Excerpt of Seeker by William Nicholson
(Page 1 of 2)
Printer Friendly Excerpt
Seeker woke earlier than usual, long before dawn, and lay in the
darkness thinking about the day ahead. It was high summer, with less
than a week to go before the longest day of the year. In school it was
the day of the monthly test.
And it was his sixteenth birthday.
Unable to sleep, he rose and dressed quietly so as not to wake his
parents, and went out into the silent street. By the light of the
stars, he made his way to the steps that zigzagged up the steep
hillside, and began to climb. As he did so he watched the eastern sky,
and saw there the first pale silver gleams on the horizon that heralded
the coming dawn.
He had decided to watch the sun rise.
At the top of the steps the path flattened out and led into the
stone-flagged Nom square. To his right rose the great dark mass of
the Nom, the castle-monastery that dominated the island; to his left,
the avenue of old storm-blasted pine trees that led to the overlook.
He knew these trees well; they were his friends. He came to this place
often, to be alone and to look out over the boundless ocean to the very
farthest edges of the world.
There was a wooden railing at the far end of the avenue, to warn those
who walked here to go no further. Beyond the railing the land fell
away, at first at a steep slope, and then in a sheer vertical cliff.
Hundreds of feet below, past nesting falcons and the circling flight of
gulls, the waves broke against dark rocks. This was the most southerly
face of the island. From here there was nothing but sea and sky.
Seeker stood by the railing and watched the light trickle into the sky
and shivered. The band of gold now glowing on the horizon seemed to
promise change: a future in which everything would be different. With
this dawn he was sixteen years old, a child no longer. His real life,
the life for which he had been waiting so long, was about to begin.
The gold light was now turning red. All across the eastern sky the
stars were fading into the light, and the feathery bands of cloud were
rimmed with scarlet. Any moment now the sun itself would break the line
of the horizon.
How can a new day begin like this, he thought, and nothing change?
Then there it was, a blazing crimson ball bursting the band of sea and
sky, hurling beams of brilliance across the water. He looked away,
dazzled, and saw the red light on the trunks of the pine trees and on
the high stone walls of the Nom. His own hand too, held up before him,
was bathed in the rays of the rising sun, familiar but transformed.
Moving slowly, he raised both his arms above his head and pointed his
forefingers skyward, and touched them together. This was the Nomana
Those who wished to become Noble Warriors entered the Nom at the age of sixteen.
He heard a soft sound behind him. Turning, startled, he saw a figure
standing in the avenue. He flushed and lowered his arms. Then he gave a
respectful bow of his head, because the watcher was a Noma.
Youre up early.
A woman. Her voice sounded warm and friendly.
I wanted to see the dawn.
Seeker was embarrassed that she had seen him making the salute to which
he was not entitled; but she did not reprimand him. He bowed again, and
headed down the avenue, now flooded by the brilliant light of the
rising sun. As he passed the Noma, she said, Its not necessary to be
He stopped and turned back to look at her. Like all the Nomana, she
wore a badan over her head, which shadowed her face. But he sensed that
she was half smiling as she met his gaze.
Copyright © 2005 William Nicholson
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and
retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.