It was a calm summer evening when Tom quietly slipped out of his bedroom window and headed towards the lake. He could see surprisingly well in the silver moonlight of the full moon. He soon reached the enchanted woods and proceeded on a path to the lake that he had taken a few times before, but always in daylight. The forest seemed alive with sounds and he took note of crickets, frogs, and owls. A few times he heard some unfamiliar birdcalls and even a low growl but, even in the moonlight, he could not see far enough into the forest to identify the sources of the sounds. After hearing a growl from the blackness of the woods nearby, fear gripped him, so he quickened his pace and arrived at a grass field adjacent to the lake.
He climbed onto a boulder next to the shore and looked across the expanse of calm water. The surface of the lake was like a mirror reflecting the moon, stars, and distant mountains. The water was deep and clear. Tom could see the cobblestone bottom drop away into blackness close to the boulder. He began to think that this was a rather pleas-ant place when he heard the howl of a wolf somewhere in the enchanted forest. This shattered his pleasant thoughts and he remembered Willet’s words to look at his reflection in the lake.
He gazed at his image in the lake for several minutes, but saw nothing unusual. He decided to return home when he noticed a small ripple on the glass-like surface of the lake that distorted his image. The ripple multiplied and then the surface of the lake began to swirl, forming a whirlpool. From the center of the vortex a voice called to him saying, “Take a leap of faith if you want to know the truth.”
Tom was petrified as he remembered his dream in which he drowned while trying to swim in this very lake. As he wavered, uncertain as to what to do, he heard more wolves howling and turned to see a pack emerge from the woods a short distance from the path. Their yellow eyes gleamed from their large shadow-like outlines. They crept slowly towards him, growling as they approached.
Tom briefly considered trying to run but decided his best chance was to jump into the lake and swim along the edge to a safer place near the shore. He turned and jumped from the boulder into the lake. He felt a cold shock as he entered the icy water at the edge of the whirlpool. The water was much colder than anything he had ever felt before. He struggled to swim along the edge of the whirlpool but the vortex was pull-ing him away from shore. His arms and legs became heavy and he no longer felt the cold. Numbness overcame his ability to swim and he became sleepy. He soon lost conscious-ness and sank into the vortex.
“Wake up! We must hurry!”
Tom opened his eyes to find himself staring into the hand-some face of a young lad with pointed ears! As he struggled to assess the situation, he noted that the moon was full and that he was on the shore of the lake near the place he had jumped in. However, he was completely dry and when he looked beyond the young lad he saw six large wolf-like creatures approaching on their hind legs. They had long claws on their forelegs, huge fangs, and yellow, piercing eyes.
“Werewolves! No time to lose!”
Quickly the lad drew a bow slung across his back and fired an arrow that pierced the eye of the nearest werewolf. With a screaming howl it dropped dead, while the others rushed forward with a collective snarl. Immediately, two more arrows found their mark and two more were slain with arrows in the heart and throat. As more arrows whistled overhead from somewhere in the night, the remaining creatures turned and dashed for the cover of the forest.
“This way! We must hurry!” yelled the stranger. “They will regroup and return in greater numbers! Follow me!”
Instinctively, Tom began to follow the strange lad up a narrow, rocky path between the enchanted forest and the lake. He noted with dismay that this direction was taking him away from his village and towards the mountains. He strained to keep up with the lad but he ran faster than any-one he had ever seen. The distance between them grew until he found himself chasing a silhouette in the moonlight. Snarling and growling sounds behind him told him that the werewolves were in pursuit and were gaining on him. As he rounded a turn in the trail, he had to jump to one side to avoid running into the strange lad, who had stopped in the middle of the trail.
“Quickly, hop onto my back! We must go faster!” he said. “They are approaching!”
Before Tom could say anything, the lad picked him up onto his back and they were moving faster than any human could run. He looked over the lad’s shoulder and saw trees flying by on either side of the path. The wind in his face made him squint and he thought that this must be what it feels like for those who race horses at the festivals.
Soon Tom could hear rushing water and then saw a boulder-filled stream cascading into the enchanted lake. The lad did not slacken his pace once they reached the stream. They bounded from boulder to boulder like a frog leaping across a pond on lily pads until they reached the far shore.
Upon reaching the opposite side of the stream, Tom got off the lad’s back and they turned to see numerous dark shapes crossing the stream on the boulders. The stranger drew his bow and fired an arrow, which joined a swarm of other arrows coming from the woods behind them. As the arrows reached their targets, Tom saw several shapes fall into the stream. A second round of arrows sent the remaining creatures retreating back into the woods on the far stream bank.
“Follow me!” the stranger ordered. “No time to explain! The night grows late and we don’t have much time!”
They continued to run along a narrow path through the woods but this time Tom followed the lad. The lad did not run as quickly and seemed to adjust his pace to as fast as Tom could run. While they were running, Tom heard singing from afar that stopped suddenly and was replaced by many different voices singing all around them.
Tom asked, “What is that singing?”
The lad replied without turning or changing his pace, “The forest sentinels are signaling each other. They are saying that we are no longer being pursued.”
Tom marveled, “I see nobody and yet some of the singing seems close enough that it could come from right in front of me. That is unless they are ventriloquists.”
The lad replied, “Your hasty assumption blinds you to the truth.”
The lad sang a short melody and, when he finished, two forms dropped from the trees in front of and behind them and joined their running. They were clad head to knees in hooded cloaks that matched the colors of the surrounding forest. Their faces and legs were painted to match their cloaks, which explained their invisibility. As they ran, Tom decided that he must be dreaming. He pinched himself and tried to wake up but to no avail. Finally, he decided to accept this strange experience with the hope that it would eventually make sense, or end abruptly when he woke up.
The Past and Future King transports the reader to another world filled with compelling characters that move the imagination. More than a fantasy book, it is a story with ageless relevance to the great themes of life such as adventure, love, redemption, and fulfillment.
Warren M. Mueller has written a great fantasy in The Past and Future King that takes readers on an adventure of good versus evil, where mythical characters (of the sort readers have found in the worlds of Tolkien and Lewis) struggle for world domination. Readers will follow the adventures of Tom, the main character, as he journeys to discover his identity and purpose. He loves to read and becomes a friend of Willet the Scribe, who shares his trunk full of books of history and legends and warns Tom that reading them will expand and transform his mind because the words within them will come alive. Tom shares with Willet about a recurring dream, and Willet tells him that the dream should not be ignored. Through this adventure, readers see how dreams bridge the worlds of fantasy and reality.
“Author Warren Mueller takes us into these unknown realms, and readers are able to vividly see all that is happening. I believe the strength of this book is the wonderfully written descriptions, which allow the reader to experience the adventures and the tension that the story brings with it” (Joyce M. Gilmour).
About the Author
Warren manages a group of environmental scientists and engineers for a Midwestern utility company. He has two master’s of science degrees from the University of Wisconsin. He has authored or coauthored numerous papers and presentations in environmental studies. In the past thirteen years, the creative side of his brain has started to compete with his analytical half. He has written eight Christian fiction and nonfiction books as well as over twenty articles for the New York Times Christianity About.com and Christian Pulse websites. Warren lives in the St. Louis area.
The Past and Future King is his fourth published book and the first book of his Dawn Herald series. His other published books include Truth Seeker: Mormon Scriptures & the Bible, Truth Seeker: Bible Topics, and Truth Seeker: Objections to Christianity.