the cause of the noise. He was wearing a gold coronet and the King immediately realised it was his son Prince Idwal, who had been captured by Enneth. This was her final cruel twist, father restored to human form while son changed into a mouse.