Primordial Magic: Cells for Spells
In a world where monstrous beings wield magical powers, limited magical powers have been granted to humans. However, some of the humans are revolting against those that gave them the powers, intent on taking more, and a small group of people must band together to stop the rebellers before an all-out war breaks out.
It was under the old Avaluschia tree 500 steps from the edge of the village where Tommen always told Skavver all the most important things. It was where Tommen told Skavver that his mother was dying. Skavver cried. Tommen cried too. It was the first and only time Skavver ever saw his father cry.
Tommen took Skavver to the old Avaluschia tree when the Yinwah were planning an invasion. Tommen took Skavver to the old Avaluschia tree to inform him that he, and some of the others in the Village of the People, would be fighting alongside the Enaks and the Grajills to stop the Yinwah. And, of course, it was under the old Avaluschia tree where Tommen explained all the origins of their world.
Tommen led Skavver to this same tree. Even though Skavver was a young man now, 9,137 trips past the nightfall, or roughly 25 years of age, he still felt like a young boy being led along by his father.
Tommen’s words of their origins echoed in the distance of Skavver’s brain. He let them flow to the forefront. He pondered Tommen’s words of their origins as the two meandered.
“There were several creatures that were of magical origins. People were not one of them. The Enaks, the Grajills, the Raplesks, and the Yinwah. Only them. The Yinwah were always at odds with the others and eventually established their kingdom far away. The Raplesks were farther down the East Swilly River, past the Village of the People. The West Swilly river flowed to the kingdom of the Enaks and then on to the kingdom of the Grajills. The kingdoms, more or less, lived in harmony for many, many years. But people grew greedy. They wanted magical powers. A group of people inquired about this. There was much resistance from the magical creatures. The people persisted. They felt they deserved magical powers as well. Eventually, a compromise was reached. The magical creatures possessed what was believed to be unlimited magical power. However, there was a limit to how many spells they could cast in a day… how many cells they could use for their spells. It wasn’t a definite number, but 50 cells was the general limit. Many magical creatures had used 50 cells of spells in a single day and perished as a result. It became a rule of the magical creatures to not use more than 49 cells of spells in a single day, or else they’d risk death. The compromise was for the magical creatures to bestow magical powers upon the people… but with a limit. A 50 cell limit. For their lifetime. If any one of the people used a total of 50 cells of spells over their lifetime, they met their death. Half of the people took the deal. Half of the people disliked this idea and did not wish to have these powers and these limitations. They were not forced to receive the magical powers. But those who desired to possess the powers, the magic was bestowed upon them and coded into their bodies. The magic was passed on from parent to child. No matter if a magical person had a child with a non-magical person… if any one of the parents was magical, it was passed on to the child. It went on like this for years and years. Powers getting passed down. Through about half of the population. Some greedy people wanted more of the people to be magical, and magical people orchestrated marriages with non-magical people to grow their numbers. The numbers grew through many of the people. To this day, when most of the population of people possess magical powers.”
Tommen and Skavver reached the Avaluschia tree. Tommen sat. Skavver joined him on the lush green grass in the shade.
“You were thinking of our origins while we walked.” Tommen smirked.
“How did you know?” Skavver asked.
“Your mouth moves when you think.”
Skavver chuckled with embarrassment. Tommen looked up at the long branches of the Avaluschia dangling all around them. He reached up towards one nearby branch, several bright yellow flowers sprouting from it. He let his fingers gently touch them. His hand moved towards another branch, one that sprouted the Avaluschia fruit, circular, bumpy, and dark green like the leaves of the forest trees. It was the only fruit sprouting from this tree. He plucked it and tossed it to Skavver.
“Always keep an Avaluschia on you.” Tommen said.
“In case I’m hungry.” Skavver almost rolled his eyes. “Why have you brought me here, father?”
“Word in the village is… Meller is planning some type of attack… against the magical creatures.”
“Meller truly is longer in the brain than the seaman’s year.” Skavver scoffed. “What an imbecile! He will be crushed!”
“He is planning something.” Tommen shifted and groaned as he struggled to move his leg. “Not just an attack. Something more. He has gotten support from many people in the village.”
“It will still not work.”
“He is a bad seed, but do not underestimate him. He is intelligent.”
“He never paid attention in classes.”
“Not to what didn’t interest him. But what did interest him, he focused his entirety on it. And he is interested in this endeavor.”
“Should we speak to others in the village? Rally support?” Skavver felt the bumpiness of the Avaluschia in his hand. He hated these things. So sour.
Tommen inhaled slowly. He attempted to exhale and then coughed hard. Skavver reached out a hand but Tommen batted it away. He coughed through the pain. His eyes turned red. Skavver thought they might burst. He clutched his side momentarily. He looked back to Skavver.
“We could get support, but Meller has much support.” Tommen responded. “I fear he will go through with this endeavor no matter what. And I fear that the magical creatures will not distinguish those of the people who are involved and those who are not involved. And I do not think we should be here when that happens.”
“Are you saying we run away?!” Skavver was furious.
“Long gone are the days I used to battle. People used to look to me to lead, and to the others I battled with, but our best days have wilted.”
“Who cares if you can lead? I can lead!” Skavver stood up.
“Skavver, you’re still just a boy!” Tommen croaked.
“If you’re too old to fight, then that means I am old enough to fight! Do you think you are the only one who is aging?!”
Tommen chuckled. He looked out to the sun. He spoke without making eye contact. “I suppose I cannot stop you, Skavver. You do what you wish. But be smart. Trust only those you’ve always trusted. Do not underestimate Meller. Be smart. Think things through. Remember your lessons. And always keep an Avaluschia on you.”
Skavver chuckled. Partly because he knew when his father said “lessons” he didn’t mean the ones from classes… he meant the ones he taught Skavver at home. And partly because of his father’s obsession with the Avaluschia… and Skavver’s strange obedience to always keep one on him. His father raved about their healing properties. He always said ‘An Avaluschia at 50 could save your life.’ Tommen was over 50, he was in bad shape from all of his battling. Why he didn’t eat the Avaluschia himself was baffling.
A feast of breads and red berries and savory roasted root vegetables… and only five people to eat them. Skavver sighed at the sight. After many days of speaking to people in secret, explaining the situation, explaining the meeting, and all the support he got. All of those who were not on the side of Meller. And the only people to show up for the meeting, Noomey, she was a given, Dor, she was a given too, Swake, he may have been there just for the breads, and Bradger, he didn’t eat much so at least his presence felt real.
“It’s better than zero people.” Noomey said with her permanent optimism.
“At least you heard from many that they did not side with Meller.” Dor suggested.
“But I heard from many that they did side with him too.” Skavver replied. “And I heard of several that would be actively joining Meller in his endeavor. Quint and her whole family. And nearly all the people on that side of the pond.”
“I’ve heard several more who will join Meller as well.” Bradger announced.
“I haven’t heard anything.” Swake said with a mouthful of bread.
“You wouldn’t hear anything over your constant chewing.” Noomey scoffed.
“That’s true.” Swake said thoughtfully before jamming more bread into his mouth.
The five discussed all the information they had accumulated. They pieced it together in hopes to paint a larger picture. The brainstorming went on for a while. The consumption of breads went on just as long.
What they had pieced together was that Meller had accumulated much support and many people to fight alongside him. He was furious that people were given only limited magical powers. As were others. Meller felt it was a slap in the face. His original plan was to attack the kingdom of the Raplesks first. He believed that he and the people, with the right stealth and plan of attack, could defeat the Raplesks with some ease. It wasn’t a stretch. The Raplesks saw depleted numbers after the tragedy that befell half their kingdom when large groups went looking for minerals in the forest and the land quaked and swallowed many of them up. Though the average Raplesk stood seven feet tall, more than a foot taller than the average person, they were slow and had bad hearing. They were powerful and their scaly green skin was difficult to penetrate, but not impossible. They lacked in peripheral vision and could be easy targets with the right plan.
But Meller abandoned this plan. Even if he were to defeat the Raplesks, once word reached the Enaks and the Grajills, they would band together and attack Meller’s group of people… maybe all people. And those two kingdoms banded together would be unstoppable. Meller had decided he needed to do something to take out those kingdoms first. But again, an attack on them would be futile.
The Grajills alone, a kingdom plentiful with warriors, eight feet in height and with pure muscle and not an ounce of fat, that seemed an impossible task. They were agile and moved in a similar fashion as the people did, but with more grace and power. Long fangs in the front for tearing through whatever they wished, dexterous and nimble fingers at the ends of powerful fists, and green-black hair covering their bodies that allowed them to camouflage with the forest they resided near. Their only weakness might be if their power was used against them, but that was easier said than done. And then there were the Enaks, seven and a half feet tall, heavy and thick wings that gave a wingspan of over 10 feet and could knock a person unconscious with one swipe. Slender arms and legs that weren’t extremely powerful but possessed sharp talons. And impeccable sight and hearing. No person had ever snuck up on an Enak. If an attack were carried out, it couldn’t be in stealth, it would have to be an all out rush from all angles. And that still didn’t guarantee victory. A person’s best bet was to attack in a forest, limit the Enaks ability to fly and move about with ease. But the Enaks’ kingdom was in a beautiful valley, the trees were not grown in a congested manner, the forest was far.
The attempt seemed futile. But something was certain. Meller had a plan and he was going to be carrying it out soon. The group decided they needed to determine the details of the plan in order to stop it. If Meller carried out a plan, whether it would work or not, it put all people in danger of retaliation.
“I did see Meller and Quint doing the Morn spell last week.” Skavver recalled. “They each did it once.”
Skavver took a piece of paper out of his pocket and jotted notes down.
“You still keep track of everyone’s spells?” Bradger laughed.
“Of course.” Skavver said seriously. “We have limited amounts.”
Swake and Dor joined Bradger in laughter.
“You just keep track of your own, Skavver.” Swake said through laughter. “And you don’t need to write it down, just remember it.”
“I like to be certain. I document it all… because…” Skavver felt embarrassed.
“Oh, because your dad told you to keep notes on all this?!” Bradger almost fell off his chair.
“Classes ended for all… but not for Skavver!” Dor doubled over in laughter.
The three continued with their raucous laughter. Noomey looked at Skavver with sympathetic eyes.
“Shut up!” Skavver roared. “We’ll see if it’s funny when you forget how many cells you’ve used and you’re asking me for help!”
Everyone quieted a bit, but they were still fighting laughter.
“What’s Meller at?” Noomey tried to lighten the mood.
“19 now.” Skavver checked his paper.
“You know, we will likely all have to be using our spells and cells for this mission.” Noomey said seriously. “We really do need to be on top of the numbers. 50, everyone. You can’t hit 50.”
The laughter stopped when Noomey said this. The room was dead quiet. Skavver glared at the other three. He put his papers away and stormed out. Noomey shook her head at the other three. Swake grabbed another piece of bread and was about to eat it before he saw Noomey watching him.
“What? I assumed the meeting was done with!”
Noomey turned and followed after Skavver. She found him outside, sitting on a tree stump. She nudged him over until he made room for her to sit next to him. Skavver nodded at her, fiddled with a twig in his hand, and stared off at the trees in the distance. Noomey looked at the trees, then back to him.
“Where did you see them doing the Morn spell?” Noomey asked.
Skavver turned to face her. “I heard it first. Hard to not hear. Earth rising to form a massive wall. I followed the sound and saw the two of them, behind Euliserrio’s. It was as if they were practicing.”
“Part of his plan?” Noomey wondered aloud.
Skavver nodded but said nothing. They sat together on the tree stump in silence. Noomey leaned against him with all her weight and they sat like that for a while.
The hoot of the yona bird spooked a few people, then again, meeting under a starless, dark sky in the forest was already enough to put everyone on edge. Bradger cleared his throat, trying his best to fit in with the angry and hardened crowd. He watched as Meller and Quint made their way to the front of the pack of people. Everyone quieted.
“Thank you all for coming.” Quint spoke up first. “The details of the plan will be laid out, so pay attention.”
Meller threw back a small glass of bourfee brew, winced, and then faced the crowd. “Here it is. The Enaks are too much for us, even with this collection of brave souls willing to lay their lives on the line and fight. The Grajills are too much for us. The Raplesks we could defeat…”
Meller threw back another glass of bourfee brew. Quint spoke up to fill the silence. “But if we attack the Raplesks, we will endure retaliation from the others.”
Meller let out a dramatic roar as his throat burned from the brew. “So, we must deal with the Enaks and the Grajills simultaneously. In a way they won’t expect.”
Meller looked around, wondering if anyone had any ideas. Of course they didn’t.
He continued. “We cut off their water supply. The West Swilly heads to their kingdoms. If we cut off water supply to their kingdoms, they will be forced to leave. They will head for the East Swilly, where we receive our water, and we will set up a series of traps for those who make it through the dehydrated journey.”
“How do you cut off their water supply?” Bradger asked.
Meller smiled evilly. “Soon after the Swilly breaks off into the East and West, there is a hollowed piece of land that the West Swilly runs over. Far beneath is the underground lake, Lamon Lake. We use a series of Stahk spells around this portion of the West Swilly, slash into the ground, creating passageway into the underground lake. Then, we use Morn spells to raise the ground up, make walls, dam the West Swilly. The Swilly will, of course, press against the wall of dirt and fight against it, but with a natural escape route, the many slices in the ground we will have created, the river will drain down, into the underground lake.”
Meller motioned to Quint to explain the rest as he drank more bourfee brew.
Quint sauntered forward and brushed her hair out of her eyes. “The West Swilly will dry up. The Enaks and the Grajills will be forced to leave their kingdoms. It is a long journey to the Village of the People, where they will naturally head for. Without any notice, they will not have much water to bring with them. Many should perish along the journey, many will be weak. At a point before they reach our village, but after they have endured much fatigue, they will come across a series of traps. The traps will take the lives of many more Enaks and Grajills. For those remaining, we will be waiting. Waiting to end those that are not willing to surrender.”
Bradger blinked hard. He couldn’t believe how genius the plan was. “What are the traps?”
“More Stahk spells, splitting the ground in two.” Quint answered. “Helor spells, trapping heat in the ground, burning them when they come across them.”
Suddenly, the heavy hand of Meller dropped on Bradger’s shoulder. “We need many people in order to set up the traps… in order to stop the river. It will take a group effort. Can we count on you?”
Bradger stared into Meller’s eyes, dancing with light in the darkness, perhaps from the bourfee brew. Bradger felt Meller’s hand squeeze tighter on his shoulder. It pinched. Bradger nodded, and Meller’s grip released.
“We will have to keep track of the spells, the cells, right?” Bradger asked.
Meller roared with laughter. Quint joined him, as did several other people.
“You sound like Skavver… counting the cells!” Meller shouted. “Skavver thinks he is still in classes. He still listens to his father. This is the real world. The books and pencils have been put away. The fists are out. The swords are out.”
“But we do have to keep track of the cells…” Bradger insisted.
“That’s what they told us!” Meller yelled. “We don’t know if it was the truth. In case it was… we have many people here to cast spells. The job will get done, one way or another.”
Meller threw back another glass of bourfee brew and roared nonsense at the people, riling them into a frenzy. The trees of the forest shook from the rage of the people.
It was quiet except for munching and crunching coming from Swake’s mouth. He was deep in thought, but his mouth moved independently of his brain. Also deep in thought, but in silence, Skavver, Noomey, Dor, and Bradger. Bradger had given everyone the news of Meller’s plan.
“I hate to admit it, but it is a highly intelligent plan.” Skavver said. “Where are they setting the traps?”
“Just past the Krissannen Mountains.” Bradger answered. “After they will have been depleted of energy, after a long trek that should see many perish, but before they are given the option of taking one of three paths to get to the Village of the People.”
“He knows they will have to reach this point.” Noomey deduced. “There’s no chance of them not hitting the traps.”
“We stop them from setting the traps. Stop them before they do that… before they dam up the river!” Dor stood up suddenly. “We need to attack!”
“No. We wait.” Skavver said calmly.
Everyone looked at him with shock, even Swake stopped chewing.
“Why would we wait, Skavver?!” Dor was livid.
“Let them set the traps.” Skavver replied. “Let them waste their cells. The traps will harm no one if no one is forced to flee their kingdom. We will stop them as they attempt to dam up the river.”
“Why?” Bradger was upset.
“We are far fewer in numbers.” Skavver responded. “Meller has recruited dozens. If we want to attack them and have a chance, then our best bet is to wait until they have expended much of their cells. We will be able to cast many spells in attack, they won’t have the–”
“Oh, would you stop it with counting the cells all the time!” Bradger screamed. “What is it with you and counting all the cells? Why must you keep your nose in your class papers all the time?!”
Skavver was surprised… which then turned to agitation.
“Bradger, you raging fool, why don’t you think about it for longer than a second?!” Noomey screamed back. “Do you want the five of us to go up against dozens of them? Everyone with roughly equal amounts of cells to cast spells? Or do you want us to have some type of advantage?”
Bradger grumbled something under his breath. His face turned red and he looked down at the floor.
“It makes perfect sense to me.” Noomey said, turning to Skavver. “We wait for them to set the traps, then meet them at the river?”
“We will watch them set the traps. Count their cells.” Skavver said.
“Counting… ugh…” Bradger grumbled some more.
Skavver shot his eyes at Bradger and silenced him with a steely look. “Then, we wait at the river. Perhaps let them expend more cells. And then launch a sneak attack.”
“Five against dozens will suddenly feel fair.” Noomey surmised.
“Four against dozens.” Swake said after swallowing. “Won’t they be expecting Bradger to be with them now?”
Everyone realized Swake was correct. Bradger would have to go with Meller’s group to set the traps... and to the river.
“Try to use as few cells as possible.” Skavver instructed Bradger. “Once at the river, position yourself at one edge of the group. Once we jump out for our attack, they will be distracted, you should be able to pick off many of them easily.”
Bradger slowly nodded. Swake lifted a piece of bread to eat but Bradger yanked it from his hand and shoved it in his own mouth. He chewed loudly and looked at the floor all the while.
Four still bodies lay in the dirt, surrounded by long grasses and bushes. The ground was hard and cold, and a chilling wind swept by. The patter of icy rain fell atop them. The conditions were less than ideal, but the vantage point was excellent. Dor pointed out to the group that they surveyed far below. She had pinpointed Bradger among the others. He strolled alongside Quint who walked beside Meller.
Skavver, Noomey, Dor, and Swake watched from the cliff that overlooked the land beneath. They watched as Meller led his group of followers, dozens of them, towards the areas in which he wanted to lay the traps.
Meller began yelling commands at the group. The Krissannen Mountains laid in the distance, flat swaths of land sprawled out all around the group. The first flat areas of land that the Enaks and Grajills would encounter after an arduous journey through the mountains. A place they’d be sure to let their guard down and desire rest after expending much energy.
If the plan were carried out, that is.
The group members spread out. Meller was the first to cast a Stahk spell. He swiped his hand through the air, directed at the ground. The pale purple energy flung from his hand and sliced into the ground, cracking through it and sending debris flying. A slice deep in the ground, 10 feet long. Meller instructed group members to join him. They crouched along the fissure, hands poised at the loose dirt that was kicked up from the Stahk spell. Meller then cast a Helor spell. Quint did the same. Balls of heat glowed at the edges of their palms. They flung the orbs of sizzling heat into the fissure, and the group members quickly pushed the loose dirt over the opening. They packed it up just tight enough to trap the heat under, but left it soft enough so that a stray footstep atop it would open it back up… releasing skin-scorching heat.
“That’s a Helor spell for both Meller and Quint.” Skavver said as he scribbled in his notes. “One cell each. And a Stahk spell for Meller. Another two cells.”
“Do we really have to keep track of all of them?” Swake whined.
“Yes!” Skavver was irritated. “That is the whole point. We want to know when we battle them, where there count lay! Are they close to hitting 50? Will they hit 50 with a spell and inadvertently kill themselves? Will they be aware they are close to 50 and stop casting spells and only fight by hand and by sword? And for any of them still far from 50… can we lure them into casting more spells, block them with a Shkout spell?”
“How much is the Shkout spell again?” Swake asked sheepishly.
“Swake, do you not remember anything about the spells?” Noomey was irritated now too.
“No, not really!” Swake said defensively. “I’ve just used a Helor spell once or twice to heat up my food. I don’t even know how much it is.”
“Ugh!” Skavver wiped the annoyance from his face. “Six spells that we as people have access to. Shkout, pulls the ground up into your hand as a shield. One cell. Helor, produces heat, one cell…”
“I obviously know what Helor does.” Swake complained.
“I’m telling you all of them so you can’t claim ignorance anymore.” Skavver said bluntly. “Stahk, produces a sharp and powerful energy much like that of an enormous blade of a sword, two cells.”
Swake rolled his eyes and motioned his hand towards Meller’s group below as he obviously knew that one too. Noomey raised her hand like she was going to smack him and Swake rolled his eyes back forward and sat still.
Skavver continued. “Morn, raises a large portion of the ground up into a wall, two cells. Ving, summons a powerful gust of wind, three cells. And Ignee, summons fire that you may thrust in any direction… three cells.”
Swake simply nodded. Dor pointed out that more people had begun to cast more spells. The group of four quickly took out their papers and scribbled notes in them, keeping track of how many cells each person used. Meller was quite liberal with his spells. He used the Stahk spell twice more and the Helor spell four more times. 11 more cells he used today total, putting him firmly at 30. Quint used a fair amount as well. She entered the day having used 13 of her lifetime cells, and she reached 27 by the end of the day. They let many of the group members use up much more of their cells in the endeavor. Bradger tried to hang in the shadows, on the outskirts of the group. He volunteered to push dirt into fissures so as not to use his cells.
Eventually, Meller told Bradger to help out and Bradger was forced to use up his cells. He still managed to use them sparingly in comparison to the other group members. His cell count by the end of the day was 38. Most of the rest of the group members were well over 40. In fact, several of them were at 48 and 49. The group of four singled those out, for when the battle arose, they’d be the easiest targets
“Maybe it won’t even come to a battle.” Swake said, as the group was finished and heading back to the Village of the People. “Maybe we can talk sense into Meller.”
“Did you see the armor he was wearing?” Skavver asked.
“Yeah, but they were all wearing armor.” Swake said.
“They were all wearing standard armor. Made of typical steel.” Skavver explained. “Meller’s armor is made of kranin, the rare metal found in the forest high in the mountains. The one the Raplesks were searching for when they lost half of their kingdom.”
“What’s the significance of that?” Dor asked.
“The steel armor only goes so far to absorb damage from a Stahk spell or an Ignee spell. They’re mainly used for attacks from physical weapons.” Skavver explained further. “And though the only thing that limits a Stahk attack is a Shkout shield, though it hardly does… there is nothing that completely stops an Ignee attack, except for kranin metal. Kranin metal cannot be affected by the fire of an Ignee spell.”
“How do you know that?” Swake asked.
“Because my father has armor made of the kranin metal.”
“You did use a good deal of your cells.” Skavver said to Bradger as the five met in secrecy.
“I couldn’t help it! What do you want me to do?!” Bradger was angry.
Skavver shrugged and found a chair to sit on. Everyone else stood awkwardly in the dimly lit basement.
“Always with the damn counting…” Bradger grumbled.
Skavver stood up quickly and marched towards Bradger before Swake jumped up to stop him. Bradger retreated, Swake held Skavver by the chest. Skavver’s eyes danced with fury.
“Let me know how it is once you’ve used your 50th cell!” Skavver roared. “Tell me how it is… through death. You fool. Of course I’m always counting!”
“Well, that’s the thing that Meller doesn’t want to worry about anymore.” Bradger tried to change the subject while keeping confidence and defiance in his voice. “He thinks, after this whole plan and killing off most of the magical creatures, that he can imprison some of them. He thinks he can get them to transfer unlimited magical powers to the people… just like they have.”
“So, that’s the plan.” Noomey wondered aloud. “Force unlimited magical powers onto the people.”
“And then Meller would be damn near unstoppable.” Dor said.
It grew quiet. Swake still held Skavver back as his body was still tense and spewing energy. Skavver smacked Swake’s hands away and backed off, returning to the chair and sitting back down.
“Your plan better work. We better stop Meller.” Swake said. “Like Dor said, Meller would be unstoppable if this all goes to plan for him. And if his plan goes off and fails miserably… then the Enaks and Grajills will retaliate on us. Either way, his plan cannot go on as he wishes.
“That’s exactly why we are doing all of this, isn’t it?” Skavver’s sarcasm was thicker than the basement walls… and they left Bradger with a sour scowl… and a sour stomach.
Noomey and Dor said goodbye as they headed for their homes. Swake walked with Skavver. They approached Skavver’s home.
“You got anything to eat?” Swake asked.
“Not much in my home.” Skavver reached into his pocket and pulled out an Avaluschia fruit. “But I got an Avaluschia fruit!”
The two looked at the fruit in his hand. It had rotted. It was brown and soft and oozed and unappealing pale green fluid.
“That fruit has gone bad.” Swake said with disgust. “And I’ll tell you, even when the Avaluschia fruit is ripe, it’s still bad. Even I don’t eat that disgusting fruit.”
Skavver scoffed a laugh. Swake said goodbye and ambled home. Skavver entered his home and found Tommen eating bread. Skavver tossed the rotten Avaluschia fruit in the pile with the other rubbish.
“Throw the rubbish outside in the heap tonight.” Tommen finished his bread.
“Why do I always keep an Avaluschia fruit on me? They are disgusting!” Skavver shouted.
“An Avaluschia at 50 could save your life.” Tommen repeated his mantra.
“I don’t understand that. You’re the one who is over 50 years old. Shouldn’t you be eating the Avaluschia?”
“Why is it that with young people, numbers must always relate to time?” Tommen asked.
“Why is it that with old people, you must always speak in riddles?!” Skavver returned.
“Why do you think the Enaks live so long?” Tommen stared dead into Skavver’s eyes.
“I don’t know. Seven and a half foot tall, flying, upright, dexterous, powerful bird creatures… not a lot of predators, I’d assume?”
“You wouldn’t think it has anything to do with their health… what they eat?” Tommen shook his head and waltzed out of the room.
“Why is everything a question with you? Why are there no answers with you?!” Skavver called out after Tommen.
It was silent for a moment and then Skavver heard Tommen call back. “If we are always given the answers then we will expect everything to be given to us in life. Seek answers to questions. Solve problems. Count your cells. And always…”
“Keep an Avaluschia fruit on me! I know!” Skavver screamed back, cutting his father off.
The house remained silent the rest of the night.
Skavver marched towards the Avaluschia tree that was 500 steps from the edge of the village. Noomey followed closely behind him. She was used to Skavver doing this every so often. She knew he always kept a fruit on him at his father’s request, even though he found it foolish.
They reached the tree, and as usual, there was just one fruit hanging from one lonely branch, even though there were yellow leaves aplenty. Skavver plucked the sole fruit off.
“Are we ready for today?” Noomey asked.
“I hope so.” Skavver eyed the fruit.
“Are we certain that a person will really die at 50 cells used?” Noomey asked.
“Of course.” Skavver replied. “It’s what we’ve been told… all these years.”
“But you’ve never seen it.” Noomey stopped and took a deep breath. “I never told you this, but when I was young, I saw the end of that battle… the last one our fathers were in. I saw both my father and your father. I kept track of their cells too. They were both at 47. And then I saw them both cast an Ignee spell. 3 cells each. They should’ve both died, Skavver. And they did look weak for a moment. I began to cry. But then moments later, the two were fine.”
“Absolutely fine.” Noomey reiterated. “In fact, they looked so normal. I remember it vividly. They were waltzing along as if nothing had happened, each eating one of these disgusting Avaluschia fruits.”
Skavver’s eyes nearly fell out of his skull. “They ate the Avaluschia fruits?”
“Yes, right after using the Ignee spells. As if everything was fine.”
“Might save your life at 50… cells.”
“What?” Noomey was confused at Skavver’s mumbling.
“Noomey, where else are there Avaluschia trees?” Skavver asked in a hurry.
“This is the only tree that’s remotely near us. The rest that I know of are near the Enaks or the Grajills. You’d think with these trees being so rare the fruit would actually be delicious and taste less like a sour sock.”
Skavver looked up to see Dor and Swake in the distance, yelling to the two of them to come join them. Meller and his group were about ready to initiate the second phase of their plan. Skavver cursed.
“Of course there isn’t enough time!” Skavver was irritated. “I only got the one fruit.”
“What are you talking about?” Noomey asked.
“I’ll tell you on the way! I need to get something from my father first!” Skavver raced off to meet with Dor and Swake. Noomey’s confusion was paired with irritation, but she followed, mentally preparing for what was soon to happen.
The thorns of the bushes scratched at their faces. They remained still as statues, but the wind pushed the bushes and the bushes assaulted their skin. One sharp thorn scratched right under Dor’s eye and she winced, jerking her head to the side.
Noomey held her hand out steady, signaling that they needed to remain still. Dor stopped moving. They waited.
Swake spotted Meller’s group first. He nodded in the direction of the group, approaching the area. Thankfully, the group was approaching from dead ahead. They were easy to spot, even though they were far away.
Skavver capitalized on the moment and their distance from their enemy. “Remember, wait for my signal. As soon as I give the signal, we attack our areas.”
As Skavver whispered and reminded everyone of the plan, the other three stared at the kranin metal armor he wore, shining a fascinating gray-purple under the sun. Skavver was far to the left and would take the leftmost side of Meller’s group, Noomey next to him would take the left-center portion, Dor next to her would take the right-center portion, and Swake next to her would take the far right portion of the group.
The West Swilly River roared loudly as it passed by 100 feet from their hiding spot in the thick bushes. It frothed and splashed and then rounded a bend ahead and disappeared from their sight… flowing down to its inevitable points at the Enak Kingdom and the Grajill Kingdom. Hopefully, that would remain the same. Meller’s approached the large flat portion of dirt between the river and the thick bushes that the group of four hid in. More bushes and trees surrounded the area, but Meller and his group were heading for the large section of dirt which resided above the underground lake. They saw Bradger in the back of the group, keeping his distance, attempting to act casual.
The group reached the clearing. Meller and Quint began barking out orders to the group. The group of four in the bushes held their positions.
Meller yelled at people to use Stahk spells to slice through the ground. Some of them complied. Some of them responded with the likes of, “But I am dangerously close to going over my cell count.” To which Meller would usually sigh with agitation and then bark at someone else to use a Stahk spell. He and Quint wound up needing to do one each. The group did Stahk spell after Stahk spell, creating large slices in the ground right next to the river. All these passageways for the water to fall into… once they dammed it up.
Meller yelled out to his group that they had done enough with the Stahk spells and that it was time to dam up the river. The group turned and approached the river, their backs to the group of four in the bushes. Bradger hung off to the side of the group, keeping his distance, and glancing towards the bushes.
Just as Skavver gave the signal and the four jumped out of the bushes, Meller noticed that Bradger was glancing back at the bushes. Meller turned to see the group of four emerge from the bushes and charge at his group. Meller screamed out about the incoming attack, managing to warn most. Skavver, Noomey, Dor, and Swake simultaneously cast Ving spells. Huge gusts of wind collected at their hands and they thrust their arms out in unison. Powerful wind swept towards Meller’s group. Those that were alerted to the attack braced themselves, holding themselves low and just stumbling backwards. However, several of the others that were slow to react to Meller’s warning were struck by the wind and flung backwards into the river… and swept off…
“Remember your numbers!” Skavver shouted.
He kept everyone’s cell numbers in his head, but their plan was to continually shout out their numbers throughout the battle so it would be easy to keep track of. That way no one would be in danger of going over. With the Ving spell that cost them each three cells, Skavver was now at 15, Noomey at 15, Dor at 11, and Swake at 5. They moved for the sections of the group they had designated, but they moved slowly, waiting for Meller’s group to make the next move.
“Attack them!” Meller shouted out with fury.
And that’s when several of Meller’s group members jumped forward, not thinking of their own cell count. This was what Skavver was counting on. As seven members yelled out their Stahk spells, Skavver, Noomey, Dor, and Swake ducked down and cast their Shkout spells. Dirt ripped from the ground and into their hands, creating heavy shields. They hid behind the weight of the dirt shields as seven Stahk spells ripped through the air, the pale purple energy bashing into their shields and disintegrating them. The four took the rest of the brunt of the energy and were knocked back. Armor chipped and broke in a few places. Gashes sliced through their skin.
All seven people with the exception of one that cast the Stahk spells suddenly buckled at the knees, their eyes rolled back in their skulls, and they crumpled to the ground, dead.
“They actually died!” The seventh one yelled.
“Keep attacking them!” Meller shouted.
“But I’ll die too!”
The other group members froze in confusion. Swake stepped forward, ready to capitalize on the moment.
“Stahk!” He yelled out, but he wasn’t ready for the pale purple energy and wasn’t moving his hand in the correct fashion. The energy thrust from his hand and sliced into the ground behind him.
Swake looked around in confusion. He stared at Skavver for assistance.
“Just stick with a spell you can actually do!” Skavver yelled back.
Swake turned back to the seventh group member who still stood dumbfounded. Swake extended his hands towards him. “Ignee!”
Fire burst from the palms of Swake’s hands and rocketed towards the unsuspecting group member and lit him ablaze. He cried out in agony as he ran in circles before collapsing.
Skavver 16. Noomey 16. Dor 12. Swake 11.
Skavver yelled those out to everyone once more, but he was sure this would be the last time he could keep track of everyone’s numbers. From here on out, he had to focus on his own numbers, and on fighting… and on his opponent’s numbers.
And that was when Meller launched an Ignee attack at Skavver. Skavver shielded his face from the incoming fire and his kranin armor shielded the rest.
“Someone wore the kranin armor, I see!” Meller yelled out with a grin.
Skavver used a Stahk spell but Meller dove out of the way. Meller’s group was in a confused frenzy. Quint unleashed a Stahk attack at Noomey but she dove out of the way. The group saw Meller and Quint cast their attacks and remain alive, so they regained confidence in resuming their own attacks. They readied themselves for battle.
And Bradger hung off to the side, hoping not to be noticed.
Skavver saw two group members approach him. He smirked when he saw who they were. He waited for them to make their moves. They both summoned Ignee attacks. He shielded his face and his armor absorbed the rest of the fire. Angered, the two then decided to attack with Stahk spells. Skavver used a Shkout spell to pull up a shield. The pale purple energy ripped apart his shield and struck him, knocking him back and lacerating his cheek. And the two group members froze… and collapsed, dead.
Swake approached one group member who was too high on his cell count, screaming that he couldn’t cast anymore spells. He and Swake drew their swords and battled back and forth, steel clanging against steel. Eventually, Swake knocked his sword away long enough that he could get in close, place his hands on the man’s face, and cast a Helor spell. The heat burned away at the man’s flesh until he collapsed.
The group descended upon them quickly. Skavver used a Ving spell to push them back and create space. Then, he used an Ignee spell, blasting fire out at everyone. Most of the members ducked, only a couple were hit.
Dor and Noomey were having trouble casting their Stahk spells so they relied on Ignee spells, blasting fire out at the group. Group member after group member was dropping. But Meller and Quint laid the attacks on heavy, each casting two more Ignee spells and two more Stahk spells, causing the four to retreat behind rocks and trees and duck for cover. Other members of Meller's group marched forward, casting spells and swinging swords.
Dor and Noomey were quick to draw their swords and battle those incoming men. Four of them. Dor and Noomey swiped repeatedly at the attackers and pushed them backwards. Bit by bit. Attacks of steel creating separation. Once they reached a flat spot near a tree, Skavver called out for a Morn spell. A wall of dirt rose from the ground underneath one man and catapulted him into the air. Skavver cast another Morn spell and flung another man off. The remaining two attackers watched with panic and Skavver blasted them with an Ignee attack.
Meller turned and saw Bradger nearly frozen. He screamed at him to do something. Skavver yelled at Bradger to fight for them. Bradger was panicked and unsure what to do. Meller screamed obscenities at Bradger. His tongue spewing the vicious and the vile worse than the palms of his hands. Bradger’s cheeks flushed, and then he leapt forward ready to fight for Meller.
Bradger unleashed a Stahk attack at Skavver which Skavver blocked with a Shkout shield.
Bradger redirected his attention to the others. His palms were ablaze as he shouted for an Ignee attack directed at Noomey. Skavver raced towards Noomey and dove in front of her, blocking the attack with his kranin armor, knocking her to the ground.
Bradger redirected towards Dor who was entrenched in a sword battle with another woman. Skavver wouldn’t be able to reach her in time. Bradger launched another Ignee attack. Skavver summoned a Ving spell and blew Dor away from the blast of fire.
Bradger tried again with another Ignee attack, this time against Swake who was engaged in battle. Skavver used another Ving spell to blow Swake out of harm’s way.
But more worrisome, Bradger was at 49. And he didn’t look like he was planning on stopping. He was a fool sometimes. He was thorn in Skavver’s big toe sometimes. But he was just confused. And worth saving.
One more attack and he’d kill himself. Skavver got Noomey to assist him. The two used a Ving spell in unison and blasted a strong gust of wind at Bradger, lifting him off his feet and flinging him into the air. He was launched clear across the river and bounced off the ground, hitting his head and being knocked unconscious. He’d be no damage to himself over there.
40 for Skavver.
Meller instructed his men to continue to attack, remaining behind them and attempting to pick his moments. Meller’s group still had them outnumbered but their cell numbers were high.
Another attack that Skavver had to block with a Shkout shield saw him take a bit of a hit and saw the attacker collapse dead.
An attack unleashed at both Skavver and Noomey. Skavver used a Morn spell to raise a wall of dirt up and block the attack.
Meller used another Stahk attack which Skavver blocked with Shkout.
Swake began to lose control. He cast Ignee spell after Ignee spell, shooting flames every which way. Meller and Quint each cast a Morn spell to raise walls up and protect themselves and the others. Swake kept launching Ignee attacks at their dirt walls over and over, disintegrating them but not doing damage to Meller and his group. Meller's group continually backed away and cast Morn spells to block Swake's fire. Swake wasn't even directing his Ignee spells with any accuracy, he just fired them every which way, missing their enemy. Skavver had completely lost count of Swake’s numbers and feared he was too high. He used a Ving spell to blow the flames of Swake’s attacks around in a swirling motion. They swirled around the walls and sent Meller and his group scampering from behind the walls and back out into the open.
One of the men charged Skavver swinging his sword. Skavver drew his sword and engaged in battle. Swing after swing. Attack after attack. The man swung at Skavver’s wrist and contacted it, Skavver’s fist unclenched and he dropped his sword. The man cocked his arms back with his sword and thrust it forward. Skavver ducked underneath the sword, popped back up in front of the man, and took a page from Swake’s book. He placed his hands on the man’s face and cast a Helor spell. The intense heat burned the man’s face so intensely that his shrieks pierced the air until they disintegrated to silence… as did he.
Noomey used a Ving spell and knocked several of the attackers onto their backs, including Meller and Quint. Dor capitalized and used Ignee attacks on the fallen. The group still outnumbered them but their numbers were falling. And most important of all, Meller was at a disadvantage at this very moment.
Skavver quickly reviewed his options. He was at 48. Any attack he did would kill himself. He couldn’t ask anyone else to do an Ignee attack because Meller’s armor would absorb that. And the others were all having troubles mastering the Stahk spell which could still end Meller.
It had to be Skavver. Skavver felt a lump in his throat…
…and a lump in his pocket. The Avaluschia fruit! He had just one! But he needed just one! He’d use the Stahk spell and quickly eat the fruit. If his father was right, if what Noomey saw was right, he’d save himself from his own death. Meller was slowly pulling himself up. Skavver grabbed the fruit with one hand and readied his other hand for an attack.
“Ignee!” Skavver heard Swake’s voice.
The fire blasted from his hands and torched Quint. She didn’t even scream. She burned and she dropped. But then Swake… he grew weak… and he dropped.
Skavver raced to Swake. He lay on his back and his eyes fluttered. They began to shut. Skavver ripped the Avaluschia fruit into pieces and began jamming them into Swake’s mouth. He forced him to chew, to swallow. The juices stained Swake’s face. The fruit was swallowed.
He lay there. It was silent. His body didn’t move.
And then his chest lurched and his eyes shot open! He heaved suddenly! He smacked his lips.
“Disgusting.” Swake said. “Disgustingly… life-saving.”
There went the only Avaluschia fruit. And there was Meller standing up and turning to face them. Swake drew his sword and battled an attacker. Dor and Noomey did the same. Meller faced Skavver. Skavver pulled himself to his feet, his body weak and bleeding from all the attacks he endured. If overuse of spells didn’t kill him, these constant attacks might.
But he had one last chance.
Skavver approached Meller slowly. Meller grinned an evil grin, dusting the dirt off himself.
“You think yourself so powerful, Meller!” Skavver roared. “But you’re nothing but a weak man!”
“Better to be off in class, hearing lessons from father?” Meller taunted. “You don’t know strength.”
“I have more strength than you ever could and it eats away at you.” Skavver taunted back. “Everyone knows it. Including the men you collected because you’re too scared to do a job on your own. And you could never show anyone otherwise.”
“Let me prove you wrong!” Meller screamed. “Stahk!”
Meller swung his hand forward as the pale purple energy emanated from his palm and glided swiftly through the air.
“Shkout!” It was just about the only thing Skavver could do without killing himself.
He ripped dirt from the ground and collected a heavy shield and held it in front of himself. The energy cracked right through his shield and smashed into his body. It cut through his skin and bashed his body with tremendous force. It lifted his feet off the ground and flung him backwards several feet. Skavver was airborne and then crashed hard on a rock. Skavver tumbled through the dirt. His body came to a stop.
Dust clouds hung over his body. They fluttered in the air and settled atop his shining kranin armor.
A slow and lazy wind swept by. Skavver’s chest heaved and he hacked a rattling cough. He peeled his eyes open. He looked up.
Meller stumbled. His knees buckled. Only the whites of his eyes showed. He collapsed.
“You never should’ve stopped counting.” Skavver said weakly.
He barely managed to pull himself up onto his feet, bloodied and bruised and beaten, but alive. The remaining men from Meller’s group looked over to see their fallen leader. They saw the charred pile that Quint now was. They saw they had no leader, no order, and massively dwindled numbers. So, they ran.
Noomey, Dor, and Swake rushed to Skavver’s side.
“We should get you back and wrap up those wounds.” Dor said.
Noomey looked back at the unconscious Bradger on the other side of the West Swilly River. “What about Bradger?”
“We already saved his life.” Skavver said. “Let him decide what he wants to do with the rest of it.”
The group of four walked off, leaving the raging river behind them. Leaving the waters to flow as they do. On to the Enak Kingdom. On to the Grajill Kingdom. Bringing nourishment and life to all in its path. Leaving the untouched beauties as just that… untouched.
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes