Chapter 43: Revised Plan
Read all the chapters here. Enjoy!
Previously: After learning the location of one of the Terraforming spell’s crystals, Madnes and friends entered the forest and found the crowv village where it’s hiding. But in the midst of investigating, a new mystery arose: a mysterious illness that has been following crowv villages for years. They call it “bad luck” if you venture outside the village perimeters where it lurks. But what is it really? It turns out to be the work of the Red King, a grim scheme he used to create 7 power-filled crystals to run his Terraforming Spell back on Madnes’ home island. At the cost of many crowv lives.
With the mystery now solved, and the first crystal retrieved, Madnes regroups with his friends to discuss what should happen next…
“The crowv can’t stay here, not with that chemical spread about the forest,” Madnes said around a bowl of potato stew. The night air encircled the group, seated around one of several firepits warming the crowv village. Talking matters over.
“Agreed. I’m sure the White Duchess won’t mind taking them under her care, temporarily,” Cheshire’s whiskers rustled. “If that’s alright with you, Oz?”
The prince’s eyebrows dipped. “I don’t see any other options,” his reply came a touch haughty.
Madnes speared a frown Oz’s way, before turning in his pillow seat toward Pelur: The dragon knight was busy swallowing whole cabbages and potatoes down. “Pelur, do you think you’re dragon size can carry the lab prisoners, and help guide the crowv village, back to the Duchess?”
The knight’s black hair brushed over his armored shoulders as he nodded, mouth too stuffed to speak—cheeks larger than a chipmunk preparing for winter.
“Well, we now know how Red King powered up his Terraforming Spell,” Cosmic Hunter spoke around a toothpick, an arm propped over his knee lazily. “Who’d a thought such a scheme was goin’ on? Downright evil.” He took out a knife from his weapon-heavy belt and began sharpening its edge. Madnes nodded absently, agreeing with his uncle.
“There are many other villages,” the elder crowv leader spoke up. Weary days lined his voice, after having listened to Oz’s and Madnes’ grim discovery. “They are most likely living under the same threat, My Prince. You must help them.”
Madnes shifted his gaze back to Oz. It wasn’t hard to tell the prince was conflicted over something, giving the elder a curt nod. “Of course. They will be taken care of,” Oz assured, and looked away, distracted by something only he could see.
“Speaking of threat,” Harrey interrupted, still chewing, “There’s six more crystals out there, and time’s running fast. How’re we gonna find them all before our home’s gone, guys?”
The thought had crossed Madnes’ mind more than once. He didn’t like what he was about to suggest, but like Oz had said: options were limited. “I think we should split up.”
Silence rolled over the firepit like a cloud. He looked around. While no one’s expression disagreed, none seemed eager about the idea either. “It’s not ideal, I know,” he admitted, “but we can cover more ground. Each group will meet back at the Duchess’ palace once they have their crystal. It’ll take six trips between us to get them all.”
Cosmic grinned around his toothpick. “Sounds good t’ me, boy.” Harrey agreed, eager for adventure, though Alice beside him looked hesitant through the firepit’s light.
“Splitting up is ridiculous.” Knuckles cracked. “Dangerous.”
Madnes didn’t bother facing Oz, instead casting an agitated smirk to the sky. “Let me guess, Oz. You don’t want any of us to find your mother before you do. You fear we’ll bake a crow pie out of her or something. Well, we don’t have time to indulge your untrusting nature, Oz. And I’d never want to try a crow pie—believe me. Too many feathers.” Oz rolled his eyes with an irritated hiss. “We have to hurry while there’s still an Okinala left to save,” Madnes asserted. “You’ll have to decide for yourself what you want to do: Help relocate the many other crowv out there, or search for the crystals and your mother.”
Oz’s glare was ice hot.
“We don’t have time to help the crowv. But we can help your mother if she’s with one of those spell crystals,” he said. “Go help your people, Oz. Leave your mother to us, and come join in our search soon as you can.”
Without a word the prince stood and left the firepit, dark coat fading into the night. Cosmic continued sharpening his arsenal, and Harrey got a second stew helping. “Too bad nothin’s worked to break that crystal you guys brought back,” Harrey mentioned. “We’ve tried just about everything! What’s with it? How’re we supposed to stop the spell if we can’t destroy any of ‘em?”
Madnes listened as Cheshire answered. “A power greater than, or equal to, what’s been stored inside that crystal is the only thing that can destroy it, I fear.” Furry shoulders lifted, “How we find something like that…” he paused, “I’m not sure.”
The crystal gleamed, the night’s moonlight weaving through its many facets and angles. Propped against the wood wall of their group’s hut. Alice approached, looking every which way first. Most everyone was still at the firepit.
Alice could feel the hum in the air, the energy. The song of its power. She drew nearer, nearer. Gaze fixed on the glassy surface and countless shimmers within. Her body hummed in tune with its song, and a glow like sunlight pulsed underneath her skin, lighting up like a thousand fireflies in the night. She reached out, compelled to touch the clear crystal.
Nearer, nearer. Touch.
Smooth, alive, power.
A crack weaved down the crystal’s heart, top to base. It split apart.
She stared, surprised to find it split in two, its power gone. ‘It worked.’ Something behind her rustled. She faced a shadow as it melted into Oz.
‘Oh no, he saw me!’
Then a second shadow drew near, fading back into Madnes. Both looked from her to the crystal, and back.
“What did you do?”
She swallowed nervously.
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