Summary: Meet the kids: Sarah, the hyperactive Princess; Milo, her somewhat calmer brother; their adoptive cousins Marcus and Silas, the brothers always at each others necks, and Nora, the quieter, more responsible sister: the children of the first generation. Their lives are filled with food, fun, and annoying their parents with their continuous antics. But the3n Koran, son of Merrin, becomes Septimus' apprentice....will he pass the Test and be accepted into the pack? Will Sarah ever beat his croquet record? Most suspenseful....will Koran defeat the Bogle Bugs on steroids and not lose a limb? With the Royal Rambles, it's half adventure and half suspense, with plenty of laughs in between.



Chapter One

All was deathly silent. Suddenly two pairs of eyes blinked open: one was violet, one green. A light was turned on and the owners of the eyes were revealed.

The one with violet eyes had very dark brown, almost black hair, and wore a small gold necklace with a ruby set into it. She wore a red tunic with a gold belt. The one next to her, with green eyes, had black hair and a lopsided smile. He wore a light blue tunic, with a gold belt like his sister. Her hair was long and draped to her shoulders, and his came down to his neck, his bangs going everywhere.

The girl whispered, "Come on, Mi, it's just down here." She jumped down from a ledge and landed. Her brother, Milo, followed.

"Sarah, I can sense something," he whispered. He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate. "Heartbeats—they're all around us."

The girl, who had been named after her adoptive grandmother Sarah, rolled her eyes and called out, "Silas, Nora, Marcus, we know you're down here!"

Three kids, two with green eyes and one with blue crept out from behind things. The girl, who had her mother's near-white hair and blue eyes, was wearing a simple ivory-colored tunic, with a darker belt. Her brother Silas had light tawny hair and the green eyes of someone who's been exposed to Magyk, along with the same tunic as Milo. Marcus looked pretty much the same, but his hair was a little bit darker and was straighter than Silas'.

The three 14-year-olds and two 13-year-olds were cousins. They called themselves 'The Royal Rambles', and stuck to it; they loved to run and were extraordinarily fast.

"Can we come with you?" asked Marcus.

"Sure." Sarah shrugged.

"We were heading for that big new Entertainment area," said Milo excitedly. "Do you know they have these awesome new games out that only play at midnight to 2:00 in the morning?"

"No" Silas said in awe. "Let's go!" Nora was the quiet, more responsible one, but she, too, could barely hold back her excitement and rushed after them.

"Hold it right there."

The kids had turned off the light and were just about to sneak out when a tall figure with bright green eyes stood in front of them. "Crap" muttered Marcus.

Their Uncle and ExtraOrdinary Wizard Septimus Heap stood in front of them as he turned on the light and showed his purple tunic and gold/platinum belt. His eyebrows were raised and he said sternly, "This is what? The third time you've tried to go out, hasn't it?" "Yeah, yeah" Sarah grumbled.

He looked at all his nephews and nieces; he didn't have any children and didn't wish to. He had no apprentice either, but that was no surprise. Everyone knew that whoever became the ExtraOrdinary Apprentice would have to go through the Test.

The Test was basically something that the Royal Rambles had made up for whoever would be the next apprentice. It involved, um, let's just say it involved various foodstuffs, a cinderblock, and a whole bunch of Bogle Bugs on steroids. Nobody wanted to go through it, so everyone was surprised when Septimus said proudly, "I've found the next ExtraOrdinary Wizard."

I guess "surprised" was an understatement. Silas fainted, Marcus' jaw dropped, Nora started twisting her face into all sorts of facial expressions, Milo blinked and yelled, "WHAT??!!" and Sarah screamed, "PREPARE THE PEANUT BUTTER!!" Septimus sighed. "I know I can't stop you from doing the Test, but please refrain from dropping a brick on anybody's head to 'Test their wimpiness.' I think you'll be surprised about who I've chosen."

"Ooh, is it anybody related to us?" asked Marcus, who was trying to wake up Silas by talking into his ear. Their uncle grinned.

"No."

"O-kay, who is it?" asked Sarah. "Well, you might recognize him. His name's Koran" said Septimus. He looked embarrassed. "I, er, knew his father. Kind of."

"Oh no, is this another one of those situations where his father's your worst enemy?" questioned Nora. Septimus slapped himself in the forehead. "You kids are amazingly perceptive" he sighed. "Well come on, look who we have in the family" snorted Milo. "Mum" he added to the puzzled look on Septimus' face. "She could always find out hidden stuff. So what does he look like?" "He's got pale skin, black hair, and green eyes, of course."

"Two questions: When's the Apprentice Supper, and do we have to go?" asked Sarah.

"One, it's tomorrow evening, and two, yes, you do. Come on, he's not bad" Septimus said coaxingly to the groaning kids. "He's about 13, so around your age, Sarah and Milo, and he's kind of quiet. He hates being judged by who his father is—was—so don't tease him about it. You'll grow to like him. Now get back to bed, you five, and don't get up again!" he said sternly.

The kids scrambled upstairs and jumped into their rooms. As soon as they turned out their lights, they all grabbed small devices that enabled them to speak to each other.

"Flower to River, do you read me?" was Sarah's first call to Nora. "I read you, Flower."

All five had code names based on their eyes. Sarah had violet eyes; she was Flower. Nora had pale blue eyes; she was River. The green-eyed boys had chosen green things: Silas was Forest, Milo was Dragon, and Marcus was Hedge (Nora and Marcus got a few laughs out of that one).

"Pass it on that we're gonna try going out from the windows. Bring your SAKs." "SAKs?" "Swiss Army Knives, duh."

The message was passed from Nora to Milo to Marcus to Silas, and they all grabbed their knives and clambered out the window. Nora knew a little Magyk, and so did Sarah, so once they had jumped down they all used some form of an Unseen, Unheard Spell. They crept through the many streets and then Silas accidentally ran into a garbage can. "YOW!" he yelped and quickly ran off, hoping nobody would notice the rattling garbage can.

They had almost gotten to the Boatyard, where they had to take a boat to the Entertainment Center, before they saw somebody taking a walk.

"Funny time for a walk" muttered Milo. "I wouldn't fancy walking alone out here for no reason."

"Why not, you do it whenever you're not working," whispered Sarah.

Marcus tripped over a pebble. He growled at it and kicked it in anger. Nora slapped her forehead and spat, "Great. Now whoever that is will be wondering how the heck a pebble just went flying down the Way."

The person turned to look at them. It was only past a first inspection that Sarah realized that he was the Apprentice.

He was thin as a stick; he obviously needed a good meal. His dark green eyes were narrowed, his black eyebrows creased. His hair was not long; it only reached to his very upper back.

The Apprentice's voice was rough and coarse, as they found out when he detected their presence. "Who's there?"

Sarah removed her own Spell and acted like she was throwing off a cloak with a flourish. "Only the best wood dealers this side of junk meals! With a chop-chop and a slice-slice, we'll prepare your best cheese like, um, rice!" His eyebrows rose. Following her lead, the others took off their Spells too.

"Who are you?" he asked warily, "and what are you doing at this time of night?"

"Going to the Entertainment center, duh. But I'm guessing that you're not just out for a little late-night walk. What are you doing?" Marcus shot back.

"I'm looking for the Wizard Tower. I need somewhere to spend the rest of the night and all the hotels are rubbish," Koran growled.

"Doofus, it's up there" Milo snorted and pointed somewhere behind him. When he looked around and couldn't see the golden Pyramid, he thought for a minute and waved his had in the general direction.

Koran snorted. "Sure, it's definitely somewhere in that deep, murky fog. How am I supposed to tell?"

"Fine, fine, we'll take you back," grumbled Sarah. Silas waved a threatening finger at him. "But we're sticking out our necks, here. Once we take you there, you have to go right in. We can't. If Uncle Sep found out we were up again, he'd ground us for a decade."

Koran's eyes widened. "You're the…the Royal Rambles??!! Good grief." "Well, duh, what'd you expect?" scoffed Sarah. He looked at them. "I can only see your eyes," he said uncertainly. "Who is who?" "I'm Marcus," said one of the three boys with green eyes. "I'm Silas." "I'm Milo." "I'm Nora," said the blue-eyed girl. "And I'm Sarah, better known as the Princess or Her Majesty and all that junk" Sarah finished, her violet eyes glittering.

Koran slapped his forehead. "So, tell me, did your mother drop you when you were little, or did you do that yourself?"

"I'll ignore that."

The six put their Spells back on and darted back through the mazes of streets. They stopped at the Palace after Silas ran into another trash can. "Git" snorted Marcus. Silas put him in a half-nelson. "YOW!"

"Shut up!" hissed Nora.

"All right, the Wizard Tower should be right thataway." Sarah pointed north, along a wide road. "We don't have time to go to the Entertainment center now"—she pointedly glared at Koran—"so we're going to try and sleep 'till dawn. It is the weekend tomorrow, and we have to have our traditional weekend wake-up call."

"Okay, I guess. Thanks" said Koran as he stared off at the road.

"See you in my nightmares. Oh, and tomorrow" said Milo.

Koran stopped, and turned slowly. "W-what?"

"S-e-e y-o-u i-n m-y n-i-g-h-t-m-a-r-e-s. How hard is that to understand?" scoffed Marcus.

"No, the…other thing. 'See you tomorrow?'" Koran looked questionably at Milo.

Sarah remembered first. "Oh yeah, tomorrow we have to go to the Apprentice Supper. Mum, Dad, Uncle Sep, of course…." "Our Mum and Dad too" said Silas. "Oh, and a whole bunch'a ghosts. And a few more high-and-mighties."

Koran groaned. Nora thought for a moment. "Huh. That was the same thing we did when we learned we had to go." She glanced at Sarah. "Shall we organize something?"

Sarah smirked.

"Yes, yes we shall…"