Hey, everyone! This story that I will bring to you today is from Reading & Writing class. We had to write a short story with a theme demonstrating one of the six pillars of character. So, of course, I had to do one too. Now, while everyone else did 2-3 pages, guess how many I did? That’s right, now sit back, relax, and enjoy my 19 page story! XD

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Magic Binds

I darted through the trees. My goal was to reach the center of the forest alive, which, unfortunately, no one had done yet. I was part of the teenage army, and it was my group who had to perform the terrifying task that night.

It all started a month ago. Before that, I had been a happy 10-year-old girl on Coton Street, going to school and playing with my friends.

But then the Warlords took over.

They invaded, firing at the windows of houses, dropping bombs in weaponry stores and factories, flooding the streets. They didn’t stop their relentless attacking until their victims surrendered to them. As soon as they took control, they formed two armies: teenage and regular. The teens were taken at ages 10-18. At 18, they were ejected into the actual army, to serve in the main fighting for 21 years.

A few days after, the Warlords had devised a training exercise for the teenage army: every Friday night, one of the several groups of teens had to venture into the dangerous, artificial forest, and make it to the safe haven in the center. If you didn’t, well, too bad. I was part of the fifth group, E, which was, of course, doomed to fail. How could we not, when 60 older and smarter kids had gone in before us, and never came out?

I snapped out of my memories as a scream of pain sent the birds flying in Forest Sector C (the forest was divided into 3 sections). I recognized the agonized yell of Delrany, calling for help, even though she knew that no one would risk breaking the rules to go.

I swung my head around. I couldn’t ignore my best friend, and I couldn’t continue knowing that Delrany would be torn apart by something nasty. Rules or no rules, I was going to help Delrany.

I ran in the direction of the shout, which turned out to be in Sector A itself. I blundered into Mitch’s path on the way. He pushed me to the ground. “Where are you going?” he hissed. “If you’re going to help that pathetic girl, you’ll die with her! Do you want them to punish us if you survive?”

“Friends stick together,” I told him, wrenching my arm out of his grasp.

He lunged at me, but I leaped up and darted to the side. I ran off, leaving him seething behind me.

I found the pit almost the same way Delrany did: by falling in it. A crowd of wolverines were sitting patiently at the edge, waiting for her to tire. They jumped as I slid down the slope.

I hacked and slashed with my knife in a blind rage until the crowd dissipated rapidly. No one attacks my friend like that!

Finally, I was able to help Delrany out of the pit.

Her replies ranged from “Thanks, Misveri! I owe you one!” to warnings of “You’ll be in big trouble, you broke the rules!”

“Are you hurt?” I asked her concernedly, helping her stand up.

“Not badly, that shout was more of surprise when I fell. Anyhow, you’ll be in trouble, you weren’t supposed to come.”

“Friends help each other. Now let’s go.”

We started walking together, each making sure the other wasn’t getting hurt in the various traps. Strangely, though, we didn’t encounter any more traps, although we did get lost.

“Where are we?” Delrany asked hesitantly.

“I’m not sure,” I answered, just as reluctant. “But let’s stick to this path. Maybe it will lead us somewhere.”

We continued, walking for what seemed like hours on end. I wondered briefly what the other groups might be thinking as they waited for us, when at last we arrived in a small clearing with an old, run-down cottage in the center. The sunlight dappled the forest floor, making it look like little leaves made of sunlight were falling from the trees. We ran, excited, up to the door, where a sign hung saying “Please knock, the doorbell doesn’t work”.

It didn’t look like the safe haven, but we knocked anyway. “One minute, please,” A soft, strange, muffled, creaky-hinge voice called from behind the door. There was a scratching sound at the base of the door, and Delrany and I exchanged uneasy glances.

An elderly woman opened the door, and instantly, I realized where we were. The woman took one look at our army clothes and said, “Oh, my. Are you some of those young army folk that come wandering about here?”

“Others have come?” I asked eagerly. “Where are they?”

“They all insisted on going back; don’t know what happened to them after that.”

I quickly whispered, alarmed, to Delrany, “This is the forest grave cottage!”

The reason I knew this was because I used to come to the forest to play here when I was younger. I remembered a graveyard close to here, and running away only to bump into the woman standing before us. Unfortunately, I did not remember the way back. Somehow, we had wandered from teen army forest to the regular forest.

Delrany intervened with a kind tone before I had the chance to say anything else. “I’m sorry, but we too have to go back. If the Warlords find out that we are missing, they will find us and punish us. Can you point us to the way back to the city?”

She agreed to accompany us to the city gates. She and her cat, Stoob-ni-ssup (I realized that Stoob-ni-ssup is Puss-in-boots backwards) guided us through the entire way. I made a mental note of the pathways as we went along. On the way, I saw a sign that said “Kuhtone Street” and was pointing forward. I snorted. The Warlords did that on purpose.

Suddenly, Delrany uttered a loud “oof” of surprise as she crashed headlong into an invisible wall. “What the–”

I felt carefully at the seemingly empty air in front of me and felt a solid wall. Beyond, two oddly dressed guards stood by the gates. They wore blue suits with golden tassels on the cuffs and sleeves. Golden buttons went down the front, and silver ribbons hung from their shoulders. One saw us, and with a yell, charged. We quickly turned and ran. Even the old woman was hobbling along a little faster.

We returned, out of breath, to the cottage. “It seems that in this short a time, your city was taken over,” she gasped, fear lighting her eyes. “The only way is to seek out the ancient necromancer living at the top of the Darke Mountain. He is the only one who can solve your problem. Here, take Stoob-ni-ssup for protection. By the way, he can talk. Oh, and one more thing: beware the blood riders; avoid them completely if you can.”

“Who are the blood riders?” Delrany asked, bewildered.

The woman just waved her hand at the path in front of us.

We thanked her and set off, Stoob-ni-ssup trailing behind us. He chattered nonstop, and was always running ahead. “Stoob-ni-ssup, please stay here. We don’t know what is there, and I’d rather you not get hurt,” Delrany called after him concernedly as he raced along the path.

“Just call me Stoob, please, the full name is kinda long!”

When we finally caught up with Stoob, he was waiting urgently in a clearing. He meowed one word before taking off again: cyclone.

I turned around, taking in the devastating scene that the sudden tornado was causing. Trees were torn up, whirling around and around in the air. The lone howl of a dying wolverine  ripped through the silence. I even thought I saw the roof of the cottage somewhere in the mess.

I choked back tears and followed Delrany and Stoob. Branches whipped our faces and leaves flew about, making it hard to see. Even Stoob had some trouble navigating through the sea of leaves. “Faster!” I urged them anxiously as the twister drew ever closer.

All of a sudden, I yelped as I tripped and fell feet first into a large hole. “Good idea,” Delrany said, jumping in after me. Stoob followed closely, not wanting to lose his new friends in the chaos.

I quickly found a smaller hole in the side of the hole (ironic, isn’t it) that was big enough for all three of us to fit inside. It was not a moment too soon, as the wind whirled in the air above us at a dangerously fast speed.

When the tornado had passed, we climbed out warily. “That was no ordinary tornado,” Stoob declared obviously. “It seems that the necromancer does not want to be found.”

His ominous words hung in the thick air as we trudged through the ruined forest. At night, we camped out in a large, thick-branched tree. Stoob volunteered to keep watch, while Delrany and I slept on.

In the morning, we continued, after a breakfast of slightly burnt rabbit that Delrany and I caught. The sun beat down on us as we walked through the now-barren landscape. I was so hot that I thought that the giant building in front of us was a mirage. But no, there was an empty observatory in a sheltered clearing. It had huge, shattered glass windows, a giant telescope sticking out of the dome-shaped roof, and crumbling stone walls with overgrown weeds, like on Rapunzel’s tower. There were odd, glowing, bulb-shaped plants growing randomly around the walkway, and some had bloomed into star-shaped flowers. It looked as if the stars fell from the sky and onto a plant stem. “They say that the stars fell from the sky. To hide, they buried themselves in dirt. There, a stargram plant bloomed,” Stoob told us, pointing one paw at the flowers.

“We’ll sleep in here, then travel through the empty plains by early morning,” I decided, carefully aware of the danger that could befall us without shelter. “Then, we can get to the end by nightfall.”

We walked inside to a bright light. We were in a room with plush carpeting, a desk with a red tablecloth, red velvet sofas, and a table. There was a door at the far end of the room. A dumpy little ferret rushed out. “Visitors!” he cried, surprised.

He shook himself. “Welcome, welcome! I am Albert, but you can call me Albert! What reason causes you to enter my riddling sanctuary?”

“My name is Misveri. This is my friend Delrany, and the inquisitive cat over there, sniffing the flowers that he shouldn’t go near is Stoob. We just want a place to sleep. We’ll be gone by morning.”

“Ah, no, that won’t do. That won’t do at all!” he shook his head, looking a little sympathetic. “Not unless you can answer my series of riddles!”

“Okay,” Delrany replied with great trepidation.

“Here are the rules,” Albert started to bounce with excitement. “Go through that door. You have to complete all of my riddles to open the door at the end of the hallway. That will be your room. You can sleep there, and leave in the morning.”

We nodded and walked to the door. “Oh, and one more thing,” Albert called to them. “You have a time limit of 30 minutes. Good luck!”

We opened the door to see a white hallway stretching far before us, with a door at the end. We ran, side by side (Stoob of course bounding ahead), but after two minutes, the door was still the same distance away. A riddle appeared on the floor in front of us:

Decofe this mevvage and shay it aloup:

The message turned to dust and rewrote itself with proper spelling, while Delrany, Stoob and I collapsed into a fit of giggles.

Decode this message and say it aloud:

T

O

G

O

O

G

T

S

R

I

F

T

S

U

M

U

O

Y

“Huh?” Delrany scratched her head. “Togo ogt srift sum uoy?”

“I think it’s backwards,” I explained, pulling out a pen from my army belt and began writing on my hand. “You must first go ogot,” I read when I was finished.

“That makes sense, except for ‘ogot,’” Stoob pointed out.

“Togo was what it was before we switched it. Could that mean anything?” Delrany wondered aloud.

“Togo is an African country,” I offered helpfully. “Although that’s probably not it.”

“Togo,” Stoob muttered and paced back and forth. “What does Togo mean?”

“I’ve got it!” Delrany cried suddenly. “If you split Togo in half, what do you get?”

“To go!” we yelled happily in unison, high-fiving each other.

“Now, we have to work on the next part. To go you must first go?”

We pondered the thought for the moment. I glanced at the carving in the floor. To go is going down and the others are going up, I thought. To go you must first go down up. Nah, let’s mix that up a bit. I tried all of the possible combinations until one fit. “To go down, you must first go up!”

The carving vanished like sand blown away by the wind. In a couple of leaping bounds, we found ourselves at the door. Delrany wrenched it open, but the object that greeted them in the red velvet room was not what they had expected.

On the floor in the middle of the room was a golden scale (tinted red, of course). On one side, blocks with the numbers 0-9 written on them were neatly stacked in a pile. On the other side, three pluses, three equal signs, and a multiplication sign. A piece of paper was taped to the scale, bearing instructions:

‘Use these math symbols to balance the scale. Arrange all of the numbers and symbols in such a way that three equations on one side should each equal one number on the second side. You can only use each number or symbol once. You are allowed two hints. Press the button to view each one.’

Delrany pushed the red button right below the message. More writing appeared:

Each side of the scale is equal to 23.

“23, huh?” I murmured. If we use 4+5= on one side, we can put 9 on the other! One equation down, two to go.

Delrany pointed to the scale. “Let’s take everything out and show what we know.”

I took the symbols for her equation and laid them out on the scale. “We have 0, 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8 left. Let’s take some big numbers to the other side.”

“How about 8?” Delrany picked up the second largest number and dropped it next to 9.

“7+1=8!” I put the rest in.

“2×3=6, but we still have a 0 and a plus,” Stoob groaned. “Wait a minute!” he brightened up. “If we add 0 to something, nothing will change!”

“You’re right!” I set the last equation down with the zero added. Suddenly, we heard a loud grating noise, and a section of the wall slid open. We stood up and walked through the doorway, into a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, we opened the door to find ourselves in another red room.

This time, Albert came on over an invisible speaker to announce the directions to us. “There are three doors in front of you. One leads to a room with a hungry lion. The second leads to a group of poisonous snakes. The last door leads to a tank of carnivorous sharks. You must choose a door in this room and go through it. Only then will you go to your room. If you choose the wrong room, well, you know what would happen. Good luck!”

I immediately turned around and wrenched open the door we had just come through. “There are four doors in this room, which means this fourth one leads back. Better safe than sorry. We can sleep somewhere else tonight.”

However, when we exited the room, we found ourselves in the bedroom. “How is this possible?” Delrany wondered aloud.

“Albert didn’t say we had to pick from those three doors. It must be some kind of reverse magic,” Stoob meowed, yawning and circling in his little cat bed in the corner that Albert had generously provided us. “Ugh. Pink.”

Without another word, we threw off our belts and fell asleep on the bed.

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Sunlight streamed in through the open window, and I relished the best sleep I had gotten in weeks. Stoob was grooming his fur in the corner. Delrany was up too, rummaging through the mini-fridge. On the floor next to her were two bags, one already half-filled with cat food, filled water bottles, and edible fridge contents. Each contained a notepad and a couple spare sets of clothes from the closet, along with a coil of rope and an Insta-chat device (from the same brand as Insta-hole, Insta-shield, and more! Check out our website at http://www.Insta-stuff.com for more products!).

I quickly realized that the one with space inside was mine. I offered to take some cat food, water bottles, and food in my bag, which Delrany graciously accepted. I also packed some tape and a pack of Insta-clips (grow to strong, sturdy clips of any size and shape!). Our belts held several weapons, flashlights, writing utensils (don’t ask me why), and more.

Once we were all packed and ready to go, I opened the door to the room and found myself in the main room. “How–?”

Delrany followed me into the velvet room. “Probably another kind of that reverse magic,” she told me, shrugging. “Hey, Albert!” she called into the empty air. “Thank you for helping us, but we have to go on our way now!”

Albert rushed into the room, hurriedly attempting to put on a button-down jacket. “I’ll come with you,” he told us, waving a little black book around with one paw and fastening red buttons with the other. “Don’t want you running into the blood riders out there.”

“Can someone PLEASE tell me who these mysterious blood riders are?!” Delrany half-shouted as Albert searched for the door keys in his many voluminous pockets.

“Don’t ask me, I’m just the adventurous house cat,” Stoob replied, frowning (if cats could frown). “Wish I paid more attention to the news my owner told me during nappy time. But if wishes were fishes we’d all be fatter than hares.”

Delrany shot him a weird look, but I turned to Albert. He had finally found his key ring, and was in the process of unlocking the door. “I thought you’d stay here, seeing as you might get someone else travelling here,”  I said, bending over to pick up my bag.

“Can’t see how, seeing as the city due north is under siege and no one can get in or out,” Albert commented, opening the door.

I straightened up, startled, clutching the strap in my hand. “How do you know about that?”

“Pretty hard not to, everyone within a 50-mile radius saw the fire in the air the night the blood riders came. This is why I want to come with you; they would have heard by now that you two were missing, and that you have magical pow–” he stopped abruptly. “Forget I said that.”

I looked at him suspiciously, but he was making his way into the garden, watering his plants with a red liquid I had never seen before. “Is everything you own red?” I asked.

He nodded once, stepping back as the stargram plants burst into bloom with a shower of scarlet petals. “Legend is that stargram can only grow in bloody conditions, like peace after a war.”

“So you mean that liquid in the watering can is–” I shivered.

“No, no, of course not. I don’t have any blood, but it seems that red colors work just as well.”

Stoob padded up to us. “Let’s get going, stick to the plan!”

We started off, walking through the deserted plains. Unlike the day before, clouds covered the sky, blanketing the ground in a dull gray. By nightfall, the clouds had cleared away, and twinkling stars appeared, shedding the only light for miles around. The moon was not out, but our flashlight penetrated the suffocating darkness enough to see that we were at the base of the Darke mountain. Thunder rumbled and rain started pouring down.

Stoob went off to explore, while the rest of us set up a makeshift camp. Soon, Stoob came back with news of a beautiful cavern (actually, his exact words were “the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, and that’s saying a lot because a lot of she-cats used to pass up my way”) up ahead. We carried our stuff up to the cave, and saw that Stoob was not exaggerating. In fact, my first thought was that his example was an understatement.

Multicolored crystals lined the walls and the ceiling, arranged in some sort of star pattern. The most accurate drawing of a city I had ever seen was painted on the wall. A giant white pillar stood in the center of the room, holding the roof up. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was not a pillar, but a shining white crystal, the source of the cave light. The illuminating rays were bounced back and forth in different colors by the wall crystals, making it seem like a disco party. A bed sat in the corner, next to a nightstand with a handmade crystal lamp. A knife hung on the wall behind it. A half-painted white shirt lay on the bed, with different bottles next to it filled with berry juices.

In the center of the room stood a girl with long, chocolate-brown hair cascading down her back. She had on a plain white T-shirt and white tights, with a white and golden skirt. “Who are you?”

After we finished introductions and each told our stories, she explained hers. “My name is Sarah, and I came from the city to the south. I was traveling north but was caught in a storm and sheltered here. But now, every time I try to leave, this awful monster comes and attacks me. It’s been like this for two weeks now. Nothing went as planned!”

“When nothing goes right, go left,” Delrany quoted from The Big Book of Quotes for Bored Teens.

“This means that if we try to leave, the monster will come after us, too,” Albert concluded.

We all agreed to sleep on the problem, so Delrany, Albert and I slept on the floor, while Stoob jumped on the bed. None of our dreams were sweet.

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In the morning, we debated whether or not we should go outside. Finally, it was decided that since Delrany and I had our army knives (and were the only ones with weapons), we got the important role of going on a (suicide) mission to slay the monster.

We hesitantly stepped out of the dank cave and into the bright sunshine. At once, a giant winged thing descended down on us, slashing and fighting with all its might to force us back into the cave. We stabbed and waved our knives at it, but to no avail. In desperate frustration, the thing grabbed Delrany by the shoulders and lifted her up the mountain.

I took a running leap and landed on its back, weighing it down. It crashed to the ground and loosened its grip on Delrany, allowing her to wiggle free. It rose up into the air, screeching, and knocked our knives out of our hands with its talons. In a moment of sheer panic, I grabbed one leg, pulling it down, and Delrany clutched the other. It froze at my touch; the newly-made stone statue fell to the ground and shattered with an ear-splitting crash.

We stood for a few seconds, shocked at what we had done. “How did we do that?” Delrany whispered, awed.

“Albert did mention something about magical powers,” I told her, equally frightened by the destruction we had caused.

We went back inside, much to the relief of the others, and watched Albert and Sarah on their way back to the riddling sanctuary. Then, Delrany, Stoob, and I continued up the mountain. About an hour later, we met an old man with a large axe. He was rambling to himself, muttering about dolphins and computer databases, but he stood up as we walked by, half raising his axe. We decided to avoid him and his suspicious stares, continuing up the mountain. At last we arrived at the top of the bleak mountain, searching for the cave. Delrany found a hidden button and pressed it, opening a door with a grinding sound.

We stepped in.

Delrany and Stoob bounced back, Stoob with a wail of protest. They obviously felt another barrier, but I felt nothing. “I’ll find a way for you to come,” I told them, looking for something to turn off the forcefield.

“No,” Delrany said. “You go on, we’ll be waiting when you come back.” I noticed she didn’t say if, as though she were confident that I was powerful enough to return unscathed. “You’re the only one who can save our home now.”

Tentatively, I continued into the penetrating darkeness of the cave, probing, sightless, in front of me. Eventually, though, the light grew stronger, until I came to an eerily lit cavern. The necromancer, in shiny black boots, a long black cape, plain black pants, and a silver-fastened black shirt, was lounging on a silver-green throne of skulls. I shuddered, disgusted.

“Yes? Can I help you?” he asked in a slow, deep voice.

“Our city has been taken over by blood riders, and we need your help to save everyone inside.”

“So how can I help? Am I just a magic genie to you, who can grant wishes out of thin air? Can I whip up an army to help you or anything? Do I look like a magical servant?” he boomed.

I bit my lip, but I would not back down. “I’m sorry, sir, if I have offended you, but you are our only hope of saving our home. My friends and I risked our lives to come here and right now they are stuck back there because of some random force field, while I have to stand here listening to you whining about what you might seem like to me. And I’m not gonna leave until you give me a successful solution to the problem. SO ARE YOU GOING TO HELP US OR NOT?!”

He stood up, and all of a sudden everything looked scary and ominous. The feeling passed, however, when the necromancer sat down and started chuckling merrily. I raised an eyebrow, puzzled. “You have spirit, kid, and you’re just who I’ve been looking for. Not one person was ever brave enough to say that to my face. How would you like to be my apprentice?”

“What?”

“For some time, I’ve been the only magic person around, so I created the force field to repel anyone non-magic. This way anyone who came in was magic. I’ve been looking for someone to continue the line of magic for decades. So, do you want to be my apprentice?”

“Ehhh….”

“What is it?” he said, waving his hand. “Is it the decor? I promise you can redecorate if you want.”

“Here’s what. If you help us get rid of the blood riders, I’ll consider the offer, possibly accept.”

“All right. Take this.” He tossed me a thin gold chain with a seashell-shaped bottle charm on it. “It has a pinch of magic to aid you in defeating their leader. By the way, their forcefield works like mine, except it works only on those who have discovered and used magical powers. Of course, that means they’re magical, so be careful. Don’t forget to come back when you’re done!”

I thanked him and ran out to meet Delrany and Stoob. I told them everything, but I left out the apprentice part. We set off, and we camped at the base of the mountain. In the morning, we started through the forest, stopping to fill in Albert. We were in mid-forest before we ran into the blood riders.

They were wearing red capes, which was probably what earned them their name, and they were riding on white horses. “Take us to the city,” I said, squaring my shoulders confidently. “I want to speak with your leader.”

Again, Delrany and Stoob were left outside the barrier, but they went to the elderly woman’s house, which thankfully had not been torn down. The blood riders walked me through the streets to the City Center Building. People stopped and stared as we went by, some whispering to their neighbors.

The leader was standing on the steps, awaiting my arrival. I made sure I still had the bottle hanging around my neck before raising my hands. An instant tidal wave appeared behind my, ready to drown them if I let my hands drop. My opponent showed no signs of surrender, so I allowed it to swamp him while I stood my ground, safe and dry.

Out of nowhere, metal jaws snapped at me, and I summoned a tough stick to wedge between its teeth. Back and forth I fought with the blood rider, a battle of magic, until finally I won with a mini cloud of acid rain over his head. He ordered an immediate retreat of the blood riders, and they could be seen leaving from all over the city.

Delrany and Stoob ran to me, beaming with joy and relief. Behind them came the citizens of the town, streaming in and bearing all three of us on their shoulders. When the after-party was over, and the Warlords resolved to be less cruel, I decided to complete my promise to the necromancer. I was about to start my trek to the mountain when he appeared in front of the city folk.

I reared back, surprised. “Well?” he drawled, towering over me. “Have you considered my offer?”

I thought about it for a split second before replying. “Become more sociable and it’s a deal.”

A few days later, when everything was settled, I asked Delrany to accompany me for a walk. For a while, we had lived on Coton Street, where we used to be. I used the excuse that we were visiting Stoob (who decided to stay with the elderly woman) to bring her to the forest.

Pretty soon she realized that we were going the wrong way, but I told her to wait and see. Thankfully, she trusted me enough to continue following me. I brought her to another, newer cottage in the woods. “I’ve become the necromancer’s apprentice,” I told her. “This is our new home.”

She was speechless, and we both jumped as the necromancer spoke behind us. “Please, Misveri, stop calling me ‘the necromancer’. Just call me by my name: Simus. And I’m taking you to get your wilderness supplies for your very eventful future tomorrow in the early morn, so stay sharp. You’re in for a wild ride.”

I grinned. I could get used to this.

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Epilogue

“You can open your eyes now.”

I pulled my hands away from my face, then widened my eyes at the pile of presents on the table. “You didn’t have to do all this!” I protested, surprised.

“Well,” Stoob meowed, rubbing his face against my legs, “since the young army lost your records, which includes your birthday, who your parents were, and all of that, we figured we could cover your birthday and your magical anniversary with one party.”

“It has been a year since you accepted my offer and signed the binding magical contract entitling you to be my apprentice,” Simus added.

Delrany handed me a present, making a face of regret. “If you weren’t a magical necromancer’s apprentice, I would smash the cake in your face, but….”

I ripped open the wrappings to find…more wrappings. I tore that off, to find even more. I got through about the 8th layer before I asked Delrany about it. As always, she blamed the cat.

We went through all of the presents (most of them being smelly dead mice from Stoob) until we got to the last one, a silver one the size of a matchbox. Delrany eyed it nervously. “I don’t remember that.”

“Open it with care, Misveri,” Simus warned me. “If something nasty pops out, our combined shields should hold it off.”

I hesitantly reached out and pried the lid off, bracing myself for whatever lay inside. I shakily pulled out a necklace, with silver and blue pearls. A blood-red ruby, the size of an acorn, hung from the middle, glittering grotesquely. Suddenly, it pulsed with an electric blue light, and I released it, shrieking, just as a menacing shadow passed overhead. A giant eagle swooped in with a raucous call, snatching up the necklace. It dropped a ball of wire onto the table. As I looked closer, it seemed more like the support frame for a metal ball. On top of that, it emitted a faint red light and an eerie ticking sound.

“Hit the ground!” Delrany yelled, grabbing my sleeve and yanking me down.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Stoob scrambling up the nearest tree. I tried to shout, to tell him not to, but the bomb had started giving off smoke and it clogged the thick air, making me choke. “Stoob climbed a tree! When that bomb explodes, it’ll blow the tree clear off and kill him. We have to get him down!” I hissed to Delrany.

“It is unwise to get up now, that thing is going to blow any minute! If you ask me, someone’s really out to get you,” Simus croaked anxiously, his voice hoarse.

“You have a 4 out of 5 chance that you will die, Misveri! You could get set on fire, or fall from the tree when rescuing Stoob, or explode into bits from the bomb, or–” Delrany added, shuddering with worry and fear.

Suddenly, I saw an image of myself nearing the bomb, throwing myself on top of it with a desperate yell, disappearing when the bomb exploded into a shower of mist, and the mist blanketing the clearing with a dull gloom but not harming anyone. Simus placed his hand on my shoulder, as if he could see the foreseeing magic I had used, the images I had conjured.

I stood up, shaking off his hand. “I can’t just leave him! I’m going to get him down, or die trying. He is my friend!”

To be continued…

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Just in: Part II is out! 😀

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