Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sightseeing (08/08/05)
TITLE: A Quest Begins
By Amy Michelle Wiley
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Two young men stood by the river, footsore and weary, their eyes bright with the beauty of the place they had found.
“Dumi, look,” Kadar stared up.
Beautiful creatures were floating above the waterfall on gauzen wings that sparkled with iridescent colors in the sun. Their eyes seemed friendly and intelligent and their beaks opened in gentle whistles.
“Let’s camp here tonight!” Dumi cried. Soon a bright fire added its own orange light to the golden hue cast over the land by the setting sun.
As the flying creatures settled in the nearby trees for the night, Kadar arranged bedding and Dumi prepared a soup.
“Back off, Kadar. Drool is not going to improve the flavor,” Dumi chortled as his friend crowded close, sniffing the enticing aroma.
“Well we might as well enjoy it completely,” Kadar said. “Soon we’ll be out of fresh produce and have only dried stuff.”
And enjoy it they did. Soon the pot was nearly empty and the boys were content to lay back and wonder aloud about what other places they might discover on their sight-seeing journey and whether they would find the treasure of Silver Mountain.
“Do you supposed the stories about the treasure are true?” Dumi wondered.
“Well,” Kadar poked at the fire, “there’s only one way to know the truth, and that is to search it out ourselves.”
Suddenly a guttural howl rent the air with an awfulness that made the boys’ insides flop. They leapt to their feet, staring at the dark forms that nearly surrounded the camp. The beasts were almost as tall as the boys’ waists, very broad with red gleaming eyes. One roared again, a horrible, paralyzing sound. And then it charged.
Kadar dove for his bow and arrow and fired. The arrow missed and he nearly panicked. But Dumi’s warrior cry gave him courage and he sent his next arrow straight. The boys fought hard, Kadar sending his arrows true and Dumi swinging his sword with equal venom. The sound was awful—the beasts snarling and snapping their huge jaws and the boys’ desperate cries.
But finally it was over. The remaining beasts slunk back into the darkness, leaving the dead behind.
Kadar gave a cry of triumph. “We did it, Dumi!” He turned. “Dumi?!”
Dumi was hunched on the ground, blood flowing freely from his side. Raising his head, he echoed weakly, “We did it.”
The wound was gaping and torn. Kadar had the awful feeling that maybe the worst of the fight was not over, after all.
As Kadar bound the wound as best he could, Dumi’s voice floated weakly through the darkness. “Kadar, we must remember this day well. It will be quite a story to tell our grandchildren.”
At last the morning light brought relief and the terror of the night faded. Dumi’s wound was not so bad as it had seemed in the dark.
Eyeing his pale friend, Kadar boiled tea and toasted some bread, burning it only in spots. Kadar spread the bread liberally with jam for he and Dumi to enjoy as they discussed what to do next. They decided it would be best to move to higher ground, where perhaps the beasts did not roam, and there wait a few days while Dumi healed.
They were looking for a sheltered place along the top of the river when they came upon an old woman kneeling on the ground, digging for roots.
“Hello.” She looked up, her white hair wrapped neatly around her head and kind blue eyes staring out of her crinkled brown face. “You are journeying far?”
“We are seeking the treasure on Silver Mountain.” Kadar glanced in the direction of the sharp peak that rose over all the land.
A smile that began deep inside shone out the woman’s eyes. “It is said that he who seeks the treasure faithfully will find it.”
“It is real, then?” Dumi cried.
“More real than anything you’ve experienced.” The woman looked earnestly at them. “It is more than earthly treasure.” She nodded toward Dumi’s wound. “But the journey is difficult and many will laugh at you or try to hinder you.”
The boys looked at the mountain and then stared at each other. Finally they turned toward her. “We are willing.”
They had passed the first test.
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