Copyright 2016 by Sara Wilson– All rights reserved.
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This unofficial Minecraft novel is an original work of Grand Book Store which is not sanctioned nor approved by the makers of Minecraft. Minecraft is a registered trademark of, and owned by, Mojang AB, and its respective owners, which do not sponsor, authorize, or endorse this book. All characters, names, places, and other aspects of the game described herein are trademarked and owned by their respective owners.
Today started out as just a normal day around the fortress. I’d woken up to some bangs and crashes coming from Saunders’s wing, but that wasn’t anything unusual for him. I sat up and stretched, wondering what he was working on this time. He was known for trying out new and unusual potion combinations, which exploded in his face more often than not.
There was the Magic Shrinking Solution, which shrunk items down to such tiny sizes that they were microscopic and so couldn’t be found anymore. We still couldn’t lay our hands on my old sword or Sara’s collection of ‘Zombies Through the Ages’ textbooks. There was also the Mob-Be-Gone solution, which was meant to make mobs docile and pleasant, but in fact just made them angrier. Also, let’s not forget the Exploding Potion of Doom which… well. You can imagine what that did.
I got up and wandered to Saunders’ rooms, curious in spite of myself. Most of his inventions may eat holes in the floor, but sometimes he came up with something interesting.
I pushed open the door and was instantly engulfed in a cloud of black smoke. Coughing, I waved it away and saw Saunders at his work bench, covered in soot and staring at a glass bottle that had just exploded.
“Huh. I thought I had it that time,” he muttered to himself. He looked round and saw me in the doorway. “Hi! Sorry, did I wake you?”
“Yeah, but it was time to get up anyway.” I peered at the blackened, lumpy solution now gently steaming on the workbench. “What were you making this time?”
“I was trying to work out what was in that potion Marigold was using.” Saunders poked at the mess with a stick.
“You were what?” A few months ago, the witch Marigold had sneaked into the fortress after making herself invisible, and had tried to pour a particularly noxious potion over Sara while she was sleeping. Luckily we’d caught her in time, but not before the solution had burned an actual hole through the floorboards.
“Why did you do that?” I asked. “That stuff’s too dangerous to be messing with. Remember I asked you to bury it so no one else could use it?”
“Yeah, I know, but I dug it back up because I wanted to examine it. I thought it could be useful to us, in case anything kicks off.”
“Like what? We’ve not heard anything in weeks. There hasn’t even been any mobs hanging around outside for us to take pot shots at. Why do we need this stuff?”
“That’s only because Simon lit this place up like Christmas with his huge barrier. Besides, trouble always seems to find us, so why not be prepared?”
I shook my head. “I still don’t like it. It seems… evil, somehow.”
Saunders shrugged. “I can stop working on it, if you want. I’m still fine tuning the Mob B Gone…”
“No, no, it’s ok. Just keep it safe, ok? I don’t want it falling into the wrong hands.” I left his workshop and shut the door, and almost instantly heard an explosion behind it. I didn’t bother to check what he’d done now.
I decided, instead, to go check on Simon. He’d been busy the last couple of weeks building a huge defensive perimeter wall around the fortress. When I’d built the fortress, back before our team had gotten together, I hadn’t bothered to build a wall. I’d included a large moat that kept out most of the nasties, but the occasional zombie or skeleton slipped though and got to the fortress. Thanks to the high lookout towers I’d included, they weren’t much of problem for me and my trusty bow, but Simon had still been worried.
To combat the problem, he had decided to surround the entire area with a 20 foot tall obsidian wall. It had taken him weeks to collect the material to build it, and I had suggested that he pick a less rare material instead. “Stone would work just as well,” I had said at the time.
“No,” Simon had responded, “I want it to be obsidian. Almost nothing can break its way through, and besides, it’ll look cooler.”
Being our resident building expert, I’d left him to it. As I went out to check on him now, he was putting the finishing touches on the gate that would let us and visitors in and out of the area. Torches studded the walls every couple of feet, lighting up the area and making sure nothing could spawn between the wall and the fortress. My private fortress was looking more and more like an adventuring team’s hideout every day, and felt a lot safer too.
“Wow,” I said as I walked over. “It’s looking good, Simon.”
He climbed down off the wall and smiled at me, a pick in his hand. “Thanks Steve. It’s pretty much done now.”
“I’m glad you went with the obsidian. You were right, it’s much cooler.”
“Definitely.” He looked up at the wall and back at me. “I guess it’s done, but I’m not sure…”
“It looks pretty done to me.” I was worried. Simon was an excellent builder, but he did like to… tinker with his creations. He’d created a basement for the fortress not long ago, which had been really helpful, but then he kept trying to expand it… three hours and hundreds of buckets later, we’d finally finished bailing it out after he’d managed to hit the moat.
“Well, yeah, the wall itself will keep things out. However, it’s built on dirt, and you can blow that up if you try hard enough. What if something gets under?”
“How much of a risk is that, really? It’s only creepers that blow up, and they won’t unless the threat’s nearby.” I gestured at the towers. “We’re never close enough for them to even see us.”
“Hmm. I might try digging some trenches underneath and putting more obsidian in, like an underground defence. What do you think?”
I shrugged. We were quiet at the moment, and everyone was happier when they had a project. “Go for it,” I said. “But won’t it take a long time to gather the materials?”
It was Simon’s turn to shrug. “We’re not in a rush, right?”
“I suppose not.”
I left him to it, and wandered back into the fortress. Since I’d checked in on the other two, I decided to see what Sara was up to as well. I walked towards our library, and as I approached the door I heard a loud CRASH!
I burst into the room to find a huge mountain of books on the floor and an arm waving feebly out from underneath it.
“Erm… could you help me please?” asked Sara, muffled by the 100 volumes of the Encyclopaedia of Wheat.
I dug her out, stood her up, and brushed her off. She shook the dust out of her hair and then flipped through the book in her hand.
“Aha! Yes, this was the one I wanted.” She sat down in a nearby armchair and started to read.
“Er… Sara? What were you looking for?”
She looked up from her book. “Oh? This, it’s The Myth of Wizards and Why They Certainly Don’t Exist.
“But… they do. We met one. He sucked.”
It was true. A few months ago, we’d discovered that Marigold was working with Niflyn, a powerful and dangerous wizard that had latched onto her plan of creating magical monsters, and created something dangerous and highly unpredictable. He’d slipped out of our grasp, and we’d lost him.
“I know. But this book is still useful, as I’m guessing it was written by a wizard to cover their tracks. There’s more of them around, I’m sure of it. They keep hidden as far as I can tell, as they want to be left alone.”
“Are they all as bad as Niflyn?” I pictured us having to fight an army of wizards, and it wasn’t pretty.
“Not sure yet,” said Sara, nose back in her book. “More research is required.”
I turned to leave, as trying to talk to Sara when she was reading was pretty much a fool’s errand. Once she was deep in its pages, you couldn’t get her attention even if the room was on fire. As I got to the door though, I turned around.
I got a muffled grunt in response.
“Have you heard from Sabrina recently?”
At that, her head popped back up again. “Sabrina? As a matter of fact, I did.” She got out of her chair and went to rummage in a nearby desk, which was overflowing with papers. “She wrote to me the other day.”
Sabrina was Sara’s friend who had been forced by Marigold to work for her when she was plotting against us. She’d redeemed herself by saving us from Niflyn’s monster, and revealed that she’d found that she was in possession of some magical powers of her own. She’d captured both Marigold and the beast, and took them both back to Sara’s home village, Wellspring. Since then, we’d heard barely anything from her, other than that she still had the prisoners under control and she was still working on her powers.
“Aha! Here it is!” Sara cleared her throat and began to read.
I hope you’re doing well back home with your new team. I bet you’re having all kinds of adventures, just like all the heroes you used to read about in your books. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll end up in one! Wouldn’t that be cool?
It’s pretty quiet here. I’ve been practicing my spells, I want to master fire, but when I tried to light a candle in the back garden, I managed to set fire to a nearby tree. Luckily it didn’t spread far, but the villagers are now a bit wary of me every time I go to the store for matches.
Marigold’s still unhappy with me, mostly because I won’t let her talk to anybody outside of the house. Given her previous history, it strikes me as a really bad idea for her to get a penpal. I’ve tried asking her how she got in contact with that wizard, but she’s not telling. I’ll crack her, it’ll just take time.
It’s the werewolf who worries me. He just stayed in his cage for a while, but recently he’s been snapping and snarling at me when I came in to feed him. Over the last few days, I’ve noticed that he’s changing shape, slowly but surely. I think at the moment he has hands? That’s not right, is it?
Will you come check him out for me? Maybe one of you guys will be able to tell me what’s going on!
Let me know soon!
Today we’re on the train back into Wellspring. After reading Sabrina’s letter, I decided we really needed to pay her a visit. It had been a few days since Sara had received the letter, so who knew what was happening with the werewolf now? I wanted to check it out before anything got out of control.
Once Sara had finished reading the letter to me, I said, “Why didn’t you show this to me when it came in? This is important!”
“Why?” Sara put the letter back on the desk and picked her book back up.
“Because what’s happening to that wolf? How do we know that wizard’s not still controlling it somehow? We need to check it out before it’s too late!”
“Wow, you’re sounding pretty panicky about this. Are you sure it’s that big of a problem?”
“Definitely. I want to go look at it. Just for my own peace of mind.”
“Sure.” Sara shrugged. “It’s be nice to see Sabrina again, anyway.”
So we jumped on the train this morning, after sending a letter on to Sabrina letting her know we’re on our way. I invited Saunders and Simon, but they’re both knee deep in their own projects and, like Sara, didn’t see the problem the way I did.
I hoped that they were right and I was wrong, but I had a bad feeling about this wolf…
We got to Wellspring late last night, and made our way directly to Sabrina’s house, which used to be Marigold’s old mansion. As we walked through the village, Sara looked rather worried and stayed close to me. I couldn’t blame her. Back when she was Marigold’s assistant, the villagers saw her as another bad guy they needed to stay away from. The last time we were here, she didn’t exactly receive a warm welcome.
This time though, she needn’t have worried. Villagers packing their stalls for the evening waved hello to us, and a few even ran up to us and shook us warmly by the hand.
“You saved the village,” said one elderly gentleman with a surprisingly strong grip. “We didn’t know just how dangerous that witch was.” He looked at Sara. “We’re sorry for how we treated you, we didn’t know. Anything we can do for you, let us know.”
“Will do, thanks.” I looked at Sara, who looked utterly mystified.
As we approached the mansion, we saw just how much influence Sabrina’s ownership had had on it. The previously dirty walls and broken doors and windows had all been mended and spruced up. The front door now sat neatly in its frame, with a brand new coat of light blue paint. Flowers bloomed from every available surface in the front garden, making walking up the front path feel like we were wading through a sea of flowers. Bees buzzed happily around, and every now and then we spotted a rabbit snuffling its way around. It was completely unrecognizable as the haunted looking, broken down old house that it had been when Marigold had control of it.
“It’s amazing, it didn’t look this good when I lived here,” said Sara, who had stopped to lean down and smell some daisies that nestled in a crack in the wall.
“Looks like she’s doing the place some good,” I replied.
We reached the front door and before we could even knock, Sabrina opened the door. She grabbed Sara and caught her in a bear hug, and when she was done she repeated the process with me.
“I’m so glad to see you both! It’s been too long!” she exclaimed, ushering us inside.
The inside of the house was as unrecognisable as the outside. The walls were painted bright white, and light streamed in from every cleaned up window. All the old, broken furniture was gone, replaced with new pieces that held shiny knick knacks. Cats wandered up and down the halls, finding comfy spots in the sun in which to nap.
“I didn’t have you down as a cat person” I said, leaning down to tickle a tabby behind the ears. The cat purred, and rubbed itself around my legs.
“They’ve been coming to me ever since I cleaned the house up,” said Sabrina. “I don’t know why, but they’re drawn to the house. They’re nice to have around, so I’ve let them have the run of the place.”
“You’re a witch,” said Sara, picking up a black and white cat and stroking it under the chin. “They’re drawn to you because cats are traditionally witches’ familiars.”
Sara raised her eyebrows. “Is that why? I’m so behind on everything. I’m still learning so much.” She gestured through a nearby open door. “Come on in and sit down. I’ve got some tea somewhere, I’ll make some and tell you all about what’s been happening here.”
We sat down in plush oversized sofas, and discovered a new gang of cats who instantly made themselves comfortable on our laps. When Sabrina came back with a tray of tea, we both looked as if we were wearing fur coats.
“I see you made some friends,” she laughed, setting the tray down.
“You really are popular with the cats here,” I said, as yet another one tried to climb onto my head.
Sabrina cried, “Shoo!” and the cats reluctantly climbed off us and wandered away. Sara looked a bit sad to see them go, but I noticed she started brushing fur off her clothes as soon as Sabrina wasn’t looking.
“I’m glad you two came, to be honest. I’m not on my own here, but Marigold’s still sulking and the wolf… well, it’s not like he’s much for conversation.” She sipped he tea, thoughtfully.
“How’s the wolf looking at the moment? You were rather concerned about him in your letter.”
She nodded. “Yes, it’s really strange. He’s transforming, but I don’t know why or how. My research isn’t really helping me, I’m too new to all of this. I was hoping you’d be able to help me.”
“I’m not sure we know any more than you do,” said Sara, “but we’ll try our best.”
Sabrina smiled. “I knew you guys would. Look, it’s late, so why don’t you stay the night? We can get to work tomorrow.”
We made our way upstairs, where more cats lounged around on sofas and side tables. A few opened an eye to check us out as we walked past, but on the whole they weren’t bothered by our presence. Sabrina showed us to two rooms at the end of the hallway. “If you need anything, let me know.” With that, she headed off to her own room, and the cats got up, stretched, and followed her.
The next morning, I was woken up by a white cat pawing experimentally at my face.
“Push off, kitty” I said, picking it up and putting it aside. It took offense and jumped off the bed, slinking through the door while giving me a dirty look.
Sara watched it as she made her way in. “You make a friend?” she asked.
“Hardly. I think it was checking to see if I was alive, as it wanted to eat me.”
“I like them, they’re cute, but the fur is something else. It took me ages to brush it all off my clothes this morning.”
“What’s it like, being back in your old home?”
Sara paused. “It’s strange. It’s not so bad, as it looks nothing like when we lived here. It was always so dark, and I was never allowed to use torches to light it up. It doesn’t feel like the same home.”
“Well, it looks like Sabrina’s changing things for the better, don’t you think?”
“I hope so. Remember, she was working for Marigold before.”
“You don’t trust her?”
“I don’t know yet, is what I’m saying. Don’t say anything to her yet.”
I considered this. “I didn’t realise you felt this way. You seemed so pleased to come on this trip.”
“Well, Sabrina’s my friend; of course I missed her. But still…” Sara trailed off.
I swung my legs out of the bed. “Well, let’s go and see what’s happening.”
We made our way downstairs and found Sabrina in the kitchen, holding a food dish and surrounded by cats. They were all mewing loudly and climbing up her legs, trying to reach their breakfast.
“Here, here!’ she put it down in the corner, and five or six cats began munching away happily.
She saw us come in, and hurried to pull two chairs out at the table. “Morning! Sit, sit! I’ll make breakfast!” She waited till we had sat down, and busied herself at the oven making breakfast.
“Morning, Sabrina,” I said. “I was wondering when you wanted us to come and look at this wolf for you?”
She came over, holding two plates piled high with delicious treats that she placed in front of us. “As soon as you’re finished here,” she said. “I’m sure you’re really busy, so I thought we’d get to work as soon as possible.”
“I never knew you to be a cook,” said Sara, picking at her breakfast.
“I never was when I lived in Swordclash” she said. “I had someone who cooked for me because I was so busy. Now, though, I’ve had to learn. I’m doing pretty well though, wouldn’t you say?”
“It sounds like your life’s changed a lot,” I said, with a mouth full of fried egg.
“You could say that,” said Sabrina, tucking into her own breakfast.
Once we’d finished, she led us downstairs into the mansion’s basement. The light and airy atmosphere of the upstairs house was gone, replaced with dark, damp stone walls and few torches creating pools of weak light in the darkness.
“Why’s it so dark in here?” asked Sara, after tripping over a step she couldn’t see in the gloom.
“It’s because of the wolf,” Sabrina explained. “I tried to fix things up down here, but when I started putting torches in, he just howled and howled until I took them away again. I can’t do anything until we figure out what to do with him.”
We turned a corner, and saw a long bank of rooms with locked doors keeping them shut.
“Is this… is this a jail?” I asked.
“This wasn’t here when I lived here” said Sara, shocked. “When was this built?” She gawped at the long row of cells in front of us. How many of them were there? How many people had Marigold been keeping locked up?
“I think Marigold put it in when Niflyn showed up. I don’t know if they’d been imprisoning anything yet, but they were clearly designed for magical creatures. Look inside this one here.” Sabrina slid back a panel on the nearest door, and motioned for us to look.
We pressed up against the door, and saw a room beyond it that couldn’t possibly be under this mansion. It was so huge we could barely see the back wall. The walls weren’t the dingy stone of the basement, but lined with obsidian, and barred windows looked out onto what looked like a meadow.
“Designed for a dragon, I think,” said Sabrina, as she saw our faces. “Magically extended to fit one in, obsidian to stop it breathing fire and damaging the walls to escape. She was thinking of everything.”
“Or Niflyn was.” A thought occurred to me. “Where is Marigold? You said you were keeping her here?”
“She’s in one of these rooms,” said Sabrina. When she saw the look on our faces, she said, quickly, “Oh no, no, I’m looking after her! I took a page out of her book with her room. You can check in on her afterwards, if you want.”
Sara looked grey at the thought. “Maybe not just yet,” I said. “Take us to the wolf’s room.”
“Sure.” Sabrina lead us down the corridor a little way, and stopped at a door that bore long scratch marks down it.
“That’s iron,” breathed Sara. “Did he do that?”
Sabrina nodded. “He wasn’t too pleased at being locked up, but what could I do? He was dangerous.”
She slid the panel back on the door, and we peered in. This room couldn’t have been more different than dragon room. The walls were the same dank stone, but they were covered in deep claw marks and scratches. In one or two places, I could even see bites taken out of the walls. There were windows on the back wall, but they had been covered up with black wool carpet tiles to keep the light out, casting the room in perpetual gloom.
What was most astonishing was the creature lying in the middle of the floor. Curled up on the stone flags was what looked at first to be an overgrown wolf. Even in the dark, we could see its ears twitching and its tail swishing back and forth against the floor. However, when you looked closer, something wasn’t quite right. The snout was too short for a proper wolf’s, and its paws has become elongated, with long toes ending in broken claws. The legs were too long also, and its fur appeared to be coming off in big clumps. We could see them strewn around the jail cell.
“What even is he?” I asked, stepping back from the door.
“I have some ideas,” said Sabrina, “but I think only Marigold can really answer that, unless Wolfy here decides to talk.”
“Can he talk?” asked Sara.
“Possibly. I’ve been looking into werewolves, and they’re part man, part wolf. My best guess is that he was a person before Niflyn and Marigold got hold of him, and now he’s morphing back into his original form.”
“What do you want us to do? Neither of us have the skill to help him. Surely you’re more qualified,” I said, aghast at the thought that the wolf was actually a living, breathing person.
“I’m still new at this. Even if I knew what spell or potion could help him, I couldn’t implement it. I need you because I think Marigold will talk to you.”
“Why on earth would she talk to us, or do what we say?”
“Why?” Sabrina laughed. “She’s afraid of you!”
Last night I finally saw Marigold for the first time since we foiled her plans. Sara decided to stay away from her. “I can’t talk to her,” she said. “I don’t know what to say. After all she’s done?”
I could understand. Sara used to be Marigold’s library assistant. Marigold had taken her in when Sara felt alone and lonely, and at first their partnership had been positive and productive. Soon, though, the witch had become more reclusive and worrying in her creations, and had moved them both from this beautiful house to a hastily carved home inside a cave. We’d stumbled across Sara hiding in her makeshift library when we were looking for the giant, one of Marigold’s earlier creations. We took her into our team, and then had gone after Marigold. The rest, as they say, is history.
Sabrina had told me where Marigold’s cell was, and had given me a key. “I wanted to keep her upstairs in the house, but she was too dangerous. She was threatening to destroy Wellspring and come after you all. Luckily, I managed to trap her in here. She’s comfortable, but she is a prisoner.” Sabrina looked ashamed at the notion of having a prisoner.
“It’s ok. You did what you had to do,” I told her.
I went to the jail and knocked on the right door. Even though I had a key, I felt as though manners had to be observed. This meeting had to go perfectly. “Marigold?” I called. “It’s Steve. I’m here to talk to you.”
A reedy voice from inside said “Steve? What are you going to do to me?”
“Nothing” I called back. “I have no weapons, I just want to talk. I’m going to open the door in a minute. I hope you’re ready.”
With that, I put the key in the lock and turned it with a hefty clunk. I opened it, and for a moment I was gobsmacked.
If the other cells had been a surprise, it was nothing compared to this. Marigold’s cell was designed to resemble an enormous living space, complete with a roaring fire that Marigold sat in front of in a huge wing backed armchair. Plush carpet covered the floor, and the walls were lined with row upon row of bookshelves. One book was in her hand as she sat and stared at me.
“Why are you here?” she asked, querulously.
“I think you have a good idea.” I gathered myself, and shut the door behind me. The key came on a long strip of leather, which I looped around my neck and tucked into my shirt. I didn’t know if Marigold had any ideas, but it never hurt to take precautions. I walked over, and sat across from her in the other armchair without asking. She glared at me.
“See you’ve landed on your feet here. I saw your other cells. You have it pretty good.”
“HA!” Marigold scowled. “This is my house. MINE! How dare that upstart lock me in here?”
“She had good reason and we both know it. Creating magical creatures? Threatening to harm the people who live here? Trying to kill Sara?” I glared at her. She recoiled slightly. Good, I thought. Let’s see how she likes it.
“So, I have questions for you, Marigold, and you’re going to answer them.”
“Says who? I’d like to see you try and make me.”
“Oh, you will. You want to get out of here, right? Sabrina’s merciful. She made this cell more than comfortable for you. Help us out, and we’ll help you out. It’s as easy as that.”
“Says you. How do I know you’ll keep your word?”
“Because I’m not an evil witch who tries to kill her friends?”
Marigold bristled at that. “You don’t know what was happening! I did what I had to do!”
“And that involved killing people? Setting traps? You nearly blew us all up at the cave with that TNT trap!” I could feel myself getting angrier and angrier. Did she not care what she had done?
“Maybe. I did what I had to keep myself safe.” She sat back in her chair.
“Either way, I’m true to my word. Help me now, and I’ll help you get out of here. Don’t, and you can stay here forever for all I care. All I need is for you to answer a few questions.”
Marigold considered it. “Ask your questions,” she said. “I’ll think about answering them.”
Good enough, I thought. “The werewolf,” I said. “Was he human at any point?”
“He was some fisherman we picked up on our travels,” Marigold said, waving a hand dismissively. “He was nothing. We were testing our theories out on him when you showed up and ruined it.”
“Ok. Can we change him back? He’s half human, half wolf at the minute. How do we fix it?”
“Oh, he’ll be human again soon enough. The spell wears off, but Niflyn cast it and he’s much more powerful than even I am. You can do what you like with him then.” Marigold shrugged.
“Fine.” I made a mental note to check back in with the wolf. “Next question, what’s Niflyn up to? What was he trying to achieve with the… werewolf, was it? What’s his plan?”
Marigold didn’t answer at first. Instead, she examined her long, red fingernails.
“That’s fine, I can leave now.” I went to get up out of my chair.
“No! No! Wait, I’ll tell you!” Marigold, for the first time, looked panicked. “Don’t you dare leave me here!”
“Answer the question, then. What’s his plan?” I sat back down.
“Look, I don’t know everything. He wouldn’t tell me. He’s paranoid, a schemer.” She leaned towards me. “If I tell you what I know, you can’t let him know it was me who told you. He’ll come after me, and poof!” She clicked her fingers. “I’ll be history.”
“Ok, I won’t tell. He doesn’t need to know. Tell me.”
“He heard I was trying to make magical creatures, and reached out to me. He said he had his own plans, but if we could help each other, we could both get what we wanted. I just wanted some creatures to work for me, some security, you know, when the villagers got antsy and decided it was my fault the rains flooded their wheat crops.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“You’re not magical! You don’t know what it’s like! Niflyn said he’d be able to help me. Then we went and found that fisherman. I’d just been experimenting on animals, sheep mostly. But people? He was thinking big.”
It sounded as though Marigold respected Niflyn for his ideas. I shuddered.
“He said he was going to find a whole village of people. A whole town! All those people, just for him to create all these wonderful things from!” Marigold cackled. “Can you imagine it?”
“I don’t know what happened when you met up with him, but you went wrong. Where has he gone? Tell me!” I was out of my chair, standing over her. “Where has he gone?”
“Lunaris!” she squeaked. “He’s gone to Lunaris!”
My blood ran cold. I turned and ran for the door, ignoring Marigold who was screaming. “What about our deal, Steve? Are you going to lie, too? You’re all the same. YOU’RE ALL THE SAME!” She threw her book at me, but I’d already closed the door so it bounced harmlessly off the iron with a soft bong. I ran down the hallway, yelling for Sara and Sabrina.
“Niflyn’s in Lunaris!” I yelled. “Everyone’s in danger! We’ve got to go, NOW!”
We got on the last train out of Wellspring, and made our way back to the fortress. I paced up and down the train carriage, while Sara and Sabrina looked on nervously.
“Lunaris?” said Sara, softly. “He can’t be. Surely?”
“He must know,” said Sabrina. “He knows your history. He’s baiting you, Steve. He knew Marigold would tell you.”
“What are we going to do? I must warn them. It’s at least three day’s walk to the town. I won’t get there before he turns them all into werewolves, or… who knows what!” I threw up my hands.
“Listen to me,” said Sabrina, calmly. “This Niflyn, he likes to create a scene. We’ve seen that for ourselves. He’s not going to do a thing until he knows for sure you’re back in the area. We’ve got time, we can gather our resources, get the team together, put together a plan. It’s bad, but it’s not an emergency.”
“Not yet.” I sat down and put my head in my hands. He was in Lunaris! My home town! I never thought I’d go back, I thought I’d left it all behind me. Instead, I had to go back and face everyone, and in the process, try and save them. Did they even know they were in danger?
When we got back, I called everyone together in the library to put our action plan together. Everyone’s faces were grim when I walked into the room. Sara and Sabrina must have told the others.
“Ok, team, we have to take Niflyn out once and for all. He’s going to decimate Lunaris and who knows where else. Until he’s stopped, everyone is in danger.”
Sabrina said, “We have some time. As I said on the train, he won’t act until he knows you’re there, Steve. We can come up with our best plan and get together everything we need before we go.”
“Are you coming, Sabrina? What about Marigold and the wolf?”
“They’ll be ok. There’s a boy in Wellspring who helps me out when I need it. All he has to do is put food through the doors, really. They’ll be ok until I get back.”
I nodded. “Good. Ok, we saw what this guy is capable of. Any suggestions?”
“If he has powerful magic, we can’t really hope to match it, but we could interrupt it.” Saunders mused. “Sabrina, what do you think? Could you do anything to stop or interrupt him?”
“Possibly. It depends on what spells he uses. I can counter some things, but I’m not sure I’m really powerful enough.”
“He’ll need somewhere big, if he’s hoping to take over an entire town,” said Simon. ‘He’ll probably have built a huge tower, something high up and imposing. He’ll want to frighten people.”
“Sounds plausible,” I said. “Would he need a building to do what he’s planning to do?”
“He’ll need a jail similar to what you guys described if he’s trying to make some kind of magical creature army. If we can destroy it somehow, it’ll postpone his plan, at least.”
“Ok, that’s something. I think if we can bulldoze his base, that can give us some breathing room until he tries to rebuild somewhere else. In the meantime, Sabrina and Saunders, you two can come up with something that can stop Niflyn in his tracks. Sara, you can help, somewhere in that library we’ve got to have something on counter spells, neutralising potions, something.”
Sara nodded. “I’ll get on it right now,” she said, and began pulling books down from nearby shelves.
“Ok, Simon. Get whatever you need and meet me outside. We’re heading to Lunaris as soon as possible.”
After our meeting yesterday, I fetched my armour and diamond sword, and waited for Simon outside the fortress. Before long, he came through the doors, laden down by pickaxes, shovels, and a bag full of TNT.
“When did you get TNT?” I asked, gaping at the firepower he was carrying around so casually.
“What, you think all the gunpowder that was lying around after that last creeper attack just disappeared? Waste not, want not,” he said, adjusting his tool belt. “If I plant this properly, we can level all of Niflyn’s prisons in one go.”
“Ok, but I hope you know how to use that stuff.” I point out to the West. “That’s the way we go. Best get going now, while we’ve still got the light.”
With that, we set off.
The next day, while on our trek, Simon became curious about the situation back home. “Have you told anyone you’re coming back?” he asked, as we trudged along.
“No. The less Niflyn hears about me, the better. I don’t want him getting wind of us and escaping, or doing something worse.”
Simon was silent for a moment, then asked, “Why did you leave? I heard you were a big deal in Lunaris a few years ago.”
I sighed. “I was, but it all went sour. I used to solve a lot of people’s problems, but then a job went wrong and some people were very unhappy. It was much easier to leave than put up with that any longer.”
“Huh. So… you’re not exactly happy about going back, then?”
“Not really, no.”
We carried on in silence, Simon deciding that it was best not to ask any more questions.
Today, I thought about all the people I had left behind when I had left Lunaris. I had left at night, when everybody was asleep, so I could get away cleanly. There were people who would have wanted to say goodbye, but I couldn’t face it. I had to get away and start a new life, away from everybody’s expectations.
Had I really gotten away, though? I may have run away from the adventuring life, but it had found me instead, as each member of our team stumbled into my path. They all knew of me, because of course they did. Did I really think I could get away from who I really was?
Finally, this evening, we made our way through the gates of Lunaris. I had gotten Simon to agree to enter the town when it was late, to avoid the crowds of people that usually milled around in the square. Walking into that town square felt bizarre. I never thought I’d be back in this place.
“Well… I hate to say it, but I was right.” Simon pointed up.
Hulking over the little town was an enormous black tower, standing almost a hundred feet in the air. Light shone from within, giving the tower a strange, ominous glow. I knew instantly that this had to be Niflyn.
As we stood gaping, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“Steve? Is that really you?”
I turned round and saw the last person I’d ever expected to see, especially at this time of night.
“Sia?” I said. “What are you doing out at this time of night?”
“Getting you inside, idiot! Why do you think the place is deserted? Get out of sight before someone sees you!” With that, she grabbed my hand and dragged me into a nearby house, Simon running to keep up with us.
“Sia, what’s going on?” I asked, as she threw us both inside and locked the doors.
“That lunatic moved in, that’s what! He’s been rounding people up for the smallest things! You remember Tim, the farmer?”
I nodded. Simon still looked bewildered.
“He herded his sheep through the town last week during the market, and he was thrown into the tower! No one’s seen him since. I’m scared, Steve. I’m so glad you’re back.” With that, she rushed to me and threw her arms around my neck in a hug. When she pulled back, she punched me in the arm. “That’s for leaving without saying anything! I thought something had happened to you for the longest time…”
“Yeah, ok… not to be rude, but who are you? What’s going on?” Simon was sufficiently confused enough to ignore his normal polite and genial manner.
“Er, yes, sorry. Simon, this is Sia. She’s my little sister,” I said, gesturing towards her. “Sia, this is Simon. We’re part of an adventuring team back in the East.”
“You made an adventuring team?” Sia eyed me incredulously. “After last time?”
“Circumstances demanded it, and then it seemed to suit us all quite well. We’ve not been licked yet.” I turned to Simon. “This all sounds like Niflyn’s work. We’ll have to work quickly if he’s rounding people up.”
“Maybe he doesn’t want to showboat after all.” Simon pulled a notebook and a quill from his bag. “I’ll send a note to the others, I think they’ll have to come and help us out.”
“Others?” asked Sia.
“Yeah, the rest of the team are back home, and we’re going to need them. Look, Sia, I’m glad to see you, but we need to sit down and you need to tell me when he showed up and what he’s done. We have reason to believe he’s incredibly dangerous, and I want to know everything I can before we take him on.”
It was Sia’s turn to sigh now. “Fine. Sit down, get comfortable. I’ll go set up the guest room for you, then I’ll come back and tell you everything I know.”
Sia bustled out of the room, and Simon gaped at me again. “You never told us you had a sister!” he said.
“I never said anything about my family. I don’t like talking about it,” I said. “When we were younger, our parents disappeared after going out to hunt. After that, I was the one who looked after her. By the time I left, I’d taught her everything I know. She’s more than capable of looking after herself.”
“Is she a fighter like you, then?”
“Yeah, but she much prefers the bow to the sword. She used to sit in trees and take pot shots at skeletons hiding in the dark, then pick up their bows and arrows when she bested them. She saved a lot of wood and flint that way.”
“Huh.” As Simon said this, Sia came back in, and gestured for us to sit down.
“Sit down, I said. Here, look, this sofa is the comfiest.” She swept the litter of books and arrow making supplies off the seats to let us sit down. We did as we were told.
She sat down in the opposing armchair. “He showed up about a month ago,” she said. “What did you call him?”
“Niflyn,” we both said. “Niflyn the Terrible, I hear he calls himself,” I added.
“Really?” Sia scoffed. “When he got here, he called himself Peter, and told us he was going to make all of our lives better. He claimed that old land at the back of town, you know, where Bertie used to whittle bowls all day? He said he was just building himself a small home, but then he built that monstrosity. When people complained, they started disappearing. Soon, he declared himself the Lord of Lunaris, and began imprisoning people for the slightest things. No one can visit those who are in prison, and now everyone’s afraid that they’re next. Lots of people just up and left town, but many have stayed because their loved ones are locked up. It’s horrible.” Her shoulders slumped. “They’ve got Harry,” she said, tears in her eyes.
“Harry?” I whispered. “What happened?”
“He was outside after dark. He was just sitting outside his house, watching the stars, and then he was gone. That was the last anyone saw of him.” With that, Sia started crying.
I got up and put my arm around her, startled. I hadn’t seen Sia cry since she was a little girl. Harry was our oldest friend, as we’d grown up in the village together. We’d spent almost every day together, and now he was gone? We had to get in the tower, as soon as possible.
Today we woke up with the sun and Simon snuck out, in order to send his letter back to our teammates back home. We walked around the perimeter of the town, Sia pointing out the homes that had been abandoned or had family members missing, hopefully still locked up in the tower. The alternative was too horrible to imagine.
As the sun rose higher, some people emerged from their homes and scurried around the town, reaching other buildings and being pulled inside by other residents. Everyone looked strained under the weight of all their worry, and no one looked twice at us. I didn’t blame them. The last time they’d welcomed an outsider, he’d betrayed them deeply.
And to think I was worried about being recognised, I thought. Right now, I would have welcomed being mobbed by a few fans. This was too spooky for me.
Sia brought us to the foot of the tower. When I lived here, this area was always a spare parcel of meadow that we used to play in, waving toy wooden swords around and fighting imaginary dragons. Now, though, it was deserted. Not a child was to be seen, but instead the tower just squatted there, with a single person standing guard at the door.
“Just one guard?” Simon whispered as we spied on him. “How’s he meant to stop the whole village, if they decided to storm the tower all at once?”
“It’s not just him,” I replied. “There’ll be other defences too. We just can’t see them. Plus, Niflyn’s got the entire village afraid of him, who’s going to risk angering him? They’ll end up in the tower like anyone else.”
Sia was squinting at the guard. “Hey, I think I recognise him,” she said.
“Really? Who is it?” I looked, but I couldn’t spot who it was. The guard wore heavy iron armour, including a helmet that appeared slightly too big for him. It slipped over his eyes, and every few minutes he had to adjust it so he could see.
‘It’s Roger!” Sia said, excitedly. “I knew it! Penny will be so glad when we bring him back!” With that, she walked out into the open.
“Sia, no!” I hissed, but she wasn’t listening to me now. It was too dangerous to go after her, so all I could do was stand and watch as she wandered over to the door. The guard just stared ahead aimlessly, as though she wasn’t there.
“Roger!” she called out as she got nearer. “Roger, is that you?”
Roger wasn’t replying, if indeed it was him.
“Hey! Roger! Why are you ignoring me?” As we watched, she walked up to him, and grabbed his helmet. My heart froze as she yanked it off his head, but the guard didn’t even blink.
“It is you! Penny’s been worried sick, she was terrified you’d been spirited away and she’d never see you again. Look, come with us now, we can get you home and then we can rescue everyone else. They’re all in the tower, aren’t they?” She began pulling on his arm, but Roger remained rooted to the spot. She looked back to us, and I mouthed Get back here, NOW!
Sia ignored me. Instead, she pulled harder. “Come ON, Roger,” she said. “You can’t stay here, it’s incredibly dangerous.” No matter how hard she pulled, he wouldn’t move. It was as if he’d been nailed to that exact spot.
“What’s going on?” Unable to move Roger, Sia instead decided to try the door. Dreading the worst, I burst out of cover and sprinted for her.
“Sia, NO!” I yelled.
“It’s not locked, look!” Sia pulled the door open, and as soon as she did, an ear splitting screech began to issue forth from the tower. Roger suddenly came to life, and pulled a sword that we hadn’t spotted before. He advanced upon Sia, holding it above his head.
Sia backed away. “Roger, it’s me,” she said, her hands above her head. “You remember me, right? I brought you all that steak last month for your birthday! Penny said you love steak! Why are you doing this?”
Roger showed no inkling of having heard her. I reached Sia, and just as he was about to swing his sword down, I rugby tackled her to the ground. The sword swung, and impaled the ground just by my head.
“RUN!” I yelled. I grabbed Sia’s hand, yanked her up, and we began running for safety. Roger was still clomping behind us, waving that sword around.
There was an abandoned house just down the lane, so I led Sia and Simon towards it. Roger wasn’t fast, so I hoped we’d lose him. I ripped the door open, threw them inside, and shut it behind us. Before long, I could hear Roger on the other side, thumping at the wood and splintering it.
“Hide!” I said, and they both leapt into a nearby chest. I stood at the door, sword at the ready.
The door fell apart as Roger hacked at it, and soon he stood in the doorway, sword above his head again. I raised my own sword, and knocked his out of his hands with one swift blow. Roger kept advancing.
I backed away, unsure what to do now. Roger wasn’t giving up, and how could I stop him? I didn’t want to attack him, I’d known him and his wife Penny for as long as I could remember.
As I was thinking that I had no choice but to hit him, I noticed something. Glinting the light coming in through the dusty windows was something just by Roger’s ear. It was small and blue, embedded slightly in his skin. I leaned forward, and as quickly as I could, I yanked it out.
Roger stumbled, and fell to the floor. Sia jumped out of the chest and ran to his side. “Roger?” she said, as she helped him back up.
He looked around at his surroundings, looking dazed. “How did I get here?” he asked. “Did I escape?”
“You don’t know what happened?” I asked. He looked much more like himself, I had to admit.
“No! I remember getting taken away by that horrible man. Then they put me in a chair, and stuck that thing in my head,” he said, gesturing at the thing I was still holding.
We all looked at it. It looked like a normal chip of diamond, but my guess was that it had been enchanted to keep Roger from rebelling and setting everybody free.
“Huh, that’s interesting. We’ll have to have Sabrina look at it when they get here. I hope they’re on their way by now.”
Roger looked at me as though he was seeing me for the first time. “Steve?” he asked. “Is it really you?”
“Certainly is,” I said. “I found out you were all in trouble so I decided to come back and help out. I’m bringing some friends, too.”
“I knew you would!” He threw his arms around me, much to my surprise and Sia and Simon’s bemusement. “I told Penny, I told her, ‘Steve will come back! He won’t leave us like this!’ ”
“Well, I’m glad you’re ok,” I said, gently disentangling myself from his embrace. “Now, let’s get you home and figure out how we’re going to get everybody else out of that tower.”
Last night, we took Roger home and delivered him to an ecstatic and relieved Penny, who had been living alone since Roger had been snatched away. She’d fed us all cookies from the old cookie jar that I remember always living on the kitchen table, and told us again and again that she knew we’d be able to defeat Niflyn, even if no one else could. I wished I could share in her opinion, but I ate her cookies and was content for the moment, now that the pair had been reunited.
As I sat there, I wondered why I had ever left. There had been problems, sure, but this was where I’d grown up. I knew everyone here. They all cared for my sister and I, and I had abandoned them. Had I done the right thing?
The next morning, Sabrina, Sara and Saunders had all appeared at the gates to Lunaris, lugging several crates full of who knew what between them. We ran out to greet them before they blundered through the town square and drew attention to themselves.
‘How did you get here so quickly?” I gaped at them, as they set down their equipment. “We only contacted you yesterday.”
“Magic, obviously.” Sabrina shrugged. “I enhanced one of Saunders’ teleportation potions, and here we are.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re here, at any rate. Here, let us help you carry this stuff through to Sia’s house. We have to walk around the perimeter, or we’ll be spotted.”
As we made our way, I quickly described the situation here, and how we’d rescued Roger yesterday. “I’ll need you to examine the chip we found in his head. I’m not sure how it works, but I’m sure it’s nasty,” I said to Sabrina.
We reached the house, and dumped the chests on the floor. “What have you brought, anyway?” asked Simon, peering inside one.
“Potions, mainly,” said Saunders. “All the usual ones, plus I’ve got a few experimental ones that may be useful.” He began pulling some out to show us what he had. “This one’s an enhanced invisibility potion. It lasts longer, which could be useful if you’re trying to sneak up on someone. This one will cause an explosion if you throw it, which is great for diversions. And this one,” he said, pulling out a dark and murky concoction, “is a version of Marigold’s potion.”
“You actually got it to work?” I asked, gobsmacked.
“Just about. It’s not quite as powerful, but it can eat through a wall pretty easily, as I found out. By the way, I need to rebuild some of the workshop wall when we get home.” Saunders had the grace to look rather sheepish at that.
“Never mind that for now; that’s great, we can actually use that. I’ve got some ideas for what we’re going to do, but I’d like your input too.” As I was saying that, we heard a commotion happening outside.
“Come outside, everybody! Niflyn the Terrible wishes to speak to you!” cried an underling.
We opened the door, and saw that the remaining villagers were poking their heads out, wondering if this was a trap.
“Come on, come on!” the underling was now pulling people out of their homes to stand in the town square. “Don’t keep him waiting! You know what he can do if you anger him.”
As a small crowd began to walk unwillingly into the square, we tagged along behind them. What was he up to now?
A stage had been erected in the square, bedecked in pitch black banners and streamers, bearing the symbol of a crescent moon surrounded by stars. On the stage stood Niflyn himself. Like his banners, his robes were entirely black, which made his long white hair and beard stand out all the more. He stared down at his subjects as they filed in. None of them looked at him in the eye.
As we trailed in at the back, he began to speak. “Subjects!” he cried. “Normally, I like to play live and let live here in the wonderful town of Lunaris. Obey the rules, and nobody has to be punished. I haven’t had to take anyone away in a while, and it’s been peaceful, has it not?”
Voices rumbled in the crowd.
“Do you question me?” Niflyn asked quietly. The threat in his voice was enough to quiet the dissenters in the audience.
“Very well. It has been peaceful, but yesterday we had somebody at the tower who attempted to break in. I don’t know who it was, but I will find out, trust me. I take this very seriously, and believe me, I’ll find out. If that person steps forward now, I’ll be merciful and just take them. If they don’t, I’ll find them and their whole family will come with me. You don’t want to know what will happen if I find out that someone has been covering for the culprit.”
Niflyn waited for somebody to step forward. The crowd looked around nervously. Who did it? What was going to happen now?
“No one? Really? Oh dear, what a shame, this isn’t going to go well for the offender, whoever it is.” Niflyn crossed his arms and stared into the crowd. “Will no one step forward?”
I stepped forward into the crowd. Sia grabbed my hand, but I shook her off. I pushed through the people gathered there, and as I made my way through I heard some of them recognise me. Not everybody was happy to see me, either.
I reached the front and looked up at Niflyn. “Hello again,” I said.
He looked down at me, recognition dawning on his face. “You,” he hissed.
“Yes, me. And my friends. Heard you were being a nuisance up here, so we came to bring you down a peg or two.”
“You dare come back here, after everything you did? I thought you’d know better.” Niflyn uncrossed his arms, and began charging up a spell. His fingertips glowed white. I saw what he was going to do a split second before he did it, and I dodged as he threw a fireball at me. The crowd gasped, and began to stumble away.
I drew my sword. “You want to play, do you? I can do that.” I jumped up on the stage and began advancing. “Try me, you second rate conjurer.”
The rest of the team ran up to the stage, having fought their way through the fleeing crowd. “Steve!” called Sia. “Don’t, you don’t know what he can do!”
“Oh yes, I do” I said, never taking my eyes off Niflyn. “I’ve seen what he does to innocent people, and I know exactly what he wants to do to the people he’s imprisoned here. He’s a monster, and I won’t stand for it.”
“Oh really?” said Niflyn. “I doubt you know anything, you sword wielding brute.”
“We saw that wolf,” cried Sabrina from the bottom of the stage. “He’s turning back, but he’s in a bad way. Steve’s right, you’re a monster.”
Niflyn looked concerned for a moment. “Oh really? Well, let’s see how you fare against them!” He shot another spell in the direction of the tower, and began backing away. “Let’s see how cocky you feel then!”
“Hey! Come back here!” I ran after him, but I was stopped in my tracks by what I saw coming towards us.
Charging down towards the square were a dragon and what looked like an oversized creeper. The dragon was trampling on houses, breathing fire and causing untold destruction. The creeper was ignoring everything and making a beeline straight for us.
I turned and ran. “Saunders!” I yelled. “Where are your potions?”
“I’ve got some with me!” he cried, tossing me a couple of bottles. Without pausing, I turned round and threw them at the creeper. They smashed against its hide, and I saw its skin sizzle where it had been hit. “I need more!” I cried out.
Saunders began pulling bottles from his various pockets and hauling them at the creeper. It slowed down, and then stopped its relentless pursuit. It even stopped making the dreaded hissing sound. Then it made a sound I’d never heard before.
It was crying.
I stared at the others. What was going on?
Sia walked towards it, cautiously. It continued to cry, and completely ignored her. She examined it for a moment, and then plucked something from its head.
Instantly, the creeper began to shrink down to a more person sized form. Its skin lost its green tone, its arms came free from its sides, and its legs elongated.
“Fiona!” Sia cried. Fiona continued to cry, holding one arm that had what looked like burns from the potions we’d thrown.
“Oh no.” We couldn’t hurt them, these monsters were villagers!
“Don’t fire!” I cried. “They’re people!”
With that, I ran towards the dragon. It continued to rampage, paying no attention to us. I dodged around its legs, hoping it wouldn’t notice me until it was too late.
No such luck. As I climbed up its back, it realised I was there and tried to shake me off. I clung on for dear life, and I could hear screaming coming from my team. I clambered over the dragon’s scales, and threw my arms around its neck. Still clinging on, I saw the now familiar glint behind its ear. I reached forward and tugged it out of the dragon’s scaly hide.
The dragon shrunk down just like the creeper did, and I was thrown off its back as it contracted inwards. The scales dropped off, and the wings withered away before our eyes. Before long, what had been a fearsome dragon was just an ordinary man, shivering in the road.
“Pete!” I said. I took him over to Sia, who was still tending to Fiona. “Everything’s going to be ok, we’re going to get Niflyn for what he’s done to you.”
Last night, after getting Fiona and Pete home to their delighted families, we came back to Sia’s house and I handed over the diamond chips to Sabrina.
“These are powerful magic,” she said, “way beyond any ability I have. These are what’s controlling the transformation process, I imagine. This way, the creature won’t transform back until the chip is removed.”
“What about Roger?” asked Sia. “He wasn’t a monster, he was just following orders.”
“It does that too,” Sabrina replied. “What normal magical creature would obey a person willingly? This way, his army will do exactly what he wants. It’s probably a way of him staying in contact with them, too.”
“That’s it, we have to stop him,” I said. “We need everyone out of that tower, and we need to defeat him once and for all. He’s hurt too many people to let him get away with this.”
We began gathering our equipment, ready for a final attack. Sara had to convince me to wait until the next evening, to give ourselves a chance to rest, and to attack under the cover of darkness. “We’re no good now, we’ve already been in one fight,” she said. “Plus, Niflyn doesn’t know we’ve worked out his diamond trick. He’ll wait. You know he’ll wait.”
This evening, we were finally ready. Everybody was fully armoured up, and Saunders, Sabrina, and I all carried a range of potions on specially created belts that Saunders had brought with him. We were going to deal with Niflyn once and for all.
We walked through the town square, which was initially deserted, but quickly filled up as we progressed. Some people came and shook our hands and wished us luck, and others shook their fists and yelled at us. One old man, who I hadn’t seen since I returned to Lunaris, approached us, giving us a stare that could make even the bravest warrior cry.
“William,” I said, expecting the worst.
“Steve, what are you doing? Why are you causing trouble again? This will only end badly.” He leaned on a cane, and stared at us all. “Did you not learn anything the last time?’
“What happened last time?” asked Simon.
“He took three adventurers into a cave not far from here. He promised them riches beyond their wildest dreams, but none of them made it out except for him. One of them was my grandson.” He pointed at me. “He’s no good! You all should want to stay away from him.”
With that, he walked away. Everyone was silent.
When it became clear that no one was going to move until I did, I said, “Does anyone want to quit now? I won’t judge if you do.”
Everyone shook their heads.
“We’ve been good so far,” said Sara.
Saunders nodded. “No one’s disappeared yet.”
“Good. Let’s go.”
We made our way to the tower. It looked even more imposing in the dark, stretching up into the black night sky. There was no door guard, which surprised me. Instead, the door was chained and padlocked up until there was more chain than door.
“I don’t know he thought he could keep us out that way,” I said. “Saunders, have you got that black potion still?”
He nodded, and pulled a bottle out of his belt.
“You know what to do.”
Saunders stepped back, and threw the bottle overhand directly at the doors. Instantly, the iron began to melt away before our very eyes, eventually leaving a gaping hole in the base of the tower, and a puddle of liquid iron on the floor.
“There we are. Everyone ready to go in?”
Everyone said, “Yes!” almost in unison.
“Let’s do this!” said Sia.
“OK. Watch your step as we go in. We’re going to go up the tower, and free as many people as we can. I’m guessing Niflyn is at the top, so when we reach it, we’ll take him out.”
We stepped through what used to be the doorway, and made our way up the twisting staircase. Every level contained a cell, and when we reached one, Saunders would melt the lock off the door with a few drops of his potion. Most people hadn’t been transformed yet, so it was easy to remove the chip and free them. We’d send them down the stairs, where Sia would meet them, explain what had happened, and direct them home.
There were a few hairy moments with some creatures, though. One person had been turned into what appeared to be a half pig, half human creature. It didn’t look worried until it spotted my sword, and then moved in to attack. However, Sabrina deftly plucked the chip from behind its ear and it stopped in its tracks. There was also another werewolf, who got in a couple of good swipes at me until I got its chip, but in the end, we were ok.
Every level we climbed, the hope of finding Harry dwindled. Where was he? What was I going to tell Sia?
Up and up we went, and it felt like the levels of the tower were never ending. Eventually though, we reached the top. A large, ornate door marked the entrance to what had to be Niflyn’s quarters.
“Saunders, would you do the honours again, please?”
“With pleasure.” He melted the lock, and the door swung open. Inside, we could see a large laboratory, complete with benches full of vials and bottles, and a wall full of worrying looking cages. In two cages, there were people cowering.
Niflyn himself was standing over a cauldron, stirring feverishly. As the door opened, he looked up and spotted us. “Intruders! Interlopers! How dare you!” He swept up his robes and retreated to a platform near a decorative window that marked the top of the tower from the outside. “I thought I’d warned you what would happen if you came here?’
“I think we know better, Niflyn. Saunders, let those people out, please.” Saunders went to free them, but Niflyn shot a bolt of lightning near his feet. Saunders yelped and fell back.
“Not so fast,” he said. “You dared enter my tower, and you will pay the price.”
“Run!” I cried, as he charged up for lightening spells. I dove to the floor and felt the hair on my neck rise as the electricity crackle around the room. I heard the caged people screaming.
“It’s too late, Niflyn!” I yelled from the floor. “We freed everyone! We let them go! No one is here anymore, apart from us! Give up and we may take pity on you!”
He cackled. “Of course you will! Like you took pity on that giant, or the people you went adventuring with into that cave!”
My insides turned to ice. I stood up, and stared at him. “That was not my fault and you know it, Niflyn.”
“Oh really? Three people entered that cave, and only one person left. Whose fault is that? Not theirs.” He smirked at me. “These lot want to be careful, hanging around with you.”
I saw red, and began charging with my sword raised. Before I could get far, Sara grabbed my sleeve and stopped me. “Don’t let him get to you!”
He was still cackling away when the door opened again. Sia crept in, ready to fight as well, knowing her. She never let anyone get away with wrongdoing, even when we were tiny. “Where’s Harry?” she asked us. “I never saw him.”
“Who’s this?” Niflyn peered over. “Oh, it’s your sweet baby sister. How nice! Are you going to lose her, too?”
Sia looked at him with disgust. “Steve I’d trust with my life. You, on the other hand, I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw you.”
Niflyn came down from the platform and walked towards her. Everyone stood stock still while she glared at him. I’d seen grown men crumble in that glare, but Niflyn didn’t even notice.
“Well, Steve. You say all of my subjects are gone? Well, that will never do.” He took Sia by the arm, and when she tried to shake him off, he gripped her tighter. “Perhaps we can make a trade?”
I lunged forward, but he shot off a lightening spell that singed my hair. “Not so fast!” He clicked his fingers, and he teleported them both to the platform. “Maybe I’ll take her! She’s feisty, this one. I’ll have fun cracking her.”
“Don’t you dare!” We all ran towards him, dodging fireballs and lightening spells. “Let go of her right now!”
“Oh, I think not. Sia, was it? I think it’s time to go.” With that, he held a hand out and the glass in the window smashed outwards, littering the ground in coloured glass. He pulled Sia out of the window, and just as we reached them, he clicked his fingers as they were falling, and they disappeared.
“No!” I pulled a bottle from my belt and went to the window.
“What are you doing, Steve? It’s too dangerous!” cried Sabrina.
“I’ve got to go get my sister back” I said, popping the top off the bottle and jumping out of the window after them.
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Diary of a Minecraft Steve (Book 3): The Amazing Minecraft World Told by a Hero Minecraft Steve (Minecraft Books) It's been months since Steve's team faced off with the wizard Niflyn the Terrible, and no one's seen hide no hair of him since. In that time, the team have taken the opportunity to relax at their fortress base and hone their skills. Steve finds that peace shattered when their friend Sabrina writes to them, telling them that the strange magical creature that Niflyn had created is living in her basement, and is changing rather alarmingly. A trip back to Wellspring to investigate, and a chance meeting with Marigold the witch, reveals that Niflyn isn't gone for good, and is threatening everything that Steve holds dear. It's a race against time to save the people that Niflyn wants to turn into his own magical army, and along the way there will be vicious battles, new revelations, and Steve and some of his friends from his mysterious past will be reunited. Will the team be able to save the world from Niflyn's evil schemes in time? Scroll Up and Click on "buy now with 1-Click" to Download Your Copy Right Now * * * * * * * * * * Tags: diary of a minecraft steve, diary of a minecraft, minecraft books, diary, minecraft steve, jokes for kids, books for kids