Action and adventure on the high seas with a young wizard and his mentor.
When the army of the new emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Di had invaded neighboring Annam, Chen, a thirteen year old boy was saved by a mysterious old man as the invading Chinese destroyed his village and killed his family. The old man turned out to be, Master Waan, a Ship’s Wizard in the service of the great Chinese admiral Zheng He. Master Waan was on his way to meet the admiral’s fleet that was to set sail upon his arrival. Though Chen thought the old man odd, he knew that his only chance for survival was to accompany Master Waan to China.
As the wizard’s apprentice, Chen sailed with the fleet, a gigantic armada made up of great Chinese Treasure Ships in search of what Chen believed to be magical place referred to only as Wanderland. He soon learned that it was no coincidence Master Waan had appeared at the village just in time to save his life. It was Chen’s destiny to find, Wanderland.
Chen ran! He ran for his life. As fast as his short young legs would carry him, the boy ran through his burning village. For now, all that he could hope for was a way to escape the evil soldiers who chased him. Chen was sure that his family perished in the attack. For all the boy knew, the entire village was dead or captured. “Run—” he had heard his father yell. A soldier’s ax quickly silenced the warning before its deadly blade was turned on his mother.
Chen glanced over his shoulder once more before diving off the path and into the brush. It would remain the last picture in his mind. The black smoke that filled the bright afternoon sky, the screams of the villagers, his family, his friends and what had happened to his parents. All that had once been his home and life was no more. There was no time to cry.
“There!” shouted one of the soldiers who were chasing Chen, pointing at the thick brush along the path. “The rodent hides in the thicket.”
The ground smelled of damp and dirt. As he lay hidden beneath the thick growth, Chen could feel the heavy footfalls of the soldiers as they approached. The boy prayed for the wisdom of Tao to guide him. As the footsteps grew closer, the earth below him thundered as if it were a beating drum.
“Run!” he heard another voice cry. The soldiers’ footsteps suddenly fell silent.
Chen peeked over the thick brush that stood between him and capture.
“Run!” the voice came again. The voice was rough and gravely, but it was there. Chen was sure that he had heard it.
Chen saw that the soldiers were as confused as he was. The two large men stood, only a short distance away, at the center of the path, looking for whoever (or whatever) belonged to the mysterious voice.
Who calls out to my rescue? Thought the boy. The soldiers were looking directly in his direction. If it hadn’t been for the dense brush, he would have surely been seen. If they would only look away, thought Chen as he spied the soldiers through the thicket. Then as if by magic, both of the soldiers turned to look behind them.
“Now!” This time the mysterious voice screamed out loudly. “Directly behind you, Rabbit. Run!”
Without another thought, Chen sprang from the ground, turned and ran headlong into the trees behind him.
“Look,” cried one of the soldiers as he turned to see Chen dash through the jungle, “the rodent runs for his life.”
Chen did not look back. He heard the soldier and knew that the hunt had resumed. On and on he ran. The low hanging tree branches slapped across Chen’s face like a whip, and tangled his long black hair. The soldiers were gaining; there was no time for the pain. He had to keep running. Closer and closer came the soldiers. They yelled insults and torments as they gained on the boy.
“We will not kill you, rodent,” they would yell. “You know what fate awaits you!”