( JUST FOR NOW )
This is a short story I wrote for my senior English class in 1996 when I was 17 years old. It has been sitting on my hard drive for some time now, so I decided to share it with everyone who visits our web site. The following is the first chapter of the story; I will post the rest of the story chapter by chapter every time our web site is updated.
Writing short stories really stank. At least that's what Neil Neville thought. There were days when his creative juices just ran dry. Today, however, he would have to get them flowing once again. On every Tuesday and Thursday, Mrs. Golden's English class would have to write something and turn it in for a grade. It didn't matter at all if what you wrote was a piece of fine literature, or an eight-line poem you whipped up during study hall. Just as long as it was legible, and didn't have any dirty words in it, Mrs. Golden didn't care.
After a few minutes of thinking, Neil began to write his story. At first, it went fairly well:
With a flash of his blade, Sir Gallahan tore open one of the slimy, green dragon's jugular veins, and dark red blood gushed forth. The dragon opened its jaws, and prepared to belch forth a fountain of flame, but instead, it stopped short, gagged for a moment, and then collapsed in a heap on the ground.
Neil shrugged. It wasn't bad so far, but he needed to develop some more characteristics about Sir Gallahan.
Sir Gallahan removed his helmet, and long curls of golden blonde hair tumbled forth. He wiped his brow and smiled to himself. The young warrior had been victorious once again. The dragon was slain, and he was once again on his way to rescue the princess.
Neil shook his head. That was stupid. Another "rescue the princess" story. The teenage boy sighed, his cheek in hand. He had been up in his bedroom scrawling away one story after another, and nothing seemed to work. Martian androids taking over New York, an undersea kingdom that plots to take over an oil company, and now this--the overdone tale of a knight, a dragon, and a princess. Neil wanted to do something new. Something original. Something that had never been done before.
"This would make a good story," Neil chuckled to himself, "a teenage boy, suffering from writer's block as he tries to write a short story for his English class." Then he stopped for a moment, and thought it over.
"Well, why not?" Neil shrugged, as he whipped out a fresh piece of paper and began to write.
In the land of Tierraloca, anything could happen. And all too often, anything did. In the northwestern region of this land, way up high in the Anudro mountains, there lived a dwarf. No one was sure where he came from--he had lived in the mountains for as long as anyone could remember. No one knew anything about him except for the fact that he could tell stories.
And the stories he could tell! All kinds of wonderful legends about magic, brave heroes, and wicked monsters. The children who lived in the valley below came up every once in a while to listen to the tales he would spin. On this day, however, a young boy had trekked to the Anudros for a very different reason.
He wanted to write a story.
"So lad," the little old dwarf chuckled, "You want to write a story, do you? Well I have stories the likes of ye have never seen!" and he laughed, his fat little stomach bobbing up and down. He looked quite a bit like the little dwarves and gnomes you would see in fairy tale books, with the long white beards, the floppy hats, the corncob pipes, and the little pointy shoes. The little old man pointed a finger into Neil's face, "But if ya want a really good story, you'll have to earn it!"
Neil blinked, and asked meekly, "How do I do that?"
The little old dwarf chuckled, "Well, you have to learn some magic, my boy."
Neil frowned, "Magic? I thought all I had to do to write a story was to take my own ideas and experiences and put them on paper."
The little old dwarf shrugged, "Isn't that magic?"
Neil smiled, and shrugged as well.
The little old dwarf continued, "But as for now, we must make haste. I mean, here we are already 310 words into our little story, and we haven't even..."
"What?" Neil asked, "What do you mean, three hundred and ten words into the story?"
The dwarf threw his hands up into the air in exasperation, "346 words now!" and looked the boy square in the eye, "And if I were you, from now on I'd say numbers in their number form, instead of in their word form. Saying three hundred and ten is four times as much as saying 310."
Neil bit his lip, and nodded slowly, not having the faintest idea what the little old man was jabbering about.
"Anyway," the dwarf continued, "The only thing you need to remember when writing a story is that the magic" and the dwarf nodded to emphasize this, "MAGIC is the only way you can get the ideas from your head onto a piece of paper."
Neil nodded, "Yeah, I guess I can understand that."
The dwarf smiled, "Good!" and made his way to his desk, "Another thing to remember is that your characters have to have a challenge. If there is no challenge, there is no conflict, and if there is no conflict, there is no plot." the dwarf sat down at his desk, and grinned, "And if there is no plot, lad, there is no story."
Neil nodded again, and, tired of this nonsense, said "Yes, yes, yes--but what am I doing here? I should be at home now, writing up my story. I'm not getting anything done just standing here talking to you."
The dwarf roared with laughter, and nearly fell out of his little wooden chair, "You don't have a clue, do you, boy? Hoo hoo!" and he slapped his knees, "Boy, oh boy!"
"ENOUGH!" Neil shouted in capital letters, "I want answers! I have a story to write for Mrs. Golden, and I won't sit here all day listening to you laugh at me." and the Senior approached the dwarf and stuck in a finger right in the little old man's face, "Now you tell me, how do I start a story?"
The little dwarf looked a bit indignant, but smiled as he slid easily off the chair, and stared the seventeen year old boy right in the eyes.
"But my boy, you already have."
In the darkness of room 104, the brown-eyed, golden haired English teacher sat at her desk, scratching her chin and munching on a bag of Chimos brand mixed nuts. Mrs. Golden couldnt make heads or tails of this story Neil had written. Who was this dwarf? What was all this talk about how many words are in a chapter? Not only did it not make any sense, it just didnt seem to flow. Mrs. Golden shoved the one and a half page chapter aside, and shook her head. Teaching English wasnt always as easy as she had hoped it would be.
Neil, on the other hand, was already writing the next chapter of his story. A diabolical creature from a far away land would invade the quiet, peaceful kingdom of Fairtide, and soon make his way to Sir Gallahan.
The rest of the class was also busy writing. Chuck Young was eagerly finishing a five page paper on a space armada taking over the earth, Mary Beth Bridenbaugh was busy scrawling away a poem about love, flowers, and dreams, and Randy Gramm giggled to himself as he wrote about gigantic boogers who live in a city called Snotzville.
Neil knew the bell would ring soon, so he scrawled away his story as quickly as he could:
It was two weeks before the Festival of Stars when the Claylord and his minions stormed the walls of Fairtide. Every twenty-three years, when a shower of breath-taking meteors rained on the sky, families all over the land would take time to celebrate with wonderful music and delicious food. The whole city was bustling with excitement in preparation for the celebration when the Claylord decided to burst through the city gates.
The Claylord was unlike any force the city had ever seen before: a huge mass of gray matter, which was impervious to the blade of a sword. The Claylords minions, a band of ogres hed mustered up, proved to be even more ferocious as they tore apart merchants shops, and threw citizens about like rag dolls.
What the Claylord wanted with the small, coastal city was anybodys guess. It was a small town, most of its money made from the fishing industry, but poor for the most part. The Claylord must have wanted it badly, though, because in less than an hour, the city belonged to him, and its only inhabitants were the ogres.
The citizens of Fairtide, some enraged, others terrified, most confused, headed south, to the kingdom of Tyrsca, with its massive army of trained soldiers that might be of some aid. Despite the fact that their city had been stolen from them, most of the fleeing citizens had hope that they would find refuge in the walled city to the south.
None of them suspected the irony that awaited.
The bell rang, and Neil, satisfied with this new addition, gathered his things and left for fourth period.
* * *
As the citizens of Fairtide made their way south, and Neil Neville was hurrying to get to class, Pallon Gallahan, one of King Mintons personal bodyguards, and a trusted friend of the royal family, spent this clear Wednesday morning doing battle with a pack of wild Rock Hounds that had been spotted by the cliffs of Anudro mountains by a local farmer. It was hard work, and several times one of the hounds was able to land a bite or two on the young warrior, but Sir Gallahan actually enjoyed the battle, slashing away at the group of four or five beasts as they raged about. It was good practice, he thought to himself with a smile.
Sir Gallahan enjoyed serving in King Mintons court. The silver-haired, brown-eyed King was easy going, and didnt work his soldiers too hard. There hadnt been a war in the land for almost a century, but the young warrior still loved being in the heat of a battle. Today, Sir Gallahans long locks of golden blonde hair were bound into a ponytail, to keep his hair out of his face as the wind swept by, and even though he didnt wear his usual set of chain mail and breastplate armor, his thick, blue cloth tunic and leather cloak proved to be more than enough protection as he hacked and sliced at the vicious hounds.
Ten mere minutes after the battle had started, it was over. Farmer Grondak clasped the young warriors hand and thanked him heartily for his service, and his wife, Elda, invited Sir Gallahan to stay for a bite to eat before he left. The young warrior was just about to wipe his brow, and mention how nice a cup of hot herbal tea would be, when a huge black figure soared over the mountain cliffs to the north.
At first, Sir Gallahan thought for sure that the black figure must have been some kind of huge bird, but as it came closer, he laughed at his foolishness, and waved to Derron, a story-telling dwarf who lived in the Anudro mountains, who clung to one of his new contraptions as it flew overhead. It looked much like a kite, but it was much, much larger, and had no string; just a crossbar which the funny little man clung to as he soared about in the sky.
The old dwarf circled a few times above the Grondak farm, and prepared to land, but a huge gust of wind and a simple miscalculation sent the contraption flying off, landing in a nearby tree.
Barely able to contain himself, and trying to mix some concern in with his laughter, Sir Gallahan called out, "I dare say! Are you all right, Derron?"
The little dwarf leapt down from the tree, and looked back up at his contraption, which was lodged in the upper branches, "Im fine," he said with a frown, "But I cant say the same for my Sky Glider." he shook his head, "Ill have to mend the canvas, and make a few adjustments before trying flying it again."
Sir Gallahan nodded solemnly. Mrs. Grondak stood away from the group, and stared at the odd contraption that rested in her apple tree as her husband, with a large stick in hand, hurried over to see if he could find some way to get the strange flying device down. Derron, ignoring his Sky Glider for the time being, hurried over to the young warrior, and spoke, "Although I did want to try flying my Sky Glider today, I didnt come all the way out here just so I could enjoy the trip." he bit his, lip, and paused before continuing, "Im afraid we have a situation. The citizens of Fairtide have just arrived in Tyrsca. They say their town was raided by a being calling himself the Claylord. The King has ordered a full investigation of the matter."
Sir Gallahan nodded slowly, "And I suppose he has called upon me to lead this little expedition?" the dwarf nodded curtly, and the warrior smiled, "Well then, I suppose the His Majesty will be waiting for us. Wed best be on our way."
"Oh, please dont go just yet," Mrs. Grondak said, running over to the two, "Wed love to have you for tea, even if just for a minute." she smiled, a bit shyly, "Im sure our daughter, Vinnie, would love to meet you."
Sir Gallahan knitted his brow, and then smiled, "Sure, why not? I mean, whats the hurry?"
Mrs. Golden was the kind of teacher who didnt always know exactly what she was doing, but did a fairly good job pretending.
"Today Id like to talk about red herrings." Mrs. Golden said with a smile, "For those of you who are writing mysteries, you will definitely want to include some of these."
As she spoke, Mrs. Golden sat down in her favorite chairthe one right next to her podium at the front of the room, "A red herring is used in mysteries to divert the attention of the reader in order to create a surprise later on in the story."
Most of the kids in the classroom nodded, pretending that they knew what Mrs. Golden was talking about. Mrs. Golden waited a moment, and then continued, "Lets say, like, your main character is trying to solve a crime, and theres some important clue in the story. You could use a red herring so the reader wouldnt notice it."
"Thats a great idea!" Mary Beth Bridenbaugh piped up. Neil rolled his eyes. Mary Beth was always trying to score points with Mrs. Golden. Mrs. Golden smiled at her, and then stood up, ready to conclude her little lecture.
"Now everyone, if theres a spot in your stories where you could use something like a red herring, use it! Itd be awesome!" Mrs. Golden beamed, and looked around at the semi-conscious class, "Are there any questions?"
A room of blank stares was Mrs. Goldens answer. Suddenly, a hand shot up into the air.
"Mrs. Golden," Randy Gramm called out, "I dont think I can use a red herring."
Mrs. Golden rolled her eyes, "And why not, Randy?"
"Because fish makes me blow chunks!"
A few members of the class roared at the one, and Neil just sank into his desk, cheek in hand. Some people would laugh at anything if it was gross enough. Mrs. Golden, although annoyed at Randys behavior, tried her best to ignore him.
"Okay, thats enough goofing off." Mrs. Golden spoke sharply. "Everybody get writing!" Randys hand flew up again.
Mrs. Golden whirled around to face Randy Gramm, and shoved an open palm before his face, "Talk to the hand, Randy. cause the face aint listenin."
Randy bit his lip, and nodded slowly. Mrs. Golden withdrew her hand, and smiled at the Class Clown. Some days she could shut even him up.
As Mrs. Golden headed back to her desk, Neil was leafing through his writing notebook, trying to desperately think of something he could write about. He hadnt had much time the previous night to "brainstorm" as Mrs. Golden recommended, so today he was fresh out of ideas.
As Neil leafed through his story, he noticed something odd. The story was nearly three pages long, when it had been half that size yesterday. Neil scratched his chin as he read the new portions of his story. It was in his handwriting, but Neil couldnt remember writing any of it.
Muck hounds? Sky Gliders? What is this? Neil asked himself. He considered talking to Mrs. Golden about it, but she would probably just laugh, and say that Neil wrote it all himself and then forgot about it. Neil shrugged. I probably did just write all this, and then forget. It sounded stupid, but it was the only logical solution.
Resolved, Neil reread the new portion of his story, and tried to think. He hadnt said much about the Claylord. The Claylord was going to be the main conflict in the story, and Neil knew that hed have to elaborate on his character a little more, but he just didnt know what to include. He was a huge creature, about seven feet tall, made of clay. The problem was, Neil didnt want the generic take-over-the-world villain; he wanted his villain to be a real character. A creature that would make his reader laugh.
Neil wrote for several minutes, toying with different ideas, but each idea became a crumpled piece of paper in the trash can. Neil just couldnt think of any good ideas.
Mrs. Golden might be able to help, Neil thought to himself. The young writer got up from his desk, and headed over to Mrs. Golden, who was seated at her own desk chatting with Mary Beth. Mrs. Golden had a huge catalogue on her desk, filled with different fundraising items sold by a company named Siegfields. Mary Beth sat with her chin in hand, listening intently to Mrs. Golden as she jabbered away about a fund raiser shed be holding in a month or two.
"Well be selling macaroni and cheese, with a bowl of salad, a roll, and a can of pop." Mrs. Golden stated proudly, "And well sell it at five dollars a plate. Well call it, Macaroni Madness!"
"Wow!" Mary Beth exclaimed, her eyes growing wide as her hands flew to her cheeks, "Thats a wonderful idea! I love it!"
"Uh... Mrs. Golden?" Neil spoke up. Mrs. Golden continued to leaf through her catalogue, seemingly oblivious to everything but the bright, colorful pictures plastered on the glossy pages. Neil decided to speak up again, "Mrs. Golden? Mrs. Golden are you listening to..."
"I can do two things at once, Neil." Mrs. Golden muttered, her eyes still fastened to the catalogue. Neil cleared his throat, and tried to collect his thoughts.
"Well..." Neil started, scratching the back of his head, "I was just... wondering about a villain in my story..."
Mrs. Golden looked up at Neil and exclaimed, "Do it! Thats a great idea!" and turned back to her catalogue once again. Neil just stood there for a moment, his mouth hanging open.
"Have you ever had these?" Mrs. Golden asked Mary Beth, pointing to one of the pictures in the catalogue, "Chocolate covered bees?" Mary Beth picked up her cue and responded with sickeningly sweet enthusiasm.
"Oh, yes! Theyre delicious!"
"I know! And look at the little girl in the picture eating them!" Mrs. Golden said as she held the catalogue up for Mary Beth to see, "Shes wearing glasses!"
From years of experience, Mary Beth knew exactly how to respond, "Oh, shes so cute!"
"Isnt she?" Mrs. Golden smiled, as she took the catalogue back. Neil, trying desperately to hold down his lunch, decided to speak up again.
"Just a second, Neil." Mrs. Golden said without looking up, leafing again through the catalogue, "Mary Beth, have you ever heard of the company Chimos?"
Mary Beth, not having the slightest idea what Chimos was, responded carefully, "Oh yeah! I love Cheemoze."
"I do too! They make the best pistachios!" Neil looked carefully at the teacher and her pet, and spoke again.
"Mrs. Golden, I have a question I need to..."
Mrs. Golden whirled around her chair, narrowed her eyes, and cocked her head as she spoke, a strange edge in her voice, "Go ahead, Neil. Go right ahead. Im listening."
Neil opened his mouth to speak, but then he stopped. A villain? Not just a villain, but a villain with character? A villain to make his readers laugh? Neil looked at Mrs. Golden, then at her pet, then back at Mrs. Golden. A slow smile crept over Neils face, and he muttered, "Never mind."
Mrs. Golden shrugged, and turned back to Mary Beth, ready to pursue this conversation about Chimos further.
A small, glassy bubble formed on the tongue of Randy Gramm, and with a single puff of his breath, the shiny sphere of saliva flew across the room. Blowing spit bubbles was one of Randys favorite pastimes. That along with picking his nose and doing impressions of Beavis and Butthead.
It was Thursday once again. Writing day. Randy couldnt think of anything to write about. Mrs. Golden hadnt had much to say about his recent story, "Booger Bananza", but Randy could tell from the size of her eyeballs that she was completely grossed out. Randy smiled, "Youve outdone yourself completely this time, old man."
Randy desperately wanted to write a story that would top his last one, but he couldnt think of anything as fun, as humorous, or as tasty as a booger. Suddenly, a brilliant idea sprang into Randys head. A sequel to "Booger Bonanza!"
Randy giggled gleefully as he began to write:
Glen Green and the Booger King
By Randy Gramm
Glen Green was real cool little snot ball. He went to high school, made straight As, and had a job delivering papers for the Nose News. Life was good for the little glob of goo.
Election day rolled around again, and Glen Green decided to help with the campaign to reelect Mayor Mucus. Mayor Mucus was the nicest mayor the town ever had. However, he was running against the Booger King, a creature of dried, crusty snot who lived in the regions much further up the nostril.
While Mayor Mucus was giving a speech about his phlegm preservation policy, the Booger King leaped out of nowhere, grabbed the Mayors microphone, and said, "I will take over this pitiful town of Snotzville!"
Mayor Mucus waved his cane at the malevolent monarch, and roared, "I dont think so, you crusty piece of dried nose drippings!"
The Booger King laughed, "Ha ha! I will show you!" and then he took this big old honkin' sword and sliced up the ground, and then blood started pouring out!
Mayor Mucus said, "Oh no!", but Glen Green ran forth, with his Snot-B-Gone spray, and covered the Booger King with a cloud of toxic mist.
Randy smiled. His story was coming along great! All he needed was a clever ending.
The Booger King crumbled into a pile of little green flakes, and the crowd cheered. Mayor Mucus decided to give Glen Green the Key to the City of Snotzville for his tremendous bravery.
However, the dried pieces of snot that made up the form of the Booger King began to quiver and shake. They slowly became moist, and their yellow-greenish color slowly turned to gray.
Randy continued scrawling away, even though he could sense that his story was losing its unique, yet disgusting brand of humor.
The gray shards of clay began to wiggle about, and all at once jumped into the air, clung together, and molded their shapes into the form of a cloaked figure.
Glen Green stared at the Claylord in awe, and murmured, "Phat!"
The gray, cloaked figure slowly got to his feet, his face shroud behind his hood. He slowly walked over to the crowd of snotty spectators, and spoke in a slow, raspy voice, "Your days of peaceful play in the passages of the nose are over. I am your new ruler."
"Wait a second!" Mayor Mucus roared, stepping forward and jabbing his cane in the Claylords face, "You cant just step in and take over without an proper election!"
The Claylord laughed, "Oh, I think I can, you foolish fungus." and raised one of his gray, clay hands, pointed a finger at the little green glob, and fired a white hot bolt of lightening.
The bolt of lightning plowed into the mayor, reducing him to a puddle of green soup. The Claylord chuckled, and turned back to the multitude of mucus piles, "Does anyone else dare to challenge the mighty Claylord?"
No one spoke, although Glen Green sorely wanted to do something. The Claylord took the cane from the puddle that once was the Mayor Mucus, and declared himself the new ruler of Snotzville. From that day on, the city of Snotzville lived under the tyranny of the Claylord.
And everyone lived unhappily ever after.
The bell rang, and Randy was suddenly snapped back into reality. He quickly reread his paper, and smirked. The beginning seemed okay, but the rest needed a lot of work. That shouldnt be a problem, though, Randy thought with a smile, as he turned the paper in to Mrs. Golden and left for fourth period.
A dragon? Pallon Gallahan asked, a small cup of steaming hot tea in his hand, Are you serious? Farmer Grondak nodded eagerly.
Yes, sir. A huge, loathsome, serpentine being. He was in my corn field, but I slapped him with my shovel and chased him off. The burly man seemed proud of himself, and Sir Gallahan smiled and nodded in appreciation.
The young warriors attention, however, was not on the farmers tale, but on his daughter, Vinnie. The blue-eyed girl with the long golden braid had remained silent during the whole conversation, but Pallon was growing interested in her, prodding again and again for a question that would get her to open up.
Are there any schools around here? Pallon asked, his eyes focused on the girl. Farmer Grondak shook his head, and quickly swerved the conversation back to himself. Derron, who had been silently holding his cup of tea, and hoping again and again that the young knight would hurry up with his flirting so they could continue on their quest, spoke up.
Well its been lovely, but Im afraid we must be going.
Sir Gallahan looked at his dwarf companion, stopped for a moment, then nodded slowly. The silver-haired, brown-eyed king was very kind, but he couldnt stand dawdling. The young warrior turned to his hosts and said apologetically, I wish I could stay longer, but the king...
The formerly silent Vinnie immediately sprung to her feet and blurted, You dont have to go just yet!
Stunned silence followed as everyone stared at the young girl. Vinnie smiled sheepishly, and quickly added, I mean... I hope you drop by again soon...
Pallon shrugged, heaved himself off his chair, and was about to bid farewell to his hosts, when Vinnie stepped up to him, wrapped her arms around his neck, and pressed her lips firmly against his.
When she finally drew away, Pallon, as stunned as his dwarf companion and his hosts, murmured, I... I will... drop by again... soon... and with a hasty wave, made his way out the door, a bewildered Derron behind him.
* * *
All was silent at the campsite beside the Swiftrun River. All of the Claylords minions were asleep when the cloaked figure returned from his journey. Clasped in his right hand was Mayor Mucus magic cane, and in his left was his weathered old spell book. All the pieces of the Claylords diabolical plan were slowly falling into place.
The gray cloaked figure sat down upon an old tree stump beside the river, set the cane aside, opened his book to the marked page, and began to read. He would have to learn a few new tricks before he stepped into the Other Realm once again.
The Claylord slapped his forehead and rolled his eyes as he heard the familiar, whiny voice, What is it now, Tween? A dwarf of a blue ogre emerged from the shadows and stopped before his Master.
I am so glad you are home master, you were greatly missed. The Claylord grunted, and returned to reading his book. The little blue ogre, not yet done, continued, I must add, if you will, that your choice of garments this evening is exquisite.
The hooded mystic froze, slowly turned his head to the little beast, and asked in astonishment, What?
Uh... the little ogre stammered, I said... I like your clothes.
The Claylord stared at Tween for a moment, slowly nodded, then returned to his book, Very well, Tween, but I wear these same clothes every day.
The little blue ogre burst into laughter, and slapped his knees, as if the Claylord had said something funny, Ooh hoo! You crack me up, Master! Youre so funny!
Inwardly the Claylord enjoyed the way his little servant was sucking up, but he tried not to let it show, Tween, if you have nothing of immediate relevance to say, please be on your way.
Oh, but I do! the blue ogre spoke up, ceasing his laughter instantly, You see, I am afraid that the Humans of the Other Realm may pose a threat to your little plot. Tween stopped for a moment, noticing his master still engrossed in his book, Master? Master are you listening to...
I can do two things at once, Tween. the Claylord interrupted, Continue.
Well, Tween pushed ahead, As you already know, with your incredibly powerful magic, you can control almost everything that happens in one of the Humans stories. You can seize the plot, and shift it any way you like.
The Claylord nodded, eyes still fastened to his book. The little blue ogre continued, And I realize that your experience in the matter of Tale Twisting far surpasses mine, but there is a slight possibility of a flaw in your plan...
A flaw? the Claylord asked, chuckling a bit, But my plan is perfect. I have read my spell book from cover to cover. I have checked all the details. There will be no failure for me, I can assure you.
But Master... Tween protested.
But nothing. the Master spoke sharply, his eyes burning bright red, Go back to bed now. I think you were just having a bad dream.
But what if the humans discover your presence? Tween desperately blurted, What if they find out about your plans? What if...
Without turning around, the Claylord thrust an open palm before the little ogres face, Talk to the hand, because the face is not listening.
The little ogre froze, and without a word, slowly walked away, heading back to his tent.
The Claylord brought his hand back to his side, and laughed, A flaw indeed. Id like to see that.
Mary Beth Bridenbaugh was certainly no poet, and her poem proved it. Neil Neville plodded through each syrupy verse, reading about wide blue skies, grassy green meadows, and a silver rose that makes anyone who sniffs it fall in love.
Except for Neil, Randy Gramm, and Mary Beth, the gymnasium was empty. Today was Friday. Group Day. On this fateful day, classmates in Mrs. Goldens class would have to get into groups of three and four to critique each others literary works. Randy was busily reading Neils three page story, Mary Beth had hastily skimmed through Randys story about boogers, and now Neil was desperately trying to complete Mary Beths poem, A Silver Flower, without throwing up.
It doesnt even rhyme. Neil muttered. Mary Beth narrowed her eyes, and held her chin high in defiance.
Poems dont have to rhyme!
Yes they do. Randy murmured, still on the first page of Neils story.
No they dont! Mary Beth protested, Some of the best poems in history didnt rhyme!
Ill bet, Neil laughed. To him, a poem that didnt rhyme was like a can of soda without any fizz. Sure, flat soda is still soda, but why would anyone want to drink it?
Why didnt you make it rhyme, Mary Beth? Neil asked, giving up, and handing back the five page monstrosity, It would be much more fun to read.
Well, I kind of... Mary Beth fumbled, It sort of thought it, like interrupted, the, uh, flow in the, you know the poem, so I just, like, decided to go with... uh...
Neil smiled, You were too lazy?
No! Mary Beth protested, but she didnt bother trying to pursue the matter. As Randy finished the first page of Neils story, he decided he had something to say.
Hey, Neil. The next time you want to use one of my characters, ask me first, okay?
Neil blinked, and then laughed, Well, okay, Randy, but I wont be using any boogers in any of my future stories.
I mean this, toad brain! Randy snapped, thrusting Neils story back at him, The Claylord! I made him up! Hes my character! You should have asked me if you wanted to use him!
Neils mouth dropped open, and he shook his head, Your character?! I made him up last week when we first started writing our stories!
Yeah? Randy challenged, Prove it!
Okay, fine! I will! Neil retorted, Mrs. Golden read my story before your little sequel here, and snatched it from Mary Beth, was even started!
Randy snorted, Ill bet! Lets go talk to her right now!
Lets! Neil spat, as the two boys stormed out of the gymnasium. Mary Beth Bridenbaugh watched them go, and laughed to herself.
Boys. What a stupid thing to argue over.
The girl picked up her five-page poem, and decided to use the remaining ten minutes of class to read it over again. As she began to read, show noticed her poem looked a little different. As she read pages one, two, and then three, she didnt find any mention of the Silver Flower. As she finished page four, and turned onto page five, she felt her chest tighten. There, on the bottom of the page, was a new verse:
The Claylord laughed, as villains do,
and ascended toward the sky of blue.
In his hand he held the flower of gray,
but instead of silver, it now was clay.
The Claylord sneered, and vanished then.
The flower was never seen again.
Horror mixed with rage mingled in Mary Beths eyes. She didnt know how Randy and Neil had managed to change her poem, but as she gathered her belongings, she swore that they would pay for it.
The bell rang, and Mary Beth stormed out of the gym, heading straight for Mrs. Goldens room.
All the way back home, Pallon Gallahans face was as red as a beet, and Derron, not sure what to say or do, simply followed behind him. Pallon didnt know what to think. Vinnie Grondaks behavior was too peculiar to simply be a crush. As for Derron, he had his own suspicions of the Farmers Daughter. Dwarves had a way of sensing these things.
As for now, Pallon Gallahan and his dwarf companion were waiting with mounting impatience for the arrival of the King. The palace throne room was swarming with citizens, several palace guards, a few of the royal sages, and a dog or two that had wandered in. The place was packed, and every person was wondering what the King would have to say.
From out of nowhere, trumpets blared, and the crowd parted as the King, followed by his twelve advisors, entered through the twin oak doors, and pushed his way through the crowd. Every spectator bowed in reverence as the monarch passed, except for Pallon, who was too busy staring at the hideous scowl plastered on the kings face. Something was obviously wrong.
The King stepped up to his throne, turned around, and spoke in a clear, thunderous voice, I have spoken with my advisors, and we have come to the conclusion that this Claylord is nothing but a hoax!
Gasps and sounds of disbelief rippled through the crowd, and the King continued, We have received word from Fairtide, and all is well. These people who claim to be in need our assistance, our aid, the King laughed a bit, and our funds, will not be receiving so much as a cent of the royal treasury. a few shouts of disagreement were heard in the back, and the King spoke sternly, Your Highness has spoken. Now, if you will all please quiet down, I have some more important matters at hand...
As the King tried to change the subject, protests rushed forth from the crowd like a tidal wave.
What about my bait shop?! one man roared, Ill show you the hoax that destroyed my bait shop!
What about my family?! a woman cried, We dont have anywhere to go!
All of my books! an old fisherman sobbed, Some of them were hundreds of years old! It took me all my life to get them! No amount of money could replace my precious books!
But Pallon didnt want to hear any more, and made his way back through the crowd, looking for Derron. The King was trying to calm the crowd, and assure the men and woman that he would certainly have his advisors look into the matter at hand, when he suddenly stopped.
Sir Gallahan, where do you think youre going?
Pallon Gallahan froze, and slowly turned to face his King. An odd smile was plastered on the monarchs face.
I am sorry to inform you that your days of serving in the Royal Guard are over. The King paused to acknowledge his dozen advisors and continued, We have discovered that you have been engaging in a few romantic... and thought for a moment, groping for the word that would be the most demeaning, capers, if you will.
More cries of astonishment trickled through the crowd, and Pallon was just about to object to the Kings accusation, when His Highness spoke again, A young girl, by the name of Vinnie Grondak, Pallon felt his heart stop, Has just informed us of your advances on her. the King smiled at the knight, And as a Knight, we can not have you engaging in such escapades.
What?! the young warrior cried out, But, my liege, I...
I am speaking! the King barked, For this outrage, you are hereby dismissed from your position, and relieved of your duties. the King then addressed the rest of the crowd with the same sharpness, Now clear out! All of you! I am the king, and I have important business to attend to!
A few of the guards raised their lances, and quickly escorted the still shocked and confused multitudes out of the room. In a few moments, only Pallon, the King, and his advisors were left in the room.
The former knight approached the King, his head bent. Why would Vinnie Grondak do such a thing? he asked himself. What could she have against me? The young warrior knew that if he could talk to the King, if only for a moment, he might be able to clear himself.
The King stood before his throne, glaring at Pallon Gallahan as he approached, You are dismissed, Sir Gallahan... and His Royal Highness laughed, I mean, Pallon. Now please go, and dont make a mess of this.
But my lord, Pallon pleaded, I know this will sound silly, but...
If it will sound silly, then hold your tongue, you blithering idiot! the king snapped. Pallon froze. This was not like the King Minton he had known before.
My liege...? Pallon asked, looking into the kings soft, gray eyes, Youve never acted like... and then he froze.
Gray eyes? Pallon stared for a moment, and then took a step back.
Youre not... he stammered, Youre not King Minton!
The pseudo-King smiled, Very good, my boy, but you picked a very bad time to find that out. and in almost an eyeblink, the form of King Minton twisted and molded itself into the gray cloaked figure of the Claylord.
The young warriors mouth dropped open, and he took a step back, ready to bolt for the door. The Claylord raised a gray fist, and in a puff of smoke, the twelve robed advisors were instantly replaced by twelve burly ogres, armed with swords, pikes, and axes.
Pallon Gallahan was already dashing for the exit when the Claylord gave the word to attack. The vile mystic wasnt worried when the young warrior reached the doors, pulling vainly at the handle, praying for them to open. By the time the dozen ogres reached the young warrior, his sword was already drawn, but fighting at this point would have been foolish. The massive ogres would have crushed the little boy of a man before he would have had a chance to even lift his blade.
To the dungeon, the Claylord ordered with a smile, And do be sure to give our guest the very best suite in the house. The ogres grunted, a few leering the young warrior. Pallon sneered at the Claylord, and spat, Youll pay for this, Claylord! I dont know what youve done with King Minton, but hell...
The Claylord laughed, King Minton? I took care of that old oaf. and the vile mystic produced a long, black cane from inside his cloak, It was quite simple. I merely waved my magic wand, and poof! Our dear King was nothing more than a pile of mucus!
Sir Gallahan stared at the Claylord in horror, not wanting to believe the wicked warlock but finding no other choice. The former knights ogre captors led him away to the palace dungeons, and the Claylord followed after them, thinking about what fun he could have with his new prisoner.
And all the while, a small figure hid behind one of the huge tapestries, listening all the while but remaining unseen. No one had noticed the little old dwarf stepping behind the huge tower of fabric while the guards were busy ushering the crowds out of the room. Now armed with the knowledge of the true identity of this would-be king, Derron knew exactly what to do.
As the shape-shifting sorcerer made his way down to the dungeon, Derron carefully poked his head out of his hiding place. After a looking around, and making sure that no one was in sight, the little old dwarf dashed across the room, and slipped out an open window, unseen.
back to the beginning
Mrs. Golden held her head as she listened to the three young writers argue back and forth. The only time she liked arguing was when she was leading it, and that certainly wasnt happening here.
Look, Neil started heatedly, I put the Claylord into my story long before you even started your first booger novel. Dont try to tell me that you didnt borrow the idea from me when you put him into your second one.
I made him up! Randy protested, I was right here, at my desk, writing away, and I thought to myself, You know what would be fun? If they made modeling clay out of snot! That way, if you got hungry while working on your art project, you could just...
I dont even want my poem to have a Claylord in it! Mary Beth shrieked, You two morons sabotaged my poem, and I demand that you pay for it!
Hold on... Mrs. Golden interjected, Lets not go to pieces, here. The English teacher sat back in her chair, took a deep breath, and turned to Mary Beth, Mary Beth, your poem is on your computer at home, right? If you dont like the way your poem is right now, all you have to do is go home, change your poem, and then print it out again.
Yeah! Randy laughed. Mrs. Golden whirled around in her chair and started in on him, And Randy, Im sure you and Neil can use the Claylord in both of your stories. Lets not argue over who came up with the idea first, lets just concentrate on getting these stories done before the deadline. Are you with me?
Randy and Neil nodded, and Mrs. Golden smiled, Good. Now lets not have any more of this.
The trio nodded again, and started to leave. Mrs. Golden leaned back in her chair, and mumbled to herself, Besides, Im pretty sure Randy did come up with the Claylord first.
The battle flared up again, and Mrs. Golden buried her head in her arms. Why couldnt she have her free period just to herself today?
The Claylord sat in King Mintons study, his two booted feet propped up on King Mintons desk, smiling at his reflection in the mirror, You handsome devil, he spoke with a grin, You look just like His Highness, and the mystic laughed, But Im afraid our King has been temporarily... indisposed.
What do you say, Kingie? the Claylord asked, kicking the bucket of mucus next to him, Do you feel the citizens of Tyrsca can manage having a lump of snot for a king? and he laughed again, quite pleased with himself, But Im afraid we have no time for that. I need to catch up on my reading. And the wicked wizard hauled himself up, scanning the shelves for his precious spell book.
I think this will all work out very nicely. the Claylord spoke as he skimmed the rows and rows of books, All I have to do now is eliminate the Author, and he chuckled, and of course that wont be a problem with Sir Gallahan out of the way. All I need now is my... and he stopped, and looked the shelves over again, All I need is...
The Claylord froze. He couldnt understand it. He had left it right here on the shelf. He wasnt the kind of person to misplace things. It didnt make sense.
For some odd reason, the Claylords spell book was nowhere to be found.
The bank by the Swiftrun river was one of the most relaxing places Vinnie could imagine. The babbling of the glassy brook was almost as musical as a lullaby, and as the cold waters splashed over the girls bare feet, it was so soothing it could put her to sleep.
There were a lot of things on Vinnies mind today, but her head was so clouded, she couldnt even remember what she was all upset about. Ever since she had sniffed that strange, gray flower in the woods, nothing seemed to make much sense.
As Vinnie sat on the edge of the bank, staring at her reflection in the glassy creek, she suddenly noticed a huge, black form fly by above her. The girl looked up, and stared in horror as Derron, clinging to his new and improved Sky Glider, circled overhead, then swooped down to the ground like a huge, black vulture.
Before Derrons booted foot had even touched the ground, Vinnie was on her feet, backing away from the dwarf. She didnt know why, but she knew that this dwarf meant danger.
The little man cast his Sky Glider aside, and charged toward the girl. All right, you little liar, he hissed, Lets have it. Tell me everything. What connection do you have with the Claylord?!
The Claylord is my love! the girl shrieked, Flowers of pink, and skies of blue, we dance together in the fields of green! The Silver Flower, in its bloom, it takes our hearts, and sews them together, as one! As one! As...
Derron grabbed the girl by the shoulders and shook her violently, Whats with you, girl? Derron demanded, You sound like youre quoting very bad poetry!
Poetry? Vinnie asked in bewilderment, But I never... and then she stopped, and looked around, What happened? What am I doing where? When did I... Derron gave the girl an odd look, trying to figure out if she was just toying with him. Vinnie thought carefully for a moment, then continued, I was in the woods. I had heard voices. I didnt see anyone, but there was this... this flower.
The girls sky blue eyes grew wide, and she gasped, The flower! The Claylord! They were... oh yes... they said... the book! Why didnt I... but I couldnt...
The dwarf stared at the girl, and after a moment, Vinnie began to speak clearly, The world is in danger. The Claylord has a booka book of magic spells that allow him to travel to other worlds. she took a deep breath and continued, An old fisherman in Fairtide had owned all kinds of strange books, but this book of spells was by far his strangest. When the Claylord and his band of ogres stormed the town, that spell book was the only thing he was really after.
Derron shook his head, But what kind of magic would such a book hold?
Vinnie slowly sat down, trying to collect her thoughts, He said something about boy. A boy who created this world, and how the magic from the book could seize the power the boy holds. she looked up at the dwarf, I know I sound like Im babbling, but I...
No... Derron whispered softly, sitting down beside her, I think I know what kind of magic youre talking about. he looked the girl in the eyes, and asked firmly, Did the Claylord say what the name of this boy was?
Vinnie Grondak held her chin and thought, I think he might have, but my memory is so clouded that I dont know if I could...
Was it Neil Neville?
The girl blinked, thought for a moment, and then nodded, I think so. But how did you...?
We dont have much time to waste, then, the dwarf cut her off, and quickly sprung to his feet, If we dont hurry, theres no telling what kind of consequences this world could suffer.
The dwarf hurried down the bank to his Sky Glider, Vinnie Grondak hurrying after him, Wait a moment! What are you talking about?
Derron sighed as he hauled up his flying device, Ive studied this kind of magic before. If the Claylord is trying to do what I think hes trying to do, it may be too late already...
The girl stared at the dwarf blankly, and Derron continued, If my guess is correct, the Claylord has successfully shoved our world into a magical sub-space, where all our thoughts, words, and actions are nothing more than ink on paper.
Vinnie shook her head, I dont get it.
Fine then. the dwarf spoke sharply, as he continued to toy with the Sky Glider, For now, just for a moment, imagine that Tierraloca has been transformed into nothing more than a fairy tale within the mind of a young boy. Vinnie bit her lip, and the dwarf continued, Every story has an author. Sometimes an authors mind is blank, and he cant think of anything to write about. The Claylord seized this opportunity, pulled a few magical strings, and caused this author to write about our worldtherefore granting him control of everything that happens here.
But thats stupid! Vinnie cried and laughed at the same time, A little boy, in another world is writing a story about us, just because the Claylord told him to. Just because of that, this little boy now has complete dominance over every little thing that happens here?! A story is just words on paper! Theres nothing magical about that!
The dwarf smirked, Theres more magic in a story than you might think. You see, I met this boy in my cabin about two weeks ago. He came to me, asking about writing a story for his English class, the dwarf shook his head, Being written into a story was certainly a unique experience. At that moment, through the Claylords magic, our world was drawn into the hands of this boy.
Vinnie stared at the dwarf in disbelief. Derron frowned a bit, then continued, But we may not be too late. If the Claylord hasnt eliminated the Author yet, we still have a chance to regain control of this world. If we could just find a way to get in contact with this boy...
That can be arranged.
The girl and the dwarf whirled around. Standing before them was a small, bent figure, clasping a book in his two blue, scaly hands.
It was Tween.
Eight oclock found Neil Neville in his bedroom, seated at his desk, with his writing notebook open before him. Tomorrow his story was due, and he knew that hed have to come up with some kind of conclusion before then.
Neil was leafing through his story, trying to think of something to write about, when he noticed it. Neils story, which had been only three pages long the day before, had exploded into a tale almost twelve pages long. As Neil flipped through page after page of text, he noticed his own name appearing over and over again.
And chapters! Neil didnt remember having chapters in his story, but there they were! Eight of them so far, all in his handwriting.
As Neil approached page fourteen of his story. He froze in terror. Words were magically appearing on the page. As Neil read the words, he realized that they were talking about him, in his bedroom, at that very moment, reading chapter eight of a story he knew by now he didnt write.
I dont believe it! Neil muttered, watching his own words appear before him on the page, Everything I say... and as a test, Neil snapped his fingers, ... and everything I do appears on the page! Neil shook his head. He thought for a moment he must have been dreaming, and pinched himself for a test.
Ouch! It wasnt a dream. Neil suddenly felt dizzy with the magnitude of it all, This cant be happening. he mumbled, This is stupid. I fell asleep. Im dreaming. I was so worried about finishing this story that I drifted off...
Neil slowly closed his eyes, trying to let his mind drift back up into consciousness, but he could feel that this was more than a dream. Neil wasnt sure of this, however, until he opened his eyes once again, and found himself in the middle of his own story.
Underneath the night sky, under the thousands of twinkling stars, the Claylord wandered in the royal gardens. At all once, he stopped, and sniffed the night air. My magic! he hissed, That idiot Tween is using my magic! The Claylord trembled with rage, That fool! He knows that no one can stop me! This is my world now! Mine!
The Claylord roared, his body shifting, and molding into an entirely new forma form he hadnt intended to ever use. His gray cloak molded into hard, gray scales, a tail sprouted from his backside, huge, leathery wings expanded from his back, and a massive, serpentine head emerged form inside the gray cowl.
The Clay Dragon spread his wings, and with a leap, was airborne, soaring through the sky, flying toward the source of the magic.
It worked. Derron mumbled in awe. The little dwarf let out a whoop of joy, and slapped his knees, It worked! We got him here! Tween, planted on a tree stump, with the Claylords spell book open in his hands, smiled.
I told you itd work.
Vinnie merely stared at this newcomer. She had expected this creature from another world to look like... well, to look like something other than just an ordinary human boy.
Derron approached Neil, who was still trying to wake himself up, and took his hand, Boy! Dont you know where you are?
Tierraloca. Neil mumbled, By the Swiftrun River. He stared at the trio of characters, for a moment, then cried out in recognition, And youre that dwarf! The dwarf who told me to say numbers in their number form! then he stopped and stared at the little blue ogre and the girl, not sure if he had written about these two or not, But you two I cant seem to remember.
Vinnie Grondak. the girl spoke quickly. The little blue ogre shut his book, stood from the tree stump, and bowed graciously.
And I am Tween. Im the one who summoned you here.
Neil looked at the three again, and shook his head, This has got to be a dream...