As promised, here is the comic fantasy “novel” that my son wrote as a home-school project. I’ve decided to split it in half because cliffhangers are fun and ten thousand words in a single blog post is a bit much. The first half went online yesterday.
Here’s a brief post about the project, in case you’re aching for some background. For the record, this is his work, only lightly edited by me.
The Twin Swords of Zordain
I ran to the fire and threw the contents of my canteen over the raging flames, extinguishing them.
Cass ducked into the cabin and started casting spells through the door while Garth grabbed a shield and blocked the next blast of flames, melting the shield completely in the process.
I ran back next to Garth and drew my sword. Cass suddenly stopped casting spells. I almost turned and asked her why, but I saw the dragon land in front of us on the ship, crushing various boxes. Without the blinding sunlight in my eyes, I was able to take a look at it. It was a dark red dragon, not much bigger than me, with small red eyes that seemed to carefully inspect the environment around us. From the minute I saw it I knew it wasn’t a common dragon from Casanopala that evolved with more brute force than smarts to survive against various wars going through the area, but a clever dragon that came from far away, where you had to scare off a single knight a year to preserve your treasure and stay alive. It must have come through a portal made by one of the swords. It growled at me. Then I noticed it had an emerald green sash over its shoulder. The sash was as oversized as Garth’s helmet (which, at the moment was lying face-down in the cabin) and had a badge that said: reserved for elite team.
That told me that this dragon was very clever.
”Why do you fight for those Invastigan fools?” I asked it.
“Because they have archers locked onto me every second!” the dragon replied in a different voice than I had expected that suited a stand-up-comedian more than a dragon.
“Okaaaaaay,” I replied. “And are dragons afraid of archers?”
“Are you a dragon?”
Everyone was silent for a moment then the dragon ripped the sash off his shoulder and tore it to shreds with his claws.
“Thank you for bringing me to my senses!” the dragon yelled as it flew towards the forest. “I must repay you sometime!”
“Wait!” Garth yelled back. “We never caught your name!”
“It’s Martician, but you can call me Ci.”
“Why Ci?” Garth asked.
“BECAUSEISAYSO!” Ci yelled back.
Garth cringed and went to hide in the cabin.
“Catch you guys later!” Ci said and flew towards the jungle. Before he got more than three feet up he fell into the water, came up, spit a ray of water into my face, and flew away.
A few hours later, I saw the forest.
“Almost there!” Cass yelled from above.
I rowed slightly harder for the last minute or two before the ship made a noise like “klunk” and stopped moving.
Garth ran up to the higher deck. I followed him. Cass was already on the sandy beach. There were few noticeable rocks and an abundance of trees, some were palm at the edge of the beach but most were large oaks.
It was much hotter here than in Nack Town. I took my heavy coat off and stuffed it into my shoulder bag, sacrificing a few naturally colored and shaped rocks I had found a few days ago in Nack Town.
My favorite snow camo tank-top and my cotton pants didn’t keep as much heat in.
Garth picked a coconut off the ground, not being tall enough to take one from the tree, and cracked it open on one of the nearby rocks. Garth drank some of the milk, then spit it into the forest.
“Sour.” Garth said, tossing the coconut wildly into the forest, practically exploding on the thick oaks.
“Of course it’s sour.” I said. “It was on the ground. If it was good, some animal would eat it.”
“Watch this.” Cass said while stepping back a few steps. Then she ran full speed at the rocks, jumped off one, then a larger one grabbed onto a leaf from one of the trees. She swung back and forth on the leaf and kicked a coconut off the tree. Garth picked it up and cracked it on the same rock.
“Thanks!” Garth said to Cass.
She swung herself around and kicked a coconut into the air, then landed shakily on the top of the tree and caught the coconut, which cracked open in her hand.
“Oh come on Cass.” I said. “You only took one more gymnastics lesson than me!”
“You took a gymnastics lesson?!” Garth said, surprised.
“Huh? No! I took a lesson in parkour!”
“Isn’t that the same as…”
“I only did take one lesson.” Cass told Garth, dropping her coconut off the side of the tree.
“Ohhhhhh.” Garth replied.
Everyone was silent for a second.
“I’m going to climb that tree.” I said, pointing to a slightly taller palm. I ran to it, ran up the side for a second, then pushed off the tree and grabbed one of the leaves. I pulled myself up the leaf and sat on the top. I grabbed a coconut and cracked it open. Sweet coconut milk spilled out of the edges and I had to lick the sides, which tasted horrible, to keep the milk off my satchel.
After getting the milk off the sides, I sipped some of the sweet coconut milk, which tasted like HEAVEN after a day of rowing and drinking flat, waterlogged wine. Even if I’m not a big fan of coconuts.
“I call that one!” Garth said, pointing to a tree that was probably taller than both mine and Cass’s.
He ran up the tree, then jumped off it, but didn’t get high enough to grab the leaf and held on to one of the weaker leaves from the bottom layer. It snapped off and Garth fell into the sand.
“Ow,” Garth moaned, “that sure doesn’t work.
He stood up then ran, like Cass did, towards the rocks. He jumped off the one covered in coconut milk, slipped, and flew at the tree koala-style. Garth moaned and fell off the tree onto the coconut Cass had tossed.
Garth moaned louder and said: “I quit”
I jumped into the sand and rolled to absorb the impact of the fall. I walked over to Garth and helped him up.
“No problem.” I turned and headed into the forest.
Occasionally we had to take a detour due to a patch of len in our path, since it was too hard to cut with my crappy, notched iron sword that I got three years ago. My dad said he would get me a new one on my fourteenth birthday but he had to do some meeting with the other generals or whatever and never actually got me anything except my first piece of crelle, which tasted like heaven.
After about five minutes we came to a sunny clearing. A few crelle flew out of a nearby tree. I sat down in the grass and wiped sweat off my forehead.
“How long before we can take the inter-country boat to Zordac?” Garth asked me.
“It’s in Kerog Cliffs, so…” I opened my map to do some calculations then put it back into my bag.
“About a day’s journey to Zordac.” I said to Garth.
“But it will be much longer if ya have ta swim,” a voice said from behind me. A knife was held to my throat.
A knife was held to Garth’s throat as well as Cass’s.
”Give us yer gold and we’ll let ya go.”
”Yes, yes, gimme a sec.”
Garth looked at me like I was crazy, so I winked and pulled the bag out of my pocket.
I gave the bag and my sword to the outstretched hand.
”Smart choice, kid.” He poured my gold out of the bag and into his hand but he released the dagger from my throat as he did, so I ripped it out of his hands and threw it at the robber holding Garth. It scraped his arm and he groaned in pain, dropping his dagger to hold his cut. Garth shoved his elbow into the robber’s stomach and he fell over.
Garth took the dagger and tossed it to me. I charged the remaining two and threw my dagger at the robber that was holding a mace.
Cass turned and cast a fireball in the face of the robber that was holding her. He yelled in fright and ran to dunk his head in a muddy pond nearby.
My dagger hit mace-dude so, taking advantage of that, I charged him and swung my fist at him. I hit his chestplate and fell back, rubbing my knuckles and blowing on my hand.
Garth turned and swung his giant mace at mace-dude, and cracked his chestplate.
”Heyyyyyyy,” the robber said, ”Those are pretty hard to find around here!”
Mace-dude swung his mace at Garth. Garth blocked it pretty well with his mace but the impact sent him flying into a nearby tree.
He groaned. I grabbed my gold and short sword from the dude that was holding me earlier. I stuffed the bag of gold in my pocket and swung my short sword at mace-dude. He blocked it with his heavy armor but the blow put a bigger crack in his now-ruined chestplate.
Garth managed to dodge another mace swing from mace-dude. I swung my sword at mace-dude but missed. Mace-dude swing again at Garth and hit, throwing Garth into the tree again, but this time, cracking the frail branches and sending him flying into the muddy pond. Mace-dude turned at me and swung his mace again. I blocked it with my sword but it didn’t help much, flying out of my hand and still sending me into the field. Cass hit the log next to me, her shield spell flickering out, and groaned.
”Mace?” I asked Cass.
”That guy over there with the axe,” Cass replied.
”He looks like their leader.”
”Yep. Says his name is larva armor or something.”
The remaining conscious bandits stood over us.
”Heh. Try to fight us, and-”
”SHUT UP Dven!” said another bandit.
”No, you shut up!”
”No, you shu-”
A huge shadow loomed above us.
One of the bandits looked at the shadow and immediately looked scared.
”DRAGON!” he yelled, and ran into the forest. The other bandits followed him.
After a few seconds, the shadow started to descend on us.
”We’re done for.” Cass said, while trying to run into the forest but collapsing on the ground after a few steps. She moaned.
”Or mayy-bee, your equal!” said a familiar comedian-like voice.
”Martician!!” I said while the little red dragon landed near me.
”Flying high to cast a massive shadow? That’s brilliant!” I said.
”What can I say? It’s what I do. Oh, and it’s ‘Ci.’”
”Ugh. Can you get Garth up so he can do his cleric stuff?”
”Sure! The best technique I know!” Martician wobbled over to Garth and punched him in the stomach. Garth woke up and immediately jumped away from Martician.
”Ahhhhh! Dragon!” Garth yelled ”Luke, why aren’t you doing anything?”
”Relax, Garth, it’s only Martician.”
”Now, please heal me and Cass.”
He walked over and cast a spell on each of us.
”Thanks.” I said.
Martician flew off.
I stood up and walked over towards the forest and fished my short sword and my gold pieces off the unconscious bandit in the muddy pond.
I wiped the muddy sword on a stalk of Len.
”C’mon!” Garth told me. ”We need to get to Kerog Cliffs before nightfall!” He ran into the forest.
I sheathed my sword and followed him.
Twenty minutes later Garth whacked the last stalk of Len and cleared the way to Kerog Cliffs. I ran across the gravel path to the small town.
The town was at the edge of the cliff. Some of the buildings were precariously perched near it.
The buildings were small wood huts. Two buildings stood out from the others: the inn, a huge complex mined into the side of the cliff, and the windmill, sitting at the top of the hill facing Trimonton River and the borders of Lake Scravenger.
All the buildings were on one road. It went through the town from the part of the forest and came out past the smithy then the woodcutter, the general store then the windmill, slightly angled to curve the road in a ”U” down the side of the cliff, to pass a few houses, a farm full of ivory stalk and dug plants and finally, the inn at the bottom of the hill.
I knocked on the door of the inn. A man opened it and guided us to the room-dealer dude. ”He will get you a room.”
The man waved at us. ”I’m Alexander Graffel. I run this masterpiece.”
”Get us a room with three beds please.”
”Only a single royalty-reserved room has three beds. Sorry.”
I looked at Garth. He shrugged.
”Why not?” he told me.
I turned back to Graffel.
”Does the name ”Amanda Winterhawk” ring a bell to you?”
”Of course! The princess!”
”She is also my mother.”
”What!” he said, shocked. ”Do you have proof of this?”
”My sword has the name carved into it.” I drew my sword and put it on the table.
”That clearly says Rigel on it.”
”Huh?” I looked at the sword. The wrong side was up.
”Oh, sorry.” I flipped the short sword over to the side with ”Winterhawk” on it.
”Wow,” he said. ”How long will you stay for, sir?”
”Three gold pieces.”
”I have 1 gold and three silver,” I said. ”Do you have any, Garth?”
He rummaged through his pockets. ”I’ve only got four silver pieces.” He told me.
”Here.” Cass reached between us and dropped numerous coins on the counter.
”Where’d you get that many coins, Cass!?”
Alexander gave us the key.
The man that had greeted us at the door walked over to us.
”I will show you to your room,” the man said. ”Shall I carry your things? You must be tired.”
”Yeah.” Garth replied and pulled his huge mace off his back and gave it to the man. He held it for two seconds then fell to the ground.
”Your room is number 38.” he struggled to get the huge mace up the stairs to our room.
We walked up the stairs to room 38.
Cass unlocked the door and tossed the key onto the stone table in the middle of the room. The beds were set against the wall and around the low table for eating. I sat on my bed and pulled the blanket around my body. I then turned my bag upside down and shook the contents out.
My coat fell onto the ground near the table as well as a coconut and a book about a hage and his friends, a crelle and a sarel. I folded my coat and put it into my bag and saw a hand-written diagram about how to un-tie the knot used to hold a battering ram in a castle. That brought back memories.
The man knocked on the door. Cass opened it and he gave Garth his mace and provided us with some crelle and hage meat. I stuffed a piece of crelle into my mouth and fell into bed and immediately fell asleep
Cass shook me.
”What?” I said drowsily opening my eyes to see that it was night.
”The town is under attack.”
I jumped out of bed to see Garth looking out the window. He turned toward us. ”There are too many soldiers and monsters in the building. We’ll never get out that way.”
”With all the Kraiih archery platforms out there I don’t think we could get out through the window very easily either,” Cass told us.
“Kraiih?” Garth replied.
“You know. It’s a big flying whale.”
Cass sighed. “It was the thing that you kept failing the creatures and animals test on.”
The stone table and a bed were barricading the door.
I pulled a sheet off my bed and stuffed it into my bag. ”At least we have a chance if we go this way.” I climbed out the window and clung to the wall.
Several feet below me, the cliff path was full of Invastigan soldiers charging down towards the beach and several feet above me, Invastigan archers were shooting flaming arrows at the town. One narrowly missed my body.
I started moving away from the window up the small grade of the window ledge. Cass and Garth climbed out of the window next to me. We slowly, hugging the wall, climbed across the window ledge. Sometimes, a flaming arrow would shoot by, some hitting the ledge and breaking a small bit off, but most would just fly into the wall or the ground below. After a few minutes of crossing the ledge it ended.
”It’s still too far to jump!” Garth yelled over the sound of the battle below.
”I know!” I yelled back. ”Boost me up!”
”Just do it!”
He held his hands out and I climbed up them and jumped for the top of the cliff, jumped… And missed. I slid back down the wall and crashed through the ledge, shielding my eyes from the stone.
”Luke!” Garth yelled to me, reaching his hand out but he was too far. I reached my hand out for the ledge and caught not the ledge, but a tail, Martician’s tail, to be exact. He flew me down to the beach.
”Now you owe me one!” he panted.
”Man, you show up at the perfect times.”
”I’ll get Garth and Cass, gimme a sec.”
”I’m going to find the dock.”
Martician flew back towards Garth and Cass and I ran towards the docks. I passed some farmers who were collecting as much of their cattle as possible before running to their boats. It was sandy most of the way, with occasional grass patches and empty pens for cattle. The moonlight and fires from the town above gave off little light, and it was foggy that night so it as not easy to see but the docks were nearby and I quickly found a suitable Invastigan ship, fast and big (but not too big).
The plank you walked on to get into the boat was nowhere to be seen, so I jumped to the anchor and climbed up the chain into the boat.
I ran up the stairs to the steering wheel and signaled to Martician.
Martician dropped Garth onto the ship, stopped to catch his breath then flew back towards Kerog Cliffs to get Cass.
”Luke! The Invastigans are trying to board the ship!”
I ran to the side of the ship and saw one Invastigan run with a board towards the other Invastigans. One grumbled about how long it took the other Invastigan to grab the board from wherever the board came from. He set the board against the ship, drew his sword and charged up the ramp. I waited until he was halfway across the plank then pushed the end of the plank off the boat, dropping the Invastigan and the plank into the water.
He shook his fist at me then occupied himself with shivering and yelling to the other Invastigans to get him out.
I laughed and walked back to the steering wheel with Garth.
Martician landed on the deck with Cass on his back and immediately collapsed. ”I’m totally exhausted.”
I ran to the anchor and pulled on the rope until the anchor landed on the boat, slightly cracking the deck. The wind hit the sails and slowly carried the boat out of the dock.
I walked down the steps to the lower deck and looked around. The stairs came down to a small, dimly lit room with many colored beads and stones hanging on the walls and ceiling.
The room was not large, and contained a chest, a nightstand and only two small beds, so one of us had to be awake at all times. Martician wouldn’t need one and could curl up in the back room.
I sat on one of the beds and dropped my sword and satchel into the chest.
I ran back to where Garth, Cass and Martician were standing and sat down on the rim of the boat.
“Thanks, Ci.” I told him.
We were silent for a bit.
“I am going to destroy Kroft.” Martician said.
“Same.” We all replied at the exact same time.
He then held up a finger and moved it around like it was a person.
“Duuuuh I’m Kroft.” He mimicked Kroft’s voice.
Then he blew fire on the finger. I knew his scales completely resisted the fire, but it was pretty awesome anyway.
”How long will it take to get to the Zordac?” Garth asked us.
”Hmmmm…” Cass ran into the cabin and then came back out with a map. She ran her finger along it then found the general area that we were sailing to.
”About 2 days.”
Five days later the boat shook for a second then stopped moving.
”We’re here, guys!” Cass yelled from the deck above, ”Get up!”
Garth continued to snore loudly and did not seem affected by Cass’s yells. I shook him.
He jumped up.
”I DIDN’T DO IT!”
”Garth, we hit shore.”
We sat there for a moment then ran up to the top deck.
Cass was standing on the beach, examining a leaf. Martician was wobbling around her, looking bored.
”It’s a yejho tree.” Cass told him. ”Only grows in Zordac.” She started to run up the hill then turned. ”C’mon!”
We climbed off the boat and followed her.
Then I ran back in to get my sword and my satchel.
When we came over the top of the hill we saw a large Invastigan squad in the valley below us marching out of the forest toward the center of the island.
”Get down!” Cass whispered to us.
I lay down on the hill and peeked above it. Cass and Garth did the same.
”Hey is that General Rigel?” Garth whispered to us, pointing to the center of the squad.
”Yes,” Martician whispered, (as much as a dragon can whisper) ”Kroft is there too.”
”We should follow them,” I said. ”They will lead us to the other sword.
An Invastigan soldier looked at the hill, then left the group, telling one of the other soldiers he thought he had seen something.
”He saw us!” I whispered, ”let’s get out of here!”
”I agree,” Martician said.
We ran to the small group of bushes and weeds near us and hid behind the bushes. The Invastigan soldier walked over the hill, looked around, shrugged then ran back down the hill to catch up with his part of the squad.
We only had to follow then for a few minutes before we came to a large sandy field.
A huge sandstone pyramid towered above the sandy field.
A sword lay on a fancy purple pedestal.
The hill we were on had turned into a steep cliff, which was impossible to climb down without a rope or ladder.
Cass fashioned a make-shift rope with vines and tied to a tree. None of the Invastigans bothered to look behind them and walked in awe towards the sword.
”Are you sure this rope is safe?” Garth asked Cass looking at the 20 foot drop below him.
”Totally!” Cass told him.
”Then you can go first.”
Cass reluctantly climbed down the rope. When she got to the bottom, she gave us a thumbs up.
I climbed down the vine.
Garth started to climb down the vine, but it snapped and he fell the last six feet, throwing up a huge cloud of dust. An Invastigan soldier looked toward us, but the cloud of dust obscured his view. He grumbled, turned and kept walking.
Garth stood up and brushed sand off his shirt.
Cass started walking towards the pyramid. Me, Garth and Martician followed.
After walking about ten yards we got to the top of the huge pyramid. We hid behind the small wall made to keep the wind from damaging the sword. The soldiers stood on the stairs, with General Rigel in the front. Kroft stood above them all, holding the sheathed sword. I could guess that was the other Zordac sword.
”I have a plan,” Martician told us. ”I’ll distract them. Luke, run towards Kroft and take the sword. Garth, you hold off the Invastigan soldiers while Cass frees General Rigel.”
”How come Ci gets to make the plan?” Garth asked me.
”Because it’s a good one.”
Martician flew around the pyramid, then over the Invastigan soldiers, blowing fire at them.
While Kroft was shouting orders at the archers, I ran at him, then kicked him in the leg, knocking him off the ledge. He drew the Zordain sword at his hip and stuck it into the side of the pyramid to stop his fall, then climbed back up the side.
Cass and Garth ran towards the line of troops, Garth swinging his mace wildly at the Invastigan soldiers.
”Give me your sword!” Cass told me.
I un-buckled the sheath and tossed it to her. She drew the sword and cut the ropes tying the general.
I grabbed the sword Kroft had been holding and drew it.
It was surprisingly light, for a greatsword made of a unidentifiable metal. I charged at Kroft. He blocked my blow with confidence but was surprised by the force and accuracy of it. The sword seemed to know what to do and each blow was blocked by the other. At one point, my sword swung wildly, away from anything and cut a small hole in the air. I assumed this was the ”portal” the sword created. Martician immediately flew towards it.
”Home sweet home!” he yelled, flying through the portal.
”Ci!” Garth yelled, ”Wait!”
He then ducked from a soldier’s blow and clobbered him.
I blocked another blow (or the sword did). He blocked, I blocked, he blocked, I blocked. Both swords made you undefeatable. Garth eventually ran out of energy and ran behind Cass. She threw a fireball at the troop and knocked a few over, but they charged at us.
”Ha!” Kroft yelled as he blocked my swing. ”Your friends cannot keep up with my entire army! Eventually they will fall!”
I thought for a second then had an idea. It was a longshot, but better than waiting until Cass and Garth ran out of steam.
I swung the blade backwards, opening a portal.
”Ci!” I yelled. ”We kinda need your help!”
Martician came out of the portal, but rather than his usual self, he was a full 40-foot long dragon, with spikes and everything.
”Hi,” Martcian said in Kroft’s direction.
Martician blew fire at Kroft. It was a beautiful blue flickering beam. A deadly beautiful blue flickering beam. I stopped admiring it to jump out of its way. Kroft held the sword up and blocked most of it, but his wool pant leg caught on fire.
”Ghaaaaaaaa!” he yelled.
If time goes faster on the other side of the portal I thought, then maybe I could…
I took advantage of Kroft dancing around trying to blow on his leg, and shoved him into the portal. Seconds later, a skeleton, a metal helmet and the other Zordain Sword fell back out. I grinned and grabbed the sword, dual-wielding the two and walked to the top of the temple.
I crossed the two swords above my head. They both started to glow, then sent a shockwave of energy out, knocking everyone on the temple to the ground.
”Who’s first?” I yelled towards the pile of Invastigan soldiers at the bottom of the temple.
They all got up and ran like mad.
I un-crossed the swords and dropped to the ground.
Everyone walked over and started cheering. Even Martician. Then Dad held out his hands.
”Luke, I am going to hide the swords on opposite sides of Casanopala, three-hundred feet underground.”
”For some dude to find, and raid everything in Casanopala?” I replied, ”Noooooooooooo way. These are totally birthday presents for me.”
He laughed and then suddenly stopped and sighed.
”You aren’t joking are you?”
He’s already working on a gritty post-apocalyptic story.